Saturday, May 31, 2008


A trauma changes a successful athlete's life in the film Bella. The film bounces back and forth between two stories with skillful editing and wonderful writing. Family, pain and redemption are central to the story. Beautifully filmed, I really enjoyed this film.

Grace is Gone

Grace is Gone is the touching story of a family whose mother is serving in Iraq. The father must break difficult news to his two daughters. Before he does, they embark on a road trip to avoid the news. Emotions are raw in this film. Issues of absent parents, loss, adolescence and innocence are sensitive and sweet. The acting in this film is outstanding.


Teeth is a crazy horror film about sexual vengeance. A teenage girl has a physical condition that is every man's worst nightmare. A strange ride.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Sex and the City

On my last trip to New York City, I bought a pair of red patent leather high heels. I had been mentally scolding myself ever since, knowing that I didn't have anywhere to wear them. Then, last week, I received an invitation to a screening of the Sex and the City movie. The scolding stopped, I knew where to wear the shoes. I felt a little silly walking into the suburban multiplex in my kick-ass heels, most women were wearing flip flops and sneakers. Once in the theater, I felt much better. Many of the women were dolled up for the occasion, this is truly an "event" movie. As the red carpet coverage rolled, I was content inside my red stilettos ..... ahhh the joy of pretty shoes.

I did not follow the TV series, but rented several episodes on DVD, and have one season in my DVD collection (a gift). To me, this show is a guilty pleasure. Light viewing, great clothes, great shoes. The movie is the story of writer, Carrie Bradshaw, and her relationships with gal pals Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte, and her true love, Big. I was glad I didn't know anything about the plot of the movie going in, and knew just enough about the characters. It is about maturity, decisions, commitment, forgiveness and, yes, sex. Seeing this movie was an experience, as I was surrounded by die-hard fans, hooting and hollering, cheering and crying (I'll admit to getting choked up at least once). A fun film that will have no problem being called a chick flick, as it is that, and then some. Wear pretty shoes!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Son of Rambow

When it's Memorial Day, the skies are sunny and the temps are in the seventies, not many people go to the movies. Hence, I had a private screening of the film Son of Rambow today. Yup, me and the movie *sigh* Son of Rambow is the story of two boys making their own home movie version of First Blood. One boy has an amazing imagination, the other, big dreams and ambitions. This British film is charming, funny, touching and creative. Family, friends and adolescence are dealt with well. I left the theater with a spring in my step, the film made my day.

Philosophical Thriller in DVD

The Air I Breathe is the only film I've seen released to DVD this week. A crazy thriller, with a dark tone and life philosophies. A decent rental.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Visitor

In The Visitor, a bored professor finds squatters in his unused Manhattan apartment. Through compassion and curiosity, he lets them stay, and they become friends. Turns out they are illegal immigrants and are thrown into the turmoil of discovery and detention. The professor uses his resources as best he can to help them, friendships deepen, small gestures become very important. A human drama with a big heart.

P.S. I Love You

In P.S. I Love You a young woman is left a widow. She is sent on a journey through her grief, by letters from her deceased husband. A charming, romantic story of love, family and self discovery. A bit of a tear jerker. I liked this one.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Friday Flick Picks 5/23/08

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is the big film in RI theaters this weekend. Iron Man and Speed Racer are close behind, and fun to watch. Search the film listings for gems like Young@Heart, The Visitor, Son of Rambow and Then She Found Me. Comedies worth checking out are Baby Mama, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Harold and Kumar and Made of Honor. On a TV note, HBO airs the movie Recount both Sunday and Monday nights, set your DVRs. Pace yourselves, and have a great Memorial Day weekend!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Indiana Jones is back, and he looks good. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is the return of Dr. Jones to help young Mutt Williams rescue his mother from the jungle of Peru and the power-hungry Russians. Secrets are revealed, friends reunite. That's it folks, add a few chase scenes, some snappy dialogue and you've got a satisfying adventure film with a cheesy ending. I love Spielberg's camera work and lighting magic, dude knows what he's doing. As the elaborate scenes unfold, I couldn't help but wonder what the story board meetings were like. There's lots of crazy action, full of imagination and amazing engineering. A fun ride, but if you long for the young Indy, go back and watch Raiders of the Lost Ark, it's still the perfect adventure film in this fan's eyes.

Newport Film Festvial June 3-8, 2008

The schedule for the 2008 Newport International Film Festival is up online! It runs June 3rd-8th and is always a lot of fun for me. I work this one as a volunteer, every year is different, every year is a thrill. Check out the schedule, see a few films ..... stay tuned!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Treasure in DVD

The gang from National Treasure are at it again in DVD this week. National Treasure:Book of Secrets hits DVD shelves this week, fun stuff!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Speed Racer

At the peak of an exciting scene, during Speed Racer, a little boy in the audience screamed, "Go, Speed Racer, Go!". The little guy was pretty excited. The audience I saw this with was predominantly little boys with their dads (yay for the two little girls, two Moms and me, for the estrogen factor). Little boys have a tough time sitting for two and a half hours (so did this big girl). So, if anyone asked me to edit this film, here's what I'd do.

What I'd leave in:
The kaleidoscope of colors that bombarded us in every scene.
The portrayal of women as smart and strong.
Boys in monkey pajamas, monkey in boy pajamas.
A strong emphasis on family.
The smart, sharp, creative scene cuts.
The last half hour.
The wonderful cast that really works.

What I'd take out:
The corporate, economic mumbo jumbo (blah, blah, blah)
The guns
The piranhas

Hmmmm, that cuts about an hour, perfect!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Chronicles of Narnia:Prince Caspian

I voraciously worked my way through the seven books in C.S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia, when I was a kid. As part of a literature course in college, I reread the series. They held the same appeal for me, at both ages. Now, thirty years later, these books are being adapted to film, and I'm a happy fan. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe delighted me, and as the trailers for Prince Caspian hit theaters, I was psyched. I went to an early screening today, and was not disappointed. The Pevensie kids return to Narnia as the kings and queens they became in the previous tale. It is 1300 yeas later in Narnia, though only a year has passed in London. The evil uncle of Prince Caspian is trying to get rid of him, and keep Narnia in exile, but many battles, and the eventual intervention of Aslan prevail. There are plenty of battle scenes, well placed moments of humor and a story that was adapted better than I expected. All time favorites of mine, Peter Dinklage and Eddie Izzard give strong performances to tell this epic story.


Mental illness is rough on the patient and the family. The film Canvas is a compassionate depiction of schizophrenia, in a woman whose husband and young son find ways to deal. Joe Pantoliano gave an excellent radio interview a few months ago, when the film was released to theaters. A true advocate of mental health awareness (depression is his affliction) he was passionate and articulate. The performances are strong, and accurate. This film is uplifting, honest and sensitive. I liked how the title of the film becomes relevant in one of the final scenes, quite touching. Out in DVD, this one is well worth a look.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Friday Flick Picks 5/16/08

New to RI theaters this week is The Chronicles of Narnia : Prince Caspian. This is the second, of the seven book series, adapted to film. The children return to Narnia to find folks in exile and Prince Caspian battling his evil uncle. If you take little ones, talk to them about movie violence and battle death, this one is heavy on both. My Blueberry Nights is at the Opera House in Newport. Also in art houses is Young@ Heart and The Band's Visit. For comedy there's Baby Mama, Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Harold and Kumar. Iron Man, Redbelt and Speed Racer round out the action films at the megaplex.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Then She Found Me

The Second Monday Series of the Newport Film Festival has been a lot of fun. Last night they screened the new film, from Helen Hunt, titled Then She Found Me. A story of love, betrayal, family, adoption and life, told with love and humor. Well written and well acted, with an amazing cast. The film is based on a novel by Elinor Lipman, who conducted an informative, entertaining Q&A after the film. Wonderful film that's worth a look.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Debate and Divas in DVD

Out in DVD this week, The Great Debaters is a solid drama about a college debate team. On a totally different note, the frivolous Mad Money hits DVD lists as well. Both good rentals, enjoy!

Sunday, May 11, 2008


The fight drama Redbelt found it's way into the Top 10 of Box Office sales this weekend. A Jiu-Jitsu studio owner has philosophies, ethics and compassion. He can also kick ass. He has no money, and is lured to the glamor of Hollywood by a set of unfortunate circumstances. Things go wrong and he must prevail. A good sports story, I liked this one.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Flannel Pajamas

Justin Kirk is another actor that I would watch read the phone book. His facial expressions, verbal inflections, body language *sigh*. In Flannel Pajamas, he plays a man who falls in love, marries and struggles with his relationships. An interesting look at love and family.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Friday Flick Picks 5/9/08

Two fun movies open in RI theaters this weekend. Speed Racer for the kids, and What Happens in Vegas for the grown ups. David Mamet's Redbelt is here as well, a smart drama. In arthouses we've got Young at Heart and Shine a Light for music lovers. In drama there's The Visitor and the amazing Iron Man. For funny there's Baby Mama, Harold & Kumar, Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Made of Honor. Enjoy!!

Monday, May 05, 2008

Dylan in DVD

The only film I've seen in the DVD releases this week is I'm Not There. A film based on the life of Bob Dylan. Not a biopic, but an interesting portrait of a life.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

TIFF 2008 Day Four

The weather has turned grey and damp, so I don one of my new scarves, and head out to meet my friend Catherine for breakfast at Little Place. After breakfast, a brisk walk north took me to the IFC Film Center to see the film Mister Lonely. The film center is lovely, and the film was cool. Headed over to the east village to kill a little time before my last screening. Cafe Deville on 3rd Avenue was a great find for a glass of wine and a snack. Bart Got a Room was my final screening of the film festival. A charming story of teen angst, centering on the prom. Great film with a Q&A by the director and lead actor. On my way back to the hotel, I stopped at a party at the west village apartment of one of Liza and Ryan's friends. A subway ride back to Tribeca and I stopped in to the new Barnes & Noble to pick up a few gifts. A huge slice of Brick Oven pizza was my dinner, as I wound down from a great time here in New York. Heading home tomorrow, it's been fun!

Bart Got a Room

My last film of the Tribeca Film Festival is Bart Got a Room. This is the story of Danny, a young man who turns down a safe date with his best friend for the prom. He tries to pursue a fantasy date with some hottie, because the picture is the most important thing. Yeah, right. Danny's divorced parents try to help him with details like tux, limo, and hotel room (because, after all, Bart got a room). The circumstances become very funny. The characters are charming, this story is well written and well acted. The director Brian Hecker and actor Steven Kaplan conducted the Q&A. A great way to end my film festival experience. Thanks TIFF!

Mister Lonely

I have followed the activities at the IFC Center in the west Village, for years. Today I had time for an extra film, so I went to IFC to see Mister Lonely. This is the story of a group of impersonators, living together on a commune. This film is poetic and beautifully shot. It is a touching story of living for your joy. There is also a side story about a group of nuns who find they can fly ... sort of. A wonderful film experience.

Friday, May 02, 2008

TIFF 2008 Day Three

Relaxed this morning, then headed uptown. Chose the Triple Crown Pub for lunch, and it was fun to see all the prep for the Kentucky Derby. Coming back to the "hood" Tribeca Grille was a safe haven for a Bloody Mary and catching up on the doings in town. Met my friend Randi for the film War, Inc. at the Performing Arts Center. Dinner was great at Gigino on Greenwich Street. Another day of good film and good friends.

War, Inc.

War, Inc. is an off the hook political satire. In a fictional middle eastern country, private industry's product is war. An all-star cast brings this crazy film to life. Along with the bold political statements, there is a lot of shooting and explosions. The Q&A with the director and writer was insightful. Cool film.

Friday Flick Picks 5/2/08

Though I'm in New York this week, I'm still checkin' out what's in RI theaters this weekend. The most exciting opening is Iron Man. The story of how Iron Man, the comic book hero, came to be, is well done. Another exciting arrival to RI theaters is the documentary Young @ Heart. In light comedy there's Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Baby Mama, Made of Honor and Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay. The Visitor, My Blueberry Nights and Under the Same Moon are in art houses. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Iron Man

What I loved about Iron Man :

Robert Downey, Jr. *sigh* as the suave, smart Tony Stark.

Humor that was perfectly placed and became part of the action.

The coolest super hero suit ever.

Bad guys that got what was coming to them.

Gwyneth Paltrow playing a smart, light role as Stark's assistant, Pepper Potts. (in kick-ass high heels)

A story that explains the origin of Iron Man and sets up adventures to come.

TIFF 2008 Day Two

Though I have all my tickets for the film festival, this morning my mission was to obtain tickets for the opening night of Iron Man. The Regal Theater at Battery Park is not as busy as the mid-town theaters, but I like to have tickets in hand. I arrived at the theater before the box office opened, but the ticket kiosks were working, so I had two tickets in short order. There is a DSW in the building, so I felt drawn to the clearance racks. A sassy pair of red high heels found their way into my shoe collection, it was a productive morning. Strolled back to the hotel through Rockefeller Park and enjoyed the river, the kids playing, elderly folks doing tai chi, students on their lunch break and the sparkling morning sunshine. I grabbed a quick bite at the New York City Hot Dog Company, home of every kind of hot dog known to man, and headed to the subway. Back to the AMC 19 for a screening of the comedy thriller Baghead. An excellent film! I shopped my way back to the hotel. Scored a new purse and a few scarves (it's a little cooler than I expected) on Canal Street. Liza met me for dinner at Mary Ann's, a cool little Mexican restaurant *delish*. Then off to the theater for Iron Man. Of course we stopped in to DSW again, and this time, Liza found a pair of red, platform high heels ... sweet! The movie was great, the shopping was great, the food was great...... hmm, another great day! On the way home, I declared this "the day of the red high heels", stay tuned......


Baghead is a contemporary thriller-comedy that is of a genre called mumblecore. Hand-held video camera style, mostly improvised script, very clever, very funny, very well done. In the film, four friends go to an isolated cabin to work on a film script to work their way to fame and fortune. Once there, they have trouble finding a story, and in the mean time, they think there is a guy in the woods with a bag on his head....and they don't know what he wants. The tension is great, I jumped more than once, the actors deliver, this was a good solid film.

Zoned In

In the documentary Zoned In, we have Daniel Nartey, who went to Taft High School in the Bronx. He had moved there when his family had to leave North Carolina. He sold drugs, he left behind a young son and he was still in high school. With the encouragement of a teacher, he applied to colleges and was accepted at most of the Ivy leagues. He chose Brown University for his studies. His time at Brown was interesting. Of course I loved all the footage of Thayer Street, as that's where the Avon Theater is. Though he was very bright, hard working and motivated, he still experienced a lot of the angst, discouragement and anger young college students feel. He graduated and returned to the Bronx as a history teacher. This film spanned 9 years of a young man's life, it was interesting. He now teaches at Taft and his students were sitting in the row in front of us, cheering on the film and their teacher. Pretty cool.