Monday, June 30, 2008

Terrorists in DVD

This week there's only one DVD release I've seen. Vantage Point is an OK thriller. I was disappointed in the ending.

Sunday, June 29, 2008


I've seen so many good films in the last week, and Wanted joined the list today. The bloody story of an ancient group of assassins is stylish and thrilling. And might I say, though Angelina Jolie has worked hard on the dramatic work in her career, I really like her as a bad ass. The story is interesting, the casting strong and the action sequences explosive. The designers of the action scenes did a great job with the filming, editing and style. There's a train scene near the end, that plays out like a crazy ballet of chase, gun play and thrills. Another great summer action flick, we're on a roll!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

The Philadephia Story

Next up off the AFI 10 Top 10 list is The Philadelphia Story. A wonderful tale of the rich and strong headed, with an amazing, classic cast. The setting is the day before a society wedding. The family has some secrets, the press tries to uncover them. Romance enters and all bets are off. An entertaining film that was Academy Award nominated, and charming as they get!

Harold and Maude

My Netflix que has swelled since AFI put out the last 10 Top 10 list. First up today is Harold and Maude. Harold is a neurotic teen who fakes suicides to get his mother's attention. He is obsessed with death and destruction. He attends funerals ad demolitions. Maude is an eccentric 80 year old woman who loves life, growth and has a penchant for driving off in the closest available vehicle. The two become friends. Maude is a free spirit, with very little grounding in the real world, she is delicious! A dark comedy with many laugh out loud moments and a wonderful comment on living life with a Shakespearean ending, brilliant!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Friday Flick Picks 6/27/08

The enchanting film WALL-E arrives in RI theaters this weekend. I saw this Wednesday and can't wait to see it again. Be there on time to see the wonderful short film Presto. For action, there's Wanted. Assassins at their best (?!?) Iron Man, Indiana Jones, Get Smart, Sex and the City, The Incredible Hulk and Kung Fu Panda are still in the multiplex. Mongol and The Visitor are in art houses. A special treat is Young @ Heart playing at the Patriot Cinema in East Providence. A great film at bargain prices. And don't forget to check out the relief efforts for the folks in Iowa, thanks!

Thursday, June 26, 2008


Can a film draw you in to care deeply about the main character in 5 minutes?
Can a film make subtle political, personal and social statements without being offensive?
Can a film convey romantic notions in robots?
Can a film do all this with almost no dialogue, gorgeous, exciting animation and a kick-ass soundtrack?
Yes, yes, yes and yes, if you are lucky enough to be in a theater watching Pixar's summer offering WALL-E. Enjoy!!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Flood Relief for Iowa

A little break from movies to look to the folks in Iowa who have been under water. When I see natural disasters on the news, I feel helpless. I'm glad when someone I trust puts together a relief effort, I have more confidence in the giving . Film maker, musician and MTV producer, Benjamin Wagner , together with his pals at Authentic Records, has put together such an effort. Though his home and offices are in New York City, the Iowa born musician returns to his home turf with Authentic Records as his label. Months ago, the plan was to have a rock show after the Hy-Vee Triathlon in Des Moines, to promote the release of his new CD The Invention of Everything Else. They were planning to raise money for a worthy cause, and then the cause happened. The flood waters rose, and they decided the United Way of Central Iowa and Governor Chet Culver's fund for disaster relief, would benefit from their fundraising efforts. A concert of local talent was organized, money was raised, over $3000. If you'd like to help out, Authentic is still taking contributions to help those who's lives have been ravaged by the flood waters. At their home page, click on "buy" and then the River Songs image. Every little bit helps.

Monday, June 23, 2008

A Plethora of film in DVD

This week I've seen a lot of the films out in DVD. Click on the titles to see what I thought when I saw them.

10,000 BC

The Spiderwick Chronicles

Definitely, Maybe

In Bruges


Charlie Bartlett


Sunday, June 22, 2008


My parents are both very interested in history. They read a lot of books about historical figures, and historical dramas are their favorite films. But this time of year, their activities usually include, gardening, travel, boating and a busy party schedule. A few months ago, my mother had to have hip surgery, then a few weeks ago, my father suffered a heart attack. Their physical recovery (which is going well) is frustrating for this active pair. Family and friends have been trying to visit, and keep them supplied with books, DVDs and puzzles so they don't go nuts, and do stuff they shouldn't. When Mongol hit our local art house, I figured I had found a film my parents would enjoy (I'm not sure they understand why I spend so much time in movie theaters). The story is about the rise to power of Genghis Khan. Little did I know, they both had a strong working knowledge of the life of the Mongolian king. The Academy Award nominated film was a treat for them (me too). My dad also has a hearing problem, so the subtitles were a bonus. In the opening scenes of the film, my father leaned over to me and said, "it's just like they described it in my books!" The film is beautifully shot. The film is also an interesting character study. Not only did we all enjoy the movie, but my parent's knowledge of that period in history made for lively dinner conversation. It might not have been a day on the boat, but I was happy to find a low key way to while away a Sunday afternoon that they seemed to enjoy. See, movies can be therapeutic!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Get Smart

In Get Smart, Steve Carell brings the character of Maxwell Smart to the big screen. As the movie opens, the cold war is over, most think that the spy agency, Control, has been shut down and Maxwell Smart is an analyst. When Russian bad guys try to steal uranium to make nuclear weapons, Smart is made an agent, teamed up with Agent 99 and sets out to save the world (cue the closing song). I thought this was a fun action comedy with plenty of laughs and surprises. Light summer fare.

Friday Flick picks 6/20/08

For me, the summer releases have been a lot of fun. The fun continues with the release of Get Smart. A funny romp back to the world of Control and KAOS. Steve Carell and Anne Hathaway do the characters of Agents 86 and 99 proud. In RI theaters this weekend there's more fun in The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, Indiana Jones, Kung Fu Panda, Sex and the City and the Chronicles of Narnia:Prince Caspian *whew*. The Visitor is still playing and I'm going to check out Mongol, new to RI this week. Have a great weekend.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Films, Fools and Family in DVD

Be Kind, Rewind is a silly comedy about a love of the movies. Light fare, ideal as a rental. Another light romantic comedy is Fool's Gold. Lots of eye candy and adventure. And Under the Same Moon (La Misma Luna) has a mother and son that have been separated for years and the effort to be together, a thoughtful film. Happy renting!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Incredible Hulk

The pleasure was all mine when I went to see The Incredible Hulk today. Marvel has figured out that their superheros just need good actors and a simple story to entertain the movie masses. They did it with Iron Man, and now, with the Hulk. Edward Norton is another actor I just adore. I was skeptical when he was cast as Bruce Banner, the scientist who turns into the green monster when he gets angry. I was wrong, he plays the character to perfection. In an effort toward anger management, he disappears to South America after an ugly incident. His return is subtle, rational and necessary. Liv Tyler does a nice job as his paramour, Tim Roth is menacing, William Hurt is ruthless and Tim Blake Nelson is engaging, all build their characters nicely. The action sequences are pretty cool. As one young member of the audience observed, "he's a good jumper!" There are two cameo appearances to watch for, from stars of the TV series (no spoilers here). Well done, a highly entertaining superhero action film to add to the summer roster. I especially liked the ending, as General Ross asks, "who's we?". Nice job!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Friday Flick Picks 6/13/08

The beauty of living in a small state, is that things are pretty close together. I'm having my car serviced tomorrow, and there is a movie theater across the street. Guess where I will be while my oil is being changed?? hehe The Incredible Hulk opens this weekend. A great addition to the other summer action films, Iron Man, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. and The Chronicles of Narnia : Prince Caspian. The kids will have fun at Kung Fu Panda, and those gals from Sex an the City are still going strong in RI theaters. In art houses we've got Roman de Gare, Priceless and The Visitor. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Screen Scenes : Jane Pickens, Newport, RI

I know I wrote about the Jane Pickens Theater and Event Center back in the fall, but after meeting the owner this weekend, I feel compelled to give a little shout out again. Kathy Staab bought the theater with a vision for independent film and events. Tonight they are screening The Singing Revolution, with a Q&A with the writer, Mike Majoros. 7 PM, check it out! She told me she is organizing more events like this, to enhance the film experience for enthusiasts. I'm thrilled! It's a charming old theater, the concession area is loaded with exotic candies, yummy beverages, fresh popcorn and interesting books and cards. The staff is friendly and knowledgeable, and when the weather challenges the old heating system, ask for a blanket. Kathy keeps a freshly laundered stack to keep her patrons comfy! A cinematic gem in the heart of Newport, RI!

Monday, June 09, 2008

Buddies, Boleyns and Bullies in DVD

In DVD this week, there's the buddy film The Bucket List. Two men with a cancer diagnosis go on the adventure of a lifetime. The medical scenes are intense, but this is worth seeing. The Other Boleyn Girl tells the brutal story of how Henry VIII treated women like objects. History in very simple terms. Funny Games is a remake of the German classic by the same director. A brutal home invasion is a manipulative turn from a director who screws with the audience and their thirst for violence.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

NIFF 2008 Final Day

It's the last day of the Newport International Film Festival and everyone is exhausted. But there are still films to been shown, tickets to be torn and theaters to be cleaned. Not sure what to make of finding a toothbrush in a cup holder after a screening of The Red Balloon today (did I say I liked cleaning the theater?). A double dutch demonstration in Washington Park, from the kids in the documentary Double Time, was inspiring and entertaining. The festival awards were presented today, always good to put these films on your "to see" list if you missed them this week. It's been a good week of film and friends. Thanks NIFF, see you next year!

Saturday, June 07, 2008

NIFF 2008 (what day is it?)

I've been a bit distracted with a family emergency, so I'm a little out of sync to what day of the week it is. Now that things are sorted out , I'm back at the Newport Film Festival and it's closing night. I arrived in time to catch a presentation by Pixar animator and director, Jim Capobianco, who presented the short film Your Friend the Rat, made for the DVD of Ratatouille, and a "making of" program. It was interesting. The closing night film was The Wackness. The line went around the corner by the time we were able to seat the film. A lot of laughter came from the theater and there were many positive comments coming out of the theater. The last program was two short films. I got to sit down for the second, Academy Award nominated short documentary, La Corona. The story of a beauty pageant held in a Colombian women's prison. Interesting stuff. The first heat wave of the season is upon us, but with the ocean as a natural air conditioner, it was 93 degrees at my house and 75 degrees in Newport, what a beautiful day!

Friday, June 06, 2008

Friday Flick Picks 6/6/08

Kung Fu Panda is in RI theaters this week. A fun animated adventure with Po the Panda in a martial arts adventure. Fun for adults as well as kids. Iron Man, Indiana Jones and Sex and the City are still battling out the top box office spots. All worth seeing, but I think the Panda and friends could give them all a run for their money, hiyaaaaaaaa!! Newport International Film Festival is in full swing through Sunday night. A Pixar presentation Saturday night will be worth seeing and The Wackness is the closing night film. Check out the schedule here....enjoy!

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

NIFF 2008 Day 1

On the first full day of film festival, I was an usher at the Jane Pickens Theater. I was supposed to man the Information tent in Washington Park, but the rain drove us inside. The crowds were enthusiastic for a shorts program and two feature films. I tore tickets, edited intros and helped clean the theater after the screenings. Also, fun to chat with the other volunteers, and catch up on what folks have been up to during the year. So many interesting people. After getting so much enjoyment from film festivals over the years, it always feels good to lend a hand at this one, if only for a few days. I'm a little surprised at how much I enjoy picking up the empty popcorn bins to get the theater ready for the next screening. I guess it's like cleaning the house before company comes, somehow satisfying.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

NIFF 2008 Opening Night

Newport International Film Festival 2008 is underway! The opening night was graced with the film Man on Wire. This is the story of a young French street performer, who tightrope walked between the World Trade Center towers in 1974. An interesting man, a death defying feat and a wonderful film to open the festival. Phillippe Petit, the tightrope walker, was in attendance and conducted an entertaining Q&A. Engaging, charming and enthusiastic , Monsieur Petit took many questions. The best from a young girl who could not have been older than 11 years old, who asked "how did you feel when you took that first step out on the wire?" The answer was much longer and enthusiastic than this, but he summed up by saying "terrified and elated!" A wonderful start to the next 5 days of film here in scenic Newport, RI. Stay tuned..........

Monday, June 02, 2008

Laughs in DVD

Get ready to laugh with the men in DVD this week. Will Ferrell tries to bring the funny to basketball, but it's a bit of a swish. Semi Pro has it's moments, but it's not great. It may be more satisfying in DVD than on the big screen. Not for the kids, pretty vulgar. I enjoyed the Vince Vaughn documentary, Wild West Comedy Show:30 Days & 30 Nights-Hollywood to the Heartland. Out in DVD, watch while Vaughn and four stand up comics hit the road to spread the funny! (I've noticed they renamed the film for DVD as "Vince Vaughn's Wild West Comedy Show") Enjoy!

Sunday, June 01, 2008

We Own the Night

We Own the Night is a typical drug lords vs cops story. A family rules the cop side, there is conflict and angst. Melodramatic and dark, not a happy film, but an OK rental.