Sunday, November 30, 2008


I liked Australia more than I thought I would. Performances are strong, the art direction and cinematography are top notch and the costumes are impressive. This is a gorgeous film. The story rambles, there is flimsy connection between scenes, but you still want to know what happens as the story unfolds. This movie is much too long, but it wasn't a bad way to spend a rainy, Sunday afternoon.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Four Christmases

After a nice lunch, we decided the movie of choice would be Four Christmases. We were looking for something light, and it's tough to resist Vince Vaughn. This is the story of two selfish adults, who avoid their families at Christmas every year by lying about their commitments. One year, they get caught in the lie and have no excuse not to make the visits. Both have divorced parents, so there are four homes to visit. The visits to the first three homes are pretty funny. Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon play well off each other. At the fourth house the film takes a serious turn, which is fine, but it lasted a little too long for me. I liked the ending, the story comes full circle. A decent comedy with a strong cast.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Friday Flick Picks 11/28/08

On Black Friday, I cannot imagine going shopping. However, I will see a movie today. New in RI theaters there's the new epic Australia and the comedy Four Christmases. Other good choices are Role Models, Quantum of Solace, Changeling, High School Musical 3, Madagascar:Escape 2 Africa, Bolt, Happy Go Lucky and Synecdoche, NY. This should be enough to keep folks out of the malls, enjoy!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Traditions:Pieces of April

In November of 2003, I saw the charming film Pieces of April at the Columbus Theater in Providence, RI. The tale of the black sheep of the family, hosting her estranged family for Thanksgiving dinner, has been a favorite of mine ever since. Each member of the family has their issues and quirks. The story bounces back and forth between April's novice attempt at making a turkey dinner, and her family's road trip into New York City from New Jersey. Funny, endearing, edgy and heartfelt. It seems like a Thanksgiving tradition for me to talk about it, recommend it, write about it this time of year. Many people have received this film from me as a gift. A wonderful film. Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Encounters at the End of the World

Werner Herzog takes his cameras to Antarctica to make "more than a movie about penguins". In Encounters at the End of the World, his hypnotic film style and delving interviews, of the few people who work there, make for a compelling documentary. This film will look great on a wide screen TV. Enjoy.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Christmas Tale

Family gatherings at the holidays is a popular theme for film. The French film, A Christmas Tale, tells the story of a large family with tons of baggage. They are brought together for Christmas, by the ailing matriarch. The relationships play out in an interesting fashion. A good French film with strong performances.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Siblings and Super Heroes in DVD

I liked the movie Fred Claus. Out in theaters last Christmas, the story of Santa's brother, Fred, is kinda cute. Not earth shattering cinema, but a comedy I enjoyed. Hancock will be an off the hook rental. A solid action film with heart and a cool twist that I really enjoyed. Happy renting!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

BAFF 2008 : He's My Dad

Heath and Marley Mensher, costars of He's My Dad.

On the final night of the 5th Annual Big Apple Film Festival, I had the pleasure of seeing Program 18. A collection of 6 short films, one of which was He's My Dad. Heath and Mark Mensher's thirty minute film about a serial killer who's been rehabilitated, and meets the daughter he fathered before he was institutionalized. A sweet film with a quirky tone. The production value is good. I had seen this film in DVD, and it looks great on a big screen. I especially like the song at the end. Congrats to Mark and Heath for being chosen for the festival. They had lots of friends and family there to support them. A fun night!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Friday Flick Picks 11/21/08

Those crazy tweens will be packing the multiplex this weekend as the "highly anticipated" Twilight hits theaters. Romance and vampires from the popular book series arrives on the big screen. There's also High School Musical 3, Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa and Bolt for young movie goers. For adults in theaters, there's Changeling, Zach & Miri Make a Porno, Quantum of Solace, Rachel Getting Married and Role Models. Two interesting independent films are new to RI theaters, Synecdoche NY and The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas.

And me? I'll be at the Big Apple Film Festival in support of the Menscher brothers' film "He's My Dad", good stuff!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Slumdog Millionaire

Ever since Toronto Film Festival, the Internet has been awash with promos and reviews about the limited release of Slumdog Millionaire. It opened in five cities on November 12th. I received passes for an advanced screening here, in RI, but they are dated December 17th *sigh*. The price I pay for living in a small film market. I had planned to visit my daughter in New Jersey on Wednesday, with a movie matinee before I descended upon she and her family. I was going to see something in the suburbs, but a call from a friend in Chicago, on Monday, raving about the film, had me re-routing my travel through NYC to catch a matinee at the Angelika Film Center. Glad I did.

Slumdog Millionaire is the story of a young man, who grows up in the slums of Mumbai, India. His troubled life gave him all the education he needed to be successful on a poplar, local game show. Beautiful, lyrical, brutal and honest, this is a story of perseverance, survival, loyalty and love. Stay for the credits, a true celebration of spirit. Wonderful film.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Alphabet Soup

This time of year we see a lot of lists. Over at Blog Cabins the challenge went up to movie bloggers to list their favorite films that start with each letter of the alphabet. This was a fun exercise, my largest challenge was X. Check here to see the lists. Impressive how many folks did this. Here's my list:

Angels in America
Benny & Joon
Dark Knight
Eternal Sunshine of a Sleepless Mind
Fight Club
In Her Shoes
Little Miss Sunshine
Nine Queens
Pulp Fiction
Shawshank Redemption
Taxi Driver
Usual Suspects
Young at Heart

Monday, November 17, 2008

Wandering, Writer, War, Werner and Wall-e in DVD

I've seen quite a few of the films released to DVD this week. Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 chronicles the summer after their freshman year in college, for the four friends that share a magical pair of jeans. A nice adaptation of the popular books. In Tropic Thunder, the making of a film about war, is a wild ride with some excellent performances and camera work. Gonzo:The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson is a documentary about the journalist, his politics and his writing. A must-see for any Thompson fan. After two viewings in the theater, the animated gem Wall-e will find it's way into my DVD collection. Heartfelt and creative, I love this film. In my DVD que is Werner Herzog's documentary Encounters at the End of the World. Herzog's films are so beautiful, looking forward to this one. I've also got the film Priceless on the way. A French film about mistaken identity, staring the charming Aurdrey Tautou. Finally, Up the Yangtze is in my rental que as well. Another documentary set in an exotic locale. What a week for DVD releases *whew*!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Four Years, 1028 Posts

No, this is not a movie title, it's the four year anniversary of this blog ! I started writing here when Melanie and Joe were engaged. They had a wedding blog, I was intrigued with the concept. At first I thought I'd blog random thoughts, thus the motherofthebride url. Melanie suggested that I write about something I was passionate about .... movies. Is This Seat Taken? was born.

As an avid movie lover, I had been keeping a paper journal of the films I'd seen. The blog was a better place for these thoughts, because here, they can be shared. I'm often asked about what's in theaters, because I see a lot of movies. It's not like I have any great knowledge when it comes to film, but I'm always happy to share why I liked a film. I know I have benefited from the advice of people who's taste in film is similar to mine. If I can share my thoughts with others, and help people decide what to see, that's a nice thing.

This blog is also a place I like to share stories of things that happen to me in the theater. There's always that odd, funny encounter that makes a good story. Over the years I've had fun posting my film festival adventures, stories of film folks I've met and things that happen to me when I go to the movies.

I have readers (that I know about) in New York, Texas, North Dakota, Canada, the UK, Arizona, Minnesota, California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, South Carolina and right here in lil' ol' Rhode Island. Love getting comments! So, thanks for reading here, and I'll keep posting.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Quantum of Solace

The latest James Bond film, Quantum of Solace, is a solid action flick. A nice addition to the franchise. The story is all about revenge. Bond is focused on his line of vengeance, denying it all the way ..... much to M's dismay. The chase scenes are crazy and frenetic. Broken glass flies constantly. A couple of the chase scenes are punctuated with parallel action scenes, pretty cool technique.

I found these details interesting:
The martini recipe is shared by a bartender.
The Aston Martin meets an ugly demise, made me sad.
The SUV Bond drives later in the film, sounds like an Aston Martin, hmmm.
Tom Ford designed Bond's suits, nice job.
Communication technology is very cool, almost futuristic.

A fun Bond ride!

Note: The Star Trek trailer was shown in the previews. Looks awesome!

Thankful for Barden's Casting

Over at LAMB, they're asking what movie folks, outside of actors and directors, we're thankful for. Through my volunteering at film festival, I've been fortunate to meet my share of film folks.

Years ago, I met the casting director Kerry Barden. At the time, we chatted weather and travel, he's very handsome. Yes, I was flirting. I was a volunteer, we never met again. (The event was a discussion panel about independent film, for the Newport Intl. Film Festival.) Until the panel began, I did not know his credentials, it's an impressive list. Ever since this encounter, I get a kick out of picking a movie, then seeing his name in the credits. I usually like the casts he and his team assemble. When we premiered Evening in Newport, last year, it was cool to see Barden's name on the casting credit. Now that was an amazing cast! A nice guy with quite a career. Look forward to his future projects.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Friday Flick Picks 11/14/08

Quantum of Solace is the big opener this weekend. James Bond brings a tale of revenge and espionage to the big screen. My favorites in theaters right now are Role Models, Zach and Miri Make a Porno, Changeling, Rachel Getting Married and The Secret Life of Bees. Also worth a look, Body of Lies, Fireproof and W. The kids are eating up High School Musical 3 and Madagascar Escape 2 Africa. There's a sneak preview of the animated film Bolt (in 3D) on Saturday night. This weekend, my martini will be shaken, not stirred, I'll be at the movies!


A train trip, from China to Moscow, turns ugly in the film Transsiberian. An American couple meets mysterious people on the journey. When deceit, drug smuggling, murder and violence enter the equation, it becomes a pretty wild ride. A tense thriller I enjoyed.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Paranoid Park

The poetic camera work of Gus Van Sant is the power behind the emotion of Paranoid Park. The story of a skater who is part of a horrible accident, is a bit fragmented around the themes of teen angst and a broken family. The hypnotic scenes of the skate boarders in slow motion (beautiful) and a shower scene (no nudity) are both beautiful and emotional. This is a nice addition to Van Sant's resume.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Rachel Getting Married

A damaged family comes together for the wedding of the oldest daughter, in Rachel Getting Married. Rachel's sister, Kym, has been in rehab for the last 9 months, her parents are divorced and a family tragedy from the past is still a very open wound. There is a scene early in the film that choked me up, and I wasn't sure why. There was no dialogue. The "why" was revealed in a scene about 30 minutes later. I marveled at how the perfect emotions were created in the first scene through the acting and camera work. Now that's skill. The film runs a little long, but the emotional highs and lows of the character's baggage, conflicting with the joy of a wedding, makes for a wonderful story with very real sentiments. I think we may see a few nominations for this film come award season. Well written, well acted, well done.

Kung Fu Panda

Kung Fu Panda came out this summer. With travel and a bunch of good summer releases, I didn't get to see it in the theater. When there was a strange Saturday release of the DVD, I was first in line. The animation is beautiful, the story familiar. (The battle scenes may be a bit intense for little ones, hence the PG rating) Abstract philosophy is touched on, then becomes a goof. Fun stuff. A nice addition to the animation collection. Seriously, how do you spell hiiiiiyaaaa ?!?!?! I worry about these things.

Monday, November 10, 2008

DVD Binge

Since there is nothing for me to comment on in newly released DVD this week, I thought I'd share my recent DVD purchases. This week, I received an e-mail from Netflix saying that as of Nov 3oth they will no longer sell previously viewed DVDs. They have great prices, good selection and pristine DVDs. I snapped up 9 titles. Some for me, some will be gifts. My point here is, if you want gently used DVDs at great prices, check it out .... Here's what I bought:

There Will be Blood - mine
The Kite Runner - gift
Wordplay - gift
Shine a Light - mine
Atonement - mine
The Host - gift
Lonely Hearts - mine
Once - mine
Volver - gift

Sunday, November 09, 2008


Though I liked Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, my favorite Guy Ritchie film is Snatch. I went to see RocknRollla today, hoping for some of the same. It is an OK British crime thriller. There's a lot of the signature Ritchie film technique that I really like, but the story and the characters didn't grab me. Glad I saw it, but I've rented Snatch to remind me why I go to Guy Ritchie films.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Role Models

Role Models is a solid comedy. Two men take on a "big brother" assignment, as a plea bargain, to avoid going to jail. Foul language abounds, but it is appropriate and serves well as a comedic vehicle. This is a story of friendship, redemption, family and identity. The characters are well developed and consistent. I'm surprised at how much I liked this movie. The trailers do not do it justice. Good solid performances, a strong script and many laugh-out-loud moments for me. (not for the prissy) Well done.

Zach and Miri Make a Porno

For all the raunchy language, nudity and sex, at the heart of Zach and Miri Make a Porno, there is a very sweet love story. Love and friendship conquer all in this risque comedy. Notable performances by Justin Long and Jason Mewes are disgusting, ribald and hilarious. Though Kevin Smith goes a little too far with the gross stuff a few times, this script is very clever and has many very funny moments. Stay for a very funny bit during the credits.


Changeling is a film based on the true story of what happened to Christine Collins after the disappearance of her son in Los Angeles in the late twenties. Dramatic and disturbing, this story centers on the corruption of the LAPD, a mother who will not give up the search for her son and a serial killer who is played with crass bravado. Worth a look, the performances, costumes and music work so well.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Friday Flick Picks 11/7/08

It's been a few weeks since I've been to the movie theater, so I've got a little catching up to do. Zach and Miri Make a Porno, RocknRolla and The Changeling are on my short list. New to RI theaters, Rachel Getting Married and Role Models interest me as well. I'm off from work on Tuesday for Veterans Day, so I may get to see all of these. The Patriot Cinema has an awesome selection this week. City of Ember, The Express, Ghost Town, House Bunny, Wall-e, Tropic Thunder and Flash of Genius are playing there. Hey, for $1.99 you can't go wrong. (This lineup will make a great rental list) Madagascar:Escape 2 Africa and High School Musical 3: Senior Year are in theaters for the kids. The Secret Life of Bees, Body of Lies, The Duchess and W. are worth a look as well. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Twilight and Election Results

To kill time before the election results came in last night, I rented the movie Twilight. Great cast, not so great movie. By the time I flipped the news back on, Obama was in the lead, but by 10 PM I was so nervous about the results, I went to bed. I'd had it with the phrase, "anything can happen". I did get a chuckle out of Brian Williams noting that he had left the lights on in his office, when they showed a long shot of Rockefeller Center. When I woke up this morning, I immediately opened the NY Times online, and the huge letters on my screen read OBAMA ... what a relief! I am hopeful for this new administration, this country sure needs it. Hope the Obama kids get their puppy soon.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Spys and Smugglers in DVD

Get Smart is out in DVD this week. A fun action comedy with good performances, should be a satisfying rental. In my DVD que is Transsiberian, a thriller set in the world of drug smuggling. It's in the mail to me as I type!

And MOST important today, GET OUT AND VOTE !!