Sunday, May 31, 2009


A man has had it with his life, so he takes his house, and an unwitting boy, on the adventure of a lifetime. In Up we are taken to adventure and dreams in a way I've never seen before. Like WALL-E, in the first 10 minutes, the true emotion is structured with no dialogue and dissolved me to tears. The shear joy and energy of the characters is inspiring. There is love, new friends, bad guys, chases, rescues and heart. Cumulonimbus clouds were overhead on my ride home from the theater. My thoughts? "Oh, it's an Up sky today", how appropriate! This film takes a proud place in the stellar legacy of Pixar film. Loved it!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Drag Me to Hell

Horror is not a genre I run to in film, but after seeing a trailer for Drag Me to Hell, I was hooked. An old school horror film about a woman cursed by a gypsy crone she has wronged. All the campy bits worked,the jolts worked, I jumped at least 10 times (maybe more). Well structured and the ending really surprised and satisfied me. I haven't seen a traditional horror film in a long time, and this one was worth it.

Friday, May 29, 2009


In Lymelife, Rory and Kieran Culkin are a pleasure to watch. These talented young men give excellent performances as brothers who live in the suburbs of Long Island in the 70s. They deal with school bullies, young love, life decisions and miserable parents. A good coming of age film with an edgy story and strong performances. I was surprised how much I enjoyed Emma Roberts as the love interest. Worth a look.

Friday Flick Picks 5/29/09

There is joy in RI theaters this week, three wonderful films hit the cinemas and they couldn't be more different from each other. Pixar's summer offering,UP, is getting great reviews. Sam Rami's latest is a horror flick called Drag Me to Hell. This is another film that's been getting great buzz from the get-go. The third is a documentary called Anvil that everyone who sees it says, "see it". Also worth seeing in theaters is Night at the Museum:Battle at the Smithsonian, Star Trek, The Soloist and State of Play. The weekend is looking Up! (couldn't resist)

Thursday, May 28, 2009


Though Taken tends to be a bit melodramatic, it's a solid film. The strongest appeal of the movie is Liam Neeson's performance. He's pretty kick ass. When his character's daughter is kidnapped by sex traffickers, he springs into action to rescue her. As he chases the bad guys, my cries of get'em turned to shock more than once. One chase scene is especially exciting. There is cool camera work and editing, this is a satisfying thriller that is worth a look.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Last Chance Harvey

You don't imagine your child's wedding when your are raising them. Last Chance Harvey was as difficult to watch as I thought it would be. Harvey attends his daughter's wedding as a disjointed, divorced parent of an adult child. I've seen this situation first hand with friends and family. It struck a chord. Wonderful acting with a great cast. A sentimental tale.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Night at the Museum:Battle of the Smithsonian

I really enjoyed the first Night at the Museum movie, so I was psyched for the same film fun that is Night at the Museum:Battle of the Smithsonian. The latest version has the action taking place in the Smithsonian. It's a bit more disjointed than the first and has it's slow spots, but for the most part it is entertaining. There are even a few laugh out loud moments, the writing is sharper this round. There are still excellent visual effects, and Amy Adams, as Amelia Airhart, is the ray of sunshine in this one. The exposure to lots of historical events is a good side effect as well. Nice family friendly film.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Transfers and Thrillers in DVD

I haven't seen any of the new releases to DVD this week, so my que is ready to rock. New in Town looks entertaining, city girl transfers to a rural area . Powder Blue and Killshot look edgy and have all-star casts. A decent DVD lineup for this week.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Taking Chance

A friend at work recommended the film Taking Chance because of the compelling performance of Kevin Bacon. When it came out in DVD I put it on my list, it arrived last week. This film follows the escort of the remains of Chance Phelps, a Marine killed in the line of duty in Iraq. There are many powerful moments. The sobering sight of bags of ice gently placed on the bodies before they are respectfully returned home, the cleaning of the bodies, the care in preserving the personal effects, the reactions of people as the casket makes its journey. All respectful and tastefully portrayed. Not easy. This film is on HBO tonight. It's an appropriate film for this Memorial Day weekend.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Friday Flick Picks 5/22/09

Though Terminator Salvation and Night at the Museum:Battle of the Smithsonian will be the big box office this weekend, I'm more excited about the films Lymelife and Lemon Tree finding their way into RI art houses this week. No word on Dance Flick yet, but it opens today as well. Star Trek, X-Men Origins:Wolverine, Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, The Soloist, Monsters vs Aliens and Angels & Demons should give you plenty to pick from in theaters. Happy Memorial Day, enjoy the long weekend!

Don't forget that tickets are on sale for Newport Film Festival June 3-7, 2009. Check it out here.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

NIFF 2009 Preview

The lineup for the Newport International Film Festival was announced today. I have volunteered at this event since 2002, and relish the opportunity to sit close to quality film and film makers on my home turf for a few days. The program is impressive and we've got cool film makers and actors joining us. If you are local, or are going to be in RI any time between June 3rd and 7th, check out the schedule and join us! Tickets go on sale tomorrow!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Nerds and Nazis in DVD

Valkyrie is out in DVD this week. Decent historical drama. Paul Blart: Mall Cop and Fanboys are in my Netflix que.My home viewing time has been a bit limited lately. Hoping to catch up over the holiday weekend.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Friday Flick Picks 5/15/09

Not much going on in new releases for RI theaters this weekend. Angels & Demons holds no interest for me. I'll probably see Management. It would almost be best to just see Star Trek again. Also there's Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, X-Men Origins:Wolverine, State of Play, The Soloist and Obsessed. The family will like 17 Again, Hannah Montana:The Movie and Monsters vs Aliens.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Wendy and Lucy

A nuanced performance from Michelle Williams makes Wendy and Lucy a heartbreaking film. The story of a homeless girl and her dog, is told in a quiet style. Poignant and emotional, worth a look.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Hostage and History in DVD

It' s a light week for DVD releases. I've got the thrillers Taken and Passengers on que this week. Also, the documentary Of Time and the City. Hope the lineup on TV is better than this.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Star Trek

In May of 2006 I saw J.J. Abrams speak at Tribeca Film Festival. They had just announced that he was going to direct a new Star Trek movie, it was the eve of the release of MI:III, Lost was new and hot, and what did he want to talk about? Storytelling. J.J. Abrams is truly in love with stories. He is passionate about adventurous, mysterious, fun, hopeful stories. Three years later, I watched him talk to Charlie Rose about telling the story of Star Trek for everyone. Abrams not only loves stories, he loves movies, he loves his audiences. He talks about a movie as, "the dream the main character has, that changes him or her." He wanted to make a Star Trek movie that all audiences could enjoy. And he did just that with this cool space adventure.

Today I went to the theater and basked in the glory of what is a J.J. Abrams movie. A few of my thoughts on the Star Trek movie he made:

This movie is gorgeous.
This cast is gorgeous.
This movie is a non-stop thrill ride.
This movie uses humor well.
This movie will hold up to multiple viewings.
This movie has just enough old Star Trek references.
The audience I saw it with applauded at the end.
This movie is fun!

Go, enjoy, live long and prosper!

Friday, May 08, 2009

Friday Flick Picks 5/8/09

In RI theaters it is an all Star Trek weekend! Can't wait! All early reviews are positive for both Trek fans and non-fans. Hearing that it is just a great, stand alone, space adventure. In art houses, we've got Sugar and The Education of Charlie Banks. At the mega-plex there's Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, X-Men Origins:Wolverine, State of Play, The Soloist and Obsessed. The kids have 17 Again, Hannah Montana:The Movie and Monsters vs Aliens. I will boldly go to the theater .... you should too.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Twitter, Movies & Me

The Internet has been my portal to the entertainment world for many years now. At first it was a peep hole, it has now become a rather large picture window. The latest access, which I find highly entertaining, is Twitter. A social networking site that has folks answering the question, "what are you doing?" in 140 characters or less. In the last year, a lot of folks from the entertainment industry have jumped on. People I listen to on the radio, watch on TV and see in the theater have been posting "tweets" like crazy. It has given this movie geek access to the folks that bring me such joy through their work. It's interesting to follow a film maker on Twitter, then see them in person at film festival. Is it OK to say, "I follow you on Twitter"? Do you think they want to know? Another form of promotion and communication that's just plain fun for me. Thanks to all who Tweet, I'll be following........

Monday, May 04, 2009

Seniors, Surveillance and Survival DVD

The DVD release I've seen from this week is The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. A beautiful story of a man who ages backwards. Excellent performances abound, even from the technical crew. In my DVD que are, Last Chance Harvey, Wendy and Lucy, Look and Ecoute le Temps. A nice line up!

Sunday, May 03, 2009

The Soloist

Sometimes life does not hand us situations in a tidy box. In The Soloist, journalist Steve Lopez encounters a homeless man with an amazing musical talent ... and schizophrenia. Nathaniel Ayers is presented in a realistic way that makes it clear that mental illness is not a tidy situation. Wonderful performances tell a complicated story in a compassionate way. Well done.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Cake Eaters

The Cake Eaters is the story of two families. One has been traumatized by death. The other, is protective of a daughter, with a degenerative disease, looking for life experiences. The coming together of the characters is both heartbreaking and uplifting. I have to say, the more I see of Kristen Stuart's performances, the more I respect her talent and craft. As Jesse L. Martin said, "she's the shit". Wonderful young actress. In this story she gives a performance that makes you feel her character. Mature and understated, well done.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Friday Flick Picks 5/1/08

Though I've been embedded in Tribeca Film Festival this week, there are major releases in theaters today. The beloved Hugh Jackman comes to us in X-Men Origins:Wolverine. For fans of romantic comedy there's Ghosts of Girlfriends Past. 17 Again, Obsessed and State of Play remain in RI theaters. For the family there's Earth and Monsters vs Aliens. I'll be back in RI by Sunday to catch The Soloist to satisfy my adoration of Robert Downey Jr.