Tuesday, December 31, 2013

My Year in Film 2013

As a film year, 2013 was a bit slow until the spring. Thanks to the Cable Car Cinema, Tribeca Film Festival and a few dog-sitting stints in NYC. I had a lot of fun film experiences.

I was lucky that there was a special screening of Sound City at the Cable Car at the end of January. They also screened Room 327 as a fundraiser for a digital projection system. A few months later they screened The Sign Painters Movie. Ain't in it for My Health was another wonderful film with an informative Q&A. Hooray for the Cable Car Cinema, my movie oasis!

In the spring I attended The Tribeca Film Festival for the 11th year. Star sightings of Clint Eastwood and Julianne Moore at two different screenings was really fun. I actually had a brief conversation with Sam Rockwell after the screening of A Single Shot (swoon) and literally bumped into David Rosenthal, the director. I also had the pleasure of seeing a small film called Trash Dance at reRun in DUMBO and enjoyed a cool Q&A with the director and 2 of the subjects. A wonderful time.

While dog-sitting in Brooklyn in May I created my own film festival. I saw Before Midnight with a friend followed by dinner at the Olive Tree. I treated myself to a front row seat to see the Broadway show The Nance. Thrilling to be that close to Nathan Lane. Stories We Tell, Behind the Candelabra and Frances Ha rounded out my weekend. IFC, HBO and The Angelika were in heavy rotation that weekend.

For my birthday I was treated to the play The Killers and Other Family. A long conversation with the actors after the play was fascinating.

We saw Ratatouille with my grandsons, who loved the movie about the Little Chef. Finally, I saw Gravity in IMAX 3D with my teenage nephews Ian and Kyle. I was never so happy to have company at a film. Terrifying movie, intense and so good.

More than once this year I found myself saying "well that was better than I expected". I've also watched more films for a second time this year. 2013 turned out to be a solid year in film. There are alredy over 30 films on my "favorites" list.

That's my year in the theater. Looking forward to 2014!!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Great Beauty

In the Italian film The Great Beauty a man confronts his socialite life on his
65th birthday. Through wild party scenes and conversations we learn of his relationships and feelings. This film is gorgeous. A true visual feast that pairs well with the luscious life that is being celebrated. Decadent, dizzy and delightful, I'm glad I took the time to see this film.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Wolf of Wall Street

An addiction to money fuels the actions of Jordan Belfort and earns him the nickname The Wolf of Wall Street. He does everything to excess. Hookers, cars, yachts, mansions, blow, booze and pills. Drug use, sex, nudity and raunchy language abound. His business practices are not exactly legal and this eventually catches up to him. Leonardo DeCaprio plays Belfort with an energy that brings one of his finest performances to the screen. Scorsese shoots the heck out of this. Though it is a bit too long, this movie is a fun ride.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Drinking Buddies

The film Drinking Buddies is an honest look at relationships between men and women. Some romantic, some as friends. Taking place in a brewery, there is a lot of beer, which becomes a character itself. Well acted, I especially enjoyed the final scene.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Saving Mr. Banks

In Saving Mr. Banks we get two stories. The sanitized version of the making of Mary Poppins, and the more poignant story of P.L. Travers' childhood and relationship with her father. Mary Poppins was the first movie I ever saw in the theater, and I hold it responsible for my love of cinema to this day. It was interesting to me that the elements Travers objected to the most, were my favorites. music, animation and a touch of magic.The story of her childhood touched my heart and gives us a peek into the damaged psyche of a talented writer. The performances in this film were excellent. Worth a look.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

American Hustle

A hustle is defined as a fraud or a swindle. It is usually a con for monetary gain. In American Hustle a con man is forced to work with the FBI to expose the mob and corruption in NJ. Set in the 80's the costumes are a character themselves, getting their own laughs at times. All of the characters are colorful and much more interesting than the story. I liked the structure of this film and the acting was outstanding. A good film that would be an excellent rental.

Sunday, December 15, 2013


From the performances to the story to the black and white cinematography, Nebraska is one of the finest films out this year. When an elderly man thinks he has won a million dollars, and must go to Lincoln Nebraska, there's no stopping him. Even if he has to walk. His son reluctantly offers to drive him and the road trip begins. This film is smart, funny and heartfelt. The performances are outstanding, especially June Squibb as the outspoken Mother. Bruce Dern's comedic timing is absolutely brilliant. This is a film I think everyone would enjoy. I know I did.


This year is filled with films based on true stories and Philomena is another entry in this category. When a young girl is forced to give up her baby after a teenage dalliance, it weighs on her conscious. As an older woman, she meets a journalist who helps her find the the child as an adult. The result is poignant. The chemistry between Philomena and the journalist is interesting and sweet. I liked this film much more than I expected to.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Hunt

False accusations make for high drama. by nature, we tend to believe guilty until proven innocent. In The Hunt a child accuses a teacher and family friend of inappropriate behavior and the result is disastrous.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Blue is the Warmest Color

So much has been said about Blue is the Warmest Color in regard to its length and sexual content. Not enough has been said about the depth, heart and realities depicted in this film. The insecurities and exploration of sexuality and mature relationships are seen in an intimate form. Beautiful and heartbreaking. This is true cinema at its best. Glad I saw it in a theater.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Dallas Buyers Club

Ron Woodward was a man with AIDS who worked outside the medical system when he could not get the treatment he wanted. A tough livin', blue collar, rough-around-the-edges guy who liked women, coke, booze and the rodeo who did not take his diagnosis lying down. In the film Dallas Buyers Club we see the lengths he went to to get treatment for himself and others outside of the medical community. This made him very unpopular with the FDA ad the local hospital. The performances in this film are authentic and gripping. I think this is one of the best films of 2013.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

The second film in The Hunger Games series is very satisfying. In Catching Fire, we see President Snow pull a switch on the Tributes and they aren't happy. The arena is new, the gamemaker is new, half of the characters are new. The action of the game was excellent and there was more than one jump-start. A bit more depth was added to Katiness' relationships. For a movie that was over two hours long, this one flew. Well done.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Prince Avalanche

The burned out landscape of Texas is a stark background for the film Prince Avalanche. A two man road crew is sent to work in the area and we see the effects of the desolation and their relationship. I really liked the structure and performances in this film. worth a rental.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Heat

The odd-couple / buddy-cop formula has a long tradition in comedy. Thinking this has been a bit overdone, I skipped The Heat when it was in theaters. When I rented it, I found the story of a serious FBI agent who is forced to team up with a rough-around-the-edges cop to take down a ruthless drug lord. I was surprised by how entertaining this movie was. Genuinely funny, a bit raunchy and solid performances make this a solid rental. I liked this one.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Pacific Rim

In an effort to get more bang for my movie buck, when I hear that a story is marginal, I wait until the film comes out in DVD. With Pacific Rim I should have seen it in the theater. What a gorgeous film! Story was as dumb as I expected, robots battling monsters, but Gilermo del Toro created visuals that would have been well worth the price of a theater ticket.The run time is over 2 hours, which is a little long for this kind of film, but overall I had a lot of fun watching this one.

Monday, November 11, 2013

About Time

There is more to romance than a guy and a girl. In About Time we see mature love in a family as well as in a couple. There is a little fantasy twist that gives the stories more dimension and depth. This film was a pleasant surprise, and now I understand why it was so highly recommended. So glad I saw it!

Thor: The Dark World

I really enjoyed the 2011 film Thor. We continue to follow the trials and tribulations of Marvel's interpretation of the Norse god in Thor: The Dark World. Plenty of drama and battles with bad-ass villains new and old. I will say, this is Loki's film in so many ways. I like that these superhero films have a sense of humor. There are some very funny lines to lighten things up. This was a fun film for me.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013


After seeing 12 Years a Slave, I decided to seek out the other works of director Steve McQueen. I've seen Shame, so that left the film Hunger. This film looks at Bobby Sands' hunger strike in an Irish prison in 1981. In McQueen's unblinking style, we see Sands' struggles and negotiations inside the prison. Long takes and graphic detail are his signature, dramatic and riveting. Powerful film.

Saturday, November 02, 2013

12 Years a Slave

Slavery is an ugly piece of American history. In 12 Years a Slave we see the story of a man, legally free, living in the north, trafficked into slavery. The 12 year journey to freedom is devastating. This film does not look away from the brutalities suffered at the hands of those who regarded slaves as less than human. It brings you up close and makes you watch. Long takes, a dramatic score and outstanding performances bring this film into the audience's head and hearts. It will stay with you. This film is a must-see.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Muscle Shoals

What is the magic of a recording studio in Alabama? In the documentary Muscle Shoals, we meet Rich Hall and the Swampers, and learn the answer. The list of artists who recorded there is astounding. The love of the place is portrayed in interview after interview with the people who worked and recorded there. The editing and structure of this film is outstanding and brings us into the star-studded world of FAME Studio and Muscle Shoals Sound Studio. Another wonderful tale of music history. What a pleasure.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

All Is Lost

As a person who has spent a fair amount of time on the ocean, I found the film All Is Lost terrifying. Setting it in the Indian Ocean gave it an exotic element that took me a bit out of the "this could happen to you" feeling. Still, the story of a single handed sailor dealing with his damaged sailboat in and after a storm is frightening. The cinematography and single performance lead the viewer down a road of survival most of us will never know. Well done.


It is not news that wild animals in captivity is unnatural and in many cases, cruel and abusive. In Blackfish the focus is the procurement and effect of captivity on Orca whales. Disturbing and sad, the cold reality is put on the screen. A powerful documentary.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Captain Phillips

It is one thing to watch a story on the news from a safe distance. It is another thing to be put in the middle of that story. In Captain Phillips, Paul Greengrass sits us on Rich Phillips' shoulder during a harrowing Somali pirate invasion of his ship that actually happened in 2009. The point of view on this film is all Phillips and Greengrass' style serves this story well. The emotion culminates in the final scene. Very raw, very real. Worth seeing.

Saturday, October 12, 2013


As I've said, I grew up on the 60s. Everything the space program did was on broadcast television. When they would air space-walks, I was terrified for the astronauts. What if their tether broke? What if they ran out of oxygen? What if their suit had a leak? Space scared me. When the trailer for Gravity came out, all I could think was, "oh God, my worst nightmare is now on film." As the glowing reviews started rolling in, I knew I would have to see it. Then they put it in the IMAX format. Shit. Wisely, I got my teenage nephews to accompany me. The film is intense, immersive and terrifying. I loved it. I was happy to have company on the ride home. We talked the movie out, and I love how smart my nephews are about film and science. If you can, see Gravity in IMAX 3D, as it was meant to be. Gorgeous and terrifying. Well done.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Enough Said

In the film Enough Said a divorced woman enters a relationship with a nice man. A few complications arise that are uncomfortable and hilarious. The story is endearing, real and sweet. The twists and turns create the humor. There is one scene that will emotionally bring parents to their knees. I loved this film. And yes, James Gandolfini will be sorely missed.


For seven years I was in a relationship with a man who loved cars and car racing. He took me to racetracks and events once in a while. His knowledge was amazing. I called him the walking talking program. He made it interesting, and I developed a real appreciation of car racing and the people involved. The Formula One races are especially thrilling. In Rush, Ron Howard tells the story of a Formula One track rivalry in the 70s with heart and drama. The editing and sound are amazing. I have come to appreciate the thrill of the sound of a race car, Howard nailed it. The camera work is stunning and this film is so well crafted. I also was wowed by Chris Helmsworth and Daniel Bruhl. They bring the relationship of James Hunt and Niki Lauda to the screen with charm, passion and charisma. Great film, I'd see this one again.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Don Jon

After seeing Don Jon, I heard a woman say to her friend, "well that's not what I expected from the trailer." I kind of wanted to say, "what did you expect from a movie about a porn addict?" The sex in Don Jon is very graphic. In this film, Jon's porn addiction gets identified and addressed. It affects his friends, his family and his girlfriend. He is searching for reasons and solutions. This film is well written and performed, the characters are honest and endearing. Jon's family is fantastic. I really liked this film.

The We and the I

In The We and the I we experience a bus ride home from school for some New York City high school students. There is angst, camaraderie, teasing, bullying and friendship. It's tough to watch teenagers talk and translate the world sometimes. Makes me very aware of my middle-age. Once you get used to the teen-speak, this is a film worth seeing.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

The Spectacular Now

Coming of age is a popular theme in film. The Spectacular Now is a strong addition to this genre. All the elements of awkwardness, goals, friends, family struggle, love and decision making are here. The girl has dreams of the future, the boy lives for the now. The standout for me was in the acting. Shailene Woodley and Miles Teller turn in honest, heartfelt performances. This is a solid film I enjoyed.

Friday, September 06, 2013

Sign Painters

Last year, I watched a group of men hand paint a billboard outside my daughter's apartment window in Brooklyn, NY. Not only was I impressed with the fact that anyone was hand painting these days, the logistics of the rigging, ladders and scaffolding was mesmerizing and terrifying. I learned that the young men painting were with a company called Colossal Media, the largest outdoor sign company in the country. On a rainy afternoon, I ran into them in front of the building, and we chatted about their work. Nice guys. Over the last year, I have followed them on social media and watched their work pop up all over NYC. When the documentary Sign Painters was coming to the Cable Car Cinema, with a Q&A from the directors I was all in! In this documentary we meet hand letterers and sign painters from all over the US. The most dramatic footage is with my pals from Colossal Media, showing how they rig and climb the huge walls they paint in NYC. Having just watched the Skyhigh crew paint a new mural in Brooklyn over Labor Day weekend, I asked director Sam Macon how it was filming them. He said it was especially harrowing because they were working in the early phase of hurricane Irene. Real life drama rivals Hollywood. There were a lot of sign painters in the audience at the Cable Car screening, who shared stories of pursuing their art. This is a solid documentary that explores a cool art form.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

You're Next

In You're Next a family reunion goes from bad to worse when a home invasion attack goes horribly wrong. Though promoted as a horror film, I would call this a violent crime film. The dynamics in the family were most interesting to me, as I was deciding what order I wanted them killed off in the first 20 minutes of the film. What an obnoxious group of characters. The course of events is well laid out and there are a fair number of jump scares. I liked this film a lot more than I expected to.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

The World's End

Can you reproduce an epic pub-crawl after 20 years? A group of friends try and run into issues they never expected in The World's End. The dialogue in this film is brilliant and the situation rattles out of control in a delightful manner. This film is raucous, ribald and ridiculous. One of the most entertaining films of the year, with one of the best final fight scenes ever. A fitting finale for the Cornetto Trilogy. Loved it!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Blue Jasmine

When a wealthy woman suffers a divorce and the demise of her lifestyle, we get the story of Blue Jasmine. Cate Blanchett gives the performance of a lifetime playing a woman coming apart at the seams as she loses one life, tries to build another and struggles to find herself. Along the way, we meet family and acquaintances that Jasmine struggles with as well.  I think this is one of the best movies of the year. The performances are stellar from a very eclectic cast. I'll probably see this film again.

Saturday, August 17, 2013


Racism is possibly one of the ugliest sides of human nature. In the film 42 we see this magnified by the entrance of Jackie Robinson to professional baseball. I always find racism difficult to watch, especially when it turns violent, but this film highlights the strength and perseverance of the people. This is not just a sports film. Worth a look.

The Company You Keep

In The Company You Keep a journalist investigates a former member of the Weathermen in a cat and mouse chase for justice on past crimes. An amazing cast makes this worth seeing, It's also an interesting part of history to revisit. Good film.

Friday, August 09, 2013

To the Wonder

At one point in To the Wonder I thought, "this film feels like a ballet." And then there was a ballet scene! Talk about leading your audience. This film tells the story of a couple's love, passion and struggles. It is quiet, poetic and dramatic. Relationships become complicated and conflicts arise. In true Malick style, there is very little dialogue. Not for everyone, but I really liked it.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

The Sapphires

The story of musicians ups and downs is not a new story. What I liked about the film The Sapphires was an interesting setting and characters that have a bit of sass. We don't see a lot about USO tours during the Vietnam War. There is a love story and a rich family story. Along with excellent performances I've been recommending this film a lot.

Sunday, August 04, 2013


I was fascinated with George Plimpton when I was a kid. His books and TV specials showed a man putting himself in a situation before he wrote about it. I admired that. This afternoon I enjoyed the documentary Plimpton!. It gave me background and insight to the life of the man. A bit glamorous, a little bittersweet. I really enjoyed this film.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

A Band Called Death

When the name of your band is Death, you limit your marketability. In the documentary A Band Called Death we meet the Hackney brothers who formed a band in the early 70s and called it Death. When record executives told them their music was great, but change the name, they refused. As a result, the masters for an album sat in an attic storage box for over 30 years. You will need to see the film to find out what happens next. It is surprising, it is uplifting, it is heartwarming. This is a documentary worth seeing.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Fruitvale Station

In 2009 a young man was shot by police in an out-of-control situation in a BART Station in California. The days before this event are depicted in the film Fruitvale Station. The life of Oscar Grant is crystallized in a series of scenes showing his positive and negative attributes. This is a well structured film, the performances are excellent and the story is compelling. There is a movement to bring positive attitudes to force, prejudice, bullying and social injustice behind this film. Well worth seeing.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Ain't in it for My Health

I was a child of the 60s. I grew up on pop music on the radio. I knew the songs, but not much about the artists. Many of the artists of that era have been the subjects of documentary films over the last decade or so, and it is a wonderful way to learn more about the artists from that pre-technology period. The film Ain't in it for My Health: A Film About Levon Helm focuses on Levon Helm, drummer for The Band. It takes place during the release and tour of his last album, with flashbacks to his earlier career. When I saw the film The Last Waltz, I was reminded of The Band's hits, and what a big part of that early rock scene they were. This film shows Helm as a sweet, intense man who loved his craft. He also loved his farm in up-state NY. He insisted that footage of him doing donuts on his tractor be in the film. The touring and the business had taken a toll on him physically, yet he continued to write and perform. This was a nice peek behind the curtain at an artist who loved his family, his farm, his music and his life.

Only God Forgives

Every once in a while I see a film that I don't get until I've thought about it for a day or so. Only God Forgives is one of those films. Pensive, violent, bloody, beautiful, this film takes it's time telling a simple story of crime and vengeance. Truly an art film.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Conjuring

I'm a bit of a skeptic when it comes to paranormal activity, so when I heard of The film The Conjuring, I dismissed it. Then I started reading the reviews. Film folks I trust were saying that this film was well done. Then I learned that the film is based on the history of a house here in RI, so I decided to check it out. I was impressed with the story, the production value and the acting. The suspense is well structured and gives you the creeps in just the right way. Happy to see it do well at the box office, this is a strong film.


My Grandsons' love of movies has been nurtured. Their family holds Family Movie Nights and seeing a movie in the theater is a special treat. They have been taught how to behave in the theater and they are only 2 and 4. On their most recent visit to RI we went to see the movie Turbo as a family. The boys love race cars and all things crawly and silly. Turbo fit the bill. Every once in a while I would look down the row to see how they were doing, and they were engrossed in the movie, munching away on their popcorn. This movie-lovin' Lili was pretty happy. I thought Turbo was a lot of fun. Your basic underdog story with a little tweak. The kids loved it. Family fun!

Friday, July 19, 2013

The Way Way Back

I have been a fan of Sam Rockwell and his work for many years. This spring I had the pleasure of running into him at Tribeca Film Festival after the screening of his film A Single Shot. He was charming, friendly and sweet. I became even more enamored with the actor. In The Way Way Back, Rockwell plays a water park manager with the same charm I experienced in person. The entire cast in this coming of age film is outstanding. The story of a teenage boy trapped on summer vacation with his Mother and her new boyfriend is very genuine and heartfelt. This is one of the best films I've seen this year. Worth a look.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Movie 43

Do you want outrageous? Do you want funny? Do you want raunchy? Give Movie 43 a look. Crazy anthology film I rented on Peter Farrelly's recommendation. You can tell that the multiple directors and dozens of stars had a lot of fun with this insane comedy.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

The East

Brit Marling should be very proud of The East. A tight little thriller that follows the rebel group "The East" and the agency looking to take them down. It gets real, it gets personal. This movie is not perfect, but I liked it.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Much Ado About Nothing

Shakespearean prose has it's own lilt and life. Translated to film, set in modern times, Much Ado About Nothing is such a treat. A film that works so well in black & white, this piece is gorgeous. Do yourself a favor and see this gem on a big screen. Loved it!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Monsters University

I think Monsters, Inc. is a perfect film. Beautifully animated, clever premise, big heart. I was skeptical of a prequel, but was pleasantly surprised with Monsters University. From the monsters' elementary school days to college, we see where friendships began and where some end. In true Pixar fashion, the animation is gorgeous. The new characters are great and it's nice to see the old pals. The messages in this film work well without being preachy. The transition into Monsters, Inc. is smooth. Fun film that is a wonderful addition to Pixar's rich history. Well done.

This Is the End

When a group of young actors are faced with the end of the world, it gets funny, it gets freaky, it gets raunchy. The actors all play themselves. From the brains of Seth Rogan and Evan Goldberg, This Is the End takes us on a crazy ride into the rapture. Faced with crisis, human nature shows its ugly side and the result is hilarious. Did I mention the demons? Fantastic cameos are the icing on the cake. Fun summer movie.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Man of Steel

I like Superman. We have been offered many origin stories for this popular character and Man of Steel is a nice addition to the tradition. A lot of time is spent on Kal-El's story and the demise of Krypton. Clark Kent is seen in his pre-Daily Planet days, trying to find himself and adjust to his powers. Lois Lane is given more to do than in previous films. There is a darker tone here. The battle scenes were a bit over-done, but that's super-hero movies for ya. Interested to see where they go with this series. Well done.

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Now You See Me

I have long been a fan of magic and illusion. As a kid I practiced card tricks and learned slight of hand. I saw Doug Henning live and spent an amazing evening at the Magic Castle in Los Angeles. In the movie Now You See Me the dedication and time that it takes to create an illusion is shown. In this case there is a crime and a mysterious goal. Thought the illusions were a lot of movie magic, I still found it entertaining.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Big Easy Express

The joy of music is gloriously depicted in the documentary Big Easy Express. Mumford & Sons, Old Crow Medicine Show and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes board a train and take their music from San Francisco to New Orleans. The music they play for each other on the train, is as good as the actual  performances. My favorite was The Austin High School marching band playing with Mumford & Sons at SXSW. The energy in those kids was electric. Be sure to watch the deleted scenes on the DVD. The performances are stunning.

Sunday, June 02, 2013

What Maisie Knew

Two of the worst movie parents put their child at risk in What Maisie Knew. The reality of what happens to a child when neither parent has the child's best interest at heart is painful and a bit disturbing. This film has a lot of heart and scared the heck out of me more than once. Take care of your children folks.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Frances Ha

At my age, stories of twenty-somethings are wearing a little thin. For all the critical acclaim, I was skeptical going into Frances Ha. When an older gentleman tore my ticket at IFC Center he said, "The great Frances Ha is in Cinema 1." I thought, if he liked it, maybe I would too. What unfolded when the lights went down was a story of facing reality, finding self, survival and maturity. In stunning black and white, the story of Frances is realistic and satisfying. I'm glad I went.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Behind the Candelabra

Liberace was the original showman. He was a gifted pianist who took his art to another level of performance with theatrical staging and costumes. In Behind the Candelabra we see an unblinking look into his world from the time he meets a a very young Scott Thorson to his death. The performances are amazing and the portrayals of these men are a bit brutal at times. Well done.

The Stories We Tell

When actor/film maker Sarah Polley learns a family secret, involving her mother who died when she was 11 years old, she decides to gather family and friends to share their memories of the woman. In Stories We Tell, the story unfolds from her script and the memories of others. The stories come together to give us a view of a vibrant woman. There is a reveal that is handled with love, compassion and little drama. This film is beautifully structured and tells quite a story. Worth a look.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Before Midnight

In Before Midnight we catch up with Celine and Jesse 18 years after they first met. They are on vacation in Greece with their children as the guests of one of Jesse's colleagues. We follow them for a day as they discuss life, work, relationships, children and aging. The dialogue flows and has very realistic moments. They reminisce, they flirt, they fight, they kiss, they make up, they let us in on what's been going on with them. It is mesmerizing and heartfelt. I liked that you did not have to have seen the films Before Sunrise or Before Sunset to enjoy this film. I think it is the best of the three.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Stand Up Guys

In Stand Up Guys, three career criminals work on what it means to be a stand up guy. After getting out of jail, Val deals with friends, family and old enemies. He and his friends must deal with the fact that they are not young men any more. Mortality is at their door and knocking in more than one way. Dialogue driven, I liked this film. "Chew gum or kick ass? I'm all out of gum."

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Great Gatsby

F. Scott Fitgerald's novel, The Great Gatsby has been interpreted in film several times. Baz Luhrmann's latest interpretation is flashy, passionate and stylish. I was surprised that hip hop worked in the sound track. It added edge and pizazz. The visual effects in this film are stunning. Color and light create mood and tone. Though a bit long, I liked this much more than I expected to.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Star Trek Into Darkness

I was 10 years old when Star Trek hit TV in the 60s. It was a wonder. My brothers and I were fast fans. There was adventure, humor, the future and I developed a quick crush on Captain Kirk. It was followed by movies and series reboots in the 80s that were OK, but when JJ Abrams grabbed the reins a few years ago, new life was breathed into that universe. In 2009 Star Trek won over legions of fans, and it looks like Star Trek Into Darkness has done the same. A very simple battle with a terrorist, for very simple reasons, is all we need for story. There is action, there are fights, chases, quips and yes, love. The audience I saw this with was full of fans, and at one point, when an explosion was imminent someone yelled, "get out!" The next line from the screen? "We'd better get out of here!" It was awesome. This film was a fun ride and a new actor interprets a familiar character masterfully. I really enjoyed this movie.

Friday, May 17, 2013

The Loved One

When Johnathan Winters passed away, the film The Loved One was recommended to me. A satire from the 60s, this black and white gem pokes fun at the funeral business at the expense of Hollywood. The script is brilliant as is the cast Winter, Robert Morse, John Gielgud, Milton Berle, James Coburn, Paul Williams, Liberace, Roddy McDowall, Rod Steiger.... Their goal was to offend everyone. Mission accomplished with a lot of laughs. Fantastic!

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Iron Man 3

The third film in the Iron Man franchise explores a much more vulnerable Toby Stark than we have seen thus far. It plays well as entertainment and humor, but I think superhero fans will be disappointed in an insecure, vulnerable Iron Man. Iron Man 3 finds Tony Stark, a bit traumatized post-Avengers fighting off monsters in NYC. He is working out his anxieties by making an army of suits and amping up the technology as therapy. When The Mandrin post a terrorist threat, Stark challenges the villain and a new battle begins. I liked how it played out. There are a few surprises and twists that I liked. So glad I sat through the credits for a scene that made me laugh. Fun start to the summer movie season.

The Angels' Share

When distilling whiskey, the percent that evaporates is called The Angels' Share. Take that information with you when you see this film. In The Angels' Share a band of misfit criminals enjoy the benefit of a probation officer's love and appreciation of whiskey. All are looking for a way out of their lives of crime, but they choose to commit a crime to achieve the goal. A bit of a disconnect, but the entertainment value is high. Lovely film.

Saturday, May 04, 2013


Beautifully shot, well acted and a story that moves, Mud was a nice surprise today. Motivated by his belief in true love, a young boy aids a man who is dangerous and undeserving of his efforts. Well done.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Tribeca Film Festival 2013 Day Four

I woke up to another beautiful sunrise on my last day in NYC. First order of the day was taking the dogs for a walk. After a quick lunch I headed to the subway only to learn that there was no F train. Got on an A and made a few wrong turns on the streets and had to hustle to the theater. A Single Shot was my final film of the festival. A taught thriller I enjoyed, and the film maker and it's star were in attendance. After an up close and personal encounter with Rockwell and Rosenthal I ducked into Heartland Brewery for a beer to settle my jangled  nerves. I navigated the subway better on my return to Brooklyn and swung by Smorgasberg to pick up some jerky for the kids. On the way home, I bought a box of Brooklyn Cupcakes for my house sitter and brought a lasagna back to the apartment for dinner. Packing up while the pups watched, was kind of sad. The ride home was uneventful, though I was puzzled by road work in CT late on a Sunday night. Arriving home, I had the after vacation feeling of bliss. It has been an amazing week with a lot of fun people and wonderful film. Thanks NYC. Thanks Tribeca Film Festival. Thanks Liza & Ryan. Thanks to all the friends who joined me. What a blast! Can't wait for Tribeca Film Festival 2014!!

A Single Shot

A strong cast led me to check out A Single Shot on my final day at Tribeca Film Festival. A closed subway and a few missteps had me arriving at the theater sweaty and out of breath. Fortunately, there was an empty seat in the center of the sixth row. Perfect. The film is a thriller that complicates a man's life after a single shot of his rifle. The film is intense and tight with wonderful performances. After the film they brought out the director, David Rosenthal, who introduced the writer of the novel and screenplay, Matthew Jones and the star, Sam Rockwell. It was a thrill and the third time I've seen Rockwell live. The Q&A was interesting and people surrounded the men as the discussion ended. After checking the messages on my phone, I started to walk out of the theater. Two men were walking beside me. Looking to my left, I realized that one was Sam Rockwell. I blubbered an awkward "I love your work." He was sweet and we chatted for a moment. Walking away from him, as I passed the other exit of the theater, David Rosenthal almost bumped into me. We did the obligatory "excuse me", and I complimented his work as well ( loved Janie Jones). As I was walking down the street to find the subway, I realized I was shaking. My encounter with these wonderful film makers had rattled me. It was very cool that they were so nice. An Irish red ale at Heartland Brewery settled my nerves and I was so grateful for this run in. My last film at Tribeca Film Festival was wonderful.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Tribeca Film Festival 2013 Day Three

On Saturday I wake to another beautiful sunrise and the promise of a beautiful spring day in NYC. A nice walk around the hood with the pups and I'm on an A Train heading into Tribeca. With a half hour to kill before I meet a friend for lunch I head up Greenwich Street, navigating the Tribeca Film Festival Family Street Fair. Clowns, bands, games, food, beverage, Broadway music, you name it, both kids and adults were were enjoying this event. At the Moroccan restaurant Salya, I met a friend for a nice lunch. Panini and a Bloody Mary hit the spot. Back at the red carpet at BMCC I met another friend to get in line for Eastwood Directs: The Untold Story. 45 minutes before the film and the line was already down the block and around the corner onto Chambers Street. Having been in this theater the night before, I knew exactly where to sit. Front row, back section center. A perfect unobstructed view of the stage. The film was good. A love letter to Eastwood, his work and his directorial style from collaborators and friends. When the film ended the man took the stage with Darren Aronofsky and spent 40 minutes talking about his craft. He was genuine, funny, generous and SO Clint Eastwood. I left the theater with a spring in my step and a deep gratitude to Tribeca Film Festival for this event. A roundabout walk found us at the Tribeca Grand for a cocktail. A beautiful hotel, with a beautiful bar, serving beautiful cocktails. Mine was a cosmo. Cucina de Vino was our choice for dinner before I got back on the subway to return to the pups. I arrived back in Brooklyn tired and incredibly satisfied. The sadness of leaving tomorrow is starting to set in. Glad it was such a great day!

Eastwood Directs: The Untold Story

On Saturday of Tribeca Film Festival I headed out to BMCC to see the documentary Eastwood Directs: The Untold Story. it was to be followed by a talk with Clint Eastwood and Darren Aronofsky. I am a huge fan of Eastwood's work both on the screen and behind the camera. The opportunity to see the man in person was too good to pass up.

The film was a lot of people Estwood has worked with giving their views on working with the man. Clips from his films and behind the scenes stills and footage was interspersed. It was an interesting film.

After the film Eastwood and Aronofsky took the stage for a conversation. When Eastwood directed the standing crowd to sit, they did. Immediately. All I could think was, when Eastwood directs, people listen. Aronofsky admitted to being nervous in the presence of the man. Eastwood chuckled and set the man at ease by saying, "what a thrill." For the next 40 minutes the men talked a little about Eastwood's career and the influence of Sergio Leone on his work, but for the most part they talked about his process. Eastwood said, "just tell the story." He also spoke to putting the actors and crew in a place where you get the most out of them. He compared it to having a "criminal mentality, be sneaky." He feels that making a film is collaborative, it works as an ensemble. Within the process, Eastwood talked about having realistic expectations.  He said, "if something doesn't work, just try it again." When asked if there was a benefit to being the director and actor on a film, he replied that he thought that actors like to work for an actor. On getting a specific performance out of an actor he said that sometimes you have to be an amateur psychiatrist. He gave examples of appealing to an actor's ego and keeping things calm to get that great scene. It was interesting to learn that he doesn't use the words "action" or "cut" very much, especially with kids and horses. Makes them nervous. He also likes to leave the camera rolling when the actors think the scene is over, "that's where you get more natural performances." When he was asked which of his films were his favorites, I was surprised to hear him say two of his most recent, Mystic River and Million Dollar Baby. As for the future? He said he is often looking at this next project while working on the current one. As to how long he'll make movies, he replied "Wouldn't it be great to be 105 and still making films?" It sure would.

Thanks to Tribeca Film Festival for this event and to Mr. Eastwood for his generosity and candor. What an amazing afternoon!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Tribeca Film Festival 2013 Day Two

Waking up to a crisp, clear morning in Brooklyn, I decided that the pups needed a little exercise. We walked the waterfront and around the neighborhood. A little lunch at the apartment and then I'm off the the East Village. Giving myself time for a little desert at The Smith, I head to the AMC Village 7 for a screening of The Director. This documentary is the story of the creative director at Gucci, Frida Gianinni. With no q&A I have just enough time to hop on the subway and make my way to Tribeca. Passing City Hall there is a protest going on and construction has made a mess of Chambers Street. As I go into the theater at BMCC I realize it is 2 years since I was last here. It feels good to be back. Julianne Moore gave a quick introduction to The English Teacher, a comedy I enjoyed. Back in the subway I return to Brooklyn, feed the pups and realize that I have time to cross the street to reRun and catch the film Trash Dance. The Q&A with director Andrew Garrison and two of the men in the film turns into a friendly conversation. Nice people, great film. After the film I walked down the street to where they are filming Animal Rescue. I see lights, trucks and equipment, but no star sightings. Time for bed and the satisfaction of a wonderful day.

Trash Dance

The documentary Trash Dance started out with the vision for a piece by choreographer Allison Orr. In the end, it became a story of people and their work, their lives, their families and accomplishment. The Austin Sanitation Department are asked to participate in a dance performance involving the workers, their equipment and their talents. As they get to know the choreographer, and she them, it becomes a story of people working to their strengths. I saw this film at reRun in Brooklyn. The film maker Andrew Garrison, and two of the men in the film conducted a Q&A that became a lovely conversation. I loved this film, see it if you can.

The English Teacher

In The English Teacher a past student comes back to his home town after failing as a playwright in NYC. He lets his old English teacher read one of his plays and she sweeps him into producing the play at the high school. There are laughs, there is drama there is scandal. A strong cast brings a performance level that makes the characters interesting and funny. There is a narration that is used very well, and at the end, is used for excellent comedic effect. This was a World Premiere at Tribeca Film Festival and I was a little surprised that there was no Q&A after the film.

The Director

Drama in the fashion world is evident in The Director: An Evolution in Three Acts. This is a behind the scenes look at Frida Gianni and her work at Gucci. A smart woman who shares her vision. For me, this film was about collaboration and how to get results. The way she works with other designers, producers and models was interesting. Beautifully filmed and edited, I liked this documentary.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Tribeca Film Festival 2013 Day One

After a lovely visit with my daughter and grandsons in NJ, I headed to Brooklyn to stay with my grand-dogs while the kids are on vacation. Since their vacation coincided with Tribeca Film Festival, this is a happy state of affairs. The pups were happy to see me, and after wrangling my car out, then back in to the parking garage (so frustrating). I took the F train to the East Village. I arrived in front of the AMC Village 7 at the same time as my friend, and were quickly seated for Stand Clear of the Closing Doors. The film about a teen with autism wandering off and spending a week in the subway system of NYC with his mother  desperately looking for him, told many stories. The director, Sam Flieschner conducted an interesting Q&A after the film. Coming out of the theater into the sunshine, we went across the street to the Penny Farthing for a bite to eat, a little wine and discussion of the film. Getting back on the subway to return to Brooklyn, NYPD was set up to inspect bags, a welcome sight considering all that went on in Boston last week.
Back in DUMBO, I realized that I had time to get my car out of the parking garage (street parking is preferred) , play with the dogs and walk across the street to see the film Gut Renovation at rerun. That's right, I'm staying across the street from a movie theater! Pretty cool. The film was an interesting history of the city's actions to change Williamsburg from a working neighborhood, to residential. Kind of sad in a way. The plan has no balance and long-time residents are being forced out. It's all about the money. Film maker Su Friederich conducted an informative and passionate Q&A after the film. After a little walk around the neighborhood, I returned to the pups and felt good about my first day at film festival.

Stand Clear of the Closing Doors

Set in NYC in the throws of Hurricane Sandy, Stand Clear of the Closing Doors is a drama of family, loss and special needs. A young boy with autism runs away, and spends days in the NYC subway system while his Mother searches for him. There were a lot of stories going on, I would have liked more development of a few of those. The filming is excellent, especially the footage shot in the subway. This film was finished last Wednesday and could use a little more editing. Some scenes are a touch too long. The director, Sam Flieschner conducted an interesting Q&A.

Gut Renovation

On my first day at Tribeca Film Festival, I decided to find another film to see after my festival film. I am staying in Brooklyn and the restaurant across the street, rebar, has a movie theater in the back that shows independent films. I made it back in time to catch the film Gut Renovation at rerun. This documentary chronicles the renovation of Williamsburg in Brooklyn. It talks about the people that have been displaced and the future of this neighborhood. A very interesting situation politically and financially. The film maker, Su Friedrich came in after the film and conducted a passionate Q&A. What a pleasant surprise!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Place Beyond the Pines

The Place Beyond the Pines feels like 3 films. Small town life effects three men, their work and families. Desperation, crime, work, love, family, it's all there. Bad decisions and corruption take a front seat and we watch the consequences unfold.The third act falls apart a bit, but the performances are strong and so is the emotional punch.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Dark City

On the recommendation of film critic Scott Weinberg, I rented the film Dark City. This film noir with a sci-fi twist, is well structured and well acted. It has beautiful visuals, special effects and music that works the story masterfully. There is a dream-like quality to the storytelling in this film. What is reality? What is memory? What is manipulated? And there's the brain battle. Loved this film. Watched it a second time with the Roger Ebert commentary. Poignant this week. Thanks Scott.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Ginger & Rosa

Friendship, family and politics get a little time under the microscope in Ginger & Rosa. The Cuban Missile Crisis is a cloud over London in the 60s and Ginger takes a heartfelt stab at advocacy. Her parents provide a distraction as they separate and her Father takes inappropriate action. A solid drama with outstanding performances.


The film Kids starts out feeling crude, rude and socially unacceptable. But as the main character's quest to deflower every girl in the neighborhood, an STD gives the film the feel of a thriller. Well done.

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Spring Breakers

After listening to an interesting interview with Harmony Korine and James Franco, I decided to see Spring Breakers in the theater. On it's release, I thought I would rent it because I didn't want to be in a theater with a bunch of kids watching a movie about Spring Break. After 3 weeks in theaters, and a beautiful sunny spring afternoon the theater was empty. I saw the film the way I wanted to, alone. This film goes from scenes of the debaucherous behavior of spring break, to a crime spree with consequences. The visuals are intense. A gritty art film. Glad I saw it in the theater.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Hello I Must Be Going

Following a crippling divorce, a young woman moves back in with her parents. Though they are sympathetic,  after a few months they start to encourage her to pull herself together. In Hello I Must Be Going, the parents themselves have things they want to do, and watching their daughter mope is not one of them. Then the woman meets a young man. The effect this has speaks to the power of self esteem. Well acted, this is a drama with a message and an outcome that makes sense. I liked it.

Happy People: A Year in the Taiga

In Siberia, the trappers have a unique way of life. In Werner Herzog's film Happy People: A Year in the Taiga we see the trappers through four seasons. The environment is harsh. As they go through their days, Herzog states, "these are truly happy people." The role of the male in this culture is personified by the woman staying with the children and parents says, "now we are alone." Though there are 5 other people in the home, without the man they are "alone" I was struck by that. This documentary is visually stunning and tells quite a story.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

A Royal Affair

History can provide some pretty juicy stories and A Royal Affair does just that. The eccentric King of Denmark takes a queen, has a child, tries to navigate the corrupt government, takes on a confidant who beds his wife and creates scandal and political unrest. I really liked this film.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Comedy

Antics that seem funny as adolescents, are just sad in a middle aged man. The Comedy follows a 35 year old man in his ungrounded actions as his father lies ill in their mansion. Entitled and juvenile, the montage of his actions plays as a black comedy. I found it to be a heavy drama. This film stayed with me awhile.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Room 237

If you are a fan of The Shining, the words Room 237 will give you a chill. In the Kubrick thriller, that room was foreboding, mysterious and scary. The documentary, Room 237 takes several analytical looks at hidden meaning and imagery in the film. Trying to get inside the head of Stanley Kubrick to give meaning to what I thought was just a good scary movie. A lot of the theories are a bit far-fetched for me, and some read a bit much into continuity problems and camera angles. This is a well structured documentary, but the audience I saw it with had some good laughs at the more ridiculous interpretations. It was nice of IFC to allow the Cable Car Cinema to screen this film as a fundraiser for its Digital Upgrade equipment. A sell-out crowd with an interesting documentary made for a fun night in a great theater.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Rust and Bone

In the film Rust and Bone, a chance encounter sets off a relationship between a struggling fighter with a child, and a marine animal trainer. She suffers a devastating accident and their relationship goes down a bumpy road. The strength of their relationship is based on frank communication and loyalty. The characters are very honest and gritty. Very little makeup was used on the actors and the pallet is a bit grey. The emotion in this film is strong. I really liked this film.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


The film Smashed is the story of a hard partying couple, whose drinking has become a problem. There are meltdowns, lies and struggles, especially for the wife. It threatens their work and relationship. This film is heartfelt, honest and heartbreaking. The story of recovery is hopeful and realistic. The performances are outstanding. I liked this film.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Oz the Great and Powerful

I was born in 1956, so I grew up with the classic MGM Wizard of Oz movie. So ingrained in our culture, any other interpretation doesn't seem quite right. When any others have tried to tell the story of Dorothy Gale and her adventures, they are held to scorn and the gold standard of that classic. The story of how Oz got to Oz has now been interpreted in the film Oz the Great and Powerful. It has been met with a fair amount of comparison and criticism, though it tells the story of what may have happened before Dorothy arrived in Oz. It gives us the back story of the wizard, the witches and the inhabitants of the Emerald City. I like that the wizard is a sleazy flim-flam man out for riches and women. That holds true to the original story.The movie gets a bit lost near the end, but the effects are good and the performances are fine. Good family entertainment, though some of the battle scenes could be too intense for little ones. The flying monkeys are now flying baboons and are pretty scary. The audience I saw it with applauded as the credits rolled.

Saturday, March 02, 2013

Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn: Part 2

I have trouble writing about bad movies. I have not written about a Twilight movie since 2009 because these movies are pretty awful. Breaking Dawn: Part 2 is laughable. The Looney Tunes sound effects, cheesy lines and flying heads had me shaking my head the whole time. My suggestion? Read the books, or, if you need a laugh, watch the movie. One thing I will say, is that becoming a vampire actually made the character of Bella interesting and gave Kristen Stewart more to do than just brood. I will confess, I watched the vampire battle scene twice, because it was cartoonish and highly entertaining. I'm sure fans loved the credit sequence. All of the characters were in it, regardless of whether they were in this film. A nice finale.

Friday, March 01, 2013

Holy Motors

The French film Holy Motors left me very unsure of what I had just watched. Though the ending had a very spiritual tone, the rest of the film was avant garde and disjointed. I will say it was a visual feast. I really liked this film.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Oscars 2013

For the first time in over a decade I am watching the Oscars with my daughter and her husband. I usually watch alone, often by design, but the invitation to spend the weekend and stay over through Monday was too tempting. We will talk fashion, speeches, production and general snark. My son-in-law is overseeing the Oscar Pool with his wonderful sense of humor. Of the 53 nominated films, I have seen 46. It was a good year for My Oscar Project. Below are my picks if I were to cast an Oscar ballot. I am Red Carpet ready, and wishing Seth McFarland a good show.

Linda's Oscar Picks

Best Picture  Argo
Best Director Michael Haneke - Amour
Best Actress  Jessica Chastain - Zero Drk Thirty
Best Actor Daniel Day-Lewis - Lincoln
Best Supporting Actress - Anne Hathaway - Les Miserables
Best Supporting Actor- Christoph Waltz - Django Unchained
Best Foreign Feature - Amour
Best Animated Feature - The Pirates! Band of Misfits
Best Documentary Feature - Searching for Sugar Man
Best Animated Short - Fresh Guacamole
Best Live Action Short - Curfew
Best Documentary Short - Mondays at Racine
Best Costume - Anna Karenina
Best Makeup and Hairstyles - The Hobit
Best Original Screenplay - Moonrise Kingdom
Best Adapted Screenplay - Lincoln
Best Original Song - Skyfall
Best Score - Argo
Best Cinematography - Skyfall
Best Production Design - Anna Karenina
Best Visual Effects - Life of Pi
Best Editing - Argo
Best Sound Editing - Zero Dark Thirty
Best Sound Mixing - Les Miserables

Sunday, February 17, 2013

House of Cards

In a historic move, Netflix has dropped a complete season of 13 episodes of a political themed TV show on its Instant viewing queue. House of Cards is a political drama that is well written and skillfully acted. Kevin Spacey plays an ambitious congressman who is majority whip. He has interesting ways of manipulating people and events to his advantage. It took me three weeks to watch this series and I may go back and re-watch the beginning now that I am more familiar with the characters. I hope Netflix stays with this distribution model, I'm looking forward to Season 2.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Side Effects

In Stephen Soderbergh's latest film, Side Effects, a man getting out of jail for insider trading is in for a surprise when he finds out what his wife has been up to. The assumption of the vulnerability of mental illness gives her weapons that feed greed. Things are not as they seem in this thriller, almost like two films. I liked it.

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel

The roots of fashion journalism are explored in Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel. From the 20's to 80's her fabulous career in fashion is chronicled with beautiful photos and footage. Her work at Vogue was groundbreaking and shaped how we look at fashion today. Fantastic documentary.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Sound City

I love a good music documentary. In Sound City Dave Grohl chronicles the history of the studio and then makes a little history of his own. I was fascinated with the technology explained alongside the now star-studded cast of musicians that recorded at this studio. From Barry Manilow to Nirvana, the music history in this film is rich. Ultimately, Grohl purchased the Neve soundboard that had seen so much history, and recorded a collaborative album with its veterans. Stunning.

Saturday, January 19, 2013


There is a line in the traditional wedding vows that says, "in sickness and in health, till death do we part." In the film Amour, when a woman in her eighties has a stroke, watching her husband deal with her had this phrase running through my head. Love, devotion and compassion fuel her husband as he deals with her steady decline. The director of this film, Michael Haneke, is know to have a brutal style of presenting situations, and this film is no different. He depicts their daily struggles in unflinching cuts. I saw this film in a theater full of senior citizens, and their reactions really drove this film home for me. In true Haneke style, the ending makes you think. An intense film I really liked.

5 Broken Cameras

A Palestinian farmer documents the encroachment of Israeli soldiers on their land as a form of defense. Over the years, the soldiers break 5 of his cameras, yet he perseveres to tell the story. Thus the title 5 Broken Cameras. This Oscar nominated documentary tells an interesting story from an interesting point of view.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Pitch Perfect

Acapella music gets a remix in Pitch Perfect. A college student makes a deal with her father to get involved at school, and lands in a group of misfits working toward the championship. They stumble, they are bullied, they fall in love, they reinvent, they triumph. A bit formulaic, but the characters are charming and the singing is strong. I thought this was a solid rental.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Brooklyn Brothers Beat the Best

I listen to a fair number of podcasts. They are a wonderful source for recommendations of film, music, books, plays and politics that I do not get from mainstream media. Geek in the City Radio is a podcast I especially enjoy. A few months ago, on my way to Brooklyn, Scott Dally interviewed the creators and stars Ryan O'Nan and Michael Weston of Brooklyn Brothers Beat the Best and I was enamored  The film is about two musicians who go out on a strange tour. They play guitar and baby toys and the music is enchanting. I really liked this film, thanks for the recommendation!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Nominated for 3 Oscars, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was my reason to go to the theater today. I was treated to endless chases and battles. I learned that Orcs are disgusting and dwarfs are plucky. The larger lesson was the first meeting of Gollum and Bilbo. The riddles of the cave scene is mesmerizing and worth the price of admission. All of the Oscar nominations are for visual effects and art direction, which are well deserved. This film is way too long, which is Peter Jackson's style, so I'll give him a pass for that. This is a strong adventure fantasy film based on J.R.R. Tolkien's characters.

The Pirates! Band of Misfits

I should have paid closer attention to The Pirates! Band of Misfits back in he spring. It got good reviews, but sounded silly to me. Watching it now, because it is nominated for an Oscar, I realize that the animation is gorgeous, the story heartfelt and hey it's pirates and ham! Whimsy and adventure abound. Mister Bobo the hench-monkey is a riot, especially the way he communicates. Sarcasm and wacky references are many. This is a fun, well animated film that is worthy of its nomination. Watch the credits!!!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Mirror Mirror

I watched Mirror Mirror because it is nominated for an Oscar for costumes. Rightfully so. The story involves Snow White. Most scenes with Snow White and/or the dwarfs are fine. I the dwarfs were interesting and the costumes were elaborate and award-worthy. The scenes with the evil Queen were horrible. Sad waste of time and talent.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Favorite Films of 2012

Having seen Zero Dark Thirty this weekend, I'm ready to post my favorite films of 2012. I don't feel qualified to say which films are "best", it's a very subjective term. No one can argue with me on my favorites, because they are mine. Going through all of the films I saw released in 2012 I came up with 30 I really enjoyed. From there, I found my way to the conventional number of 10. I'm going to list them in alphabetical order because I liked them all equally. Click on the titles to see what I thought.

Argo ~ A thriller based in a true story. The editing in this film is outstanding.
Cabin in the Woods ~ A crazy horror story that was a ride I was happy to take.
Django Unchained ~ A love story based in pre-civil war south wrapped in a bloody ride.
The Intouchables ~ A story of friendship and comment on how you live your life.
Magic Mike ~ A stripper wants more. This story is elevated by it's acting and sincerity of its characters.
Moonrise Kingdom ~ A sweet story of young love. Filmed in RI, this one has a special place in my heart. Someone called it a lovely jewel box. So true.
Ruby Sparks ~ A creative spin on the crazy girlfriend story.
Seven Psychopaths ~ A roadtrip extraordinaire
Skyfall ~ A wonderful addition to the Bond franchise
Sleepwalk With Me ~ A true story that made me smile.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

The Impossible

It is one thing to hear about a natural disaster in the news from half way around the world, it is another to be placed in the middle of that disaster in a film. The Impossible does just that. A lot of practical effects and tank work show the tsunami that hit Thailand in 2004 in graphic detail through the eyes of a family on vacation there. Another film where I knew the ending, but I still found it harrowing to watch. An excellent film.

Hyde Park on Hudson

The best part about Hyde Park on Hudson is Bill Murray's interpretation of FDR. The story addresses the former President's multiple affairs. The film takes place on a weekend visit with King George and Queen Elizabeth before the war. It is not a flattering portrayal, I came away from the film with a sad feeling about the man. Good movie, sad story.

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Zero Dark Thirty

I was skeptical of the hunt for Osama bin Laden to be a very interesting film. Yet, in Zero Dark Thirty, the masterful writing and directing of Kathryn Bigelow brings the story to the screen in 157 riveting minutes. The intelligence gathering is frustrating, but the payoff in the last 25 minutes made my palms sweat and my heart race ... even when I knew how it would end. A powerful film.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Les Miserables

I have never seen the musical Les Miserable on stage. It always struck me as being too depressing. That being said, I had only general knowledge of the plot and knew some of the music from dance recitals. I really enjoyed this movie version of the story. I thought the singing was fine. Not Broadway quality, but most of the singers could hold their own. Anne Hathaway gives a stand-out performance. The sets are elaborate and add to the drama of the story. I got very caught up in the music, story and performances. I was impressed with this film.