Wednesday, December 31, 2014


I was cynical when I heard about a horror story where the character gets turned into a walrus. How is this a horror film? In Tusk we experience an abduction - abuse story. Yes, the villain is bat-shit crazy. As wacky as this story is, I enjoyed it because of the performances. Not bad.

The Hundred-Foot Journey

If you don't think food is competitive, then you have not been watching reality TV or The Hundred-Foot Journey. When restaurants battle for the coveted Michelin stars, a star chef emerges. We follow his journey, inspiration and loves. A good story about choices, loyalty, family and love. Good film.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Elsa & Fred

Being single at age 58, the romantic in me found Elsa & Fred very charming and hopeful. Living out their Golden Years, two people meet, fall in love and live out a dream. They deal with day to day life and family with grace and a sense of humor. This is a very sweet film.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

This is Our Youth

One of my Christmas presents this year was an evening in the Broadway theater. This Is Our Youth was the play of choice.The small cast of Michael Cera, Kieran Culkin and Tavi Gevinson bring Kenneth Lonergan's play to the stage. Taking place in the period of 48 hours, decisions are made in young lives filled with turmoil, failure and success. Funny, poignant and electric, we watch the three characters bounce off each other with dramatic resonance. A great night on Broadway.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014


Activism and compassion are companions in the film Pride. When mine workers in England go on strike, unexpected support comes from a group of gay activists. A touching story based on true events.


When Mike Nichols passed away, I was reminded of when I went on a jag to see all of his films. Revisiting his filmography I realized that I had not seen Wolf. The story of a man, attacked by a wolf and then showing wolf-like tendencies himself as he struggles to keep his job and his life, is pretty entertaining. The star power and special effects are impressive. I really liked this film.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Dog

When a wacko tells his own story it is compelling and a bit scary. In the documentary The Dog, John Wojtowicz has no trouble telling the story of his sexual compulsions, lifestyle and robbery that was the subject of the film Dog Day Afternoon. Fascinating story.

Friday, December 19, 2014

The Congress

When Robin Wright is told her career can benefit from digital image capture, she reluctantly takes the deal. In The Congress she shoots forward 20 years to see how her image is used and affects the art and culture. This is conveyed in animation. This film is trippy and creative. Wild concept.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Force Majeure

To sit in the uncomfortable situation of a complicated relationship is hard. Watching Force Majeure is just that. The aftermath of a traumatic experience is put under the microscope and we watch. It is not pretty. This film says a lot about relationships and how we deal when our expectations are not met. The structure of the film gave me a "what would I do?" feel. Interesting film.

Friday, December 12, 2014


Thoughtful movies that tackle sensitive subjects can have big payoffs. In the quirky film Frank, we meet a damaged young man finding coping methods in his music and performance.The angst of young adult artists find their way is interesting and funny at times. In the end, we learn that Frank's situation is a good reason to have compassion toward all. Good film.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Made in America

It is no secret that I love a good music documentary. In Made in America, Ron Howard introduces us to artists I have heard of, but knew little of beyond the gossip pages.The setting is Jay-Z's Made in America music festival. We get perspectives from artists, neighbors, crew and vendors. The emphasis is the art, and what it takes to put on an event of this scope. Really good!

Sunday, December 07, 2014

The Bobadook

I don't usually watch horror movies because I don't really appreciate the genre. This week a lot of buzz went up around The Babadook so I went on a mission to find it in a local theater. The Coolidge Corner Theater has a small screening room with 14 seats which they showed this in. I sat up close and personal with the creepy character and frightening story. Crafted well enough that, walking back to my car in broad daylight, I was suspicious of every noise I heard behind me. Well done.

Saturday, December 06, 2014

The Book of Life

When you see Guierlmo del Torro's name attached to a film, take notice. Even if its animated. The Book of Life is enchanting, colorful, joyful, adventurous and romantic. This fanciful journey to the Land of the Forgotten and The Land of the Remembered is punctuated by pop songs, humor and love. I thoroughly enjoyed this film.

Friday, December 05, 2014

Rewind This

Video technology matured in the late 70s and early 80s. I had forgotten how that technology changed our media consumption until I watched Rewind this! It also changed our lifestyle and viewing habits with the ability to record shows to watch later and brought the big screen into our living rooms. It also reminded me of the ease to record with the invention of the camcorder. Home movies made easy and accessible. This film is a good history lesson.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Peter Pan Live!

When I was a kid, a live broadcast of the play Peter Pan was on TV. In those days we did not go to the movies much, so most of our media consumption was on TV. Annual events were The Sound of Music, The Wizard of Oz and Peter Pan. Last year, NBC enjoyed ratings success with a live version of The Sound of Music and this year decided that Peter Pan would be the live offering. Peter Pan Live! brought the boy who won't grow up to living rooms again, with a fresh cast and a few new songs. Allison Williams did a good job playing Pan, especially the singing. Christopher Walken was a laid back Captain Hook. I think the lost boys, pirates and other supporting cast were outstanding. I also liked the way this was staged. Bravo to all!


The story of Sleeping Beauty has had several versions, the latest of which is entitled Maleficent. The focus is moved from the princess to the fairy. Angelina Jolie is enchanting as Maleficent. Elle Fanning is effervescent as Aurora. There are a few details that are different from the story I remember, but they add dimension and make sense. The costumes and special effects are excellent. Nice job.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014


From all the promotional material on Tammy I was not impressed. As a rental, this movie was a pleasant surprise. Tammy and her grandmother go on a road trip where they learn a lot about themselves and each other. Strong rental.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

The Theory of Everything

Steven Hawking is best known for his brain and theories. In the Theory of Everything we get his wife Jane's view of his life, his illness, their love, their struggles, their family, their joy and getting by. the science is way over my head, but the determination and love are easy to understand. Interesting people.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Horrible Bosses 2

Offensive humor is king in Horrible Bosses 2. I loved the first Horrible Bosses, and this movie follows suit nicely. This time the guys are trying to pull off a kidnapping and the results are hilarious. Strong performances matched with quick wit and crazy twists made this a fun ride. The banter between Charlie Day and Jason Sudekis is exhausting and hilarious. Jason Bateman is the ultimate straight man. Along with a fantastic chase scene this was a lot of fun.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1

I loved the Hungergames books. Each had it's own tone , yet told a story of politics, control, rebellion and love. I have enjoyed both of the movies made from the first two books, but I was skeptical of the third being made into 2 films. That was laid aside when I saw Mockingjay Part 1. This was a strong film telling the continuing story of the Capital against the Rebellion. New characters are well developed and the story moves forward with drama. The treatment of the character Effie Trinkham is subtle and entertaining without being distracting. it is a real joy to watch Phillip Seymour Hoffman. I'm looking forward to the last film of this series. Well done.


There was a man with a petition against surveillance outside the theater when I went to see Citizenfour. I get that people are outraged that the government can watch all of our activity on the internet and cell phones, but on the other hand, you are throwing all of your information out into the public domain. In this film,the film maker talks to whistle-blower Edward Snowden in a hotel room in Hong kong. He goes through the whys and what-fors of what the government does with this information. The disturbing part of this situation to me is not the tracking, but the politics of what is done with the information. It will be interesting to see what happens as technology grows.

Happy Christmas

Even when a person screws up, remorse and forgiveness go a long way. In Happy Christmas these themes play strong in this small family. Trusts are betrayed, lessons are learned, relationships grow. I really liked this film.

Friday, November 28, 2014


The bending of science in Interstellar made my head hurt a bit, but the visuals that went along made this worthwhile. I really liked the science aspects, but when it went mushy I was in heavy eye-roll mode. And a fight scene with men in spacesuits was kinda funny. Time travel, black holes and fifth dimensions took on an awkward tone when talk turned to love. A solid sci-fi adventure film.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

A Merry Friggin' Christmas

I have met one of the most miserable characters in a movie in Mitch Mitchler in A Merry Friggin' Christmas. Notably, the last feature film starring Robin Williams, he plays one disgusting, abusive man. He ends up on a road trip with his son who can't stand him and the film develops a heart. It's not great, but by the end you are with the characters and there is a bit of redemption. It's an OK holiday themed film.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Willow Creek

I like a good scary movie that works on the fear of the unknown. In Willow Creek we get a dash of reality with a big helping of fantasy. A  couple goes to Willow Creek in hopes of a Bigfoot sighting. They get more than they bargained for alone in the woods, and what we don't see is the most terrifying of all. So creepy. Well done.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

22 Jump Street

The boys of Jump Street are back and they brought their sense of humor. In 22 Jump Street they are a little older, so the undercover operation moves to college. So many gags in this movie worked for me. They make fun of every absurdity in the situation. Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill have great comedic chemistry. As good as Hill is, Tatum steals many a laugh. The end credit sequence is as funny as the movie, be sure to watch the whole thing. Very funny movie!

Sunday, November 16, 2014


Incarceration, especially solitary confinement, is not that interesting to watch. In the film Rosewater, the film finds a way to draw us into the cell of Maziar Bakari during his 2009 detention in Iran. A bizarre story, it is amazing to me that hundreds of journalists have suffered the same fate in Iran and the middle east. The storytelling technique is powerful, subtle and effective. Makes for a compelling film. Well done.

Cuban Fury

I never thought I would see Nick Frost dance on screen, much less dance well. In Cuban Fury the comedian dons dance shoes and gives a strong showing. His character's love of salsa dancing and affection for a woman culminate in a competition that triumphs over a rocky road. Funny and heartfelt, I really enjoyed this film.

Saturday, November 15, 2014


Stories of teachers inspiring students have a long history. The relationship usually stars out adversarial and ends up warm an fuzzy. In Whiplash we get the adversarial relationship immediately, but warm and fuzzy never happens. The verbal abuse is at a level of many a physical fight. The battle culminates at a performance. Emotions run high and relationships are established well.  I felt genuinely nervous when Andrew was going on stage at Lincoln Center. This is a strong drama with a powerful ending.

Mood Indigo

Michel Gondry is known for his creativity, and Mood Indigo is an exclamation point in his resume. The story of a couple struggling against a strange ailment is whimsical and a visual party. The characters are endearing and did I mention how amazing the visuals are?! A ride of fantasy that balances between joy and gloom. I really liked this one.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Mr. Peabody & Sherman

It's always nice when an animated film actually has messages you want your kids to see. In Mr. Peabody & Sherman we get several. The animation is great, the jokes are actually funny and adventures abound. I really like this movie, good family fare.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

The One I Love

What if there were a place that all the things lacking in your partner could be found? In The One I Love this concept is explored in a unique way. The less you know going into this film the better. Just know that is is very creative and very good. Elisabeth Moss and Mark Duplass turn in fantastic performances. Cool film.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Listen Up Philip

Being in the face of a very unpleasant, self centered, egotistical author can be uncomfortable. In Listen Up Philip we experience that discomfort up close. Through some excellent writing and acting we become intimate with some very unlikable characters as they struggle for success and meaning. Some find it, some don't. Though not a happy ride, it is very satisfying. This is a dark, interesting film about creativity, ego and relationships. Well done.

Saturday, November 01, 2014


Have you ever wanted to go backstage in a Broadway theater? Have you ever wanted to see the process and emotion involved in putting on a Broadway play? Have you ever wanted to see a man's mind unravel? This is all very well done in the film Birdman. Through some very cool camerawork, we walk the backstage of the St. James theater. We follow the actors, director, producer and crew through the final days of rehearsals, previews and opening night. We get a special look inside the emotions and neurosis of the director/actor/father/boyfriend/exhusband through some clever scenes and conversations. One scene was a bit long in my opinion, but as a whole the structure of the film was it's strongest suit. Performances were outstanding, this was a very original work that I really liked.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014


Back in June Tribeca Film issued the Indi Summer Film Challenge. Watch 4 films by the end of July. Easy, right? Only Obvious Child came to theaters in my little corner of the world, the rest were streaming online. I leaned how much I dislike watching films on my laptop and abandoned the challenge. I did put all the films in my Netflix queue and over the last few months  have seen Ping Pong Summer, Lucky Them and tonight I finished up with Hellion. An excellent drama about a boy struggling with growing up in a difficult situation. He wants approval from his father and wants to protect his younger brother. Both tall orders, both difficult. He ends up in trouble and in survival mode. The acting is excellent and I really liked the way this was shot. Well done. Thanks to Tribeca Film for the challenge. It may have taken me 4 months instead of 4 weeks, but it was worth it!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

St. Vincent

The grumpy neighbor-next-door story is a familiar one. In St. Vincent it is done with heart, humor and a bit of an edge. The performances are refreshing, there's a little twist and yes, it made me cry. Well done and well worth seeing. One of my favorites this year.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Gone Girl

The film Gone Girl is a strong entry to new thrillers. The story of a woman missing and presumed murdered makes the husband a prime suspect. The portrayal of media and law enforcement is interesting, especially when you are not sure who is telling the truth. This film stays very true to the book. If you like the film you should read the book for more details, though the film does a pretty thorough job. I like a thriller where people are not as they seem and the plot turns keep you on your toes. Even though I read the book, I really enjoyed this film for the performances, structure and interpretation. They bring in just the right amount of tension, creepy moments and well placed comic relief. Strong film.

Love Is Strange

When a couple of 39 years marry, their world is turned upside down. In Love Is Strange it is ok for the music director at a catholic school to have a boyfriend, but when he marries him the school fires him. This forces the couple to sell their apartment and temporarily move in with their families. Separately. The portrayal of the difference of lifestyle and relationships are very good. Alfred Molina and John Lithgow make a wonderful couple and deliver very real, touching and poignant performances. A different take on a love story that worked for me. Well done.

The Boxtrolls

The Boxtrolls are the latest misunderstood monsters from Laika Entertainment (Coraline, Paranorman). Living underground, they are not what people think, and a little girl helps save the day. The animation on this film is brilliant. There are gross stunts and lots of action. This one may be too intense for kids under 5. A little girl in front of me asked her Mom if they could go home about 15 minutes into the film. It is worth staying through the credits.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Skeleton Twins

Twins who were very close as children have not spoken in 10 years. In The Skeleton Twins the brother's attempted suicide brings the two back together as adults. They are strangers who know each other very well. As they try to help each other, their personality flaws and touches of mental illness factor in. They struggle to help each other and missteps occur. Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig have great chemistry as siblings. Hader is especially good in this. I find him very enjoyable to watch. Dialogue comes very easily and he endears the audience to his character quickly. A nice film about relationships, hurt and forgiveness. I really liked this film.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Rover

The Rover is visually stunning, yet the story is grim, depressing and violent. This revenge tale is somber and bloody. I can appreciate this film, but it was tough to get through.

Friday, September 26, 2014


Race issues in 1800 England don't usually enter our consciousness. In Belle we learn of the story of Belle. She is the result of a Navy Admiral's relationship with a servant. He brings her to live with his aristocratic uncle while he is at sea. She is afforded the benefits of her birth, but is limited by her race. Very interesting dynamic. As she becomes an adult, and is eligible to be married, things get confusing and complicated. Emotions and etiquette collide in a dramatic way. Belle stands strong and perseveres. What an interesting story with great performances.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

This is Where I Leave You

The family dynamic in This Is Where I Leave You is the same as mine. Three boys, one girl and the girl is second oldest. The adult children come together at the wish of their deceased father to sit shiva for seven days. The consequences of this are funny, poignant and magnify every flaw in their relationships. The cast is stellar and there are many very funny moments. I especially liked where all of the characters ended up. This film hit all the right notes for me.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Drop

Set in Brooklyn, The Drop is an adaptation of the short story Animal Rescue. A bar that is used to move laundered money is robbed. There is a history with the bar that is dark and dangerous. In the midst of this, the bartender rescues a puppy from the trash. Though he tries to look for the good in his world the seedy stuff forces its way in and things do not end well. The violence equaks the sentimental moments. James Gandofini and Tom Hardy turn in excellent performances. A dark crime drama I really liked.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Words and Pictures

Which is more important, words or pictures? In the film Words and Pictures this conflict is played out at a prep school. The romance is a bit formulaic, but watching Juliette Binoche and Clive Owen spar with words is delightful. This film addresses human frailty, art and intellect in an uplifting way. Another rental that I really enjoyed.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Bad Words

The word is motivation. m-o-t-i-v-a-t-i-o-n In the film Bad Words motivation is key. Set at The Golden Quill Spelling bee, the motivations of all of the characters are cleverly fleshed out and resolved. I was surprised by how well this was done. Jason Bateman gives a solid performance. A bit dark, and a young actor holds his own in scenes with the veteran actor. I really liked this film.

Sunday, September 14, 2014


When a corrupt police officer tries to win a promotion as a means of getting his wife back, things do not go very well. In Filth we watch a man drowning in sex, drugs, alcohol and corruption. Nothing good is going to come of things no matter how hard he tries. Dark film.

Friday, September 12, 2014

God's Pocket

When an obnoxious boy dies, the ride to the truth is bumpy. In God's Pocket, this unlikeable character's demise is lied about by everyone in the town to protect his assailant. The boyfriend of his mother tries to help find the truth, but he is inept and dishonest himself. Everything goes badly. Though bleak, this is an interesting story and the performances make the audience care about every character, warts and all. The final scene brings it all home.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Overblown and full of chase scenes and explosions, Captain America: The Winter Soldier was an OK addition from the Marvel world. A smaller group of Avengers battle evil in present times. Lots of action and drama made this a decent rental.

Friday, August 29, 2014

The Double

I like watching Jesse Eisenberg in anything. In The Double he plays two characters in a weird, trippy story. Though the story is bizarre, the performances are worth watching. I liked this strange ride.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Magic in the Moonlight

The story told in the film Magic in the Moonlight is absurd. A famous, pompous a magician tries to debunk a woman posing as a psychic. He becomes smitten, and she falls for him. That is the absurd part. There was a twist I liked and the performances were great, but what a ridiculous turn of events.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

What If

The classic romantic comedy plays out in What If. The charming cast and an ending that I did not see coming makes this worth a look. Very satisfying

Sunday, August 17, 2014

The Giver

The concept of a future with no feelings is explored in The Giver. The concept is transmitted well with black and white. This world is presented as utopian and sanitary, but becomes increasingly creepy as The Receiver becomes more aware of the truth. A wonderful cast takes on a tricky story.

Saturday, August 16, 2014


Calvary is an interesting take on human drama. After his wife's death, a man becomes a priest in a small Irish village. His life is threatened and he has a week to get his affairs in order. Reflecting on his life and priorities with the help of family and friends takes many an interesting turn. Brendan Gleeson is outstanding in this film.

The Railway Man

The post traumatic stress of British soldiers held in Japanese railroad work camps, is explored in The Railway Man. The true story of Eric Lomax and his fellow soldiers, is a war story not often told. The fact that Lomax was able to confront his captor after the war and what happens from there is mind-blowing to me. Wonderful performances all around telling a fascinating story. If you watch this on DVD it is worth watching the making-of documentary. Well done.

Thursday, August 14, 2014


A man in a car with a cell phone is the one scene setting for the film Locke. Tom Hardy as Ivan Locke deals with his family, his job and a one-time indiscretion for 85 minutes. This performance is riveting. Cool film.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy

The opening scene of Guardians of the Galaxy sets the tone of swagger and humor for an outer space adventure. A band of space-heroes defend the Galaxy against the bad guys with super powers, tenacity, big weapons and sarcasm. Chris Pratt emerges as a worthy hero. He and Groot make the film. Flashy and funny, this one even manages a bit of sentiment without getting sappy. A fun ride!

Saturday, August 09, 2014


There is a quiet beauty in watching a life unfold. In Boyhood we follow a young man growing up. He has his struggles, he has his triumphs. Many of the moments are just life moments all of us deal with at one time or another. Director Richard Linklater made this film using the same actors for 12 years. As we watch lives unfold, we watch people age, we watch people change. The kids' changes are the most dramatic, and the adults show a lot of grace as they age. The script is engaging and there is some wonderful acting here. Music is used to set the eras and mood. Filmed in Texas, the setting adds to the tone of the story. An ambitious project that has given us a real cinematic gem.

Friday, August 08, 2014

Ping Pong Summer

The coming of age film can be quite entertaining. In Ping Pong Summer we have all the classic ingredients. The struggling hero, the nerd, the bully, the hot girl, the weird parents, the eccentric old person. Though each of these characters are presented in a traditional fashion, each of them is just a bit off center. That was where I found the entertainment. The story culminates with a ping pong showdown with a predictable, yet satisfying outcome. A cute film that was worth a look.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Cheap Thrills

On early reading, I thought Cheap Thrills was a version of Jackass. As it was more critically acclaimed, I became more curious. Renting the film, I learn it is a thriller and a very, very dark comedy. Two men, desperate for money, run into a crazy man with lots of dough and a perverse sense of how to spend it. He challenges the men to do outrageous things for money for the entertainment of he and his wife. The moral dilemmas combined with desperation give us some pretty depraved scenes. The performances are great, but they do a lot of gross stuff in this film all for the almighty dollar. I kept watching to find out what happened to the characters. Black comedy at its darkest. And OMG that ending. Good film.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014


As I get older and, in turn, my parents as well, films like Wrinkles really hit home. This animated Spanish film is honest, poignant and sometimes funny. The story follows a man to an old age home and explores the realities of that lifestyle with gloves-off. It explores family, friendship, sexuality, health and freedom in the later years of life. Beautifully drawn, this film hit a lot of raw emotions for me, but the end made me smile. Lovely film.

Saturday, August 02, 2014

A Hard Day's Night

When a remastered version of A Hard Day's Night was released, I realized that I'd never seen the film. Bits and clips here and there, but never the film in its entirety. I missed it in theaters, so I rented it. What a fun film! As a child of the 60s, every song stirred a memory and it struck me that I was watching a charming, silly, long, lovely music video. I'm so glad I saw this film. What a pleasure!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Finding Vivian Maier

Documentaries take us into worlds we may never know of. In Finding Vivian Maier we are taken into the world of a woman who was a nanny, a hoarder and most important, a photographer. Her story is interesting, but it is her photos that are more riveting. A wonderful film. Seek out her photos if you can.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

A Most Wanted Man

Espionage is a classic theme for film. In A Most Wanted Man we watch an anti-terror unit try to lure an alleged terrorist with a sizable inheritance. There is a banker, a lawyer, an ambassador and the spy, all working on the man in different ways. This is a tense thriller with an interesting payoff. The performances are outstanding. I liked this film. I'd actually like to see it again. Well done.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Clear History

The comedy of Larry David suits me. In the comedy Clear History he tells a crazy story about a crazy guy in a crazy situation that made me laugh the whole way through. Quirky, funny and clever, this film was a lot of fun.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Blue Ruin

Revenge films are not always easy to watch. When they are shot like Blue Ruin, it becomes a pleasure. Though tense and violent, this thriller has flawed characters, consequences and deliberate shots. This is one of the better films I've seen this year.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Angriest Man in Brooklyn

I enjoy watching movies that are filmed in places familiar to me. The Angriest Man in Brooklyn was filmed in downtown Brooklyn and DUMBO. When an uptight, middle aged man is told he only has 90 minutes to live, it becomes urgent for him to right many wrongs. Poignant and a bit frantic, there are some clever plot points in this film. I liked how the director got a shot with the 2 stars in profile, Jane's Carrousel and the Brooklyn Bridge all in one shot. Wonder how long it took to set that one up? I liked this film.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Begin Again

When a romantic story ends the way it should, I feel such a warm sense of satisfaction. Begin Again gave me that feeling. There are several relationships in this film. Some go well, some do not. The journey of a record producer and a song writer making an album all over New York City is fresh and uplifting. Relationships change, grow and evolve. In the end everyone ends up where they should. I liked the music so much I bought a few of the songs when I got home. I really liked this film.

The Battered Bastards of Baseball

I like a good documentary. I like Portland, OR. I like baseball. I like a good story. The Battered Bastards of Baseball is all that and more. Bing Russell left acting in the 70s and bought a baseball team. The circumstances and story are colorful and entertaining. A great sport story.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

In a lot of movies about other worldly creatures and humans, the conflict is usually with the humans. In Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, the ape on ape conflict took me by surprise. I found the apes fascinating in their camaraderie as well as conflict. Through much of the film, all I could think was "If you give a monkey a gun...." Though this film is receiving well-deserved accolades for its technical achievements, the story and the performances are strong as well. Cool film.

The Raid 2

I'm often surprised when, in the middle of a bloody crime drama, I think "this film is gorgeous." While watching The Raid 2 that thought was continuous. Artfully shot and action-packed, it's bad guy vs bad guy in fight after fight. There are many different kinds of weapons and assailants. This film has one of the best car chase scenes I've ever seen. Thrilling and brutal, quite a ride.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Le Weekend

Being a couple for many decades has it's ups and downs. In Le Week-end we see a little of both as a couple takes a trip to Paris. We learn of their past lives and future dreams through conversations. Even when they argue we see the strength and heart of their relationship. Many charming moments make this film worth a look. Very sweet.

Sunday, July 06, 2014


Snowpiercer was nowhere on my radar. Thanks to the chatter on Twitter I went to see it. What a pleasure! A visual extravaganza, this futuristic story is gritty, violent and creative. The performances are outstanding and the action never stops. What a film, one of the best this year!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Obvious Child

In Obvious Child we learn that even when you screw up life goes on. Though Jenny Slate's character makes poor decisions, she perseveres with heart, and seems to learn from her experience. This is a story about being a young adult and finding a place in the world. It tackles tough subjects, but left me with a smile.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

How to Train Your Dragon 2

I loved How to Train your Dragon for it's joy, spunk, characters and visuals. How to Train Your Dragon 2 continues the story, even aging the characters, which is nice in the animated world. There are a lot of battles and even more dragons than the first. I did love the baby dragons. Clever and satisfying, another good adventure with the Vikings.

Friday, June 27, 2014

The Normal Heart

The AIDS epidemic has had a lot of battles to fight and The Normal Heart goes inside the war. It is still amazing to me that people would have to fight so hard for decent medical treatment no matter what. This world's hang ups in regards to sexual orientation is sad and pathetic. It's the fighters that win. This film has wonderful performances and tells quite a story. Well done.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Some Velvet Morning

An encounter of two people is high drama with only two actors. The film Some Velvet Morning leads us down a winding path right up to the surprise ending. That's all you're going to get here. Another film worth a look for the outstanding performances.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Weekend of a Champion

Cameras in race cars were not the norm in the 70s, but Roman Polanski got Jackie Stewart to do it for the documentary Weekend of a Champion. This weekend in 1971 at the Monaco Grand Prix looks at the racing and the lifestyle. Jackie Stewart was quite a driver. Wonderful documentary.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Across 110th Street

One of the finest 70s period films I've seen. Skillfully shot and dynamic performances make Across 110th Street a classic. This crime story moves well and is very violent. The police have their hands full in New York City and the good guys have a tough time. Beautiful piece of cinema. I went back and watched a lot of scenes twice, especially the ending. Well done.

Sunday, June 01, 2014

A Million Ways to Die in the West

Rude, vulgar, sweet, vulgar, offensive, vulgar, funny, vulgar and clever...oh did I mention vulgar. A Million Ways to Die in the West is quite a ride.The story is a bit lame, but the performances are great, and every once in a while there's a good bit. And oh so vulgar.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Palo Alto

Coming of age is a very popular movie genre. In Palo Alto we see a group of high school students struggle with decisions and the consequences. Performances are what sets this film apart. Emma Roberts plays a conflicted teen effectively. Kinda sad. This is a good film, but a bit depressing. Then again, so is being a teenager.

Blast of Silence

Film noir has never looked better than in the crime thriller Blast of Silence. Gorgeous cinematography. This gritty story of a conflicted hit man is well worth a look.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Today's Special

I was listening to an interview with Aasif Mandvi about his career and comedy. While talking about his most recent film, Million Dollar Arm, he mentioned the film Today's Special. When I found it on Netflix Instant, I thought I'd give it a look. This is a story of family, career, ambition and love. Well written with excellent performances. I liked this film a lot.

Sunday, May 25, 2014


We all struggle to balance work, career, passion and family. In Chef ,Carl Casper embodies these struggles, draws us into a big bear hug and takes us on the road. He brings a trusted, talented friend and his charming son. We are treated to genuine fun, hard work and a lot of love. Though there were predictable moments, the script is sincere with a little edge, the performances are satisfying and the food is to die for. I really liked this film.


I get a kick out of monsters. I get a kick out of cheesy monster movies. I get a kick out of outrageous screen battles between movie monsters. I got a kick out of Godzilla.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Movies A-Z

Rambling Film

Lists can be fun. Rambling Film is doing a blogathon challenging folks to put a movie title to the letters of the alphabet. This was a fun exercise.

Almost Famous
Big Lebowski
Dog Day Afternoon
Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind
In Her Shoes
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
Little Miss Sunshine
Nine Queens
Pieces of April
Shall We Dance? (96)
Trick 'r Treat
United 93
Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
Young at Heart

Saturday, May 17, 2014

I Shot Andy Warhol

Listening to an interview with Jared Harris, I was reminded of the film I Shot Andy Warhol.  Though he plays a convincing Warhol, it is Lili Taylor who owns this film. As Warhol's assailant, she is compasionate and compelling. A riveting portrayal of a dynamic story.

Saturday, May 03, 2014

Apollo 13

After seeing Ron Howard in person last week, and hearing all of Brian Williams questions about Apollo 13, I thought it was time to revisit the film. The dramatization of the Apollo 13 flight is skillfully done. So much care was taken to get the characters just right. The practical effects are true movie magic. A carefully crafted movie that holds up and pays tribute to its subject. This is another film that is worth watching the making-of documentary on the DVD. Well done.

Friday, May 02, 2014

Escape from Tomorrow

Escape from Tomorrow would have been a trippy thriller no matter what. A crazy story of a father's decent into delirium at the end of a family vacation. Hallucinations and sci-fi-like sequences intertwine with the family's last day at a theme park. Another element of crazy is added by the setting of Disney theme parks. Shot in Disney World and Disneyland guerrilla fashion, there is an extra level of tension and intrigue. If you see this on DVD watch the making-of featurette. An interesting project.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Tribeca Film Festival 2014 Day 5

This morning's walk took me up to North Moore Street for a visit to Hook & Ladder 8, filming location for Ghostbusters. I love that they have a sign of the Ghostbuster's logo hanging inside the station. At Laughing Man Coffee there was a funny Gozilla cartoon drawn on the chlak board. My day was starting on a light note. As the skies cleared, the final set up for the TFF Family Street Fair was underway and my last day in Tribeca was underway. My plan for lunch in the West Village took me to the Five Guys on Bleeker St. Upstairs, I found The Garrett but it was closed. Still fun to find this hidden gem for a future visit. A sun-drenched walk to McDougal Street and I was cozied up at the bar at The Olive Tree for quiche and salad. When I went downstairs to use the ladies room a young comic was working out some material with a manager in The Comedy Cellar. Maybe a star of tomorrow. Strolling past the street artists in SOHO, I enjoyed the creative vibe on my way back to Tribeca. Standing in line outside BMCC for the Ron Howard and Brian Williams panel I was joined by a man who had been to many events over the two weeks and had lots of stories. It made the hour wait go by quickly. The panel was so wonderful. I realized that I love Ron Howard's work more than I realized and that Brian Williams is the skilled interviewer I thought he was. Such an experience. Deciding to have dinner before I head out of the city, I go to Max for a delicious ravioli dish. A nice finish to a nice week. The drive home was easy. My house felt huge after 5 days in a tiny hotel room. Thanks to Tribeca Film Festival and all the friends and family that joined me along the way. And a big thanks to New York City for being so awesome! It was a great vacation!

Tribeca Talks: Ron Howard with Brian Williams

When I saw a Tribeca Talks panel with Ron Howard I said, "I'm in." When I saw that Brian Williams was interviewing him it was a lock. Ticket bought, I knew this would be the perfect way to close out my week at Tribeca Film Festival. I got in line an hour ahead of time at BMCC and the line was already down the block. I got my favorite seat, first row upper tier, and I was ready. Right on schedule, Brian Williams was introduced and I was thrilled to see him in person. He wasted no time introducing Ron Howard and the questions began. Every question was followed by a wonderful story. Howard was generous, relaxed and funny. Williams was obviously a fan, especially notable in his Apollo 13 references. The two men had a wonderful back and forth and at the end of the interview I felt like I had a peek inside the life and work of Ron Howard. A very satisfying event.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Tribeca Film Festival 2014 Day 4

Waking up early gave me time for breakfast at Square Diner in Tribeca before heading to Penn Station. Today's agenda began with a ride on NJ Transit to visit my family in NJ. what a pleasant train ride! My daughter and grandsons met me at the train and we walked to their Tae Kwon Do studio Watching kids from 3-5 years old go through their moves was really fun. The kids seemed happy to have an audience. We met my son in law for lunch at the Ritz Diner and spent a relaxing afternoon reading, playing and visiting. Back on the train, I decided to try to see a play, so I muscled through Times Square to TKTS. To my surprised pleasure, I was able to get a ticket to the new play All the Way with Bryan Cranston playing LBJ. What a wonderful performance! Emerging from the theater into the rain, I ducked into the subway. Back in Tribeca, most of the restaurants I tried were closed. Finally, I tried the Odeon and was successful finding something to eat before turning in. Such a great day!

All the Way

I spent an amazing day with my family today. They made me feel so happy and loved. On my way back to the city I knew I had to do something special to round out this wonderful day. Arriving at Penn Station I told myself, "you are 10 blocks from TKTS, go!" Muscling my way through the tourists in Times Square (crazy people) I arrived at the ticket booth to find no lines and a ticket to the play All the Way. A quick cocktail and visit to the ladies room at Emmit O'Lunney's and I land in row M of the Neil Simon Theater.

The play? A brilliant study of the LBJ administration from Kennedy's assassination, to his reelection. When I was a kid, my Dad brought cowboy hats back from a trip to Texas. That year this 8 year old got talked into dressing like LBJ for Halloween. I wore one of my brother's sport jackets, a tie, fake nose and the hat. Everyone knew who I was supposed to be. It has always made me feel kindred to the man though I was too young to understand his politics. Bryan Cranston gives a dynamic performance as LBJ. What a play! The staging was very creative and moved in many creative ways from scene to scene. Though it was a long play, I savored every moment, it was that good. PS Tony Award nominations are well deserved.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Tribeca Film Festival 2014 Day 3

I started my third day in Tribeca with a long walk along the Hudson in River Park. I got a little turned around when I got to Battery Park City because a lot of routes are fenced off due to construction. The area around the World Trade Center is a hive of heavy machinery, people going to work and tourists. Too congested for me, so I grabbed a coffee from a street vendor and went back to the hotel. I was meeting a friend for lunch in the East Village, so I gave myself time to wander the streets and shops of the neighborhood. Lunch at The Smith was lovely, and an easy walk across the street took us to the theater for the film Night Moves. I'm glad the director was there for the &A, because it helped me understand his intent in the pace of the film. Coming out of the theater into a sunny afternoon I decided to visit Washington Square Park and meander back to Tribeca through the West Village. A bit ambitious with the walking, I gave my feet a rest at Church Bar in The Tribeca Grand. Back at Edward's, I had a little dinner before going back to the hotel to change my shoes. I had one more thing to do, and the Barnes & Noble around the corner was just right. Picked up a few books for the kids. Back at the hotel I watched Letterman while giving myself a NY Foot Soak (warm soapy water in the hotel trash can). Another great day.

Night Moves

A film that starts out seeming to be an activist thriller, turns into a study in consequences and guilt. Night Moves is a quiet, slow view of young people with big ideas. A lot is left to interpretation which was the intention of the director. This was a film I've thought about a lot since seeing it.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Tribeca Film Festival 2014 Day 2

Waking to a cool, breezy morning, I headed for the Brooklyn Bridge to combine my morning walk with a visit to my daughter and granddaughter in Brooklyn. Reading books, playing hide and seek, a visit to the pirate ship playground and lunch made for a lovely morning. A quick ride on the F train took me to the East Village for a screening of Miss Meadows. An interesting take on vigilante justice. Back in Tribeca I went into Sazon for a glass of wine and catch up on emails and messages. After a walk I still had time to kill before my next film so Ecco! was a good choice. I had a lovely chat with a mother and her daughter spending the afternoon in the city. Meeting a friend for dinner at Chelsea Pub was ideal because the food was good and we could catch up before going across the street for a screening of Loitering with Intent. Concessions were compliments of Celebrity Cruise Lines again, and almost all of the cast took part in the Q&A. My ride home on the subway was especially lively. There were a lot of young people laughing and talking, it was kinda fun. Such a nice day!

Loitering with Intent

When friends get stuck writing a screenplay in the film Loitering with Intent, they take to the country to get the creative juices flowing. At the country house they run into a cast of characters that complicate matters. A dynamic cast and a quirky story made this a fun romantic comedy. Most of the cast and the director fielded awkward questions in the Q&A. Fun film.

Miss Meadows

Vigilante justice in the hands of a sweet young woman puts a dark twist on Miss Meadows. Bit by bit we learn of her past, and watch her move forward in her life. As time goes on, her secret becomes a problem in her romantic involvement and the story takes an interesting turn. Katie Holmes gives an impressive performance. The director gave a passionate Q&A. The project has been in the works for 14 years. I liked this film.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Tribeca Film Festival 2014 Day 1

Arriving in NYC for Tribeca Film Festival is always a thrill.  For the last few years I have stayed in NJ and Brooklyn, which was great, but today it was nice to be back in the hood. It's been two years since I last stayed at the Cosmopolitan Hotel. After I unpacked, I started to take a walk, but rain sent me into Edward's for a drink and a bite to eat. A friendly bartender and a delicious bowl of vegetable and meatball soup made this break from a flash downpour just right. On my way back to the hotel I stopped into brick Oven Pizza for a slice of their lasagna pizza. I finished unpacking and headed to Chelsea for a screening of Boulevard. The woman in front of me in line was pleasant and friendly, the concessions were free courtesy of Celebrity Cruise Lines. The movie was intense and dramatic. The writer, director and actors conducted the Q&A. Coming out of the subway back in Tribeca, the new, sparkling Freedom tower greeted me. What a great start to my week in NYC.


Boulevard is the story of a man leading a quiet life with a quiet secret. He works at a bank, he is married and owns a house. A ride down the wrong street one night takes him to a world he has only dreamt of. A dangerous world. A world where he gets to admit who he really is. Not a happy story, bu the resolution works. I saw this film at Tribeca Film Festival and the director, writer and two of the actors conducted an interesting Q&A.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Big Wednesday

After seeing the documentary Milius I decided that Big Wednesday belonged on my "must see" list. I was so pleased with this film in the areas of story, cinematography and characters. The surfing footage is amazing, especially considering the technology available in the 70s.

Saturday, April 12, 2014


John Milius is the talented director known for Apocalypse Now, Conan the Barbarian and Red Dawn. So many famous talking heads speak of working with him in the documentary, simply titled, Milius. Controversial and talented, a wonderful director. I watched Big Wednesday because of this documentary. Highly recommend it.

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues

I remember enjoying Anchorman. Goofy, funny and entertaining. As a rental it was very satisfying. When Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues came to theaters I thought I would pay the big bucks and see it on a big screen. As it worked out, I never found the time or motivation and the movie went on my DVD list. 20 minutes in, I realized that I was happy for the home view. Not as funny as the first, but entertaining enough, this is an OK rental. The big payoff is a celebrity-cameo-fueled battle finale.

Sunday, March 30, 2014


On one hand, there were reviews of Darren Aronofsky's version of the Bible story Noah that sang its praises. On the other hand, deriders were so passionate that they came off as fanatics. By Sunday I had dismissed the negative and went out into the pouring rain to the theater. 10 minutes into the film I regretted my decision. The Watchers almost made me leave the theater. I have a policy of sticking it out, even if the movie is terrible so I stayed in my seat. I understand that the story of Noah is a fable, but those rock-shaped Transformers stretched it too far for me. There were battles that made sense, let's face it, mankind had gone bad. The solution to dealing with all those animals was clever, if not a bit far-fetched. The production value was excellent, and there were some performances I liked, but I left the theater shaking my head.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Muppets Most Wanted

I was skeptical that another run at a Muppet movie would work. Muppets Most Wanted proved me wrong. Classic Muppet antics, a caper story, big name cameos and plenty of explosions hit all the right notes. Though many of the bits are familiar, I am reminded of why the Muppets were successful as a weekly show. It doesn't get old for folks like me. Sitting through the credits, I was rewarded with a message from Fozzie that doesn't get old either. There is a Monster's U short from Pixar. Party Central sets the mood for a good time. I will see this one again just for the fun of it!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

One Day in September

Director Kevin MacDonald was accidentally interviewed by Marc Maron for the WTF Podcast. His booker thought they had scheduled the comedian Kevin McDonald, famous for Kids in the Hall. MacDonald's interview turned out to be engaging and interesting. I had seen his films The Last King of Scotland and Touching the Void, but not his Oscar winner One Day in September so I rented it. I found a dramatic film that tells the horrific story of the terrorists, Black September, and the hostage taking of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics in Munich. Interviews with the surviving terrorist are chilling. The editing builds drama and moves the story. Oscar worthy indeed.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Grand Budapest Hotel

Wes Anderson makes visually sumptuous films. The Grand Budapest Hotel is a wonderful addition to his catalogue. Aside from being very pretty, it is a romance, a heist, a chase and a prison break film. Ralph Fiennes is a compelling lead and carries this film nicely. The humor worked on me. The cast is stellar and cameos delightful. I look forward to seeing this film again. Utterly charming.

Sunday, March 09, 2014

The Lunchbox

On a recent trip to Brooklyn, I had the luxury of choosing a film with no Oscar connections. Acclaimed Hindi film, The Lunchbox was playing at the Angelika Film Center, so I hopped an F train and headed for Soho. I was early, so I took a stroll down Lafayette and came upon a Colossal Media artist working on a piece for Jagermeister....on a Sunday! Back at the theater, I enjoyed the story of a frustrated wife and mother who unwittingly strikes up a friendship with a stranger through the city's elaborate lunchbox delivery system. The visual sequence depicting this system is fascinating, and embeds us in the streets and atmosphere of Mumbai. The friendship progresses as her marriage disintegrates and we learn of the man's emotional ride through his conversations with a co-worker. A lovely story, a lovely film.

Saturday, March 01, 2014

Oscar Picks 2014

Right now I have about 4 lists of Oscar picks. Two pools, what I would vote for and what I think will win. Here is how I would vote if The Academy asked.

Best Picture  Gravity
Best Director  Alfonso Cuaron - Gravity
Best Actor  Leonardo DiCaprio - The wolf of Wall Street
Best Actress  Meryl Streep - August: Osage County
Best Supporting Actor  Jared Leto - Dallas Buyers Club
Best Supporting Actress  Lupits Nyong'o - 12 Years A Slave
Best Animated Feature  Frozen
Best Foreign Language Film  The Hunt
Best Original Screenplay  Nebraska
Best Adapted Screenplay  Before Midnight
Best Costume Design  The Great Gatsby
Best Original Song  Happy
Best Original Score  Gravity
Best Documentary Feature  Cutie and the Boxer
Best Documentary Short  Cavediggers
Best Makeup & Hairstyling  Bad Grandpa
Best Production Design  Gravity
Best Cinematography  Gravity
Best Film Editing  Captain Phillips
Best Sound Editing  Lone Survivor
Best Sound Mixing  Inside Llewyn Davis
Best Visual Effects  Gravity
Best Animated Short  Room on the broom
Best Live Action Short  Just Before Losing Everything

Friday, February 28, 2014

Oscars 2014: The Films

All of the feature films nominated this year are worth seeing.I saw all but The Wind Rises, The Grandmaster, Omar and The Missing Picture, though I may be able to see The Wind Rises and The Grandmaster this weekend. Thanks to Netflix, all of the documentary films were on instant view and the Cable Car ran the shorts programs. Wonderful to have these films available when you don't live in a big city. Again, all of the nominated films are impressive. Keep an eye out for them when you are looking for rentals this year. Who will win the Oscars? I think Best Picture will go to Gravity. Best Animated Feature will probably go to Frozen. Best Foreign Feature could go to The Broken Circle Breakdown, or maybe The Great Beauty.  My favorite Documentary Feature was Cutie and the Boxer, but the Oscar will probably go to The Act of Killing. For shorts I'm picking The Voorman Problem for live action, Room on the Broom for animated and Cavedigger for documentary.

Pop the popcorn, get out your ballots and keep your fingers crossed for an entertaining awards show. C'mon Ellen. And the Oscar goes to.......

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Oscars 2014: The People

When I look at the lists of actor, actress and director nominees, there's not one that would be a bad choice for the Oscar. This year was was rich with passionate performances and skillful direction. If the Oscar went to the most powerful performances Chiwetel Ejiofor, Meryl Streep, June Squibb, Leonardo DiCaprio or Barkhad Abdi would win. If it went to the most nuanced performance it would go to Jared Leto, Mattew McConaughey, Amy Adams, Cate Blanchett, Judi Dench or Lupita Nyong'o. Every director nominated turned out a film that was a signature piece. I'd like to see Martin Scorsese win, but Steve McQueen or Alfonso Caron will probably win. I think the actors who will win are DiCaprio, Streep, Nyong'o and Leto. If I were running the academy, I'd just buy an extra 20 statues and give them all a hearty "well done!"

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Oscars 2014: The Stories

There is a wealth of material in this world on which to base a good story. In film an adapted screenplay is drawn from already existing material. I think Before Midnight was the most well written adapted screenplay this year. I'm torn between Her and Nebraska for original screenplay. Both were original and the dialog was outstanding. An interesting trend this year was the many films that were based on true stories.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Oscars 2014: The Sounds

Especially in a theater, the sounds of a film envelop us. It builds a mood and punctuates the drama. The film I felt this most in was Lone Survivor. I'd like to see the Oscar for sound editing go to this film. The music, along with the sounds of the city would make Inside Llewyn Davis my choice for best sound mixing. The music is the heartbeat of the film. the song Let it Go worked well with the story in Frozen. The score in Gravity worked with the visuals to take us to outer space.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Oscars 2014: The Sights

A very important aspect of any film is the visual. The images need to translate to a huge screen for the theater. It is a craft. The best this year has been in the movie Gravity. Taking place in the wide expanse of space and the small, claustrophobic confines of a space capsule, much of the drama is in the visual. I think Gravity could take the Oscar for Visual Effects, Art Direction, Cinematography and Editing. I wouldn't be surprised to see Prisoners grab the statue for cinematography because Deakins did some nice work there. I think the award for costumes will be between The Great Gatsby and American Hustle and makeup could go anywhere. Bad Grandpa would be deserving.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Broken Circle Breakdown

Tribeca Film has been singing the praises of The Broken Circle Breakdown for a year or so now. Then it was nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. Then I saw it. This is a story of love, heartbreak and survival with some beautiful musical performances. A couple falls in love, suffer a terrible loss and struggle to keep it together. As sad as this sounds, it was rather uplifting and the music was delightful. I really liked this film.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Ernest and Celestine

The charming French film Ernest and Celestine played at the Providence Children's Film Festival this year. I was thrilled to see a 200 seat theater fill up with families. The kids behind me were chattering about all of the films they had seen over the week. Very knowledgeable little cinephiles! The film is hand drawn, beautiful, has a good message and is very funny. The laughter was frequent and genuine. Thanks to PCFF for bringing this film to RI. Kudos to the parents who brought their kids to see a quality  French film! I loved this Oscar nominee.

Saturday, February 08, 2014

The Lego Movie

Visiting my family this weekend, my daughter proposed that we take my 3 and 5 year old grandsons to see The Lego Movie. Having read positive reviews, I was all in. We arrived during the previews and sat second row. The film was sold out. It was fun to be so close, everything was huge. The plot was clever and the popular characters received cheers in the theater. There is a great reveal that enhances the plot. I really liked this film and so did the the kids. "Everything is Awesome..." Fun film!

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

The Crash Reel

Extreme sports have their risks. Beautiful to watch, but catastrophic when things go wrong. The Crash Reel documents the beauty and the agony of extreme snowboarding. It follows Kevin Pearce's rise and fall....and what a fall. I had a boyfriend who survived a brain injury and this film brought back so many memories. Especially when Kevin wants to go back to the activity that caused this life-changing injury. This is an excellent documentary.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa

I feel like I keep saying that I liked a lot of movies more than I expected this year. None surprised me more than Bad Grandpa. I watched it because of an Oscar nomination for makeup & hairstyles. The Jackass crew delivers a very funny, very inappropriate, very raunchy, very sweet movie. Johnny Knoxville straps on old man makeup and takes off on a road trip from Nebraska to North Carolina with a 9 year old posing as his grandson. They play out uncomfortable situations in a hidden camera style to the unsuspecting people they encounter. Watch the credits for the reveals. I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. Color me surprised.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Lone Survivor

Watching young soldiers fight for their lives is a popular theme in film. In Lone Survivor, watching four soldiers battle Taliban soldiers in Afghanistan is brutal. We are endeared to the soldiers early in the film, then they go on their mission. The fight is graphic and bloody. When you buy your ticket, you know the outcome of the story, so suspense is not a factor. The how is almost unbelievable. This film is Oscar nominated for sound and sound mixing, and I'll say that the sound was one of the more dramatic aspects of this film. I came away from this film once again marveling at the bravery of young men in the military and the dangerous situation in the middle east.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Cutie and the Boxer

Not only is the story of artists Ushio and Noriko Shinohara an interesting ride, but the structure of this film draws the viewer in. In the documentary Cutie and The Boxer we see the evolution and survival of artists who met, fell in love and have lived their art for many years. The story is interesting and the film is put together well. The end credits are priceless. If I ever run into them in DUMBO I'll say hey!

The Book Thief

I was excited to see The Book Thief based on the Oscar nomination for John Williams' score. The score was sparse and subtle, so I don't really understand the nomination. The story itself was fine. A young girl finds her comfort in books and friends in Nazi Germany. The performances were good, but this film would have benefited from a 15-20 minute edit. An ok movie at best.

Friday, January 24, 2014


Prisoners has an Oscar nomination for cinematography. Roger Deakins puts a light on this dark film so well. There is a sequence in a car near the end that is especially notable. The story of a kidnapping takes several complicated turns, and left a few things hanging at the end. I would have liked some resolution. A decent rental.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Lone Ranger

I saw The Lone Ranger because it has Oscar nominations for visual effects and makeup & hairstyles. Aside from that, this film is a huge waste of time. The visuals are impressive, but every time a character opens their mouth it is regrettable. What a mess.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

In a World...

If you are looking for a good rental, I recommend Lake Bell's latest film In a World... The daughter of a successful voice actor follows in her father's footsteps. He is both proud and threatened. Good performances and an entertaining story make this worth a look.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Short Term 12

Something about the way Short Term 12 is shot and acted is so genuine and intimate. This film is impressive in depicting a woman who works at a Short Term foster care facility. We see her at work, we see her at home. She is not perfect, but her flaws are what makes her so real. There is a heart to this film  that is very endearing. I liked this film a lot. Worth a look.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

August: Osage County

Dynamic dialogue and amazing performances make August: Osage County a dramatic powerhouse. I can't imagine what it was like to see this play live. An emotionally damaged family comes together in a family crisis and all their dirty laundry comes out in explosive fashion. Not nice, but what a ride!

Saturday, January 11, 2014


Her is an interesting examination of relationships. Set in the future, Theodore takes up a relationship with the OS on his computer. Not unusual in this time. Very human emotions are explored. The cast turns in outstanding performances in this unusual love story. Wonderful film.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Despicable Me 2

Despicable Me 2 starts out strong. The kids are still adorable, the animation is stunning, and oh those Minions!! When the bad guys move in I lost interest, but the minions rescue the end of the movie. The fireman scene is hilarious. The grownups are a bit tedious but the kids and Minions keep the tone light. Not horrible, not great.

Sunday, January 05, 2014

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Peter Jackson has a knack for making beautiful films. He's done it again with The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug . The outdoor shots in New Zeland are breathtaking and the special effects are dramatic. The story continues the journey of Bilbo Baggins and the dwarves to reclaim the dwarves' gold from Smaug. Several chase scenes are dramatic, but I do find the fight scenes too long and tedious. All in all I enjoyed this and am ready for the year.

Saturday, January 04, 2014


With a busy holiday schedule, it has taken me a while to see the film Frozen. The day after a northeast snowstorm, and waking up to a temperature of zero degrees, it seemed appropriate that today was the day. I was treated to a visual delight. It is a simple story told with heart and humor. Delightful and playful with just enough menace. The music made me think, "this one's going to Broadway." I especially liked the ending. I think we may have a classic here.

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Screen Scenes: AMC Framingtham 16, Framingham, MA

RI is a small state and a small film market. At the end of the film year I find myself searching theaters in nearby Connecticut and Massachusetts for those indie gems that are only released in limited markets. The AMC Framingham 16 is only an hour away, and this time of year, is a gold mine of these films. An easy drive, huge parking lot and comfy theaters, I'm always happy when my search for that elusive film brings me there.

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Inside Llewyn Davis

Listening to interviews and reading reviews about Inside Llewyn Davis has had me chomping at the bit to see the film. The film will not play in RI for 2 more weeks, so I took the drive to Massachusetts to satisfy my desire. A 70 mile drive rewarded me with a film that takes us into the life of a struggling musician. It becomes apparent early on that he is a jerk. He is struggling against himself, trying to make a living in the early folk music world of Greenwich Village in the early 60s. His relationships with friends and family are strained, and he makes bad decisions regularly. The part of his life that holds his redemption is his music. Oscar Isaac delivers song after song, as Llewyn Davis, that I found gorgeous and mesmerizing. (When I got home I bought the soundtrack) Every aspect of this film is wonderful, and it is obvious why it is on so many "best of" lists. It will certainly be on mine.