Friday, July 31, 2015

The Black Stallion

The first hour of The Black Stallion has very little dialog and is some of the most riveting cinema I have ever seen. When it enters a predictable plot I lost interest a little, but this is one worth seeing. A true classic.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Goonies

In 1985 I had 2 small children and rarely got to the movies. I have always been aware of the movie The Goonies, but never saw it. Watching it 30 years later, I was treated to a journey into adolescence, fantasy, friendship and family. Great script, performances and action sequences. I can understand the affection for this film. Lovable.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Miracle on 34th Street

Though it runs on TV all the time, Miracle on 34th Street is another holiday classic I've never seen. The story of a man who claims to be Santa Claus in the modern world is an excellent exercise in tolerance, faith and kindness. Well acted and written, this is more than a Christmas movie. I really liked it.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

What Happened, Miss Simone?

Singer, activist, pianist, mother, wife, Nina Simone wore a lot of hats. In the documentary What Happened, Miss Simone? we get a look into all of these aspects of her tumultuous life with the soundtrack of her enormous talent running through. An exquisite pianist whose voice matched, she found a career in music and struggled with her art and those around her. Her contributions to the civil rights movement are explored as well. An interesting artist and woman. Cool film.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Yellow Submarine

If I ever saw it all, I don't remember, yet so many images in Yellow Submarine are familiar to me. This is a psychedelic ride in animation. Colorful, creative and trippy. So much fun to watch. The Beatles join Captain Fred to free Pepperland from the Blue Meanies and restore music there. A fun ride, and you'll be singing along to the music.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Kid

When The Kid was recommended as essential viewing for kids under 13, I would recommend it for the 11-13 range. This silent film is a bit bleak and would benefit from discussion of poverty in the 20s and child abandonment. The brilliance of Charlie Chaplin's acting is the heart of this tale, and the complex story told with very few words is genius. The technical aspects of a dream scene are to be admired as well. A classic that I'm glad I finally watched.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Inifintely Polar Bear

Families can have a lot of challenges to overcome. In the film Infinitely Polar Bear the focus is money and manic depression. The family is separated by the Mom's drive for a better life and the Dad's illness. The kids end up being cared for by the manic Dad who won't take his meds and struggles to keep order in their day to day lives. He does not always succeed, but there is always the undercurrent of love. The kids are wonderful and Mark Ruffalo plays manic well. Production note: this one was filmed in RI!

Duck Soup

I really enjoyed A Night at the Opera, so when Duck Soup showed up on the EW 55 list I immediately rented it. Masters of slapstick and geniuses of the running gag, the Marx Brothers are such a delight to watch. A very funny story pokes fun at politics and privilege with some awesome production numbers. You can see the inspiration of a lot of modern comedy in this work. Very funny film.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

A Trip to the Moon

An important part of film history is the hand colored film A Trip to the Moon. A brilliant early film that is mesmerizing and technically ahead of its time. With a futuristic story and satyric tone, this is a cinematic jem. Happy to see it on Netflix Instant.


I've never been wowed by Amy Schumer, but the writing in Trainwreck impressed me. The story of a young lady with a give-a-fuck attitude about adult life is both compelling and entertaining. The dialogue and performances outshine the story, especially the weak third act. There's a lot of heart though and I liked his film a lot more than I expected to. Neither the poster nor the trailer do this film justice. I'd like to see this one again. Well done.

Friday, July 17, 2015


Another movie recommended by EW for kids under 13, Babe is an interesting one. OK, I thought it was weird. The special effects are impressive, the story is simple and the ending is very satisfying. Once I got used to the talking animals, I enjoyed this film. A cute one to watch with the kids.

Sunday, July 12, 2015


Musicians can have inner struggles that their fans don't always see. Amy Winehouse had to deal with her demons in front of the world. In the documentary Amy, we are taken back to her roots and watch her rapid rise and fall. Her talent was enormous, but so was her addiction. The performance clips capture the brilliance of her voice and her lyrics become a character on the screen showing her pain and depth. An appropriate tribute to a young talent gone too soon.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

It's a Wonderful Life

For all of the film I have seen, I have never watched all of It's a Wonderful Life. I always run into it on TV at the holidays, but it never held my interest for more than a few scenes. When Entertainment Weekly put out a list of 55 Essential Movies Kids Should See Before they Turn 13, my daughter was appalled that I had not seen this film. Handing me her copy she said, "give it a chance." That weekend I enjoyed a film based on a family living though an interesting part of history in America. Their ups and downs. Their anguish and joy. I feel like the Christmas ending of this film dilutes the fact that the film is so much more than a Christmas movie. I think it is 3 or 4 movies in one. A surprisingly enjoyable experience.

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

5 Flights Up

As a woman approaching 60 with 80-something parents, the themes in 5 Flights Up are very familiar. A couple who has been in their 5th floor walk-up Brooklyn apartment for 40 years get the notion that they should sell and live somewhere more appropriate. Th realities of the NYC real estate market is jarring to them. Realizing that selling means buying, they go on a whirlwind of apartment hunting and evaluating all of their life decision. It is a warm, interesting look at later life and being comfortable with that life. I really liked this film.

Friday, July 03, 2015

Inside Out

Pixar is a powerhouse when it comes to animated film. Not only is the animation amazing, but the stories are well told and heartfelt. The latest offering, Inside Out, follows that tradition with a high-concept adventure for the emotions of an 11 year old girl. The representation of the girls emotions by 5 characters in her head show us a little psychology and a little science. As always, Pixar finds a way to tug at our heartstrings and does a nice job letting us know that sadness can be as important as joy.

Thursday, July 02, 2015

McFarlane, USA

After watching a string of OK movies McFarland, USA was a breath of fresh air. The storyof the McFarlane TX cross country team is a nice rags to riches story. Well written, well acted and enough edge to keep it from being too cheesy. A good sport film.


I enjoy a good heist film. Focus is not a good heist film. Will Smith plays a con man who meets a young woman who wants in on the action. Smith does not even sound like himself, the voice is way too low which I found very distracting. Even when there are interesting cons they either go on too long or end in a bad place. This film was a big disappointment. Margo Rabe does a nice job, but it's not enough to save this one.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

While We're Young

When I watch talented, successful people long for more in a film my eyes roll. In the film While We're Young we're introduced to a couple discontented personally and professionally, yet they don't seem to have much to complain about. When they meet a younger couple and are captivated by their youth, little do they know they are being taken for a ride. Their vulnerability takesthem on a journey that does see growth. I liked the ending, but the journey was a bit painful.