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My MY MOVIES page is very comprehensive. Take a look and you may find a film to view for the first time. I recommend them all highly! Cheers...
Mary Poppins Returns (2018)
Lots of fun, color, warm fuzzies
Do yourself a favor and watch Mary Poppins Returns without using the original film as a filter for whether or not you'll like it. It's a fun family film with great casting, a good story, and amazing visuals. Yes, the songs are forgettable, and yes, the scene with Meryl Streep should've been edited out, but it's a good movie! You'll enjoy it if you let yourself.
This Beautiful Fantastic (2016)
Both beautiful and fantastic
Great acting, endearing story, memorable characters. We watched it at a girls movie night and it was perfect for the occasion. No sex, violence, language or innuendos. Truly a high quality movie worth your time.
Christmas Inheritance (2017)
Disliked it immediately...
I couldn't finish it. I don't have high expectations for the cutesy Netflix pseudo-Hallmark movies, but many have been sweet and enjoyable. This one was a badly acted dud.
Beautiful Beast (2013)
I've been fairly impressed with the Hallmark movies, but this one was a real bomb. Predicable and contrived, the only thing left was to invest in the main characters. Isabelle, the "beautiful beast" was neither. She was just whiny, selfish, and elitist. The amount of time it takes for her to wake up (not a spoiler, because you know it's going to happen) is unrealistically short.
There's just way too much suspension of reality here. And the pacing makes us see much more of the bad than the good, which leaves unresolved aspects of the ending. Trust me-skip this one.
This Is Us (2016)
We all have our favorites...
I binge watched Season 1 in 3 days. Season 2 is going a little slower. I think it is interesting how a previous reviewer dumped on the Rebecca character. Jack and Rebecca are part of the reason I like show! I also like Randall and Beth a lot. Kate, Tobey, and Kevin drive me freakin' up the wall. Liked Kate at the beginning, but less and less. Both she and Tobey are just too inconsistent with their personalities. Kevin-you can tell he has a good heart, but the "woe is me" story when the guy is handsome, rich, and famous is getting really tired. No tears and I'm definitely invested, but I urge the writers to treat the audience as intelligent. We are! And if things don't improve, we're going somewhere else.
Raising the Bar (2016)
The Little Film That Couldn't
You know, you see these little films in the list and decide to give them a try, only to be disappointed. Somehow, with Raising the Bar, I did stick it out till the end, but it was dismal. The acting was so bad. And the energy was very low. I would not recommend it. There are plenty of other low budget movies that are a better use of time.
The Enchanted Cottage (2016)
So bad it's painful to watch
I had hopes for this movie. It's relatively clean and the premise is sweet. But, ugh, it is terrible. The acting is so bad, the makeup is horrible, that it asks the viewer to suspend way too much reality to make it watchable. The original was probably charming. This remake is a train wreck. What a shame that it was one of Richard Hatch's last films before his passing.
The Good Fight (2017)
Fights (and Fails) to Stay Relevant
The Good Wife was one of the best series on TV and one of my favorites ever. Born from the same writers and creators, I was hoping this spin off, The Good Fight, would be a worthy successor. Unfortunately, it spun off and spun out. Crash and burn. A hard, messy burn that I guarantee will lose The Good Wife's dedicated audience--starting with this viewer.
I love Christine Baranski as an actress, but Diane Lockhart was a classy woman in the previous series. Here, she is not. And the real tragedy is that she has no worthy co-star to play against. Instead, Baranksi is left twisting in the wind while the other characters scrape to keep up. (Rose Leslie is an agonizing miscast.) Yes, there are very competent actors; even well-liked, familiar characters from the original series, but the chemistry and premise doesn't work here. Neither do the heavy handed political agendas.
Somewhere between Extreme Left Wing Liberals and the Republican Tea Party are the rest of us who just want good TV without having political ideas smashed into our faces like a cream pie. The Good Wife walked the line, but it was so well done that it never completely crossed it. The Good Fight, however, takes that line and erases it like it never existed.
There are also some of us who don't want to see FIVE "F-bombs" dropped within a 40-minute episode. (Referring to Ep.1) That isn't gritty, it's desperate. The Good Fight is a waste of time and a waste of superb acting talent. I predict its painful demise within 2-3 seasons. I'd rather watch Good Wife reruns and remember what great TV was like. This isn't it.
Miss You Already (2015)
A trashy, even more predictable, version of Beaches
Aside from the obvious chemistry between Toni Collette and Drew Barrymore, there are so many things wrong with this movie. I hung in there until the end--the incredibly predictable end--if only to confirm my predictions.
Apparently, according to this film, being diagnosed with breast cancer is a sudden ticket to be a complete narcissist. For a mother who promised her kids she would always be there for them, she sure has a short memory, even when things were within her control.
What a waste.
Black Mirror: Nosedive (2016)
Inventive story destroyed by a parade of profanity
What a unique story! A person could write a college paper on it. Unfortunately, I'm one of those people who is pretty sensitive to profanity. I expected some, but not like this. A denser amount of F-words in such a short time than anything I've seen. I make no apologies for feeling this way. It was unnecessary, and it turned an initially clever plot into one where I couldn't wait for it to be over. One episode of Black Mirror was enough for me.
The Light Between Oceans (2016)
As many have said, The Light Between Oceans has an old world feeling about it. Aside from being story driven, it also doesn't wrap things up in a neat little bow like so many films today.
I must admit, that as conflicts increased I began to question my initial positive feelings about the film. However, by the time it ended, they were confirmed, despite the emotional roller coaster we, the viewers, are forced to endure.
Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander have a wonderful chemistry together and are both quality actors. Their portrayals of Tom and Isabel pull you in and make you feel everything they are feeling right alongside them.
I'm reading the book in tandem with having seen the movie. Together or apart, the film is worth watching.
Jane Eyre (1983)
The BEST adaptation
After seeing about 7 different adaptations of JANE EYRE, I always find myself coming back to this one. If you're protective of the novel, as I am, and desire to see a film that is very faithful to it, THIS one is the BEST.
Best is not perfect, but it is pretty darn close. You can watch this mini-series with the novel on your lap and practically follow along scene for scene.
Let's talk about the fabulousness that is Timothy Dalton.
He was born to play Mr. Rochester. Physically, emotionally, the highs and lows of his personality--all done with sheer excellence. Every scene he's in becomes his own. Every word spoken is perfection. Sometimes he is handsome, other times not, sometimes he's amiable, other times not. It is that changeability that makes the viewer constantly deciding, "Do I like Rochester? Or do I not?" Jane never knows which version of Rochester to expect and neither does the viewer.
When I was younger and first read the book and then saw this mini-series, I did not like Zelah Clarke's portrayal of Jane. Years later I have new appreciation for her. Timothy Dalton has a very strong presence as Rochester. Many actresses would be overshadowed by him, but Zelah Clarke holds her own in every scene they share.
Aside from the excellent acting, which stays true to the novel's characters' personalities, this version paces itself out extremely well. I love that the hilarious "gypsy scene" is included. I love that you see the real development of the relationship between Jane and Rochester. But mostly, I love that the ending is not rushed. The novel's ending is one of the best ever written and this adaptation does it terrific justice.
Becoming Jane (2007)
Not Extraordinary. Just Ho Hum
When the film begins, it is quiet and humorous. Jane is awake before the rest of her family and, when attacked by writer's block, takes out her frustration on the piano and, thereby, wakes up everyone else in the house.
From the beginning you feel like you're walking in in the middle of the film. Important characters go through the whole movie without clearly stating their relationship or names (such as Jane's sister, who is reminiscent of the elder Jane Bennet in Pride and Prejudice and a young deaf man named George who seems to be Jane Austen's brother, although it is never made quite clear.) I felt that Anne Hathaway was an odd choice to play the part of Jane Austen. She has an all-American look, her British accent was only very slight, and she is too modern-looking, in my opinion, for a period film such as this. I'm guessing that she was mainly cast because of her popularity and because she often plays free spirits who are thrown into against-the-odds situations. For me, it was a poor choice. Her acting was competent, but I couldn't get past the fact that I was watching Anne Hathaway playing a part. I loved her in The Devil Wears Prada, but here she stuck out--and not in a good way.
James McAvoy is a cute, mischievous suitor about whom everyone disapproves in the movie. I had seen him The Chronicles of Narnia and in Rory O'Shea Was Here (a great little film if you have the chance to see it.) One professional review I read said that he would have made a great Mr. Darcy. I'm sorry, but I beg to differ. McAvoy is good at playing self-deprecating, rebellious, and scrappy. He isn't dashing, polished, and gentlemanly--the qualities with which everyone associates with Mr. Darcy. Fortunately, he did fit the character he played in this film, so any Mr. Darcy comparisons are irrelevant.
The film's look was competent, but unspectacular. Great actors like Maggie Smith and Julie Walters were given little screen time--much like in the Harry Potter films--and stole every scene they were in. James Cromwell played Jane's father, a minister with a randy side when alone with his wife.
All in all, I would say that the movie was fair, about 3/5 stars. I enjoyed it, but I found myself looking at my watch. I don't need to see it again. I don't need to own it on DVD. Most importantly-- anyone who looks up Jane Austen's life on Wikipedia or anywhere else will discover that the advertised "extraordinary romance" does not end in a nice little package, which begs the question, what is the point in showing it?
Jane Eyre (2006)
A visually stunning adaptation
I am very protective of the Jane Eyre story because it is one of my favorites. Rochester is not an easy character to cast. Timothy Dalton was a magnificent Rochester in the BBC version and--despite my hesitation to admit (because of his look and age, not acting ability)--Toby Stephens did a wonderful job in this updated version. Ruth Wilson was a very capable Jane. She has the look of someone from the past and embodied the character very well. Compared to the BBC version, the main difference I noticed was the way the story was distributed over the 4 hours. It was surprising to me that only 15 minutes were spent on Jane's childhood before switching over to the adult actress. Although a few liberties were taken with the book, they were not enough to detract from the overall story. Visually, it is a delight, and the look of the film is very overcast and mysterious. I highly recommend this film (and the book of course!)
Family Ties (1982)
Finally on DVD, and it stands the test of time
I'm so thrilled that FAMILY TIES is finally out on DVD. To me, this was the best sitcom of the 80's. Even today, its themes are still relevant. I always thought it was great that the kids were allowed their own ideas, the parents weren't divorced, and that they were an imperfect family just doing their best. Unlike the Cosby Show, which was all about the dad, Family Ties let each character deal with their own issues in a very real way. I just watched the episode where a family friend makes a pass at Mallory, and that is something that some young people have to deal with. It dealt with racism, alcoholism, rape, politics, and a host of other things that kids are exposed to. It's still funny and is a great show that kids and parents can watch together and not be embarrassed.
I turned on PBS last night and ran into this movie completely by accident. I was hooked immediately. It is so funny and unusual. The fact that everything happens to the young Casanova by chance is one of the things that makes it good. He is goofy, low-born, and self-effacing, as opposed to Heath Ledger's smug, overly confident Casanova in the film recently in theaters (which I found very boring.) This CASANOVA is definitely worth my time and yours. The supporting characters are enjoyable and the sets and costumes are amazing, full of color and authenticity. It was a spectacle for the ears and the eyes, I especially liked the colorfest during Casanova and Bellino's ball. Enjoy!
The Devil Wears Prada (2006)
The Most Enjoyable Movie This Year (So far...)
I went into this movie with lukewarm expectations and came out of it extremely entertained. The cast is probably better than the material, but they were so good that they elevated it to a film that I can't wait to own when it is released on DVD. Meryl Streep is fantastic. She never raises her voices above a loud whisper, yet she commands so much fear and respect that you're in awe. I also love the way they made her up--silvery hair is a great touch to add to her icy personality. Anne Hathaway was a good choice, making Andy smart, klutzy, independent, and cleans up nice with a make-over. Stanley Tucci, Adrien Grenier, Simon Baker and Emily Blunt were perfect in their roles. It is a really enjoyable film with some good lessons about the choices that we make and their consequences. I know all the hype right now is about SUPERMAN RETURNS, but I saw that the next day and it was so boring, long and badly cast that I considered running to the next theater so watch PRADA again. Lotsa, lotsa fun for anyone.
Superman Returns (2006)
MANGORICK said everything I was thinking when I saw SUPERMAN RETURNS. It is a disappointing return. I was really looking forward to it because, hey, it's Superman! Also, because Bryan Singer was directing and his X-MEN movies are so good (haven't seen the 3rd one yet.) Physically, Brandon Routh has it all. I think he used the opportunities the story gave him well, but there was not much for him to do. He had very few lines and even the montages of him saving several people in a row were very short. The movie is called SUPERMAN, so let's be able to see him.
Kate Bosworth was a terrible, terrible choice for Lois Lane. Lois Lane is not supposed to be conventionally beautiful--which Kate is--and she is supposed to be more plucky and self-reliant--which Kate's Lois wasn't. Physically, she was ALL WRONG. Personality-wise, all wrong. Someone like Marla Sokoloff would've been good--someone edgy and a little sarcastic.
The same goes for casting Frank Langella as Perry White. Whose idea was that? He's too tall, too exotic, too expressionless. Bad, bad, choice. I thought the bartender looked more like our idea of Perry White. The bartender--who was the 50's Superman show's Jimmy Olsen.
Kevin Spacey did a good job as Lex Luthor, although I think Lex Luthor would be disappointed with the thin plot line he was given. Hello? Creating your own spiky little country? One that, as Ebert said, a billy goat wouldn't live on. Give me a break.
After the movie I came home and watched Christopher Reeve's SUPERMAN and SUPERMAN II. They are SOOoooo much better. The technology was lesser because of the time period, but it didn't matter because there was a great story, cast, and superior acting.
The new movie's pacing was very off, spending too much time on unimportant action (i.e. Lois on the plane, Lois on the sea plane, Lois on the yacht.) I think we saw more Lois than Superman--and she wasn't that good. I also think they could've given Lois's kid A LOT more to do than just bumping into doors with a trashcan on his head and staring at everything through those shaggy bangs of his. Would someone please give that poor child a haircut? When I saw the photo on Lois's desk, I thought he was a girl at first.
And poor James Marsden getting roped into playing the good-looking neglected fiancée. Sorry, Cyclops, that was a misfire.
This is a movie worth missing, I'm afraid. 2 1/2 hours of Lois Lane with an occasional Superman is not the way to return the iconic character to the public. I think my favorite character was actually Parker Posey's Kitty and her cannibalistic dog. What does that say about the movie?
Treat yourself to an evening with GREENFINGERS
To anyone who happens to stumble across this little-known film, I recommend it highly. Five English prisoners, led by moody Colin (Clive Owen) and optimistic Fergus (David Kelly), undertake a horticultural adventure while at an open prison. They are a motley crew aiming for identity beyond their prison status and drab uniforms. Helen Mirren is delightful as a local gardening celebrity who sponsors the prisoners in their first flower show. This movie is a feel-good, uplifting tale with no dull moments and a fun cast with a lot of variety. There is some strong language and brief nudity (a shame, because it will stop some from seeing it,) but all in all a gem of a movie. Most will enjoy it thoroughly!! Cheers for Greenfingers!
Mrs Henderson Presents (2005)
Delightful and feisty--the film and its star...
This film is a lot of fun. Judi Dench is great to watch as a brash, rich, sometimes naive woman who buys a theater as a hobby after her husband's death. She adds fire and life to every scene she's in and has a superb on screen rapport with Bob Hoskins.
The nudity is handled very well. The audience was completely silent when the girls first appeared in all their God-given glory. I think that no one wanted to be heard reacting in any way. But after a while the nudity in the film became as secondary to the story as it did to the audience. There are characters and their relationships that you care about and then WWII starts up with all of Hitler's insanity. They become the real focal points.
If you go to the movie knowing what you're in for, you'll have a wonderful time. It is well-done and has a good story with terrific actors. There are some lines that are very, very funny. Audience members of all ages were clapping when it was finished and you will too.
An amazing film!
Today I took my 3rd graders on a field trip to see this film. We were mesmerized! I know that the kids were mostly blown away by the great 3D effects, but that's OK. Hopefully they absorbed a little bit of the science that was discussed.
It is fantastic. People of all ages will enjoy it. I highly recommend it if you can find this film in your area.
Two things I liked: the way To Hanks included the "first quotes" of other moon walkers (since the only one we ever hear about is Neil Armstrong's.) I also liked the scenario of what "could have happened" if there was a glitch with the moon rover during the moon landings.
See it--you'll love it.
Ladies in Lavender (2004)
The cast breathes life into the story...
When you have a cast headlined by Judi Dench and Maggie Smith, your film is going to do well with their names alone. LADIES IN LAVENDER is saved by these two ladies and their screen presence and the ping-pong-like banter with each other.
The two veteran actresses play Janet (Smith) and Ursula (Dench,) two sisters living a comfortable and mundane life in Cornwall, England in 1936. Janet is a widow and Ursula is a spinster. Their lives are altered when a mysterious young Polish man (Daniel Bruhl)washes up on the beach near their home. They take him in, aid in his recovery from an accident that is never explained, and learn that he is a gifted violinist. Their comfort zone, which is already disturbed, becomes more so when a young German female painter (Natascha McElhone)also shows an interest in the young man.
Like in TEA WITH MUSSOLINI, Maggie Smith's character is the more level-headed and pragmatic, while Judi Dench's Ursula is overly-sensitive and borderline childlike. Miriam Margoyles does a great job as their rough-around-the-edges housekeeper and David Warner, who played "that undertaker of a manservant" in TITANIC, plays an equally creepy character in this film as the town's doctor.
The movie is far from perfect (Ebert and Roeper just gave it "two thumbs down," but it is enjoyable. It is just one little slice in the lives of all of these characters, not giving the viewer much history or much closure at the end. The most poignant sideline is the love that Ursula starts to feel for this young man and, though he is in his 20's and she is in her 70's, you are reminded that one really can't choose who one loves, even when the love is as inconvenient and impossible as this. However, I do agree with the 2 professional critics when they said that Maggie Smith "didn't have a lot to do in this film." This is true. Usually she is just the motherly voice of reason when Dench's character is acting irrational.
When I was at the theater there were many, many senior citizens in the audience. I heard many positive comments from my fellow audience members when the film ended and I think several could relate to the two ladies in the story. As for myself (and in my early 30's) I am still glad I saw it.
The Game of Their Lives (2005)
It's all about the journey...
THE GAME OF THEIR LIVES was a very good movie. It was a very good movie that I think could've been a great movie.
There really isn't any need for spoilers because it is a sports movie--and sports movies have happy, victorious endings about 99% of the time. But this story isn't really about the ending--which any viewer could predict--it is more about a team coming together at the last minute and working to form cohesion and camaraderie while facing unbeatable odds.
When the US World Cup team was formed, it was mainly comprised of 2 groups, the players from St. Louis' "Hill" and the "East Coasters." A lot of these men had played soccer well, but not professionally. They were men with other jobs like a mailman, undertakers, and a dish washer. The 2 groups had different styles to overcome and each had its own leader: Frank Borghi (Gerard Butler) led the men from the Hill and Walter Bahr (Wes Bentley) led the East Coasters. I really enjoyed these two characters. The film did an excellent job of showing their effort to create a sense of team spirit in a very limited amount of time.
There are plenty of colorful characters in the film, which strengthened the point of how they were all plucked from their lives for a mere 3 weeks to head down to Brazil and play their hearts out. There was Pee Wallace (who is afraid to fly) and Gino Pariani--who are known as a lethal combo on the field )or "pitch." There's Charlie Colombo and Joe Gatjaens--Charlie who wears gloves for every game and Joe--a Haitian--who turns cartwheels and shows infectious optimism. There's Harry Keough, the young mailman learning Spanish at home so he can converse with his girlfriend.
Many of these men were veterans. Many of them had been awarded during the service and several had had psychological after effects from WWII. Perhaps it was because of having served their country in that capacity that they felt the patriotism necessary to give their game that extra "umph." The film gives you just enough of their personal lives to get to know them and spends the majority of its time on the team after it has been formed but before the legendary game. The ending is somewhat abrupt--I felt--in that the second the game is over, so is the movie. You get the obligatory reintroduction of the characters by showing the actual men (now aged and few) who were on the team, but I wish there had been something--even a paragraph that appeared on the screen--that gave the audience some closure with these players with which we had invested the last 90 minutes.
Overall, however, it was very enjoyable and interesting.
(P.S. To those die-hard Gerry Butler fans--you'll enjoy the scenery a lot.)
Finding Neverland (2004)
Beautifully Touching and Perfectly Cast
Imagine a wonderful film with no violence, no obscenities, and no torrid love scene...FINDING NEVERLAND proves that, yes, it still can be done successfully in this day and age and stand strongly against other films.
Johnny Depp play the title role as the author of Peter Pan, struggling from writer's block after his last play flops. Kate Winslet is wonderful as Sylvia Llewelyn-Davies, the widowed mother of 4 boys and head of the family who inspire Barrie to write Peter Pan. Julie Christie is great as the grandmother you love to hate--fearful for her daughter's reputation, but also "protecting what she has" as she puts it during a strong talk with Barrie.
The 4 young men who play the Davies brothers are especially impressive. They look and act like brothers and hardly seem to be acting at all because they are so natural. Note that all 4 of the boys lended their names to the story: John (Jack) and Michael are Wendy's younger brothers, George is the father (and the oldest son), and of course Peter is the boy who refuses to grow up. Legend has it that Barrie created the name Wendy and it was first heard in Peter Pan.
Of course the stand-out young man is Freddie Highmore, who plays the young Peter from whom Barrie borrows the name of his title character. I think we'll see great things from him in the future. He'll be playing Charlie Bucket in Tim Burton's CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY. Johnny Depp will be Willy Wonka. These are great roles for Johnny, who seems to be defying aging himself. Who knows how FINDING NEVERLAND would've turned out if Johnny Depp hadn't been cast as J.M. Barrie? Fortunately, we'll never know.
Dustin Hoffman does a superb turn as Charles Frohman, Barrie's producer. Of course, we all know that Dustin Hoffman can do anything on screen, but it is fun to see him linked to Peter Pan once more after his hilarious turn as Captain Hook in HOOK, with Robin Williams.
If differently cast, with different editing, this could've been a very boring movie. It certainly doesn't play like most of the modern-day films. Luckily for the viewers, it IS extremely well cast and well edited and you'll find yourself wanting to find Neverland again and again. It is sure to become a modern-day classic.
Whale Rider (2002)
Mystical, ethereal, and doesn't feel like a movie
How refreshing to find a film that feels more like you're observing a slice of life than a watching a big Hollywood blockbuster.
WHALE RIDER is the story of Paikea, the female surviving twin and most recent descendant of her Maori tribe's line of chiefs. But leadership does not extend to girls in their tribe, and her grandfather tries to find the "true chief" among boys in the village by conducting lessons of strength and endurance. Pai (played extremely effectively by first-time actress Keisha Castle-Hughes) is not allowed to join in these lessons, but her indomitable spirit is not crushed by her grandfather's rejection. There are excellent supporting characters, such as Pai's grandmother, uncle, and often-absent father. Each of these supporting characters help play a part in molding her character into a young woman with the leadership qualities her grandfather is looking for in others.
This is a very well-made movie because it doesn't feel like a movie. You are simply watching these colorful characters live their lives, exert their beliefs, and become one with their beautiful New Zealand surroundings. It is a treat for anyone who likes a quality film as well as for young people who can appreciate a fine story. Enjoy--