Sunday, August 31, 2014

Labor Day Chick Flick

Movie Title:    Labor Day

PG-13, 1 hour 50 minutes

Grade:  C+

In a Nutshell:  First off, I was surprised that acclaimed director Jason Reitman didn’t release this film during Labor Day   Instead, it quietly opened at the end of January 2014, receiving mixed reviews from critics.  It’s an unlikely romance that digs deep into the kinds of heartaches that last a lifetime.  Whenever Tobey Maguire narrates a movie, you feel like you’re going to hear profound lessons about life’s journey.  While sappy and belabored at times, this film invites you to experience such a journey.

Based on a book by Joyce Maynard, it feels like a The Bridges of Madison County wounded romance you would read at the end of summer.

Uplifting theme:   

  • Family is what brings us the greatest joys and sorrows in life.
  • It’s surprising how the smallest moments between people can impact our lives.
Things I liked:

  • Kate Winslet, Josh Brolin and Gattlin Griffith were all terrific, especially considering the material they were given to work with.
  • There is a unique loss and pain that comes after a miscarriage.  I’ve had several, so I could really relate to Adele’s sorrow.  A woman never forgets the baby she could have raised.  While Adele allowed herself to withdraw from the world, her reaction is not unusual for a lot of women who have experienced her sequence of trials.  Thankfully, there is more help out there nowadays for women who go through similar circumstances.  One of the books that helped heal my soul almost more than anything else was this one:
Things I didn’t like:

  • Some of the scenes were ridiculously implausible and I found myself talking to the screen, saying things like “Oh, come on!”
  • Most men won’t be able to tolerate this sugary chick-flick. 
Interesting lines:

  • “A man should know how to dance.  When a man can dance, the world is his oyster.”  - Adele
  • “I could feel her longing and loneliness before I had a name for it.”  - Henry Wheeler
  • “The mom asks her son if his father explained sex to him.  She points out that in school they usually talk about the bodily functions of the act, but they don’t talk about the way it feels.  She said “There’s another kind of hunger.  A hunger for human touch.  A desire.  People never tell you how it feels.”  - Adele
  • “There were two people who couldn’t go out into the world, so they made a world with each other.”  - Adult Henry Wheeler
Dumb lines:

*  Frankly, this needs to happen.  - Frank

Tips for parents:   While the theme is about families, this isn’t really a movie appropriate for young children.  There are a lot of sexual innuendos, but very little bad language.  If you want your kids to see it during the Labor Day weekend, use it as a kick-start to talk about "stranger danger" and how to avoid potentially dangerous situations. 

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Audiences who like sappy dialogue, music, and estrogen will enjoy chick flick "If I Stay"

Movie Title:   If I Stay
PG-13, 1 hour 46 minutes

Grade:  B-

In a Nutshell:  Standard chick-flick material: too cool guy falls head-over-heels in love with a shy, misunderstood girl and says all the right romantic things, risking everything for her.  If you’re into sappy dialogue, music, and estrogen, you’ll probably enjoy this predictable teen-angst love story, based on Gayle Forman’s 2009 novel If I Stay  

Uplifting theme: 
  • Teddy, Mia’s dad, teaches her “Sometimes you make choices in life and sometimes the choices make you.” 
  • The movie poster condenses the theme: “Live for Love.”
  • Another lesson Mia learns is from her mom who said “Life’s a big, fat, stinking mess, but that’s the beauty of it too.”
  • Music is a powerful theme in the film, which is that music is powerful.

Things I liked:
  • Chloe Grace Moretz is absolutely wonderful.  She was such a lovely, talented little girl in earlier movies and is getting even more so as she matures.  Her fingering on the cello looks very real, but she doesn’t play in real life.  She tried to learn for seven months, but finally gave it up.  A body double is used to play the instrument, while her head is cut into the frame later. I want her hair.
  • When the movie ended abruptly, the lady sitting behind me in the theater exclaimed “Wow!”
  • Mireille Enos, who plays Mia’s mother Kat, looked familiar to me, but it wasn’t until 30 minutes into the movie when I finally remembered where I had seen her before…she was Brad Pitt’s wife in the movie World War Z.  You can read my movie review of that fun action flick here.
  • I loved hearing beautiful cello music.  My youngest son played the cello for 3 years in middle school, but recently announced that he is not going to continue when he starts high school this year.  Anyone want to buy a cello?  (sniff)
  • The director, R.J. Cutler, uses mist and light to represent the ethereal world after this life.  There is no religious slant, other than the idea that there is another place to go after this world.
Things I didn’t like:
  • Adam (Jamie Blackley) is a rising rocker who writes songs and plays in a band.  One of his “genius” songs includes the ridiculously lame lyrics “I want what you have, now give it to me.”  In real life, Jamie has played the guitar since he was 12 years old.  You’ll see him again next year in a new Woody Allen movie.
  • The hospital security literally drags Adam out of Chloe’s room.  Do you really think hospital staff would be that mean and physical with someone visiting their dying loved one?  Have you ever experienced that?  I’d love to hear from you in the comment box below!
  • The camera puts Chloe Grace Moretz in soft-focus a LOT.  It would make more sense if that technique were only used AFTER the car accident.
Funny lines:
  • “Your closet’s terrifying”  - Mia, talking about her mom’s clothes
  • “Honey, guilt and bribery are the glue that has held parents and teenagers together for generations.  Don’t fight the tradition.”  - Teddy/Dad
  • “Your parents seem pretty cool.”  - Adam
“So they tell me.”   - Mia

  • “She shouldn’t be scared to hang out with those guys…they’re us.”  - Kat/Mom
  • “School’s out forever!”  - Denny
“Did you really quote Alice Cooper?”  Have I not taught you anything?”  - Teddy/Dad
  • “There are 2 kinds of people in this world: those who like coffee and those who like frufru drinks with ridiculous names.”  - Kim (Liana Liberato)
  • “If you ever turn into one of THOSE girls, I’m gonna shoot you.”  - Kim
“If I turn into one of THOSE girls, I’m gonna give you the gun.”  - Mia 

Did you notice?
  • The creepy doll head decorations on the front porch of Mia’s house.
  • Mia has an old record player in her room.  Her rocker parents have a huge bookshelf of old vinyls in their family room.
  • Mia’s artsy/fartsy house has Christmas lights on it year round.
Inspiring lines:
  • “Sacrifice – that’s what we do for the people we love.”  - Gramps  (Stacy Keach)
  • “As they say, life is what happens when you’re busy making plans.”  - Mia
  • “The audition was two months ago, but I can still feel it in my fingers.” – Mia
Romantic lines: 
  • “You can’t hide in that rehearsal room forever.  It’s too late.  I see you.”  - Adam
  • (too many to list)

Tips for parents:  Lots and lots of kissing…duh….chick flick.  There is also pre-marital sex, although you don’t see it, just some lead-in and cuddling in bed.  If your tween daughter loves this movie, she’ll be happy to learn that they are already talking about plans to film the sequel to the first book “Where She Went.”

        The first book:

If you like this movie, you’ll definitely enjoy “The Fault In Our Stars.”

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Giver asks great questions about life and free will

Movie Title:   The Giver [HD]
PG-13, 1 hour 40 minutes

Grade:  B

In a Nutshell:  If you haven’t read the best-selling young adult novel The Giver by Lois Lowry, you’ll understand the movie well enough, but also won’t know what you’re missing.  The book provides more depth than the movie, which is usually the case when literature is brought to life on the big screen.  No matter…the film’s content has a lot to offer to those who are brave enough to discuss one of life’s most important questions: which is better: forcing everyone to live in peace or allowing free agency that can threaten peace? 

Uplifting theme: 
  • There must be opposition in all things.  You can’t feel complete joy unless you know sorrow.  You can’t choose good if there is no evil.
  • Despite the sorrows, dangers, and ugliness in the world, life is worth living every minute.  Humanity is full of flaws, but also possesses incredible beauty.   
  • One person can make a difference.

Things I liked:
  • I like how the movie starts in grays, blacks and whites, but as Jonas gains knowledge, he is able to see more color.  Knowledge does, indeed, color your world.
  • As a college professor and author, I liked the Community’s rule to use “precise language.”  Admittedly, I’m a Grammar Nazi.
  • It’s always good to see Oscar winners Meryl Streep and Jeff Bridges in anything.
  • There is some symbolism in the film that allows the viewer to dig deeper, such as using an apple to disobey one of the Community’s commandments.
  • I think Brenton Thwaites does a great job of portraying Jonas, who is both thrilled and frightened by what he learns about the world.
  • Cameo appearance by Taylor Swift. 
  • I liked the uncertainty of the ending.  We don’t know what’s inside the house, but the exciting possibilities are endless.  Isn’t that how life is when you have choices?

Things I didn’t like:
  • Katie Holmes plays a lifeless, robotic mother with bad posture.  You never see her smile once, which is, of course, appropriate for the grey existence within the Community.  It seemed inconsistent with the father’s behavior (played by Alexander Skarsgard), who laughs and shows compassion.  Even more incongruent was his ability to (SPOILER ALERT) kill one baby without feeling any emotion, while bringing home another one to save it.
  • There really isn’t any humor in this film.  The only line that got a smirk out of the audience was when The Giver explains to Jonas “You’ve had a dream – a combination of fantasy, reality, emotions, and what you had for dinner.”
  • It starts out feeling a lot like the recent movie Divergent.
  • I hate watching any babies cry.
  • (SPOILER ALERT)  The kisses between Jonas and Fiona had zero passion.  Unfortunately, there was no chemistry between actors Brenton Thwaites and Odeya Rush.
  • The movie poster makes it look like Anna Kendrick is in the film, but she's not.

Insightful lines:
  • “Just like music, there’s something you can’t see with your eyes…inside you.”  - The Giver
  • “Listen to what’s calling from inside.”  - The Giver
  • “Faith is seeing beyond.”  - Jonas
  • “Memories are not just about the past – they determine our future.”   - The Giver
  • “Everything is connected.  Everything is a balance.  Where there is good, there is bad.” – The Giver
  • “A dwelling is not a home.  A home is more.”  - The Giver
  • “The boy must hold in the pain.”  - Chief Elder
  • “When people have the freedom to choose, they choose wrong every time.”  - Chief Elder
  • “You have the courage.  Let me give you the strength.”  - The Giver
  • “With love comes faith and hope.”  - The Giver
  • “We are living a life of shadows, of echoes.” – The Giver
  • “If you can’t feel, what’s the point?” - Jonas

Tips for parents:   Older children and teens will especially be able to relate to the idea of wanting to fit in and not being “too” different.  Jonas explains “I always thought I saw things differently.  I never said anything.  I didn’t want to be different.  Who would?”  Parents have a challenging task of helping their children discover their talents and and teaching them to embrace their uniqueness with confidence.  Parents should take advantage of the opportunity to sit down with their kids after this movie and discuss what qualities they think their children possess that makes them special.

If you liked The Giver, then you might also like:

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Step Up All In: A for dope dance, D for dopey plot

Movie Title:  Step Up All In
PG-13, 1 hour 52 minutes
PG Grade:  A for dancing, D for plot

In a Nutshell:  The Step Up franchise always brings it when it comes to amazing dancing.  This 5th installment’s story line isn’t new or fresh, but the dancing is.  Who watches these movies for the plot anyway? 

The cast is a veritable“Who’s Who” from the popular TV show “Dancing With the Stars.”  (I’ve never missed an episode.)   The sets are bigger and the finale competition is terrific.

Uplifting theme:  Forgiveness.

Things I liked:
  • Alexxa Brava (Izabella Miko) is stunning in all of her exotic costumes.  Check out her shoes and jewelry in all of her scenes.  Even her microphone is "bedazzled."  Did you know she is a ballerina from Poland?  Her legs are amazing.
  • I can’t even begin to list the dope dance moves by the various dancers.  (Don’t I sound so hip and cool when I use the word “dope” in my blog?  Two of my sons are B-Boys, so that makes me cool by relation.)
  • There were a lot of solos, which was kind of nice to see some of our favorites really shine in the spotlight.
  • I saw it in 3D, which was fun, but not necessary for this movie.
  • I can picture the dance numbers from this movie being turned into a Vegas show.

Things I didn’t like:
  • Great dancing, but terrible acting.
  • Nasty dance moves.
  • Did you miss Channing Tatum?  Me too just a little bit... 
  • As far as role models go, some of these characters are far from it.  The lead female dancer,  Andie West (played by the raspy Briana Evigan), makes a mess at her place of work and when the owner sees what she has done, she tells Andie to clean it up or get fired. Andie flippantly says "Clean it up yourself!" and storms out.  What a jerk.  The character, Monster (played by Luis Rosado), walks out in the middle of his job as well.  Yeah, I really want my kids to take responsibility like THAT.
Did you notice?
  • Did you catch choreographer/producer/director Adam Shankman’s cameo as a carnival ride operator in Las Vegas when Sean and Andie go out for a walk at night?
  • This feels like a big commercial for Caesar’s Palace, as well as for the Las Vegas Tourism office.  By the way, there are scenes taken at “The Fremont Street Experience” which is actually NOT on the Strip, but several miles away.
  • Did you know that Ryan Guzman (Sean) has two dance doubles?  Isn’t that cheating?
  • So You Think You Can Dance choreographer Christopher Scott looks so young that he is cast as one of the young guns in the dance crew LMNTRIX.
  • I thought Andie's shirt with the black bathing suit top and the white strips in the back was super cute.  (The one she wears in the basement of Caesar's Palace when they're practicing before the competition.)  Briana Evigan is built solid as a rock.

Funny lines:
  • Sean:  “Let me try this thing I’ve been imagining in my head.”
Andie: “That better be the dancing you’re talking about.”
  • Jasper: “How come postickers taste so much better in Vegas?”
Jenny: “Because they’re eggrolls.”
  • “So it begins…the drama, the passion, the Vortex.”  - Alexxa 
  • "I have been known to get pretty crunk."  - Marcos 
  • Jason (We know him as “Twitch”): “This is your new crew?”
Sean:  “Well, they ain’t my book club.”

Tips for parents:    You’ll see a lot of skin, especially Briana Evignan’s, who plays Andie West.  There is some great dancing, but also a lot of “dirty” dancing and crude moves.  Surprisingly, there is not much profanity.

If you missed the first Step Up movies, you can catch up on them with these:

Expendables 3 more of the same macho mahem

Movie Title:    The Expendables 3
PG-13, 1 hour 43 minutes
In theaters August 15, 2014

Grade: B-

In a Nutshell:   
There is no shortage of testosterone, nor bad guys to fight here, folks.  If you’ve seen the first two movies in the Expendables franchise, then you already know that the muscles, weapons and egos are all very, very large.

What makes this movie notable is that it’s rated PG-13, quite a feat since the first two installments were rated R.  The cast of macho men includes Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Terry Crews, Wesley Snipes, Antonio Banderas, Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson, Kelsey Grammer, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Dolph Lundren…what’s not to like?  Yeah, most of them are getting pretty old now, but they still know how to blow things up and kick you-know-what like nobody else.

Of course, the film isn’t complete without a few “Yeehaw”s and “That’s gotta hurt” lines during fight scenes.  Not heavy on a plot, this is all about the action, fight scenes, and seeing all of our favorite tough guys together.

Uplifting theme: 
  • Family isn’t just the people you’re born to.
Things I liked:
  • The camera zooms in on the angry eyes of team leader Sylvester Stallone, announcing to the audience that the real battle has just begun.  Classic.
  • Antonio Banderas’ character, Galgo, is hilarious.
  • True to real life, Sylvester Stalone’s character says to Arnold Schwartzeneggar’s character “I thought you retired.”  Arnold’s character says “I lied.”
Things I didn’t like:
  • SPOILER ALERT:  Terry Crews' character gets wounded early in the movie, so don’t count on any of his classic dance moves with bouncing pecs.  Dang it.  His dancing (and singing too!) was hilariously creepy in the recent movie Blended.  Check out my movie review of Blended here.
  • Harrison Ford is given the honors of dropping the only F-bomb in the movie.  Dang it.  I don't want to hear that coming out of his mouth.  (Yeah, my delicate ears make me a real prude.) 
Funny lines:
  • “Relax.  You’ll give yourself a stroke.” – Harrison Ford to Sylvester
  • “I could do that.”  - Sylvester says…a lot.
  • “Is that the Big Dipper?  Yeah, we gotta turn around.” – Kelsey Grammer
  • “You’re only old when you surrender.”  - Antonio Banderas
  • “I need a job.  All I know how to do is killing people…and I do that very well.”  -  Antonio Banderas
  • “If you wanted to fight, why didn’t you just get married?”  - Sylvester
  • “Hurry up.  It’s boring.”  - Arnold Schwarzenegger
  • “They put their noses in business where they didn’t belong and now they’re The Deletables.” – Mel Gibson
  • “It’s hard to beat an enemy that’s living inside your head.” – Mel Gibson
  • “Would you like to hold my gun?  Vamanos, chica.” – Antonio Banderas
Tips for parents:   Lots of profanity and violence…what did you expect from a movie packed with macho men?

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie review

Grade:  C
PG-13, 1 hour 41 minutes

In a Half-shell:  You’re about to get shell-shocked.  OK, first of all…I have 2 water turtles.  So there’s that.  Secondly, I raised 4 sons who were obsessed with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles when the cartoon, toys, comic books, video games, and subsequent movie first came out.  We owned every plastic version of the toys with every miniature weapon accessory ever sold.  So, how could this movie be so boring?  I actually fell asleep in the theater.  Granted, I only had 4 hours of sleep the night before, but still.  Cowabunga.

Don’t worry if you don’t know the back story.  There is a short refresher in the beginning of the movie and then a new twist on the old story throughout the film.  The movie is filled with non-stop, fast action…if you can keep your eyes open.  

Uplifting theme: 
  • Believe in the impossible.
  • Don’t be a hater…unless you have to fight bad guys.
Things I liked:
  • You’ll want to see this one in 3D.  The aerial scenes are pretty amazing and there are a lot of them.
  • Shredder was pretty fierce and scary.  His samurai outfit was pretty cool.
  • New York City is featured as the main locale.  Has anyone ever counted how many times the iconic Time Square has been destroyed in movies?
  • The likable Will Arnett provides some comic relief as Vern Fenwick. 
  • There is something about William Fichtner that I’ve always liked.  Maybe it’s that I dated a guy in college who looked like him.  He was great in Prison Break: Seasons 1-4 .
Things I didn’t like:
  • Why did Megan Fox get plastic surgery?  She was gorgeous before.  Now she looks a little “off.” Madame Tussaud won’t have to create wax figures anymore if Hollywood starlets keep plasticizing themselves.  Megan Fox gets almost more screen time than the turtles themselves.  She spends most of the movie running around, panting.
  • The age of the target audience is probably 5, so of course, there are fart jokes.
  • You can’t always tell which turtle is talking.
  • I always wonder how much money companies pay for product placement in films.  This one features Pizza Hut.  You know…turtle teenagers and pizza.
  • The wise cracks are pretty mediocre…neither wise, nor particularly funny.  There were some small children laughing in the theater, but I suspect this may have been their first introduction to this franchise.
  • Some of the action scenes are so fast that you can’t enjoy everything in the frame because it has jumped on to something else already.  Don’t sit too close to the screen or it’ll be a blur.
  • Comedienne Whoopi Goldberg doesn’t get much material to work with.
  • Splinter looked pretty mangey.
  • The turtles sound more like Turtles in the Hood.  They’re super bulky and don’t look like teenagers.

Did you notice?
  • The stickers on April O’Neill’s bike helmet?
  • It’s pouring rain at the ship yard, but April’s beautiful hair doesn’t get wet.
  • Incense burning in Splinter’s lair.
  • Wall of boom boxes, reminiscent of the late 1980’s when the Ninja Turtles first became popular.

Funny lines:
  • “That is insane!  That cat is playing “Chopsticks” with chopsticks!  - one of the turtles (I couldn’t tell who said it)
  • “I so don’t understand the ending of Lost."- Michelangelo  (Yeah, you’re not the only one.) Lost: Season 6 - Final Season

  • “Hey guys, if it’s not obvious already about that girl…Dibbs!” – Michelangelo
  • “So, they’re aliens?”  - Vern

  • “No, that’s stupid.  They’re reptiles.  They help people.”  - April
    “Heroes in a half-shell.”  - Vern
    • “Maybe she’s a Jedi.”  - turtle  (I couldn’t tell who said that)
    • “Yeah, I’m a talking turtle and you’re a human nerd.”  - turtle
    • “You two are adorable.  I could just pinch your cheeks.” – Eric Sacks
    • April O’Neill:  “So, you’re ninjas…mutant turtles..teenagers?
    Donatello:  When you put it like that, it sounds ridiculous.

    Interesting lines:
    • “I don’t believe in fairy tales.”  - Shredder
    • “Whenever someone takes a flame to this city, I’ll be there to put it out.” – Eric Sacks

    Tips for parents:   There is a LOT of violent (but bloodless) fighting, but it’s mostly harmless fun for the younger set who haven’t discovered these reptilian heroes yet.  Maybe this is your chance to teach your kids about the true Renaissance masters: Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni, Raphael Sanzio, and Donato di Niccolo di Betto Bardi.

    There was a karate school advertising their classes for kids when we walked outside the theater.  Impressionable kids in your home will want to kick and jump and chop things.  Fair warning.

    For fans who can't get enough of these heroes in a half shell:

    Saturday, August 9, 2014

    BIG special effects, small plot in Into the Storm disaster thriller

    Movie Title:  Into the Storm
    PG-13, 2 hours 10 minutes

    Grade:  C+

    In a Nutshell:   The theater lights fade and the tornado begins swirling immediately.  Cue the jiggly camera and body count.  This disaster movie’s strengths begin and end with the special effects.  They are truly amazing.  Unfortunately, the characters are forgettable and you almost don’t care who lives and dies because the script doesn’t allow time for you to become invested in them.  If you don’t care too much about plot, then this action thriller will be right up your tornado alley.

    Uplifting theme: 
    • “Live every day as if it were your last because some day it will be.”   -  Donnie (Max Deacon)
    • Always carry a knife in your pocket for emergencies!
    • Learn CPR!
    • Be prepared!
    • The high school students were asked to create a video time capsule to be watched in the future.  One student who survived the super storm says at the end of the movie “25 years?  It doesn’t matter, you know.  I’m just taking it one day at a time.”

    Things I liked:
    • I liked that each character was introduced with a little caption on the bottom of the screen as they appeared in the beginning of the movie.  I thought it was funny when Donk was first introduced and the screen said “Amateur Daredevil, 302 YouTube hits.”  He provides the comic relief for the story and is a complete idiot.
    • I’m kind of obsessed with long, beautiful hair lately because I don’t have it.  The only two females featured in the film do: the intense Sarah Wayne Callies and the young Alycia Debnam-Carey.
    • The aerial views that showed the epic devastation after tornados hit certain areas were fantastic.
    • When the audience saw the inside of the “eye” of the tornado, there was an audible gasp:  aaaah!
    Things I didn’t like:
    • Predictable plot and dialogue.  But you came to see the cool CGI, right?
    • The movie took itself pretty seriously.  There was some humor, but it didn’t have the nice blend of dramatic and comedic moments that were in Twister  It's hard not to make the comparison between the two movies.  While  Twister did a great job of including all the elements that make for a good disaster flick, the visual effects in Into the Storm make Twister look like the tornado in the The Wizard of Oz .
    Did you notice?
    • Donk’s friend uses a Flip cam to record everything.  They're the easiest video recorder ever.  I bought mine for $99 when they first came out.  You can still get them, but they cost a lot more.  Check out this one:
    • Flip UltraHD Video Camera - White, 4 GB, 1 Hour
    • How convenient that everyone’s batteries were fully charged.  In this day of easy technology, almost every character in the film is filming something, using cell phones, professional equipment, and handheld camcorders.  You’re the audience of their productions, as well as of the movie itself.  YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world and has allowed anyone with a camera to become a director.
    • The name on Donk's truck was "Twista Hunterz"
    Funny lines:
    • “Me and the planet go way back.”  - Donnie
    • “Grab a broom.  It’s like a zombie apocalypse out here.”  - Reevis (Jon Reep)
    • “He’s really doing it!  I’m going to film this train wreck”, says Trey (Nathan Kress) as he watches Donnie awkwardly try to talk to the girl he’s been in love with for months.
    • Gary (Richard Armitage) is disappointed that Donnie didn’t tell him where he was going and asks Trey “Why didn’t he just tell me?”  Trey answers sarcastically “I don’t know, Dad.  You’re so easy to talk to.”
    Interesting lines:
    • “It’s an instinct game.  And she ain’t got it.” – Pete (Matt Walsh)
    • “I’ve studied storms all my life.  This one is bigger than has ever been.” – Allison
    Did you know?
    Tips for parents:  The favorite word of choice in this film is “sh_t”…you’ll hear it a LOT.  Small children may be scared by the intense destruction and the image of people and things being sucked up by tornadoes.

    If you haven't seen Twister yet, it's a winner:

    Here's a survival knife I really like because it comes with a glass break feature and seat belt cutter for emergencies:

    Sunday, August 3, 2014

    The Hundred-Foot Journey is a Must-See for Foodies

    Movie Title:   The Hundred-Foot Journey

    Grade:  A
    PG, 2 hours 2 minutes

    In a Nutshell:   Mmmmm…..a must-see for foodies.  

    I’m an instructor at the famous Le Cordon Bleu CulinarySchool and so, obviously, I love good food.  (You could also take one look at my figure and deduce that.) Dreamworks offered complimentary movie tickets to our faculty and students, so I was thrilled to join other epicurean nerds in a special preview of this delectable film.  I also brought my cute niece, Lacey Long, who was featured in a student episode of Top Chef Masters!

    Based on Richard C. Morais’s first book, you know that co-producers Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey are going to create something truly magical.  And it is.  Because it was a special preview, we got to hear from them before the movie began.  Oprah calls the film “Deliciously charming.”  And it is.  It satisfies the senses and is comfort food for the soul.

    I finally get to use the word “bucolic” in a movie review.  The bulk of the movie takes place in a picturesque and postcard-perfect village in the gorgeous south of France.  The cinematography is stunning. This is also one movie where I really wish smellovision existed.

    Uplifting theme:  In addition to the inspiring dishes, the film serves up cultural understanding, tolerance, and appreciation.

    Things I liked:
    • The title of the book and movie is brilliant.
    • Academy Award Winner Helen Mirren is a national treasure.
    • Manish Dayal is adorable as Hassan Kadam and Om Puri is a lovable, wise Papa.
    • The dialogue is filled with layered meanings.  I love that.  Like an onion.
     Things I didn’t like:
    • This film will make you hungry. 
    • The drama is sentimental, but easily forgivable.
    Did you notice?
    • Madame Mallory’s big, beautiful ring?
    • The crepe maker in the outdoor market?
    • Le Cordon Bleu book on the bookshelf?  When we saw Hassan look at it, all of us from the Culinary School cheered with obnoxious enthusiasm.  By the way, did you know they offer free community classes and campus tours?  See if one is in your city!  (My shameless plug)  Another book that was featured was a pastry book written by Jules de Gouffe.
    • The giant chef’s knife the young boy uses in the courtyard?
    • The sleek wine carafe Madame Mallory uses on Bastille Day?
    • The hideous wallpaper in Papa’s bedroom?
    Great lines:
    • “Wherever the family is at is home.”  - Papa
    • “Asking for a discount doesn’t mean I’m poor.  It means I’m thrifty.”  - Papa  (I completely agree!  Check out my “thrifty-living” blog at Sister Thrifty!)
    • “In this restaurant we do not serve an old, tired marriage, but a passionate affair.” – Madame Mallory
    • “One Michelin star is good.  Two is amazing.  Three is only for the gods.”  - Madame Gallory
    • “If your food is anything like your music, then I suggest you tone it down.”  Madame Mallory
    • “You’re a chef.  I do not pay you to burn things.” – Madame Mallory
    • “Welcome to our humble abode and thank you for barging in.”  - Papa
    • “Smile!  You got good teeth…just smile!”  - Papa says to his daughter on their opening night.  In contrast, Charlotte Le Bon doesn’t have good teeth, but has a beautiful smile.  She’s a beautiful and charming French actress who is perfectly cast as Marguerite.
    • Talking about the five “mother sauces”, Marguerite says “You must find them in your heart.  Then, bring them to your pots.  That’s the secret.”
    • “Food is memories.” – Hassan
    • “I’m waiting for Hassan Kadam or death, whichever comes soonest.”  - Madame Mallory
    • Papa asks “Is he as good as I think he is?”  Madame Mallory pronounces “Better.”
    • “This is the beast that must be fed twice a day.  And what does it like?  Innovation.”  - Parisian restaurateur

    French words to know before seeing the movie:
    • Bon chance   =  Good luck
    • Je suis désolé    =  I’m sorry
    • Maison   = house, home
    • Incroyable   = incredible
    • Bon vivant  =   gourmet
    • Le aster = star, luminary
    • Le aliment = food

    Tips for parents:   Kids may think the length of the film is too long.  Food lovers will enjoy every tasty morsel.
    You've seen the movie, now read the book!

    If you were inspired by the book or movie, then get cooking!