Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Assassin's Creed disappoints

Movie Title:  Assassin's Creed

Grade:  D

Rating: PG-13, 116 minutes

In a Nutshell: I’ve never played this popular video game, but I was excited to see it, because my 4 sons have played it and the movie partly takes place in Spain, where I lived for 2 years.  

This action film features actors I really like: Academy Award nominee Michael Fassbender, Academy Award winner Marion Cotillard, and Academy Award winner Jeremy Irons.  With such a pedigreed cast, you would think this would be an incredible movie.  Alas, it falls short, like most video game movies.

Uplifting theme: 
  • Interesting question: Are people born with a predisposition to violence?  What do YOU think?
  • “People no longer care about their civil liberties; they care about their standard of life.” – Ellen Kaye (Charlotte Rampling)    Sadly, I think that’s true.
  • Free will, choices, good vs. evil.

Things I liked:
  • The look of the movie feels like the video game.
  • There is a lot of impressive Parkour action, although some of it looks fake.  The stunt work was really great.
  • It's imaginative and could have been really good.

  • Things I didn’t like:
  • Cal Lynch only goes into the past three times, which is lame because that’s what people are going to the theater to see, not the boring present.
  • There were some scenes with a lot of annoying drum beats.
  • There were a lot of dust storms that got in the way of the audience being able to see the Spanish landscape and what was happening, especially in the beginning.
  • There is a lot of mumbling, making it hard to understand what everyone says.
  • How exactly is that elusive Apple of Eden supposed to control free will?  And the way to cure violence and anger in the world is by killing a bunch of people?  What the…?
  • The plot is pretty nonsensical and confusing with frustrating story choices.
  • The movie ends with a dangling thread to set up a sequel that most people probably won’t watch.
  • The editing is super frustrating, because it keeps cutting to different angles really quickly and you don’t get to enjoy the action as much.

Interesting lines:
  • “Why the aggression?” – Sofia
“I’m an aggressive person.” – Cal Lynch

  • “You turn to violence.  I turn to science.” – Sofia
  • “Love makes us weak.” – Maria (Arieane Labed)  Do you agree with that statement?
  • “Tell my father I’ll see him in hell.” – Cal
  • “What do you want from me?” – Cal
“Your past.” – Sofia
  • “We work in the dark to serve the light.  We are assassins.” – Cal Lynch
  • “We’ve been looking for solutions. You’ve eliminated the problem.” – Rikkin

Funny lines:
  • “Violence is a disease, like Cancer.” – Sofia
“Violence is what kept me alive.” – Cal
“Well, technically, you’re dead.” – Sofia
  • “You’re going to lead them right to it.” – Nathan (Callum Turner)
“No, I’m going to eat it.” – Cal

  • “I’m here to be cured of violence.  Who’s going to cure you?” - Cal
Tips for parents: 
  • You see people being burned at the stake during the Spanish Inquisition, although the shapes aren't outlined very clearly.
  • Lots and lots of fighting, stabbing, and other violence.
  • There are subtitles that move pretty fast. 
  • The video is rated for Mature audiences, intended for ages 17 and up.  That alone might help you decide if you want your kids to watch this.
  • 1 F-bomb


Monday, December 26, 2016

Nocturnal Animals is cleverly written

Movie Title:  Nocturnal Animals

Grade:  B+

Rating: R, 115 minutes

  • In a Nutshell: This disturbing, stylish drama is very cleverly written and unfolds perfectly.  

  •  Tom Ford wrote the screenplay and directed this movie.  He is a great storyteller and does an excellent job layering three stories over and under each other.  Did you know he got his start as a fashion designer?

Uplifting theme: 
  • “Do you ever feel like your life has turned into something you never intended?” – Susan Morrow (Amy Adams)
  • Regret, emotional scars.
  • Believing in someone.

Things I liked:
  • I love Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaall in anything.  They’re both super talented and deliver fantastic emotional performances.
  • You begin to understand the symbolism at the same time Susan does.
  • Michael Shannon does a great job as a crusty old cop who is dying physically and emotionally.
  • Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Karl Glusman make you so angry as the sleazy scumbag criminals you want to see get what they deserve.
  • I thought the movie poster was really clever.
  • As an author, I always enjoy movies about other writers.  I would love to have my writing affect a reader so powerfully as Edward's did on Susan.  This is the book the film was based on:                                      
  • This film will stay with you. The more you think about it, the more you'll notice the connecting cues throughout the movie.

Things I didn’t like:
  • It annoyed me when Susan described her conservative, religious parents as racist, as if all of those things are naturally connected.
  • Some very talented actors had very small parts (Laura Linney, Michael Sheen, Armie Hammer, Jena Malone) and I would have loved to see more of them.
  • It’s emotionally very dark.

Interesting lines:
  • “Enjoy the absurdity of our world.  It’s a lot less painful.” – Carlos (Michael Sheen who has another movie out in theaters right now: Passengers)
  • Susan asks, “Why are you so driven to write?”  Edward answers, “I guess it’s a way of keeping things alive.  I’m saying things that will eventually die.  If I write it down, then it’ll last forever.”
  • “My husband used to call me a nocturnal animal.” – Susan
  • ‘I’m not scared.  I’m unhappy.” – Susan
  • “They say we all become our mother.” – Anne Sutton

Funny lines:
  • “Do you not trust your nanny?” – Susan
“No, I do.  I just hate her.” – (Jena Malone)

Tips for parents: 
  • This is not a family-friendly movie that children should watch.  It is a very dark Rated R film with mature themes.
  • Vulgar profanity.
  • Discussion and portrayal of a brutal rape attack.
  • You see a guy sitting on a toilet naked.
  • Abortion, marriage infidelity, illegal activities.


Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas from the Movie Review Mom!

Merry CHRISTmas! 

Thank you for reading my blog and movie reviews in 2016! 



Saturday, December 24, 2016

Passengers explores outer space and the inner heart

Movie Title:   Passengers

Grade:   B

Rating:   PG-13, 116 minutes

In a Nutshell:  While some movie critics have argued that this film is tedious and boring, I would contend that the film intentionally captures a little bit of what it must feel like to be stranded alone on a spaceship like that.  That’s the point.  We need each other.  Life is meaningless, unless we have someone to share it with. 

I enjoyed the movie and tried to imagine myself in the same situations, wondering what I would do when faced with the same decisions.  It’s a movie less about discovering the great spaces in the universe, but more about humanity and what we find inside our heart.

Uplifting theme: 
  • “We all have dreams.  We plan our futures like we’re captains of our fate, but we’re passengers.  We go where fate takes us.” - Aurora
  • “You don’t have to do something amazing to be happy.” – Aurora’s best friend.  (The actress’ real name is Aurora!)
  • You can’t get hung up on where you’d rather be that you don’t appreciate where you are.
  • “Take a break from what you can’t control.” – Arthur (Michael Sheen)
  • Humanity, companionship, sacrifice, love.

Things I liked:
  • Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence are two of the most popular actors in Hollywood right now and I liked them together. They’re both extremely talented and charismatic.
  • Incredible views of space.  The CGI and real life are blended very well.
  • I wish I had that body scanner/repair machine!  I’d also like one of those Roomba-type floor vacuum robots!
  • Jim eats dragon fruit for breakfast.  It’s that super alien-looking pink fruit cut in a square that is white on the inside with black polka dots on the inside.  Try some!
  • It’s really good in 3D and on the big screen.
  • I loved that swimming pool with a view!  It was pretty crazy when the anti-gravity kicked in.
  • Directed by Morten Tyldum, the same guy who did The Imitation Game which I loved.
  • The spaceship design is pretty cool-looking.
  • Aurora is a writer, which always catches my attention (my 21st book was just hit store shelves this month!)
  • Aurora says, “Give me a cup of coffee and a view of the Chrysler building and I can write all day.” Jim provides that for her in a way which I thought was so sweet.  It’s those simple acts of kindness and thoughtfulness for another person that is the essence of love.

Things I didn’t like:
  • What you see in the trailer is what you get.
  • Some movie critics have said the film looks like it’s on auto-pilot. 
  • If they told this story in a different order, it could have been even more interesting.
  • The “thing” that happens in the third act is super brief.  I wish it had been explored more.
  • SPOILER ALERT: I thought it was odd to cast Andy Garcia, because he didn’t even have a line in the movie; any Extra could have done as good a job in that spot.
  • This movie script sat for a long time before anyone picked it up, making you wonder what other directors could have done with it.

Interesting lines:
  • “No!  You die, I die!” – Aurora  (Sounds like a line from the The Hunger Games)
  • “I think we tell each other stories to know we’re not alone, to make contact.”  - Aurora
  • “Can’t slogans be true?” – Jim
  • “You’re the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen.  You kill me.” – Jim
  • “Jim and I live in accidental happiness.” – Aurora

Funny lines:
  • “Jim, these are not robot questions.” – Arthur
  • “Jim, I’m not just a bartender.  I’m a gentleman.” – Arthur
  • “You went shopping.” – Aurora
“I went shoplifting.” – Jim
  • “I was giving you space.” – Jim
“Space – the one thing that I don’t need more of.” – Aurora
  • “Ladies love the dress blues.” – Gus Mancuso (Laurence Fishburne)

Tips for parents:   

  • There are a few moments of Aurora and Jim getting “romantic”, as well as a scene where you see hazy naked figures.
  • Some profanity.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Sing has lots of toe-tapping heart and humor

Movie Title:   Sing
Grade:  A

Rating:  PG, 108 minutes

In a Nutshell:   All creatures great and small will really enjoy this delightful musical journey brought to us by the clever creators of Minions and Despicable Me.  

The music is fun and uplifting, the animation is imaginative and ADORABLE, and the story is heartwarming and inspiring.

Uplifting theme: 
  • “Dream big dreams!” – Mr. Moon (Matthew McConaughey)
  • “Don’t let fear stop you from doing the thing you love.” – Mr. Moon
  • “Do what you love to do, then you won’t be afraid, because you’re doing it!” Mr. Moon
  • “You know, the one thing that’s good about hitting rock bottom?  The only way is up.” – Mr. Moon

Things I liked:
  • There is a lot of good, toe-tapping music that can’t help but make you leave the theater in a good mood, 65 hit songs to be exact.  There’s a nice variety of styles of music too.
  • There are so many entertaining animals to see in every frame.
  • The main characters are voiced by extremely talented A-List actors, such as Academy Award winners Matthew McConaughey and Reese Witherspoon, Scarlett Johansson, and Seth MacFarlane.   
  • All of the actors do their own singing!  Tori Kelly, Taron Egerton, and
  • Each of the characters struggle in his/her own way, adding several layers to the story.
  • The scene where Mr. Moon is at the carwash is HILARIOUS and absolutely adorable.  It’s a scene that will stick with you for a long time.  The audience was howling with laughter.
  • You can smell the ending a mile away, but there are a few twists and turns that keep the characters in peril and the audience engaged.
  • The talented cast who voiced the characters is an impressive list that includes some names you haven’t seen in some time or ever in animated films, including Laraine Newman, Rhea Perlman, Jennifer Saunders, Nick Offerman, Leslie Jones, and John C. Reilly.

Things I didn’t like:
  • There is some really bad behavior from a lot of the characters: Johnny’s dad robs banks; Mike the mouse is a deceitful, cranky bully and con man; Mr. Moon is dishonest and steals things; Eddie is spoiled and lazy. 

Funny lines:
  • “Stand back…moody teenager in the way.” – Mike (Seth MacFarlane)
  • “You can’t just sing; you have to show the fire and desire!” – Gunter (Nick Kroll)
Interesting lines:
  • “Wonder and magic don’t come easy.” – Mr. Moon

Tips for parents:   

  • It’s a kid’s movie, so yes…there is farting.
  • No profanity.
  • There are criminal acts by several of the characters.   

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Rogue One rakes in 290 million opening weekend!

Movie Title:      Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Grade:   A

Rating:  PG-13, 133 minutes

In a Nutshell:  I’ve been looking forward to this movie ever since I first knew it was "a thing" many, many months ago.  Yep, I'm a bit of a Star Wars nerd.  

For those of you who aren't, the newest installment in the Star Wars universe takes place before the 1977 Episode IV and five years after the events of “Star Wars Rebels.”

The movie brought in an impressive $290 million worldwide during the debut weekend. Wait until it opens on Jan. 6 in China!  Cha-ching!  Have you bought any Disney stock?  

Star Wars’ Episode VIII is scheduled to open one year from now.  Can't wait!!!

Uplifting theme: 
  •  "Trust goes both ways." - Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones)
  • Friendship, trust, loyalty, right vs. wrong, unity, respect.
  • "I am one with the Force.  The Force is with me." - (Chirrut Imwe (Donnie Yen)
  • When we're part of something bigger than us, our actions have meaning and purpose, even if we never live to see the fruits of our labors.

Things I liked:
  • The CGI and motion capture work are unbelievably amazing.
  • The new characters are great.  There are also tons of fun prop creatures.  K-2S0 is instantly likable, voiced by the delightful Alan Tudyk.
  • The brief references to prior Star Wars movies are there for you to pick up on, but they’re not overpowering.
  • The set pieces look so tangible and real.
  • Felicity Jones is terrific in everything.  She went through special martial arts training to prepare for her action sequences and has even been praised for her excellent trigger control on the weapons.
  • Director Gareth Edwards does a great job showing scale.  He did a great job at that in his last Godzilla (2014) movie too.
  • Lots of great action sequences.
  • James Earl Jones!  We love you!  Welcome back!  Darth Vader with his light saber…classic awesomeness.
  • Girls will be happy to see another female protagonist in this one, as well as in last year's feature Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  • Ok, so that’s an interesting mind-reading, lie-detecting creature.
  • Incredible motion capture work creating Grand Moff Tarkin and a young Princess Lea.  It was especially fun and crucial to see Peter Cushing in this film, as his presence was linked to the Death Star.  Well done, Lucas Films!
  • Why the Death Star is capable of being destroyed is addressed in this movie.  This film answers a question that has bothered fans for years.   
  • Hammer-head space ship.  Wow.
  • One thing I've always liked about the Star Wars movies is that the people look real, not like glamorous celebrities acting.  Fingernails are dirty, hair is greasy, clothing is grimy. 

Things I didn’t like:
  • It is well known that this film had many re-shoots and you can kind of feel it.  Some of the editing is choppy.
  • The first 25 minutes of the movie are spent showing you a ton of planets and characters.  Be patient.  They'll all tie together eventually.
  • I would have liked to see more back story behind some of the new characters so that we care about them and feel more invested in them. 
  • What’s up with Forrest Whitaker’s voice lately?  It was noticeably weird in the movie Arrival too.  Is he just trying new things or what?
  • Darth Vader is only in this movie for about 4 minutes.  What????
  • This is the first Star Wars film to NOT be scored by John Williams.  The new composer, Michael Giacchino, only had 4 ½ weeks to compose the music for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.  Fans of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 might recognize his style.
  • Jyn Erso has a Storm Trooper doll.  Wait, what?  Um…why?
  • There are a TON of things in the trailers that are NOT in the movie.  What the heck?

Funny lines:
  •  “This is a rebellion, isn’t it?  I rebel.”  - Jyn Erso
  • “Don’t choke on your aspirations, Director.” – Darth Vader
  •  "Congratulations.  You are being rescued.  Please do not resist." - K-2So
  • "Are you kidding me?  I'm blind!" - Chirrut Imwe (as they put a bag over his head so he won't see.)
  • "There's a problem on the horizon.  There is no horizon!" - K-2S0
Fun Facts:
  • Two of the the working titles that were considered for Rogue One were “Red Cup” and “Dark Times.”
  • To fill out the hangar, cardboard wings were used on some of the space craft.
  • This is the very first Star Wars movie to actually mention the name of the film in the movie itself.
  • This is the first Star Wars movie to not use or show Obi Wan in any form.
  • This is the first Star Wars movie to not feature an opening crawl.  Ah, sad.
  • Members of the British Armed Forces were hired as Extras to give the battle scenes more authenticity.
  • The fake name that was used to secretly ship the films to theaters was “The Alamo” to discourage any would-be thieves.
Easter Eggs you might have missed:

 Interesting lines:
  • “What will you do when they catch you?  What will you do if they break you? Will you continue to fight?  If you keep fighting, what will you become?” – Saw Gerrera   (these lines were in the trailer, but not in the actual movie)
  •  "You're confusing peace with terror." - Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen)
  • "There is only one kind of prison.  I sense that you carry yours wherever you go." - Chirrut Imwe
  • "Rebellions are built on hope." - Jyn Erso
Tips for parents:

  • There are some subtitles you might need to read for your young kids.
  • There is a lot of hand-to-hand fighting, shooting, and destroying of things.  You’ve seen Star Wars before, right?

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The Last Descent will break your heart and give you hope at the same time

Movie Title: The Last Descent

Grade: A-

Rating:  PG, 105 minutes

In a Nutshell: Based on a true story of love and loss at the popular Nutty Putty cave, this film reveals faith, hope, and love in a film that is interesting for all ages.

Uplifting theme: 
  • The power of love and family can overcome anything, even death.
  • Love every moment you’re alive, because we never know when we are entering our last day of this mortal experience.
  • You never know all of the lives you touch.
  • “What good is a life if you’re just waiting to die?” – John
  • There’s no greater feeling in the world…love. - John

Things I liked:
  • I thought Chadwick Hopson, who plays John Jones, was absolutely fantastic.  I can’t wait to see more from him.
  • It’s impressive how director Isaac Halasima  was able to film in a dark cave without projecting camera lights all over the interior.  The lighting seems very realistic.
  • John, Josh (Jacob Omer), and Emily (Alexis Johnson) all seemed to have playful relationships.  We need more of that in this serious life.
  • You get to see live footage of the rescue attempts.
  • I was impressed with how diligently the rescue team worked.
  • Although the movie takes place in Utah and includes discussions about the Mormon church, you definitely don’t have to be Mormon to enjoy this film.  Religion doesn't hit you over the head, like in many Christian movies.  It is understated and powerful in this one.
  • I thought the sequences about John & Emily’s first meeting and first date were cute.
  • Emily went Study Abroad Spain.  So did I!  Que viva Espana!
  • I loved the opening and closing music by Matt Cropper, Kalai, and Isaac Halasima.
  • I loved the reveal of the mysterious person at the end of the movie.
  • A round of applause for Isaac Halasima, who directed and wrote the film, as well as did the cinematography, film editing, and music!  I’m sure this film was pretty low budget, especially when compared to Hollywood films, but I thought he did an excellent job.  He's a young guy with a bright future.

Things I didn’t like:
  • The title of the movie gives away the story.
  • I have no desire to crawl through tiny spaces in caves.  Too scary and cramped for my taste.  I mean, that didn’t even look fun to me.  If you get claustrophobic, you’re going to feel squeamish during this movie.
  • It was hard to see exactly how John was stuck.
  • The singing in the cave was pretty bad, but extremely touching.
  • This movie is soooooo heartbreaking.

Interesting lines:
  • “I really love it when you accidentally show your awesomeness.” – John
  • “You know, I’m only good at anything because I get pushed.” – John
  • “There’s no such thing as average.  Everybody’s got a story.” – Aaron (Landon Henneman)
  • “Let me save you first and then you can do your rescue on me.” – Aaron
  • “I guess I could never turn down an adventure.” – John
  • “You know it’s sad; you have to be on the edge of losing everything to really open your eyes, to see the beauty in the simple things.” – John
  • “It’s one thing to find a girl you who you want to marry and it’s something completely different to find a girl that you have to marry.” – John
  • “You want to know what it takes to be a real man?  Have a baby girl.” – John

Tips for parents: 
  • Surprisingly, there is some profanity.  Well, twice.
  • This movie should scare your kids from wanting to climb around in caves.
  • It’s a very serious, sad drama.
  • After watching the movie, you could talk to your children about life after death, as well as how we should live our lives.


Monday, December 12, 2016

The Bounce Back is too formulaic and plastic

Movie Title:  The Bounce Back

Grade:  C+

Rating: PG-13, 104 minutes

In a Nutshell:  This SUPER predictable rom-com has a good-looking feature couple, but with very little chemistry together.   Their hard bodies are impressive, but this movie is not.  

What was interesting is that it was the men in the audience who did all of the laughing.

Uplifting theme: 
  • “What is love?  Is it a feeling?  A commitment? A live-happily-ever-after pill?  I like to think it’s a choice.” – Matthew Taylor (Shemar Moore)
  • “Love is the most beautiful thing we can experience in this world.” - Matthew
  • “Communicate, associate, empathize.” – Kristin Peralta (Nadine Velazquez)
  • ‘People deserve a balanced perspective.” – Matthew Taylor  
  • “Create the love you want for yourself.” – Matthew
  • “Live into your future. Focus on the future.” - Matthew

Things I liked:
  • I like the idea of an intellectual debate between the two main characters, although the conversations don’t ever go very deep.  I liked the discussion about how realistic these “self-help” gurus are or if they just say what we want to hear while they sell millions of “feel-good books.” 
  • Sheryl Underwood plays herself as a talk show host.
  • I’ve liked Rizwan Manji ever since I first saw him in the sitcom “Outsourced” and wish we could see him in more films.
  • I like the theme that love is a choice.  Choosing to keep a marriage happy is about commitment.  Allowing yourself to be vulnerable enough to fall in love with someone is a choice.

Things I didn’t like:
  • Nadine Velazquez is beautiful, but looks and acts really plastic in this movie.  You feel her acting, rather than feel her.  I was surprised, because I liked her in the sitcom My Name is Earl: Season 3 
  • There is a distracting amount of SUPER white teeth and fake body parts.
  • Matthew Taylor and Kristin Peralta’s first kiss was painful to watch.  No chemistry.  Blah.
  • Matthew’s ex-wife, played by Denise Boutte, is always super dressed up when she comes to the door.  Yeah, like that’s what normal people look like when they’re home doing dishes.
  • Bad and choppy editing.
  • It’s more rom than com; there are very few things to laugh at.
  • Bill Bellamy’s character is so over-the-top that he feels like a cartoon character, especially compared to the other actors who are trying to be more dramatic.
  • I had never seen any trailers for this movie before it played in the theater, so I picked it based off the description that Matthew was an author.  I've gone on book tours with my books, so I thought that aspect of the movie might be interesting and relatable to me.  Unfortunately, the movie is more about the drama between Matthew and Kristin.
  • Kristin is supposed to be a therapist.  Aren't therapists supposed to listen more than talk?  She does an awful lot of talking and bashing, rather than listening.
  • I've read a lot of movie reviews of this film by people who really liked it, but I left disappointed.

Interesting lines:
  • “My book isn’t about grieving, but creating.” - Matthew

Funny lines:
  • “Just because you have a voice in your head doesn’t make you a psychic.” – Kristin

Tips for parents: 
  • Pre-marital sex, talk of teens having sex, and inappropriate jokes.
  • There are a lot of skimpy clothes on various women.  You see Nadine Velazquez in nothing but her underwear and bra as she climbs all over a shirtless Shemar Moore in bed.


Sunday, December 11, 2016

Loving is a quiet look at the Civil Rights movement and interracial marriages

Movie Title:  Loving

Grade:  A-

Rating:  PG-13, 123 minutes

In a Nutshell: Written and directed by Jeff Nichols, this historical drama sensitively tells the true story about the 1967 U.S. Supreme Court decision that invalidated state laws prohibiting interracial marriage.  

This movie received a standing ovation at its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival.

The film is based in part on the documentary The Loving Story by Nancy Buirski.

Loving is the last name of the married couple, yet also a simple statement about what’s important in life.

Uplifting theme: 
  • Love doesn’t come in colors.
  • “Marriage is a fundamental right.” – Bernie Cohen (Nick Kroll)

Things I liked:
  • Joel Edgerton does a great job.  His character  becomes an unexpected civil rights activist. Wow, those blue eyes.
  • Ruth Negga has incredibly expressive eyes. I first noticed her in Marvel's Agents of SHIELD - Season 2 [DVD] and think she is so beautiful.
  • I love the imagery and symbolism of Richard Loving building foundations as a hard-working brick layer.  The foundation of a loving family is built on a strong marriage.  The foundation of a successful country is its good, hard-working citizens and the protection of civil liberties.
  • This film’s treatment of the Loving’s story is very respectful and understated, making it all the more powerful.
  • Michael Shannon plays a very small role as Grey Villet, but is a welcomed addition and a softer character than we’re used to seeing him play.  Director Jeff Nichols adores Michael Shannon, as this is their 5th film together.
  • You get to see the famous picture of Richard and Mildred Loving at the end of the movie.
  • Marton Csokas does a great job playing a man you don't like, the racist Sheriff Brooks.

Things I didn’t like:
  • There isn’t any humor to offset the heavy sadness and drama of the serious social issues.
  • It’s extremely slow moving. 

Interesting lines:
  • “Now you know what’s it like.” – Virgil (Will Dalton)
  • “Is there anything you’d like me to say to them?  And by 'them' I mean the Supreme Court justices of the United States?” –Bernie Cohen (Nick Kroll)
“Yeah.  You can tell the judge…tell the judge I love my wife.” – Richard Loving (Joel Edgerton)

Tips for parents: 
  • You’ll hear the “N” word.
  • Discussion of premarital sex.
  • If you’re 45 years or younger, it’s hard to imagine a time when interracial couples were not allowed to marry.  You can have a good discussion with your children about racism and civil liberties.  America has come a long way since the Civil Rights movement of the 50s and 60s, although we still have a long way to go.

Other fantastic movies about the Civil Rights movement that you should see:

Lee Daniels' The Butler
The Help
Mississippi Burning
Remember The Titans
To Kill a Mockingbird

Friday, December 9, 2016

The Light Between the Oceans will rip your heart out

Movie Title:   The Light Between Oceans

Grade:  B

Rating:   PG-13, 132 minutes

In a Nutshell:  DreamWorks Pictures brings the popular book of the same name by M.L. Stedman to the big screen.   With three strong leads and a story that will rip your heart out, this movie is not for the faint-hearted. 

Guys, this is a Chick Flick, but not for the reasons you might think.  If you watch this with a girl, her heart-strings will be tugging at her tear ducts and she won’t be able to shake the melancholy for a while.  I just want you to be prepared.

Light has long been a symbol for truth, so it’s interesting and appropriate that the story is centered around a lighthouse.

Uplifting theme: 
  • “You only have to forgive once.  To resent, you have to do it all day, every day, all the time.  You have to keep remembering the bad things.  It’s too much work.” -  Frank Roennfeldt (Leon Ford)
  • “People are responsible for their own actions and when they cross certain lines there needs to be consequences.” – Sergeant Vernon Knuckey (Anthony Hayes)
  • People have long been irrational when it comes to their children.
  • Sacrifice, family, parenting, love, loyalty, forgiveness, truth, choices, consequences.

Things I liked:
  • Beautiful cinematography.
  • I think Alicia Vikander is wonderful in everything she does.
  • Michael Fassbender does a great job too and you really feel his tortured soul.  I did think he seemed too old for Alicia’s character though.  I can't wait to see him in Assassin's Creed!  Did you know he and Alicia Vikander are dating in real life?
  • I’ve always thought it was interesting to see what people do for a living.
  • Rachel Weisz is lovely and provides some depth to the story.
  • I loved that there are no evil, malicious characters, just real people who are flawed and doing their best to live life and be happy.
  • It addresses the very real emotional pain soldiers experience after war has ended.

Things I didn’t like:
  • It’s pretty slow-moving.
  • There is a constant sound of crashing waves and wind.
  • The ending is very choppy.
  • Most of the movie is covered in shades of sadness and grief for various things.
  • The subject of miscarriages is a particular sensitive subject for me.  I had several and it broke my heart each time.  A mother never forgets the pain, even after many years.  If you’re still suffering from a loss, you should probably skip this movie.
  • There is really no humor or levity in the film to beak up the constant string of sad moments.

Interesting lines:
  • “So, what do you wish for?”-  Isabel Graysmark
“Life.  That’ll do me, I reckon.” -  Tom Sherbourne
  • “You make me feel…” – Tom
  • “Sins catch up with you in the end.” – Tom

Tips for parents: 
  • Children and teens will be bored and not be able to relate to the sensitive emotional coaster that is parenthood.
  • Awkward sex scene where you see some flesh and hear some noises.  There is also another scene where you see a lot of Alicia Vikander’s mid-section.


Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Allied feels like a film noir spy romance

Movie Title:  Allied

Grade:  B

Rating:  R, 124 minutes

In a Nutshell: World War II offers the perfect backdrop for a romantic spy adventure, featuring two good looking actors who fall in love.  It has a cat and mouse, film Noir feel to it that makes it look old-fashioned and will remind you of some of the scenes from the classic movie Casablanca.

Uplifting theme: 
  • Duty, love, honesty, patriotism, loyalty.

Things I liked:
  • Brad Pitt speaks French and looks cool in every scene.
  • Marion Cotillard is mesmerizing as Marianne Beausejour.  She really looks and sounds like she stepped out of the 1940's.  She hits the big screen again in a couple of weeks in the movie "Assassin's Creed."
  • The CGI blends really well with real-life shots.
  • There is a funny scene when Brad Pitt shuffles playing cards.  Marianne later says, “So, it’s in the cards for our chance to make history.”
  • This is more romance than spy thriller.

Things I didn’t like:
  • It’s a bit slow moving.
  • The last time Brad Pitt was in a spy movie, he got a divorce.  Just sayin…
  • There are a lot of subtitles, although sometimes French is spoken without subtitles so you have to guess at what is being said. According to the Duolingo app, I'm 11% fluent in French.  So there's that.  ha ha
  • A guy throws up.  Ick.
  • Some scenes could have been trimmed a bit to be more effective.
  • There could have been more spy stuff. 

Interesting lines:
  • “Who are you thinking about?” – Max
“My mother.” – scared soldier
“Don’t.  Think of your father.  He’s proud of you.” – Max 

Funny lines:
  • “Salute me, first!” - George
“Go to hell.”  - Max Vatan
 This IS hell. It’s an office.” – George

Tips for parents: 

  • You see the side of a naked Marion Cotillard and Brad Pitt’s rear end.
  • A lot of F-bombs.
  • It’s starts to get hot and heavy in a car, as well as in a bed.
  • There are a lot of subtitles to read.
  • Lesbians kiss.
  • Shooting, violence, suicide.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

The Whole Truth offers adult themes with intrique


Movie Title:   The Whole Truth
Grade:   B-

Rating:  R, 1 hour 33 minutes

In a Nutshell:  This courtroom drama based on David Baldacci’s novel was first released in Japan as early as Spring 2016, and then in other countries, but didn’t hit the  Big Screen in the USA until late August 2016, so it has been difficult to find a movie poster written in English.

  • Everyone lies.
  •  Integrity
  • Choices and consequences

Things I liked:
  • I've always gotten a kick out of watching Keanu Reeves in anything ever since Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure
  • I love the image of the snake at the very beginning.  It suggested deceit, temptation, and the first sin from the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve.  Clever.
  • You really hate Boone Lassiter (James Belushi)
  • Gugu Mbatha-Raw is somehow mesmerizing to watch.
  • It feels like a mixture between Alfred Hitchcock and film Noir.
  • Good, but expected twist.

Things I didn’t like:
  • Keanu Reeves’ voice sounds too forced and low.
  • Rene Zellweger looked so odd.  I recognized her voice before I recognized her face.  She has lost a lot of weight and rumor has it that she recently had some plastic surgery, although she denies it.
  • It is pretty slow-moving. 

Interesting lines:       
  • “A wife doesn’t have to testify against her husband, but she does against her own child as if the bond is somehow less?” – wife  (Rene Zellweger) 

Tips for parents:   

  • 1 F-bomb in the first 2 seconds.  More F-bombs and other profanity.
  • Prostitution, adultery and other adult topics.
  • Children and most teens will be bored.
  • You see a side shot of a naked Rene Zellweger.
  • Some inappropriate sexual images and conversations.
  • Discussion of violence, domestic abuse, and rape.