Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Resident Evil: The Final Chapter is non-stop action and violence

Grade:   D

Rating:  R, 106 minutes

In a Nutshell: This is the 6th and supposed final installment in the popular dystopian video game and movie franchise, featuring Milla Jovovich.  It has all of the necessary jumps, scares, and fang close-ups you’d expect from the same director who did Alien Vs. Predator (Paul W. S. Anderson.)

Milla Jovovich doesn’t age, but gets better with her long, athletic legs that can jump and flip over anything, as well as kick alien/zombie/bad guy butt.  Her ice cold stare is priceless.  Can you imagine her and Kate Beckinsale in a cat fight?

“Is that all you got?”

Uplifting theme: 
  •  Never give up.
  • Sacrifice for others gives life.

Things I liked:
  • If you haven’t seen any of the previous movies in this franchise, the first 5 minutes of this one will give you a quick refresher.
  • It feels like a video game at times.
  • Another tough girl I’ve always liked watching in movies is Ali Larter.
  • Some of the stunts are pretty impressive.

Things I didn’t like:
  • Cars never start when you need them to in an emergency.  Lame.
  • It’s a bit confusing.
  • Mind-numbing, non-stop action the entire time.  There’s a lot of running and kicking.  I was exhausted just watching them.
  • A lot of the scenes are at night or in the dark, so this movie is going to look horrible on a computer monitor or small TV.
  • The title suggests that this is the last movie in the franchise, but the ending certainly leaves it open for another one…

Funny lines:
  • “I made you.” – Albert Wesker (Shawn Roberts)
“Yeah, big mistake.” – Alice
  • “What are we gonna do?” – Doc
“We’re going to kill every last one of them.” – Alice

Interesting lines:
  • “We played a long game, you and I, but now it’s over.” – Albert
“Yes.  Yes it is.” - Alice

Tips for parents:   

  • This is super violent, bloody, and gory.
  • Tons of explosions, crashes, and destruction.  
  • Scary zombies racing after you.
  • Some profanity.

Monday, January 30, 2017

The Edge of Seventeen will make you glad you're not a teenager anymore

Movie Title:    The Edge of Seventeen

Grade:  B+

Rating: R, 98 minutes

In a Nutshell:  Hailee Steinfeld plays a completely self-absorbed teenager who has a hard time learning some of the most important lessons in life…that loving and caring for others is important and necessary to be happy.  It’s a bit frustrating how long it takes her to discover those simple truths, but she’s still a complete delight to watch, because the magnificent Hailee Steinfeld plays her.  

Woody Harrelson is fantastic in every scene he’s in and complements Hailee's performance perfectly.  I wish there had been more scenes in the movie with both of them together. I could have watched their hilarious banter all day long.

It’s an edgy coming-of-age story that will make you ache and laugh at the same time.

Uplifting theme: 
  • “I have to spend the rest of my life with myself.” – Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld)
  • “Wow, I’m one of those people who thinks everything’s about them.” - Nadine
Things I liked:
  • What a sweet dad.  Oh that every kid could have such a kind, loving, supportive father.
  • It was touching to watch each family member finally learn how to relate and communicate with each other.
  • I thought Erwin Kim’s short film at the end was pretty funny.
  • First-time writer Kelly Fremon Craig will have a bright future if he keeps producing honest movies like this one.
  • I’m so grateful I’m not in high school anymore.
  • Fans who first fell in love with Blake Jenner on Glee The Complete Series will be happy to see him in this film.

Things I didn’t like:
  • Kyra Sedgwick doesn’t seem to age.  She plays a terrible mother to counterpoint the very sweet father played by Eric Keenleyside.
  • I know it was part of the story, but it was NOT smart for Mr. Bruner to bring a young female student into his home.  My husband never even drove any of our female babysitters home when we had little kids.  Thankfully, the movie doesn't go in that direction, but it's important for men to use wisdom when dealing with dramatic, psycho teenage girls.
  • As a mother, I would be super depressed if I had a daughter like Nadine.  I hate seeing young girls already be so foul-mouthed, cynical, mean, and desperate.
  • Erwin is too rich, talented and good-looking to be so shy and awkward. His character didn’t seem believable, but I really liked him.

Funny lines:
  • “You are so going to get fired when I actually do it.”  (commit suicide) - Nadine
“Well, not actually for sure, but I can dream.” – Br. Bruner
  • “There are two types of people in this world: the people who radiate confidence and naturally excel at life, and the people who hope all those people die in a big explosion.” – Nadine
  • “My mom has to take medicine or else she’ll get too upset at the mall.” = Nadine

Tips for parents: 
  • Lots of profanity, including many F-bombs.
  • Talk of suicide, bullying.
  • Loss of virginity, inappropriate sex jokes, teens in bed, awkward car make-out scene.
  • Your kids will probably laugh, but you need to remind them that Nadine is terribly messed up and NOT a positive role model for them.
  • Nadine drives a car without a driver’s license.


Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Silence is Martin Scorsese's final testimony of faith

Movie Title:    Silence

Grade:  A-

Rating:  R, 161 minutes

In a Nutshell: 
Based on Shusaku Endo's novel, legendary director Martin Scorsese offers a passionate look at faith and devotion, which he said was twenty years in the making.

This is not your typical Christian movie.

Christianity in Japan in the 1600’s was illegal and dangerous.   I’m going to Japan this summer and am grateful that I will be welcome there, along with my religious convictions.  

Uplifting theme: 
  • “Christianity brought love.” – Father Rodrigues (Andrew Garfield)
  • “My love for God is strong.  Could that be the same as faith?” – Mokichi (Shin'ya Tsukamoto)
  • “What have I done for Christ?  What am I doing for Christ?  What will I do for Christ?” – Father Rodrigues

Things I liked:
  • The film asks very profound questions about religious conviction and faith.  How much would you still believe after you had been broken?  When do you stop fighting for your beliefs and just resign to being silent? What do you do when God himself remains silent?  The story and questions are both complex and challenging.  The film is not just a persecution allegory about what once happened in a time and place long ago, but it still has application to today.
  • Adam Driver’s Portuguese accent is very good and believable, but Andrew Garfield’s is terrible.   Sorry The Amazing Spider-Man  Otherwise, both of their performances were really great. Despite all of his character's struggles in the film, Andrew Garfield's great hair remains.  ha ha  What an amazing year Andrew Garfield had in the movies this past year!  His starring role in Hacksaw Ridge  
  • The production value is excellent.  While the target audience is predominantly either Christians or Scorsese fans, this movie is unlike any other Christian movie you have seen.  
  • Fantastic title.  I love titles of movies that have multiple meanings.
  • I liked the effect that the loud crickets had when they suddenly stopped in the very beginning and end of the film.
  • Some of the faith demonstrated by the Japanese Christians was truly inspiring and absolutely heart-breaking.
  • The direction was impressive, especially considering many of the scenes were shot in tiny spaces.
Things I didn’t like:
  • The movie poster is misrepresented.  You think you're going to get to see a movie starring Liam Neeson, but he has less than 10 minutes of screen time.
  • This is a VERY long movie that makes you relate a little bit to the LONG suffering experienced in the film.  The powerful message could have been delivered in much less the time.
  • Deep spiritual questions are raised, but not often answered. The audience is left wondering what Scorsese's true message is.
  • It's hard and painful to watch.  You just want the suffering to end.  Either that or you just want to kick the Old Samurai Inquisitor's butt.

Interesting lines:
  • “Garupe and I have absolutely no luggage to bring to Japan except our hearts.” – Father Rodrigues
  • “Feed my lambs.  It fascinates me.” – Father Rodrigues
  • “But Christ did not die for the good and beautiful; that is easy enough. The hard thing is to die for the miserable and corrupt.”  - Father Rodrigues
  • “God sends us trials to test us, and everything He does is good. But why must their trials be so terrible?  And why, when I look into their eyes, must my answers to their questions be so weak?” – Father Rodrigues
  • “I’m sure God heard their prayers as they died, but did He hear their screams?” – Father Rodrigues
  • “Where is the place for a weak man in a world like this?” – Interpreter (Tadanobu Asano)
  • “Why do they have to suffer so much?” –Father Rodrigues (Andrew Garfield)

Funny lines:
  • NONE.  This is a very serious drama.

Tips for parents: 
  • You see decapitated heads on stakes at the very beginning just to warn you that you’re watching a Rated R movie.  It gets much, much worse.
  • Brutal torture of Christians, including burning people at the stake, beheading, hot water torture, drownings, and beatings. Like most Scorsese films, it's violent and cruel, definitely not family-friendly fare.


Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Jackie is portrayed by an elegant Natalie Portman

Movie Title:   Jackie

Grade:  B-

Rating:  R, 95 minutes

In a Nutshell:  This interesting look into the life of Jackie Kennedy features a stunning Natalie Portman, who deserves the Golden Globe nomination she received for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture.  She has just been nominated for an Oscar.

The opening sad musical notes create a tale of sorrow and prepare you for the dreary story about to unfold.   

The assassination of John F. Kennedy has fascinated generations of Americans.  That fateful day and the aftermath from the perspective of Jackie is mesmerizing and depressing, offering commentary on American culture in the 1960’s..

Uplifting theme: 
  • Tradition is strength.
  • “Perfect people can’t change.  Jack was always getting better, stronger.” – Jackie
  • “People need their history.  It gives them strength.” – Priest (John Hurt)
  • “We all live on, far after our deaths. Presidents will come and go and every one of them will look up to Jack for guidance, for inspiration.” - Jackie
  • "The darkness won't go away, but it won't always be this heavy." - The Priest

Things I liked:
  • You get to see some old footage.  Director Pablo Larrain also creates portions of the film to look like old footage.  Nice touch.
  • Peter Sarsgaard plays Robert Kennedy with Beth Grant as Ladybird Johnson.
  • Billy Crudup plays The Journalist who treads carefully with his questions to this delicate, strong First Lady as she reels from her husband’s assassination.
  • The way Jackie explained her husband’s death to their children was touching.
  • The Camelot scene was very well done.
  • The conversations Jackie had with her priest were vulnerable and honest, allowing us to peek into her true psyche and inner struggles.
  • You really feel like you're in the 1960's. The set design was very well done.

Things I didn’t like:
  • There is a graphic moment when you see President Kennedy’s head get shot.  You can see the gruesome video footage of the actual moment on YouTube.
  • The movie is a bit morbid with no humor to help you recover from the overwhelming sadness.
  • There isn't a lot of creative directing with interesting camera work.  It feels, probably intentionally, more like a documentary.
  • Despite Jackie's elegance and beauty, the film feels a bit drab and grey.  Again, that's probably intentional to help us feel the cloud of sorrow during those dark days.

Interesting lines:
  • “The more I read, the more I wonder: when something is written down, does that make it true?” – Jackie
  • “We have television now.  At least people can see with their own eyes.” – Jackie
  • “For royalty, you need tradition and for tradition, you need time.” – Jackie
  • “How do I do this?” - Jackie
“It doesn’t matter what you say.  Just hug them and tell them it will be ok.” – Nancy Tuckerman (Greta Gerwig)
  • “A First Lady must always be ready to pack her suitcases.  It’s inevitable.” – Jackie
  • “There are two kinds of women: those who have power in the world and those who have power in bed.” – Jackie
  • “I lost track of it somehow, what was real and what was performance.” – Jackie
  • “History is harsh.” – Robert Kennedy (Peter Sarsgaard)
  •  "People like to believe in fairy tales." - Jackie

Tips for parents: 
  • Two F-bombs.
  • Some bloody scenes.
  • Children will be bored out of their minds.  Older kids who are history buffs might be interested.


Monday, January 23, 2017

Manchester by the Sea will break your heart

Movie Title:    Manchester By The Sea

Grade:  B

Rating: R, 135 minutes

In a Nutshell: Casey Affleck delivers a powerful performance, mastering the art of subtlety. 

He recently won "Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama" by the Golden Globes and has been nominated to receive the Best Leading Actor award by the BAFTA Film Awards.  That does no means end the list of awards this film has garnered.

Was it my favorite movie of 2016?  Definitely not.  Does it deserve some awards.  Yup.  I still think Denzel Washington should have won Best Actor for Fences though...

Uplifting theme: 
  • Family is everything.
  • Guilt, sorrow, grief.
  • I've learned in my life that when someone behaves VERY badly and irrationally, I try to give them the benefit of the doubt because I know they are hurting either physically or emotionally.

Things I liked:
  • I loved the jazz version of “Oh What A Beautiful Morning” in the bar scene towards the beginning of the movie.
  • There is some soft humor to break up the dreary, somber sadness.
  • Kyle Chandler gives the best performance I have seen him give.  He usually seems like he's acting, but he felt "real" in this story.
  • Michelle Williams was fantastic.  The scene where she runs  into Lee Chandler on the street was breathtaking.  I literally stopped breathing while I watched her.  
  • Director and writer Kenneth Lonergan doesn’t talk down to the audience and trusts that you will be able to follow the emotional ride and timeline. 
  • You definitely don’t feel like you’re watching a movie, but rather, real life.  It’s almost like you’re a fly on the wall, watching real people go through some pretty terrible trials. 
  • I love Matthew Broderick in anything, so even though he has a very small role in this film, it was great to see him.

Things I didn’t like:
  • I like movies that allow me to escape the mundane, sadness of the world, but this movie throws you right in the middle of it and assaults you with incredible difficult situations and rough-and-tumble people you wouldn't want to spend a day with.
  • There is a lot of bouncing around from past to present.
  • No family should have to experience such heartache.
  • Some of the music choices seemed mismatched for the scenes.  Most of it sounded like old Catholic music, yet the characters never really embraced their religion to help them through their struggles.  Elise (Gretchen Mol) tried, but was unsuccessful.
  • I hate watching “Playas”…slimy, scumbag guys who sleep with a bunch of different girls.  
  • How naive can parents be to allow their kid to close and lock their bedroom door with someone of the opposite gender inside?  My dad NEVER allowed that. EVER.

Interesting lines:
  • “I can’t beat it.” - Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck)

Funny lines:
  • “I think if you’re going to freak out every time you see a frozen chicken, I think we should go to the hospital. I don’t know anything about this.” – Casey
  • “What happened to your hand?” – Patrick (Lucas Hedges)
“I cut it.” – Casey
“Oh, for a minute there I didn’t know what happened.” – Patrick

Tips for parents: 
  • About a thousand F-bombs and other profanity.
  • Pre-marital relations among teenagers.  There is a lot of discussion about it and you see some teens start to take off their clothes.
  • People getting drunk and behaving badly.
  • This is not a family-friendly movie.  It is a mature character study and look at coping with loss and sorrow.


Saturday, January 21, 2017

Split showcases a fantastic James McAvoy

Movie Title:  Split

Grade:  B+

Rating:  PG-13, 116 minutes

In a Nutshell: James McAvoy thrills in this psychological horror story by M. Night Shyamalan, a director who knows how to take his time unfolding a story.  

The camera work by cinematographer Michael Gioulakis adds to the intrigue.

Uplifting theme: 
  • “We are what we believe we are.” – Patricia
  • “Have these individuals, through their suffering, unlocked the mysteries of the brain?” – Dr. Karen Fletcher (Betty Buckley)
  • “The thrill is whether you can or can’t outsmart this animal.” – Casey's father (Sebastian Arcelus)

Things I liked:
  • McAvoy delivers an amazing performance.  He displays 24 distinct characters, not with simple costume changes, but more with transforming accents, facial expressions, and impressive physicality.  The audience got a kick out of Hedwig and Patricia in particular. Watch them as if they are an amalgam of animals in a zoo...
  • M. Night Shyamalan has been beaten up by movie critics for many years.  I’ve always enjoyed his work and appreciated his talents, so I’m happy that he has been receiving praise for this new film.  I love how he always puts himself in a scene in each of his movies.
  • There is a fun surprise at the end that made the audience gasp.  Hint: You’ll want to watch the Shyamalan’s 2000 film Unbreakable as a refresher.  If the ending means what I think it means, then we're in for an extremely interesting sequel that takes us back in to the Unbreakable universe.  Mind blown.
  • Some of the characters do really dumb things, so I loved it when the audience would yell, “No!”  ha ha
  • Dissociative Identity Disorder is addressed.
  • There are some fun Easter Eggs in the movie that point to other Shyamalan movies.  For example, did you notice Mr. Pritchard's name on the computer screen?  That's a character in the movie Signs, which I thought was brilliant.
  • I thought Casey Cooke's character arc was really well done.  Anya Taylor-Joy did a great job and out-shined the other teen girls.
  • Hedwig's dance scene was pretty awesome, etc.

Things I didn’t like:
  • Bone-crunching sounds.  The entire audience groaned and squirmed in their seats.
  • I hate it when victims sit around crying.  Stop crying and make a plan! Don’t be a victim.  Get out of the car and run! Everyone needs to learn how to pick locks.  Here’s a crazy tip: Look up from your cell phone to see what’s going on. Check out my son’s class called Spy Escape and Evasion.

Interesting lines:
  • “Only through pain can you achieve your greatness.” – Beast
  • “The broken are the more evolved.” - Beast
  • “There must be limits to what a human being can become.” – Dr. Karen Fletcher  
  • “You like to make fun of us, but we’re more powerful than you think.” – Dennis
  • “I’m trying to be good.” – Barry
  • There is an interesting discussion of the “light” that is used when characters emerge.  Patricia said, “In the sun, we will find our purpose.” 

Funny lines:
  • “You guys lied to me.  You made me scared, etc.” – Hedwig (The audience laughed every time he said “etc.”)
  • “You might be pregnant now.” - Hedwig after an awkward kiss
Tips for parents: 
  • There are some dark themes that are not very family-friendly, such as bullying, child abuse, kidnapping.
  • Blood, violence
  • Profanity, including 1 F-bomb.
  • Some of the girls are forced to take off their clothes, so you see them in their underwear.


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The Book of Love explores love, life, grief, and healing

Movie Title:   The Book of Love

Grade:  C

Rating:  PG-13, 107 minutes

In a Nutshell: Written and directed by Bill Purple, this profanity-laced story is about death, love, insanity, and healing. 

Uplifting theme
  • “Try something new.  Be bold.” – Penny  (Jessica Biel)
  • “We aren’t supposed to be alone in our journeys, that we need other people to know we’re alive, that we matter.” - The Girl/Oprah  (Maisie Williams)
  • “We all need help.” – Henry Hershel (Jason Sudeikis) 
  • Accept people for who they are.

Things I liked:
  • The Justin Timberlake score was lovely.  That was nice of him to give a boost to his beautiful wife’s film.
  • The cast was an interesting mix: Jason Sudeikis, Jessica Biel, Maisie Williams, Mary Steenburgen, Orlando Jones, and Paul Reiser.
  • Those jumping fish in Louisiana were pretty cool and they really are real.  You've probably seen the YouTube videos of them.
  • My sister's husband died young.  It was painful to watch her go through the process of saying goodbye to a loved one and trying to rebuild a new life.  While the film doesn't necessarily present any new perspectives on death and grieving, it still presents a real journey of sorrow that people can relate to. 
 Things I didn’t like:
  • I like Jason Sudeikis in comedies, but he just didn’t dig deeply enough to give the emotional performance this film needed.
  • The Southern accents are pretty bad, except for that funny Cajun guy, Pascal, who couldn’t even speak English played by Richard Robichaux.
  • Why on earth was Oprah spoon-feeding Henry?  That was a weird scene.  By the way, Oprah Winfrey is NOT in this movie.  The young girl calls herself Oprah.
  • I hate it when young kids have such terrible potty mouths.  Game of Thrones: Season 1 Maisie Williams' character was more annoying than charming.
  • Henry does some pretty irresponsible things that seemed more stupid than whimsical and bold. 

Interesting lines:
  • “There’s an old Japanese proverb: The wounded koi cannot tend to its gills if it seeks solace and diversion of the pleasant seaweed god.” – (Paul Reiser)
  • “67% of deaths happen when no one’s looking. What I never could find out is how many people live while nobody’s watching.” – Oprah
  • “Haven’t you ever wanted to do something extraordinary?” - Oprah
  • “Death ain’t about the people who die anyway.  It’s about the ones who have the s**tluck of having to go on without them.” – Opray
  • “Some people try to hold on to the memories.  Others try to forget.  Neither one works.  And after enough time passes by, you find you ain’t the same you used to be.” – Oprah
  • “Some things are better when they’re not perfect, you know?” – Oprah
  • “Every brave journey is filled with surprises.” – Oprah 

Funny lines:
  • “They don’t like it.” – Henry (Jason Sudeikis)
“Worse.  They love it.” – Wendell (Paul Reiser)
  • “Whoever heard of a reception without shrimp?” – Julia (Mary Steenburgen)
  • “Perverts got mustaches.  Everybody knows that.” – Cornelius Thibadeaux (Orlando Jones) 

Did you know?
*  It was originally titled "The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea."
*  It had its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival last April, but didn't get released in the United States until this week.

Tips for parents: 
  • There are some heavy themes of death, remorse, sorrow, abuse, poverty.
  • You see smoking and someone eating marijuana-laced stew.
  • Lots of profanity.
  • People call each other ugly names.


Tuesday, January 17, 2017

La La Land has everyone singing its praises

Movie Title:   La La Land

Grade:  A

Rating:  PG-13, 128 minutes

In a Nutshell:  With a theme song that will be stuck in your head for a long time, this unexpected romantic musical feels like one of those magical movies Hollywood use to pump out decades ago.   

Beautifully shot in CinemaScope, it features the glamour, hope, sacrifice, pain, and dreams found in Los Angeles.  

It’s very entertaining and honest, already winning a Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy, as well as a big trophy for both of its lead actors: Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling.

Uplifting theme: 
  • “People love what other people are passionate about.” - Mia (Emma Stone)
  • Here’s to the ones who dream…
  • “You gotta give this everything you got.” - Sebastian (Ryan Gosling)
Things I liked:
  • Emma Stone’s face can show a thousand different expressions.  She is so charming that you just can't keep your eyes off of her in every scene.
  • It’s fun to hear some good jazz.  Sebastian explains, "You can’t just hear it; you have to see it.” 
  • I know they must be partially or even completely manufactured, but I loved all the pretty LA sunsets. 
  • Ryan Gosling.  Good on you.  He can do it all.  He actually learned how to play the piano for this movie.  
  • Ryan and Emma Stone have great chemistry.  This is not their first movie together.
  • I love the scene where they hold hands for the first time.  I remember those breath-taking moves from dates gone by.
  • It's really such a breath of fresh air. Keep those musicals coming.
  • John Legend!
  • Written and directed by Academy Award nominee Damien Chazelle.  Nice job!
  • I liked how the movie announced the seasons, reminding us how the seasons of our life come and go.
  • This film reminded me of last year’s film Cafe Society that makes you ache with love, regret, and longing.
  • Is this film a love letter to Los Angeles or Hollywood or being passionate about your dreams? Or maybe all three?
  • The musical numbers easily blend into the traditional storytelling.
  • The sequence at the end was done so well.
  • I didn't expect to see J.K. Simmons in a musical!
  • Mia and Sebastian go to the famous Griffith Observatory with a little nod to James Dean. Put it on your bucket list.  It has one of the best views of La La Land...I mean Los Angeles and Hollywood.
  • It's clever that there are 2 story lines...2 paths that could have been.  In La La Land a/k/a Hollywood, movies end with "happily ever after", but in real life...not so much.  So, which story did YOU think was the REAL movie?

Things I didn’t like:
  • I love Emma Stone, but I’m just wondering how much more fantastic this could have been with Anna Kendrick in the female lead role?  Maybe match her up again with Justin Timberlake like when they were together in Trolls?  Wow, can you imagine how great the soundtrack would have been?  As it is, Emma and Ryan aren't what I would call "powerful" singers.  If Director Chazelle was going for "sweet and simple", then he nailed it.  Some say that the "not perfect" singing was part of the point of the movie...everyone, even everyday people can make their dreams come true.  What do YOU think?
  • That string of hair that constantly droops in Sebastian's face.
  • The sound isn’t always quite in sync with the lips.
  • It was funny, but also super annoying how Sebastian would honk loud and hard when he went to Mia's house and pick her up. Really?  Be a gentleman and go to the door, Bud.
  • It conjured up images of great dance numbers with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, although not nearly as good.

Interesting lines:
  • “Why don’t you want to do it anymore?” – Sebastian
“Because I think it hurts a little too much.” – Mia 

Funny lines:
  • “This idea that we’re re-imagining Godilocks and the three bears from the perspective of the bears…it could be like a franchise.  There’s a lot we don’t know.  There could be 4 bears.  We don’t know.” – Carlo (the real screenwriter Jason Fuchs)
  • “It’s pretty strange that we keep running into each other.” – Mia
“It IS strange.  Maybe it means something.” – Sebastian
“I doubt it.” – Mia
“Yeah, I don’t think so.” – Sebastian
  • “You’re a real…um….what’s the word I’m looking for?” – Mia
“Knight in shining armor.” – Sebastian
“Weirdo…that was the word.” – Mia

Did you catch all of the Easter Eggs and tributes to other movies?
* The opening CinemaScope opening gives a tip of the hat to old movies from the 1950's and early 60's.
* Look at all of the pictures hanging in the cafe where Mia works and you'll see a bunch of celebrities eating or cooking food.
* Check out all of the movie posters in Mia's apartment.
* I love Ryan Gosling on the street lamp post ala Singing in the Rain.
  • The dance scene on the street at night pays homage to Top Hat with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. 
  • Guy and Madeline on a Park bench is represented by a scene where a movie poster rolls by Sebastian and Mia.
  • To learn about more, check out this fun video.

Tips for parents: 
  • This is pretty safe for all ages, but your daughters will probably enjoy it more than your sons.  It’s a romantic musical after all.
  • 1 F-bomb; otherwise, no other profanity. 
  • You see a couple living together out of wedlock.
  • Mia flips someone the bird (the middle finger).
  • Plan on listening to your kids sing these songs over and over again.


Friday, January 13, 2017

Patriot's Day honors Boston's courage and compassion

Movie Title:   Patriot's Day

Grade:  B+

Rating:  R, 130 minutes

In a Nutshell: I love Boston.  I've been there several times and would eagerly go there again tomorrow.  It’s a modern city dripping in history. 

This powerful film offers a respectful look at Boston’s finest who responded to terrorism at the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings.   

“Two people took several days and weeks to plan out hate, but love responded in an instant.” – Interview with Patrick Downes

Uplifting theme: 
  • Dedicated to all those who showed courage, compassion, and dedication during this terrible period in Boston’s history.
  • Civic pride, teamwork, community
  • Love vs. hate
  • Good vs. evil
  • Boston strong!
  • “Always have hope.  Be confident that good always defeats bad.” – Dun Meng

Things I liked:
  • The entire cast does a great job providing Boston accents and tributes to people we enjoy getting to know.
  • Mark Wahlberg gives a dynamic performance as Sgt. Tommy Saunders.
  • It’s always a pleasure to see J.K. Simmons, John Goodman, and Kevin Bacon.  I adore them all.
  • You get to see real footage of the aftermath.
  • Great aerial shots of Boston.
  • Fans of Supergirl: Season 1 [Blu-ray], Melissa Benoist, will be happy to see her, although not happy to see her play the wife of a deluded terrorist.
  • I loved the real photos and information at the end. The video footage of Patrick Downes running the race after his surgery really touched me.

Things I didn’t like:
  •  Does anyone in Boston know how to speak a single sentence without using the F-bomb? 

Interesting lines:
  • “Do not Mirandize.”   -  It's interesting and frightening that a decision could be made to deny an American citizen of his individual liberties.
  • “Not what you were expecting, huh Comish? – lady cop
“It never is.” – Commisioner Ed Davis (John Goodman)
  • “For a Muslim woman, marriage is a lilting dance of duality: strength and submission, beautiful, selfless, rapturous love of two masters, the carnal and the divine.” – Katherine Russell

Funny lines:
  • “Give ‘em hell, brother!” – a guy who throw a sledge hammer out his front door to help the cops.
  • ‘I gotta F***n quit smoking.” – Sgt. Jeffrey Pugliese (J.K. Simmons)
  • “I’ll tell ya that boat ain’t gonna float.” – cop after a bunch of other cops shot a ton of bullet holes in it. 
Tips for parents: 
  • There is a lot of blood, gore, and violence.
  • You see several people do drugs.
  • A gazillion F-bombs and other profanity.
  • It's important to point out to your kids that Dzhokhar's friends were arrested for seeing evidence, but not turning it over to the police and obstructing the bombing investigation.

UPDATE as of 2/1/2017
A Boston Marathon bombing survivor plans to marry the fireman who rescued her, several media outlets report. “In the hospital, my mom tried to set me up with him,” Roseann Sdoiasaid. “She was like, ‘Oh, did you see that firefighter? He’s so cute.’ And I was like, ‘Mom, I just got blown up.’ ” Sdoia and her new fiancĂ©, Mike Materia, will participate in the annual Empire State Building Marathon to help raise money for the Challenged Athletes Foundation. Materia comforted Sdoia on the ride to Massachusetts General Hospital in a police vehicle on the day of the bombing. “I asked him if I was going to die. And he told me that I was going to be OK, that I only had a flesh wound,” she told reporters. “He’s seen me on my worst day.” The couple had their first date in June 2013. He proposed last month.


Thursday, January 12, 2017

Queen of Katwe is royally inspiring

Movie Title:        Queen Of Katwe
Grade:   A

Rating: PG, 124 minutes

In a Nutshell:   Walt Disney presents a fascinating, feel-good, underdog story about a smart girl who grows up in extreme poverty in Uganda.  It’s fascinating to watch this determined girl learn how to solve problems and conquer her surroundings through the game of Chess.  Even better?  It’s a true story.

Disney has practically invented the inspiring sports movie genre.  While Chess may not be considered a sports movie, this wonderful film is a welcome addition to the collection.

Uplifting theme: 
  • “To find where you belong, you must make your move.”
  • “Sometimes the place you are used to is not the place where you belong.” – Coach Robert Katende
  • “Can you do big things from such a small place?” – Phiona
  • Challenges are not a curse.   (Painted on the back of their bus.)
  • “Focus on what you have.” - Coach

Things I liked:
  • Lupita Nyong’o and David Oyelowo are both absolutely fantastic.  You would think they were native Ugandans with their spot-on accents.  Lupita’s biceps are impressive.  David’s eyes speak volumes of love.
  • The music is fun and energizing.
  • The scene where Gloria had the hiccups while she competed against a super tall kid was adorable.
  • Little Ethan Nazario Lubega plays a super cute Benjamin.  I loved the little gasp he made when he got excited about something.
  • I wish all children had a loving, kind coach like Robert Katende.
  • I like the way they snap their fingers.
  • What a beautiful fisherman scene when Robert is talking to Phiona at the water’s edge.  I was fascinated by the images of daily life in Uganda.
  • It’s cute how they all say “cloth-es.”
  • I always love it when the audience gets to see pictures of the real people at the end of the movie next to the actors who played them.  This movie takes it one delightful step farther by letting you see them filmed together.
  • Indian Director Mira Nair creates a very nice balance between telling the stories of the coach, mother, and our dear little queen of Chess.
  • Ah, that cute little Richard.  The young Richard was played by Ivan Jacobo, followed by Nicolas Levesque as older Richard.
  • Keep watching during the rolling credits for a fun music video surprise you’ll love!

Things I didn’t like:
  • Everyone’s accents are so thick that it’s often hard to understand what people say.
  • It was sad when Phiona’s sister (Night) said, “I don’t think God cares about us one way or another.” Coach Robert worked with a ministry and SHOWED the poor people God’s love, rather than just preach it.
  • It was sad that Fiona’s mother had to sneak out of the hospital because she couldn’t pay her son’s bill.
  • Some of those outfits.  Yikes.  Ha ha
  • Like playing a game of Chess, you can see several moves ahead that the film will make, but each step is still extremely enjoyable to watch.

Funny lines:
  •  “No, no, no, please, no!” – Minister Aloysius Kyazze (Philip Luswata)          “Yes, yes, yes, please, yes!” – Robert
  • “Ketchup is the greatest thing that has ever been invented.” –  Mugabi Brian (Martin Kabanza)

Interesting lines:
  •  “Use your minds and you will all find safety.” – Robert
  • “I don’t need your forgiveness.  I need you to sell maize to feed your brothers.” – Nakku Harriet
  • “In Chess, the small one can become the big one.  That’s why I like it.” – Gloria Nansubuga (Nikita Waligwa)
  • “I wish I could just take all the knowledge from here and just put it inside my head.” – Phiona   (I feel the EXACT same way about books!)  Her coach explains, “With a book, it’s like the teacher lives inside them and you can visit them any time you wish!”
  • “I may be down, but I am not out.” – Richard
·       “I wish we could eat these prizes.” –Nakku  (I felt the same way.  I won a lot of Speech & Debate tournaments in college and wished that, instead of a useless trophy, I could have received cash or even a platter that I could have served food on!
·       “They cannot return to their old lives, because they have tasted yours.” – Nakku Harriet
·       “Where is my safe square, Coach?” – Phiona Mutesi
  • “Losing teaches me to play better. “ = Phiona Mutesi

Did you know?
  • Director Mira Nair made a documentary about Coach Robert Katende first and then later decided to adapt the story into a feature film.
  • A famous fashion model in Uganda won an auction during a fundraiser for the film so that she could play an Extra in the movie.
  • This colorful story was filmed mainly in Uganda and South Africa.

Tips for parents:

  • This is a great movie for your kids to see, because they have probably never seen poverty like this before.  It will expand their horizon to see how people live in other countries, hopefully, making them more grateful for what they have.  While living with hardly anything, someone asks, “Hi Phiona! How is your life?”  She smiles and happily answers, “It is fine!”
  • Some talk of prostitution.
  • Phiona gives our children a great example of an obedient girl who works hard and never gives up.