Welcome to my website!
Have you ever wondered why some critics review films? They don't even seem to like movies that much from what they write. I LOVE movies, and think about them long after the last credits roll across the screen. My reviews are meant to inform, entertain and never have a spoiler.
Enjoy my reviews and please comment and come back frequently! Thanks for visiting!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2

I finally got to see this last installment of The Twilight Saga.  I waited until the initial frenzy had subsided and the theater was not even half full for a matinee on a Saturday.  I thoroughly enjoyed the gorgeous mountain landscape and forests of the Pacific Northwest on the big screen, majestic in a way my average size TV could not equal.  I was curious by how the story would unfold, given the last image of Bella in Breaking Dawn – Part 1, when she opens her eyes as a vampire.

The infant Renesmee has unusual characteristics, including an accelerated growth trajectory, but then she is half vampire and half human.  We get to see Bella as a vampire, and yet she really doesn’t act that much different from who she was as a human.  She is coached by the Cullens on how to act human to fool her father, but her acting has been such in this series that nothing really changes.  We get to see her hunt, but it’s not really that exciting.

What is interesting is how her father accepts Bella’s physical coldness and lack of an explanation for his grandchild’s apparent age.  His love and acceptance of his unusual daughter is an example for parents everywhere.

It gets complicated when Renesmee is rumored to be an immortal, and she comes to the attention of the Volturi.  A search ensues for other vampire/human offspring from around the world to help vindicate her.  I liked that part a lot; different cultures were represented from this global hunt for others like Renesmee, echoing the diversity of humans on the earth.

The evil vampires want to destroy Renesmee, and as the Cullens prepare for a confrontation by enlisting the aid of other vampires and the werewolves, Bella discovers her gift, soon to be put to good use protecting those she loves.

I really liked the ending, and don’t know if it is the same or different from the book because as I mentioned previously, I haven’t read them.   Remember that Alice has a gift:  the ability to see into the future.  This gift is one that plays prominently in the final scenes of the film.  It’s a gift we all have actually.  We can look into the future by imagining what outcome our choices will inevitably bring to us.  This is the last message Ms. Meyer gives us from this story.  We choose our future with our own free will.

Would I recommend this series to you?  If you are a movie lover, I predict you will like these for the reasons I watch many different types of films.  I want to see how they’re put together, how the story unfolds, what the messages are, enjoy the cinematography, the acting, the dialogue.  They’ll never be in my list of top 100 movies not to miss, but they do entertain.  Let me know what your opinion of The Twilight Saga is if you have seen it.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Swing Vote

Four years ago on the evening of Election Day, my husband and I watched the movie Dave rather than be subjected to the interminable banter of newscasters plying us with the latest election results.  I don’t care for that kind of nail biting, anxiety provoking TV as the ballots are counted, so suggested we see a good political movie.  If you’ve never seen Dave, you really must.  It’s a heart-warming comedy starring Kevin Kline and Sigourney Weaver where a look alike to the President fills in as the man in the oval office when illness besets the real President. 

But this year on election night I selected Swing Vote, a PG-13 2008 comedy starring Kevin Costner.  I again didn’t want to subject myself to the above nail biting, anxiety producing network coverage of the election and we had a great time watching Kevin as Bud Johnson, a man who has the unenviable task of casting the sole vote that will decide the next President of the United States. 

The film was shot on location in New Mexico (Belen, Albuquerque, and Santa Fe), so of course I relished picking out landmarks.  But I also loved the story.  Bud is a single parent of a precocious 5th grader named Molly, who embraces her education and is enthusiastic about everyone’s civic duty to cast his or her vote for President.  Bud is, shall we say, not the brightest star in the sky, and through a chain of unusual events, has both the Republican incumbent and the Democratic candidate courting him for his vote.

What ensues is sheer comedy, with not a little commentary on the current flawed political campaign and lobbying process in America.  The other significant theme of this film is the network news, individual reporters and producers seeing the coverage of Bud and his choice as a ticket to big time network stardom.  Through this unique situation of one man casting the deciding vote, each person has to think about their own personal values, what is important and how much they’re willing to sacrifice for success.

The film also stars Kelsey Grammer as the President, and Dennis Hopper as the Democratic candidate, with supporting roles by Stanley Tucci and Nathan Lane as their campaign advisors.  Also appearing are George Lopez, and Judge Reinhold, someone I hadn’t seen in a movie in a long time, but that I’ve heard lives up near Santa Fe somewhere.

I highly recommend Swing Vote and also encourage you to make your own Election night tradition in four years with a political film to pass the time until the results are in.  The two I’ve mentioned are comedies, uplifting with a definite message or moral to the story, but there are many other political themed movies that you could pick.  I wanted something more light-hearted, but another I saw this year was The Ides of March, which was a drama and much more serious.

I’d love comments about your favorite political movies and why you enjoy them.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1

Bella and Edward marry in a long sequence of scenes that do not minimize the marriage ceremony in the least, and that focuses on their vows to one another.  It was a dreamy beautiful event (in large part due to Alice's efforts), complete with toasts by family and friends that revealed more about not just the happy couple, but about the guests themselves.

Jacob supports Bella finally in her decision to wed Edward, and they go off on a honeymoon of epic proportions.  I’d be happy with a simpler wedding if I could just have a honeymoon like this on an island paradise (but I’m already married, so just the trip to the island paradise will suffice).  Bella hit it big in that department.

What else she hits big, as you all already know, is becoming pregnant, something she and Edward are surprised about as much as I am.  Really?  How can this happen?  A vampire and a human creating offspring.

Even though a biological explanation is never forthcoming, it makes for a dramatic storyline.  Think about it.  What happens to a mother and child when their blood is incompatible, like in Rh incompatibility?  That’s when the mother is Rh-negative, the father is Rh-positive, and the baby is also Rh-positive.  This can cause serious health problems for the baby if the mother’s blood gets any of the baby’s blood in her womb because she may then create antibodies to kill the foreign blood cells. 

The mother is not at risk in Rh incompatibility, but what if it was reversed?  That would make Bella at risk for serious problems during the pregnancy.  Good drama here.  The other storyline is everyone who is aware of the pregnancy gives Bella advice on what to do.  What that results in is a not so subtle discussion of abortion and a woman’s right to choose.

I thought the preceding episodes of Twilight set up the story in Breaking Dawn quite well.  I told the members of my screenwriting group I was watching these films, and some were, shall we say, amused?  But I am really enjoying this story, which comes as no surprise in a way because I really love movies.  Even if you don’t particularly care for the storyline of vampires and werewolves, I would think you would appreciate the cinematography and the attention given to the sets, costumes and acting that went into this saga.

Breaking Dawn - Part 2 comes out in November as I mentioned in my previous post, and I will have to admit, I am now one of those who are quite interested in seeing the final episode in the theater.  I was at the movies not long ago (The Bourne Legacy which I’ll review later on) and there was a large banner proclaiming a Twilight marathon would be coming soon.  Sitting in a theater for eight hours would stress my body, especially if it was not stadium seating, so I would opt for recommending you have your own marathon at home with Netflix.  And come back in November for my final review of Twilight.

Monday, October 08, 2012

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse

It appears my questions at the end of my review of The Twilight Saga:  New Moon have been answered in this next installment of The Twilight Saga:  Eclipse.  This movie featured a riveting story with plenty of action segments to further the adventures of Bella, Edward and Jacob.  I was sitting on the edge of my chair it so engrossed me.  Much to my delight, the “good” vampires’ stories were further revealed here.  We find out how Rosalie and Jasper became vampires, what their hopes and fears were, how they really feel about their present existence, and their individual stories just serve to further strengthen our connection to the vampires’ plight.

The evil vampire Victoria seeks to destroy Bella, placing her in danger yet again.  Her father Charlie, unaware of the world Bella inhabits, is worried about the danger of teen pregnancy, just like all other dads of teenage girls.  He is aware of a monster/murderer law enforcement is tracking, but makes no connection of this to Bella or Edward or to Edward’s family.  Charlie has an awkward talk with his daughter about sexuality and pregnancy, a not so subtle plug for saving yourself for marriage.  As an adult viewer though, and knowing that Edward is a vampire, a detail Charlie has not been told, I wondered:  Would vampires need to use condoms?  They’re the undead, neither living nor dead; they’re cold as ice, a fact emphasized in this movie when Edward is compared with Jacob, a warm blooded living creature. How could a vampire conceive a child?  I think traditionally in the vampire legends, the exchanging of blood makes new vampires, not vampires having sex with each other and little baby vampires being born.  I’ll apparently find out the author’s solution to this paradox in the next movie, The Twilight Saga:  Breaking Dawn: Part 1, as the Netflix sleeve states:  Not long after immortal soul mates Bella Swan and Edward Cullen say “I do,” a strange sensation begins to build inside Bella’s burgeoning belly.”

Seems like a story flaw there, but I’ll reserve my judgment.  Thus far I think Bella is making a huge mistake sticking with Edward.  Jacob is a much more compelling, feeling person.  I award kudos to special effects for making the huge, powerful werewolves’ eyes so expressive.  It makes it easy then to stay connected to Jacob even when he’s transformed.  It’s interesting to me how Bella is not afraid of any of the werewolves towering over her when in wolf form.

I didn’t remember when I began watching Twilight that Part 2 of Breaking Dawn would be coming out in theaters on November 16th.  So I’ll be able to watch one of these Twilight movies on the big screen, the way I really love to watch movies.

As Halloween approaches, are any of you planning on hosting or attending a Halloween party?  Any costume contests?  Will you dress as a werewolf, or a more traditional monster?  Comment and let us all in on your inspirations.

Monday, October 01, 2012

Dracula (1931)

I took a break from Twilight to watch the 1931 classic movie Dracula, starring Bela Lugosi as the infamous vampire from Transylvania.  A nightmare of horror! proclaims a vintage movie poster featuring Dracula with a young female victim.  But I wasn’t so much horrified as intrigued by this early film of the vampire genre.  I wasn’t sure I had ever seen it, and if I had, the years had faded it from memory.

Bela Lugosi certainly defined for moviegoers worldwide the quintessential vampire.  Numerous vampires since have copied his entire walk, his talk, his mannerisms, the look of his makeup and cape.  Would Bram Stoker, author of the 1897 novel, have approved of Lugosi’s Dracula?  I think he would have.  Unfortunately, he had already passed away nearly 20 years prior to this film’s release.

The director, Tod Browning, had previously had a very successful career in silent film and I think that experience lent itself well to the story of Dracula.  There are often long silences, no music even, which gives a somber mood to the events as they are revealed.  Also, there is no blood and gore, which should please some of my readers who may be disgusted by the violence in film that seems to dominate theaters today.  We don’t even get to see the telltale puncture wounds on the victims’ necks.  Dracula comes in for his meal, and the scene cuts to another.  I didn’t mind.  It’s an easy watch, only 75 minutes.  My disc from Netflix included some commentary, and something to note is that a Spanish version of Dracula was filmed at the same time as the English version.  They would film the English Dracula during the day, and once they were finished, the Spanish crew, actors and director came in and shot far into the night.  It is rumored that the Spanish version is even better, so that might be worth looking into.

The fascination with the vampire is evident in Lucy’s initial reactions to Dracula.  She is clearly drawn to him, the slightly dangerous and forbidden aspects of this stranger she hardly knows.  The cheesiest part is the bat flapping around, but it was 1931 after all.  The best performance (other than Bela of course) is Dwight Frye as Mr. Renfield.  His acting is genius.  I’ve never seen a more transformed character in any movie; his madness is absolute.

What little music there is at the beginning of the film is from Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake and seemed fitting to me for the introduction of the film’s opening credits that older movies always featured.  It was of course, black and white, and the cinematography by Academy Award winner Karl Freund lent an eerie and moody feel to the landscape, both in Dracula’s castle and then in England, where Dracula relocates.

I highly recommend this version of Dracula.  It really set the tone for all subsequent vampire movies, especially Bela Lugosi’s performance of the man in black.  If you enjoy the vampire genre, you will like this film that started it all.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Twilight Saga: New Moon

I watched The Twilight Saga:  New Moon with anticipation, as I knew a werewolf would be appearing (remember in my previous post where I disclosed my fascination with Quentin from Dark Shadows). The Native American legend of werewolves vs. vampires that we heard explained in the first movie plays out well here in New Moon.  I have never heard of a Native American belief in vampires, so that part of the legend is rather far fetched, but then this is fiction after all.  Kudos to special effects for making the werewolves both scary and dangerous and yet, you can see the soul in their eyes and expressions.

Kristen Stewart’s Bella bounces from depression to recklessness in an effort to alternately get over or remember Edward who has left her.  Taylor Lautner’s Jacob Black is her sanity for a while until his werewolf transformation and initiation begins.  That part of the film, their interactions and friendship, is quite touching.

Now she has just traded one Not Good for Her/Not Safe to be Around Her young man for another.  This is so true to life.  It just wouldn’t be quite as dramatic without the paranormal element.  How many of you know teens, or have yourself experienced, picking the wrong one, the one who is dangerous?  At least these two young men realize their propensity for anger and attempt to hold it in check to protect the one they have chosen.

But for Bella, it’s really an attachment she has to Edward I think and not real love.  Same for Edward.  Two star-crossed lovers as Shakespeare might say.  Literally can’t live without the other, individual identity seeming to leave when apart.  Further storytelling will see if I am right.  I haven’t read the books, so I’m going in blind to this entire tale, only going by what appears on my Netflix DVD sleeve and little snippets of information fans have shared with me.

I was happy to see that Alice Cullen (Ashley Greene) was still there for Bella and I think she’s an intriguing vampire.  I hope she is featured in the next films.

There was essentially what amounted to cameo roles for Dakota Fanning and Graham Greene in this segment.  I did like some of the cinematography, especially showing the passage of time for Bella as she mourns for Edward, but other than that I did not like the film as much as the previous one.  Since the other two DVDs are sitting on my end table waiting to be watched, I hope they are better. Taylor Lautner as Jacob is, I found, much more of a presence than Robert Pattinson’s vampire Edward.  I just don’t find Edward that interesting; Jacob is much more vulnerable, and I think that’s what comes through and makes him a more sympathetic character.

I wonder:  Will Jacob and Edward work together eventually like Barnabas and Quentin did in Dark Shadows?  Or will their rivalry persist?  We shall find out together as The Twilight Saga continues.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012


Sometimes I get to movies a little after the buzz about them has subsided.  Twilight is one such film.  I decided to give it a watch, all four of them actually, to see what they had to offer.  I’ll be posting each of my reviews in turn and move on to a few other classic vampire movies, all before Halloween.

I’ve been fascinated with the “Dracula” story for ages.  I probably first read the story in high school. It was the time of Dark Shadows, that eerie soap opera airing in the late afternoons.  I would rush home from high school and turn on the TV to watch Barnabas Collins, not the sexiest vampire (I liked Quentin the werewolf better), but the story fascinated me nonetheless.  (Recently I saw Johnny Depp in the Tim Burton movie Dark Shadows and I would recommend it if you too were a Dark Shadows fan.  Tim Burton does not disappoint, nor does Johnny who makes an intriguing vampire.  It was cleverly set in 1972 New England, just after the time the popular soap opera ended its successful run.)

I enjoy all of the various forms of art the vampire tale has spawned.  Gracing my wall in my home is a poster of Dracula, Ballet with a Bite, as staged by the Eugene Ballet, a performance I remember fondly:  the flowing robes of Dracula as he danced his way across the stage, his red mouth and white face, the crazed ballerinas who were his vampire slaves in their flimsy gowns.  It was a Halloween ballet to be remembered.  Last year in fact, I dressed as a vampire bride for the office annual Halloween party, a costume I had wanted to invent for some time.

Twilight is a very different type of vampire story.  I had heard that it is a romance tale for teens, but I also know that several grown women at work were all gaga over the films as well.   Rated PG-13, I figured it wouldn’t have much sex in it, but that the rating must be for blood-sucking violence.

The story takes place in the Pacific Northwest, present day.  The vampires we meet, as you have probably heard, are attempting to control their insatiable need for human blood.

I found it intriguing and was fascinated by the story, the cinematography, and the idea that vampires are either evil or, much like human beings, attempting to control base instincts or instead allowing them free reign.

The author, Stephenie Meyer, cleverly weaves Native American legend into this story, a brilliant stroke of genius that only adds to the mystique of the whole story.  I felt that the interactions between Bella and Edward were beautifully acted.  It epitomized the young love that teens have for one another when their sexuality has blossomed before their intellect can fully understand the nature of the longings they suddenly have for their beloved.

I’ll be watching The Twilight Saga:  New Moon next.  Stay tuned.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

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