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, October 29, 2015

Love Is All You Need

Finding a great foreign film is a treasure; I like watching stories about people who live in other cultures and seeing landscapes I have yet to visit. Reading subtitles does not faze me (nor should it deter you from renting a foreign flick). With a little practice, you will find that you can skillfully read the subtitles while still enjoying the visual piece of the movie.

When I came across the Danish film Love Is All You Need, I put it in my Netflix queue and it worked its way up. Set in Copenhagen, Denmark, and more extensively in Sorrento, Italy, the characters speak mainly Danish and British English. The film is from award winning director Susanne Bier, whose film In a Better World won an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 2010. In 2013, Love Is All You Need was selected as the best comedy film at the 26th European Film Awards.

Starring Pierce Brosnan and a capable cast of actors who were unfamiliar to me, it is a character driven romantic comedy rated R for brief sexuality, nudity and some language.

Ida (Trine Dyrholm) is a Danish woman who describes herself as unlucky “lately,” her biggest challenge being treatment for breast cancer. Her daughter is marrying a young man Ida has yet to meet. The wedding is to be held on an estate in Sorrento, Italy owned by the groom’s father Philip (Pierce Brosnan), which includes a lemon grove and a spacious seaside villa. The two families of the happy couple soon to be joined, for better or worse, till death they do part, gather for the nuptials, rowdy friends of the bride and groom joining them on the eve of the event for the pre-wedding party at the villa.

This is a sweet story with a subtle, emotional performance by Pierce Brosnan, a widower who has never remarried and who doesn’t quite know how to be supportive of his son. Ida has her own challenges with her husband, and she has somehow stayed positive through everything, showing us this with her enchantingly beautiful smile. Everyone grows in this film, and Ida the most. The young couple appears so young, and it surprised me a bit that no one questions them about marrying after only having met three months ago. They have much to learn.

The landscape of Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast is simply stunning, and figured into the reasons I got this movie. If I’m watching a film with a good storyline, then the icing on the cake is a fabulous setting. You can practically feel the ocean breezes, smell the scent of lemons, and bask in the warmth of the Mediterranean.

That’s Amore, sung by Dean Martin, and other variations on that song, are woven throughout the film, tying together the storyline as much as the characters and scenery. I liked the entire film and it had a realistic ending. I think you will find it as wonderful to watch as I did.

Monday, October 26, 2015


My husband’s interest in ghost stories and horror movies peaks this time of year with Halloween looming on the horizon. We discussed getting some appropriately creepy movies to watch as the holiday is now less than a week away. I had been encouraging him for several months to watch Ghost with me, a now classic film from 1990 starring the beloved Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore. The film brought screenwriter Bruce Joel Rubin an Academy Award win for Best Writing (Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen). My husband kept saying it was a chick flick, but finally consented to give it a try, so we turned the TV on to Netflix streaming, and Ghost began with a BAM!
I remembered this film as being a romantic story, not all that scary, with a famous scene between Sam (Patrick Swayze), and Molly (Demi Moore) at the pottery wheel, very sensuous if somewhat tame. (The film is rated PG-13 for some strong thematic and sexual material, language, and some bloody violence.) But I found I hadn’t remembered all the nuances of the story after having only seen it once, 25 years ago!
Molly and Sam are prematurely separated when a mugger kills Sam late one night on a deserted street. Sam, however, chooses not to go to the light/heaven/another dimension, and his spirit remains on earth. He is initially confused by his transformation, and as he lurks around his house where Molly continues to live, he becomes convinced she is in danger.
He stumbles upon a spiritualist/psychic named Oda Mae Brown, famously played by Whoopi Goldberg in her Academy Award winning performance for best actress in a supporting role (she also won a Golden Globe, and a BAFTA award for this role). She lends some humor to what could have otherwise been a very sad, depressing film.
Sam appearing to Oda Mae, or rather speaking to her, throws her for a loop. He’s the first spirit she has had contact with. Sam eventually convinces her to help him speak to Molly.
There’s a hilarious scene of other ghosts visiting Oda Mae; Sam’s coming to her opened the floodgates for other departed souls who haven’t yet left earth, and she is none too happy about it.
All does not go smoothly for Sam in his efforts to protect Molly, and he takes a mentor, a scary, unstable ghost (Vincent Schiavelli) who inhabits the subway. Sam learns about the powers waiting to be harnessed by him now that he is a ghost.
The suspense is good throughout, and Patrick gives a wonderfully emotional performance as a soul yearning to make a connection with his still living true love. The ending is a tearjerker, at least for a woman, and I did shed a tear or two. My husband enjoyed the film, and his only negative comment was about the disposition of evil souls versus good souls depicted.
If you’re searching for a good film for Halloween, something metaphysical, not pure horror, Ghost is the one for you.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The Martian

What initially led me to this film was that it starred Matt Damon, and the trailers I watched for this PG-13, sci-fi adventure looked intriguing. Matt is a favorite actor of mine, and it seemed he was well cast in the role of an astronaut stranded alone on Mars, with nothing to rely on for his survival but his intelligence and what remains of a scientific outpost.

I didn’t go for the 3D show, thinking it would detract from the story. (I liked watching Avatar in 3D, but I didn’t think The Martian would have those beautiful seeds of the sacred tree floating at me like delicate airborne jellyfish, just a lot of hurtling space debris, so passed on that movie technology.)

Astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is likable, skilled in critical thinking, with a PhD in botany, and also quite knowledgeable about engineering and the maintenance of mission equipment. He gets left behind during a severe storm that necessitated the abandonment of the mission, and evacuation of the crew. Believing him to be dead, the five remaining crewmembers launch off the planet towards Earth.

Mark, however, has survived. He must bring all his skills as a scientist and rational thinker to his predicament. What to do about food, water, and oxygen on a planet where none of these exists? What good is it to survive if NASA doesn’t know he’s alive? How will communication be restored, and is there any hope for a rescue?

A friend of mine on Facebook said he didn’t go see the movie because he knew how it ended. It’s not the destination, friend, it’s the journey, and what a journey it was. I especially liked that it wasn’t some shoot ‘em up film filled with hate and violence against others. It celebrated the human spirit to survive, scientific inquiry and cooperation, and the exploration of space by NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration for those who may have forgotten).

Other main characters were also well cast:  Jeff Daniels as director of NASA (The Newsroom), Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty and The Help) as the commander of the Ares III (she had a great role as an educated woman with a calm presence, a strategist capable of making tough decisions and not unwilling to place her own life in danger in order to save another), mission chief Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave), and Kristen Wiig as NASA’s spokeswoman (the only movie I’d ever seen her in was Bridesmaids, so I wondered about her being cast, but it was fine.)

Just a few days prior to the film’s release, NASA announced evidence of water on the surface of Mars. Future exploration of Mars is not that far off, and we can only hope that space exploration, with the coordinated efforts of NASA and the space programs of other nations, will assist us in understanding this complex and wonderful universe we live in. In the meantime, enjoy the journey of Mark Watney as The Martian.