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!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Four Christmases

This is a hilarious holiday movie from 2008 starring Reese Witherspoon and Vince Vaughn. It’s light entertainment (comedy, drama, romance) with a twist on most holiday films, and is rated PG-13 for some sexual humor and language.

Kate (Reese Witherspoon) and Brad (Vince Vaughn) are a young couple in love, unmarried, with no intentions of tying the knot. Normally they avoid their families, but when their plane out of San Francisco to Fiji is grounded due to fog, they reluctantly end up visiting all four of their divorced parents’ homes in one day. Having never met one another’s families previously, they are in for the revelation of family and personal secrets that are sure to stress their relationship, not only with each other, but also within themselves.

Robert Duvall and Sissy Spacek play Brad’s parents, and Mary Steenburgen and Jon Voight play Kate’s parents. Their characters add to the charm of the story (and incidentally, all four are Oscar winners). That is quite a lot of talent as Reese is an Academy Award winning actress herself.

I have not seen that many Vince Vaughn movies, just Wedding Crashers and Couples Retreat, and enjoyed both of those films as well. He is a very good comedic actor and plays well opposite Reese’s more prim and proper lady. (I also recall him in a Sex and the City episode as one of Carrie’s beaus.) He will make you laugh!

Reese, as you know, starred in Walk the Line, her Academy Award winning turn as June Carter Cash. I like some of her other perhaps lesser known films, notably Pleasantville, Election, the more well known Legally Blonde, and just recently, Wild, the true story of Cheryl Strayed who walked the Pacific Crest Trail. Reese is an accomplished actress, equally adept at comedy as she is in her forays into drama.

Reese’s barely 5 feet 2 inch frame teetering after Vince’s 6 feet 5 inches in her extremely high heels is quite a contrast. The graphic on the DVD plays on this as Reese stands on four boxes wearing stilettos to be the same height as Vince.

These four families are so different, and the circumstances they encounter during the visits are exaggerated for humor. Often slapstick in nature, and always inventive in terms of dialogue and witty repartee, it is a movie that kept a smile on my face from beginning to end.

Kate and Brad are a likable couple, and realistic in that all couples try to hide those embarrassing moments and questionable events from the past in order to continue the relationship, for fear when they are found out, they will get dumped. Also similar is the apprehension at introducing the one they love to their family members. What will they think of a family who is less than perfect, and perhaps even a little crazy? Is there any future between us given the idiosyncrasies of parents and siblings? 

All these questions and more are answered in Four Christmases.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The Shift

I had the good fortune to hear Dr. Wayne Dyer speak at a conference I attended in Portland some 15+ years ago. I was initially not that interested to hear him speak as I thought he was just someone who had cashed in on a financially lucrative career publishing self-help books. I was wrong.
I was completely won over by Dr. Dyer, his sincerity, humbleness and wisdom. After he passed away, Facebook and the Internet blossomed with his lectures and videos, and I ordered on Netflix and watched a DVD called The Shift.
Cleverly designed, the film features interviews with Dr. Dyer as himself, alternating with fictional tales of three individuals/families at a crossroads in their lives. The setting is at a retreat center in Monterey, California. The fictional stories worked to illustrate the spiritual truths that Dr. Dyer talked about during his interviews with his fictional film crew. Better than perhaps watching a couple of hours of Dr. Dyer speaking to a PBS audience, it was filled with ideas about the shift, transitioning from the morning of one’s life to the afternoon, a metaphor for an awakening to a life of meaning, a unique soul purpose unfolding for each of us.
A couple of better known actors were featured including Portia de Rossi, and Michael DeLuise, with Louise Hay, matriarch of Hay House, appearing in a cameo. Also available are extra features, which included music videos (Song Inside is charming!), additional scenes and interviews with Dr. Dyer and the film’s director, Michael Goorjian. I watched all these features and enjoyed learning about how the film came to be made, and appreciated Dr. Dyer’s humor as he speaks candidly to the film crew.
The film is visually stunning, the views of the ocean waves and the gnarled trees at the windswept shore helping to create a sense of calmness amidst the characters’ crises. I didn’t care for the music very much, but I am not a fan of classical music and that’s what the score reminded me of. The music felt morose and kind of depressing to me. I learned to ignore it and focused instead on the visuals and the characters’ journeys. You may not have the same reaction to the music as I did.
Dr. Dyer was himself, as I remembered him from hearing him speak those many years ago, a little older, and just as sage. The three people at a crossroads in this story were believable:  a driven businessman and his wife struggling to create a shared life; a young mother who gives first to her husband and children, leaving little time for her own creative expression; and a film director hungry to make a name for himself at any cost.

The Shift is inspiring, and provided many ideas that my husband and I discussed after viewing it. I highly recommend this film; it’s entertaining and insightful, and may be just what you need for the place you are in your life right now.