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!

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Sabrina (1954)

The classic Billy Wilder film Sabrina appeared on TCM (Turner Classic Movies) while I was at my sister’s house on a rainy evening. I had seen the movie in the past, and was quickly drawn into the story once again. A bonus was that there were no commercials on TCM during the film. It stars the lovely Audrey Hepburn, Hollywood star Humphrey Bogart, and bad boy William Holden.

Sabrina is a rags to riches kind of tale from 1954, predating, or perhaps foreshadowing, the ever-popular Pretty Woman  (1990) kind of Cinderella story. But Sabrina is not a hooker like Julia Roberts character Vivian. Sabrina Fairchild is instead, the daughter of a rich family’s chauffeur in a time when the working class did not associate with the much wealthier family they served.

David Larrabee (William Holden) is a playboy kind of guy who barely works in his family’s business, and is much more interested in charming the giggling spoiled young girls who frequent their parties and clubs. Linus (Humphrey Bogart) is his responsible older brother who effectively holds the family fortunes together in his controlling and workaholic manner.

Sabrina has had a crush on David since she was a small girl. She is sent away to Paris in an effort it seems to both get her over him and to learn a trade. But when she returns as a sophisticated young woman, whom Audrey Hepburn played so well, David zeros in on her.

This disrupts the family, and Linus sets about seeing that David and Sabrina are kept apart. What happens during his efforts to occupy Sabrina’s time is not wholly unexpected.

The film won an Academy Award for Best Costume Design for a Black-and-White film for Edith Head. She won eight Academy Awards for Best Costume Design during her illustrious career, for everything from Roman Holiday to The Sting. If you like fashion, you’ll really enjoy the elegance of the gowns and really anything Audrey is wearing on her impossibly skinny frame. Sabrina won Best Screenplay at the Golden Globes for Billy Wilder, Samuel A. Taylor and Ernest Lehman. Billy Wilder is known by movie buffs as being the award winning director and screenwriter for such films as The Lost Weekend, Sunset Blvd., and The Apartment. Billy Wilder has here written a flawless screenplay romance that I appreciated very much.

I never thought Humphrey Bogart was all that handsome of a leading man, but apparently he was quite the Hollywood star in his time. After all, Lauren Bacall fell for him head over heels. He is charming, as is William Holden. I recognized Nancy Kulp (Jane Hathaway in The Beverly Hillbillies) who had a small role as a maid.

Many years later, in 1995, the film was remade and I intend to watch it again and review it on these pages. It stars Julia Ormond as Sabrina, Harrison Ford as the responsible brother, and Greg Kinnear as the charming younger brother. Until then, you may want to find the original romantic comedy of Sabrina for yourself.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

I'll See You in My Dreams

I first became aware of this lovely film, I’ll See You in My Dreams, online through Kickstarter. Kickstarter is a source of crowd funding, where an individual posts the purpose and intention of their project, and then asks for donations, sometimes even as small as $1.00 to help the project along. The contributors each receive a gift for giving a donation, usually graded by how much they donate.

I gave a small donation to this worthwhile filmmaking project. For more about Kickstarter, click here:  Kickstarter 

I’ll See You in My Dreams needed some seed money to happen, and I saw that as a worthy cause. To my surprise it stars some fairly well known actors, including Blythe Danner and Sam Elliott, with supporting roles by Mary Kay Place, June Squibb and Rhea Perlman. It is rated PG-13 for sexual material, drug use, and brief strong language.

I was pleased by the excellent screenwriting of Brett Haley. The story is realistic, and is about an older woman, Carol Petersen (Blythe Danner), a widow of 20 years with one daughter living in another state. Her female friends all live in a retirement community nearby, whereas she has held onto her home and lives there with her dog.

She meets two very different men, Lloyd (Martin Starr), the man who cleans her pool, who is much younger than her, but it turns out they have a lot of interests in common. The other is the smooth and older Bill (Sam Elliott), more her age, who proceeds to sweep her off her feet.

Blythe Danner gives a wonderful performance. She has a fabulous singing voice. Often she delivered her lines without saying a word. Sometimes allowing the actors to convey just by their body language and the expressions on their faces is so much better than heavy dialogue. Brett Haley made a good choice with his writing in that regard.

I really liked this story. It was engaging and kept me smiling for a long time as the characters were introduced and we got to know them better. The film touches on the issues of older people, particularly women. Those decisions Carol is encouraged to make, moving to a retirement community or living on her own, are not easy ones. Is there more for her than playing bridge and golfing? You’ll have to watch to find out.

I also found it refreshing to see the relationship between Carol and Lloyd develop. We all need friends and Carol is at a stage in her life where friends are more important than ever.

The reality of life for women, whether widowed or divorced in their later years, is honestly depicted in this film, and especially poignant. I think that no matter what age you are, you’d find something in this movie to be inspired and touched by. It addresses the need for companionship, an outlet for talents lying dormant, and the search for meaning in one’s life. I highly recommend I’ll See You in My Dreams.

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Into the Wild

I’d wanted to watch Into the Wild for quite some time, and had forgotten it was based on a true story. Sean Penn wrote the screenplay and directed this mesmerizing feature from 2007. It is rated R for language and some nudity.

In 1990, Christopher McCandless (Emile Hirsch) graduates from college and takes off on a solo journey across the United States, rejecting completely his upper class parents (William Hurt and Marcia Gay Harden). The story is told through the eyes of his sister, and from his own journal entries writing of his travels. His ultimate goal is to go to Alaska and survive off the land. Alex Supertramp, the name he gives himself after he rejects his former identity, has little need for money. A couple of odd jobs doing hard physical labor please him more than any desk job ever could, one of which is for Wayne Westerberg (Vince Vaughn) who becomes his friend.

His family meanwhile is filled with sorrow at what appears to be his disappearance. Alex, however, knows exactly where he is. He is a thoughtful, deep, spiritual person who reads the likes of Thoreau, Tolstoy and Doctor Zhivago while living the solitary life.

He meets other free spirits along the way, and gives to them just as much as they give to him in return. By this I mean emotionally, a connection of love and genuine caring for each other. Jan Burres (Catherine Keener) and Tracy Tatro (Kristen Stewart) are two in the hippy camp he grows close to, and he becomes friends with an older man, Ron Franz (Hal Holbrook). The relationship between Jan and Alex is like the one neither had with their own son and mother respectively, and a deep father and son respect develop between Ron and Alex as well.

I seem to gravitate toward films depicting real life journeys, the stories of people who set out on their own, shunning civilization and the society that feels like a trap, a prison to be freed from by living in the natural world.

My husband commented that if Alex had not had the resources of a wealthier family, he would not have taken the risks involved in rejecting society and the 9-5 kind of life. I don’t know if I totally agree with that. If you have it in your blood to explore, walk, travel, you just do it. Cheryl Strayed in Wild and Robyn Davidson in Tracks set out on their treks with very few financial resources available to them.

The film’s cinematography is exquisite and visually appealing. I thoroughly enjoyed the way the story is put together; going back and forth in time to what preceded Alex’s arrival in Alaska where he is truly alone.

I recommend this film, especially if you are a reader and enjoy beautiful prose. There are many quotes throughout the film from the authors that Alex is reading, and it simply adds to the beautiful story of one man’s quest to be authentic and real.