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!

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Sex and the City [The Movie]

The only way you’ll like this film is if you are a die-hard Sex and the City (SATC) fan. Watching this movie is a guilty pleasure. SATC was only on for six seasons, but it made quite an impression on women and a few men I know. The names Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda will always be associated with this story that celebrates women, relationships and Manhattan.

The film picks up where the series left off, Miranda making a family with Steve and little Brady, Samantha making Smith a star, Charlotte happily adopting a baby with Harry, and Carrie and Big finally a committed couple in love. As with any relationship, trials arise in the forms of infidelity, boredom, and marriage, not necessarily in that order or for each of our girls.

The film is rated R for strong sexual content, graphic nudity and language. It is two hours and twenty-five minutes of indulgence, particularly when Carrie gets an article and photo shoot about her upcoming nuptials in Vogue at the insistence of her editor Enid (Candice Bergen). That bit could have been nixed for me (boring!), but I can see where it helped set up the soon to be cold feet of Carrie’s betrothed John Preston, aka Mr. Big (Chris Noth).

Also, that catwalk at Fashion Week: too much. It’s self-indulgent and boring, the fashions vapid and phony. You can see I’m not much for the labels!

What does work for me and likely all SATC fans, are the relationships between the women. That’s why we watch these sitcoms or dramas in the first place, right? Whether it’s from way back 90210, where the friends are everything to each other beginning in high school, or Friends, another group of devoted twenty-somethings struggling to get through life with a few laughs, or the classic Sex and the City, it’s all about friendship, things you don’t get from your families, or even your partners in life.

That’s why we keep watching. Fiction can showcase truth more completely than a documentary can, and there are no documentaries about women in New York City, not like SATC. Someone once said to me she didn’t like SATC because the women were promiscuous. It’s fiction! Please! Anyone who’s been in the dating scene can relate to at least one story line sometime in this run, and the actresses make it come together to entertain and to make us sad.

Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker), Samantha Jones (Kim Cattrall), Charlotte York (Kristin Davis), and Miranda Hobbs (Cynthia Nixon) are now icons. In this film, they continue on in the characters they so expertly first created for HBO. If you fast forward through the Vogue and Fashion Week fluff, I think you’ll find a well-rounded story about love, forgiveness, and being true to one’s own self and heart.

Chick flick? Yes. Don’t invite your man to watch unless the two of you binge watched SATC together. Enjoy the movie, and have a Cosmopolitan while you’re at it.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

The Hours

Based on the novel by Michael Cunningham, The Hours follows a day in the life of three women, separated by time, but not by life experience. This DVD was one that we inherited from my husband’s mother, one of only two she had in her house (the other was Chicago). After watching it, I wonder what she liked about the story, and if she received it as a gift or bought it herself.

The film depicts a time in the life of the author Virginia Woolf; the other two women portrayed are fictional. Virginia (Nicole Kidman) lives in the countryside of England. She is writing the novel Mrs. Dalloway. Plagued by periods of depression, her husband Leonard (Stephen Dillane) worries about her, fearing she will attempt suicide yet again, having tried twice already.

In 1951, Laura Brown (Julianne Moore) lives in suburban Los Angeles. She has a son not yet in school, is pregnant and reading Woolf’s novel Mrs. Dalloway. Her husband Dan (John C. Reilly) is unaware of her unhappiness. Her only friend appears to be Kitty (Toni Colette), who visits her on the day she is baking a birthday cake for her husband.

A few decades later in 2001, Clarissa Vaughan (Meryl Streep) is hosting a party for her good friend Richard (Ed Harris). He is a poet being honored for his work. He is also very ill and depressed. The film is rated PG-13 for mature thematic elements, some disturbing images, and brief language.

The musical score by Philip Glass is hauntingly beautiful. His music fits well in the film, tying the women’s lives together beautifully. Nicole Kidman won an Academy Award for Best Actress playing the esteemed author Virginia Woolf. She looks very different with her makeup that changed the shape of her nose. She probably looks more like Virginia wearing the prosthetic nose.

I watched three of the special features on the DVD: The Mind and Times of Virginia Woolf, Three Women, and The Lives of Mrs. Dalloway. All served to inform and stimulate my thinking about the writers across the decades: Virginia; the novelist; and the screenwriter.

I confess I have not read anything by Virginia Woolf. I have added her novel A Room of One’s Own to my reading list, and plan to read it soon. Michael Cunningham said his reading of Mrs. Dalloway at the age of fifteen was a moment that changed him. He was later inspired to write The Hours incorporating Virginia’s work Mrs. Dalloway into the stories of the three women across the years. David Hare did a wonderful job as screenwriter to this tale that weaves the women’s experiences together.

The Hours is more of a literary film and one that will probably keep you thinking afterwards. There are surprises in this film that will give you some aha! moments, and of course I won’t give these away. I highly recommend The Hours to you. I’m going to gift the DVD to someone I think may appreciate it.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

True Lies

True Lies, a film from 1994, is an action comedy thriller with an all-star cast. It works beautifully thanks to the screenwriting and directing skills of James Cameron. The longish movie at 2 hours 21 minutes flies by because it is nonstop action with surprising developments. The film is rated R for a lot of action/violence and some language.

Harry Tasker (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and Albert Gibson (Tom Arnold) are secret agents working for an agency called Omega Sector headquartered in Washington, D.C. Harry has kept the true nature of his work hidden from his wife Helen (Jamie Lee Curtis) for all of their 15-year marriage. Their domestic life in the suburbs is somewhat dull, and even their 14 year old daughter Dana (Eliza Dushku) is bored and acting out.

Harry discovers that Helen is having an affair with Simon (Bill Paxton), and at that point we get to the real heart of the film. Harry is shocked to learn that his wife is less than happy with him, and sets out to teach her a lesson, which ends up seeing her for who she truly is, and taking the time to be there for her again. Tom Arnold plays well opposite Arnold as his coworker and friend. His wit and delivery is spot on as he supports Harry through these trials.

In the midst of all of this domestic drama, a crazed Islamic jihadist Salim Abu Aziz (Art Malik) enlists the help of Juno Skinner (Tia Carrera) who deals in antiquities to smuggle nuclear warheads into the USA. Due to the deceptiveness of Simon as he attempts to seduce Helen, and Harry subsequently attempting to get even with her, when Aziz enters the scene, Harry and Helen together must work to stop him before he detonates a nuclear missile. Some very crazy action occurs as the warhead is being driven over the Key West Bridge towards a destination on the mainland.

This film really works due to the fine comedic acting by the main players. It is easily my favorite Bill Paxton film. He unfortunately passed away earlier this year due to complications from heart surgery, and he will be sorely missed in the movies. He was brilliant as the con man/salesman Simon just looking for some fun with bored housewives. Other favorites I saw him appear in were as Morgan Earp in Tombstone, an astronaut in Apollo 13, A Simple Plan, and Twister. I recommend all of these to you.

Arnold and Jamie Lee have good chemistry, and a scene in a hotel room with the two of them is one of the sexiest I have seen on screen. She won the Golden Globe award for Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical for her role as Helen.

Have you seen True Lies? Do you like these actors? Let me know your thoughts in the comment section below. I’m going to pass this DVD on so someone else gets a chance to enjoy it as much as I do.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The Saint (1997)

Next in my drawer is a movie from 1997, The Saint. I don’t recall exactly how I acquired the DVD, but it is a favorite of mine. It’s not a standout in special effects or even inspired dialogue, but the premise is sound, the acting pretty good, and it has a happy ending. The film is rated PG-13 for action violence, brief strong language, some sensuality, and drug content.

Simon Templar (Val Kilmer) is the Saint; the aliases he takes are the names of Catholic saints. Simon enters into an agreement with Ivan Tretiak (Rade Serbedzija), a wealthy criminal in Russia, to steal the formula for cold fusion from an Oxford University professor.

Simon travels to England to obtain the equations from the brilliant scientist Dr. Emma Russell (Elisabeth Shue), who has worked out a formula for an unlimited source of energy. Thus begins the romance between Simon and Emma that propels them through the rest of the film. The action takes place in England and Russia. The soundtrack was beautifully written by Graeme Revell, and the music adds a sense of magic and mystery to the quieter, more soulful scenes.

Val Kilmer has had several good films in his career; the early Top Gun, the memorable performance he gave as Jim Morrison in The Doors, and this film as the thief with a heart. The Saint is a master of disguise, and takes on the persona of an assortment of characters in order to escape detection by either the criminals hiring him or Scotland Yard. He escapes detection again and again due to his masquerading costumes and accents, and it is quite fun to watch.

Elisabeth Shue I first saw in Adventures in Babysitting (I liked that movie!), and then her famous role in Leaving Las Vegas. The chemistry between her and Val really works, and so it is not surprising when they fall for each other. Especially sweet is the scene where Simon is working at seducing her, they are getting tipsy drinking a lot of very expensive wine, and yet despite this, she sees into Simon’s soul, and that initially upsets him. Can he steal her work on cold fusion when he’s falling in love with her?

The Saint has action, adventure, and romance all rolled up into one neat package. Given it was filmed some twenty years ago, the technology is a bit dated, but it really doesn’t matter. It’s light entertainment with a bit of romance thrown in.

Roger Moore famously starred in a TV series in the 1960’s as The Saint. There is a British TV movie out just this year of The Saint starring Adam Rayner. It wasn’t picked up as a series, but was shown on TV as a tribute to Roger Moore. Simon Templar is a good character and I can see why he is brought back to film again and again.

Have you seen any of these versions of The Saint, and if so, what did you think of them?

Saturday, September 09, 2017

Runaway Bride

Another DVD in my drawer was Runaway Bride, pairing Richard Gere and Julia Roberts in a romantic comedy again, nine years after Pretty Woman debuted. The film is rated PG for language and some suggestive dialogue. Garry Marshall, the director who got such great performances from Gere and Roberts in Pretty Woman, directed it. The screenwriters of Runaway Bride, Josann McGibbon and Sara Parriott, wrote a beautiful and funny screenplay, impeccably rendered by cast and crew with fine acting and attention to detail.

Ike Graham (Richard Gere) is a columnist for USA Today, always the “last-minute” man, ideas for his column not striking till an hour or so before deadline. He meets George Swilling (Reg Rogers) who tells him about Maggie, a runaway bride from Hale, New York, who has jilted men at the altar 7 or 8 times.

Ike writes the column without checking the facts, and Maggie Carpenter (Julia Roberts) is infuriated with the fabrication of her life. She gets his editor Ellie (Rita Wilson), who also just happens to be Ike’s ex-wife, to fire him.

Now out of a job, Ellie’s husband Fisher (Hector Elizondo) suggests to Ike that he write a full-length article about Maggie to redeem his reputation. Ike drives out to Hale in search of the truth. He quickly wins over the entire town, and friends and family of Maggie’s eagerly tell him about Maggie’s three failed attempts to tie the knot.

Ike and Maggie, first at odds with each other, eventually feel sparks of attraction between them. Ike couldn’t be more charming, and this is one of Richard Gere’s best romantic roles. He gets to deliver some great lines about romance, marriage proposals, and honeymoons. It is no surprise that Maggie eventually falls for him.

Maggie backs out of her 4th scheduled wedding to Coach Bob Kelly (Christopher Meloni), and Ike and Maggie are set to be married instead. But will Maggie flee from Ike as she has the previous three grooms?

Runaway Bride is clever and enjoyable, the small town of Hale in autumn is brought to life in quaint detail (was actually filmed in Maryland), and there is great chemistry between all the actors, thanks to Garry Marshall as director, and of course the inherent talent of the actors. Joan Cusack delivers another fine performance as Maggie’s best friend, Peggy Flemming, who helps coach her to success. By the end of the film, Maggie has examined her life and why she always gets cold feet. I highly recommend it to you, and it would be a good film for teens to watch as well. There is not a lot of language that parents might object to, and no sex scenes. The messages about marriage that are delivered as Ike researches Maggie and who she is are really priceless. It would make a great date night movie, and one for those who are newly engaged! I’ll be passing on this wonderful comedy so others can enjoy it as much as I do.

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Brighton Rock

A friend gave me this DVD of a British film, Brighton Rock. I don’t recall why she thought I might like it. It is a period piece, taking place in 1964 when the mob ruled parts of England and susceptible youths became the bosses’ minions. From 2010, the film is rated R for violence, language and some sexual content. It is a thriller, crime drama.

Pinkie (Sam Riley) is an ambitious tough young man, who will stop at nothing to gain his way into the world of Colleoni (Andy Serkis), who’s kind of like the Godfather, only British style.

Rose (Andrea Riseborough) works in a teashop as a waitress, and her employer Ida (Helen Mirren) becomes concerned when she begins hanging out with Pinkie. Her friend Phil (John Hurt) helps her try to save Rose from sure ruin or even death. Rose has unfortunately seen a man who was later murdered and even has a slip for a photo of them one of those pesky photographers take when you’re on the boardwalk of Coney Island. Pinkie is determined she keep her silence, and feigns interest in her. He warns her about what could be done to her by others if she talks to anyone about what she’s seen. How much of Pinkie’s interest in Rose is an act, and how much is real fondness of her is much of the story’s question.

Rose falls head over heels in love with Pinkie, why I don’t know as he is about as unappealing as a pit bull. They could have at least made Pinkie endearing somehow to explain why Rose is attracted to him. She is not ugly in the least, just a little dowdy in her appearance, so I find it difficult to believe he was the first young man to show her any attentions. Their relationship really doesn’t work for me.

These are volatile times in England with youth rioting, not really clear why, and the mob taking hold of owners of shops to “protect” them. This seaside community doesn’t seem to be very well off and is dreary and wet, aside from the Hotel Cosmopolitan where Colleoni lives.

Brighton Rock is based on the 1938 novel by Graham Greene, and has a sort of film noir feel to it. There was an earlier Brighton Rock film made in 1947, and this adaptation updates the action to 1964. Andy Serkis gives the best performance. You may recognize his name as he played the evil Gollum in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. He’s a fine actor all around, and his performance here as Colleoni is at least memorable. I can’t say much for the other actors in this film. Pinkie rarely has anything other than a scowl on his face, and Ida is rarely animated either. Ms. Riseborough has the na├»ve Rose character down pat, but she is unlikable, not good for the story.

Save your time for one of my other recommended films. This DVD goes out for sale.