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 26, 2017


I thoroughly loved the comedic sci-fi drama Downsizing. Scientists in Norway have discovered a way to impact global climate change by shrinking humans to dollhouse size, so less resources are being used. Fewer resources depleted, less garbage is created and pollution is a thing of the past, at least in the small world that the downsizing humans inhabit. It seems like a winning solution to an unprecedented growth of human numbers on earth, and to a crisis of climate change.

Paul Safranak (Matt Damon) is an occupational therapist, quiet, compassionate, and caring. He is married to Audrey (Kristen Wiig) who seems nice enough. They decide to join what is ultimately 3% of the world population who becomes small and lives in special communities where money goes far, and leisure time is great.

Complications arise, however, when Audrey chickens out at the last minute, leaving Paul high and dry. I wouldn’t normally tell you that, but I saw it in a trailer that I watched prior to seeing the film. Paul being suddenly single again figures prominently in the rest of the film as he sorts out his life in Leisureland.

He meets fellow small people from other parts of society, including Dusan Mirkovic (Christoph Waltz) who is a freewheeling entrepreneur partying like it’s 1999, and taking Paul under his wing to show him a good time. But who cleans up these mansions the small people live in? Marginalized ethnic groups, that’s who. Paul meets a Vietnamese woman, Ngoc Lan Tran (Hong Chau) who was injured being illegally smuggled into the U.S. and she introduces him to the reality of the lives and lower class housing of those that do the work.

In this world of small people, there really isn’t much difference from our present society. You have the workers, and the wealthy. Certain groups of people are still seen as being somehow inferior, and there continues to be corruption in governments who use the process of downsizing in unethical ways.

I loved the character of Paul, and Matt Damon is able to portray this thinking and compassionate man very well. Christoph Waltz is wonderful as free spirit Dusan, and adds a lightness to Paul’s existence. Hong Chau was nominated for Best Supporting Actress at the Golden Globes this year for her performance as Ngoc Lan Tran. I liked her, but the way they had her speak English was annoying. The director had her speak in very broken English, and I think if she’d been in America long enough, she’d have picked up better sentence structure, and not been so limited linguistically. That’s about the only criticism I have of this film, and one that not everyone will likely agree with.

Downsizing is rated R for language including sexual references, some graphic nudity and drug use. It brings to awareness the dire predicament the world is in. The ending is quite sobering and touching. If you enjoy other films from Payne/Taylor (Election, Sideways, The Descendents) you will enjoy Downsizing too.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

The Beatles: Eight Days A Week-The Touring Years

I was around eight years old or so when the Beatles came into their touring years, which is what the film Eight Days A Week is about. I recall some friends of mine in grade school asking me if I’d seen the Beatles on TV, likely on The Ed Sullivan Show, and I replied with something like, “Who’d want to watch a bunch of bugs?” So due to my younger age at the time, I missed out on that screaming, fainting phenomena of teenage girls who swooned over the Fab Four in such great numbers and so often it was called Beatlemania.

The Beatles: Eight Days A Week-The Touring Years, was released in 2016. The documentary is not rated. I wonder at this point during my writing if I have to say who the Beatles are. I hope you already know them. John Lennon, George Harrison, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr made up the legendary Beatles hailing from England. If you didn’t know that, I am sorry for you. (I listed them in order of my favorites!)

Ron Howard has created this documentary about the Beatles touring years with many interviews, still photos, and live performance film that will have you remembering the sixties all over again. Because I did become aware of the Beatles shortly after learning about them in school, and I loved their music, I did the Twist along with my girlfriends, sang along endlessly to their love songs on the radio, and matured year by year just as their music did.

I liked that the movie did not skimp on the music, often allowing an entire song to be played by the band for our viewing pleasure. Paul McCartney and John Lennon mainly composed the songs during that time period, and had quite the collaboration going for them. The Beatles toured all over the world, and I even knew an older neighbor girl who saw them perform in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She was a bit of a legend in our rural community because of that.

This film will leave you feeling nostalgic if you are of a certain age, and if you’re even younger, it should be an education about not just the Beatles rise to fame and fortune, but to a world that was haunted by racial tensions, a deceitful war, women’s rights, and young people coming into their own power. I even shed a tear or two at the memories so eloquently brought to life once again through the interviews with the Beatles and the films from the times.

John and George were taken from us too soon. I still miss them, but at least have their music to listen to. Only Paul and Ringo are left behind. If Ringo shows up in Albuquerque again with his All-Starr Band, I’ll go see him. I came to appreciate his music more with the years.

See Eight Days A Week (we saw it on Hulu). And put some old Beatles music on. Your heart will appreciate it.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Man Who Invented Christmas

If you’ve ever enjoyed the story A Christmas Carol, I predict you will love this holiday release of The Man Who Invented Christmas. Based on the life of Charles Dickens, who famously wrote said story as well as many others, it takes place in England in 1843, the year he wrote and published the book.

The film is rated PG for thematic elements and some mild language. As I am also a writer, I was intrigued by the way the film depicted the creative process of Charles struggling to bring his characters to life on the pages of a book. Back then, writing was even more difficult, one page after another laboriously written out in longhand by the author.

Charles (Dan Stevens) lives in a nicely appointed home with his wife and several children. He’s just had three flops after the astounding success of Oliver Twist, and needs to write something that will sell. He is visited by his characters, most notably Scrooge (Christopher Plummer), as he writes his story. (Any writer will tell you that your characters do follow you around, and will never leave until you tell their story.)

Tara (Anna Murphy), a young servant from Ireland, becomes a sort of muse for Charles when he discovers she can read, and he then begins reading her what he’s written as he goes along. He also has a deadline, something all writers will be familiar with. There is nothing like a deadline to get the creative juices flowing until the task becomes almost an obsession.

The film shows flashbacks of the young Charles as a boy, and what he endured due to some setbacks of his father John (Jonathan Pryce), and being sent to a children’s work house to toil for 12 hours a day, pre-child labor laws. He is haunted by these memories and they influence how he writes.

He bases his story on bits and pieces of tales he hears from others, and it kind of reminded me of the now classic Shakespeare in Love that I reviewed for the A-Z Blogging Challenge last April. The screenwriter, Susan Coyne, did a marvelous job getting into the creative process of Charles as he creates perhaps his most memorable work.

A Christmas Carol was of course a huge success when it was published, and established the name Scrooge to indicate someone who is greedy, self-involved, and miserly, caring for no one other than himself. A term best used today to describe certain elected officials and heads of industry. Despite how far humanity has progressed since this story appeared in 1843, there is a long way to go until the poor are not seen as “those people,” and until all are seen as worthy of the same regard as those with greater wealth or education. This film was so good, I’ll likely watch it again once it is released on streaming channels. I highly recommend The Man Who Invented Christmas for your holiday movie night.

God bless us, every one.

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Daddy's Home 2

Movie sequels are not easy to pull off. Many sequels often just recycle the same jokes and situations as the first film, giving us nothing new or particularly interesting.

Daddy’s Home 2 is an exception, and hit a home run! A few days ago, I posted my review for the first film, Daddy’s Home. I decided to see the sequel as it is out in theaters now. I believe I have found my new favorite Christmastime holiday movie. I loved it!

We return to the families of Brad (Will Farrell) and Dusty (Mark Wahlberg), consisting of Brad’s wife Sara (Linda Cardellini), children Dylan (Owen Vaccaro), Megan (Scarlett Estevez), and the baby Griffy, as well as the stepdaughter Adrianna (Didi Costine) as Dusty has married her mother Karen (Alessandra Ambrosio).

Concerned that their families will have a miserable Christmas due to having to share time, mostly driving in cars getting to and from activities, Brad and Dusty decide to have a shared Christmas amongst all of them. Great idea, isn’t it? Except for they are informed that Dusty’s father Kurt (Mel Gibson) and Brad’s father Don (John Lithgow) are both arriving for a holiday visit.

Mel Gibson and John Lithgow are well cast as the fathers of these two men trying to do right by their families. Kurt is a hardened military kind of guy, having served with NASA, and Don is just as goofy as Brad is with his exuberant cheerfulness.

Kurt has booked a gorgeous chalet in the mountains for a shared holiday adventure, and adventure it is. All kinds of crazy shenanigans take place including some turkey hunting, chopping down a Christmas tree, a live manger scene, and heart to heart talks with Dylan who has a big case of puppy love. The film primarily showcases the father-son relationships and the dynamics of the stepfamily, and the four main male actors do wonderful jobs, portraying their characters so convincingly and holding nothing back.

Daddy’s Home 2 is rated PG-13 for suggestive material and some language. I recommend you see Daddy’s Home 2 in a crowded theater so you can share the laughter with everyone else. I loved the ending. It was perfect, and I left the theater feeling pumped up and happy. It is definitely a cure for any blues you might experience around this time of year if you are prone to that. Plus, it has none of the violence that so many films today showcase and even glorify. Sean Anders was the writer and director, and I applaud him for taking the risks in writing this family comedy. We need more uplifting movies like this one that remind us what we have in common and that we are all deserving of love, anytime of the year.

What holiday films are your favorites? What do your favorite holiday films have in common? Mine seem to be music, a good heartwarming story, and good acting. Daddy’s Home 2 delivers on all three. Happy holiday movie going to you!

Saturday, December 02, 2017

Daddy's Home

A family comedy from 2015 in effect asks the rhetorical question: How do blended families cope when the biological dad shows up, the person the mom always made out to be the bad guy in their relationship? Daddy’s Home tackles this subject using plenty of humor and sight gags to make light of the struggles between stepchildren and their new fathers.

Brad Whitaker (Will Farrell) is a stepfather to two children, Megan (Scarlett Estevez) and Dylan (Owen Vaccaro), having married their mother Sara (Linda Cardellini). Unexpectedly, the children’s real father, Dusty Mayron (Mark Wahlberg) shows up, striding back into their lives unwanted except for the kids who are overjoyed to see him again. Dusty is a bad boy riding an Indian motorcycle and working out his muscled physique in the family’s garage. He inserts himself into their home, crashing at their house to compete for his youngsters’ devotion and in an attempt to get his former wife to come back to him. I guess there’s nothing like someone else falling in love with your ex-wife and marrying her to get the jerk to realize just what he’s given up.

The comedy is pretty great. Brad works at a smooth jazz station. His boss Leo Holt (Thomas Haden Church) is an annoying man who tells Brad stories to try to make him feel better or teach him something, but they just end up being truly bizarre stories, some of which are so absurd, I just laughed out loud, amused by his delivery of these over the top scenarios.

Additionally, there are some really crazy situations this strange family deals with. Most notably, the hidden desire of Sara for another child, and the inability of Brad to conceive due to an unfortunate incident involving radiation. Dusty interferes and sets up an appointment with a fertility specialist, Dr. Francisco (Bobby Cannavale), that goes way overboard in my opinion. I don’t see how children should see this particular set of events unfold. It’s the one part of the movie I thought was rather tasteless.

Daddy’s Home is rated PG-13 for thematic elements, crude and suggestive content, and for language. A sequel, Daddy’s Home Two, is now in theaters adding Mel Gibson as Dusty’s father, and John Lithgow as Brad’s father in a story taking place at Christmas. Looks like it will be as funny as this first one.

If you’re a fan of Mark Wahlberg, you will like this film. He plays the charming ex-husband who seeks to give his replacement a run for the money with such bold maneuvers, you can’t help but like him. My husband finds Will Farrell really nauseating, so he didn’t watch the movie with me. Will Farrell is adept at playing kind of effeminate men, silly, stupid men, which is actually a compliment to his acting abilities. If you’re the dad in a blended family, it may be all too painfully real. For an evening of light entertainment, you may find Daddy’s Home to be a pleasant diversion.