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, March 31, 2018


Not long after M. Night Shyamalan came out with The Sixth Sense, he filmed and released a movie in 2000 called Unbreakable. If you’ve seen The Sixth Sense, you will know that it has quite a reveal at the end of the film, and know that you never, ever, tell anyone the details leading up to the surprise ending. Unbreakable is like this. Don’t worry. No spoilers from me.

David Dunn (Bruce Willis) has been looking for a job in New York City, and is on the train on the way back home to Philadelphia to his estranged wife Audrey (Robin Wright), and his son Joseph (Spencer Treat Clark). The train derails in a tragic accident, and David is strangely uninjured, the only survivor.

Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson) is an art dealer, obsessed with comic books and all things in the superhero vein. He has a medical disorder that leaves him susceptible to serious bone fractures, and has had a physically excrutiating and miserable time his entire life because of it.

After the train crash is publicized and David identified as the sole survivor, Elijah contacts David and asks him if he has ever been sick. Thus begins the building of a tentative relationship between David and Elijah. As David remembers who he is through the questions that Elijah asks, and as he recalls unusual things that have happened to him in his life, his self-awareness builds. He lets Joseph in on his journey of self-discovery, and meanwhile Audrey decides she wants to make a go of it again with David, once so distant and untouchable.

What I liked a great deal about this film were the performances by Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson. Bruce gives a nuanced performance as the depressed security guard searching for some meaning to his life, whereas, Samuel plays Elijah as a slightly crazed and frantic man almost stalking David around in desperation.

M. Night Shyamalan has come out with some interesting films since The Sixth Sense. I liked The Village. Lady in the Water was a little weird, but I appreciated it anyway, and reviewed the film on this blog, and Signs was absolutely terrifying. I heard Shyamalan has come out with a new film and wonder what he has in store for us this time. I have heard him interviewed, and he said Hitchcock was an inspiration to him. He takes the suspense and thrills in classic Hitchcock films even further, especially in the strong final reveal at the end of his films.

Unbreakable is rated PG-13 for mature thematic elements including some disturbing violent content, and for a crude sexual reference. I suggest that anyone who enjoys superhero Marvel comic films watch this subtle and engrossing mystery. Two men so opposite of each other that you will wonder what their connection is. Are they just ordinary men, or men with extraordinary gifts?

Have you seen Unbreakable, and what did you think of it? Comment below, and happy movie watching days.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018


Hancock is not your typical superhero movie, but that is what made it so entertaining and charming.  John Hancock (Will Smith), is a dysfunctional superhero who terrorizes Los Angeles as much as he saves its citizens from the bad guys. I liked this film very much, especially as early on I knew there would be some kind of reveal happening midway, but I never predicted what the actual twist was.

Ray Embrey (Jason Bateman) is an ambitious public relations executive who wants to help change the world. His audacious suggestions to a pharmaceutical company for a branding campaign with a heart logo seems a bit over done, even to an optimist like me. The pharmaceutical company didn’t like it either. He has a son Aaron (Jae Head) and a wife Mary (Charlize Theron) and they live in a nice neighborhood somewhere in LA.

One typically busy California day, Ray gets stuck in horrible traffic, and making matters worse, on a railroad track. Hancock saves him from certain death from an oncoming train, and in the process causes a lot of damage to virtually everything close to the train and Ray’s car. Ray is now Hancock’s biggest fan, and explains to him how he can improve his reputation as a superhero. Citizens are as angry with Hancock as they are happy to receive his help. He drinks too much, is rude and vulgar, and causes a great deal of destruction to the city during his miraculous rescues. He needs a complete makeover.

Hancock ends up going to prison at Ray’s assurance that it will help in the long run in gaining the public’s confidence again. He actually begins to work on himself in therapy while incarcerated, and when the chief of police calls asking him to help them in a dangerous hostage situation, Hancock responds.

The film is rated PG-13 for some intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence, and language. Even superheroes have flaws is what this film seems to be saying, just like humans, and I knew we’d get to know where Hancock came from before the end of the film. It didn’t disappoint. Will Smith does a great job as always with his charm and the spot on comedic acting skills he’s delivered in so many films. Some of my favorites of his are Men In Black (1, 2 and 3), and Independence Day. He can play a good romantic lead too as in the very funny Hitch, and a more serious role as in The Pursuit of Happyness and Ali, both performances nominated for Best Actor at the Academy Awards. He’s one of the best actors of our day.

Jason Bateman is a good counter to Hancock’s dysfunction as he is one very upbeat person. And the mysterious Charlize Theron plays Mary as the sexy, yet restrained woman that Ray fell in love with, a good mother and wife.

Hancock is pure entertainment. I recommend it highly. I’ll be reviewing another atypical superhero film next time, Unbreakable.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

2018 A to Z Challenge Theme Reveal

I’m excited to be participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge for a third year! This year I am continuing to review films that won Best Original Screenplay at the Academy Awards, with a few Best Adapted Screenplays thrown in, and even some that were nominated in the writing categories, but did not win. It’s really all about the alphabet when you do the Blogging from A to Z Challenge!

The list of films I’ll be reviewing include 14 films that won Best Original Screenplay, six that won Best Adapted Screenplay, one that was nominated for Best Original Screenplay, and five that were nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay. I’ll include links to trailers for these films for your viewing pleasure.

Check back on April 1st for the beginning of the challenge and my first review!

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Beauty and the Beast (2017)

Beauty and the Beast was nominated for two Academy Awards this year, but did not win. The nominations were for Best Costume Design, and Best Production Design. It lost to Phantom Thread and The Shape of Water respectively. The film is rated PG for some action violence, peril and frightening images.

I liked this mostly live version of the classic tale. I recall seeing the animated version of Beauty and the Beast way back in 1991 accompanied by a child who enjoyed it too. There were two teenage girls sitting nearby who were crying their eyes out at the end of the film. I thought it a little odd, as it wasn’t affecting me that way. But then I was an adult. The films were based on Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont’s 18th century fairy tale.

Even though I am much older now, I thoroughly enjoyed this tale of a Beast under a wicked spell who cannot be changed until a lady loves him freely.

Belle (Emma Watson) is an independent young woman, living with her father Maurice (Kevin Kline). When Maurice leaves on business and does not return, Belle ventures out to find him. She happens upon the castle that holds the Beast (Dan Stevens) under his curse, along with all his servants who have been turned into normally inanimate objects that can now speak, as after all, they once were human.

The egotistical hunter and former soldier Gaston (Luke Evans) is intent on having Belle for his bride, and incites the villagers to go after the Beast with destruction on their minds.  The tension mounts as we wonder if the Beast will escape alive.

The sets and costumes were delightful, really well done and consistent to the era we are supposedly seeing in the countryside of France. It is a sweet love story after all, with Belle growing to like the ungainly beast, and he loving her in return. The music written by Alan Menken is really quite lovely, and the songs, lyrics by various writers, are sung well and add another dimension to the story.

Watching Emma Watson play Belle, I kept being reminded of Kristen Stewart who famously played Bella in The Twilight Saga films. Why this kept happening I’m not sure. Could be their looks, or perhaps their acting?

The ensemble cast that lent their voice talents to the servants cast under the spell along with the Beast included Emma Thompson, Ian McKellen, Ewan McGregor, and Stanley Tucci.

I watched Beauty and the Beast at home one evening when I needed something light and uplifting to raise my spirits, as there has been so much hate and negativity in the world lately. Maybe it is a fairy tale, and we all know just because a woman loves a flawed man he won’t miraculously turn into a nice guy for her affections. But then this is a fairy tale, a story that can give hope, and so for a couple hours that’s what we escape to. Hope.

Saturday, March 17, 2018


Icarus won Best Documentary Feature at the Academy Awards this year for producers Bryan Fogel and Dan Cogan. I found it an interesting title for a film that exposes the doping of Olympic athletes in Russia. (Icarus is the man in Greek mythology who flew too close to the sun, and plunged to his death.) The film is rated TV-MA, and I watched it on Netflix.

The film begins with a quote from George Orwell: “During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.”

Filmmaker Bryan Fogel has been an avid bicyclist for many years. He decided to see if his performance on a grueling cycling course through France would be improved by drugging up with testosterone and human growth hormone among other substances. He is subsequently referred to a Russian, head of the lab that tests for chemicals in athletes’ urine, Grigory Rodchenkov. He agrees to help Fogel with his project and the documentary is born.

Fogel and Rodchenkov develop a friendship while Rodchenkov gives him pointers on how to give himself injections and in what amounts to improve his athletic skills. Rodchenkov even tests his urine, as they would do in Russia. Sadly, all the drugs and training don’t seem to make a difference when Fogel competes in the race in France.

Rodchenkov though is willing to spill all about the systematic doping of Russian athletes, and thus continues this engrossing documentary. You need to sit through the early part where Fogel does his regime of therapies, and then the film turns into a sort of political thriller.

Interestingly, throughout the film Rodchenkov is reading George Orwell’s 1984 and referring to it as he describes his experience working for the Russian government. His role was to enhance athletes’ performance in a state supported doping program, and to then assist in a cover-up of what they were doing so that World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) would not find out.

Icarus documents an expose of a program that has been in place for decades to enhance the performance of Olympic athletes of Russia. This ultimately led to Rodchenkov having to go into hiding at the recommendation of the United States Department of Justice.

I hope most athletes despise drug enhancements during competition. There should be an equal playing field just based on one’s strength and natural abilities. But when a political regime comes into the picture that wants to show superiority of their people, that’s when calculated deceit comes into play.

The documentary film itself was really well done. The cinematography and music in between actual interviews is beautiful, and keeps the viewer from becoming bored with straight question and answer sessions. I appreciated the film’s artistic quality that enhanced the entire experience.

The ending quote of the film is: “This film is dedicated to whistleblowers, who seek truth over consequences, and to clean athletes everywhere who choose to play by the rules.” I think you would find this an interesting documentary whether you follow sports or not.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Last Men in Aleppo

Last Men in Aleppo was nominated for Best Documentary Feature at the Academy Awards this year (lost to Icarus). The film is about the White Helmets, a group of men in Syria who scour the city searching for survivors after homes and buildings have been bombed. Unfortunately, they must also deal with fatalities, often of children and babies. The film was written and directed by Feras Fayyad of Syria, and co-directed by film editor Steen Johannessen of Denmark.

In 2017, a short film about this group of volunteer rescue workers called The White Helmets won an Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Subject. This recent award for a film about the group possibly contributed to why the feature film Last Men in Aleppo did not win this year. (Plus Icarus was an excellent film and deserved to win.)

Syria has been at war for over five years now, and the brave men searching for victims in the rubble at times despair of the West coming to help them. They face death and destruction by rebel shelling, and by Russian warplanes dropping bombs.

The motto of the Syria Civil Defense (White Helmets) is, “To save a life is to save all of humanity.” I don’t usually become political in my posts, but in this case I am going to provide a link to a website that will give you more information about the plight of the people in Syria. Here it is: Syria Civil Defense

I would be surprised if anyone could watch this film and not be deeply affected by seeing the death and fear on screen that these innocent victims live with on a daily basis. Humanitarian aide should not be dictated by politics or religion, but be given because we are all human. The White Helmets are unarmed and neutral and don’t see a difference between people. What some may label as an enemy is still a soul worth saving.

There is no sparing the viewer of Last Men in Aleppo of the death and injury sustained to civilians as their city is bombed. The men who seek to save them are relentless in removing rubble from the crumbling buildings to find even one survivor, while others choose to leave Syria, fleeing a war zone that grows more dangerous by the day.

Last Men in Aleppo won the World Documentary Grand Jury Prize at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. The film is not rated. I watched it on Netflix. The film is really a historical document, like news coverage you might see on a quality news station, only longer. It’s mainly about the search and rescues, even though we see and hear the bombs going off and dropping throughout the city. It also shows the admiration the people have for the White Helmets, and their own struggle to survive in a city where resources are scarce.

I really don’t have anything else to add to my review here. The film’s images speak for the people of Syria.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

90th Academy Award After Thoughts

I watched the Academy Awards with a friend a couple of days after the original telecast. Unusual for me, as I’ve watched this awards show faithfully every year for over two decades. But I opted instead to go to a live blues performance and skipped the Sunday show. Apparently others skipped it too, as the numbers of viewers were lower than normal.

I found the show to be respectful and dignified, not without humor, but with a certain serious note to it. Jimmy Kimmel was fine as host, and I liked they went to a theater where a sneak preview of A Wrinkle in Time was showing to honor moviegoers. Sweet.

As far as the awards went, I did okay with a few of my predictions. They were really more of a wish list for me, and I was not really surprised over some of the winners, such as Costume Design for Phantom Thread. I have yet to see it, but it is after all about couture.

Sound Editing, Sound Mixing and Film Editing won for Dunkirk. As Adam of The Academy Award Project says, war movies typically score in these areas.

Four awards for The Shape of Water, including Best Picture of the year were well deserved. I was happy Jordan Peele won for Get Out as Best Original Screenplay. Haven’t seen Best Foreign Language Film, A Fantastic Woman yet, but will do so, and look forward to Daniela Vega’s performance. Also will be seeing Call Me by Your Name, winning Best Adapted Screenplay for James Ivory at the age of 89.

What disappointed me was Frances McDormand winning for Best Actress. Seriously, Sally Hawkins deserved it. I read someone stole McDormand’s Oscar from her that evening. She got it back that night, and I quipped on Facebook that he stole it intending it go to its rightful owner, Sally.

I was turned off from the start by the trailer for Three Billboards . . . and after reading about the flaws in the writing of the screenplay, chose not to see it. I may never watch it. Too much violence, and not a good role model for the change we need to see in the world.

Her speech was interesting. I am all for women’s stories and screenplays to be funded and filmed, and then she brought up inclusion rider. This is a stipulation in a contract requiring a certain level of diversity among cast and crew.

I think there would be no need for an inclusion rider if more screenplays were produced and written by women of all ethnicities and about women’s stories. I think that would pretty much solve the issue of inclusion right off the bat. Where crew is concerned could be a different story and may be necessary. What we need is fewer superhero movies or war movies, etc. and more real human stories some examples of which were showcased this year with nominations.

That’s my take on the festivities. What do you think?

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Lonely Are the Brave

I first became aware of Lonely Are the Brave, a 1962 black and white film, at the Hollywood in New Mexico exhibit at the Albuquerque Museum (the exhibit is no longer on view). I was intrigued by the story of cowboy meets modern day southwest, and the fact that the screenplay was written by Dalton Trumbo, a screenwriter I admire. The screenplay was based on the book The Brave Cowboy by Edward Abbey, and was filmed in New Mexico.

Jack Burns (Kirk Douglas) is a cowboy making his living herding sheep, and in between jobs he travels across the high desert to Albuquerque on his horse Whiskey. He is unhappy to find fences where there used to be none as he crosses the vast desert landscape. His world is changing. When he shows up at the home of Paul Bondi (Michael Kane) and his wife Jerry (Gena Rowlands), he discovers that Paul is in jail for helping illegals gain access to the States.

Jack decides to break Paul out of prison. Not a man to be deterred, he picks a fight in a bar with a one-armed man and eventually makes it into jail where he finds Paul. (Carroll O’Connor has a role as a truck driver coming from Missouri to New Mexico. You don’t really know his part of this tale until the ending.)

Jack plans a jailbreak, and some of the other prisoners escape with him. A manhunt for Jack ensues headed by Sheriff Morey Johnson (Walter Matthau). Deputy Sheriff Gutierrez (George Kennedy) is not happy about Jack’s successful escape from his prison, and hunts Jack as he travels up the Sandia Mountains on his horse Whiskey. I especially enjoyed the scenery of Albuquerque, as the film focuses heavily on the foothills and steep cliffs of the Sandia Mountains. That was one of the best parts of the film, seeing the Rio Grande, the skyline of Albuquerque circa 1962, and the canyons and arroyos of New Mexico, often from a bird’s eye view.

A thoughtful tale of the old way colliding with the new, I appreciated how Trumbo wrote the character of Sheriff Johnson who was played so well by Walter Matthau. Matthau should have gotten an award for his performance. He shows a compassion for the predicament of Jack, and even some admiration for what the escapee is doing in fleeing straight up over the mountains.

I recommend Lonely Are the Brave if you know the Southwest, particularly Albuquerque, and if you like good storytelling. The filming was really superb and my husband and I both marveled at how they made the action so suspenseful, and how dangerous it must have been to the performers and to the horse Whiskey!

Kirk Douglas approached Dalton Trumbo to write the screenplay as he had worked with him previously on Spartacus. It was a good choice as Trumbo was able to infuse the storytelling with an understanding of this good man caught between worlds as the times changed around him.

Sunday, March 04, 2018

Predictions (or more accurately, wish list) of winners at the 90th Academy Awards

Inspired by a fellow blogger who posted his as well as his wife’s predictions, I could not resist making a few of my own. I am only going to share my thoughts on categories where I’ve seen at least three of the five nominated films (or two of the three nominated in one category). It was difficult to pick in some cases, kind of like choosing apples or oranges. But here are my preferences for the win.

Original Screenplay: Get Out

Jordan Peele wrote a tight, well-constructed screenplay melding social commentary within a horror genre, with just the right amount of humor thrown in now and then to lighten up the darkest moments.

Animated Feature: Loving Vincent

When an entire film is painted and then animated, well you can’t get better than that. And the story of the last days of Vincent Van Gogh was touching.

Production Design: Beauty and the Beast

For lavish and magical sets, this film wins hands down.

Makeup and Hairstyling: Darkest Hour

He looked like Churchill.

Film Editing: I, Tonya

That wasn’t really Margot Robbie doing those triple axels. But it sure looked like she was jumping and skating like Tonya.

Documentary Feature: Icarus

An interesting expose into the doping within sports, most notably Olympic athletes by the Russians, this is a well-done documentary that plays like a thriller.

Costume Design: Beauty and the Beast

Great costuming, and so many different styles of dress really helped tell the classic story.

Director: Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water

He made this monster movie that is so much more fit together perfectly.

Cinematography: The Shape of Water

Beautiful visuals, from the opening scene to the last.

Supporting Actress: Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird

A nuanced performance of a demanding mother with heart not quite ready to let go.

Actress: Sally Hawkins, The Shape of Water

The range of emotion she gives in this superior film is extraordinary. And without talking. Wow.

Picture: The Shape of Water

This is the one that will be remembered for years to come, and watched again and again.

Who do you want to win in your favorite category?

Enjoy the Awards show, and I’ll post again later in the week.

Saturday, March 03, 2018

Get Out

Although I had heard some things regarding the Academy Award nominated film Get Out, I wasn’t really all that well informed about what the movie was about. Described as horror-comedy and social thriller, it is everything this type of film should be: a knuckle biting, writhing in your chair experience, with you and your fellow moviegoers whispering, “Get Out” as the film progresses. The film is rated R for violence, bloody images, and language including sexual references.

Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya) is an African-American photographer who has been dating a white woman, Rose Armitage (Allison Williams) for four months. She insists on taking him to her parents’ home in the secluded countryside for a weekend.

Things are strange right from the start of Chris’s visit. Rose’s father Dean (Bradley Whitford) and mother Missy (Catherine Keener) seem typical parents, kind of clueless as to how their conversation and actions may be perceived by Chris. Their live-in help are even stranger: two African-Americans, Georgina (Betty Gabriel) and Walter (Marcus Henderson) who are just plain odd. Chris is an observant young man and notices the incongruent behavior immediately.

Chris has a friend who works for the TSA, Rod Williams (LilRel Howery), who had warned him prior to his leaving the city not to take this trip. The situation at the Armitage estate becomes crazier and crazier, and eventually the sheer terror of Chris’s situation takes hold of him. These people are up to no good.

Get Out has been nominated for four Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Director for Jordan Peele, Best Actor for Daniel Kaluuya, and Best Original Screenplay, written by Jordan Peele. As a first time director, Mr. Peele did a fantastic job. He also did a fantastic job writing the screenplay; it is so tight and well thought out, and I really admired it. There is just the right amount of fear and comedic relief in this horror story. His vision to show what it is like for African-Americans, the stereotypes and the actual harm others can wish on them, is shown here along with the more sci-fi aspects of this very evil family Chris finds himself stuck with for the weekend.

The film had a kind of feel I recalled from seeing The Stepford Wives long ago. Walter and Georgina, and a guest at a party the Armitage’s host particularly had that same vacant expression on their faces, which really made me wonder what was going on. When it is revealed what this family is doing, it was truly horrific.

I saw Get Out in the theater and enjoyed my fellow movie lover’s reactions. We were all held glued to the screen by this story. All the actors did a marvelous job at their really quirky characters, and I especially enjoyed the performance of LilRel Howery who played TSA agent Rod. Will Chris get out okay? And will Jordan Peele or Daniel Kaluuya get out of the Academy Awards ceremony with a coveted award? Watch and see for yourself.