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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!

Thursday, February 21, 2019

The Favourite

The Favourite is not Academy Award material in any way, shape or form. I suspected this after watching the trailer, but then I thought I’d give it a try. How wrong can the Academy be? Plenty wrong.

It is a period piece in the time of Queen Anne of England. Several of the characters were indeed real people in her court, but they were given very different lives in this film. The Favourite is basically about very spoiled rich people doing nothing at all noble or worthwhile in their lives. Too much money and free time make for some very selfish, self-centered people.

Queen Anne (Olivia Coleman) finds herself in a triangle with two of her subjects, Sarah (Rachel Weisz) and Abigail (Emma Stone). Sarah and Abigail are cousins, and Sarah gives down and out on her luck Abigail a job in the court. They soon are at each other’s throats, Abigail wanting to insert her way into a secure “good” life at the castle.

The film was nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress Olivia Coleman, Best Supporting Actress for both Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone, Best Original Screenplay, Cinematography, Production Design, Costume Design, and Film Editing. Did they just want to nominate a British film to round things out at the Awards? There is really nothing of redeeming value in this film, although individual people may have done a good job with what they were asked to do.

Did you see The Favourite? What did you think of the film?

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World

Seeking A Friend for the End of the World is a really nice romantic comedy that my husband and I watched for Valentine’s Day. The title might make it seem like it could be depressing, but it is far from that. I found it to be an uplifting, sweet story. It is rated R for language including sexual references, some drug use and brief violence. (My husband later told me he didn’t like the film as much as I did, and in fact found it rather depressing. So, I think you will either love or hate this film.)

The world is basically given three weeks to live after a last ditch effort to avert a giant 70-square mile meteorite from hitting the earth fails. Once the meteorite hits the planet that will be the end for life as we know it. Dodge (Steve Carell) hears this announcement with his wife Linda (Nancy Carrell), who promptly leaves him.

The news of the impending extinction of the species is met with various reactions amongst the hapless humans. Some veer into unbridled sex and partying, others become suicidal, and even go so far as to ask for help from a hit man to kill them. Dodge’s neighbor Penny (Keira Knightley) is distraught and wanting to see her family who is across the ocean in Britain, and having trouble with her on again/off again boyfriend Owen (Adam Brody). Dodge and Penny team up to survive, as some of the citizens are looting like crazy and destroying everything in sight.

Their journey together is sweet as they come to know each other better, despite a bit of an age difference (Dodge initially is put off by this, but I didn’t think it that strange that they’d be attracted to each other). What else do you do when you know death is imminent? Make amends and patch old grudges with family members and ex’s.

The action takes place on the East coast of the U. S. and as the people retreat to their homes, stillness sets in that is somehow calming. I recently read the apocalyptic novel, The Stand by Stephen King and I found myself thinking about his story as this film progressed. His story is of course a very dark drama, but a similar question is asked: if the worst were happening, what would people do? Rise to a higher moral and ethical ground, or regress to become just a bunch of live for today hedonists?

I liked this film, and Steve and Keira do a great job with their roles. Steve especially shows such subtle emotion on his face and with his actions; he is a really skilled actor. What would you do if you knew the world was ending in three weeks? You know it will end for you someday, probably not all at once like in this film, but someday. Live every moment present, wouldn’t you? That is what Seeking a Friend for the End of the World suggests to me.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

BlacKkKlansman

Spike Lee holds a mirror up to American society in his excellent film BlacKkKlansman. The film is based on the true story of Ron Stallworth, the first African-American police officer in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The film was nominated for six Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Director Spike Lee, Best Supporting Actor Adam Driver, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Original Score by Terence Blanchard, and Best Film Editing. It is rated R for language throughout, including racial epithets, and for disturbing/violent material and some sexual references.

Ron Stallworth (John David Washington) and his fellow officer Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver) infiltrate the local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan. While Ron talks to clan members on the phone, including David Duke (Topher Grace), Flip attends the group’s meetings, target practice and pool games as Ron. He is suspected of being Jewish, which he is. Almost found out several times, it is a dangerous operation they’ve worked their way into. The local chapter of the KKK is suspected of planning a terrorist attack against the black student union at Colorado College. 

There is much tension and suspense in this film, as well as some really great moments between Ron and Patrice (Laura Harrier), president of the black student union. It is really disconcerting hearing the racial epithets and negative talk coming out of Ron’s mouth, a black man with his own trials living in the 1970’s.

I’ve always liked Spike Lee’s films and this one is another very finely crafted story. He deserves Best Director this year for this very timely film.

Did you see BlacKkKlansman? What did you think of the film? Do you think it should win Best Picture too?

Saturday, February 09, 2019

Black Panther

Black Panther has been nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Original Song, Production Design, Costume Design, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, and Original Score. It is rated PG-13 for prolonged sequences of action violence, and a brief rude gesture. I don’t follow Marvel films, rarely see them, and I’m not really interested in action, super-hero films.

But I watched it (on streaming Netflix) due to all the buzz about its nominations this award season. As expected, it is a super-hero movie, with all the high tech wizardry the film industry has perfected in order to make other worlds seem almost plausible.

Where this film is unique is in its characters, who live in Wakanda, an entirely black community deep in Africa, hidden from the rest of the world. The story briefly travels to LA where some of the Wakandans had lived. Some things I liked about the movie was how the warrior-king, the Black Panther, time travels with the aid of a medicinal drug to speak to his ancestors. These are some of the most moving scenes. I also enjoyed a bit of a nod to James Bond movies, where T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) and his companions run into a CIA agent (Martin Freeman) where the intrigue turns into spy kind of antics. 

I also really liked the ending where T’Challa is speaking to the United Nations with a message that taken a certain way could be important to our times. (Be sure to stay tuned for this, as it occurs after some ending credits.) The fighting was boring, as usual.

Did you see Black Panther? Do you like super-hero action films, and did you think this one broke out of the genre?

Tuesday, February 05, 2019

Roma

Roma, by Alfonso Cuarón, has netted 10 Academy Award nominations, all very well deserved. A stunning film in black and white cinematography, it is one incredible look over a year in the life of a middle class family in Mexico City in the early 1970’s. The film is rated R for graphic nudity, some disturbing images and language.

The Academy Award nominations include Best Picture, Best Foreign Language Film, Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Actress Yalitza Aparicio, Best Supporting Actress Marina de Tavira, Best Original Screenplay, Best Production Design, Sound Editing, and Sound Mixing.

Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio) is a dedicated nanny/maid, and serves the family she works for in any way she can. The family’s father is a physician who is not often at home, and his four children and wife Sofia (Marina de Tavira) are mostly left to fend for themselves with the assistance of their “servants.” I found Cleo to be a self-aware young woman with strengths perhaps she didn’t even know she had at the beginning of the year in Roma.

I recall watching two other of Cuarón’s films, Y Tu Mamá También, and Gravity (for which he won Best Director). Very different films, and both wonderfully innovative. In Roma, I found myself wondering about his choices. There is nothing in a screenplay that is unintentional, and there are surprising situations and relationships that the film depicts. Not once did I feel anything was less than the truth about a fictional family. What women endure.

Have you watched Roma? It is easy to see as it is on streaming Netflix. How did you feel after watching it?

Saturday, February 02, 2019

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

A Netflix original, I thought The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society might make a good romantic film to watch. It was. The film is rated TV-14.

It is 1946, and London is struggling in the aftermath of the bombings they endured during World War II. Juliet Ashton (Lily James) is an ambitious writer and author. She has a handsome American boyfriend, Mark Reynolds (Glen Powell), and a somewhat demanding publisher, Sidney Stark (Matthew Goode). She receives a letter from Dawsey Adams (Michiel Huisman), a man living on Guernsey, a British island in the English Channel that was occupied by Nazi Germany during the war.

She begins a correspondence with Dawsey, and crosses the English Channel to see Guernsey and this literary society for herself, hoping to get a really great story out of it.

Although we see courage and even heroism in the flashbacks to the occupation, war is not a glamorous time. The children on Guernsey were sent away for their protection just as the children of London were sent to the country to protect them from the barrage of Nazi bombings.

What made the story that much more interesting was the historical background of World War II. Although a fictional tale, it is historical fiction with certain details true to the times. I recommend The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society if you like a story from this era. Be sure to have some tissue handy!

Have you seen this film? Do you think it recreated the times convincingly?

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

First Reformed

Not everyone will want to watch this serious drama. It was written by Paul Schrader, screenwriter of several Martin Scorsese films, including Taxi Driver. First Reformed was nominated for Best Original Screenplay at this year’s Academy Awards, Schrader’s first nomination. It is rated R for some disturbing violent images.

Reverend Ernst Toller (Ethan Hawke) is the minister at the historical First Reformed Church in upstate New York. Unlike the nearby mega church, shepherded by Reverend Jeffers (Cedric Kyles), Toller’s services are sparsely attended and the building itself, as a historic landmark, mainly attracts sightseers.

Mary (Amanda Seyfried), a young parishioner, asks Toller to speak with her husband Michael (Philip Ettinger). He is a depressed young man, and a committed environmental activist. Once Toller meets Mary and Michael, his life changes in unforeseen ways.

I read that Paul Schrader considers First Reformed his masterpiece. It grapples with questions of faith, forgiveness, and morality, especially in the area of environmental care versus degradation. Do we choose despair or hope in these times? The story contrasts the two congregations and how different they are quite effectively; the one outdated and traditional, the other hip and trendy. The mega church seems overly fixated on expansion with wealthy donors of questionable financial dealings funding the bill. Reverend Toller on the other extreme, is a thoughtful religious man, with his own personal pain, and physical concerns that worsen over time.

I thought the actors all did a good job with their roles. The screenplay was thoughtful, up until the ending that was confusing and very strange. Did you see First Reformed? What did you make of that ending?

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Bohemian Rhapsody

I’ve been a fan of Queen ever since I first heard the opening voices of Bohemian Rhapsody. In 2005, I was fortunate to spend a week in Las Vegas, and attended the musical We Will Rock You. Entirely based on the music of Queen, it was a stage extravaganza complete with stomping to the iconic title song. I loved it.

As I did the film Bohemian Rhapsody, chronicling the genesis of the British band Queen, and most notably, the life and times of their lead singer, Freddie Mercury. It is rated PG-13 for thematic elements, suggestive material, drug content and language.

The film won Best Motion Picture - Drama (why not best musical, go figure?), and Best Actor (Drama) for Rami Malek at the Golden Globes. As Freddie Mercury, Rami’s performance was outstanding, and I felt myself being pulled into the story so deeply, I forgot I was watching an actor play the charismatic and self-destructive star.

There is a Bohemian Rhapsody Sing-A-Long at a local theater, which I assume means no one in the theater should care if you choose to sing along to the stellar lyrics of the songs being belted out as background, or during the Live Aid concert. Personally, I liked the quiet in the theater, other than the occasional laughter at a funny moment, or the sniffling with tissues during the deeper scenes. The film shows the creative spirit in all four of the band members, and paints a compassionate portrait of the gifted Freddie Mercury.

Academy Award nominations for the film include Sound Mixing, Sound Editing, Film Editing, Best Actor Rami Malek, and Best Picture. Don't let this film pass you by without seeing it in the theater.

Have you seen Bohemian Rhapsody? How did you like it?

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Green Book


The film Green Book won three Golden Globe awards this year in the Motion Picture category: Best Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor for Mahershala Ali, and Best Musical or Comedy. That last category is a strange one. Although this film had comedic elements, it is first and foremost a truthful look at race relations in America in 1962. It is rated PG-13 for thematic content, language including racial epithets, smoking, some violence and suggestive material.

Based on a true story, Tony Lip (Viggo Mortensen), an Italian-American from the Bronx, accepts a position as a driver for Dr. Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) an African-American pianist who heads a musical trio that will be touring in the Deep South. What Dr. Shirley really needs is a bodyguard, as there remains a great deal of prejudice and danger in the South for him. Tony turns out to be the right person to see that he is safe. As they drive across the U. S. in a beautiful new Cadillac and get to know each other, their developing relationship shows how even people of widely different upbringings and social environments can find commonalities in just being human, each deserving of respect and compassion.

I never give a spoiler, and to tell you what the Green Book is would give away something. So you go see it and discover it for yourself. The performances are spot on, and the settings of the early 1960’s brilliantly staged and filmed.

Green Book is likely to be nominated for several Academy Awards, and it is still in theaters. This is one film you shouldn’t miss. Octavia Spencer, Academy Award winning actress, produced the film, and I’m glad she saw fit to help bring this important story to life for us.

Have you seen Green Book yet? Please comment below on how you liked it.