Thursday, July 31, 2008

Some quickie recommendations

Some quickie recommendations:


This is an interesting film about 2 people who are limping through life, who help each other in ways unforeseen but with a joyous outcome.

Monsoon Wedding

This is director Mira Nair’s exuberant film about a middle-class Indian family’s’ wedding for their daughter. It is full of life, joy, flowers, love, song, dance and beautiful dresses. I loved it!

Mighty Quinn

Terrific mystery set on a Caribbean island with Denzel Washington as the police chief and Robert Townsend as the suspected killer. Great fun!

Vantage Point

The story of a presidential assassination attempt is told from different points of view. This makes for a very exciting movie!

The Year My Parents Went on Vacation

This story takes place in 1970s Brazil when a dictator ruled the country and PelĂ© was a national hero. 12-yr. old Mauro is left to fend for himself when his parents go “on vacation.” This is a very nice coming-of-age story.


Having read a novel about the rape of Nanking I wanted to know what really happened. This documentary film is a story both of heroism and of tremendous tragedy. It will touch you deeply.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Recent viewings: Lars and the Real Girl, In Bruges, and Definitely, Maybe

While on vacation visiting my 92 year old mother and family we watched a few films.

Lars and the Real Girl was the big hit. It is a love story, kind of… but mostly it is a family drama/comedy. The story is about Lars, a rather odd duck that lives a reclusive life alone in his married brothers’ garage apartment. I’m not sure what the motivation is for Lars to become involved with a mail-order rubber girl named Bianca, but he does. Unfortunately though, he learns that love is not easy when your mate has a life of her own—which Bianca has thanks to the extremely sympathetic community in which they live. The movie is so sweet; it has such a good heart and it is sooo heartwarming to see a film where a family and a community suspend reality for awhile so that they can help one of their own through a difficult time in his life. This is a film that leaves you feeling full of love, peace and joy. How many films can you say that about? This one is a rare treat.

In Bruges is as different from Lars as you can get. It is a black comedy where 2 hired guns have been sent to the beautiful city of Bruges on an unknown assignment. When they finally are given the assignment, it is that one of them must kill the other. Colin Farrell (Ray) and Brendan Gleeson (Ken) play the 2 killers, with Gleeson enjoying the opportunity to be a tourist in an enchanting city and Farrell…well, he’s just funny:
Ray: What's up there?
Ken: The view.
Ray: The view of what? The view of down here? I can see that down here.
Ken: Ray, you are about the worst tourist in the whole world.
Ray: Ken, I grew up in Dublin. I love Dublin. If I grew up on a farm, and was retarded, Bruges might impress me but I didn't, so it doesn't.
You might say that a story about killers killing each other is not a subject for a comedy. Well, you’re probably right, but for those of us just warped enough to be able to overlook the blood and guns and to concentrate on the dialogue, the visuals, and the keystone cops style activity, In Bruges is a hoot! It is very similar to Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels in its humor and outlook. A friend suggested to me that Lock Stock glorified violence. But I have to say that neither of these films left me with the message that crime pays. In fact, quite the opposite. So where’s the harm? I enjoyed these films immensely.

Definitely, Maybe. We watched this one because my mom and sister like romantic comedies and I had read that this was an intelligent one. Well, they liked it because it does have a sweet love story, and I hated it because unrealistic love stories just don’t do it for me. Maybe I get hung up on details but seeing a gorgeous woman working in a bookstore but living in a nice apartment (not an efficiency) in Manhattan with only one roommate! On what planet is this possible! Certainly not in the Manhattan I’m familiar with. I say, if you’re going to make a fantasy, make a fantasy and if you’re going for realism, then get real! For a great realistic love story I don’t know if there are any better than Moonstruck. It’s romantic, it’s real and it’s funny. On the other hand, Enchanted is an enchanting fantasy love story. So make one or the other but don’t mix them please.
All rebuttals welcome.

Monday, July 21, 2008


Here's a review from Lesa C. our wonderful graphic artist ...
I found Flawless to be a mild thriller with a simple and plain plot. Michael Caine, Demi Moore and the 1950’s-themed cinematography were what held my attention. Even at 75 Michael Caine delivers a great performance and Demi Moore was mesmerizing. I hadn’t expected Demi Moore to be as skilled as she was. For me she conveyed the classic elegance of Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s and contrasted it with the sharp edginess of Elizabeth Taylor in some of her more feisty roles. I thought the movie was great, but keep in mind that one of my favorite movies is Rear Window with Jimmy Stewart and Grace Kelly.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

George Carlin

“I think it's the duty of the comedian to find out where the line is drawn and cross it deliberately.”

George Carlin, an influential and very talented comedian, died on Sunday, June 22. Being a baby boomer myself, I grew up listening to Carlin who I felt was the spokesman for our time, or who at least spoke directly to my generation. Besides being a terrific stand-up comedian, Carlin delved into films in the 60’s. His first film was With Six You Get Eggroll (George with Doris Day and Brian Keith! Not what I’d expect!). His second, Car Wash, is more the kind of film in which I would expect to see Carlin. Moving on in his career, he appeared as Rufus in the Bill and Ted movies: Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure and Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey. Some might think those movies are too silly to be good even if they did introduce us to Keanu Reeves, but I personally love them. They are so joyful and innocent it’s hard not to enjoy them. In the 80’s Carlin became the narrator for the Thomas the Tank Engine TV series. Never having watched this series I can’t comment. In 1999 he hooked up with director Kevin Smith and appeared in 3 of his films: Dogma, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back and Jersey Girl. Being a fan of Kevin Smith (I particularly loved his Chasing Amy) I enjoyed all three of these films. Jersey Girl was not beloved by the critics but I found it to be very sweet. I always wondered if it was dismissed because it came out at the height of the Ben and Jen romance. Jen’s character died early in the movie though and was replaced as a romantic interest by a funny and refreshing Liv Tyler. Carlin was the funny and loveable grandfather. I enjoyed the film—there are very few really successful romantic comedies and for me this one worked. When I think about George Carlin I remember him as a funny but astute critic of our time; a wise man with words of wisdom which deserve to be remembered. One of his quotes “Frisbeetarianism is the belief that when you die, your soul goes up on the roof and gets stuck,” makes me wonder if he was a frisbeetarianist and if his soul is indeed stuck up on a roof somewhere. I would welcome his soul to be stuck on my roof.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Guillermo del Toro

Hellboy II is out this weekend which prompts me to think about Guillermo del Toro, director of Mimic, Blade II, Hellboy, Hellboy II, and Pan’s Labyrinth. He was the guest on “Sunday Morning Shootout” last weekend and listening to him reminded me of one of my trips to the Lake Placid Film Festival where del Toro was a guest (this was after Hellboy was made but not yet released). At the festival and anytime I’ve seen him interviewed on TV he strikes me as an extremely intelligent man, remarkably knowledgeable about film and film-making, well-spoken, polite, sincere and very approachable. Ray Harryhausen (producer and visual effects wizard of the 40’s and 50’s; see Jason and the Argonauts, Clash of the Titans and the Sinbad films for examples of his work) was another guest that year and I was so impressed by the respect with which del Toro spoke of and to Mr. Harryhausen. Del Toro struck me as a film personality without a big ego: a genuinely nice person. He spoke of film as the medium that was so important to him as a child, that filled him with wonder and a sense of magic. It is that wonder and magic that he strives to evoke in his films and in my opinion, he does so successfully. I have heard him referred to as the most imaginative director in Hollywood today and whoever said that is right on the money. On Shootout he showed his little book that he keeps with him at all times. It is full of drawings and thoughts about whatever strikes his fancy and hopefully will help him in thinking about his films. He’s an artist as well as a director, writer and producer (The Orphanage). His film Pan’s Labyrinth was an exceptionally wonderful film. Roger Ebert’s review expresses my thoughts much better than I could say them so I recommend reading it for a good critique of the film ( Suffice it to say, it was a truly imaginative, visually stunning work: one which is definitely on my “to be watched again” list.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Movies for a Saturday afternoon

I've been very busy lately with my other hobby: quilting, so I haven't had a lot of time to watch movies. Last weekend however, I had a lot of hand sewing to do so I grabbed a DVD and started watching. First up was The Mighty Quinn a 1989 film with a young Denzel Washington. It is a mystery set in the Caribbean with Denzel as the policeman investigating the murder of a tourist. Robert Townsend stars as Maubee, the assumed killer but is also Washington's childhood friend. Esther Rolle plays a witch and I don't know about you but I love Esther Rolle! She has such a good, strong face. I always like to see her in a film. Although this film doesn't get rave reviews from the critics, it's always been a favorite of mine. Denzel is young and handsome, Townsend plays the boy who never grew up to perfection, the mystery story is involving and the island setting adds some spice. If you're a mystery lover like I am I think you'll like this film.
Next up was director Mira Nair's Monsoon Wedding. This film is about an arranged marriage (the couple have only known each other for 2 weeks), in a Punjabi family. While the father worries about all of the arrangements, the costs, and losing his daughter, the young couple try to get to know each other, family problems crop up, the man in charge of the flower arrangements falls in love with the familys' maid...too much is going on! But the wedding comes off perfectly in spite of the rain! This is an exuberant, joyful film that's fun to watch!
Then Hitchcocks' The Birds came on TV and I couldn't resist watching it again. I really appreciate the old technicolor look. It's different from the color on film today and I just think it looks better. I'm a big fan of Rod Taylor and although I don't think Tippi Hedren is a particularly good actress, with those evil birds around who needs to act! Hitchcock films are always good and this is a less serious, more fun examply of his work. And if you like this one, don't miss Mel Brooks' take-off High Anxiety which satirizes The Birds and many other Hitchcock films. It's hilarious!