Thursday, August 26, 2010

New this week:

Back-up Plan
Zoe wants a baby, but has a problem letting anyone get close to her. The perfect solution is to become artificially inseminated. Shortly after she conceives twins, she finally meets the man of her dreams. Will he stick around when he finds out?

City Island
Vince Rizzo is a lifelong resident of the tiny, tradition-steeped Bronx enclave of City Island. A family man who makes his living as a corrections officer, Vince longs to become an actor. Vince would rather let his wife believe his weekly poker games are a cover for an affair than admit he is secretly taking acting classes in Manhattan. When Vince is asked to reveal his biggest secret in class, he inadvertently sets off a chaotic chain of events that turns his mundane suburban life upside down.

Jesse Stone: No Remorse
Jesse starts moonlighting for one of his friends after he is suspended. He investigates a series of murders in Boston that he believes are all connected to a notorious mob boss.

Lost: the complete third season
As the power of the island to both heal and destroy comes into sharp focus, the lines between good and evil are blurred and loyalties are challenged when the survivors of the crash become tangled within the lives of the Others.

Road Warrior
Story is set in the post-nuclear outback of Australia where a battle is raged by a tiny band of civilized survivors and a group of barbarians over a precious cache of gasoline.

Temple Grandin
An engaging portrait of an autistic young woman who became, through timely mentoring and sheer force of will, one of America's most remarkable success stories.

True Blood: the complete second season
Welcome back to Bon Temps, home to mystery, Southern sensuality, and dark secrets. Tara finds herself in love and under a spell; Sam puts his trust in an unlikely ally; Jason becomes involved with an anti-vampire sect; and Eric recruits Sookie to investigate the disappearance of a 2,000-year-old vampire.

Friday, August 20, 2010

What I've been watching:

Jennie: Lady Randolph Churchill
Originally made in 1975 and presented on PBS Jennie is the story of Winston Churchill’s mother. The production qualities of the DVD seem a bit like a filmed theater set with the sound diminished when the actors’ back is turned. In spite of this, the film presents a remarkable story winning many awards in its time for both the film and for Lee Remicks performance.

Clint Eastwood is a great director and you can always count on his films to be good. This was no exception. I was impressed that both Freeman and Damon disappeared into their characters. This was a film about a great man and an important event—it was not a star vehicle. Bravo Clint!

I hadn’t heard of this film before and I don’t know why. It was truly an exciting, edge of your seat film. It was also a film that makes you think and leads to a great discussion. Just what was unthinkable in this film? Let me know what you think.

Marilyn Hotchkiss’ Ballroom Dancing and Charm School
At the request of a dying man, a widower attends a dance class. Here he not only learns to dance but also gains the confidence to overcome his loss and to become a participant in life again. This was a somewhat sad but mostly charming little movie.

Hot Tub Time Machine
Four guys take a trip to their old 1986 hangout/ski lodge. They get in the hot tub, get drunk, spill some kind of weird liquid into the hot tub motor and find themselves back in 1986 where they have to re-live this eventful night or they will not be able to return to the present. Sounds familiar…have I seen this before? Kind of reminds me of Back to the Future. Anyway…this film also reminded me just how old I am which is too old to appreciate gross humor. I love John Cusack but projectile vomiting on a poor little squirrel just isn’t funny. Even Cusack looked a little uncomfortable in this film. I know it’s a funny film and it has a nice ending but it doesn’t make any of my best of… lists.

North Face
In 1936 Germany wanted to impress the world by being the first country to reach the peak of Mt. Eiger in Switzerland. Two young men, experienced climbers both, set out—not for the glory of their country, but as a challenge to themselves. This was an extremely exciting, well-made movie. I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen!

Greenberg, Ben Stiller, gets out of a psychiatric hospital and has a hard time connecting with people. And….? I’m not sure what the fuss was about this movie. I thought it was a little film about not much of anything. Yes, I found Greta Gerwig’s Florence to be an endearing character but so what? I need a story to grab onto and I couldn’t find one in this film.

A Prophet
I wasn’t sure I wanted to see this film—I mean who wants to see yet another prison film? But I found that once I started watching I couldn’t stop. The story is about a young Arabic man in prison. He is trapped by the “head” prisoner, the leader of the Corsican gang, and forced to work for him, both as a servant and doing dangerous jobs including killing another prisoner. As time passes he becomes more important to the Corsican leader, doing more and more dangerous jobs, and because he is smart, he figures out all the angles to become the “head” prisoner himself. The cinematography was sensational! He did some interesting things with the visual look of the film including presenting the visions, or dreams, sometimes in a sepia tone, half screen, slowed down fast motion (?). I really can’t describe it but it was really cool! I found the film mesmerizing.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

New this week:

The attractive, intelligent and spoiled Emma Woodhouse lives with her hypochondriac father on an English country estate. Content with running the house, Emma has no interest in a marriage of her own; however, she fancies herself a skilled matchmaker following the marriage of her former governess, Ann Taylor, to widower Mr. Weston, a union for which Emma claims credit. Encouraged, Emma embarks on a career as Cupid, much to the dismay of Mr. Knightley, Emma's brother-in-law and neighbor. Failing to heed Mr. Knightley's warnings, Emma soon finds she knows much less about the workings of the human heart (including her own) than she thought.

After her simple-minded son is tried and convicted for murder, a single mother, believing her son to be innocent, sets out to find the real killer. “Mother is an alluring piece of work, an artful whodunit that melds shrewd plotting with resourceful camera work and sympathetic characters that are fascinatingly, morbidly off.”—San Francisco Chronicle

The Tudors: Season 2
After failing to have his marriage to Katherine annulled, Henry appoints himself the head of the Church of England. Anne Boleyn insists that Henry remove the Queen from the picture. A royal visit to France finally prompts Anne to consummate her relationship with Henry. After failed attempts to have his marriage annulled, Henry's patience finally wears out and he marries Anne in secret. The king and new queen are disappointed that their first child is a girl, whom they christen Elizabeth.

Friday, August 6, 2010

New this week:

The Wind Journeys
For most of his life, Ignacio Carrillo travelled the villages of northern Colombia, playing traditional songs on his accordion, a legendary instrument said to have once belonged to the devil. He eventually married and settled in a small town, leaving the nomadic life behind. But after the traumatic death of his wife, he vows never to play again, and embarks on one last journey to return the instrument to its rightful owner.

More musings about movies

This summer I’ve seen several good films. Last week I saw The Girl Who Played with Fire. I got there a bit late but had the good luck to sit next to a couple of my friendly library patrons! This film is the sequel to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and was very good. But, having read the books, this story definitely leads up to the next one in the series: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest. I loved reading the trilogy and the Swedish film versions are great! I’m a little worried about the American versions due to come out in 2011. I can’t imagine the films being made with Hollywood stars! Daniel Craig (James Bond) as Mikael Blomkvist! That’s Hollywood for you: let’s make it an action film with lots of special effects and CGI! Oh Boy!
Two weeks ago I saw Inception. It’s a Hollywood film with special effects and CGI but boy, was it ever exciting! I was sitting on the edge of my seat for the whole film! When Hollywood is good, it is really good but unfortunately, Hollywood films often seem to depend on the special effects and the star power rather than having a good story to tell. Inception was the exception though.
Then 3 weeks ago it was Solitary Man with Michael Douglas in a stand-out performance about a macho man beyond his prime. It’s not an upbeat film but it had some truth and some depth in it. I thought the Danny DeVito character was great and very wise. This is the kind of film I think actors must love to make because they have a role they can really sink their teeth into. Bravo performances all around!
One month ago it was The Secret in Their Eyes, an Argentinian film. This one was really great: it was a mystery which is the genre I most love. A retired lawyer begins researching the case he couldn’t solve and which has haunted him ever since. The performances were great, the story was great: everything about this film was perfect! I can’t wait until it’s out on DVD so I can recommend it to people. It won the Oscar for best foreign film and it truly deserved it.
Before that, I saw City Island, a film about a family with a big honesty problem. It was a cute and fun movie. My favorite scene has all of the family members hiding from each other to steal a smoke. It was a very funny film.
I will be buying all of these films for the library as they become available on DVD. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Musings on movies

I actually prefer to see my films in a movie theater. The magic of the silver screen still holds for me in spite of the high ticket and concession prices and the boring building construction. I still like to sit in a dark room with a bunch of strangers all focusing on the same thing. My preference is to get there early, buy my food and/or drink, get a good seat and wait for the film to begin. Occasionally I’ll get lucky and overhear an interesting conversation from the people sitting around me. I’ll never forget seeing Sex, Lies and Videotape at a theater in Cape Cod. We arrived a bit too early and sat in front of two senior couples. One of the couples asked the other how they had met. Thus began a long and delightful story of dating in 1940’s NYC, taking long subway rides just to see each other. They apparently realized we were listening in because they said at one point that these kids must think they were very old-fashioned. I turned around and assured her that I thought it was a fascinating story. I liked the movie a lot but the story beforehand was even better. But, after the movie, as we were leaving the theater, I overheard one man say to another “We need a young Robert Redford type for our film and this guy (James Spader—the star of Sex, Lies and Videotape) might be just what we’re looking for.” You just never know what you’ll overhear in Cape Cod!
When I’m not on vacation I prefer to see films at the Spectrum Theater. Not only do they get more of the foreign and independent films that I like but I don’t have to go to the mall, walk through the mall, walk through a cavernous lobby, spend $$$ buying food and/or drink, then walk down a long hallway, just to get to my seat. If I do go to a film at the mall, I prefer to go to the first show on a weekday when no one’s there. When I saw the film Babies it was just me, another woman and her baby. It seemed appropriate to have a baby in the audience at that particular film and the baby noises didn’t bother me at all.