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Beauty and the Beast (2017)
Disney Needs To Return To Pure Entertainment
Okay, Emma Watson did a great job. Who knew she could sing so well? As did Dan Stevens as the Beast, Kevin Kline as Maurice and Luke Evans as Gaston. Josh Gad as LeFou - this actor has such a charming face, so likable. Why did they have to make him a flaming whatever? For the most part, the cast was wonderful. In so saying, however, frankly I SO love the 1991 animated Beauty and the Beast that there can not possibly be any improvement on it. When I hear 'Mrs Potts' sing, I want to hear Angela Lansbury. When Lumiere sings Be Our Guest, I want to hear Jerry Orbach. Seriously. This is a good version, if a version absolutely had to be made. But did it, beyond having to mix in some liberal views? Here's the thing, Walt Disney must be up there somewhere shaking his head in dismay. Not sure who or what is in charge of the Disney world now, but obviously someone who simply feels compelled to throw in politically correct foolishness to the nth degree even if it means spoiling the movie for thousands and thousands of previous Disney fans. Come on. Stop the insanity and get back to entertainment. Enough with the politically correct spoilage. Get back to 'family entertainment' will you, Disney people?
The Shack (2017)
You Will Come Away From This One Thinking - And Feeling
This is a wonderful family film. Here's a tip for Hollywood. My friend and I go to a matinée pretty much every week. There are sometimes, at most, a dozen, sometimes a half dozen, people in the theater. For this one? The room was a good half full. Now tell me why Hollywood insists on producing nasty, foul, poorly-written and acted pieces of trash all the time? Really. Anyway, this one gives you so much to think about. There are several instances of symbolism in this picture that took my breath away, that brought me to tears. Well written, well-acted, this one is so worth seeing. I am anxious to see it again and trust me, that isn't often the case. I took away from that theater a new feeling and I've thought about several of the lines of dialogue many times since. The truth and the trust of this picture will stay with you. I know it did me. I am always surprised by Tim McGraw. The man can surely sing, but he can also act. He's a natural. Octavia Spencer seems to be in about every movie there is lately - well, not quite but still - however, there is a reason. She is wonderful. She brings her role to life every time. And she most certainly did in this one. Trust me, this is one you want to see. Take your family. Take your friends. Or go alone. Doesn't matter. Just see it.
An Emotional Journey
What a fabulous film! The first half has sub-titles which could turn some off, but shouldn't. It's set in India, they are speaking Indian and it's all when this lad is very young, becomes lost from his brother, his family. Some of it is difficult to watch as, in truth, this sort of thing does happen to so many youngsters there. But it will grab your heart and hold on tight. There should be an Oscar for those 12 or 14 years old and younger. I thought that when Sixth Sense came out and I think it even more with this picture. Sunny Pawar is amazing. He, and his voice, will stay with you well, if like me probably forever. The movie loses the sub-titles and switches to English when this little lost child is adopted by a family in Australia where Nicole Kidman as his new mother is wonderful. This is an emotional movie from beginning to end. Dev Patel is one of my favorites anyway and he literally shines in this picture. Perfection. I felt wrung out, but not unhappy when I left the theater. And this is not a spoiler but you won't discover why the movie is titled Lion until the very end. This one has Oscar winners written all over it.
The Space Between Us (2017)
Asa Butterfield Is Once Again Perfect
I didn't go into this movie expecting much certainly not amazing space shots, or extraordinary visual artistry but I was absolutely taken with this film. Asa Butterfield stole my heart away in the film Hugo and in this picture, he is once again ideally cast. He is wonderful as Gardner Elliot, the first baby born on Mars, trying to find himself, love, and what earth is all about. Carla Gugino as 'the best mother he never had' is also perfectly cast. I was impressed, also, by Gary Oldman. Britt Robertson as Tulsa, the street smart kid Gardner connects with on earth is okay, but why is it that every time I look at her I see a young Renee Zellweger before she had her face totally redone and became somebody else? I think it's maybe the mouth, not sure, but I kept seeing Zellweger anyway. Not that she didn't do a good job, because she did. Perhaps a bit over the top on occasion, but that's likely due to her script more than anything. All in all, this is a beautiful story. And I was surprised to see places here on earth with a new eye "What's your most favorite part about Earth?" and the beauty of it all. The sensory overload in Las Vegas was absolutely believable and fitting. I really did enjoy this movie and will likely buy it when it comes out in DVD. I liked it that much.
La La Land (2016)
I Can See Why This Won So Many Awards
I loved this movie. This is not a spoiler but it didn't quite have the happy ending I would have liked. However that didn't change my liking of this film. Gosling and Stone were wonderful. Had absolutely no idea Gosling was such a fantastic pianist. But he most certainly is. A natural. And the music from this movie is wonderful. When you come out of the theater humming the music, it's good. And I did. Here's the thing- instead of the raunchy movies with nothing but foul language in place of real dialogue - why isn't Hollywood making more musicals? It's obvious the public loves them. That we will gladly spend money to see them over and over- and happily buy them when they come out in DVD form. We need more lovely movies like this!
Doctor Strange (2016)
Can't Wait For A Sequel
Okay, I'll start right out by admitting I'm a huge Benedict Cumberbatch fan so went in to this with high expectations. They were met! The role of Captain Strange allowed us to see Benedict change and grow into this character, which he did in splendid fashion. There was not one role miscast in this one. Everyone was terrific! The special effects are phenomenal. And in addition to the action - lots - there is some laugh out loud humor, too. I would have gladly given this movie 10 stars but for one thing toward the end of the picture that I did not like - it made little sense and less logic. No spoiler here, you check if out and see. Also, when I see a movie I like I enjoy sitting through the credits while still wrapped up in what I've just experienced before venturing out into the real world. Was glad I did. This is one of the pictures where you want to hang around for a few instead of bolting out as there's a cool, short scene that you don't want to miss along the way through those credits.
Jack Reacher: Never Go Back (2016)
Tom Cruise Gets Better With Age
There is something so fantastic about the action characters as they gain a few years. Tom Cruise in Reacher, Tom Selleck, loved him in Magnum but he had something solid and special going by the time he got to Jesse Stone, Ben Afflick in his recent action films, Bruce Willis, Harrison Ford, Liam Neesom would love to see Alex Baldwin in another Shadow film - Jeff Bridges, Jeff Daniels, Kevin Costner, Pierce Brosnan, Keanu Reeves
.the list goes on and on and I hate to leave anyone out 'cause there are lots more, but these guys, the ones without resorting to ego-driven plastic surgery anyway, are so much more handsome getting older rugged, attractive faces with character. They seem more believable, much more able to be dependable in an emergency, up to the task of taking out the bad guys, than they did when they were younger. I thoroughly enjoyed Tom Cruise in the latest Jack Reacher picture. And would gladly pay to see another one in the future as he's growing more into the part all the time. Lots of action in this one. The female lead, Cobie Smulders as Turner, was gorgeous enough and tough enough to make a great match for Reacher. Good chemistry between them. Patrick Heusinger made a most convincing villain and Holt McCallany's role was well played, too. I liked this movie.
The Accountant (2016)
I Love A Good Action Film - And This Is A Good Action Film
This has to be one of my favorite movies this year. The part of a math savant, Christian Wolff, was made for Ben Affleck. One of his best yet. Enjoyed the heck out of some of the characters John Lithgow, good to see him in something other than a comedy J.K. Simmons, I could watch him in any part, he is especially good in this one 'cause you don't know quite how to take him until he unfolds his story for you. Jeffrey Tambor, Anna Kendrick, Jon Bernthal as Brax too many good roles to mention. And no slouches either, Seth Lee and Jake Presley, who played the younger versions of Christian and Brax. I really didn't see a badly played part in this one. This is a violent picture, lots of deaths add up, but I'll tell you, it's a good movie and it keeps you involved to the very end. I will see it again and probably end up buying it when it comes out to be bought. I like it that much!
Bridget Jones's Baby (2016)
Zellweger's Facial Contortions Ruin The Film
This is a mediocre movie, that might have been better, primarily due to Renee Zellweger's mugging her way through the picture. Not sure what the reason was, perhaps to show that in spite of having a plastic face she still could purse her lips, frown, and twist her face around just as if it was a real one. Who knows? I know all it did was show the gal can't act but she sure can make faces. Big deal. Patrick Dempsey and Colin Firth were excellent playing total opposites and maybe dad's for Bridget's baby. Emma Thompson, as the doctor, was a hoot and well cast. The music of Ed Sheeran was a delight, too. Altogether, this was a rather cute idea made into something rather on the silly side by Zellweger and the plight of the writers who seem to be of the ilk that think writing a whole lot of f-words as dialogue is sufficient. It isn't. Much of the foul language could have been cut as there was no apparent reason for it other than, like I said, inept writing.
Florence Foster Jenkins (2016)
Should Be Oscar Winners Galore Here
This, in my estimation, is the best picture ever from Streep and from Hugh Grant. Especially from Hugh Grant. His character in this movie had depth and honesty, you felt for and with him. It was acted to perfection. I loved this movie. It made me laugh a lot and cry a little. A gentle romance with both hilarious and heartrending overtones. Can't ask for more than that. Simon Helberg who portrayed Cosme McMoon, the pianist, was adorable and, as with the other two, was extremely well performed. Meryl Streep what can you say about Meryl Streep? Every role she takes on is memorable and unique. But this one is going to stay in my mind for a long time. Longer than any other I believe. And as my 10 star rating indicated, there was not one misstep here for me. If there were minute historical errors, who cares? They had to be so tiny as to make absolutely no difference to the excellence of this picture. Based on a true story of probably the world's worst singer - and if you check, you can actually buy a copy of the record of her performance. This one you really don't want to miss.