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Last Vegas (2013)
Attitude, not age, matters!
Without being nasty or vulgar, LAST VEGAS is humorous and heartfelt. This movie celebrates friendship, especially among four friends who have known each other for more than 50 years. The camaraderie exhibited by these stars is enviable as well as appreciated. They have enjoyed much and suffered much in their lives, apart and together. The movie doesn't dwell on the negative, but it does unfold at a comfortable pace. The actors are perfect for their roles, and each relishes the part he plays. The supporting actors are able to enjoy their time on screen, whether it is for five or fifty minutes. This movie is about family, too, and grown children might understand their parents better seeing this film with or without them.
This is definitely a movie for mature audiences - children will not understand some of the jokes, and parents will become red faced explaining them. In fact, children will probably want to avoid this movie at all costs. Young people from 18 to 30 may not appreciate the depth of the friendships exhibited by these four friends, and they may misunderstand the difficulty of these "old folks" performing some of the day to day antics that they take for granted: dancing, drinking, picking up women. Getting old is neither easy nor fun, but it beats the alternative!
Some may refer to this as HANGOVER on Viagra. I prefer to think of it as "HOW TO ENJOY OLD AGE WITH A BANG." Or maybe it's a first - not last - hurrah to be repeated annually by anyone over 60.
About Time (2013)
Chick Flick for Men
My husband accompanied me, but warned me that he would not stay if it didn't interest him after 15 minutes. He stayed, and gave me the summary, CHICK FLICK FOR MEN.
It's a fantasy because it deals with living in the present and the past at the same time. It's a romance because it's about young love, and love expressed between two people who have been married for a very long time and still feel that spark that brought them together. It's a family film about siblings loving one another so much that one of them might just jeopardize his future to save his sister's life. It's a cautionary tale for those who practice habits that could sicken them or get them killed. It's about life, and truly living one's life even when faced with the prospect of death.
The acting is solid, and Rachel McAdams is lovely and inspiring. The rest of the actors are amazing as well, and you want to believe that it is all real. But the story itself can be so unbelievable. Just go with it. It's like a really high calorie dessert that tastes so good you don't care if you gain five pounds. I enjoyed ABOUT TIME immensely, and I could watch it again and again.
The Fifth Estate (2013)
Thought Provoking Entertainment
If you are familiar with the fourth estate - the press - and the fifth estate - the internet, then you are familiar with the character upon whom this movie is based, Julian Assange. You may not have read the books, which are source material for the script, but you may have read in the newspapers or seen stories on the internet about his WikiLeaks, and the turmoil he caused by leaking sensitive documents. So what kind of surprises can FIFTH ESTATE provide, and how entertaining can such a movie be?
We know that this movie is based on facts, and so one might think that it can only be presented one way - nothing new or exciting. But this perception denies the perspectives of the people supplying the facts, and the Hollywood types that made this movie. So in reality, FIFTH ESTATE twists and turns in many ways different from what you might believe are the facts, and it becomes as entertaining as it is thought provoking. The acting is solid, the storyline seamless and smooth, and the facts as they are presented will encourage discussion and further investigation.
If you like your information about the world presented to you in one format or from one location, you might not care for the way FIFTH ESTATE presents WikiLeaks and its founder and the volunteers who support him. I had no preconceptions before the film, and now, after viewing it, I am keenly interested in finding out more about what really happened when so many incriminating documents were leaked on the internet by the movie's main character. This is one film for people who think, and as such, I enjoyed it. In the theaters, this film does have an ending, but not in real life. Since it is still ongoing, I am now going to keep reading and learning about this fascinating person and his mission to reveal the truth about everything.
Captain Phillips (2013)
2009 Event Comes Alive on Big Screen
My husband wanted to see this film more than I. The actual event in 2009, as all pirate/hostage events in the news, angered and frustrated me. Why would I want to see the Somali pirates capture an American cargo ship, threaten its crew, and psychologically damage them for life? AGAIN! But I went, and I'm glad I did. The movie starts slow, wraps you in warm, fuzzy family moments, and sets up the relationship of captain to his crew & Somalis' motivation for pirating vessels. The action, when it starts & it starts quickly, made my heart race. Overall, it made me think about why people do the things they do when they are put in situations that they choose or are chosen for them. I didn't want to feel anything for the pirates, but I felt some sympathy for them. I felt admiration, respect, and pride in the captain and crew of the cargo ship, and our Navy, which ultimately helped rescue them. I felt great sadness for Captain Phillips and for his ordeal. Had I not known the outcome, I don't think my heart could have handled the stress and anxiety throughout the movie. CAPTAIN PHILLIPS is an excellent film, with fine actors and a tightly written story. It is based on a real event, and feels more like a documentary than a dramatization.
The Student Prince (1997)
Delightful romance featuring one of my favorite actors
It has Robson Green; it has to be good. Tara Fitzgerald & Rupert Penry-Jones are added bonuses. I thought of other films that captured the Cyrano premise encapsulated in this film. Also, education and Shakespeare are revealed to be important to all of us: rich and poor, dropout or higher educated. No matter what, there will always be films that have been done poorly, and this is not one of them. There will be films done a little better. Think for yourself, and you might agree with me that this one is a little better than most - especially of the USA variety. STUDENT PRINCE is so charming, and its storyline so unforced. The laughs are not belly busters, but the humor is charming, sophisticated, and heartfelt. It was a perfect afternoon diversion: mind elevating and memorable. It's a chick flick that might be appreciated by significant others looking for romance tips and techniques. British, and jolly good!
The Great Debaters (2007)
THE GREAT DEBATERS is a movie-going treat, with young people exemplifying truth, respect, pride and dignity. In an entertaining way, with some preaching, this movie shows four African-American debaters succeeding in the face of adversity, growing stronger with success AND defeat. Their debates are lively and thought provoking.
However, before, during and after these contests, other serious and complicated issues are revealed. Two of these issues deal with a confrontation on the road between two farmers and a minister, and a lynching in the middle of the night. Both are reflections of the time, unsettling and disturbing to those in the movie and in the audience.
This is not family entertainment, nor is it mindless entertainment. It has no gratuitous sex, but there is a hint of romance. It is fast paced, but the action is verbal not physical. THE GREAT DEBATERS lives up to its name in that it has something for everyone, and not everyone will like it. I recommend this movie to anyone who enjoys a quality film that will be debated by all who see it!
Complex, Thought-provoking & Intense "Entertainment"
This movie demanded my full attention. It is NOT mindless entertainment, nor is it a movie to recommend to just anyone. Every character is essential, and is impressive in his or her role. Reese Witherspoon is mesmerizing as the distraught, pregnant wife of the missing husband. As is to be expected, Meryl Streep plays ruthless and despicable to perfection. Neither can exist without the other, and they are together in only one heart breaking scene.
This is a painful movie to watch and think about: gut wrenching torture scenes; extremist zealots spouting love of God to excuse their violence; zealous politicians spouting love of country to excuse their disregard for one citizen's rights to protect thousands of innocents. This isn't mind diverting entertainment; this is maddening reality occurring daily.
If you are looking for a movie that engages your brain, and preys on raw emotions, see this movie. It is educationally stimulating, and challenges all of us to question our beliefs about our country's "war on terror."
Sydney White (2007)
Dorks are Delightful!
Cheesy, corny, cute, & sassy, spunky, senseless fun - everything you might want in a movie especially if you are not a fan of the "usual movie fare" (somber or slasher or stupid). Even though you've seen this story before (It IS loosely based on Snow White.), and the cast of characters seem as familiar as the girl next door or a high school musical, I was transported back in time to college days I'd thought I'd forgotten. Being able to identify with the central characters endeared them to me. Of course, if you don't identify with characters who exemplify one of the seven dwarfs, a wicked witch, and/or a college ingénue, you will probably leave the theater with the taste of a rotten apple in your mouth.
Sometimes Amanda Bynes seems a little too saccharine-sweet. As Sydney White, she is wide-eyed innocence personified. She's just too good to be true. But this is a fairy tale, right? Then why did the college rituals seem so real and make me squirm uncomfortably? Why did the fairy tale ending leave me hopeful, even though it seemed so unlikely and impossible? Can the little guys the dorks of the world really find happiness in a Greek (not Geek) college world? Maybe.
If you like fairy tales especially with a Prince Charming, a wicked witch and a too-good-to-be-true heroine this is the movie for you, your significant other, and friends and family members who root for the underdogs!
ENCHANTED lives up to its name!
Almost everything about the movie is enchanting from its two locations ("happy ever after" Andalasia vs. "happy never after" New York City) to its multi-dimensional characters (campy cartoons vs. reality survivors). Pip, the endearing chipmunk, steals the show in both worlds. Amy Adams, as Giselle the intrepid, out of her element Princess, is a perfect foil for Patrick Dempsey's Robert, the staid and logical NYC lawyer who attempts to help her find her way home. Both have true loves, but their providential meeting alters their perceptions not only of love, but of friends, family, and life in general.
The stereotyping of characters, and some continuity errors, were a little disconcerting. Yet the metamorphosis of those characters into believable people, and the engaging storyline, eradicated all of these concerns.
If you love fairy tales with inevitable happy endings, see this movie. ENCHANTED is a movie in which almost everyone finds his or her true heart's desire, which could be exasperating for cynics, anyone who has no interest in romantic love, and those who abhor show stopping musical numbers.
The Perfect Holiday (2007)
Less than PERFECT HOLIDAY
Queen Latifah is the reason we attended the advance screening of PERFECT HOLIDAY in our area. If she is your only reason for viewing this movie, you might be as disappointed as we were. My husband would have bolted after 15 minutes, but in deference to me, he sat through the entire movie. He did laugh once, towards the end of the movie, at a cryptic comment uttered by Terrence Howard's character in front of a closed outlet mall. I won't spoil the movie for you by telling you the line, but you will probably laugh, too. Speaking of Terrence Howard, he must have owed Queen Latifah BIG TIME to appear in this movie, especially as the humbug to her holiday.
The movie has some warm, touching moments, with a little bit (very little bit) of comedy and (more than a little bit) love. It is just too bland and average to warrant a night out, especially at today's ticket prices. Wait for the DVD, or better yet, wait for cable (unless you really have to see the Queen). Please don't spoil your perfect holidays by going out of your way to see this movie.