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High School Lover (2017)
Miscast and bad ending
Why is James Franco doing these Lifetime movies? The ironic thing is he acts pretty badly here - the other actors are much more believable. In fact he would have been better cast as the predatory sleazeball than Franoics Arnaud who looks more clean cut.
A teenaged girl gets swept off her feet by an older movie star who begins to obssess about her. Considering he has plenty of other options it doesn't really explain why he needs her so badly. The fater of the girl played by Franco makes a futile attempt to stop the romance.
The ending is one of the weakest in Lifetime history and that's saying a lot. How stupid are the wife and daughter for calling the father before the police? How come the police were slower than Franco in getting to the house? It's just curiosity that made me watch this movie and it was a waste of time.
Evil Nanny (2016)
A cautionary tale like "Pacific Heights"
The cast may not be too familiar but the story is pretty good. Remember the excellent thriller "Pacific Heights" and all the frustration you felt for the couple? Well this is another real estate thriller and the formula works. A crazy arsonist girl poses as a nanny and then refuses to leave a family's home. Sometimes you wonder can the law be such an ass but whatever it is a cautionary tale. Be careful who you let into your home. Double check every thing.
The action is plausible. Only thing is the ending has a rather unbelievable and out of place act of forgiveness.
Worth a watch.
Love Locks (2017)
Beautifully filmed and charming story
Beautiful photography and on location filming in Paris make this Hallmark romance above average and quite charming. A divorced mother played by a still attractive Rebecca Romijn and her daughter - refreshingly not a brat, go to Paris. There they find romance. Jerry O'Connell is her ex boyfriend who owns a pretty hotel there. The theme is the love locks people put on bridges.
The cast is good and surprisingly a real life husband and wife can act in a romance without being irritating. The only fault is Bruce Davison who isn't a convincing French artist.
There are some Hallmark movies that are too perky and cute or the cast is a bit second rate. This isn't one of them. Worth a watch.
Stalked by My Mother (2016)
This is one of the better Lifetime thrillers. There is a protective mother as the title suggests. When her daughter's boyfriend is killed the daughter becomes a suspect. Things seem to point to the mother but how can that be? The good thing is there is a twist that is plausible and things get quite exciting. The twists and turns are actually plausible.
Liked the cast which is quite attractive - liked Danielle Chuchran who is pretty and a good actress.
This is a superior Lifetime movie. When the plot is good it's worth watching.
Natalie is quite right but the movie has some faults
This voyeuristic but fascinating biopic is worth a watch. This movie is pretty intimate. It shows a lot of detail not shown before in depictions of the assassination and the aftermath.
A more linear sequences of events would have been better. The flashbacks weren't good for the momentum of the story.
Of all the actresses to play her Natalie actually is pretty acceptable. She imitates the whisper like voice but sometimes too much so couldn't make out the dialog. Some actresses in recent years eg Katie Holmes and Ginnifer Goodwin were glaringly out of place. Natalie captures her elegance and her small stature is camouflaged well. The actor wo plays JFK doesn't figure much but looks like him. Something about Peter Sarsgaard isn't right for Bobby - not wiry enough.
One major fault is the film score is loud and obtrusive. Something classical would have been better.
Manchester by the Sea (2016)
Loss and broken people
The story covers different aspects of tragic loss both with Casey's character and his nephew. The unique ways of coping with loss are interesting to watch for anyone who has suffered a loss. I didn't like the way the flashbacks were handled. If the brother is alive it's a flashback - but it was confusing and should have been differentiated more clearly.
Casey Affleck plays morose quite well. But I was looking hard to see if his performance was that good or it's just that the character he was playing was tragic and sympathies are with him from the beginning. In the end I think he didn't show that much range of emotion. His facial expressions are kind of limited. Michelle Williams has a small but pivotal role. She performs very well in one highly charged emotional scene with Casey.
It's worth watching with a few very moving scenes.
Alone in Berlin (2016)
Interesting perspective about futile resistance
What did they achieve? After losing their son early in WW2 two German parents decide to fight against the regime by secretly placing anti Nazi cards around town. Emma Thomson and Brendan Gleeson are the parents. Emma is so good at acting sad. They both put on sufficient German accents to be convincing and still understandable. Everybody's favorite German actor Daniel Bruhl plays a Nazi again who is determined to find them.
It's a unique perspective among the recent good German movies. Don't really know what their resistance achieved though. Unless the futility of their resistance is the point of the story. Don't understand why they got to Daniel Bruhl at the end.
Worth watching for Emma.
The Meddler (2015)
Pleasant story about adjusting to a new life
This is a watchable movie about a recent widow who moves from East to West Coast to be with her only daughter who is preoccupied with her screen writing career and her failed romance.
She fills the void in her life by helping out at the hospital and helping her daughter's friends wedding and babysitting.
The story is touching without being overly sentimental. Nothing too dramatic happens so it's realistic enough.
Susan Sarandon looks very young still. This isn't an eccentric character like Sally Field in Hello my name is Doris. Susan is still quite attractive hence lots of men interested in her in the movie. Her suitor is played by JK Simmons. Rose Byrne plays her daughter.
Worth one watch.
Hacksaw Ridge (2016)
A remarkable hero and a remarkable movie
This is the best large scale war movie in years. The screenplay by Robert Schenkkan is emotionally charged and involving. The direction by Mel Gibson is superb. The battle sequences is second to none. Scary and not confusing at all. This movie is a must watch.
The first part shows the childhood and character shaping events of Desmond Doss. It may seem slow to those eager for a typical war movie but his unique personality is what made him different and such a unique hero. His alcoholic father and other reasons why he abhorred violence are made clear. His romance is unlike some movies not annoying at all. Teresa Palmer makes a believable and warm love interest. She reminds of a more salt of the earth K Stew - really purty. His training and the opposition he faced not carrying a gun seems a little too much. Makes you more amazed why he still wanted to fight at all. All this gets a lot of sympathy for the main character emotionally like most Mel Gibson's movies you are 100% behind the hero.
Then the battle begins. That ridge looks pretty daunting. I know it wasn't possible to film in actual locations since the location in Okinawa is very much built over. But the ridge doesn't look like the landscape of Okinawa I guess because it was filmed in Australia. But that doesn't detract much from the terrific battle sequences that are scary and some of the best ever filmed. After the first main battle is over then the heroics of Desmond start and they are just so unbelievable it has to be a true story.
Andrew Garfield is right doing the hillbilly thing well and then the unlikely hero even better. He is perfect for the role. It helps to have recognizable supporting cast like Vince Vaughn, Sam Worthington and Luke Bracey so you can remember who is who when they are fighting.
This is a movie that will leave you spent. If Mel's name didn't carry with it the unfortunate associations with his tirades it ought to bag all the awards.
Whether one supports what Snowden did or not, this movie is watchable, well made and well acted.
Before this movie I wasn't that familiar with what he actually disclosed except that it was overreaching by the NSA spying on everyone including innocent people and friendly countries and their heads of state like Angela Merkel. Oliver Stone does a good job of showing Snowden's story from his beginnings in cyber security to his disillusionment. By the end of the movie the point is clear - the NSA was spying on people for reasons beyond terrorism like economic gain. And the point of the people disclosing the scandal is that invasion of privacy violates our civil rights and undermines freedom and democracy. Also cover up by the NSA CIA and the administration is shown. So the case in support of disclosure is made. For completeness I would have liked some characters arguing against disclosure like if the disclosures compromised terrorist surveillance and let the main characters rebut their arguments.
It helps to watch Citizenfour before or at least know what about the main disclosures because the characters speak very fast and sometimes the viewer can get lost during the technical dialog. Maybe some narration would have helped.
Joseph Gordon Levitt now slightly older looking does a good job of imitating Snowden's voice and manner. He portrays him as calm logical intelligent and sure that what he is doing is right. Shaliene Woodley plays his loyal girlfriend Lindsay.
Nice on location filming around the world including Hong Kong.
Even for people who can't decide if he is a hero or not this eye opening movie make the viewer think about how much we are all being watched. Also about the consequences of whistle blowing.