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Southern Heart (1999)
Sweet but familiar tale, lacks sparkle, my view, but still is acceptable for romance fans
Collin (Peter DeLuise) works for a mining company. His dad is the big boss, so sometimes Collin feels like a fly caught in a web. However, he does his darn best to please his father. Now, the boss has demanded that Collin travel to a remote area of Alabama and buy some land lucrative for mining. The only thing needed to complete the sale is a good impression from the company representative and nothing is to be said about the reasons for the acquisition. Rather deceptive, no? When Collin and his personal assistant arrive in the small town nearest to the land, both believe they have landed in the sticks. There are truck-taxis and no regard for expensive luggage. When the secretary goes to just buy some purified water at the general store, she finds there is none for sale. However, the outfit's owner wants to recommend a homemade, non-alcoholic tea that will do wonders. It makes the lady sick, whereupon another herbal remedy is advised. Before long, the PA goes back to New York. But, Collin goes to meet the land's owner, Ben Owen (Larry Mize) and is introduced to the daughter named TOMMY (Jamie Hendrix Collins, who also co-wrote the script) first. Mindful of his need to impress, Collin tries to charm this testy woman and fails. It seems she wanted to buy the land herself as a new location for a camp for disabled individuals she runs nearby. The money wasn't there. Yet, after a bad first start, Collin and Tommy meet often and like each other's looks and personalities. When she shows Collin the land, it is a very hilly area so beautiful with trees and grasslands that even he has doubts about this mission. Would Mr. Owen really sell this land if he knew what it was destined to become? What if the secret should be sprung? Also, what would his father say and do if Collin backed out of the deal? This is a sweet romance with lovely scenery. The cast is attractive and talented as well. Yet, the script seems very similar to other city-boy-meet-country-girl narratives and lacks an overall sparkle. On the plus side, it has a mild Christian theme that many viewers will welcome. All in all, it is certainly an acceptable film for romance fans. On the next rainy day, why not banish the gray skies with a view like this one?
Despite a "sunny" title, this film is very dark and violent, not for everyone, not even all sci fi fans
Robert (Cillian Murphy) and a crew of ten or so are on the way to the Sun in the ship Icarus II. Its the 24th century and the Sun has lost some of its power. This has made a permanent and dangerous winter on Earth. Awhile ago, Icarus I was sent to the same destination with a nuclear bomb, very large, that would jump start the Sun's power again. Yet, Earth lost contact with Icarus I and the Sun didn't change. The assumption was made that Icarus I never made it to its destination. Now, II is the Earth's last hope. Needless to say, it is a dangerous mission. This is from the harsh realities of outer space, where perils abound. The closer any object gets to the Sun, the hotter things get. Yes, II is designed to withstand this temperature change but accidents can happen. Also, humankind needs oxygen and there is none in the atmosphere beyond the heavens. If someone gets loose on a spacewalk, they will die, and so forth. Strangely, the crew finds out that near the planet Mercury, signals are coming from the lost Icarus I. The II crew wonders if it were possible for the I astronauts to still be alive, given food supplies and other factors. An argument ensues. Some want to try and rescue their fellow humans, others say its too risky. One of the navigators has to recalculate the path of II if they choose this. Alas, an error is made and it sets off a chain of horrific events for some of the crew. Will there be anyone left to complete the mission? This film, made by Danny Boyle, the wonderful director of Slumdog millionaire, will be too dark for some, myself included. It is a true horror-science fiction flick, as is Alien, for example, but the horrors come from the nature of the Universe, not from some toothy monster. Space is a hazardous place to go when the conditions are frightful for human life adapted to the earth. Accidents can and do happen, no matter what the planning. As such, it is definitely NOT FUN to watch someone die from heat, lack of oxygen, or whatever comes along. Therefore, be warned. The cast is quite wonderful, especially Murphy who was the reason this viewer chose to watch it. But, even the most intriguing thespians would take a back seat to the special effects and wonderful sets of an outer space movie. How impressive to see the Sun so "close" to view! But, again, even though the concept is brilliant, the violence precludes it from being "universally" recommended.
Nature of the Beast (2007)
Funny werewolf romcom, yes there is such a thing!
Julie (Autumn Reeser) and Danny (Adam Corson) are engaged to be married and very happy in each other. But, there is a couple of items troubling Jules. One, Danny hasn't yet met her relatives and the wedding is getting closer. Strange. Even more bizarre is the fact that Danny insists on going camping, by himself, a couple of nights each month and refuses to let Julie go with him. Strange again. Yet, one day, Julie puts her foot down. Her family is hosting a party for the couple next weekend and Danny must go. Dan tries throwing out various excuses but none work. So, go he must. But, unknown to everyone, Danny is a WEREWOLF and there is going to be a full moon next Saturday. Complicating matters also is an in-law of Jules who is an insipid television news reporter. When the day arrives, everyone seems to have a great time at the party, although Danny has some odd answers. Yet, although Dan tries to break away from the house when he feels his time is near, Julie discovers his big secret, the only family member to do so. Whoa, this is a bit of a "hairy situation". Yet, after the initial shock, Jules is determined to find a way to save the man she loves. Will she be successful? What a darling romcom this is, with quite an unusual twist. The script has many funny lines and situations and an attractive young cast. Originally a television movie, it nonetheless deserves its own DVD and resulting larger audience. If you long constantly for one more romantic comedy, this little flick will satisfy you for a evening ahead.
This 'Her" , moi, liked and admired this movie greatly, so nice to discover a film that tickles the brain
Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) lives some 30 years in the future. Actually, the world doesn't seem too different, but technology has become even more important. Ted's job is to write love letters for couples or singles who either don't have the time or skills to do a good job. Alas, he has also been in a year of sorrow, after separating from his wife (Rooney Mara). Although true friends tell him constantly there is not hope for a reconciliation, Theodore hasn't given up on the idea. But, he definitely needs a new interest. Voila! There is now an in-home computerized voice "companion" that can be purchased. Thinking this will help him, Ted plunks down the money and sets up the program. At once, a beautiful female voice, who calls herself Samantha (Scarlett Johannsen) begins to work her charm on soothing Ted's heart and mind. In fact, Theodore becomes so attached to his computer program that he starts to view Sam as a real lady. Uh oh, this can't bode well for the future, can it? Maybe so, as Samantha can suggest various ways for Ted to meed new ladies. Also, a longtime pal (Amy Adams) needs Theodore's help, too. Will Ted become a "happy guy" again? This intriguing and lovely film has great enchantment for discriminating movie goers. The cast, especially Phoenix, is excellent; what great work Johannsen does with only a voice as well. The script, costumes, and sets are also quite nice. Best of all, the director has chosen to shoot the flick with very interesting angles and montages, an enormous treat for the eyes. This "Her" here really got a kick out of this film and thinks you will, also.
Not as light-hearted as some of Burns' work, but very insightful; great testimony to the power of forgiveness
Gerald Fitzgerald (Edward Burns, who also wrote, directed and produced this gem) has been the family peacemaker and caretaker for a long time. As the eldest of seven siblings, Gerry took over the role of parent when the father took off twenty years ago. Mother Rosie (Anita Gillette) was devastated and still very bitter. Although all of the kids are now adults, there has never been a family dinner that includes both natural parents. Rosie won't hear of it. So, for two decades, the Fitzgerald clan of three sons and four daughters has seen Dad on and off but always have Holiday celebrations with Rosie. Now, this year is different. Father Skip-out has terminal cancer and he wants Gerald to arrange for the whole family to be together for the Christmas meal. Gerry hoped to talk to the sibs at their mother's birthday dinner, on the 23rd. But, the brothers and sisters started canceling out. One just got out of rehab, one has an abusive husband, one is married to a Jewish man who wants his wife to spend time with HIS family and so on. However, once the kids know about their Dad's condition, they join forces to convince Mother to forgive her ex, at least for a day. Also chiming in are the family priest and a close neighbor lady. Meanwhile, Gerry has met a nice home health aide, Nora (Connie Britton) who is the first woman he has really connected to since the death of his fiancé. Will this be the season of the true spirit of Christ's love? This sharp, insightful movie has its funny moments but deals more often with very serious subjects. What else would anyone expect from the terrific writer/director Edward Burns? The cast is quite large and does fine work, including Burns himself in a pivotal role. The setting in and around Manhattan are Burns' favorites as well. Here is a flick that would set the stage for a family gathering of peace and love, even if your family is enduring quite a bit of upheaval. Isn't that what most long for at holiday times?
Words and Pictures (2013)
Wonderful and Poignant, thank God for a middle-agers romance although teens will like it, too
At a posh New England secondary school, with an ocean setting, English teacher Jack (Clive Owen) is in the midst of a middle age crisis. Only, he doesn't know it. Not yet. Others have observed that he drinks too much and is often a few minutes late to class, with poor lesson planning. To his credit, Jack is extremely dedicated and bright, making the most of his classes and connecting well with students. But, he is headed for trouble. That is, until a new art teacher, Dina (Juliette Binoche) arrives at the academy, cane in hand, for she suffers from rheumatoid arthritis. Needless to say, Jack rubs her the wrong way almost instantly, although it is quite clear that Dina can give tit for tat. After a discussion in her art honors class, students tell Jack that Dina thinks words are far less important and meaningful than pictures. Ho ho, Jack pounces on this pronto. Now, he tells his pupils, this is war and lays out a strong defense of the power of words by reading many meaningful passages of literature. An ultimate challenge of the two dueling forms of communication may lie ahead. In the meantime, Jack is told he is going to be "reviewed" by the board of directors and may be let go. He also is having difficulties with his college age son. Happily, Dina may be showing some romantic interest in Jack. What lies ahead in the battle of words and pictures? This wonderful and poignant movie is most welcome in this age of flicks aimed at young adult males. It offers a romance between middle aged characters and has an alluring, finely written script. Owen and Binoche are pitch perfect in their roles while the supporting cast of Bruce Davison, Amy Brenneman, and well-selected teenage actors are charming, too. The coastal setting is absolutely lovely while costumes, photography, and a worthy direction by Fred Schepisi bring terrific results. Please go support this movie, true-blue film fans. Unless you do, Hollywood won't offer this kind of movie very often.
A very sad but heartfelt film; Brody and the ensemble cast are terrific
Substitute teacher Henry (Adrien Brody) likes his job just fine. Emotionally scarred from a difficult childhood and still dealing with a sick, nursing home-dwelling grandfather, Hank wants as few attachments as possible. Hence, we know the meaning of the film's title. As a sub, he can't truly get to make long term connections with the students or faculty. Yet, he is quietly very good at his profession, gaining respect from his pupils and the district's personnel offices. Things can change. Henry decides to accept a sub position that will last a month, a detour from his routine. Sure enough, Henry wins the attention and admiration of most of his students, especially Meredith (Betty Kaye), who has a troubled home life despite being a promising art pupil. Also, there is an attractive fellow teacher (Christina Henricks) who shows an interest in the new guy. Finally, Henry encounters a teenage hooker-runaway on the subway, Erica (Sami Gayle) and decides to heal her surface wounds and keep her off the streets, at least temporarily. Now, Hank has a bunk mate, which develops into a tentative father-daughter relationship. Unhappily, Henry still suffers from destructive mental flashbacks and his sick dad. Will he truly let himself get out of his preferred state of detachment? This is a sad but powerful film about opening our hearts to good relationships in life and letting go of those that hurt us. Its tricky, yes. As the teacher who wants to shut down his emotions to avoid pain, Brody is excellent. Also fine are the great supporting players, Lucy Liu, Marcia Gay Harden, James Caan, Blythe Danner, Hendricks, Kaye, and Gayle. Gayle, especially, is terrific as the troubled runaway while Kaye, the director's daughter, is quietly heartbreaking, too. The setting on Long Island is bleak enough for the subject matter while the script, which could be called too heavy, makes its points nonetheless. Add on the excellent direction and you find a movie that is hard to forget. No, don't see it if you are having a miserable day yourself but make time for it when you can better handle a sad but richly rewarding tale of teens and the people that instruct them in life.
The Deal (2008)
Here's the deal, this zany movie has its moments
Charlie (William H Macy) is a Hollywood producer who hasn't had many hits lately. Happily, his nephew (Jason Ritter) has written a wonderful script about the British Statesman Benjamin Disraeli. But most of the film financiers don't really want to back a period piece so Charlie tells lady-in-charge Deidre (Meg Ryan) that it will be an ACTION picture. Fortunately, a hot star of the genre (LL Cool J) has just converted to Judaism! Thus, the movie will be titled, Benjamin Disraeli, freedom fighter and set in South Africa. Now, that's taking historical license. But, things go awry. There are many production problems and, then, the star gets kidnapped. Throwing caution to the wind, Charlie and Deirdre decide to make the film the writer penned in the first place. They just won't tell the studio! This is a zany film which moves very fast. Macy and Ryan are a great team, while Ritter, LL, Elliott Gould (what fun his unconventional rabbi is!) and the rest support the leads nicely. Sets, costumes, and rapid-paced direction make for a enjoyable watch. Deal yourself in to view this fine flick soon.
The Christmas Shoes (2002)
This lovely Holiday film will warm hearts while the teardrops fall
In a small city, two families are in trouble. One, headed by hard-working lawyer Robert (Rob Lowe) is experiencing problems caused by Robert's long hours. He and his wife are not getting along and his darling daughter is sad that her father can never seem to make it to one of her school choir events. Arguments ensue between the spouses, also caused by Robert wanting his wife to go back to work so he can get a new car and play looser with the family's money. Meanwhile, heading the school choir is music teacher, Maggie (Kimberly Williams-Paisley). She and her husband, a car repair business owner, have been at odds about getting their tween son a dog, which he longs for. So far, no dog arrives. But, very sad news does. Maggie's heart has been affected by a virus; she has been having trouble breathing. This most important organ is damaged beyond help and she is added to a transplant list. Unfortunately, her rare blood type is going to complicate the process. Finally, Robert's mother is getting up in years and she would so like to have more time with her son. It hasn't happened yet. When Maggie's son is told about the seriousness of his mom's illness, his one wish it to buy her the "most beautiful pair of shoes" in the world, which he spies in a store window. The young boy is on his own raising the money, dad won't help. But, a kind neighbor of his grandma's (Dorian Harewood), just might be able to aid the lad. As Christmas approaches, will Robert learn to appreciate the best things in life? Will Maggie make it to the Big Day? This lovely film has many wonderful lessons about the most important matters in life. No, its not new cars, flashy homes, lucrative but time-consuming jobs or the like. Its loving those closest to us and getting loved right back. As such, love is timeless, too, as people we love are lost yet we hold them in our hearts. This film moved me to a waterfall of tears while warming my heart in a big way. The cast, especially Lowe in a tricky, sometimes maddening role, is very, very nice. Also well chosen are the sets, costumes, and meaningful direction. No, its probably not the movie to choose if you need happier fare. But, do make time for it someday, its a shoe-in for a yearly viewing choice.
Black Coffee (2014)
All right, maybe the movie does have an obvious agenda, but I still liked it as a romantic comedy
Poor Robert (Darrin Dewitt Henson). First, his boss fires him, even though Robert's father actually started the company! It's a surprise. Then, when this handsome man gets home, his mercurial girlfriend declares that she is moving out, since no ring has appeared. It looks like a double whammy for Rob! His crazy, coffee seller cousin Julian (Christian Keyes) is there to help him adjust. But, sometimes things happen for the better. First, Robert can devote more time to his side business and true love, interior painting. His skill can transform office space into something magic. Then, at a secondhand bookstore, Robert spies a beautiful lady, Morgan (Gabrielle Dennis). Although he doesn't get a chance to introduce himself, SHE calls him soon, for she wants her office redecorated, as she is a lawyer. But, curiously, Gabby doesn't seem to want to respond to Robert's obvious interest. All too soon, Robert learns that her ex-husband may want her back and is messing with her mind. Then, Robert finds out that his ex-girlfriend is having an affair with his former boss. So, that's why he was fired! Will Robert be able to win Morgan's affections? Maybe so, as he hatches a brilliant idea in his mind! This movie, to some, has an obvious agenda. African Americans need to become small business owners in order to truly make the big bucks. Yes, this may be a great idea to ponder. But, even when the flick is most blatantly persuasive, there is still a nice romantic comedy at the core. We fans care most about this! The cast is nice, with Keyes, especially, very funny. Also, the setting, costumes, story and direction are quite capable, resulting in an enjoyable watch. If you love your romcoms, like me, pick this one, brew up some coffee and gobble some cookies, too.