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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
In modern times, a boy in Wales is sad that its raining outside, not snowing, for it is the night before Christmas. Fortunately, his grandfather (Denholm Elliott) is there to tell him stories and to help pick out the gift the little boy will be able to open on the Eve. Thus, Grandpa begins reflecting on his own Christmases past, when he was a boy. For one, there was always snow! (Admittedly, his memories are somewhat biased). Also, G-papa recounts the time he and his friends spent throwing snowballs at unsuspecting cats and trailing the postman as he trudged through the snow. One Christmas, there was a smoky fire in a neighbor's house and the boys had to run to the phone booth and summon the firefighters. When they came, much water was sprayed, as dishes and other fine objects hit the ground. Turns out, it was a pipe the gentleman of the house left burning in his easy chair! Then, there were toy soldiers to play with, walks on the chilly beach (the man's village was right on the sea), home-made nose muffs to wear, and pranks played on various relatives. What a beautiful place and time for remembrance among those folks in the present! Admittedly, this viewer would probably never have sought this film out if it had not appeared on a collection disc with other movies. Quite a mistake that would have been! The words of the poet Dylan Thomas are the foundation of the tale, for he wrote it, and the beauty of the prose can not be overstated! Then, too, Elliott makes a terrific narrator and the other actors do nicely as well. The setting is likewise lovely, an ocean village in the country of Wales. What a treat to see the scenery, costumes, and photography! Finally, the story is filled with humor and only the best of memories. If you live in Wales, Wisconsin, Wellington or Warsaw, doesn't matter, get your hands on this one!
Sarah (Ann Jillian) is the part-time mayor of a town that is big at holiday time, St. Nicholas is its name! With her other work time, she is the area's vet. Unfortunately, the village is rather remote and the town's doctor has just passed away. With simple cases, Sarah has been helping out in medical emergencies but she can't truly practice human medicine. Now, word comes that longtime, older resident Bob (Jack Palance) is going to have visitors. This would be his physician son, Michael (Robert Hays) and his tween daughter. Every resident is eager to greet Michael and persuade him to move back and be the doctor that they need. Unfortunately, there are complications. Michael has lived and practiced in a big metropolitan area, so he may not want to "go back home". But, more importantly, he is having anxiety attacks and loss of confidence in his skills, due mostly to the death of his wife a couple of years before. At the hospital where he has been treating patients, a supervisor is ready to grant him a professional leave, so that he can seek help. Maybe just going back to be among family and friends will do the trick. Here's hoping. Also complicating matters is the fact that Sarah was Michael's high school sweetheart and she has never married another. Will a rekindling of romance be possible? This is a nice family Christmas flick but it is not lighthearted in subject matter. Michael truly is going through an emotional crisis that has to be dealt with seriously. Also, Sarah is not certain she wants him back in town, for she is afraid her heart may be broken again. In addition, Bob is difficult to get to know well, making a hardship for the granddaughter who doesn't think her g-pa likes her very much. On the plus side, the cast members are quite fine, the setting is very lovely, while the script tackles issues with a caring story. Overall, if you want a holiday movie, this is a good one, yes, but just be in the mood for something more reflective and less light-hearted.
Corrie (Jane Fonda) and Paul Bratter (Robert Redford) are newlyweds. After six days at the Plaza Hotel in NYC, they move into their new digs on 10th Street. Its a five flight walk-up and Corrie, arriving first, greets the telephone man and is thrilled with her first appliance as a married woman. Hoping the furniture will be delivered before lawyer Paul gets home from work, she is, alas, disappointed. Also, Paul is breathless from the many stairs, finds a hole in the skylight which lets in a cold draft, and learns he has his "first case in court" in the morning. More trouble follows as Corrie's mother, Ethel (Mildred Natwick) drops by for a surprise visit. It's obvious that only Corrie sees the apartment's potential, as she is naturally flighty about most issues, in contrast to her more cautious hubby and mother. Late at night, one last visitor sneaks in. He is Victor Velasco (Charles Boyer) and he needs to climb through Corrie's window to make it to his attic apartment, as he is late on the rent. Ahoy! Now, Corrie's gets the brilliant plan to match up Ethel and Victor on the next Tuesday night. On that day, the older folks don't really seem to hit it off and Paul becomes annoyed when Corrie backs up Victor's plan to take a ferry to a Staten Island restaurant. Suddenly, after the young newlyweds are finally alone in their apartment, the bickering becomes screaming, which becomes "I want a divorce!". After barely a week of marriage, could they really be headed to Splitsville? Well, things were already on shaky ground when Paul wouldn't walk barefoot in a nearby park in the cold! This classic, timeless comedy of the first days of married "bliss" is one for the ages. Written by Neil Simon, the jokes come flying one after the other. Fonda, Redford, Natwick, and Boyer are a darling quartet who nail their parts with aplomb. There's not many scenes outside of the apartment house but what fun to see the costumes and décor of a different era, too. Therefore, get this one and park yourself happily in front of the tube for a couple of hours. If you do, you can pat yourself on the back and say "clever viewer"!
In the country of Zubrowka, on the continent of Europe, a former lobby boy at the Grand Budapest Hotel, Zero (F. Murray Abraham as an older man, Tony Revolori as a young man) is telling his story to a famous writer (Jude Law and Tom Wilkinson at various ages). This inn, now fallen on hard times, was once a lavishly beautiful place of accommodation for the wealthy and famous. In truth, Zero's former boss at the establishment, Monsieur Gustave (Ralph Fiennes) was one of the primary reasons for the GB's phenomenal success. This meticulous man courted the rich ladies and gents and met their every needs. But, perhaps, he did his job too well. One unhappy day, the supremely rich Madame D (Tilda Swinton) dies and leaves a valuable painting to M. Gustave. This sets off a ferocious row for the lady's family, especially for her eldest, nasty Dimitri (Adrien Brody). As M. Gustave and Zero "lifted" the painting after the funeral, Dimitri send his henchman, Joplin (Willen Dafoe) after anybody who stands in the way of the painting's recovery, including their loyal lawyer (Jeff Goldblum). M. Gustave is even thrown in prison for awhile but makes just the right sort of pals inside, ones who can spring him out with their smarts and bravado (including Harvey Keitel). But, even after this happenstance, M Gustave and Zero are chased, up mountains, through fields and down dark alleys. Helping them is Zero's girlfriend, Agatha (Saorsie Ronan), and a large group of fellow hotel workers. Could there even be a new will that might cut Dimitri out completely? Who will triumph in the end? This grand and amazing film is a treasure for those who long for films of imagination, cleverness, and courage. To be honest, GBH falls a bit short of ten stars but certainly merits nine. To begin, its scale is incredible, with a dream cast and a mountainous setting that is breathtaking. Among the cast, its hard to pick favorites, but Fiennes, Goldblum, Keitel, Brody and Dafoe were most impressive to me, as well as the youngster, Revolori. One could add that they had the most "showy" roles, while the rest did very well indeed in their quieter parts. Also, the art direction, costumes, script, story, and frenetic direction also score huge points for dazzle, even though they sometimes fall a wee whisker short. All in all, how can anyone who loves film really resist the chance to see this one? They don't make em like this much anymore!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The Logan family, Terri (Kate Jackson), Dr. Ben (Ted Shackleford) and young son Charlie (Josh Hutcherson) have just made the move from Colorado to Cleveland! There were good job opportunities at the famous Clinic so they go. But, Charlie has the most difficulty, leaving his friends behind. Also, the rented house they inhabit won't allow pets. This is most upsetting, since Charlie immediately rescues a dog by the side of the road. The kindly vet has to amputate one of the canine's front legs and tells Charlie he will keep him at the animal hospital as long as possible. Ben even tells Charlie that they will try to find a new house soon. But, knowing the dog he names Annie deserves better than this, Charlie makes off with her and hides her in the basement of the Cleveland Clinic! A gruff but kind janitor (Stacy Keach) becomes the lad's partner in secrecy. Soon, Charlie lets the dog "loose" at night on the clinic's floors, where they sick folks start to make miraculous improvements, even a grouchy, rich cancer-stricken lady (Rue McClanahan). Dr. Ben, who is part of the research team can't believe it. But, staff reports sightings of the dog at various times, even though he disappears before they can catch him! Oh, and one more thing. The vet told Charlie that Annie probably had a litter of pups somewhere, before surgery, cause she had the look of a nursing mother dog. Sure enough, Charlie finds the pups in the woods and these little charmers start to make the rounds at the Clinic, too. Can this secret operation last forever? What a fine family flick this is, with a sweet story, lovable dogs, a great cast (how nice to see and hear Jackson), and plenty of fun. Keach makes a strong impression, too, while gals, here's your chance to see the now young adult idol, Hutcherson, as a young boy. Doggone, don't wait. Everyone will enjoy Miracle Dogs!
Megan (Candace Cameron Bure) is moving cross country with her very reluctant daughter Caitlin (Katie Hawkins). Having received a great job offer as a professor at a small college in California, Megan is excited but Caitlin already misses her former friends. It is the beginning of summer and Megan hopes the three months will help get Cait settled. Yet, the young girl is sad. To cheer her up, Megan takes her to a dog shelter, with the hopes that adopting a small, well-behaved dog will help ease the pain. Ho ho, Caitlin falls immediately for a rambunctious sheepdog who has just come into the place. There is no use arguing her case, Megan realizes, this is the dog for her offspring. Alas, trouble comes at once. Not only is Prince a chewer, but, worse, he really belongs to a traveling minor league baseball player. This athlete, Ben (Viktor Webster) had boarded the dog with a close friend but Prince, er, Jake, was too clever for the pal and broke loose. After a fruitless, weeklong search, the two males end up at the shelter where they leave flyers about a missing dog. This prompts the shelter to call Megan and tell her what's what. As Ben comes to retrieve Jake, it suddenly becomes clear that Caitlin will be sad to lose the dog, too. And, as Ben is still roaming from place to place as his schedule demands, Caitlin is the perfect dogsitter. What could be better than sharing the dog, at least for the time being? Despite Ben's handsome face, he and Megan get off to a bad start, although sparks do seem to be whirling through the air. Will Megan fall for Ben? What happens when the season is over and Ben wants his dog back full time? This DARLING movie is yet again a bonafide winner from Hallmark. How I love that company, they make the best flicks! What could be better than fetching leading ladies and men, cute kids, adorable dogs, a great setting, and a keep-em-guessing romance? You will love Puppy Love, fans of romantic comedy, so go sniff it out!
Newish widow Rebecca (Kay Rainey) and her son, Matt (Jonathan Jackson) are living in the Montana wilderness, where their newly deceased husband and father was a would-be silver miner. Left with little money, Rebecca longs to move back to civilized Baltimore, where her roots are. But, alas, she can't at this moment. Then, all of a sudden, Tommy Towne (John Schneider) appears with a proposition that could land her the means. He, Tommy, wants Rebecca and Matt to come work for him, as a cook and helper, as he tries to re-open an abandoned mine, The Ruby Silver, which is in an even MORE remote area. An older, more experience male miner will be helping them, too. If they should strike precious silver, they can all split the profits. At first, Rebecca is reluctant to join the group or allow her son to do so. After all, a mining accident was responsible for her hubby's death. But, the money is too difficult to resist, particularly when offered by a handsome gent like Tommy. So, off they go. Almost at once, the truck Becky drives nearly falls off a mountain. The climb to the abandoned mine is arduous, too. Once there, they all cross their fingers and hope for the best. But, in truth, is Mr. Towne totally on the up and up? In addition, is he playing with Rebecca's affections? This is a fine adventure film, one the family can enjoy. Yet, it has a surprise ending, which will jolt the viewer who expected a happy finale for all. Yet, on reflection, the ending is satisfying. Also, the scenery is breathtaking, very beautiful indeed, and the story full of energy. Try to seek the movie at the usual venues; don't wait to stumble upon it, like I did!
Five single women are having trouble. Problems include needing to work too many hours, dealing with difficult ex's, depression, unwanted suitors, unrealized aspirations, and, of course, loving children who can act out. One day, all five are summoned to the principal's office at their well-reputed private school. Two of the kids have been caught painting graffiti and the others were smoking. Because of this, the principal informs them, this quintet of ladies will be planning the fund-raising school dance. Ouch. As some of the mothers don't really know one another, this seems challenging. But, lo and behold, once the gals start working together, they form a support group that works for each other's benefit, including taking turns babysitting so that everyone can have a "night out". Meanwhile, each woman connects with an interested male, surprisingly, and begins or extends a relationship. Then, a crisis occurs which may split the group apart. Will it be so? This lovely, funny, and sweet movie will please fans of romantic comedy and those who adore Mr. Perry, who is one of the cast members, too, as well as the writer and director. What a tour de force this man is! The rest of the cast, too numerous to mention by name, is very attractive and talented, making for a great view. Kudos to the child actors as well. The setting is also extremely fetching, as are the costumes and cinematography. Perhaps some mention should be made of a couple of minor problems. There are some sexual innuendos and one of the ladies tends to actually "beat up" on the man who has a crush on her. It's funny but annoying at the same time. Nevertheless, all of you potential fans, make plans to catch this one. It is a singularly welcome movie.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
David (Hayden Christensen) has had a crush on a fellow classmate, Millie (Rachel Bilson) since he was five. Now, in high school, Millie is beautiful and popular but David gets picked on. You see, David lives very poorly in Ann Arbor with his alcoholic father, having a mother who took off when David was in kindergarten. One day, Davie presents Millie with a beautiful snowglobe of the Eiffel Tower. She is quite pleased, having a yen to visit Europe. But, alas, a nasty teen named Mark takes the globe and throws it onto a neighboring pond. Its winter. Mighty peeved, David walks out on the ice to retrieve the globe, although Millie cautions him not to. Just as he picks up the globe, the ice cracks and David is plunged into the icy water, risking death. All at once, he dreams he is at the library and, voila, he lands wet and cold on the book-surrounded floor. Thus, David discovers that he is a "jumper", able to teleport himself wherever he wants to go. Before long, David runs away from home, "borrows" some money from a bank vault and explores his new talent. Before exiting, he leaves the globe in front of Millie's house as a clue that he may be alive. Flash forward several years and David decides to return to Ann Arbor. Hoping to catch a glimpse of Millie, David finds out she works at a local bar and he goes in quietly. After nearly getting beat up when the same nasty dude goes after him, David surprises all by getting out of the situation. Soon, he convinces Millie to go to Europe with him. But, there are problems. David meets another jumper, Griffin (Jamie Bell) who gives him some key pointers and warns him that a group of misguided zealots, led by Samuel L. Jackson, are out to "eliminate" all of the world's jumpers. All heck breaks loose in Rome, where David and Millie are touring the Colisseum and barely make it out alive. Will David be able to keep one step ahead of the opposition, which may include his long-lost MOTHER (Diane Lane)? Whew! This fine movie has excellent action sequences and breathtaking world scenery. Imagine having a picnic on top of the Sphinx, if that is your desire? Also, staying ahead of the pursuers takes some inventive twists and turns. The young cast is also quite wonderful, especially Bell who once impressed the world in Billy Elliott. The only caveat may be the violence, which isn't excessive, but may be too much for elementary aged kids. Parents, watch it and decide. Nevertheless, most viewers will like the flick and wish, so fervently, that jumping was possible for all of us!
Tween Ace (Justin Flitter) loves animals as much as his now absent dad (Jim Carrey does not appear in the movie!). His mother (Ann Cusack) even took a job at the zoo, so her son could be near animals quite often. Unfortunately, though, she does NOT want Jr. Ace to become a pet detective, for she has seen how danger lurks even in such a mild-seeming endeavor. But, he can't resist! He keeps doing a bit of the stuff on the sly. One day, things start coming in fast and furious, First, many classmates are missing their pets, from koi fish to cats to you name it. Huh, what's afoot? Jr. Ace vows to find out. Then, the zoo's precious panda, Ting Tang, gets bear-napped and, unbelievably, officials blame Mrs. Ventura and throw her in jail! Wow-eeeee! There is no one to care for Ace but his long missing grandfather (Ralph Waite). He shows up with a trio of pets, one of which appears to be a comatose dog, and tells Ace about the family's long tradition of creature love. Why, didn't the clan have Charles Darwin Ventura and Jacques Cousteau Venture showing the way? Therefore, he encourages Jr. Ace to continue looking for the missing animals. But, gosh, there are few leads. Our Ace may need the help of a lovely female classmate and another science oriented student named A Plus. Could there be a trail of money to follow? You bet! This is really a cute new addition to a funny series, without objectionable material. No, Flitter really doesn't look or act much like Carrey, although he tries. But, he is funny in his own way and so are the rest of the cast. Sets, costumes, hairdos (there is the Ace pompadour, you know), script and direction are all working to make one great little watch. Ace your family's weekend by grabbing the junior version!
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