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In the Los Angeles area, Henry (Chris Klein) delivers pizzas and cleans carpets. Once a promising football star who won a college scholarship, injuries turned him in a new direction. Now, he aspires to be a famous writer and goes regularly to the place where F. Scott died, for he greatly admires our creator of The Great Gatsby. To further his cause, he has joined a "writing group" who pledges to lift each other up in the hopes of future publishing. Among the ragtag groups is an eye doctor (Dylan Walsh) who started the group to support his lovely wife (Teri Polo) who is writing a Russian romance. Also attending regularly are a pretentious young hotshot, who writes a mere sentence at a time, a wannabe Tom Clancy, John (Dennis Farina) who KNOWS he has what it takes and beautiful Hannah (Kaley Cuoco) who seems a bit dim, never having heard of some of the world's top authors. Mysteriously, Henry is in love with Hannah, although she is not an intellectual like him, and he has developed writer's block as a result of his unrequited love. Amid book launches at hardware stores, secret affairs, and desperate attempts to garner agents, who will be the first to make it big? This DARLING film is a winner on many fronts. it is funny, romantic, and spot on in its analysis of would be writers. The cast is wonderful, especially Farina who gave one of his last great comic turns. Viewers will also like the great sets, mighty nice costumes, lovable script and very fine direction. What a would have given to see this terrific film in a big screen setting!
Erin, Casey and Stella all decided on a June wedding so these gals are newly weds three times over. But, alas, problems arrive. Casey, who owns a dog care business and lives in the apartment right below, experiences woe when a former flame of her new hubby's applies for the job as his assistant. She gets it, ugh. Naturally, the husband doesn't see a problem. Stella, alas, discovers her mate is one domineering guy. Yes, he's wealthy and successful, so Stella had a secure feeling, but he soon resists her accepting a terrific job for herself, saying she doesn't need to work. Meanwhile, Dr. Erin has the difficult mother in law of all mothers in law, Renee (Naomi Judd) move in with her and her handsome husband. What results is no privacy, no peace. Into these situations comes an even greater curveball. It appears the minister who conducted all of their ceremonies passed away before he could sign the marriage certificates. NONE of them are truly married in the eye of the law. The gals learn this information and wait to tell their partners, for all of them are now having second thoughts about their futures together. Will these folks all walk down the aisle again in a month or so? This fun film has one attractive, talented cast although none of the stars is famous, except Judd, who is a hoot and a half as the domineering mama. Also quite gorgeous are the costumes, sets, and makeup jobs. Add on a clever script and a fine direction and the end game is a nice rom-com for all dedicated fans and even those who aren't.
Ashley (Rhiannon Leigh Wryn) and her brother live with their widowed fireman father. It was hard to lose their dear mother and Ashley copes with the help of her beloved dog Max. In truth, Max is a dear canine but, at times, he gets into trouble. This upsets neighbors, especially the block watch chairlady. Then, too, the little doggie often runs free, despite Ashley's best efforts. Meanwhile, a scientist is developing formulas to increase the size and strength of ordinary animals, like rabbits. His boss sure likes the looks of his enormous bunny, for this evil man wants to eventually sell it to world powers for use with humans. Needing another "test" creature, the scientist is forced to give the formula to Max, who has been kidnapped on one of his runs. What they don't count on is Max turning into a giant, very strong dog who breaks free and runs back to Ashley. Once the little girl's shock wears off, she and her brother take Max to a nice veterinarian lady to see if she can bring Max back to his normal self. Mayhem ensues as Evil boss, the scientist, a Russian spy and others try to capture Max for their own benefits. Is there an antidote for Max's condition and will the good guys win the day? This darling family flick will have kids enthralled and giggling. Borrowing from the effects put forth in the movie The Mask, Max's transformation into superdog is quite thrilling. The actors, all unknowns, are entertaining while script, direction, costumes, and sets are more than adequate. Do, do get Monster Mutt for a future family film night.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch), a mathematics professor in the early 1950'2, has experienced a burglary at his home. Yet, when the police come to investigate, they haul in Turing himself to the police station. What the charges might be will follow all too soon but, first, Turing tells a story of his life to one of the officers. During WW II, Turing was part of the code breaking team trying to crack the German's communication system, Enigma, which changed DAILY. Chosen for the job by a by-the-book Naval Commander (Charles Dance), Turing initially seemed to be anything but a team player. He's arrogant, odd, uncommunicative and insists on being in charge. This upsets those already on the job, including champion chess player Hugh Alexander (Matthew Goode). This is not the first time that Alan has had problems getting along. Flashing backwards, the film shows his childhood at an English boarding school, where he was scorned and bullied by all his fellow students save one, Christopher. The two became inseparable and excelled at all subjects, especially math. A tragedy changes everything, resulting in Turing's further isolation. Back in WW II times, Turing does become the leader of the group, invents an early computer to help with the calculations of the Enigma code and earns the respect of the other topflight mathematicians, including Joan (Keira Knightley) on the team. He even becomes engaged to Joan when her parents want to withdraw her from the group, believing she will never find a husband. It can't last, however, because Alan is gay and must admit this. The breakers DO conquer Enigma and help win the war. But, at the time of his arrest, homosexuality is a against British law. Since his work was top secret, no one knows how much of a hero he was and is and, in any case, they convict him. What happens at the end is very, very sad yet his tale is truly inspirational. This movie is extraordinary in almost all aspects. Cumberbatch's performance equals that of Eddie Redmayne in Theory of Everything; wish the award ceremonies ahead could have dual top honors. Knightley, Goode, Dance, Mark Strong, and all of the rest are wonderful, too, dazzling the audience. Great congratulations should also be extended to the marvelous script, the masterful direction of three different time periods, and the tremendous costumes, settings, and effects. Do imitate all serious film fans and don't put off seeing this one. Its riches will be as stunning to you as to everyone the world over.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Mary (Olesya Rulin) is one troubled teen. First, she is on the outs with her society mom (Cybill Shepherd) and her mother's new husband. They sent her to boarding school and didn't seem to want her around. Reaching out to someone, Mary has gotten pregnant. Her mama's response was get an abortion and we'll tell everyone it was appendicitis. Saddened and angry, Mary is hitching cross-country eight month along to see her dad (Gene Simmons), an aging rocker, in Vegas. Just beyond the Oklahoma panhandle, in New Mexico, Mary is picked up by a most kind truck driver, Horace (Elliot Gould). He insists on the two of them stopping for a meal in a small town with an Indian casino. Once there, they get a good meal and Horace ogles the showgirls, especially Darnella (Linda Gray). Unknown to all was H's health problems, as somewhere into the show he expires from a heart attack. Now, what will Mary do? Darnella won't have her on the road again alone and takes her home for the night. In the crazy trailer park where she lives is wacky mother Annie (Cloris Leachman), perpetually grumpy owner (Della Reese) and assorted other eccentrics. Next morning, Darnella gives Mary the bus money to get to Vegas. THAT turns out wrong, too, as her father is about to embark on a world tour with his tired old rock band. Not knowing where to to, Mary heads back to Darnella, who already has great affection for the teen. The two of them will prepare for the young girl's pregnancy. Into this mixed affair comes a news article about the showgirls, which is published where snooty mama can see it. Here she comes to the Southwest to "rescue" her daughter from casinos and trailer parks, in a VW bug with a red nose no less! With Mary is still very unsure of her future role as a mother herself, how will things shake down for all? Especially when Darnella sees Mary as the daughter she gave up long ago to adoption? This lovely movie is most unusual but meaningful flick for the holidays or anytime. The setting in the desert is quite unique while the actors are all great. Meanwhile, the costumes are bizarre but eye-catching, as befitting the offbeat characters, while the script has many twists and turns, from comic to tear-generating, but never lacks power. The same goes for the secure direction. There is a great bounty of Christmas movies in the universe but this one stands out, yes. Its not a fairy tale Holiday fantasy but one that tries to address serious issues with humor and feeling.
Jenna (Elizabeth Hamois) is a very capable assistant to the lady, Mia, who runs a style magazine. Secretly, Jenna longs to be a designer and show her drawings to Mia, but J's courage has always failed her. This upsets her dearest pal, Cooper, who also doubles as her next door neighbor. At this moment, Jenna is estranged from her father, who has a new wife and very little time for his daughter. So, Cooper's support is paramount. The December holiday season is approaching so mistletoe hangs in the building's elevator. One day, when Jenna is going up, the door opens and in walks a great looking guy, Sebastian (Jonathan Bennett). Its just the two of them and the man winks at Jenna before he bestows a brief kiss on her lips. Even so, the smooch is dynamite and, amazingly, Jen gives Sebastian a MUCH longer kiss in return. What was she thinking? Especially when Sebastian turns out to be the playboy brother of her boss, Mia, and co-owner of the company, even in absentia? All too soon, Jenna hears and sees enough to know that Sebastian is not reliable dating material. Yet, he keeps pushing the envelope for a date. Oh ho, now Cooper is especially handy because Jenna needs him to pretend to be her boyfriend! Mia tells her assistant that her bro has an on again, off again girlfriend named Brittany anyway. So, will Jenna continue to dampen the ardor of this handsome man and will she get the courage to show her drawings to Mia? Dear romcom fans, this viewer didn't see Kiss Number One but if its anything like this one, its good. What's not to like about a talented, fetching cast, a sweet, funny script, envious costumes, lovely sets and a confident direction? Therefore, kiss off any staid plans you don't want anyway and go get this winning flick instead.
Katie (Kellie Martin) is a demure accountant who once dreamed of other life pursuits. This would be becoming a writer. But, alas, this single lady took care of a sick mother many years and didn't make time for anything but job and home. Now, her mother has passed away and Katie has a secret crush on a widower at her church. Meanwhile, most of the town folks in their seaside village grab the newspaper every day to read the local advice column called Dear Viola. As one of Katie's bookkeeping clients is the newspaper publishing firm, she is often at the office. One day it is clear that the talented lady who has penned this lovelorn piece for years is retiring. Here's Katie's chance, perhaps! She secretly authors a sample of her own take on Dear Viola and the editor gives her the job! But, one of the first letters she receives at the paper is obviously from the widower she admires. This man, Russ (Jefferson Brown) loves his young daughter, Meredith, but is wondering how to move forward with his little gal in mind. Katie offers terrific advice, especially on opening up his heart again. Yet, wouldn't you know it, a new blonde comes to town and captures Russ' attention before Katie has a chance to get close to him. Even though its obvious that this woman is not a good match, what will Katie do now? This lovely film has many familiar elements and themes. One is the "mousy" lady in glasses and conservative clothing who is invisible to the man she admires until she changes her appearance. It's tried but still true. Then, too, the secret identity of an advice writer is always fun. Other items to enjoy in this little flick are the cast, which is fine, the coastal setting, the ethnically integrated community, the sweet script and the surefooted direction. Are you longing for a romcom night with tea and cookies? Dear fan, this is a nice choice for your evening's pursuit.
Molly (Susanna Hoffs of the Bangles) is on the verge of graduating from Pacifica college. Very smart, she will be delivering the valedictorian's speech on the morrow. But, her confidence is a bit shaken. She secretly loves a male classmate, who seems to prefer surfing to her and has never given her an indication of his undeclared affection. Thus, while her roommate Gina (Joan Cusack) is busy videotaping their last days and minutes, Mol hatches another plan. Dressing up to the hilt, she decides to make a play for a famous musician residing at a nearby hotel. A second roommate, Val (Dedee Pfeiffer), is already there, romancing her obnoxious, rich boyfriend. Yet, the night is young and the police and a bunch of hookers are about to cause trouble for our gals! Will they make it to graduation? This is a fun eighties movie, with attractive performers and a light, zany plot line. No, its not garnered any Oscars yet but will attract fans of romantic comedy, good looking young adults and California scenery. Why night book The Allnighter for tonight?
Ward Allen (Jim Caviezel) likes what he likes. Born into a family of wealth in Savannah Georgia at the turn of the twentieth century, he nevertheless does not become a businessman. Instead, he likes to be on the marshes near the ocean, hunting duck for the fine restaurants of Savannah. With him is his constant companion and partner, Christmas (Chiwetel Efiolor), a former slave. This alone is a cause of gossip at a time when whiles and African Americans didn't socialize in the South. but, in truth, Ward just loves the "wild places" over sitting in an office somewhere. Very handsome, he catches the eye of a lovely woman, Lucy Stubbs (Jamie Alexander) who her stuffy father (Sam Shepherd) has promised to another man. Yet, Lucy is also a lady who walks to a different beat. She shuns her father's choice and pursues Ward. Soon, they are married and living in Ward's opulent mansion. Still, his married state doesn't change Ward, who continues to hunt and get roaring drunk at the local bars, where he tells long stories. From time to time, Ward is also hauled before a judge (Hal Holbrook) for charges of hunting in forbidden waterways. Yet, Ward always gets off easy, for the judge likes him and his strong arguments for his chosen profession. Naturally, this creates some conflict for Lucy, especially when she discovers she is expecting a baby. Will Ward ever change? This beautifully lyrical movie, an homage to the loveliness of Savannah and its surroundings, will charm a certain type of movie fan. Its quiet, unusual story is paired with sumptuous scenery for a visually stunning experience. Also, Caviezel is one attractive and talented man, an actor who tops my list of "men who can make the heart pound". Alexander, Holbrook, Shepherd, Efiolor and all of the supporting cast is very fine, also. Do you consider yourself drawn to artistic, independent flicks? Take a trip to this Savannah soon.
Stephen Hawking (Eddie Redmayne) is a brilliant doctoral physics student at Cambridge. When a professor gives the class ten "impossible" questions to answer, Stephen apologizes for only getting nine of them. No one else is even close. A bit shy, he spies a beautiful fellow student, Jane (Felicity Jones) at a campus party one night and they have a great conversation. Before long, Stephen is asking her to a special dance, even though he can't cut a rug himself! There is one huge difference in their lives, however. Jane is a devout Christian while Stephen is a professed atheist, only trusting in science. Suddenly, the courtship is on hold. This is due to a terrible fall Stephen has on a sidewalk and the subsequent, very sobering diagnosis of motor neuron disease, similar to ALS. Naturally, Stephen is disheartened and holes up in his room. Only Felicity, arriving to see what has occurred, restores hope to him, with her declaration of love. They are married, they soon have a son. But, the progression of the disease is awful while the doctors give him two years to live. Meanwhile, theories of the creation of the universe and other "small" topics keep his mind focused away from his doomed future. But, is it so? The couple has two more children and, despite being reduced to a wheelchair, Stephen lives on. What exactly does the future of S and J hold? This very fine film chronicles the life of the brilliant British scientist, Hawking, and his physical and emotional struggles. Also told is the lesser known tale of his first wife, Jane. As the physicist, Redmayne is superb, making Hawking's descent into anatomical deterioration very, very real. Jones is likewise wonderful and the rest of the cast, including Emily Watson, a great collection of performances as well. All movie amenities, from sets to costumes, script, and direction are of the highest caliber as well. No, its not a happily ever after story, in many ways, but it is an extremely well done tale of the courage and determination of the human spirit. My theory is, you will be well advised to purchase tickets for this one soon.
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