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My MY MOVIES page is very comprehensive. Take a look and you may find a film to view for the first time. I recommend them all highly! Cheers...
Becoming Jane (2007)
Not Extraordinary. Just Ho Hum
When the film begins, it is quiet and humorous. Jane is awake before the rest of her family and, when attacked by writer's block, takes out her frustration on the piano and, thereby, wakes up everyone else in the house.
From the beginning you feel like you're walking in in the middle of the film. Important characters go through the whole movie without clearly stating their relationship or names (such as Jane's sister, who is reminiscent of the elder Jane Bennet in Pride and Prejudice and a young deaf man named George who seems to be Jane Austen's brother, although it is never made quite clear.) I felt that Anne Hathaway was an odd choice to play the part of Jane Austen. She has an all-American look, her British accent was only very slight, and she is too modern-looking, in my opinion, for a period film such as this. I'm guessing that she was mainly cast because of her popularity and because she often plays free spirits who are thrown into against-the-odds situations. For me, it was a poor choice. Her acting was competent, but I couldn't get past the fact that I was watching Anne Hathaway playing a part. I loved her in The Devil Wears Prada, but here she stuck out--and not in a good way.
James McAvoy is a cute, mischievous suitor about whom everyone disapproves in the movie. I had seen him The Chronicles of Narnia and in Rory O'Shea Was Here (a great little film if you have the chance to see it.) One professional review I read said that he would have made a great Mr. Darcy. I'm sorry, but I beg to differ. McAvoy is good at playing self-deprecating, rebellious, and scrappy. He isn't dashing, polished, and gentlemanly--the qualities with which everyone associates with Mr. Darcy. Fortunately, he did fit the character he played in this film, so any Mr. Darcy comparisons are irrelevant.
The film's look was competent, but unspectacular. Great actors like Maggie Smith and Julie Walters were given little screen time--much like in the Harry Potter films--and stole every scene they were in. James Cromwell played Jane's father, a minister with a randy side when alone with his wife.
All in all, I would say that the movie was fair, about 3/5 stars. I enjoyed it, but I found myself looking at my watch. I don't need to see it again. I don't need to own it on DVD. Most importantly-- anyone who looks up Jane Austen's life on Wikipedia or anywhere else will discover that the advertised "extraordinary romance" does not end in a nice little package, which begs the question, what is the point in showing it?
Jane Eyre (2006)
A visually stunning adaptation
I am very protective of the Jane Eyre story because it is one of my favorites. Rochester is not an easy character to cast. Timothy Dalton was a magnificent Rochester in the BBC version and--despite my hesitation to admit (because of his look and age, not acting ability)--Toby Stephens did a wonderful job in this updated version. Ruth Wilson was a very capable Jane. She has the look of someone from the past and embodied the character very well. Compared to the BBC version, the main difference I noticed was the way the story was distributed over the 4 hours. It was surprising to me that only 15 minutes were spent on Jane's childhood before switching over to the adult actress. Although a few liberties were taken with the book, they were not enough to detract from the overall story. Visually, it is a delight, and the look of the film is very overcast and mysterious. I highly recommend this film (and the book of course!)
Family Ties (1982)
Finally on DVD, and it stands the test of time
I'm so thrilled that FAMILY TIES is finally out on DVD. To me, this was the best sitcom of the 80's. Even today, its themes are still relevant. I always thought it was great that the kids were allowed their own ideas, the parents weren't divorced, and that they were an imperfect family just doing their best. Unlike the Cosby Show, which was all about the dad, Family Ties let each character deal with their own issues in a very real way. I just watched the episode where a family friend makes a pass at Mallory, and that is something that some young people have to deal with. It dealt with racism, alcoholism, rape, politics, and a host of other things that kids are exposed to. It's still funny and is a great show that kids and parents can watch together and not be embarrassed.
I turned on PBS last night and ran into this movie completely by accident. I was hooked immediately. It is so funny and unusual. The fact that everything happens to the young Casanova by chance is one of the things that makes it good. He is goofy, low-born, and self-effacing, as opposed to Heath Ledger's smug, overly confident Casanova in the film recently in theaters (which I found very boring.) This CASANOVA is definitely worth my time and yours. The supporting characters are enjoyable and the sets and costumes are amazing, full of color and authenticity. It was a spectacle for the ears and the eyes, I especially liked the colorfest during Casanova and Bellino's ball. Enjoy!
The Devil Wears Prada (2006)
The Most Enjoyable Movie This Year (So far...)
I went into this movie with lukewarm expectations and came out of it extremely entertained. The cast is probably better than the material, but they were so good that they elevated it to a film that I can't wait to own when it is released on DVD. Meryl Streep is fantastic. She never raises her voices above a loud whisper, yet she commands so much fear and respect that you're in awe. I also love the way they made her up--silvery hair is a great touch to add to her icy personality. Anne Hathaway was a good choice, making Andy smart, klutzy, independent, and cleans up nice with a make-over. Stanley Tucci, Adrien Grenier, Simon Baker and Emily Blunt were perfect in their roles. It is a really enjoyable film with some good lessons about the choices that we make and their consequences. I know all the hype right now is about SUPERMAN RETURNS, but I saw that the next day and it was so boring, long and badly cast that I considered running to the next theater so watch PRADA again. Lotsa, lotsa fun for anyone.
Superman Returns (2006)
MANGORICK said everything I was thinking when I saw SUPERMAN RETURNS. It is a disappointing return. I was really looking forward to it because, hey, it's Superman! Also, because Bryan Singer was directing and his X-MEN movies are so good (haven't seen the 3rd one yet.) Physically, Brandon Routh has it all. I think he used the opportunities the story gave him well, but there was not much for him to do. He had very few lines and even the montages of him saving several people in a row were very short. The movie is called SUPERMAN, so let's be able to see him.
Kate Bosworth was a terrible, terrible choice for Lois Lane. Lois Lane is not supposed to be conventionally beautiful--which Kate is--and she is supposed to be more plucky and self-reliant--which Kate's Lois wasn't. Physically, she was ALL WRONG. Personality-wise, all wrong. Someone like Marla Sokoloff would've been good--someone edgy and a little sarcastic.
The same goes for casting Frank Langella as Perry White. Whose idea was that? He's too tall, too exotic, too expressionless. Bad, bad, choice. I thought the bartender looked more like our idea of Perry White. The bartender--who was the 50's Superman show's Jimmy Olsen.
Kevin Spacey did a good job as Lex Luthor, although I think Lex Luthor would be disappointed with the thin plot line he was given. Hello? Creating your own spiky little country? One that, as Ebert said, a billy goat wouldn't live on. Give me a break.
After the movie I came home and watched Christopher Reeve's SUPERMAN and SUPERMAN II. They are SOOoooo much better. The technology was lesser because of the time period, but it didn't matter because there was a great story, cast, and superior acting.
The new movie's pacing was very off, spending too much time on unimportant action (i.e. Lois on the plane, Lois on the sea plane, Lois on the yacht.) I think we saw more Lois than Superman--and she wasn't that good. I also think they could've given Lois's kid A LOT more to do than just bumping into doors with a trashcan on his head and staring at everything through those shaggy bangs of his. Would someone please give that poor child a haircut? When I saw the photo on Lois's desk, I thought he was a girl at first.
And poor James Marsden getting roped into playing the good-looking neglected fiancée. Sorry, Cyclops, that was a misfire.
This is a movie worth missing, I'm afraid. 2 1/2 hours of Lois Lane with an occasional Superman is not the way to return the iconic character to the public. I think my favorite character was actually Parker Posey's Kitty and her cannibalistic dog. What does that say about the movie?
Treat yourself to an evening with GREENFINGERS
To anyone who happens to stumble across this little-known film, I recommend it highly. Five English prisoners, led by moody Colin (Clive Owen) and optimistic Fergus (David Kelly), undertake a horticultural adventure while at an open prison. They are a motley crew aiming for identity beyond their prison status and drab uniforms. Helen Mirren is delightful as a local gardening celebrity who sponsors the prisoners in their first flower show. This movie is a feel-good, uplifting tale with no dull moments and a fun cast with a lot of variety. There is some strong language and brief nudity (a shame, because it will stop some from seeing it,) but all in all a gem of a movie. Most will enjoy it thoroughly!! Cheers for Greenfingers!
Mrs Henderson Presents (2005)
Delightful and feisty--the film and its star...
This film is a lot of fun. Judi Dench is great to watch as a brash, rich, sometimes naive woman who buys a theater as a hobby after her husband's death. She adds fire and life to every scene she's in and has a superb on screen rapport with Bob Hoskins.
The nudity is handled very well. The audience was completely silent when the girls first appeared in all their God-given glory. I think that no one wanted to be heard reacting in any way. But after a while the nudity in the film became as secondary to the story as it did to the audience. There are characters and their relationships that you care about and then WWII starts up with all of Hitler's insanity. They become the real focal points.
If you go to the movie knowing what you're in for, you'll have a wonderful time. It is well-done and has a good story with terrific actors. There are some lines that are very, very funny. Audience members of all ages were clapping when it was finished and you will too.
An amazing film!
Today I took my 3rd graders on a field trip to see this film. We were mesmerized! I know that the kids were mostly blown away by the great 3D effects, but that's OK. Hopefully they absorbed a little bit of the science that was discussed.
It is fantastic. People of all ages will enjoy it. I highly recommend it if you can find this film in your area.
Two things I liked: the way To Hanks included the "first quotes" of other moon walkers (since the only one we ever hear about is Neil Armstrong's.) I also liked the scenario of what "could have happened" if there was a glitch with the moon rover during the moon landings.
See it--you'll love it.
Ladies in Lavender (2004)
The cast breathes life into the story...
When you have a cast headlined by Judi Dench and Maggie Smith, your film is going to do well with their names alone. LADIES IN LAVENDER is saved by these two ladies and their screen presence and the ping-pong-like banter with each other.
The two veteran actresses play Janet (Smith) and Ursula (Dench,) two sisters living a comfortable and mundane life in Cornwall, England in 1936. Janet is a widow and Ursula is a spinster. Their lives are altered when a mysterious young Polish man (Daniel Bruhl)washes up on the beach near their home. They take him in, aid in his recovery from an accident that is never explained, and learn that he is a gifted violinist. Their comfort zone, which is already disturbed, becomes more so when a young German female painter (Natascha McElhone)also shows an interest in the young man.
Like in TEA WITH MUSSOLINI, Maggie Smith's character is the more level-headed and pragmatic, while Judi Dench's Ursula is overly-sensitive and borderline childlike. Miriam Margoyles does a great job as their rough-around-the-edges housekeeper and David Warner, who played "that undertaker of a manservant" in TITANIC, plays an equally creepy character in this film as the town's doctor.
The movie is far from perfect (Ebert and Roeper just gave it "two thumbs down," but it is enjoyable. It is just one little slice in the lives of all of these characters, not giving the viewer much history or much closure at the end. The most poignant sideline is the love that Ursula starts to feel for this young man and, though he is in his 20's and she is in her 70's, you are reminded that one really can't choose who one loves, even when the love is as inconvenient and impossible as this. However, I do agree with the 2 professional critics when they said that Maggie Smith "didn't have a lot to do in this film." This is true. Usually she is just the motherly voice of reason when Dench's character is acting irrational.
When I was at the theater there were many, many senior citizens in the audience. I heard many positive comments from my fellow audience members when the film ended and I think several could relate to the two ladies in the story. As for myself (and in my early 30's) I am still glad I saw it.