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A Christmas Wish (2011)
A Fond Memory
I have watched this movie every Christmas since it was first on in 2011. In fact, I'm watching it now.
I have a fond memory of this movie because I watched it the first year that it was on with my mom. That was 6 years ago. My mom passed away in December 2015. So, it reminds me of us sitting in her living room watching it. Mom thought that it was a good old fashioned sentimental movie that did make our eyes a little misty. I remember her saying that Kristy Swenson was a pretty girl. Mom was 91 at the time, so Kristy was a girl to her. Mom had some tough times too and she related to her character.
I like it because of the same reasons. It is about kindness to people struggling, but trying to improve their situation and hope that things will get better. I thought that the acting was realistic. Kristy was great, Edward Hermann gave a good performance, as usual. Page Petrucka who plays Lola is a hoot and a half. The only thing, and it's minor, the time line of the story is a bit rushed. But, they had to fit a lot of story in less than 2 hours.
If you like old fashioned, sentimental Christmas fare, this is for you.
Murder on the Orient Express (2017)
You Just Cannot Beat the 1974 Version
The way this version was handled was heavy handed and dark. Not that murder shouldn't be just that, but the 1974 was handled with more of a lightness and the script just breezed along. This version just was so long, too wordy and had many unnecessary scenes, especially in the beginning of the movie (however, I did like the Middle Eastern music playing in the background of part of the beginning). I did like the camera work even though a lot of it was CG. I didn't care for the script delving into Poirot's past. I've always thought that he should remain a sort of enigma. Let's face it, you can't beat the star power of the 1974 version. I only knew six members of this cast. It's good that the younger cast is getting a chance to be in something like this for the experience, but all of them were mediocre. This also included the well known cast and I love Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Judi Dench, but they weren't given much to work with. The only stand out was Derek Jacobi with his (I think English Midlands accent). He was believable in his part.
I think that Kenneth Branaugh is trying to make a comeback of sorts. He was the darling, the new Lawrence Olivier of the 1990's. I personally think that his time came and went. Please, Mr. Branaugh, don't make a re-make of "Death on the Nile". Leave that one to Peter Ustinov and you should have left this one to Albert Finney. If you do decide that you absolutely need to make or re-make any of the Poirot's, lose the major mustache and the heavy Belgian accent. I could barely understand what you were saying. Mr. Finney, Mr. Ustinov and Mr. Suchet did not need to lay their accents on thick. A person could actually understand what they were saying. In other words, please try your hand at something else for your film comeback. This wasn't it.
I'm giving it a 3 because of the camera work. I did stay till the end of the credits because I thought that I recognized the voice singing the end song and I wanted to see if I was right. It was who I thought that it was. Mystery solved.
Fixer Upper (2013)
Getting Tired of the Show
I missed the first season of the show and picked it up during the second season. I was enthralled. I couldn't wait for the third season. The third season rolled around and I started to notice that Joanna's designs were pretty much the same.
1. Open concepts were a must, which I don't like because if you want to say something that you don't want everyone to hear, you have to find a room in the house to go do it.
2. I don't like the kitchen open to the living/family room. I don't want everyone to see my dirty dishes in the sink. The same bland color palette. I love color! There was the one show that Joanna did do color for the young single foster mom. I liked what Joanna did because it was a little out of her comfort zone. It had some great color elements and some funky furniture. Joanna, do some more of those! Please!
3. I'm finding Chip getting more on my nerves because he likes being such a goofball. I will say this though. This duo in a way reminds me of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. She was the daffy comedienne and he was her straight man (although, if you really watch Desi, he was funny in his own right). All four were/are savvy business people. Lucy and Desi built a studio empire out of their "I Love Lucy" antics and Chip and Joanna Gaines are building a local empire in their hometown. This is good because it is creating jobs in the local market there. Watching the Gaines', I would like to see the script bring Chip's humor down and bring Joanna's up.
4. I know that all reality TV is scripted in some way, shape or form. This one is no different than say, "Survivor". Whether it's an actual script or the director says this is how I want you to play the scene and they ad lib. I feel that all of the behind the scenes stuff is already done and what the audience gets is however the show is "scripted". Whatever way Fixer Upper does it, bring in some fresh elements and not the same thing every week. Show more collaboration with the clients, stop the "emergency" calls to the client. Most buyers hire an home inspection company to inspect the property before the final down payment is made to ensure that any potential problems are uncovered. These owners are paying them a bucket load of money and it's their house and they should have some input. Plus, why does every single cent need to be spent? I would think that there are some ways to save money. It would be nice to have a little money left in the bank. But, maybe that's all part of the script.
I don't mind seeing their personal life and their kids, whom I think are cute and total replicas of Joanna. I would like to know who takes care of the farm work while they are away renovating houses. They don't do all that work on their own like the intro to the show every week. They must have staff. I heard her mention a babysitter for the kids once.
One last thing that I want to mention after this long review is, where are the old half hour HGTV shows? I loved "Design on a Dime", "Get Color", "Designed to Sell", "Divine Design" (although Candace Olson was quite full of herself), "Design for the Sexes". There was one that I can't remember the name, but they would design a room to mimic a room in a design magazine. I started watching HGTV in the late 1990's/early 2000's and these shows were on then and I loved watching them. The only half hour show still on from that time is "House Hunters". There is "Tiny House Hunters", but again, the designs in the homes are pretty much the same. There's only so much that you can do with 200 square feet. There is "Flip or Flop", but I don't like the couple at all. I appears that they are divorcing. Anyway, HGTV has no variety any longer. It's just back to back one hour episodes of the same series each day of the week. Ah, variety, I miss you.
Thanks for reading this if you got through it.
Anyway, this is their fourth season and may be the last one that I watch.
The Girl on the Train (2016)
Muddled Mess ****Spoiler Alert by Mentioning Aspect of Plot****
I'm giving this a 4 because I do like Emily Blunt, but the movie itself is really a 1. I read another review titled "Gone Girl, Without the Tension and Emotion". I couldn't have said it better myself. The one thing that rang true, was the fact that the main female character was made to blame herself. That happens so much in relationships. I couldn't even understand the dialog that the main character was thinking or the dialog in general. That was the first 30 to 45 minutes. What is it with movies the last several years? The sound editing leaves a lot to be desired or the director needs to have their actors speak plainly so that the audience can understand what they are saying. I have nothing wrong with my hearing, but I can't seem to understand dialog in movies anymore, due to whispering, muddling or non enunciation. Come on directors and sound people, aren't we, the audience, supposed to know what's going on and isn't understanding and hearing the dialog part of that? Anyway, save your money and see "Gone Girl" instead or again.
Not That Good
"Inferno" is not a good movie. Friends asked me to go, so I did even though I am not a Tom Hanks fan at all. I found myself dozing off during the first 40 minutes of the movie. That ain't good. Tom Hanks has always been very much miscast as Robert Langdon. I read "The Da Vinci Code" and did not picture him playing that character at all. Ron Howard is not equipped to direct an action/adventure/thriller. He has no sense of suspense or tension in a scene. Another director and lead actor could have made the whole Dan Brown trilogy so much better. I admit that I have only read "The Da Vinci Code" because is was so fast paced. I tried to read both "Angels and Demons" and "Inferno", but his descriptive narrative was too long and I lost interest. If he writes another Robert Langdon novel and it's turned into a movie, please find another director and star. The sound editor wasn't doing their job either. The dialog was very muddled. There was a lot of low whispering and even with the sound turned up in the theater, I couldn't understand a lot of what was being said. I find that in a lot of movies.
I want to mention that the locales do deserve a 10.
Corazón de león (2013)
Delightful and Charming
I don't know much of Argentine films, but I watched this on Netflix this evening and was charmed. It took a story that has been told before, with different circumstances, and drew me in right away. This is because of the two leads, Guillermo Francella and Julieta Diaz. I've never heard of either actor, but looking at their IMDb profiles, they are famous in their home country.
Mr. Francella's personality is infectious, plus being very attractive, especially his eyes and wonderful smile. Ms. Diaz is pretty in a quiet and very natural way. That is so refreshing to see. Her character is in turmoil with what's going on in her life and then she meets another soul that's in turmoil as well, but he handles differently.
A must see for rom-com fans. Just something a little different.
Wolf Hall (2015)
Acting is Good
I really enjoy watching Mark Rylance. I haven't read the series of book, but I've read a lot about the Tudor period. However,it was more of the six wives and Elizabeth I. So, I can't really say if this portrayal is what Cromwell and Wolsey were really like. They seem more human in this series than say, Anne of the Thousand Days or A Man for All Seasons or the great 1971 series, The Six Wives of Henry VIII. I will say this though, in my opinion, the best Henry VIII was still Keith Michell in that series. Going from a young idealist to old age as a sick tyrant gives a better portrait of him. The make up was astonishing and the costuming as he grew so fat, was excellent. Damien Lewis, so-so. Robert Shaw, I couldn't see it. And, Richard Burton, that was a poor choice in 1969's Anne of the Thousand Days. He always was a bit of a scenery chewer. Genevieve Bujold was an excellent Anne. I think that Claire Foy will do a very good job as Anne as we see more of her in the series. I've always have felt that Anne was wrongly accused. For a woman to accomplish what she did in her time was pretty incredible.
Anyway, back to Wolf Hall. I do find it a little slow. I'll keep watching just for Mark Rylance. John Colicos, Leo McKern and Wolf Morris have played Cromwell, but their portrayals were a little out of touch and I couldn't relate that well with them. Mark Rylance breaks that. I can understand what Cromwell's points of view maybe were as a lowly born commoner. I think that there is a lot of contemporary speech in this series. I don't know if that's a plus or a minus when considering the subject matter and when the story takes place. I do know that I won't care to read the books. It would be pretty ponderous. I know that I don't have the patience.
We'll see what episode three brings.
Something, Anything (2014)
I just finished watching this film on Netflix. I totally got it. It is a slice of real life. Why do we do things the way that we do? Ever asked yourself that? Sometimes we can explain it and sometimes we can't. It's called life.
In this deliberately quiet independent film, a young woman decides to leave her husband. Both have successful careers, they love each other and become the idea of what life is perceived as "perfect". She becomes pregnant. They are both happy about it. One night, he wants to go out with his work colleagues. She doesn't because she is not feeling well due to her pregnancy. He insists. She goes. At the agreed time that he said that they would leave, he just keeps talking with one of the other people at the table. She gets up and goes to the bathroom. In the stall, she discovers that she is miscarrying her baby. She uses her cell phone to call him on his. His starts buzzing. He looks at it and sees that it's her. He turns his phone off. He NEVER even bothered to turn around to see that she had left the table. It never occurred to him that his pregnant wife could be in distress. Such a caring husband. She's hurt and feels abandoned by the one person that she should have been able to trust and depend on.
So starts her process of trying to figure out what she does want from life. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. We all have different chapters in our lives. There is always change, there is always seeking, there is always discovering a new layer of who you are or aren't. What you thought that you wanted and yes, maybe you did want it at the time, but maybe it didn't work for you or you just want to go onto the next thing. Some people would think that's a flighty attitude, that's fine. Some people are inert and that's fine too. As Joan Crawford said, "My life belongs to me". A well said sentiment.
If you like soul searching movies, just plain and simple, try this.
Unconditional Love (2002)
Loved This Movie for Years
I was lucky enough to find a DVD copy in my local second hand store yesterday. Yay!!
The story is offbeat and quirky.
The cast is great, especially Meredith Eaton. She steals every scene she's in and what a beautiful lady she is too.
Kathy Bates is one of the best actresses around. She's down to earth and believable. And what a nice surprise, the lady can sing very well.
Rupert Everett is so good at comedy. But, he can play anything.
I've liked Jonathan Pryce for years. It's nice to have something that I can listen to his singing. I have searched the internet, but I can't find where he has released and album unfortunately.
It's just a gem that I can watch over and over and never get tired of.
Last Episode and Series in General
I just watched the last episode and unfortunately, my local station cuts here and there to make room for infomercials, so there were a few lines cut. My main beef about the series was that Darrin wasn't letting Samantha be herself and I never agreed with him trying to control her. That's just wrong, but it was his ego that kept getting in the way and his insecurity. She, let him do it too. I know that was the whole premise of this series. Without it, there wouldn't have been a series in the first place. However, Darrin always got on my last nerve with Endora. She started out being nice to him and then, pow, he said something insulting to her in the second episode where they met one another for the first time. He always had a quick insult for her and usually before she even said anything to him. So, he didn't even try to respect Endora. On the flip side of the coin, Samantha always respected Darrin's mother, Phyllis (even if she didn't really like her). I never cared for Phyllis. She reminded me of my own former mother-in-law. Endora is one character that I really enjoyed and would have loved to have met if she were real. I have read about some people wanting the series to go another season. If it had, I would have liked to have seen more of Samantha telling Darrin to lay off of her relatives. This was produced at the beginning of the woman's movement, so maybe she could have gone to work and introduced more characters. They could have done this in say, season 6. I did notice that Samantha was dressing more "hip" for the fashion of the times in the last 2 seasons. It was nice to not see her as the "drab" mortal wannabe housewife. I also was tired of seeing the same faces playing different characters. There should have been a little more new blood. Not seeing so much of Larry Tate would have been nice too. He was so two faced and had that big man on campus syndrome. I have read that both Elizabeth Montgomery and her husband, William Asher were tired of doing the series. So, maybe it was time to pull the plug.
Flores Raras (2013)
I just finished watching this on Netflix streaming. I will be honest, I had not heard of either Elizabeth Bishop (not a poetry reader) or Lota de Macedo Soares (don't know that much about Brazilian history). What an explosion of a true story. I was memorized. Miranda Otto, who always delivers a great performance in everything that I've seen her in, was amazing. Her character was such a conflicted person and she came out doing it brilliantly! Now, for Gloria Pires, she was a force to be reckoned with. I can't say anymore than that. When she was on the screen, it was hard to NOT to look at her. Tracy Middendort was heart wrenching as the jilted lover. I could feel what she was going through because haven't we all had to do that at one time or another? Brava to all three leading ladies. Their performances were excellent and so true to life!
Confidences trop intimes (2004)
Unusual and Fulfilling
Bravo! The French have such a way of understatement and realism in their films. This one concerns a woman who accidentally walks into the wrong office instead of the psychiatrist that she has made an appointment to see. This wonderful film unfolds and develops into something, but you are not sure what until the end. Fabrice Luchini is so unassuming. I've only seen him in a few films, but he already has become a favorite of mine. If you choose to watch this film, there is a scene that is just him. It had me laughing in just the joy of watching him start to come out of his shell. He is one person that I would like to be able to meet in person. Sandrine Bonnaire in the film is attractive, but in an ordinary way, so again, it's realism. She doesn't need to wear a lot of make up, etc. to show that she is a very lovely woman. I liked watching her as she started to become more confident. I could only imagine what an American (yes, I'm American and I love American movies too) version would do to this quiet gem of a movie. My advise to the American film industry, don't try to remake this. It's doesn't need a Reese Witherspoon (not as attractive as Bonnaire I may add) or Scarlett Johansson (too much for the role) or a bumbling Tom Hanks (can't stand him to begin with) or God forbid, Jim Carrey or Will Farrell. Just leave this wonderful French gem alone.
Plots with a View (2002)
An Absolute Delight
I bought this movie after seeing it on Netflix. I have adored Alfred Moline since seeing him for the first time in "Enchanted April", another favorite of mine. He is nothing short of a chameleon. Brenda Blethyn is such a wonderful actress and one who does comedy very skillfully. She has great timing. What can I say about Christopher Walken? Screwy as ever! His assistant, played by Lee Evans, is hilarious. Naomi Watts, gee, I've only really seen her in dramatic roles and a great actress she is. But, in "Undertaking Betty", wow! The supporting cast, Robert Pugh, was so good that I just wanted to push is face in for being such a lout. The little boy who played Willie, Padrig Owen Jones, he was so touching. So, if you want to enjoy a dark comedy, watch "Undertaking Betty". I have recommended this movie to many people.
Take the Lead (2006)
Feel Good Movie
This is one of my go to movies to enjoyed the vibrancy and energy of the dancers. I love, love, love the dancing. There were a lot of young talented dancers. As far as the ending, so what? Baz Lurman did something similar in "Strictly Ballroom" and he's considered a great director. The ending in both movies weren't totally what would have happened, but it made me feel good. We don't always need to see "real life" in movies. I think that anything inspirational in a positive way in movies is worth it. Someone may see something that they think "Let me try that and see where it takes me". There are too many negative ones out there. I enjoyed watching this movie because it made me feel good.
About Fifty (2011)
Piece of Real Life
I watched this movie last night. I like to watch character studies. This movie was realistic about real life. I found it funny and engaging. The acting was very good. It was refreshing that a 50 year old man was attracted to a woman in his own age group! I did feel that the ending felt a little unfinished though and could have tied things up a little more. However, as I said earlier, the movie is about real life. Sometimes, things aren't tied up neatly like in the movies. There's that thing that you would have liked to have said or that thing that you would have liked to have done, but in all reality, a lot of times it isn't possible. I guess that's why I thought that this movie feel just a bit flat because I think that we are conditioned to have things neatly tied up in our hour and a half to two hours. Because we all want that happy ending.