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Bridge of Spies (2015)
What's the next move when you don't know what the game is?
Sir Mark Rylance earned an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Rudolf Abel, a German immigrant in the United States over espionage in the late fifties. America was going through the McCarthy era where the fear of communism was paranoia. As a daughter of parents who lived through Communism Eastern Europe in the fifties, they immigrated to the United States. The Germany especially the East Berlin side was grim and bleak under communism. This film did a terrific job in relating and bringing the story to life about James Donovan, a lawyer who defended Abel under enormous pressure. His family endured bullying and taunting from friends, neighbors and colleagues. Tom Hanks was perfect in the role by the way. Alan Alda also played a supporting role. Again the film really belonged to Sir Mark Rylance who was also awarded Knighthood for his services as an actor. I could watch him in anything.
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot (2016)
It's so pretty I don't even want to vote.
Tina Fey takes a chance at doing both comedy and drama as a television journalist who aspires to be taken seriously so she goes to Afghanistan. It was shot mostly in New Mexico. Tina Fey can do comedy and drama equally well. The film has some storyline issues at times but the film comes across well as a whole. Billy Bob Thornton was great in his role. The supporting cast is stellar with Cherry Jones and Margot Robbie as Kim's friend and rival in journalism. Tina Fey was terrific and it's dedicated to Donald Fey too.
American Horror Story: The End (2018)
A Nice Distraction from Our Present Reality!
What would you do if the end of the world came upon us? Well if the choice is to in a subterranean dark bunker with such undesirable people, I would rather risk my life to survive above ground. I wouldn't pay $100 million dollars to live that way. The Apocalypse theme has Sarah Paulson back as Wilhelmina Venable, the right arm of the cooperative, a secret group who built and funded the underground bunkers to rebuild a new world. The residents include Dame Joan Collins who got lucky to get a ticket; Coco, a media celebrity; two recruits with good DNA; a former television star named Dinah Stevens and a few others. There are workers who wear grey. Kathy Bates and Sarah Paulson are divine as the sadistic leaders of the outpost three. They don't care about the others really and try to get away with much upon their residents. What would you do if you were given an option to survive a nuclear holocaust or perish? I would take the latter if it meant living with these insufferable vain and conceited characters like Coco. The first episode was good enough to make me watch again.
The Hateful Eight (2015)
Daisy smiles and says When you get to hell, John, tell them Daisy sent you...
The all star cast featured Jennifer Jason Leigh in her Academy Award nominated performance as Daisy, a prisoner who faces death by hanging in Red Rock, Wyoming. Kurt Russell is the bounty hunter John Ruth who brings her by stagecoach to Minnie's haberdashery. There are wonderful performances like Bruce Dern and Samuel L. Jackson. The film is broken into chapters and is set up like a mystery. It can be crude, violent, vulgar and bloody but it's the wild wild west in the 1800s. You can't expect anything less from a Tarantino film. Still I enjoyed it. I hope you do enjoy something different from this director.
Say Anything... (1989)
She's gone. She gave me a pen. I gave her my heart, she gave me a pen.
John Cusack played Lloyd Dobler, the every guy who graduated high school in Seattle, Washington. Ione Skye played Diane Court, the valedictorian with a promising future. They are an unlikely couple but it's a beautiful love story. John Mahoney played Diane's dad, a complex man. There are plenty of memorable supporting roles like Bebe Neuwirth as the guidance counselor. There are other cameos like Lili Taylor, Jason Gould, Jeremy Piven and others. It's one of those films like teen angst during the eighties generation. Cameron Crowe did a terrific job in directing this unlikely classic with the iconic scene. The characters are real and believable.
Miracle on 34th Street (1994)
Mr. Collins, I hope you've taken down that old TV antenna. I ripped my pants on it last year.
The late Lord Richard Attenborough looked like he enjoyed himself in the role of Santa Claus aka Kris Kringle in this delightful updated remake. With a solid supporting cast, the film included a believable love story between Elizabeth Perkins and Dylan McDermott. Mara Wilson was wonderful as the child. There are other notable performances like Robert Prosky, Allison Janney, Mary McCormack in her first film role, J.T. Walsh and others. The film was shot on location in New York City. Instead of Macy's there is a Cole's Department store and a rival with Jane Leeves. The film has a charm all its own.
Lady Bird (2017)
We're afraid that we will never escape our past. We're afraid of what the future will bring. We're afraid we won't be loved, we won't be liked. And we won't succeed.
Lady Bird aka Christine McPherson was perfectly played by Saorsie Ronan as a senior high school student in Sacramento, California. Laurie Metcalf was splendid and perfect as her mother, a psychiatric nurse. Her parents had sent her to Catholic school to avoid the horrors of public school. Steppenwolf Theatre Company is well-represented with Laurie Metcalf and Tracy Letts as her parents. Lois Smith played the mother superior. The cast is first rate and the writing is subtle and believable. This film was done by a female film director and screenwriter, Greta Garwig. The film has a believable quality to enjoy and behold as Christine goes through her senior year and trying to escape her home life.
About Schmidt (2002)
You've got to appreciate what you have while you still have it.
Jack Nicholson earned another Academy Award nomination for his role as Warren Schmidt. He retired from his job as an actuary in Omaha, Nebraska. He lost his longtime wife, Helen (June Squibb) after 42 years. His daughter, Jeanie, is getting married to Randall. His daughter's future mother-in-law is played by Academy Award nominee Kathy Bates. This film is about his life while he writes to his foster son in Africa. The film has plenty of moments with great acting and writing. The film has some light and dark moments. You feel sorry for Warren Schmidt. Jack Nicholson gave one of the best performances in his life here as the everyman.
Cedar Rapids (2011)
One of the reasons I love Brown Valley so much is that when you do business here, chances are good you know the person you're dealing with.
The film has an all-star cast like Sigourney Weaver, Ed Helms, Anne Heche, Stephen Root, John C. Reilly, Thomas Lennon and Kurtwood Smith among them. The writing may not be the best but the film is quite undiscovered gem that I didn't even know about its existence till I picked up at a dollar store. The cast look like they're having a ball on screen. The film is about a Wisconsin insurance agent sent to an insurance convention in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The film has plenty of humorous moments as well. Ed Helms can star and hold his own against anyone. He played this sheltered insurance agent whose girlfriend is played by Sigourney Weaver. Out on his own in Cedar Rapids, he discovers himself.
O Pioneers! (1992)
Jessica Lange Soars as the Older Alexandra Bergstrom
Jessica Lange went from the big screen to the small screen with her performance here. She is just excellent here as she is anywhere else including stage as well. Jessica Lange played the elder Alexandra Bergstrom. A young Heather Graham played the young Alexandra. She did an excellent job. Anne Heche had left "Another World" for other opportunities. This film highlighted her talent as an actress. David Straitharn played the elder Carl Lindstrom, the love of Alexandra's live. The film is kind of slow at times. The film was made for television. The ending of the film was a surprise since I haven't read the novel.
The Piano Lesson (1995)
The Piano Is More About Music In This Film!
Based on the August Wilson play, the cast is first rate with Alfre Woodard, Charles Dutton, Lou Myers, Courtney B. Vance and others in this film. The film was produced for the classic Hallmark Hall of Fame. I didn't see the play so I don't know of the differences. There is a lot of dialogue among the cast to help believability. Back when they aired television movies on networks, Hallmark Hall of Fame produced the finest quality of films with cast and writing. This film is worth viewing at least once.
Brick Lane (2007)
We must not run from our fate. What cannot be changed must be borne. The test of life is to endure.
Nazneen leaves behind her beloved sister, Hasina, in Bangladesh for an arranged marriage to Chanu and move to London, England. They lived on Brick Lane in the East End of London with their family. Nazneen writes letters back home to her sister about her life. The film is shot partly in London, England and in India. The cast is first rate. The acting is very realistic and believable. The film was based on Monica Ali's novel of the same name.
Kindly Omit Flowers!
Eleanor Parker gave one of her best performances as Marie Allen, a young naive pregnant widow, who becomes an unwilling accessory to a robbery that killed her husband. She would give birth to a son only to give up her rights. Her mother wouldn't take him. Agnes Moorehead was terrific as the prison warden who sees her inmates as human beings. Hope Emerson was brilliant in her role as a cruel sadistic matron. The case is first rate with Lee Patrick as Elvira. Ellen Corby was also an inmate.
The Great Fight (2011)
Groundbreaking Film Falls Flat!
The film would have been successful if the director and writer focused on the story about Anthony rather than the other characters in the film. Veteran talents like Charles Durning, Joyce Dewitt, Martin and Robert Loggia are sorely underused here. The independent film seems to need work in staying with the storyline about Anthony, an autistic savant seventeen year old with a gift for boxing and speaking Spanish but not much else. The film is watchable but the other actors and actresses seem to too pretty and unrealistic to reality. The film was shot on location in New Jersey too. I was left with questions at the end of the film and unsatisfied ending.
My Boyfriends' Dogs (2014)
Boyfriends and Dogs and Wuthering Heights!
Erika Christensen played Bailey, a public high school English or language arts teacher. She arrived with her dogs at diner at closing time in a wedding dress. She begins to tell the story of what happened to Joyce Dewitt's Nikki and the diner owner Louie. It's a sweet tale with not much saccharine like other Hallmark Hall of Fame movies. It's a nice sweet overall film about relationships. The cast do a great job. I wished the storyline was better told though. The characters are somewhat developed more than most in these kind of films without using cheap tricks to engage the viewers. I am a Joyce Dewitt fan so I enjoyed her performance as Nikki. We don't see enough of her in film and television.
A Silly Photograph of the First Lady could destroy the Presidency!
If you like Joyce DeWitt, she played a First Lady who gets caught in a silly scandal pose. Her photograph could threaten the presidency. Joyce DeWitt was simply marvelous as the First Lady of the United States. The film has some other actors like Robert Loggia and Martin Kove too. The younger cast members seem to take more acting courses. The film was shot on location in New Jersey which surprised me. I was expecting Hollywood. How ironic that a First Lady's pose could threaten her husband's presidency? Oh those were the times when they seemed more innocent than today. That picture wouldn't even make front page news.
Ne te retourne pas (2009)
You'll Be On the Edge of Your Seat!
Sophie Marceau and Monica Bellucci acted in this psychological drama about a woman who questions her life and past. The film has several fine moments about how Jeanne wonders about her life and the mysterious woman in her mother's photograph. The film takes us through the streets of Paris, France and to Italy to solve a mystery. It's quite a mystery and great cast to lead the way. Jeanne never seems the same afterwards but at peace with her discovery.
No, actually it's called blackmail. Entrapment is what cops do to thieves.
Sir Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta-Jones played a pair of world class thieves who go to great lengths for the robbery. It isn't just the treasure but the adrenaline that gets them going. They seek treasures like a priceless mask and Rembrandt painting. The Millennium fortune falls on New Year's Eve in 1999 where they try to overtake a system stealing money in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The film takes place in New York City, London, Scotland and Malaysia. The cast is great and this odd pairing is quite believable sometimes.
f you want to scare people, you have to scare them with their past, their past poverty, long lines to buy bread.
Gael Garcia Bernal should have been nominated for an Academy Award about the playing the Chilean who was the mind behind the No campaign to oust dictator Pinochet in Chile. The film does the best to recreate life in 1988 and included cameos from Christopher Reeve, Richard Dreyfuss and Jane Fonda. The film can be inspiring about how a campaign that was virtually a challenge to achieve democracy in Chile. The film showed the violence, riots, and Pinochet's reign of terror of missing family members during the communism. The film is a triumph of the human spirit about how people can overcome a dictatorship and the power to vote.
Call Me by Your Name (2017)
When you least expect it, nature has cunning ways of finding our weakest spot.
The film is set in Northern Italy in 1983 before the AIDS crisis. The film is about a teenager named Elio Perlman who comes of age one summer. Oliver is his father's research assistant sent for a summer internship. Their romance slowly begins and unfolds during the film. Elio's parents must be the most enlightened parents ever. They even hint that they know about their son's sexuality before he tells them. They even send him and Oliver on a road trip together towards the end of the film. The romance is believable. The actors do their best to convey their attraction although somewhat discrete in Italy. Elio lives with his parents at a villa in Northern Italy year round. The summer flies by though as does the film. The film does have an abrupt ending about Oliver and Elio's relationship.
Postcards from the Edge (1990)
Never let 'em see you ache. That's what Mr. Mayer used to say. Or was it "ass"? Never let 'em see your ass.
Academy Award winners, Meryl Streep and Shirley MacLaine play a mother and daughter actress and singers in Hollywood, California. They are loosely based on Carrie Fisher's memoir about her life as the daughter of Debbie Reynolds. The film has great moments with Streep and Maclaine and mother and daughter. The cast is first rate. Mary Wickes who played Grandma was one of Hollywood's greatest character actresses. Conrad Bain played Grandpa. The film is about how Suzanne Vale must live with her mother, Doris Mann, while she is shooting with a film with an all-star cast and directed by Mike Nichols. Gene Hackman played the director. Richard Dreyfuss played the doctor. Carrie Fisher even has a cameo. Annette Bening made her film debut. Dennis Quaid displayed his ability to act with Streep. The film is fine and great to see Meryl Streep sing too. A must for Meryl Streep fans to see and wonder why she's marvelous Meryl Streep.
Dancing at Lughnasa (1998)
Good. Better to leave her single than to leave her married.
Academy Award winner Meryl Streep performed an Irish spinster in Ireland in the 1930s. The cast is first rate with Sir Michael Gambon, Sophie Thompson, Kathy Burke and Brid Brennan. The film was based on Brian Friel's play. The setting is in rural Ireland where five adult sisters and a brother live there. There are changes in the world and in their lives. The film does a decent job with the performances. The writing could have been stronger though. I was left wondering what happened in the end about their lives. I thought the film was nice overall and only about 95 minutes. I thought the play was longer than the movie.
We Can't Be Alone in the Universe!
If you ever wanted to know the possibility about life beyond earth, the scientists here include astronomer, volcano expert, planetary scientists, astrophysicist and others. The Nova science episode is quite worthy watching to see the glorious colors of the planets and the universes out there. This episode is filing with interesting and fascinating facts about the possibility of life in universe. The documentary covers many of the planet's fascinating features.
Jaws 3-D (1983)
Overman was killed inside the park, the baby was caught inside the park, the mother is inside the park.
Bess Armstrong leads the cast in this largely forgettable film as a marine biologist in Florida where she trained dolphins, whales and possibly a great white shark. The film is set at Sea World in Florida with an undersea kingdom grand opening. When they capture a baby shark, they underestimate that the mother shark is in the park while people are in the water and then the underground tunnel. The film has its moments and is entertaining. The Brody brothers are older and have thought that the sharks were worlds away.
Pride and Prejudice (1995)
Perhaps I didn't always love him as well as I do now, but in such cases as these a good memory is unpardonable.
Jane Austen would have been proud to see her classic novel brought to the small screen with no spared expense. If the mini-series was released in cinema, it would have been a front-runner for Academy Awards. The cast is first rate with Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth as Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy. The supporting cast is first rate with Alison Steadman, Benjamin Whitrow, Julia Sawalha, David Bamber, Adrian Lukis, Susannah Harker, Lucy Briers, Polly Maberly and more. The cast was perfectly cast to match each character. The art direction including the scenery and costumes were first rate and the finest quality. In six hours, you get the brilliance of Austen's novel. Andrew Davies adapted the novel to the screen. Simon Langton did a terrific job in directing the film. Dinah Collin was a terrific costume designer. The cast and crew did their best to keep the mini-series faithful and authentic to every little detail about the time period.