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News of the World (2020)
Beautiful touching film of a child "lost" between two worlds and the gentleman who meetss her
In post Civil War Texas, Captain Jefferson Kidd wanders from town to town reading the news of the country and the world to folks who can't read. Its a tent gathering, with everyone paying a dime to learn and to be entertained with Kidd's winning style. In truth, Kidd is a lost soul who has horrific memories of the war and the wife he left behind in San Antonio. One day, after a performance in North Texas, Kidd enters a woods and finds a child left on her own; her escort is dead nearby. This is Johanna (Helena Zengel) , once a child of German immigrants in Texas but captive four years with the Kiowa Native Americans. She calls herself Cicada and only speaks her adopted language, although she has papers which identify her. Most of all, she wants to return to the Kiowa but the US Army demanded all white captives be released before leaving the Kiowa alone. Thus, she's a lost, lonely, scared, angry little girl. Hanks is forced to be the one who is in charge of her safe return to an aunt and uncle in Castroville Texas, far to the South. They start out in a wagon with supplies and a single horse. Slowly, Johanna gets used to her new dress and boots, coffee, and learning English. Not liking each other at first, Kidd and Johanna bond well. But, there are perils on the journey such as dust storms and steep trails. The most horrible peril involves three men who want to "buy" Johanna to sell her into the sex trade (yes even back then!). Will they fight back against these dangers and make it to Castroville? This beautiful touching film has an abundance of assets. Hanks, of course, is always a fine performer but, here, even he is upstaged by Zengel. What a wonder this German child star is! Her eyes are big and expressive and she speaks Kiowa like she was born to it! In fact, her performance gives the film its ten rating as she is amazing. Also nice, however, is the sweeping cinematography, the wonderful creations of the towns and costumes, and the haunting musical score. The NEWS today is DON'T MISS THIS FILM!
Dial M for Murder (1954)
Intriguing story but, as based on a play, difficult to bring to "motion" pictures
Tony (Ray Milland) is a former tennis star who, quite fortunately, married an heiress named Margot (Grace Kelly). Until a year ago, Tony was still on the circuit and often away from home. As Margot felt deservedly neglected, she turned to another gentleman, Mark (Robert Cummings) for love and affection. Quite by accident, Tony found this out. At once, he changed his schedule and stayed in London most days. Also, he started paying more attention to Margot and she is grateful. But, to what purpose? In his heart of hearts, Tony is SEETHING with rage and is plotting revenge in a big way. First, he is confusing Margot about who she loves and, also, has underhandedly taken a love letter from Mark and returned it. She is very alarmed that someone knows of her affair but she doesn't guess its Tony. More importantly, Tony has found a two-bit criminal to blackmail into bumping Margot off; this man has been cornered and will follow Tony's directions. Its quite an elaborate plot to get to Margot at just the right moment. But, as mystery writer Mark attests, "perfect" murders only happen in books. Sure enough, the plan goes off the rails. Now, Tony must cover his tracks and make sure HE doesn't get the blame! Is Tony smart enough to defeat the local detectives and, worse, turn the tables on Margot for her money? This fine Hitchcock film has great performances, especially by Milland as a suave, smiling killer. Sets are nice, costumes are lovely and production values are high. The main problem with the film is that it started as a play and the change in settings is very minimal, with most of the action taking place at Tony and Margot's house in London. Naturally, Hitchcock mixes up the camera work and tries valiantly to keep the viewers' attention. But, at least for this viewer, the mostly "talk" and lack of action becomes a bit boring. Nevertheless, just to see Milland work his evil ways as a "gentleman murderer" is worth the watch.
Love on a Leash (2011)
Totally inept film, despite an attractive lady and cute dog
Jana (Jana Parker) works in a clothing store in her town, where she is an attentive employee. Having a nice best friend, she confides she would like to find her "perfect love". Until then, she is not dating very much and is quite wary of men. At the store, a kind fellow employee seems to be attempting to work up the courage to ask her for a date while the boss, secretly, wants to force unwanted attentions on Jana. One day, a dog follows Jana home. Ah, but this isn't an ordinary homeless dog. This canine is REALLY a prince under an evil spell until he finds a woman to kiss and declare true love. How about them apples? So, first Jana adopts the dog, Another friend tries to fix Jana up with a widower with one son and an extremely overbearing Mother. This does not go well at all. After many tears over dates "gone wrong", she says the magic words to Prince the dog and POOF! He becomes a man. But, what the heck, now he's only a man at night and a dog by day. Jana is too confused to handle the situation. How will it end? All I can say is: Stay away! Despite the leading lady's winning ways, the production is awful. Camera work is amateurish, the story goes on far too long and at a snail's pace while the man playing Prince is totally ridiculous. Seeing Love on a Leash is like having the leash wrapped around your neck and getting tighter with no end in sight!
Dog Gone (2008)
French Stewart is funny funny; Benward and the darling dog will capture your heart
Owen (Luke Benward) is just-about-a teenager and is a wizard at invention. He has perfected a way to catapault papers on his paper route right into the hands or the porches of his customers. In addition, he has a secret hideaway tree house in the woods nearby, with many booby traps set to keep unwanted visitors out. Rumor has it that there is a hermit in the woods but only Owen truly believes this. One day, the boy's parents go away to a convention and Owen's older sister Lily is in charge. The two siblings get along in most respects, although they trade barbs now and then. Meanwhile, three thieves have abducted some diamonds and hidden them somewhere in a dog's collar while they travel miles and miles to meet their "buyer". Leader Blackie (French Stewart) has dressed in an Nun's habit to be "incognito" while his co-horts rent a conspicuous pink and white 50's car for their travels. Naturally, these men pass through Owen territory. Owen guesses at once that the dog is dognapped and he manages to lure him away from the three dimwits. Now, the trio is after Owen but they are up for the fight of their lives! Remember, Owen has the inventions to make these guys suffer boings on the head and many, many mishaps. Who will end up with the dog? This adorable family film has high production qualities, an engaging cast and darling dog, wonderful sets near Cheney, Washington and more. Most of all, it has French Stewart who is one of the funniest actors on the planet and will delight audiences with his comic delivery. Anyone searching for the next family night happening with do well to chose Dog Gone.
A Rainy Day in New York (2019)
Finally I saw the film I have waited for and, if its Woody's last, its a walkoff winner!
Gatsby (what a great character name and played by Timothee Chalamet) is a student at Yardley College in upstate New York. Its a compromise between him and his parents, as Gatsby's main interests are card games and piano bars. Happily, Gatsby has a beautiful girlfriend, Ashleigh (Elle Fanning) who is a journalism student and writer for the college paper. Its Ashleigh's good fortune to snag an interview with a famous movie director, Pollard (Liev Schrieber) but must travel to Manhattan to meet this man. As this is Gatsby's home city, he is excited to come along and show her his favorite sights and the bar where they play the music he loves. So, off they go. After arrival, the two part, agreeing to meet for lunch after the Pollard meeting. But, things go off kilter. The director is in despair over the film he has just finished and, enchanted by Ashleigh's pretty face and winning ways, he insists she screen it with him. This will take hours and Gatsby gets the call she will be later than she expects. Annoying! Thus, Gatsby goes to visit his brother, who if about to be married. Horrors, this sibling tells Gatsby he can't go through with it, due to his fiancees screeching laugh. Having no advice, Gatsby then visits the set of an indie film being shot by an old friend where he runs into Chan (Selena Gomez) the younger sis of an old Gatsby girlfriend. She has agreed to be in the movie where she is to receive a passionate kiss in a convertible! All too soon, Gatsby gets persuaded to be in the movie and bestow this lip clencher. Ho ho ho. Although they trade barbs and insults, the kiss has rattled them both. As Ashleigh is still busy, Chan and Gatsby go visit a museum as rain is pouring. Wait, what's going on? Tihs enchanting film has all of Woody Allen's fabulous ingredients. The cast is great, with Chalamet shining brightly; all of the others, Fanning, Schieber, Jude Law, Rebecca Hall and the rest, do fine work, too. The sets are wonderful and the costumes snazzy. Most of all, the script is full of humor, pathos, and charm while the direction never falters. Yes, as stated many times, I am Allen's biggest fan living in Toledo, Ohio, which is nowhere at all. But, this film is superlative, matchless, everlasting and magical.
Sonic the Hedgehog (2020)
SuperSonic Fun, what else?
Poor Sonic the alien hedgehog (voiced wonderfully by Ben Schwarz) ! He lived on a planet rather peacefully, with a protector owl named Claw. But, alas, Sonic went out of bounds and ended up putting his life in danger. Claw, in sacrifice, sent him to planet Earth, with more "stargate" rings if he should need them. Now, Sonic lives in small city Montana in his own cave where he watches his neighbors in secret. His favorite is Donut Man, who happens to be Sheriff Tom (James Marsden). Tom is married to beautiful Maddie (Tika Sumpter), a veterinarian and is loved by the town. But, Tom thinks he wants more action and has applied to work for the San Francisco police department. Maddie wants what is best for both of them and her sister lives in SF, too. One day, Sonic watches the little league baseball game and loves it. After everyone has gone home, the little hedgehog goes wild playing his own game, for he is fast enough to pitch, hit, and catch all at once. Nevertheless, he runs so fast he ends up crashing and knocking out power to the town. And the entire western Montana. This brings in the Feds, including Dr. Robotic (Jim Carrey) who finds a blue quill, analyzes it and knows he's dealing with something that needs to be CAUGHT! Thus a chase begins with the looney Doctor pursuing the little hedgehog, who accidentally sent his special "rings" to a tower in SF. Sheriff Tom is the one who drives Sonic just ahead of the Doctor, stopping for a bit of fun at a country western drinking establishment. Will Tom and Sonic be able to outwit Robotic with his bag of cool gadgets? This film is SuperSonic fun and will delight many audiences, including older children. How wonderful to see Carrey on screen again, with his high octane humor, while Marsden, Sumpter, Schwartz, and the rest of the cast is great as well. Add on terrific animation, scenery, costumes, and wit and what, what is not to like? Speed over to grab Sonic wherever you can.
Feed the Fish (2010)
Feed your funny bone with this enjoyable comedy with great scenery and romance
Ross (Joe Pedersen) has written and illustrated a successful children's book, Mr. Kitty Feeds the Fish. As such, his publishers gave him a rather large advance to write a follow-up. But, alas, Ross has writer's block and his live-in galpal in Venice CA is peeved. Happily, her brother comes to the rescue by suggesting a change in venue. This J.P. (a hilarious Michael Chernis) takes Ross far, far away to upper Wisconsin, where the duo will participate in the annual polar plunge into lake Michigan. But, horrors! J.P. gets badly injured by a badger and ends up in the small town hospital. Poor Ross, who doesn't even know how to turn up the heat in their house, has to fend for himself. The sheriff (Tony Shaloub) is mighty miffed when another gentleman, a hunter, gets injured at the same place as J.P., albeit by a bullet fired by mistake. But, there is a lovely lady Sif (Katie Asleton) who catches Ross' eye and makes his heart flutter while her very grandfather helps Ross learn how to ice fish and adjust to the freezing climate. Will Ross indeed be inspired to finish his book? This darling movie, written and direction by Michael Matzdorff, is true delight. There are many humorous new takes on a California guy getting his first taste of the Arctic atmosphere and the locals of the town are hilariously quirky. Meanwhile, the scenery is harsh but beautiful, complete with a real badger! Do you want to feed your funny bone and laugh laugh laugh? Go fishing for Feed the Fish!
Babe: Pig in the City (1998)
Much darker than the spirit lifting original Babe; nevertheless it is intiguing
Babe the pig (voiced beautifully by Elizabeth Daily) has returned to the farm with the Hoggetts. He has his great trophy for being the top sheep herder in tow. But, one unhappy day, he tries to help the farmer with a task, which ends with a severe injury to Farmer Hoggett (James Cromwell). The farmer is in traction, in bed. Now, Mrs. Hoggett (Magda Szubanski) is having a hard time keeping up with all of the tasks. On top of this, two bankers arrive and inform her that a big payment is due or they will lose the farm. Horrors! Remembering the offers that flooded in, if Babe would make an appearance, she and Babe set off for the "City" to earn money. All too soon they lose their chance to meet the first showing engagement and end up at a hostel for animals and their owners. Then, even more sadly, Babe is hognapped by a street performer (Mickey Rooney!) and his monkey showstoppers. Esme Hoggett is frantic to find Babe but ends up in trouble with the law. Babe descends into further depths when he accidentally sets a place on fire. Running away, he ends up on the street being chased by viscious dogs. Nearly drowning, Babe saves one of his tormentors. In return, this pitbull leads all sorts of alley cats and stray dogs back to the hostel, believing they will be safe. Think again, more perils await! Will Esme Hoggett and Babe ever get the money to save the farm? This second film about the loveable Babe is beautiful to watch, with fantastic sets and a great cast. Many animals performers delight as well. However, the story is dark with the "City" being a place where dangers lurk at every hour and every turn. For this reason, the littlest viewers might get a wee bit scared but older children and their families will be intrigued. Please note, Crowwell has a very small role and Szubanski is the human star! But, naturally, Babe the pig is the main attraction and she is the embodiement of all that is good and kind, a great example. Dear families, do visit with Babe a second time around.
Beethoven's 5th (2003)
This film is fun and enjoyable with the world's cutest St. Bernard ever!
Sara (Daveigh Chase) has been bratty lately and got kicked out of summer camp. Thus, she and her big St. Bernard, Beethoven, are sent to Quicksilver, a small town. Uncle Freddy (Dave Thomas) is glad to have her but Sara thinks he is weird and his ideas for meals just awful. But, pretty soon, with the help of a new friend Garrett, she is enjoying the spirit of the small community. The best part is that, on a walk at night with her uncle, Beethoven finds an old $100 bill that may be part of a long ago bank robbery. The mayor (John Laroquette) is extremely excited at this discovery but the town's librarian (Tom Poston) is not happy at all. Why not, one asks? It's complicated. Also, the town's boutique owner (Kathy Griffin) is not liking Sara too much, either, as her little dog gets out of hand when Beethoven is near. Can Sara, Uncle Freddy and Garrett find the old money stash and get rich? This darling continuation of the Beethoven series has a new venue away from Suburbia and it is a good change of pace. Also, the cast is really wonderful, with the above mentioned and also Faith Ford as the town's sheriff and Katherine Helmond as an eccentric neighbor. Families will enjoy a Fifth of Beethoven!
Paul Hogan is a hoot and this film version of a tv classic is fun and touching
Sandy (Elijah Woods) is really angry at being sent to stay with his uncle Porter (Paul Hogan) on Coral Key, part of Florida's Key Islands. He is to spend the entire summer there, while his divorcing Mother recovers and ties up loose ends. Ouch. Not only this, but fisherman Porter lives in a near-shack, dines quite a bit on spaghettios, and makes toast with a blow torch. Plus, Sandy will be missing a dreamed of concert with The Red Hot Chili Peppers. Almost at once, Sandy begins plotting an escape. But, soon, a dolphin he and his uncle saw on the open water follows the boy home. Naming him Flipper, Sandy teaches the dolphin tricks and tries to earn money by showing him off to others. However, problems arise. First, no one is allowed to "keep" a dolphin as a pet; its a violation. Second, an evil fellow fisherman detests dolphins, who get in the way of fishing, and also may be plotting other dastardly deeds in the area. Will Sandy be able to remain close with Flipper? And is the dolphin and other sea creatures in danger? This entertaining version of a classic tv show from the sixties has much to enjoy. Hogan is a hoot and he and Wood are perfect acrimonious foils. The scenery is quite lovely, making one want to jet off to the Keys, and Flipper the actor is a heart stealer. Although there are times when tears may start forming, all ends well. In short, your family will flip over Flipper!
The Snowman (2017)
Not perfect, but a brave enigmatic thriller with spectacular scenery; critics wrong
In Norway, a young boy catches his mother in bed with "Uncle Jonas". The man flees, vowing never to return. Mother and son hop in a car to chase him down. Suddenly, the mother becomes catatonic, spins out over a frozen lake, and won't wake up. The son manages to escape and pleads in vain for his Mother to exit. She doesn't and, when the ice breaks, sinks and drowns. Now, quite a few number of years in the future, alcoholic detective Harry (Michael Fassbender) is nearly burned out, despite his stellar record as a man who catches the bad folks of Oslo. One of his problems is a recent breakup with a girlfriend, Rakel (Charlotte Gainsburg) and his attachment to her son, Oleg. Another is the lack of a serious case. This latter changes quickly. A newcomer detective, Katrine (Rebecca Ferguson) has recently transferred from the city of Bergen, bringing with her a case of missing females. Now, women are disappearing in Oslo, also, with eerie little snowmen left near the scenes of the crimes. When two of these victims turn up dead, Harry and Katrine join forces to try to stop what appears to be a serial killer. What Harry doesn't realize is Katrine already believes she knows who it is, a wealthy businessman named Arne (J.K.Simmons). All she has been trying to do is connect the dots, for Arne has a penchant for prostitutes provided by an Oslo doctor as the pimp. And, wouldn't you know, some of the missing women has consulted this doctor about infertility and other female related issues. Is it Arne indeed? Or is someone else the sadistic killer? Also, is there anyone connected to the tragic opening episode? This fine movie is somewhat disjointed in plot, true, going back and forth in time with confusing results. However, this doesn't really matter as the viewer never loses interest in discovering the secrets. The cast, with Fassbender in the lead, and Ferguson, Chloe Sevigny, Simmons, Gainsburg, Val Kilmer, Toby Jones, and others in attendance, is really quite wonderful. More breathtaking is the unbelievable beauty of the Norway scenery, the interesting camera work, and the totally creepy snowmen who begin to dot the crime scenes. An added plus are the motifs of a small computer with rabbit ears and a cellphone with a ringtone for Grieg's In the Hall of the Mountain King. If you heard this film was a failure, don't believe it. It has plenty of excitement and panache.
The Goodbye Girl (1977)
Still a favorite; an unlikely couple fall for each other
Paula (Marsha Mason) has been living in New York with a handsome gentleman Tony and her very intelligent ten year old daughter Lucy (Quinn Cummings). But, wow does he do a doozy of a "its over, Paula". As he goes off on a job assignment in another city, he sublets his apartment to an erstwhile actor, Elliot (Richard Dreyfuss). She is stunned and she doesn't want to give up her apartment! Therefore, although they take an instant dislike to each other, Paula and Elliot agree to share the apartment, purely platonic, of course. As Paula tries valiantly to resume her career as a dancer and Elliot gets a prime part as Richard III with a crazy director, is it possible these two singles might be falling for each other? Also, what about Lucy? She thinks Elliot is a dweeb but her opinion might be changing, too. This funny tale of love between two very unlikely people is still a winning film. Dreyfuss won an Oscar for his quirky performance as the wannabee star while Mason shines as a gal who has been dumped over and over, only to rise again. Cummings, too, is a total delight as a "little" girl who is wise beyond her years. The sets in and around New York are fun while the laugh lines keep unfolding in the endearing screenplay by Neil Simon. Would you like to see a romantic comedy with both romance and humor? This is a classic from long ago.
The French Connection (1971)
Hackman's performance and elaborate cat and mouse chase makes this film very special!
Jimmy "Popeye" Doyle (Gene Hackman) is a narcotics detective in NYC. An alcoholic, he is very volatile and problematic but his dedication to bringing down criminals is real and strong. His partner, Buddy (Roy Scheider) tries valiantly to keep his colleague's worst impulses under control and generally succeeds. At this time, there is a new enemy in town, as a French drug lord has hatched a plot to bring an especially pure strain of heroin to town and he is meeting with a rising star in American drug mobsters. Catching news of this plot, Popeye and Buddy follow the French bigwig everywhere and try to find out the circumstances for the exchange of drugs and money. This is complicated by the fact that there is a hitman who works for the Frenchman also on the loose. Can two erstwhile and clever detectives bring down the suave, cool Frog? First, the look of the film surprised this viewer. Friedkin the director has definitely used a minimalist approach on the sets and concentrated more on the plot. Then, too, viewers must pay attention to the dialogue as nothing is spelled out in narration or any other way so that the actors words are paramount to understanding the plot, which is complicated. Nevertheless, there are many thrills which make this a top-rated film. One is Hackman's performance, which is superb. No, he's not really likeable but his manic devotion to catching criminals has an energy that makes every viewer's heart pound. One very funny scene involves Popeye being handcuffed to a bed by a one-night stand and Buddy having to rescue him. Scheider is also fine as the low key co-detective. All the supporting cast is great as well. Most importantly, the chase all over the city and its burbs is thrilling. This is especially so for Popeye's high octane drive on the road underneath the subway tracks, trying to catch the hitman who has boarded the train. It's breaktaking. There is a bit of blood and gore but not much and no one should stay away for fear of too much violence. In short, connect with the French Connection, do, do, do!
Pretty good sci-fi with a very interesting plot line
Spencer (Gary Sinise) dreamed of being an astronaut as a child and built all kinds of toy rockets. But, alas, before he became an adult, aliens from Alpha Centari invaded earth and destroyed much. His father perished. Now, its the year 2079 and the wealthy of earth have domed cities which keep the aliens out, for the most part, and Spencer has become an expert in weapons to kill the aliens. He is married to a beautiful doctor (Madeline Stowe). Yet, one day, when Spencer shows up at work, the head of National Security (Vincent D"Onofrio) is there to arrest and torture him. It seems when Spencer went camping with his wife a week or so ago, it is believed an alien "took over" Spencer's replica and the original Spencer was killed. Spencer puts up a big fight, says there is no way that is possible and escapes. A deadly chase ensues. Who will win? This older sci-fi film has some great ideas on alien invasions, the look of the future and art direction. It also has some fine performances, with D'Onofrio very scary. Give it a try!
My Perfect Romance (2018)
Not perfect but very adorable; Russell, a frequent Hallmark star, is just a doll!
Wes (Christopher Russell) is the newly appointed CEO of a tech company. But, that does not mean he can make all the decisions ! His overbearing Mother (Morgan Fairchild) founded the company and she still makes the ultimate choices. Faced with some stagnant profits, Wes finds one of his employees, math wizard Vivian (Kimberly Sue Murray) has created an complex statistical program to give singles a chance to find their perfect match, once and for all. Sure, its there are many such programs out there, but, this one is different. Initial reviews are great. However, to boost their profile, both Wes and Vivian commit to using the program themselves, since they are both single. Wow, do their forthcoming matches really ring wrong notes! Poor Vivian has to endure the spotlight as cameras follow her on her miserable dates. All of a sudden, the program starts to tank. If things don't improve, Wes and Vivian will be out of their rears! What to do? This darling film has a great cast with Fairchild, Lauren Holly, Jody Sweetin, Murray and more. Above all, Russell is just one of the most darling leading men Hallmarks ever discovered! Fans and non-fans of the famous Network will truly enjoy this new entry.
After a slow slow beginning and Downey sporting an accent that hinders understanding, this film becomes a colorful adventure
Dr. Dolittle (Robert Downey, Jr.) has suffered the loss of his most beloved mate and he has gone to utter ruin. The royal zoo where he cares for animals is still limping along but the doctor has grown a long beard and won't doctor anyone else. Most have even forgotten that he is where he is. But, a royal lass comes calling for his help as her grandmother, The Queen, is being poisoned and needs a medicine from far away. Also visiting with her is an orphan boy who needs direction and aid. After much hesitation and complaining, Dr. Dolittle commits to a voyage to the remote island where this one medicine is to be found. Or so he believes. Meanwhile, a hateful aid to the Queen (Michael Sheen) wants to stop this from happening, as he will be in power should the Queen die. So, he also gets on a boat and follows Dolittle on this long, long voyage. Will the heroes find the medicine and save the Royal Lady? This beautiful film, with art direction, costumes, and settings, gets better as it goes along. Therefore, families, stick with it during the slow opening until they all go aboard! Based on the Voyages of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting, the story is very intriguing and exotic. One major quibble was found by me. The cast is very nice, with Sheen and Antonio Banderas doing great work. But, how, how could Downey Jr. , one of the finest actors anywhere, take on this accent that makes his lines all but incomprehensible! Its still a mystery to me because it hampers his performance in a huge fashion. Nevertheless, do much to get Dolittle into the view machine and delight your families and friends.
Gorgeous new adaptation of the classic Austen work; make time for it
Emma (Anya Taylor-Joy) is the fortunate daughter of Mr. Woodhouse (Bill Nighy) in jolly olde England. Now over eighteen, she has rejoiced in making a match for her former governess and watching them be happily married. It all goes to her head and she decides the best way to occupy her time is to make matches for all the unmarried folk around the area where she lives. Her brother-in-law, Mr. Knightley (Johnny Flynn) tries to warn her against this, especially when she turns her attentions to a young lady Miss Smith, who lives at a boarding house and has an unknown background. Indeed, Emma has encouraged Harriet Smith to turn down a man truly in love with the lass, Mr. Martin, and set her cap for the vicar, Mr. Elton. This upsets Mr. K greatly as he knows Mr. Martin well and believes it would have been not only a match of love but of equals. In due time, Mr. Elton seems to pay attention to Harriet but there may be an ulterior motive. Around the town, Emma also makes mistakes with old friends she finds boring and the secrets of the Weston family, where her former governess is now the lady of the house. Thus, Mr. Knightley is quite severe on Emma at times and tries to keep her out of trouble. Could it be that Mr. K himself as a secret love for someone? This absolutely gorgeous new version of Austen's timeless classic is a great pleasure to behold. What fantastic sets, costumes, and art direction! Your eyes will nearly fall out of your head at its opulence. The cast is mostly unknown but quite fine; Taylor-Joy brings Emma to life with gusto. My only quibble is Mr. Flynn doesn't measure up to my expectations; he's not handsome enough and doesn't have the polish Jeremy Northam had in an earlier version. There is quite a surprising scene or too, with a gentleman's naked backside revealed! Nevertheless, no matter how many times you have seen this story on film or re-read the book, this stunning new addition has earned the right to be considered one of the best.
The Griddle House (2018)
A very sweet story, with a bevy of offbeat characters
Jack (Luke Perry as the older version, Alex Shaffer as the younger) helps a stranded motorist fix his car in a rural area of the South. As he works, Jack tells the gentleman the tale of "how he met his mother". When he was a teen, Alex. who was adopted, had a fight with his mother and drives off to see if he can find his birth mother. All he knows is that she hangs out at a nearby, 24 hour eatery, The Griddle House. Trying to slip in without much fanfare, Jack soon gets caught up in the kind and zany workers at the place. Maybee, er Maybelline (Charisma Carpenter) is sweet and attentive; she may be Jack's mother. Also possibilities include another waitress named Francis, who convinces Jack to order some hot cocoa, and a hooker named Tiny, who has stopped in for a breather before her "busy" New Year's Eve. As the crazy cook, Amos (Paul Rodriguez) asks Jack to punch in a song on the jukebox, the entire cooking crew does a dance. There is an older man who sits all day at one of the stools and a quiet busboy who wears a bow tie and is constantly cleaning. As the evening wears on, a police officer ushers in a shoplifter but chains him to the counter when he called out on a more important matter. As can be expected, this petty thief is angry and demeaning. Asking each of the possible ladies some sly questions, Jack thinks he has it figured out. But, does he? This slice of life film has a subdued strength and some really fine performances. Rodriquez is always a welcome hoot and Carpenter is loveliness itself. In truth. all of the actors do their parts quite nicely. Important as well are the themes, where forgiveness and kindness are the major take-aways of the day. In fact, this Griddle House is kind of a miracle worker for all those who enter in. Want to feel good about humanity after all? Order up The Griddle House.
Faithful to Hardy's superb novel, this film is beautiful, tangled, and tragic
John Durbeyfield, a haggler in a small town in England, is startled when the local curate starts calling him Sir John. Why do you do this parson, asks John? It seems the parson is a fan of history and tells the poor man with a houseful of children that his family is descended from a knight of William the Conqueror's inner circle. Once known as D'Urberville, the family had lands and mansions galore in the region. Through time, this was all lost but, says the curate, John should feel proud of his ancestry. But, what good is pride without a monetary gain? As it happens, there is a wealthy lady in the region who is also called D'Urberville and John hatches the brilliant idea of sending their beautiful eldest daughter, Tess (Nastassja Kinski) to claim a "cousinship" and perhaps benefit the family. Tess wants nothing of this but Mother insists, too. Therefore, off Tess goes. But, unknown to the poor family, the lady in question bought the title of D'Urberville and is no relation whatsoever. Thus, when Tess arrives, the lady's adult son, Alec, sees an opportunity to take advantage of a lovely, innocent lass. Calling her his "cuz", he arranges for her to tend their poultry flock and, all too soon, he assaults her. Running back home, Tess learns soon enough she is expecting a child. When the baby dies, Tess sees a chance to begin again. Now, she hustles off to work at a dairy farm, as a milkmaid. But, before long, she captures the attention of a minister's son, Angel Clare (Peter Firth) who bestows his heart on her. But, what will happen if he finds out about her checkered past? This lovely film is very faithful to the tragic story written magnificently by Thomas Hardy and directed by Roman Polanski. Kinski, in her first major international film, embodies the once innocent and terribly betrayed young woman. Firth and the other cast members do nicely, also. Very powerful are the images, costumes, and cinematography of this finely crafted flick. Do you want a good cry over a truly sad but terrific story? Get Tess.
Sixteen Candles (1984)
The film that started the careers of John Hughes and Molly Ringwald; still a classic
Samantha (Molly Ringwald) wakes up on her sixteenth birthday to a chaotic household. Her sister is getting married in two days and relatives have been arriving and filling the house from cellar to attic. Still, she doesn't expect the whole family to forget her sweet sixteenth! But, alas, they do. Too upset to remind anyone, Sam heads off to school, where one of the cool seniors, Jake (Michael Schoeffling) is the object of her affections. Wouldn't you know it, he hasn't noticed HER but the resident Geek (Anthony Michael Hall) is always following Sam, hoping to win her over. That's not going anywhere, in Sam's view. Jake, for his part, already has a girlfriend who is widely admired. But, he knows she's a party girl and that's not him. In actuality, he has cast his eyes on Sam without her knowing it. Between wild teen parties, a Japanese foreign exchange student, overbearing grandparents and the Geek driving a borrowed Rolls Royce, will Sam indeed get to know Jake? This classic film launched the careers of both John Hughes, writer-director, and Molly Ringwald, his favorite muse. Teens loved it then and love it now, for the joy and angst of high school are universal and timeless realities. Hall is a stitch while Schoeffling is indeed dreamy. Also, if any viewer wants to watch the Hughes repertoire, it is a great place to begin for it is light-hearted and fun, before the darker movies like The Breakfast Club and Pretty in Pink. Do you know any about-to-turn sixteen year old gals? Why don't you surprise her and watch this one together!
A Laugh fest, with Allen's unique vision and great one-liners
In the film's opening, sports commentators report on the assassination of the leader of San Marcos, an obscure South American country. Then, the reporters document the takeover of the country by the top general. its tragic and its funny. Meanwhile, Fielding Mellish (Woody Allen) tests products for a leading Manhattan manufacturer but has a hard time getting a date. Unbelievably, an erstwhile and attractive political activist, Nancy (Louise Lasser) comes to Fielding's door, wanting a signature for the condemnation of the San Marcos situation. After many attempts, Mr. Mellish gets a date and the two start a relationship. But, all too soon, Nancy breaks Fielding's heart, insisting he has no leadership qualities. Eureka! Fielding sets off for San Marcos, where he joins the rebels. Will he become the person Nancy wants? This hilarious look at the truly tragic volatility of some Western Hemisphere countries has many wonderful moments and lines. Allen and Lasser are the stars, while a cadre of little known folks blend in nicely. Naturally, the scenery in Manhattan contrasts hugely with those of the "tiny country to the south" while Allen's script is as priceless as ever and his direction is sure-fire. Want to laugh, laugh, laugh? Get Bananas.
The script is superb and ferocious while the acting is very special; don't miss it!
UBS is the fourth network in seventies America, long before Fox. As such, Howard (Peter Finch) is the nightly news person and his ratings are trailing all of the other networks, despite his long, capable years in the business. Therefore, poor Max Schumacher (William Holden), a friend of Howard's and head of the news department, has to give his colleague the bad news. Howard is getting axed. The two go out drinking and think back on the funniest moments in their years together. But, oh, the next night is full of surprises! Howard still has two weeks to go and he announces on air he plans to kill himself on air over his firing. The network's upper bosses are aghast. But, lo and behold, everyone is interested in watching what comes next and the ratings rise. This gives calculating, career-driven Diana (Faye Dunaway) the chance to plan more new shows for the entertainment side of things. Why, terrorism will be featured on one show called the Mao Tse-Tung Hour! And her staff better come up with more insanely great ideas. The attractive but lethal Diana turns Max' head and they move in together, ruining his marriage. More importantly, Howard is such a star now that they let him continue and rant and rave on many topics. This involves the classic scene where he implores everyone to go to the window, open it, and shout "I'm mad as h*ll and I'm not going to take it anymore!" But, even Howard goes too far and now what will the Network do? This movie is one of the best in all of cinema world. In many respects, the ferocious and superb script by Paddy Chayefsky is responsible for its attractions as many of his biting lines are still relevant today and forever. Holden gives a conflicted, masterful performance in one of his last big roles while Dunaway won an Oscar for her extremely unlikeable but attractive turn as the Dragon Lady of television. Fans of quality films, you must not miss Network !
The Sun Is Also a Star (2019)
Far fetched but lovely modern teen version of Romeo and Juliet
Natasha (Yara Shahidi) is frantic. As her parents are Jamaican immigrants who have failed to be granted permanent residency in New York City, the whole family is about to be deported back to the island. Tomorrow is the sorrowful day. But, even though her father tells her to pack and prepare, Natasha won't. She says she is going to spend the day finding advocates and lawyers who can stop the deportation. NYC is the only home she can remember and she is avid to pursue a career in astronomy in the States. Off she goes. Meanwhile, Daniel (Charles Melton) is a Korean immigrant whose parents insist that he get into medical school. In truth, Daniel is bright and has studied hard; he has an interview with the prestigious Dartmouth College. Yet, this is not where his heart is, as he writes beautiful poems and loves reciting them at coffee shops. The two of them literally crash into each other, as Natasha is playing music with headphones and fails to see a bicycle about to run her down. Once they meet, Daniel is smitten and begins a long days journey into night telling her how they should become a couple. This is crazy, no? Eventually, Natasha returns this love at a glance affection but with her deportation most likely arriving, how in the world will this work? This modern take on Romeo and Juliet, with Jamaican and Korean partners, is lovely, thoughtful and sweet. The two young stars are quite wonderful and fetching while the scenes in and around Manhattan are fun and pleasant. Tears may fall but they will not quench the bright light of this fine film.
Little Women (2019)
The best adaptation ever for a timeless classic; bravo Ms. Gerwig!
Jo March (Saoirse Ronan) has been tutoring in New York City and writing stories for publication. Although she lives in the attic and sends money home to her family, she has struck up a friendship with a professor, Frederick, who lives in the same rooming house. A family crisis back home sends her returning to the Boston area and her childhood home. While on the train, she reflects on her childhood in a family of four sisters. First, there was oldest Meg (Emma Watson) who was clever and kind while resenting the lack of riches in the family. Then, Jo came next, a tomboy with a talent for writing and a strong personality. Following her was Beth (Eliza Scanlen), a quiet and thoughtful girl who loved music and playing the piano. Finally, but not least in her mind, was Amy (Florence Pugh) who favored art and drawing and whose likewise strong personality and desire for elegance came into conflict many times with Jo. On happenstance, when Meg and Jo are invited to a dance, Jo stumbles upon their neighbor, Laurie (Timothee Chalumet), who is back from Europe and is somewhat shy; nevertheless, he and Jo get on like the dickens. In addition, Laurie has a tutor named Mr. Brooke, who comes to admire Meg very much and a grandfather (Chris Cooper) who is gruff and scary. Going back and forth in time, Jo lays out their struggles and joyful events. Father is away with the North army in the Civil War but Marmee (Laura Dern) is a strong woman who encourages her daughters to be the best they can be. The gals put on plays for neighborhood children, sometimes quarrel, go ice skating, take care of their poorer neighbors, and dream big dreams. Soon, Meg falls in love, Beth gets scarlet fever, Amy acts out at school, and Jo tries to please Aunt March (Meryl Streep) who has employed her as a companion. All too soon, the girls are grown and have new struggles. How will each of them turn out? Will their father be proud of his "Little Women"? This new version of Louisa May Alcott's timeless classic is the best and bravest adaptation ever. First, the cast is just grand; all of them deserve honors. Then, the director Greta Gerwig has chosen to forego a linear tale and go back and forth in time, resulting in a fresh approach to a well-known story. Moreover, the settings, the costumes, the historical recreations, the melodic score and the cinematography are near perfect. Yes, like this viewer, you may have seen many film versions of the novel and read and re-read the happenings of the March girls. But, do not let this discourage you from going once again to celebrate a truly wonderful American classic. Bravo, Ms. Gerwig, for bestowing it on movie audiences one more time.
Christmas in Rome (2019)
A new Roman Holiday, very enjoyable
Angela (Lacey Chabert) works for a walking tour company in Rome and she loves it. Having done it for several years, she knows all of the good spots and all of the zesty details to tell her tourists. However, her boss doesn't like the fact that she sometimes deviates from what he wants her to relate and show, so poof! Angela is fired. Just at this low moment, she runs into Oliver (Sam Page) a workaholic businessman in town to charm a well-known pottery company owner (Franco Nero) into selling his wonderful business to Oliver's conglomerate. Not amazingly, he doesn't know where he is going and Angela points the way. He also begs her to go with him so there can be no mix-up. Thinking he can wrap up the sale in a day, Oliver has a rude awakening, as Angela tells him. Things are different in Rome and Ollie must gain the trust of the older man before he will consider the offer. Thus, Angela becomes Oliver's personal tour guide in Rome, giving him the scoop that should help him along the way. But, with pretty Angie single and Oliver likewise, will romance spring up near the Trevi fountain? This lovely story has the best of Hallmark's matchless films. This would be the great cast (how amazing to see Nero!), a nice storyline, great costumes and ROME. Perch yourself on the sofa, with the tea and cookies nearby, and relish this sweet, sweet tale.