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8/10
Who is Edward Rachett and who murdered him?
16 August 2018
This is one of many versions of Agatha Christie's 1934 novel in which the original defective detective Hercule Poirot solves yet an unsolvable crime . After solving who stole a church artifact in Jerusalem, Poirot is looking forward to a much needed rest before heading to London on another case. Broc who is the director on the Simplon Orient Express offers Piirot a luxury filled trip of fine foods, wine, and relaxation, that is until he meets Edward Rachett, a fellow passenger. Rachett believes someone will try to murder him and wants to hire Pirot as his personal body guard, Pirot refuses and Rachett proves to be right, and he is murdered.

Sit back for the next couple of hours with a blanket and a cup or two of your favorite hot beverage to enjoy one of the best classic murder mysteries that is filled with a star studded cast - Johnny Depp, Penelop Cruz, Willem Dafoe, Judi Dench, Michelle Pfeiffer, to name a few.

Not suitable for young viewers due to adult themes.
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8/10
The Unmitigated Gall
15 August 2018
India was under British rule from 1600 - 1947, less than half by direct British rule and the remainder by princes who ensured British rule was observed. In June of 1947, Queen Victoria celebrated her Golden Jubilee. In honor of the celebration two men from India are selected to present the queen with a gold coin specifically made for the event. One is Abdul Karim. The Queen has grown increasingly lonely since the dealth of her husband and bored with her mundane duties. When Abdul presents the Queen with the the newly minted coin she appears to be instantly taken with Abdul. He eventually become her Munshi, a term used in British India to describe a person who is a teacher or secretary employed by a European. Abdul spends the next 15 years as the Queen's Munshi and confidant. Over the course of time he gains the prestige and privileges reserved for royality and family. It is at a time when social and racial prejudices exist within not only the royal family, but the staff as well.

This is an excellent film for those who love British history and an enjoyable way brush up on "the royals." Maybe a bit too mature for young viewers due to some adult themes. Get out your pot of tea, finger sandwiches and spend the next couple of hours going back in time.
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8/10
Who owns your DNA?
8 August 2018
If you're thinking of submitting your DNA to research your ancestry, this film is for you.

In 1951 Henritta Lacks an African-American woman is diagnosed with cervical cancer four and a half months after the birth of her fifth and last child at John Hopkins hosptial in Baltimore, Maryland. Complaining of a "knot" in her stomach/womb, she returns to John Hopkins the only hosptial that would accept African-Americans in search of a diagnosis. Without her consent, cells of a cancerous tumor and healthly cells are taken, which were a common practice at the time. Researcher George Gey discovers Henritta's healthy cells under specific conditions will reproduce indefinitely. These cells become known as the HeLa line and instrumental in cancer research. It is only when a batch becomes contaminated in the 70s and the Lack's family is contacted for additional blood samples that the family begins to question the interest in their family. Henritta's daughter, Renee Elise Goldsberry (Oprah Winfrey) begins the search of who her mother was.

The film raises moral and ethical questions within the medical world and continues to do so. No one will see this film and not have an opinion so be sure to save time for the after movie discussion. Not for young viewers due to mature topic.
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7/10
Deep, Dark and Disturbing
7 August 2018
Frances McDormand (Mildred Hayes) and Sam Rockwell (Jason Dixon) both won Academy Awards for their roles. The film also recieved awards from the Golden Globe, BAFTA, and SAG. The film depicts the the agonizing grief of a mother who's child was murdered, the small town it takes place in, and the bizarre ways people react to fear, failure and frustration. While watching this film I couldn't help but be reminded of McDormand's role in Fargo, a matter of fact woman with a mission. Rockwell plays the type of cop we all know exists, but hope we never have to encounter. Together they appear to be on opposite ends of the law, but as the story unfolds they have more in common then they thought they could.

This film is not for young viewers due to the violence, language, and subject matter. Good film for a rainy, Saturday afternoon with a hot toddy.
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6/10
Where's Harold?
2 July 2018
The Wilde wedding is that of Eve Wilde, a retired actress about to marry for the 4th time. Invited to the wedding is her ex-husband, her children, her grandchildren, her husband to be, his daughters, a few exes and a friend or two throw in. When introduced to guests/characters, a predictable chaos ensues. Harold (Patrick Stewart) is the groom to be who believes Eve will be the one to change him. Her ex-husband Laurence (John Malkovich) is both comfortable and uncomfortable as a guest in his own home.

The setting is supposedly in an upstate New York home, the grounds are beautiful, the home is spacious and classic. They all appear to be getting along until the pivotal event occurs, but of course you knew there would be one. It all ends as you think it will. Still I liked the film, why? Because it has some of my favorite actors in it and it didn't have some hidden meaning in the end. Good film with a glass of wine and an appetizer.

Suggestion: Pino grigio and crab dip
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7/10
Baby Boomers in Retirement
2 July 2018
Oren Little (Michael Douglas) is one of four tenants at the Shangrila located along the water of a beach town. Oren has turned into a grumpy old man since his wife died. Leah the widow next (Diane Keaton) door and can't seem to stop crying about her husband during her cabaret performances. Oren is in the process of selling the family home when his estranged son Luke (Scott Shepard) shows up with daughter Sarah.

From here it gets predictable, but I liked Douglas and Keaton together. Music reminded me of the Big Chill. Was surprised Keaton could sing and that Rob Reiner was not only in the film as Arte, Leah's manager, but also co-produced the film. Great movie for at home dinner and a move with gal-pals
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The Crash (2017)
6/10
Smoke and Mirrors
2 July 2018
Crash is about what we all fear, that the stock markets are nothing more than what is coordination and manipulated by the banks and the federal reserve. In the film Guy Clifton (Frank Gillo) was convicted of insider trading and is about to be sent to prison. He is offered his freedom if he averts a cyber attack that will affect the world stock exchanges. He and his band of white criminals set up their command center in his home, a mini-mansion on the water.

There are several side stories going on which detract from the main storyline. Guy's wife, Shannon (Minnie Driver) thinks they have too much money as it is but for Guy it's never enough. Their daughter Crason (Anna Sophia Robb) has cancer and is also having a affair with Ben Collins (Ed Westwick) one of her father's co-conspirators.

Lastly there is George Diebold (Christopher McDonald) who is the head of the Federal Reserve. He's the financial bogeyman and feels he is in absolute control. Good rainy day film with a pizza and a beer.
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5/10
Watch on Halloween or use for Adult Game Night
2 July 2018
Christine (Nicole Kidman) suffers from amnesia and literally can not remember one day to the next. As her husband Ben (Colin Firth) explains, she was in a car accident and suffered brain damage. In attempt to further her progress neuropsychologist, Dr. Nasch Mark Strong) gives her a video camera to record her thoughts of the day. He calls her each morning to remind her who he is, why he is calling, where to find the camera, what to do with it and then discuss any memories she has retained.

I like psychological thrillers and thought with Nicole Kidman playing the lead it would be a better than average film, I was wrong. It is not the best or the worst thriller I've seen, but it is a bit average. It is good enough to watch on Halloween if you don't plan to go out or watch as a group for a who-done-it game night. Not for young viewers adult themes.
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Focus (I) (2001)
8/10
Meat Loaf as an antisemtic
2 July 2018
Lawrence (William Macy) lives in Brooklyn and WWII is nearing. He lives with his disabled mother, his life is routine and unexceptional. His only companionship is the critical and complaining comments from his mother. His life takes a turn when his boss suggests he gets glasses, which his mother say's makes him look "Jewish." At work, they too think he looks too "Jewish" and inform him he will be moved to an area not so visible to the public. People in his neighborhood use to tolerate the Jewish businesses, but are becoming less tolerate and openly antisemitic as the war nears.

Former heavy metal rocker performer, Meat Loaf Aday (Fred) plays Lawrence's neighbor. Aday, once again demonstrates what a multi talented person he is.

Lawrence, his girlfriend and soon to be wife (Laura Dern), and Mr. Finkelstein (David Paymer) find they must pick a side, which one will they choose? Which one would you choose? This film is a great instructional tool, we can all learn something from it.
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Paterno (2018 TV Movie)
8/10
Winning At Any Cost
28 June 2018
Joe Paterno coached at Penn State from 1966-2011 and was considered one of the most successful football coaches of all time and was affectionately known as JoPa. That all changed when Jerry Sandusky, a former defensive coordinator under Paerno's watch was accused of sexually abusing boys while at Penn State. During an FBI investigation it is found Paterno had concealed the allegations and delayed in reporting them to the appropriate authorities. The public is shocked and his family is dumbfounded as the Sandusky scandal unfolds and Paterno only wants to focus "on the game."

The film accurately depicts how unconscionable it is that a man of this standing and influence could have allowed allegations of child sex abuse to be given so little attention. I can remember growing up and watching the college bowl games with my Dad and how much we looked forward to it. After watching this film I'm not sure if I'll every quite feel the same about "the game" again.
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Novitiate (2017)
7/10
Not the Flying Nun
26 June 2018
Several story lines, but the main story is that of Cathleen Harris (Margaret Qualley) growing up in rural Tennessee during the 1950's who decides at the age of 17 she wants to become a nun. She grows up in a single parent home, her parents divorced due her father's drinking and abusive behavior. Cathleen's mother Nora (Julianne Nicholson) works in a factory and makes no excuses for the men she shares her bed with.

On a whim Nora takes Cathleen to the local Catholic church, her mother is not religious in the least, but thinks Cathleen should at least have some exposure to church. Cathleen is immediately in awe of the church and it's teachings. When the opportunity to attend a Catholic school comes up, her mother is hesitant, but agrees to let her attend when she is told there are full scholarships available. Cathleen is a quiet, shy girl and makes few friends in the years that she attends. She immerses herself in her studies and her faith. When Cathleen announces to her mother she is entering the convent to become a nun her mother is aghast and begins to think Cathleen has lost her mind. Cathleen listens to her mother's rants, does not say a word in response, and then simply walks away.

Cathleen and nineteen others enter into the convent for a variety of reasons, but none as single minded as Cathleen. Just as she's entering the Sisters of the Beloved Rose convent, Vatican II (1962-1965) is underway which will forever change the Catholic church. Mother Superior (Melissa Lea) has spent forty years at the convent and believes there is no reason for the church to consider its relationship with society or other religions and continues to ignore the Vatican's new direction. She has spent her entire life within the walls of the convent and acknowledges she does not, nor does she want an identity outside of that.

Cathleen undergoes emotional, mental, physical, psychological, sexual, and spiritual self examination as do all who have entered the convent. In the end, only five of the twenty will become "brides of Christ" and become nuns. Her mother can only observe from the outside her daughter's journey and hopes to reunite with her one day soon.

Great movie for people who don't know much about the Catholic church and the changes they've made in attempt to be "more modern." One of the lesser know facts is over 90,000 nuns left their vocations during Vatican II due to those changes, one of which was nuns were no longer required to wear their habits. Word of caution: Not for younger viewers due to sex scenes.
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Wilson (I) (2017)
6/10
How Crazy Can You Be and Still Have a Family?
25 June 2018
The film opens with Wood Harelson (Wilson) walking his dog lamenting how disappointed in life and people he is. As this tale unfolds, you learn he and Laura Dern (Pippi) had once been a couple. Pippi left him when she found out she was pregnant saying she was going to get an abortion and go to LA. Fast forward 17 years, Wilson lives a marginal, "tin hat" life laced with forcing himself upon strangers in a desperate attempt for companionship. When his estranged father dies and his only friend announces he is moving out of state, he is struct with the thought there is no one left he can share common memories with. He then begins to wonder who's still left in his old neighborhood and wonders whatever happend to Pippi leading him on a path of disfunctional family twists and turns.

Both Harelson and Dern manage to play believable characters, Wilson as a nuerotic and Pippi just trying to get through the day without flipping out. What is a bit distracting is all the F-bombs, but maybe it was to depict the lack of understanding and communication among them. Not for young viewers due to language and adult themes, but older teens might benefit from seeing a film that shows life rarely turns out like you think it will.
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400 Days (2015)
5/10
Do We Stay or Do We Go?
23 June 2018
A team of astronauts enter an underground lab for 400 days with the knowlege there will be simulated tests. After sucesssfully completing one particular test they begin to wonder why the command team has not contacted them as they had after previous test completions. After numerous and futil attempts to reach those above ground they wonder if it too is a test, but when the air supply begins to dwindle they must determine the lab has malfunctioned or if this too "is only a test." If the astronauts leave before the 400 days has been completed, their furture careers will be compromised, if not ended. As predicted, not everyone wants to stay, and of course there are those who do not want to leave their assigned mission.

I found the characters unfolding and the decision to stay or go pulling me in, but the ending was disappointing and bizarre. This film is not for young viewers. Good rainey day film for older teens and scifi fans.
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6/10
This Ain't No 50 Shades of Gray
10 May 2018
True story of Colleen Stan, age 20 who convinces her parents she'll be okay hitchhiking from Eugene, Oregon to northern California to surprise a friend on their 21st birthday. She hitches a ride with Cameron and Janice Hooker, only to be kidnapped by them and spends the next seven years of her life as their sex slave. As Janice tells her, "You're only here to take the pain."

This is a film reminds all of us, people are rarely what they seem and how the human mind, body, and spirit can survive in horrific conditions. The film contains violence (bondage) and very adult situations, but a must see if you or anyone you know still think hitching a ride is just as safe as any other type of transportation.
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Precious (II) (2009)
7/10
Life in the Hood
8 December 2017
If you have no idea how bad life for the "have-nots" can get, this film will show you through the lens of a black, female, teen in 1987 Harlem. Precious is trying to survive poverty, incest, in addition to daily physically and emotional abuse. It is not hard to understand why Precious struggles to get a basic education. Despite the odds, you wonder how she can possibly hang on hope for a better life. This is the kind of film that will effect you in one of several ways: nothing is ever going to change, it has to change, I want to be involved in the change.
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Temple Grandin (2010 TV Movie)
8/10
Success Above All Odds
8 October 2017
Temple Grandin (Claire Danes) isn't diagnosed as Austic until much later in life, but she is lucky enough to be born into a wealthy family with a loving mother who never gave up on her child's challenges.

Temple didn't speak until she was four, was kicked out of public school and placed in the Hampshire Country School for children with behavioral problems after throwing a book at a student who was teasing her. There she meets William Carlock, a Science teacher who once worked for NASA who becomes her lifelong mentor. This event, and a summer she spent on her step-father's sister's ranch in Arizona at the age of 15 change the course of her life.

This film shows the challenges a person with Austism faces and what is possible given the right circumstances and opportunities. Temple received a Ph.D in Animal Husbandry, teaches at Colorado State, and is a spokesperson on Autism.
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8/10
If Lovin' You is Wrong...
8 October 2017
Richard (Joel Edgerton) and Mildred (Ruth Negga) fall in love and want to get married when Mildred finds out she's pregnant. It's 1958 in Carolin County, Virginia and interracial marriages are illegal. They drive to Washington, D.C. to get married where it is legal and return to Virginia. The state does not recognize the marriage and they are arrested. The Lovings story and their legal case goes to the U.S. Supreme Court and becomes a landmark case in marriage laws.

This is a movie everyone should see, it's a reminder to us all how different and difficult life was for a large part of the population or for those who did not follow societal laws.
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Recount (2008 TV Movie)
7/10
Hanging Chads
6 October 2017
In the 2008 Presidential Election, Vice President Al Gore ran for the Democrats and George W. Bush ran for the Republicans. Many believe that Florida determined the 2008 race, resulting in Bush winning the election. It was alleged that "hanging chads," could have resulted in inaccurate machine counts. Gore sued for a recount, Republican Secretary of State Katherine Harris (Laura Dern) is pressured to call for a recount, the Florida and U.S. Supreme courts do not agree on what circumstances should sanction the Florida recount.

At the time, Bush's brother, Jeb was the governor of Florida, Republican Katherine Harris was Florida's Secretary of State (Laura Dern). Excellent way to learn about the election and understand why a "hanging chad" became such a topic of conversation.
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Game Change (2012 TV Movie)
7/10
I can see Russia
6 October 2017
Arizona Senator John McCain (Ed Harris), selects Alaska Governor Sarah Palin (Julianne Moore), as his 2008 Republican Presidential running mate against Democratic candidate, Barack Obama. Crowds love Palin, she meets the party's objectives by appealing to the base, gaining the independents, closing the gender gap and distancing themselves from the Bushs', (Sr., Jr., Jeb).

What they hadn't realized is that Palin was not well versed in domestic or foreign politics. She became overly concerned about alienating her Alaskan base, fretted over Tiny Fey's unflattering impersonation of her on Saturday Night Live and became increasingly homesick.

In her downward spiral she refuses to be tutored on policy by strategist Steve Schmidt (Woody Harrelson), spends large amounts of time in her room and is beginning to show signs of a nervous breakdown. Excellent portrayal of what happened.
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7/10
I'm serious, are we there yet?
5 October 2017
Sheryl Hoover's house is full. Her husband is trying to break out in a new career, her son from a previous marriage has elected not to speak, her brother became suicidal over a breakup, her father-in-law got kicked out of a nursing home and her daughter Olive has entered a beauty contest.

When Olive becomes a contestant, more problems occur. They can't afford the flight and no way can her son Dwayne, brother Frank, or Grandpa be left at home. Problem solved, they all cram into a VW Bus and head to the beauty contest in California some 800 miles away.

If you think your family is on the edge, check this one out, you'll feel much better. Not for young viewers, adult topics.
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7/10
Somebody's Gotta Do It
5 October 2017
Rose (Amy Adams), can't seem to catch a break. Her mother committed suicide when she and her flaky sister, Norah (Emily Blunt) were young. It hasn't gotten any better, she's a single mother with a child whose been kicked out of school, and begins to realize her married cop boyfriend is never going to leave his wife.

Rose's quirky Dad (Alan Arkin) tries to help out with Oscar, but he's already raised two girls on his own and wants to make more of himself. Fired from her housecleaning job and no money to get Oscar into a school that can help him, Rose's boyfriend Mac suggests she work some of the crime scene cleanups until she figures things out.

This is a dark comedy, similar to Fargo, not for young viewers.
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7/10
Shall I Stay or Shall I go?
5 October 2017
Real Estate developers are eager to get the locals in a small Florida town to sell. Delrona Beach is mostly white and Lincoln Beach is mostly black. Marly Temple (Edie Falco) runs the family's motel at Delrona Beach and wants to sell. Desiree Stokes (Angela Bassett) returns home with her new husband to see her mother in Lincoln Beach.

Marly resents her family's business and wants to leave any way possible. Desiree's mother never wants to leave and holds onto the memories of the past even when Desiree wants to forget them. Both find their way, but not without a few trips, stumbles and falls.
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6/10
New Founding Fathers of America Part 3
4 October 2017
Recap of the first two films in this series: The New Founding Fathers of America (NFFA) are formed after an economic collapse. The 28th amendment is added. The amendment allows an annual 24 hour period in which no criminal act is illegal and is referred to as "The Purge." It is considered a civic duty to participate. During The Purge there is no police or hospital support available. In the second, film the NFFA thinks the poor and the working class should be allowed to remain alive only if they are of use to the wealthy/governing class. Because not enough poor/working class people were being killed in the annual Purge, the NFFA sent out troops to capture and/or kill them.

In this film as the other two previous films, multiple stories are going on. It is 18 years after the annual Purge began. Senator Charlene/Charlie Roan (Elizabeth Mitchell) is running for President of the United States and wants to end The Purge. Her opponent wants The Purge to continue. Charlie's Head of Security is former LAPD Sergent Leo Barnes (Frank Grillo). Grocery store owner Joe Dixon (Mykelti Williams) and his employee Marcos (Joseph Julia Soria) plan to guard the store from Purgers. EMT Laney (Betty Gariel) drives a van in the poor and working class neighborhoods on the night of the Purge helping the innocents caught in the Purge.

Be sure to look at the map of the election on the back wall, to see which states are indicated as blue (good guys) and which are red (bad guys). Could be a 4th in this series, they left it open for that.
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New Founding Fathers of America Part 2
4 October 2017
Recap of the first in this series: The New Founding Fathers of America (NFFA) are formed after an economic collapse. The 28th amendment is added. The amendment allows an annual 24 hour period in which no criminal act is illegal and is referred to as "The Purge." It is considered a civic duty to participate. During The Purge there is no police or hospital support available. The only rules are class 10 government officials may not be killed and nothing above a class 4 weapon may be used (grenades, rocket launchers, etc.).

In this film, the NFFA think the poor and the working class should be allowed to remain alive for as long as thy are useful to them. Because not enough people are being killed in the annual Purge, the NFFA now sends out troops to capture and/or kill those in poor/working class neighborhoods.

As with the first one there are several stories going on. Shane (Zach Gilford) and Liz (Kiele Sanchez) are on their way to the grocery store and can't get home before the purge starts. Waitress Eva Sanchez (Carmen Ejogo) and her daughter Cali (Zoe Soul) find out their terminally ill father/grandfather has offered himself to be purged to ensure they are financially taken care of after he is gone. Lastly, LAPD Sargent Leo Barnes (Frank Grillo) wants to avenge his son's untimely death.

If you ever wondered how people begin to think of other human beings as "garbage," you might wanna check this one out.
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The Purge (I) (2013)
5/10
New Founding Fathers of America Part 1
4 October 2017
This film may not be an Oscar winner, but I think it could become a cult classic.

The New Founding Fathers of America (NFFA) are formed after an economic collapse. The 28th amendment is added. The amendment allows an annual 24 period in which no criminal act is illegal and is referred to as "The Purge." It is considered a civic duty to participate. During The Purge there is no police or hospital support available. The only rules are class 10 government officials may not be killed and nothing above a class 4 weapon may be used (grenades, rocket launchers, etc.).

James Sandin (Ethan Hawke) is a top salesman for a security company. What he doesn't tell his wife Mary (Lena Headery), daughter Zoey (Adelaide Kane), and son Charlie (Max Burkholder) is their home security system which doesn't look penetrable is really just meant to look threatening and they could be at risk.

Three stories here, James doesn't like her daughter's boyfriend and he plans to confront James. The Sandins let in a stranger after The Purge begins which makes them a target for the Purgers. The Sandins neighbors resent their wealth and feel they have gotten wealthy by taking advantage of them.

If you've ever wondered what a societal breakdown looks like, ya might wanna check this one out.
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