Wednesday, March 30, 2011

My Dog Skip............................A Dog Tail

My Dog Skip

I remember when this movie came out it got a whole lot of good review and I always intended to watch it but somehow never did.  Perhaps a part of that is that it is just within the last year or so that my kids will consider a movie that is not a cartoon.  I consider this a great milestone.  LOL

I found this film to be a odd little film.  It didn't really seem to go anywhere and at the same time was a little formulaic.  WWII era boy has no friends, save an older next door neighbor who is going off to war.  Since he is lonely, his mother gets him a dog over his father's objections.  The dog does indeed, become the best friend.

What to do before viewing

1) Huge cast.  Diane Lane.  Kevin Bacon. Luke Wilson.

2) I appear to be losing my mind.  I told my kids I didn't understand the toilet on the poster.  They looked at me like I was crazy then told me there was a big scene with a toilet and that it had become a running gag throughout the film.  I have absolutely no recollection of this.  Perhaps I wasn't paying that much attention?  I have no answer for that.  I thought I was watching.  It is scaring me a little actually.

3) My kids and husband liked this one better than I did.

4) Based on a true story.  I didn't know this until the end.

What about the kids?

We watched it for family night.  Here is what the experts say.

Currently available on Netflix Instant Viewing and here.

Three Stars- "I Liked It" - truthfully I would probably give it two but the rest of my family would probably give it a four so I am splitting the difference since I might have been having a bad night.

MY DOG SKIP: Movie Trailer. Watch more top selected videos about: My Dog Skip, Luke Wilson

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Bottle Shock..................Based on a True Story

Bottle Shock

How bad can it be?  I mean it has Alan Rickman it!  Who doesn't love Snape?  And it has the guy who played Captain Kirk in the latest Star Trek movie.  He can even sort of act, unlike the original Captain Kirk.  And Bill Pullman.  He was the President in Independence Day.  You have to trust him. Right?  If you were thinking all of this, then welcome to Bottle Shock.

I found this movie because the trailer was before some other movie.  I don't even remember which one but it looked like fun.  Then I discovered it was on Instant Viewing, so when we had a family get together with my parents,  (HI MOM) we all watched it.  It just the right kind of film.  Funny and light and an underdog for whom to cheer. Everyone thirteen and up found it enjoyable.

What to know before viewing

1) Best line (it's in the trailer so I'm not spilling the beans.)  Bill Pullman- "Why don't I like you?"  Alan Rickman- " Because you think I am an asshole and I'm not really. I'm just British.....and well..... you're not."

2)  It's an indie.  A well done indie.  I didn't really get the low budget feel from it.

What about the kids?

I have decided I stink at this section.  I am oddly liberal on some things and conservative on others.  I have found to be very helpful on this matter.  Check them out if you have never used them before.  Here is what they had to say about this movie.  From now on I am just going to link them in this part.  LOL.

Currently on Netflix Instant Viewing and here.

Three Stars- "Liked It"

Just for fun, I am going to experiment with putting the trailer her.  We will see how it goes.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Gnomeo and Juliet...............................A Rose by Any Other Name

Gnomeo and Juliet

This is a real break out movie for me as it is still in the theater.  (chuckling in a bit embarrassed manner) It totally figures it would be animated as I pretty much only get to see movies I take the kids to see.  In this case it was for my youngest's birthday.  But that's okay cause this was a fun film.

Gnomeo and Juliet, voiced by James McAvoy and Emily Blunt, are garden gnomes that live in rival gardens.  The Red Hats and the Blue Hats have been feuding for as long as anyone can remember. Of course, you pretty much know how the rest of the story goes.

Yes this is a kids' film but there is plenty here for the accompanying parent to enjoy.  Shakespeare quotes, and not all from Romeo and Juliet, are woven through the entire script and it is fun to try and find them.  If you are better educate than I turned out to be, it would also be fun to figure out which plays they are from.

Some of Britain's best stars turned up to do voices.  In addition to James McAvoy and Emily Blunt, there is Maggie Smith, Micheal Caine, Jason Straham, Ozzy Osborne, Julie Andrews, Patrick Stewart, and Dolly Parton.  Yeah, that last one isn't British but she sure does have a recognizable voice.

What to know before viewing

1) Yes, I know the above poster isn't in English. I just thought it was cute.  Here is the translation for those who have an overwhelming need for the English version.  I like the other one better.

2) Tybalt is BAD.  I kept thinking I needed to go back an re-read the play because I didn't remember him being that bad.

3) My biggest disappointment in the film was that James McAvoy's voice didn't turn out to be that distinctive.  Pleasant, yes, but not distinctive.

4) Elton John's music is featured quite prominently here and is a lot of fun.  I love it when they weave existing songs into a story line.

What about the kids?

This is all about the kids.  My youngest got up half way through the film and thanked me for bringing him to see it.  LOL

Currently in theaters and eventually here

Five Stars-  "Loved It"

If you noticed this has gone to video and I have not changed it, please comment and I will fix it.

UPDATED to add- this is now on out on DVD

Saturday, March 19, 2011

I've got two movies you are gonna love

And as soon as my little guy gets well, I promise to tell you all about them.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Secret Life of Bees............................Worth All the Buzz

The Secret Life of Bees

I read and loved the book first which is always risky.  In fact, that is why I put off the viewing of this movie even though there were lots of reasons, including interesting actors and good trailer,  that I really wanted to see it.  Having the book ruined was too risky.  This was one of those cases where I wasn't disappointed.

Dakota Fanning did a terrific job as Lily.  I expected as much, as she pretty much always does terrific acting work.  Alicia Keys, as June, was a surprise for me.  I didn't know she acted and didn't even recognize her until I saw her name in the credits.  She is stunningly beautiful.  The actress that played May, Sophie Okonedo, stole every scene she was in, though I must confess that May is my favorite character and I secretly (until now) suspect that I am most like her.  Jennifer Hudson was on American Idol back in the day when I used to watch and I love her.  I have never gotten around to seeing the movie that won her an Oscar, so I was anxious to see her a Rosaleen, who in my opinion is the backbone of this story.  She did not disappoint.  This was filmed pre-Weight Watchers and for the record she was beautiful before she was skinny.

My one real disappointment was August.  I am a fan of Queen Latifah.  I have seen and enjoyed Last Holiday more that one time. I was hopeful that she would be a good fit in this role.  To be fair, she wasn't bad.  If I hadn't read the book I might have even thought she was good.  It was just that I had picture August as a "deep water" kind of person and Queen Latifah is more a "what you see is what you get" kind of person and the two just did sit right together for me here.

What to know before viewing

1) Paul Bethany was a surprise as the abusive T-Ray but he pulled it off with aplomb.  I would step across the street if I saw him coming now.

2)  I watched the director's cut edition.  I have no idea how this colored my thinking about the film.

3) The book is still better.  I think Sue Monk Kid has a classic on her hands.

What about the kids?

PG-13 for a reason.  I wouldn't let a sensitive kid of any age see this.  This is the stuff of my nightmares as a kid.

Currently available on Netflix Instant Viewing and here.

Four and a Half Stars - "Really Liked It" plus

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The River.................................Does It Hold Up?

The River

This is a film from back in 1984 when Sissy Spacek was billed before Mel Gibson.  A simpler time when we were all focused on Mel's dreamy blue eyes and manly "ass-ets" (please forgive me) and not so much on the horrid things that proceed from him mouth.

This is a tale of the Garvy family as they are fighting to keep their farm and their way of life when everything seems stacked against them.  It is an American drama of one man fighting the system, the elements, and his own fatigue. In the end, he triumphs.  At least for the time being.

Does it hold up?

Now introducing my new feature.  Sometimes I like to go back and watch films that I enjoyed in the past and see if they hold up.  This one was a favorite of mine when I was 17(ish).  I lived down the block from something that was brand new, a video store.  I would walk  there and rent this VHS every few weeks. I loved it with all my heart but I have not seen it in probably twenty years.  So, does it hold up?  Yes and no.  I don't love it as much as I did then but I still like it.  And young Mel.  Whew. Yeah.  In the end I think my 17 year old self was highly influenced by the Mel factor.  The scene pictured below made my 17 year old heart sing.  Even so, I have to say it is a pretty good film and my teen self was showing the seedlings of good taste.

What to know before viewing?

1) Hats off to farmers everywhere.  If it is half as hard as this film portrays it, I don't know how you do it.

2) If "Evan is awesome!!!!!" ever shows up on this blog in a random spot, I have been hacked by a certain person in my household. Just sayin'.

3) Sissy Spacek lives up the road a piece from me and I once saw her in the airport.  She was every bit a cute in person as she is on film.  I didn't realize it was her until after she was gone because I was thinking she was a customer at the bank I worked at at the time.  That is probably all to the good anyway because I would likely have acted the fool had I known it was her.

What about the kids?

PG-13 is on target.  The stress level is high and there is a semi-nude scenes.

Currently available on Netflix Instant Viewing and here.

Three and a Half Stars- "I Liked it" plus

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Envelope Please................And the Winner Is

 So I went to and put in the numbers for all 53 entries.  The following is the number that came up.

True Random Number Generator  31Powered by RANDOM.ORG

Then I counted down to entry number 31 and the winning entry is the following post

"Traci said...

I'm a follower (oh how my mother is probably cringing right now. She always told me not to be a follower)"

Congratulations Traci!  Turns out being a follow worked for you in this case.  E-mail me at and I will get you your gift card code.

P.S. I don't know why that random generator says 100.  I put in the proper number of entries though!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Masterpiece Classic: Emma.................Who Doesn't Love Jane

Masterpiece Classic: Emma

I liked it and I gonna give it a bunch of stars but I'm not sure what I am going to say about it.  You know the story.  Headstrong girl who has the whole world figured out only to find out that she doesn't.

As I have read the book more than one time and seen several versions on film, this one had a lot to live up to.  (Ack preposition at the end of a sentence.  Look away!)   This is clearly not an enviable position for a film.  I was encouraged by the casting of Romola Garai as I had seen her previously in Daniel Deronda and she seemed to have the right kind of spunk to pull it off.  NO WAY!   I just looked her up and discovered that she plays the love interest in Amazing Grace. I didn't even recognize her!  Shows you what a bad witness I would be in court.  Put a red wig on and I won't know you.  Feel free to roll your eyes at me here.

First to things I like in this version. 1) Camera work.  There were several very nicely done shots.  The one I like best is at the end when Emma and Knightly must break their engagement news to her father.  I won't ruin it but it is a shot from behind Emma, oddly enough of her behind.  Watch for it.  2) Mr. Knightly is spot on.  At first I didn't think him handsome enough but by the end he had more than won me over.  3)  Emma's father is PERFECT.  PERFECT.  You sure do grow to love that annoying little man.  Kudos to Micheal Gambon.

Now to things I didn't like or perhaps I should say didn't love.  1) Miss Bates was not nearly annoying enough.  When Emma has her faux pas at the picnic it seemed a little out of left field because Miss Bates hadn't seemed that bad.  2) I am sure some will disagree here, but I think Frank Churchill needed to be played with a tad more sympathy.  I mean the audience needs to make a complete emotional turn around about him at the end and that didn't go well.  Everyone on screen had moved on but I still wanted to clock him.  3) The ending was a little lame.  Not unforgivable but lame.

What to know before viewing

1) You need to know, in fact you can't go another day without knowing,  that Romola Garai looks like my friend Libby.  Look here at the evidence.  Okay, so maybe it is a little hard to see in the terrible picture I took with my Ipod, but trust me, she does.

2) If you are jonesing for a Jane Austen, dive on in.

3) This is long.  There are four episodes, each about an hour long.  Plan on it taking you a couple of night.

What about the kids?

This is rated E for everyone.  If they are old enough to want to watch it then you are good.  I confess I watched alone though cause I just wanted to watch without answering questions or stopping for potty breaks, other than my own of course.

Currently available on disk through Netflix and here

Five Stars- "Love It"

Good thing I didn't know what to say, huh?  I'd have written a novel if I had.  LOL

Friday, March 4, 2011

Amexicano............It's Complicated


Not your grandma's movie about illegal immigration and stereotypes.  Okay, so it doesn't have the same ring as "not your grandma's Oldsmobile" but you get the idea.  This is a complicated movie about a complicated issue.  I have never seen another film like it.

Bruno is a blue collared guy from Queens who is unemployed and at the end of his benefits.  Things have gotten bad enough that he  finds himself working with illegal day laborers, something he neither agrees with or enjoys. Ignacio, one of the laborers, befriends Bruno and as the relationship grows, Bruno is forced to reconsider his preconceived notions.

This is one of those indie films that is clearly done on a small budget and it has that kind of feel to it.  At the start of the movie it bothered me a bit, but the script and acting are both well done and soon enough I forgot about the rest.  I finished this movie before I went to bed last night and I went to sleep thinking about it.  I woke up thinking about it.  I expect this to be a film that sticks with me.

What to know before viewing

1) Carmine Famiglietti, who plays Bruno, is also the writer of this.  I hope he gets more work from it.

2) Manny Perez, whom I remembered from the movie Bella, plays a terrific bad guy.  You don't like his character from the moment you see him.  He plays right into all of Bruno's stereotypes about illegal immigrants and ironically ends up being a citizen of the U.S.

3) The ending.  There is not much I can say without spoiling it.  I will say this.  I didn't expect it to end when it did and it ticked me off a little at first.  But the more I think about it the more I see why it ended there.

What about the kids?

I think PG-13 is about right.  This movie is disturbing but in a way that really challenges your thinking.  A teen that is up to the challenge would probably enjoy this film.

Currently available on Netflix Instant Viewing and here

4 Stars- "Really Liked It"

I keep debating with myself about the stars on this one but 4 is what I went with right after I watched it so I think I will stick with that.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Everlasting Moments..............Art

Everlasting Moment

Gasp.  The cinematography is stunning.  If I were going on that alone, this would be 5 Stars all the way.   It is not often that I finish a film and my first thought is, "Whoa, that was beautiful."  I suppose that is fitting as the movie is about a photographer.

As for plot, well, this is a slow mover.  But I won't let that bother me if you don't let it bother you.  Maria, a woman around the turn of the century, finds herself trapped in a bad marriage and holds onto her sanity by clinging to her camera.

Maria Heiskanen, who plays the main character amazed me with her skill.  She was Emma Thompson good (the highest praise I know how to give).   What she could convey in a simple look transcended the fact that was having to read her words..  Her face is striking and yet just like a lady you would see in Walmart.  I think I may go search for more films she is in, if I find them, you will know about them soon too.  (cue the nervous giggle)

What to know before viewing

1) It's just flat out kind of hard to take at times.  You really like Maria and watching her husband be a louse to her over and over again is hard to bear.

2) I am adding the picture on the right even though it is really about the filming of the movie rather than the movie itself. It captures something I like even though I can't really express it well in words.  I am assuming the man pointing is the director, Jan Troell but I don't think he looks anything like a Troll.  (forgive me)

3) I think this is based on a true story but they did not translate the words right before the credits and my Swedish is rusty.  (roll eyes)

4) Did I mention that this is a stunning film visually?

What about the kids?

NO!  There was one scene that I wondered how the parents of the child actors could have let their little children do.  This one is for grown-ups.

Currently available on Netflix Instant Viewing and here

4 Stars- "Really Liked It"

Tuesday, March 1, 2011



First, to the cast.  Timothy Hutton and Dana Delany are both known entities so I will leave them at that.  Jeremy Sisto, the main character, was new to me but I liked him.  When I checked him on IMDb he has a long line of guest appearances and the a credit as "Elton" in Clueless.  Somehow I have never seen Clueless, so you will have to let me know in the comments if Elton is a minor or major character.  My favorite member of the cast is Delroy Lindo.  He is one of those actors you think you don't know until you look him up and discover he has been in a million things you have seen.  Anyhoo, he was in a near perfect specimen of manliness.  I first saw him (that I remember) in a film called Wondrous Oblivion and he won me over as life long fan of his acting skills. I will include the poster for that one here just to help you remember it cause it is worth a viewing.

Now to the show at hand.  Kidnapped.  It is a bullets flying, twisty turny, badge flashing hoe down.  If you like 24, you will dig this too.  Though to keep this on the up and up, I should confess that I have only seen a couple of episodes of 24.  It kept me guessing until the end and I am a good guesser on these kinds of things.

What to know before viewing

1) The gore factor is high.  I grew up on a steady diet of action adventure films and this had me flinching more than once.

2) Timothy Hutton is surprisingly thug-gy here.  I confess that I am not a particular fan and have not really followed his career closely but I have him type cast in my head as the Ordinary People kid, who is decidedly not a thug.

3) As I have been writing this blog, I have discovered that I have a frightening amount of knowledge about movies and actors.  There is no real reason for this to be in the "before viewing" section, I just wanted to say it out loud.

4) Coming back in to add a number 4 because I intended to say this from the start.  Be warned.  It does leave with with a mild cliff hanger. Nothing like the barn burning cliff hanger that Flash Forward left us with (darn them) but it was clear the writers expected a season 2.

What about the kids?

No.  Check number one in the section above.

Currently available on Netflix Instant Viewing and here

4 Stars- "Really Liked It"

For those who read my last entry, I wanted to let you know that Green Card is not available on Instant Viewing.  BOO!