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The Best of Everything (1959)
Soap Opera Superb
You can't take this movie seriously.....the plot is predictable and trite, the acting often over the top, the dialog laughable; but it all adds up to great fun! Three "career girls" in the late 1950's find their way to the BIG city and all the evils and temptations their mothers probably warned them about: married men, alcohol, premarital sex, abortion, etc.
Then there's Amanda Farrell (Joan Crawford) who did succeed professionally, but whose personal life has been sacrificed for an office with her name on the door.
This movie may have been believable 50 years ago, but now it's just great campy fun! Rent/buy it and enjoy.
Almost Perfect Screen Adaptation of Stupendous Book
I loved the book, so awaited Joe Wright's adaptation with mixed feelings....would it do the book justice, or would I be forever disappointed to see the "wrong" interpretation? I decided to go to Toronto to see it at the Film Festival to find out!
Bottom line I was so relieved. It's a beautiful story and the casting and sets and staging are wonderful, almost to the point of distraction.
My only complaints were a "Hallmark card" type of scene at the end of Cecelia and Robbie happily cavorting on a beach (very NOT Ian McEwan's style)and the decision NOT to include the final scene of the book, where Briony's very young cousins finally stage her play, "The Trials of Arabella" which started the story going 60+ years earlier. I think that scene beautifully brought the story to a close, and wished they had included it in the film.
But other than that, no complaints and I can't wait to see it again.
Mom had a life daughters didn't know about
This is not a profound movie; most of the plot aspects are pretty predictable and "tried and true" but it was well-acted and made some interesting points about what we might regret (our "mistakes" as the movie calls them) as we look back over our lives. I had not read the book, so didn't know much other than it was the story of a dying woman who has strong memories from long ago that she hasn't really shared with anyone. Thankfully they got a top-notch cast....Meryl
Streep's daughter, Mamie Gummer, plays the young Lila, and then Meryl shows up at the end of the film as the old Lila...in addition to an amazing resemblance (duh!) the younger actress did a great job (perhaps not quite up to her mom's caliber, but who is?) All others in this film were fine, although I wish there had been more of Glen Close and thought the Buddy character was alittle too dramatic.
This is more of a girls' movie than for the guys, but a good one to see with your mom, or your daughter, and maybe start some dialog going. How hard it is to really know a parent as a "person"!
Look Both Ways (2005)
Life as it is
I had never heard of this movie, but watched in on the IFC film channel. Did not recognize any of the actors, but within the first 5 minutes I was hooked. Every day people, some of them getting various "shocking" news delivered to them....and how they deal with it and how their lives intersect. One of the main characters, a relatively young man, is told in the very beginning of the story that he has cancer....testicular and it's already spread to his lungs. You really feel for him, and relate to all the things he goes through (montage flashbacks of his life, thoughts about all the things he has done that could have caused the cancer, imaging it taking over his body, etc. There are various animated segments, but not too many to be distracting. All the characters seem very believable, and you want things to work out for them. Happily, for the most part they do. A real gem of an indie!
The Holiday (2006)
Predictable, Improbable, Enjoyable
This is not a great movie.....maybe not even a good movie. But thanks to a good cast and a heart-warming story, it's not that bad. Could have been made 20 or 30 years ago, probably starring Doris Day and Rock Hudson and who knows who else? But it's been updated so there is sex on the first meeting, too much drinking, and other "current" traumas. But the basic premise is still looking for love in all the wrong places...and finding it in the least likely places. All the stars are easy on the eyes (although Jack Black looks more and more like Rose O'Donnell to me) and the sound track is recognizable, and it will be a movie to watch more than once. That being said, it won't be on the Oscars list. Take your mom, your teen-aged daughter, or just yourself and enjoy it for what it is....a fairy tale with a happy ending.
Stranger Than Fiction (2006)
What if your life really WAS a book?
Fantasy movie, a la "Groundhog Day" where a man, Harold Crick in this case, finds he has no control over his life....which leads to him really appreciate his life. Although the premise is clearly fantasy, the concept is intriguing and compelling.
Cast is terrific; those who usually over-act, e.g. Dustin Hoffman and Will Ferrell, play it lower-keyed and believable. Emma Thompson, Queen Latifah and Maggie Gyllenhall (and Tom Hulce, almost unrecognizable in a single scene)round out the excellent cast .
A feel-good movie, mostly comedy but with some tragic undertones.
Close to two hours but you won't be looking at your watch very often.
The Devil Wears Prada (2006)
Lots of fun and fashion fairy tale
You know the story by now, "good" girl gets sucked into the fashion-world; almost sells her soul but in the end, virtue triumphs. GREAT performance by Ms. Streep (does she ever give less than?) and Hathaway is believable in the young ingénue role. Tucci is fine; others are adequate but don't add much. The clothes aren't as great as "Sex in the City" but were styled by the same Patricia Fields. This movie would also be good for young girls, as it would (hopefully) make them realize that external beauty isn't all it's cracked up to be (or is it since the stars of the movie are all easy on the eyes). Have fun and don't take it too seriously (unless you are Anna Wintour).
The Squid and the Whale (2005)
Watching a Family Fall Apart and a Teen-aged Son Grow Up
This was a very moving, poignant movie; uncomfortable to watch at times since you are observing the autobiographical story of the end of a marriage and the impact on the two sons; one of whom initially sides with the father he idolizes. Over time, that son begins to see his father as a selfish, self-centered, arrogant intellectual who doesn't have much skill when it comes to fathering. This movie is about the son's growing up and seeing his father as a human being with faults, and his mother the same, but more sympathetically than he initially did. The acting is excellent and you wonder what the real life people this movie was based on thought after seeing it? Highly recommend but NOT a comedy, although there was lots of inappropriate audience laughter when I saw it.
Where the Truth Lies (2005)
Weird Weird Weird plus Sex
This movie reminded me of "Mulholland Drive" which was not one of my favorites....I kept waiting for it to end and it seemed to go on forever. This time we've got the comedy duo who were bit stars in the 1950's and has-beens 30 years later. But a young girl, star journalist, who is obsessed with them decides to investigate a dead body incident that basically killed their career. The plots and time eras jumped around a lot.....eventually I kept track of what time frame we were in by the toupees Kevin and Colin wore. Allison Lohman seemed too young and innocent looking for the role. There were many scenes of quite graphic sex; I am not a prude but was somewhat surprised by it. Anyhow, strange movie, not terrible but clearly not one Firth or Bacon will be remembered for (I hope).
The Weather Man (2005)
Your Website for Weatherman has a MISTAKE!!
I tried to use your corrections page but it would not allow my correction!!! Michael Caine plays the father of Nicholas Cage but has a DIFFERENT LAST NAME because Nicholas Cage changed HIS name to "Spritz" because it was better for a weatherman. I believe the father's last name was "SpritzLER" or something similar. YOU NEED TO CORRECT YOUR LISTING OF THE CHARACTERS!!! I tried, but was thwarted by your website. Now I'll find out if you really read these boxes!! :) And now I have to add some more lines of text just to get this to be long enough for me to submit it for your review....this is really not fun but I am trying to be helpful!!! Hope someone responds to this. Barbara P. aka email@example.com
Good Night, and Good Luck. (2005)
Should Be Seen
This is a very good movie, maybe not a great movie, but should be seen by everyone (especially kids who have probably never heard of Joe McCarthy...or Edward R. Murrow) to show what our country's civil liberties are all about. The characters were heroes but not supermen. Some of them were in the film so briefly that I'm not sure you really knew what their purpose was other than to be part of the ensemble. Strathairn is excellent, as always, but here he gets the spotlight. The black and white makes it seem more authentic, being set in the days of black and white TV, the singer/musician scenes weren't really necessary and perhaps were a distraction, but all in all, an entertaining civics and history lesson.
I saw this at the Chicago Int'l Film Festival. I really liked it although it wasn't as polished as many movies we see in the theatre these days. But the characters seemed real; the dialog was so real that I asked the director, who was there, if it was ad-libbed. He said, no, maybe only 5%.
The ensemble cast was excellent; some familiar faces (Billy Dee Williams, Lesley Ann Warren, Rae Dawn Chong)...but in roles that seemed to fit them very well.
The score, some well known songs, some not, was sometimes distracting. And the last scene, a very emotional one, had music "swelling" in the background, that made it seem like a made-for-TV movie. That could be improved. But overall, I would recommend this movie to anyone (race not important) who's had to deal with unresolved family "issues".
Shame, Shame Sophia!!
Saw this at the Chicago International Film Festival and what a disappointment!!! Some people walked out; the rest of us stayed and wondered "why"? Story was trite, stupid and predictable; Sophia and husband (F. Murray Abraham) have been estranged over some stupid argument about anchovies and vinegar. Their neurotic children are coming home to celebrate Granny's birthday. Lots of screaming, bad dialog and terrible dubbing. Sophia looks like Morticia Adams in a long black wig. F. Murray Abraham looks like he's impersonating Sophia of 30 years ago. What a waste of time, money and what were two very talented actors. I hope they were embarrassed by this!
Saw this at Chicago Int'l Film Festival and was blown away by the acting (Felicity Huffman of Desperate Housewives playing a guy who's on his/her way to becoming a female). The plot unfolds quickly as he/she receives an "out of the blue" call from a teenager who appears to be the child he/she never knew he fathered. They hook up, although the teen is unaware of Bree's "history" as a man and as his father. All characters are believable, and the acting is exceptional. Humor and pathos with a happy (you hope) ending. We heard the director/writer speak afterward and he shot the film in 6 weeks with a budget of about $1 million. It's probably not going to get much advertising other than word of mouth. So Please see this movie and tell your friends to see it if it comes to your town!! BRAVO for all involved!!
21 Grams (2003)
Random Events, Tragic Consequences
An extremely well-acted film about three people who shouldn't really be "connected" but are brought together by some acts of fate, mostly tragic, that none of them can escape from. The camera techniques and editing can be somewhat distracting (out of sequence scenes that don't make sense initially) but it's certainly a unique, and devastating story....you wonder what happens to the characters (at least two of them) after the film ends, and unfortunately, it's hard to see any of them really living "happily ever after".
Il cuore altrove (2003)
Bittersweet Italian love tale
If you enjoy lush European/Italian settings and fairy-tale stories, with poignant, but not unhappy endings, you'll enjoy this film. Beautiful setting, some "stereo-types" in characters, but suspend reality for a few hours and enjoy the tale of the MALE ugly-duckling who gets a chance to spend some time with his "swan" even though it's not meant to be forever.
The Singing Detective (2003)
Strange, but compelling
Not exactly a "run of the mill" Hollywood story, although it IS a Hollywood story. Robert Downey plays a plagued writer who must confront his demons to destroy them.....predictable plot but carried out in a Fellini-esque way where you're not really sure what's real and what's not and does it really matter if it's entertaining?
Good cast, although some of the craziness is distracting and some of the dialogue hard to understand. Downey is great; you know he's "felt pain" and shows it well. Musical numbers are very clever although maybe somewhat overdone or at least over-the-top at times.
All in all, go to be entertained and don't think about it too hard.
My Reputation (1946)
Real soaper from the 1940's
Initially compelling storyline (recent widow with overbearing mother can't figure out what to do with her life....way before careers were "acceptable")...meets George Brent in an inprobable ski scenario, falls for him, he's supposed to be a playboy (NOT very convincing....), neighbors talk, mom is scandalized, etc., etc.....but the acting grabs you and you want to see it through....unfortunately, it's a rather "fairy-tale" ending (he decides he loves her after all). Would love to see this updated and remade, but today would probably be a "made for TV" Lifetime movie romancer.
Somber look at Italian Catholicism
Interesting, hard to categorize (not a tragedy, not a comedy, maybe somewhat of a satire?) movie about a son who's mother (assumed to be anything BUT saintly) is being recommended for Sainthood. Movie seems to believe that the Catholic church hasn't done a very good job of assessing her qualifications....and given the current problems the Catholic Church is facing in America....it's quite believable. The tone is pretty somber; some of the plot is confusing at times, and I wondered if there was supposed to be a "higher meaning" than the action on screen? But even though there seemed to be lots of loose ends, it made me think....though no conclusions could be drawn. Part of the Chicago International Film Festival....fits that genre well.
8 femmes (2002)
Wacky, way-out French fantasy
Well, take "Rocky Horror Picture Show" with 8 grand dames on a single set and you have some idea of what this movie is all about. Can't take it seriously, as the plot is terribly thin....but if you "go with it" you'll find it very entertaining, and hard to categorize. Great vehicle for some of France's illustruous film divas, and with a little erotic lesbianism thrown in for fun. I really enjoyed it although I don't think we'll see it nominated for "Best Foreign Film"!
Bella Martha (2001)
Terrific "Feel Good" flick
This is one of those "fairy-tale" stories about a successful, but not happy woman whose life changes when......I won't give the plot away, but the characters, music and happy ending will have you leaving the theatre with a big smile on your face and in your heart. If you are like Martha.....find an Italian!!
Excellent multi-faceted picture of "drugs" in our society.
Wow!! A comprehensive, compelling and chilling picture of the drug "business" from every perspective; our top government officials (one "waving the white flag" after two years of getting nowhere), the users (up-scale and "respectable" types), the major dealers and the few honest soldiers who keep returning to fight a seemingly win-less battle. Excellent cast, well-developed characters and the editing keeps the pace moving. Highly recommended. Hard to believe Soderbergh had "Erin Brockovich" a year ago....quite a talent.
Where the Heart Is (2000)
Touching,"feel good"story of young girl overcoming challenges
I had not read the book, but found the story to be engaging, the plot NOT totally predictable (although there is a fairy-tale "happy ending" for three of the main characters), and the acting strong. Casting was excellent, just a shame that some of the roles were "fleeting" encounters, to be seen once, but maybe infrequently or never again, e.g. Sally Field as the main characater's mother. Good combinations of humor, poignancy, and even some off-screen violence. This movie will probably "inspire" people to try to make the most of their lives. I'm sure Oprah would recommend it, but actually, so do I.
28 Days (2000)
Somewhat predictable, but still attention holding movie about getting clean.
Had read some pretty mediocre reviews of this movie, but decided to give it a chance. Opening half hour was pretty strong (and grim.....although someone in our audience thought the drunk scenes were actually funny...). Once in the Rehab facility, it became a little more predictable, with somewhat cardboard characters. Unfortunately, you never really got to know most of them very well, as Sandra Bullock was the main focus. "Ensemble" casting was good (wish they had given Diane Ladd a bigger part), and all actors were strong enough to be believable, especially/even Bullock. Sub-plot about a TV soap opera seemed somewhat out of place, but maybe it was meant to offer (unneeded) comic relief? Movie's message might actually get through to some people, which would make it worth seeing.
The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)
Great combination of a strange story and perfect casting
I was leery of seeing this movie; the previews (saw them too many times) made it seem too bizarre and too much the "in" actors (Damon, Paltrow and Blanchett in particular). Boy, was I wrong. A compelling plot; almost surreal, absolutely beautiful locations and extremely well cast and acted. Matt Damon in particular was superb. The "clean cut" young man who could never harm a fly...... I'll be thinking about this one for quite a while to come.