Thursday, March 31, 2011

After. Life

Directed (and written) by Agnieszka Wojtowicz-Vosloo, Lleju Productions, 2009. Starring Liam Neeson, Christina Ricci and Justin Long.

Genre: Drama, Horror, Mystery, Thriller.

Question: Have you ever watched a movie by an actor you like and realize they are so good you want to see everything they do? Well, that happened with me with Liam Neeson after seeing "Taken".Taken

I've watched his movies for years - starting with "Satisfaction" with Justine Bateman, and one of the first roles of Julia Roberts....so, it's been a long time, ya think? But something just clicked after "Taken". He was so good in that and I really, really liked the movie so when I saw a preview on a rental for "After.Life" I immediately put it on my queue without thought.

Um, not sure how I feel about him playing a sadistic character but he did it well. "After.Life" is a spooky tale that has you question what happens after death with Liam Neeson playing an undertaker who can talk to the dead. Christina Ricci plays his...client...victim...not sure what you want to call her but she is in his care for most of the movie.

Visually, it is a stunning movie. Red is vividly portrayed and used thoughtfully against all the bleak colors of the film. But since this is a thriller/mystery I don't want to say much more about the story. I'll let you see the twists and turns and the goose-bump inducing scenes. All I will say is that I liked it but once I finished it wasn't as good as I thought it could have been.

My favorite thing: the use of the color red.

My least favorite thing: a mistake that should have been corrected. See if you can spot it.

Sequel Possibility? Maybe.

Did the previews show too much? Nope.

Rating: R
Length: 104 minutes

Review: 6 out of 10



COMING SOON: "The Lincoln Lawyer" starring Matthew McConaughey

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Everybody's Fine

Directed (and co-written) by Kirk Jones, Miramax Films, 2009. Starring Robert De Niro, Sam Rockwell, Kate Beckinsale and Drew Barrymore.

Genre: Drama

Question: Do you miss seeing Robert De Niro play a sensitive character with a big heart? Oh, who am I kidding? I will see anything this man makes (with some rare exceptions..."Little Fockers"). So, when I saw the preview for this I wanted to see it but it seemed like it was going to be a comedy, but not. I don't know - I was just a little confused by the previews. But I finally rented it and I am glad I did.

Now I may be personalizing this one a bit but Robert De Niro reminded me of my father or the kind of father that is so proud of his kids that he goes around to EVERYONE and talks to them about his children and their accomplishments. My dad does that all the time. Anyway, back to "Everybody's Fine". This was a sweet movie that, unfortunately, not many saw. What a shame. I really enjoyed watching the soft side of people in films from time to time - especially from actors that don't get a chance to play it that way all that often.

This is a tale about a father who ventures off to see each of his 4 children and with what he encounters along the way: memories, new people and truths that hurt. I found myself getting teary-eyed a lot. Sure, I can be a bit sensitive but this story was well told. I hope you decide to see it - especially to see Robert De Niro's character and how well he acted. Seriously, this man can do anything. I just wanted to run up to him and give him a hug.

My favorite thing: Well, do I need to say it - Robert De Niro.

My least favorite thing: How many times I teared up - it didn't really bother me but I didn't have any tissues.

Sequel possibility? Nope.

Did the preview show too much? Na, I just thought it was a light comedy and I passed when it first came out. My mistake.

Download the movie: Everybody's Fine (2009)

Soundtrack:Everybody's Fine (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) - Dario Marianelli

Rating: PG-13
Length: 99 minutes

Review: 7 out of 10



COMING UP: "After. Life"

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Private Lives of Pippa Lee

Directed (and written) by Rebecca Miller, Grand Army Entertainment, 2009. Starring Robin Wright, Alan Arkin, Winona Ryder, Blake Lively, Julianne Moore and Keanu Reeves.

Genre: Drama, Romance.

Question: Did you ever want to understand why a young woman falls for an older man? Sometimes I ponder this but "The Private Lives of Pippa Lee" answers that question - in a quirky and fun way.

One of my last rentals from Blockbuster turned out to be a cute story. So many stars in one movie that I never heard of - have you? Geesh- Someone from every generation but I never saw a trailer, preview or an ad for this one. Just saw it on the shelf and thought, "Okay, why not?"

It stars Robin Wright, who I used to watch in Santa Barbara when I was back in high school - way before "Princess Bride". She embodies a completely different character, one that I have ever seen her play before. She is Pippa Lee. She is the one married to an older man played by Alan Arkin.

The story has her look back to her past while her present seems to be falling apart. There are some funny scenes and some not so funny - on purpose. "The Private Lives of Pippa Lee" The Private Lives of Pippa Lee is witty and incisive. Perhaps it wasn't mainstream enough to attract a lot of viewers but I enjoyed this film.

Rebecca Miller adapted her novel of the same name which came out in 2009.

My favorite thing: Has to be some of quick-witted lines the main character said.

My least favorite thing: Nothing is coming to mind right now - Maybe the casting of Julianne Moore. I love her but it was such a small part. I was curious as to why.

Possibility of a sequel? Not really.

Did the previews show too much? I never saw one.

Rating: R
Length: 98 minutes

Review: 6 out of 10



COMING UP: Everybody's Fine

Monday, March 28, 2011

Beer Wars


Since joining Netflix this weekend, I got to watch a couple of movies instantly. What fun!! Why did I not switch sooner? I can't answer that but I am so happy I did now.


My husband likes watching documentaries and once in a while I will join him. So when he got the Netflix/Wii streaming Wi-fi thingamabobber set up - the first thing he chose to watch was "Beer Wars" - a documentary.


I wasn't planning on reviewing documentaries. Yes, I did already review one documentary - "Catfish" but instead of reviewing them I will just let you know about the ones that I feel are worth watching.


So, this leads me back to "Beer Wars". What a great view into the world of small breweries vs. large breweries. After viewing this - it will probably make you think twice about your next beer purchase - especially at the grocery or convenient stores. 


I think women should watch this documentary, in addition to all the beer enthusiasts. I was delighted to see how many women are in the beer business - both large and small. "Beer Wars" shows working moms and their struggle with the balance. In fact, the movie was produced, directed and narrated by a woman - Anat Baron.


This is a good one to watch. And for those of you who like Dogfish Head beer you must watch this. 

Never Let Me Go

Directed by Mark Romanek, DNA Films, 2010. Starring Carey Mulligan, Andrew Garfield, and  Keira Knightley.

Genre: Drama, Romance

Question: Have you ever started watching a movie thinking it is going to be about one thing and then it turns out to be about something completely different? Well, that is what happened to me while I was watching "Never Let Me Go".

It is an adaptation from a novel by Kazuo Ishiguro. The same writer of Remains of the Day. I didn't know that going in but from the previews it seemed like one of those types of movie - a romance set in an idyllic British countryside in a time not too long ago. However, about 20 minutes in I realized the movie had a second plot interwoven into the romance plot, and it made it so much more intriguing.

Once the second story-line was revealed, I knew I was watching a unique tale wrapped in a facade. So surprising but emotional - at least for me. Again, I won't tell you what it is about but I really enjoyed this film and the 2 story-lines.

The three main actors all did a stunning job: Carey Mulligan, who has the most mature sounding voice as she narrates the film, was brilliant. Keira Knightley pulled off a character unlike any she has played before, and Andrew Garfield (from "The Social Network" and soon to be released "Spider-Man") had one of the most heart wrenching scenes that I may have ever watched on film.

"Never Let Me Go" Never Let Me GoWatch this one - it will make you think; it will make you shudder; and it should make you grateful. I might even buy the book on this one. I have a feeling more is explained.

My favorite thing: That I was surprised.

My least favorite thing: The thought of the reality of the second story.

Possibility of a sequel? No.

Did the previews show too much? Not one bit. They made me want to see it and it didn't reveal - only hinted - at the second story line.

Soundtrack: Never Let Me Go (Original Motion Picture Score) - Rachel Portman

Rating: R
Length: 103 minutes

Review: 8 out of 10



COMING SOON: The Private Lives of Pippa Lee

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Let Me In



Directed (and screenplay) by Matt Reeves, Overture Films, 2010. Starring Kodi Smit-McPhee, Chloe Grace Moretz, Richard Jenkins and Elias Koteas.

Genre: Drama, Fantasy, Horror, Mystery.

Question: Are you tired of movies with vampires - or maybe you are just sick of vampires stories about teen-angst romance and you want to see some horror mixed in? 

Well, you are in luck. The movie I just watched is a fantastic, scary and unique vampire story. "Let Me In" is where the vampires don't look or act like Edward Cullen one bit. "Let Me In" finally goes back to the heart and soul of what these monsters are - but all dressed up in a 12 year old girl.

This is actually a remake and I saw that one too ("Let the Right One In"). Oh, that one was good as well. They are based on the novel: "Låt den rätte komma in" written by John Ajvide Lindquist.

"Let the Right One In" is a foreign film - and, yes, I said I don't usually watch them but it was a vampire movie! Plus, it was dubbed.  "Let Me In" stars the girl from "Kick-Ass" (another great movie, by the way) and she was fantastic in the film. Plus, I knew whoever saw the original would have to make a good remake for us Americans. And they did.

It is creepy, bloody, and it has a great angle on the vampire story, which I won't divulge. I will say there is a theme in the movie that relates to some modern day issues kids have to deal with today. But just because the story surrounds a couple of 12 year-olds doesn't mean they can watch it. 

It is not for the faint-at-heart or for someone who thinks they are going to watch a couple of young kids befriend each other in a sweet way either. There are some sweet moments, and it is not a fast paced movie, which one might assume, but when you tell a story about a real monster, like a vampire, you have to tell the retched side too. Many vampire movies, these days, forget that part and have overly-romanticized it and that's why vampires are everywhere.

So, if you have been missed seeing a great vampire story in film then rent "Let Me In" Let Me Inand "Let the Right One In"Let the Right One In

My favorite part: The story.

My least favorite part: Can't really think of anything right now.

Possibility of a sequel? I think it could be open to one.

Did the previews show too much? Nope.

Rating: R
Length: 116 minutes

Review: 9 out of 10

DVDs and novel:


COMING UP: Never Let Me Go

Friday, March 25, 2011

Interview: Diary of a Wimpy Kid 2

I don't know how many of you have children - especially boys - but my son is obsessed with the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books and he is so excited that the second movie Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules is coming out this weekend. I will admit I did not see the first one. My husband took my son to see it...so, this will mostly likely be another father/son bonding movie. I will let you know what my 11 year-old son thinks of the movie though, but I can already guess that he will give it a big thumbs up.


As a mother, I highly recommend the books for your children - the whole series. My son read them over and over again and anything that makes your kids read more is a great thing. There is also the Dork Diaries - not of the same author but those are geared more towards the young girl's perspective. My daughter enjoys them immensely. Okay, back to movies...

Reel Movie News has another exclusive interview with its star, Zachary Gordon:


"Zachary Gordon is your average 13-year-old, but he has a really cool job!  Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules is his current movie and it hits theaters nationwide tomorrow - March 25.
Reel Movie News had a chance to catch up with the young star during his press tour forDiary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules. We talked about everything from girls to his exciting trip to Serbia."

For the rest of the interview click here.

Time to switch resources

Hello ToP? fans:

Well, I went to my local Blockbuster store the other day to rent a few movies. Yes, I am one of the last holdouts, as it seems. I just like going into a video store and looking at the covers, picking them up and turning them over to read the summary to see if it was something I wanted to see. Heck, that's how I found Hachi the other week - saw the cute dog on the cover and thought 'that is something my kids would want to see'. I know you can do this online but in person it just seemed better - or more familiar. However, I also have movies mailed to me from Blockbuster.com but most of those movies are the latest ones that were just in the theaters that I didn't get a chance to see when they were out.

Anyway, as I walked in something looked different - so I paused. A store clerk came up to tell me it is closing. Not shocking to hear but it was disappointing. He went on to tell me that it is just that store due to the landlord but I didn't believe him completely. This wasn't the only store in our area that was closing or which had already closed.

For years many people have told me to switch to Netflix or download movies, but I always refused because I don't like change. Blockbuster has been a constant in my life for 20 years. When I was a kid it was such a treat to hop in the car with my father to go rent a couple of "tapes". Those huge tapes for our VCR. Remember those?

The signs are clear though: I will be switching resources this week because I don't want to be left behind - or miss those weekly arrivals in my mailbox. If anyone has any tips - please let me know. I might have to even check out downloading a movie or two - which kind of sounds fun and futuristic but I am sure it will become old school soon enough. Hello 21st century - sorry I am a little late.

However, with the passing of the baton for at-home-movie-viewing being forced upon me, nothing will take away my favorite way to see a movie - at the movie theater! So, if anyone is thinking of closing those down too - stop right now. Everyone go out there and support your local theaters from time to time. Don't let the best way to escape reality and venture into the wonderful world of films go away too, please!

Now back to the reviews.


COMING UP: Let Me In

P.S. I hope everyone is enjoying my reviews. Please join up so you receive the latest posts. There are several ways now: Become a follower of the blog with the other MOVIE FANS, subscribe via email, RSS (feedburnber), Twitter and Facebook.

Also, tell your friends about Tired of Previews? The more the merrier.

And from time to time, let me know what you think. Agree, disagree or just tell me you saw a movie or didn't see a movie because of one of my reviews. Feedback is welcome. Thank you!

Katy

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

It's Kind of a Funny Story

Directed (and co-written) by Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck, Focus Features, 2010. Starring Keir Gilchrist, Emma Roberts and Zach Galifianakis.


Genre: Comedy, Drama.


Question: When you were a teenager, did you think of putting yourself in a mental ward would solve your problem(s)? Well, that is how "It's Kind of a Funny Story" handles it.


I was ready to like this film after seeing the previews last summer but when I completed the DVD this weekend I was a little disappointed. I am not sure if putting a comedic spin on mental illness, depression or the anxiety that kids go through today is a good thing. Luckily, it wasn't that funny.


I do have one good thing to say about this film: Zach Galifianakis was refreshingly different. He wasn't the over top - where-are-my-mental-faculties? guy - he seems to always play. (I do think he can play more dramatic roles now if given the chance.) Yes, he is a patient in the mental ward, as well, but his character has a vulnerability and likability that no one else had in this film. I just wished we discovered more about his character and background.


The film is based on the semi-autobiographical novel of the same name by Ned Vizinni. I don't know much about the book but I have a feeling I would like it better than the film.


My favorite thing: Zach Galifianakis's acting ability. It is worth seeing it just to watch him. It's Kind of a Funny Story


My least favorite thing: One thing the main character does a lot which just grossed me out.


Possibility of a sequel? I might have to say - maybe.


Did the previews ruin it? No, it made me want to see it. The previews were good.


Rating: PG-13
Length: 101 minutes


Review: 4 out of 10


DVD, Blu-ray or Instant Video of It's Kind of a Funny Story.


The novel:



Since I have been adding in a soundtrack from time to time now, I had to check the one out from "It's Kind of a Funny Story". This one is pretty good. A few songs are available individually or you can download the whole album. I really liked the song called Blood from The Middle East. And anything that has a Pixies' song is okay in my book
It's Kind of a Funny Story

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Soundtrack: Beetlejuice

"Inspired by Tim Burton's cast of comic undead, Oingo Boingo chief Danny Elfman shook up film music's old guard by blending Nino Rota-style hurdy-gurdy circus music, the demonic energy of Warner Bros. cartoons, and Elfman's own rock sensibility. The result: one of the most slavishly imitated comedy scores of the '80s" (from EW's 100 Best Movie Soundtracks) 1988


I thought this was a fantastic movie when it came out - so original - and the music made it that much better. That is how it landed as #98 on the top 100 Best Soundtracks of all time.


For decades now Danny Elfman and Tim Burton have been making movie history and "Beetlejuice" might be one of my favorites. However, with all my research I couldn't find an actual album to show you but I have discovered many of the songs grouped together on other albums for Danny Elfman.
For some of the songs - click here: Beetle Juice


Danny Elfman - is a prolific American composer for many film-makers and TV producers. Plus, he has been nominated for many awards, including the Academy Awards, a Grammy Award and an Emmy Award. He has even lent his voice for a song or two. Remember Jack Skellington? Yep, that's him.


Check out his other accomplishments. You might be surprised what else he composed.

Unstoppable

Directed by Tony Scott, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp, 2010. Starring Denzel Washington, Chris Pine and Rosario Dawson.

Genre: Action, Drama, Thriller.

Question: What makes you want to see a movie? Is it the story, the genre, or the actors? For me it is all of the above and more - but I must say that when Denzel Washington is in a movie, I put it on my list to watch it. I mean, come on, he's one of our greatest actors and anything he touches turns into gold...even if the story is a tad bit unbelievable.

I was about 20 minutes into "Unstoppable" when I realized that Denzel Washington can go into a genre and make it his own. He's that good!! Watching him act allows you to forget you are watching a slightly unrealistic film like "Unstoppable". His acting just pulls you in and you believe the the story being told. It almost gives me goosebumps thinking about how fantastic he is.

Both Chris Pine and Rosario Dawson also give great performances throughout the entire ride - and it is one ride that keeps you on the edge of your seat. You pretty much know what is going to happen and, yes, the previews did show too much on this one. However, "Unstoppable" is well acted and told - you still enjoy the whole story.

My only complaint was this camera movement where it quickly shoots in on the face of an actor - not for a full close-up - just closer. It was done a lot. I suppose it was to cause a little more tension, which this film did not need. After awhile it got a little annoying. But all in all I really liked this film so put in on your list to see.

My favorite part: Denzel.

My least favorite: The close-up camera trick.

Possibility of a sequel? I might have to say yes.

Did the previews show too much? Yep, but this time it didn't bother me too much.

Rating: PG-13
Length: 98 minutes

Review: 7 out of 10

Download Unstoppable here:
Unstoppable (2010)

Or here:



COMING UP: It's Kind of a Funny Story

Monday, March 21, 2011

Catfish

Directed by Henry Joost, Supermarche, 2010. Nev Schulman,

Genre: Documentary.

Question: Have you ever had an interesting relationship that you wanted to start documenting? Well, that is what these three guys did and what they discovered while filming turned out to be more interesting they could have ever imagined.

"Catfish" is the first documentary that I am reviewing. I probably won't review many documentaries because I don't usually watch a lot. However, six months ago or so when this came out there was all this buzz so I added it to my queue. Well, it arrived yesterday and I watched it with my husband.

When we started the movie, my husband asked me what it is about. I told him I didn't know because no one really talked about it. It was supposed to be a surprise. So I am not going to tell you anything about the movie either except to say it was pretty good. It started out as a semi-interesting story, but soon it took an intriguing turn, and then there was a twist that had me fully engrossed. There was a little slow section once we knew what was going on but it ended well.

I can't tell you what the title means either- you'll find that out. But I will say that I recommend this movie. It isn't long and it will make you think twice about something you probably do everyday - something that everyone probably does every day in this day and age. So put it on your queue or download it.

My favorite thing: that no one talked about what this film was about so I was surprised.

My least favorite part: I can't tell you or it will give the story away.

Sequel possibility? Nope.

Did the previews show too much? No, I saw some and I was intrigued to watch it.

Rating: PG-13
Length: 87 minutes

Rating: 7 out of 10

Catfish - Blu-ray, DVD & Instant Video Download

Friday, March 18, 2011

Soundtrack: One From the Heart

Francis Ford Coppola's 1982 movie "One From the Heart" is #99 on the top 100 Best Soundtracks of all time. Now, I must say I never heard of this movie but when it came out I was only 12. So I had to look it up. Then after reading about it, I was even more curious to know a bit more about this movie and music when I learned that the soundtrack was up for an Academy Award for Best Original Score.

The album is by Tom Waits and features Crystal Gayle. Yes, you read that right. Not a pairing I would have ever put together but after listening to the album, I won't doubt it again. The album is soft, sultry and melodic. Check it out!

One from the Heart (Music from the Motion Picture) [Bonus Track Version] - Tom Waits & Crystal Gayle

The movie stars Fredric Forrest, Teri Garr and Raul Julia.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Interview: Win Win's Amy Ryan

From the director of  "The Visitor" and "The Station Agent" and recent Sundance Film Festival standout,  "Win Win" is being released in theaters tomorrow, March 18th, 2011.

Here is an interview from Reel Movie News with one of it's stars: Amy Ryan.

"Amy Ryan has played such a wide range of roles in her long career. She played a drugged out mother in Gone Baby Gone, a psychiatrist on In Treatment, and a human resources representation on The Office.
Now she's playing a doting wife and mother in the Win Win opposite Paul Giamatti. The film follows a family who takes in a runaway teen who shows up at their door and they take him in. It's about the relationship between Mike Flaherty, moonlighting as a wrestling coach and a young athlete.
Ryan talks about what a pleasure this film was to do and working specifically with Alex Shaffer, who is appearing in his first film....."

For more of the interview and a link to the trailer which is worth watching because now I really want to see this film.

Sign-up here to be notified when the DVD of "Win Win" becomes available.

Morning Glory

Directed by Roger Michell, Bad Robot, 2010. Starring Rachel McAdams, Harrison Ford, Diane Keaton and Patrick Wilson.

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance

Question: What's the story....Morning Glory? Not a bad title for this film. Did you see the previews for this one? I thought they were pretty good. They showed just enough without spoiling the story.

However, I really didn't care for Morning Glory even though I like all the actors in the film. There was a great story there - I tried not to think of Broadcast News - but the film just missed the mark somehow.  Most of the jokes were too long, there wasn't much chemistry between the actors, and, despite wanting to, I just didn't connect with the main character:  Becky Fuller (played by Rachel McAdams).

There were a few good parts. For instance, some of the side characters were good, some of the jokes did actually work, but the main story just took too long to get to the point. By the time I got invested into the story I was also bored. Rachel McAdams' character was too hyper, which if she was working at her job producing the show I would understand. However, these hyper - almost frantic moments - happened off the clock as well. I found it annoying after awhile. And despite loving Harrison Ford since I was about 11 - I mean, come on - he's Han Solo, Indiana Jones and even Henry (Regarding Henry), I found his character to be least watchable of all. Sorry.

But if you want to watch it still, there are a few scenes that are enjoyable.

My favorite part: The weatherman's stunts to boost ratings. They were actually pretty funny.

My least favorite part: The main character's hyperactive behavior.

Possibility of a sequel? I don't think so.

Did the previews show too much? No, in fact, they were good. Made me want to see the movie.

Rating: PG-13
Length: 107 minutes

Review: 4 out of 10

Download Morning Glory: Morning Glory


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

SPECIAL DEALS

Groupon.com  is offering - TODAY ONLY. $6 movie ticket (limit 2 tickets per person) to The Lincoln Lawyer - Starring Matthew McConaughey, Marisa Tomei and William H. Macy. Starts March 18th, 2011

Click below to redeem coupon:

Soundtrack: Blue Velvet

Well, here is the first entry: Blue Velvet (1986) is #100 on the top 100 Best Soundtracks of all time. Well, at least according to the last time this list was put together, which was nearly a decade ago. I will also be posting some of the best sounbdtracks from the past few years so they don't get ignorned.

I saw Blue Velvet a long time ago and remember some scenes vividly, but I really don't recall the music. But after listening to the soundtrack again, I can see why this is on the list. The songs are soft, haunting and mysterious not unlike the plot. The music really brought more tension and emotion to the scenes.

The soundtrack is by Angelo Badalmenti. He also did most of the music for Twin Peaks.

Angelo Badalamenti

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Soundtracks

Let's change things up a little bit. You all know I love movies but I also love music, and sometimes they go hand-in-hand. The soundtrack can make a good movie great, a great movie perfect and, from time to time, a-not-so-good movie pretty decent. Am I right?

Look through your CDs and song lists and see how many came from a movie soundtrack. I found a lot when I looked through some of my old CDs and my IPod list.  Also, I saw there were a lot that came from movies I sort of forgot about. Interesting. These songs have stood the test of time for me but some of the movies lost their luster.

After thinking about this I know there must be more great soundtracks that must get be brought to light. So, I am off to do some research in my own library and beyond.

Starting soon I will be posting daily the best soundtracks of all time. I will, also, post the best soundtracks from the last few years.  Don't worry I will still be posting my movie reviews. This is just an added bonus for all you music lovers out there.

Thanks,

Katy
Tired of Previews?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Hachi: A Dog's Tale

Directed by Lasse Hallstrom,  Inferno Distribution, 2009. Starring Richard Gere, Joan Allen, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa and Jason Alexander.

Genre: Drama, Family

Question: How many of you are dog lovers? Do you ever find people who don't understand your affection for these furry, loyal creatures? Well, here is a story you can suggest to them that will explain why it is wonderful to have the love of a dog.

I rented a couple of movies for my kids this weekend and chose Hachi: A Dog's Tale because the dog looked cute on the cover. A beautiful Akita is flanked by two well known actors; plus, it was rated G - a rare rating these days. So I grabbed it. Later that night and about halfway through the story my daughter came down bawling and asked if I could watch it with her. I agreed but asked if I could watch it with her the next night and start it from the beginning. She happily agreed.

Oh, it was a sight: a mother and daughter crying together snuggled up with their own dogs watching Hachi: A Dog's Tale. Yes, I cried like a baby. This is a very sweet story about the love between an owner and a dog. It is based on a true story.

Hachi is lovely movie and it will definitely tug on the heartstrings. I am even having a little difficulty now holding back the tears thinking about the story. It has been a long time since a movie made me this emotional. Yes, I am a huge dog-lover so I am a sucker for these types of stories.

Now after reading all that, and realizing you are anything like me, you must rent Hachi this week.

FYI, my son enjoyed the movie but he didn't get as emotional about it as compared to his sister and mother.

My favorite thing: Hachi as a puppy

My least favorite thing: that I didn't have a box of tissues right next to me.

Sequel possibility? No.

Did the previews show too much? I never saw any.

Rating: G
Length: 93 minutes

Review: 7 out of 10

Hachi: A Dog's Tale - DVD & Instant Video

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Ondine

Directed (and written) by Neil Jordan, Wayfare Entertainment, 2009. Starring Colin Farrell, Stephen Rea and Alicja Bachleda.

Genre: Drama, Romance

Question: How many actors from other countries disguise their native accents when they make movies here? So many, right? Nicole Kidman, Russell Crowe, Gerard Butler, Ewan McGregor...just to name a few. But it is so interesting to see someone like Colin Farrell, who busted onto the Hollywood scene 10 years ago, go back to his country and make a movie. I can't recall hearing his Irish accent in a single movie that was made here.

I recently noticed that Colin Farrell seemed to slowly fade away from the big time Hollywood pictures and he started making small, independent movies here and abroad. I think it is is great because he is a fine actor who was starting to get lost in all the paparazzi-fueled, tabloid fodder lifestyle. Anyway, I rented Ondine, a Neil Jordan film, yesterday and was thoroughly pleased with the results.

Just like Neil Jordan's movies in the past, it is best that I don't tell you anything about the story except to say that it is a wonderful romance with a twist. I loved seeing the Irish countryside and people mixed into this wonderful tale. This may be a movie more for the female population but I did watch this with my husband and he thought it was pretty good. So, rent this one for a date night.

My favorite thing: the first confessional scene.

My least favorite thing: some words or phases went over my head. I wish I knew more Irish lingo.

Sequel possibility? I don't think so.

Did the previews show too much? I will tell you that the previews I saw showed just enough to get me to put it on my queue.

Rating: PG-13
Length: 111 minutes

Review: 7 out of 10

Rent or Buy: Ondine: DVD & Instant Video

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Girl Walks Into A Bar

Directed (written & produced by) Sebastian Gutierrez, Gato Negro Films, 2011. Starring Carla Gugino, Zachary Quinto, Josh Harnett, Danny DeVito and many more.

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Fantasy

Question: Have you ever watched a movie that was posted on the internet for free? Well, here is your chance to catch the first ever free film on YouTube: Girl Walks Into A Bar.

Yesterday the film was released and I got a chance to watch it. It was kind of fun to grab my laptop, a comfy chair and some headphones to watch this film. I was a little nervous to see a film that was free but I recognized most of the actors and thought: why not?  Plus, most of you know I love to watch movies and I am glad I did because I ended up liking it.

First, the dialogue was good and really funny in parts - lots of quips from both men and women about the opposite sex. This movie is definitely not for children, due to some mature subject matter, but both men and women will like some of the great lines the actors got to say.

Second, the movie was a little reminiscent of early Tarrantino sans the violence. There were 5-6 mini stories all chopped up but somehow connected to one another but told in a normal time frame. Back to the dialogue - several scenes had that back and forth banter like the opening scene of Pulp Fiction that was intelligently written. Sorry to compare but I am a huge Tarrantino fan and I think that type of dialogue is hard to pull off well.

Third, the location scout found some really cool old LA bars to shoot the scenes. There are about 10 in all and I would love to go to them and order an old fashioned cocktail.

Lastly, it wasn't predictable. So refreshing. This is just a fun movie to watch.

On the flipside - I thought some of the "stories" were unnecessary or a little out there. Plus, the plot was a little disjointed but it really didn't bother me all that much. So go ahead and check this one out.

My favorite thing: I will say it again - it wasn't predictable.

My least favorite thing: the commercials (about 4 or so) but how else is someone going to release a movie for free?

Possibility of a sequel? I don't think so.

Did the previews show too much? I will admit I skipped the previews this time, but it is on YouTube as well.

Rating: R
Length: 80 minutes

Review: 6 out of 10

Click to watch the movie

Friday, March 11, 2011

Tenderness

Directed by John Polson, Lionsgate, 2009. Starring Russell Crowe, Jon Foster, Sophie Traub & Laura Dern.

Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller.


Question: Do know that feeling you get when you are watching something really creepy? Sends shivers down your spine, right? Well, this movie did that but not in an in-your-face kind of way.


I found Tenderness on Sundance Channel recently and had a couple hours to kill during a mid-afternoon thunderstorm. I couldn't have picked a better genre to watch during that time. Tenderness is a C-REE-PY film but in a really subtle way because the movie really didn't go into much graphic detail.

I will not divulge what the story is about but I will say this was a decent movie. Based on the young adult novel by Robert Cormier, this story takes you on a few days’ jaunt around New York State where a convicted killer is set free after reaching 18 years of age.

Russell Crowe and Laura Dern are not the main characters but they bring a certain weight to the relatively unknown cast who has to pull off this creepy thriller. Yes, I used that word again but it is really cre...oh, never-mind. You get the picture.

Upon some research I did about this movie, I found it was only released on one screen for one day. There was no other explanation as to why. I am not sure if that is going to make you want to see it or pass but I enjoyed the film - not the subject matter - but it kept my interest for the duration.


My favorite part: hard to say.

My least favorite part: The subject matter.

Sequel possibility? nope.

Did the previews show too much? I never saw any - I just saw Russell Crowe's name attached and taped it.

Rating: R
Length: 101 minutes

Review: 6 out of 10

Tenderness DVD
Tenderness Instant Video
Book:

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Vicky Christina Barcelona

Directed (and written) by Woody Allen, The Weinstein Company, 2008. Starring Scarlett Johansson, Rebecca Hall, Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz.

Genre: Drama, Romance.

Question: Are you a fan of Woody Allen films?

Woody Allen definitely has own unique way of creating a film - sometimes it works for me and sometimes it doesn't. A few years back I kept hearing all this praise about Vicky Christina Barcelona but I never saw it. Not sure why. But I recorded it and let it sit there for months. Last night I finally watched it.

Well, I suppose I could say I liked it but I had some issues with it so it wasn't my favorite Woody Allen film.

First, the story had an interesting approach about a foreign, summer romance(s) - which to me is what this film essentially is about. However, there was this annoying narration (by a man) that made it seem like someone was reading a children's bedtime story not about several adults' sexual encounters. Maybe that is what the director was going for but when there were long periods of time without the narration I enjoyed the film more.

Second, I may be the only person who doesn't find Javier Bardem attractive. I know, I know -what is wrong with me? Yes, he has sex appeal but he just doesn't do it for me. Sorry. However, he was the main love interest for many in this film and I just couldn't relate to the other women and why he was the one.

Third, this film is basically about women and who they love, are attracted to and who they think they should be with. I don't mean to sound sexist here but, to me, this was a man's fantasy about what women want and not how it truly is.

In the beginning, it was quintessentially Woody Allen with Vicky, played by Rebecca Hall, as the overly talkative character, but after we got into the guts of the movie no one seemed to say anything remotely interesting.

Now the views of Spain made me want to book my plane ticket that night. Stunning!! I also liked the costumes - lots of linen. Not sure if there was any significance to using that material for so many of the costumes; but I kind of liked the organic material and how it isn't perfect after you had it on for a while.

My favorite part: the beauty of Spain and how it was shown.

My least favorite part: the narration.

Possibility of a sequel? Has Woody Allen ever done a sequel?

Did the previews show too much? What I remember - the previews showed a  lot of Penelope Cruz and she really wasn't in it that much. Maybe a little misleading but it didn't ruin the movie's storyline.

Rating: PG-13
Length: 96 minutes

Review: 5 out of 10

Vicky Christina Barcelona - DVD & Instant Video