I am so sick of Christian themed movies that are so syrupy sweet (play appropriate music here) that you are ashamed to show it to your non-believing friends. Why can't someone come out with a Christian movie that focuses on the cost and the sacrifice and toughness it requires to be faithful to Christ in a world that thinks you are a moron at best or hates you at worst? Why can't someone write a screenplay that is more like Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men, saying: "You want the truth? You can't handle the truth!" The Blind Side was a better faith based movie than this 'love story.' Okay, so it wasn't atrocious, it was just that all the Christian "men" in the movie are touchy-feely, caring guys who explain the importance of Jesus in such a way that it makes most "men" want to beat them up. Come on people... If you want to be a Christian in today's world, you'd better be like Braveheart: "I've come to picka fiet."
Sad, long, painful to watch, and depressing. Unemployment is a depressing... no kidding. But this movie is about as much fun as watching beach erosion. Shot in segmented stories like Crash and Babel, it is disjointed. Adequate acting by all parties, but sleazy story lines of adultery, money, and power gone awry... surprise! Capped with an unconvincing and surreal ending: an attempt at corporate redemption. If only the ending were a true story.
An interesting movie from an historical point of view - we did not know how US monied interests used political fiction to force annexation and subjugation of the Hawaiian people. Q'Orianka Kilcher is good as Princess Ka'iulani, with a very expressive face and requisite poise as a regal child. The problem with the movie is that it majors in a minor love story, which appears to be dramatic license, since there is no record of her engagement to an Englishman. The fact that this untruth takes up too much of the movie's length caused us to think the movie was overly long, when in fact, it just spent too much time on giggling, walks on the beach, and romantic illusions. There is enough of the political intrigues revealed in the movie to make it worthwhile, but not enough to satisfy. It makes you want to know more about the royal family history in the larger political context. Beautiful scenery and Kilcher's presence as an actress makes the movie watchable.
Amy Adams is always good and believable as the vulnerable girl next door. Her facial expressions are convincing. She displays the inner thoughts of her heart on the canvas of her face and she seems so genuine and unpretentious. She is a good actress. But of course, this is a simple romantic comedy... a story told hundreds of times before, and therefore completely predictable and a bit trite. If it were not for the humor, slapstick, and irony, it would be completely boring and unbearable, but the story is redeemed by hints of emotion and laughter. It is the luck of the Irish I guess to be saved by true love from the counterfeit virtues of status and possessions. And such is Leap Year.
It's kinda funny and well acted with a serious vein that cuts across the wrists, not down them. The basic theme of the movie is that a smarter-than-average young person (Craig played by Keir Gilchrist) is having trouble dealing with all the pressures to excel at school and at life and in love. He suffers from doubt, depression, and suicidal thoughts. His father's practical, but zealous, expectations only make his situation worse. Checking into a mental health clinic, Craig finds himself thrown in with a bunch of adults, and turns out to be mentored by another patient, (Bobby played by Zach Galifianakis). Zach does a stellar job as a suicidal-depressive, just barely hiding behind a mask of levity. His character has a lot of wisdom about others, but can't seem to find the same insight into himself. It provides the story with some tragic irony, and it is well played. My wife is a teacher and said that the movie might help a lot of teens see that they are not alone in their feelings of alienation and insecurity. The discomfort of many of her students seems all too familiar, and so the movie can be recommended on that score. Fairly clean, some bad language, but nothing they haven't already heard in school for sure.
Interesting concept, but a little too long. A labyrinthine descent into a world of dreams, dreaming about the world of dreams. The plot is an attempt to insert an idea into a subject through subliminal invasion of the targets dream state. It reminded me of What Dreams May Come in concept and execution. A bit on the moribund side. A lot of tense action, but ultimately unsatisfying for some reason. I think the plot had so many levels and so many twists, and the dialog explanations were so fast, that it was an effort just keeping up with the timeline. Okay for a rental. Would not have wanted to pay full price for it.
My wife says it was a "cute" movie. Typical therapeutic worldview where all those who are bad (dragons) aren't really bad, just misunderstood, and how war is not the way to fix your problems. The hero (Hiccup) is the weakling son of a warrior chief (who looks down upon his disappointing son). Hiccup can't quite get into the whole manly-man thing, and befriends one of the evil dragons, to the horror of his father. We are raising a whole generation of children to be in touch with their feelings, but not one willing to fight for anything. Suitable for young children that shouldn't have to face reality yet, but not a good diet for the mature.
This movie provides the backstory on Franklin Delano Roosevelt (Kenneth Branagh) as he succumbs to polio and tries to deal with its aftermath. It is a period in his life that we did not know about, nor did we know how complete his paralysis was. You begin to gain a perspective on how the disabled were treated in those days: with fear and suspicion. Polio effectively ended his political career, as no one with a disability like his could be elected to office... or so he thought. FDR's suffering and commiseration with fellow polio victims moved him to create a rehabilitation center at Warm Springs. His affliction seems to have given him a natural empathy for the suffering of others and increased his desire to help the "common man." It may have prepared him well for the Presidency in a time when the Depression had reduced so many people to abject poverty. The movie is well acted, and the portrayal of his relationship with Eleanor (Cynthia Nixon) reveals some of their troubles (his infidelity) but also their admiration for each other. Eleanor's growth as an independent woman and political partner is clear. For a lesson in history and character, it is well done. We watched it over two nights for it is 2.5 hours long.
I was pleasantly surprised by this historical drama about the pivotal figure in the Reformation. The story itself is compressed, and probably deserves a longer treatment, but the essentials are there: Martin Luther's attempt to reform bad practices within the Roman Church, only to be surprised at being called an enemy and a heretic for doing so; his preaching of the Good News of a loving God when most people simply lived in fear of hell; the corruption of the Popes who cared more about worldly power and raising money than they did about the truth; and his reasons for calling upon the princes to stop the armed revolt of the peasants and his sorrow at the consequences of that action. Joseph Fiennes does an impressive job revealing Luther's conflicted emotions and character. We often forget that Luther's life was in constant danger simply for disagreeing with the church authorities and saying "Here I stand, I can do no other." Good cinematography, good costumes, good acting all around. Very well done.
My wife is a special educator who teaches autistic children. She found herself laughing and crying in sympathy with the realism of Claire Danes portrayal of Temple Grandin. At a time when autism was misunderstood and the parents treated with suspicion of abuse, Temple became an avenue of understanding and enlightenment for the rest of the world. This true and incredible story of a brilliant pioneer in animal behaviors is told from the perspective of the constant misunderstandings and ridicule she received from the society around her. The interviews with Ms. Grandin in the Special Features are also encouraging. A little long, or else it might be a five star review.
Typical Jackie Chan kung-fu antics with humor, warring against Russian spies with horribly fake Russian accents. It was a fun watch with a few good one liners, but I think Ive seen this plot line 3 times before: Jackie is a spy hiding out as as the nerd next door, dating the single mom with three kids who think Jackie is a loser. Dont expect deep thoughts from this romp-a-thon. Just a predictable plot with clean language.
Ingrid Bergman died of cancer the year this movie was made, four years after Golda Meir died of cancer. As Ingrids swan song, it was a worthy tribute to a woman called The Mother of Israel. This biopic is a two part mini-series on a single disk. It provides a wealth of history and context without sugarcoating the woman. Golda sacrificed family and comfort to pursue her overriding passion: the establishment of a Jewish state. The series takes you from her childhood, hiding from Russian pogroms, to her life on the Kibbutz to her leadership during the Yom Kippur War. A woman to be admired who sought peace but never found it except for a brief moment at the end of her life.
Robert Duvall has to be one of the premier character actors of our day. The depth and subtlety of his character makes you believe he is the person he is portraying. Duvall plays a 1930's backwoodsman, Felix Bush, with a hidden heart of shame and guilt. Like his work in The Apostle, Duvall picks a character who is neither fully good nor evil, but combines his conflicting emotions into one tormented soul. This drama is so tightly written (and has so much more heart than most pop Hollywood productions) that you are transfixed, waiting for the truth of Felix's past to be revealed. The rest of the characters are stellar. Sissy Spacek with a minor role makes you know the wounded, broken heart she still carries because of Felix. While Bill Murray plays a quixotic funeral home director with money on his mind. Lucas Black plays the funeral salesman with innocence and unshakeable integrity. Like a Graham Greene novel, Get Low is full of deep characterizations, but slow moving towards it climactic finish.
2.5 stars. I didn't dislike it, but this plot was loosely put together. The script was not quite campy but not tight enough to be a comedic thriller. Compared to the stars in this genre, Romancing the Stone or Jewel of the Nile, it fell far short of the snap, verve, and humor of those two classics. The story is about a financial miscreant, Ben Finnegan (Matthew McConaughey), on a singular quest for sunken treasure, who has destroyed his marriage and indebted himself to an an unforgiving rapper-gangster who wants him dead. Kate Hudson is good as his disillusioned ex-wife, as is Donald Sutherland, who plays a millionaire yachtsman taken in more by the sense of adventure than by the money. A passable movie, but not a must see.
Well what a surprise! This version of True Grit is better than the original. The performances of Jeff Bridges and John Wayne are unique to each movie, so you forget the comparisons while you are watching it. What is far better are the other actors: Hailee Steinfield, as Mattie Ross, is not a whiner. She is forthright and believable. Matt Damon puts in a funny performance and Josh Brolin makes a convincing low-minded murderer. My wife, who usually cant stand Jeff Bridges, was completely pleased with his work in this movie. Good cinematography, great choice of scenery. Overall, a great diversion for a Saturday afternoon.
Gilmore Girls for guys? Yackety-yack. Who knew guys could talk so much about their "feelings?" Plus the movie had a profusion of swearing that added nothing to the story. The acting wasn't bad, but the plot was trite. An old time marriage is suddenly rocked by the elderly wife leaving for 'greener pastures.' Along the way, the abandoned husband and his son go on a road trip of reconciliation, exploring feelings and pasts, and all the stuff that guys really 'care' about. Not! Neither did my wife, who loved the Gilmore Girls. I couldn't stand them... the dialog hurt my ears. This was worse.
Another Shoah type documentary movie, using interviews of Jewish survivors of the Nazi holocaust, still images, and recreated movie scenes. The difference in this movie is that all the survivors were children in WWII. The Kindertransport tells the story of 10,000 Jewish children who were sent away by their parents to live in England after the infamous Kristallnacht in November of 1938. The world was so horrified by the blatant persecution and brutality that compassionate souls in England petitioned the government to provide a refuge for the children. No other nation or government opened their doors to provide sanctuary. Over 1.4 children died in the gas chambers. These were the fortunate ones.
The brutality of genocidal war is revealed in all its gory detail, as the merciless Japanese butchered a civilian populace and executed prisoners of war in an ethnic cleansing of Nanking, China in 1937. 300,000 were slaughtered, but John Rabe, using his Nazi party membership and the German alliance with Japan, helped save 200,000 Chinese people in a safety zone in the center of Nanking. A true story that lifts the covers back upon an injustice the Japanese people have yet to fully acknowledge - the acting in the movie is superb all around. The only difficult part of the movie is that it jumps from German with subtitles to English, to German, to Chinese, to Japanese. It does not detract from the overall power of the film, however. The irony is that John Rabe, upon his return to Germany in 1938 was branded a traitor by the Nazi party for collaborating with the Chinese, and was forbidden to speak about the massacre.
A sleeper that surprises with delight. It is amazing how the most underrated movies actually please us more than many of the well-advertized and promoted Hollywood clones. This true story of the rise of Scottish Nationalism in the 1940s is capped with the theft of the Stone of Scone (Destiny) used as a seat upon which to crown Scottish Kings since the 800s. The Stone was captured by Edward I in 1296 and brought to England, whereupon all English kings and queens were crowned; thus making them the rightful kinds of Scotland as well. Housed in the coronation chair in Westminster Abbey, three 4 college students make a raid to recover the stone and Scottish national pride on Christmas Eve 1950. The movie had us on the edge of our seats at times and laughing at others. Well done. Lots of fun. History as story in the best of senses.
The beginning of this movie is very choppy, with the background on the financial circumstances hinted at, but unexplained. The acting is a bit wooden except for the main character, Ester (Ellen Bry) and little Crystal (Raegan Lamb), while the teens' acting (Lucas Till, Jessica Luza) improves as the film progresses. They are not convincing as completely hardened youths. The short version is that Ester is suddenly widowed and her husband has lost a vast fortune in bad investments, leaving her only the owner of a small rental house being used by a foster care family. She is deposited in their midst and must learn to cope with loss, her values, and her own feelings of abandonment, while deciding whether to kick out this family from "her" house. Made for TV quality with dialog to match, the movie is not bad, but nothing out of the ordinary.