Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Mr. and Mrs. Smith

The is not a review or a plot description, this is a record of how the movie made me feel.

I have seen this movie before and love it. How do you describe the genre of the movie, I would have to say comedy instead of spy movie, because it makes me laugh in almost every scene.

Knowing they are married in real life makes it all the more enjoyable. I love the drop the bottle scene very memorable, though how could such a sophisticated couple have white shag carpet in their dining room?

The elevator escape is also pretty, especially when Mrs Smith sheds a tear after pushing the switch to blow the elevator Mr. Smith was standing in. And that is what really adds some depth to this movie, when I see something that is all comedy like the Hangover and it does not really work well for me a

I find during the movie I empathize with the couple. The timing of Lay Lady Lay, was sublime. I really desire a happy ending and if I forget how it ends some day I will need to watch it again *grin*.

The Spirit House 1993

The is not a review or a plot description, this is a record of how the movie made me feel. Warning, there is some nudity and even more implied

I have never seen this moving before and I am not at all certain I will see it again. Early in the movie Esteban, (Jeremy Irons),  runs a local girl, (Pancha GarcĂ­a (Sarita Choudhury), down while on horseback.  She was carrying her laundry along a trail. Esteban rapes her, I think the movie intends for me not to like Esteban and it succeeded.  Pancha,the girl he raped is impregnated and comes to him to ask for money for food, he finally gives it to her, but is really rude in front of his bastard son. He does other things to, he is a man of dark passion, a total creep. I find myself hoping the plot causes him to die a horrible death or a very long life where he ends up lonely and alone.

He marries Clara, (Meryl Streep), and I think he wants to love her, but he does not controls his passions, including not being faithful to the marriage which falls apart after he strikes Clara and causes her to bleed.

Another emotional roller coaster involves his daughter. Blanca, (Hannah Taylor-Gordon), falls into a life long love, (I hope), with Pedro, (Antonio Banderas),  from a very early age. She is heir to the most prosperous hacienda in Argentina and he is a peasant. Later in the movie they have sex in the same place they went skinny dipping when they were five years old.  Blanca gets pregnant so the sting of illegitimate children continues. I am hoping for the best for the three of them. That hope is crushed. Then things take a bad turn. The country goes haywire with a coup and it breaks very bad for Blanca. I really feel for her.

Meanwhile Esteban has been broken by the course of events and actually does a good deed helping Pedro get to safety. Now, I find myself hoping for a life redeemed.

I don't want to mention any more details as we are near the end and it would be a spoiler. The movie left me flat. Am I glad the DVD is in my library? Unknown! This disk was a set of three Meryl Streep movies. I haven't seen the other two, but I doubt I will watch Spirit House again.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

V for Vendetta 2005

This post is not a review or a plot summary, it is a record of my feelings evoked from the movie.

My first feeling, I was CEO of a security company and Anonymous, possibly the greatest hacking crewe of all time, adopted the Guy Fawkes mask. This drags me deep into the movie, though I translate the message much different than the comic book plot and message. I have watched as the cyber attacks have been escalating and they have already linked cyber warfare to physical warfare. This should not be a movie I watch at night because it jacks me up almost as much as Mad Max.

The plot about a government with not checks and balances probably seemed to be a stretch in 2005, but after the Snowden releases, I am not so sure. So as afraid as I am about people behind Guy Fawkes masks, I am slowly coming around to the notion our government has gotten out of control, not to the extent the movie talks about, but I certainly hope we do not get to that point.

Had a bit of trouble believing this reality. While everybody has a super power, there aren't any super heroes. If you shoot somebody, they die much of the time. If you mess with a powerful government you will go down most of the time, though Assange and Snowden show there are potentials for alternate realities.

The primary emotion I had in the second half of the movie until the finale was boredom.

I appreciate the way the violence is mostly implied, you do not see blood and gore like a military movie or the Godfather. Well until the subway scene, more cartoon physics, but if you like to see blood spurt it is there in a big way.

I have this movie in my library, not just for its entertainment value, but to remind me of some of the critical issues that we used to think are science fiction, but in reality, we will likely face in the next ten years.

Sabrina 1995

This is not a review or plot summary, this is a record of the feelings the movie evokes in me.

Pretty sure I have never seen this before, certainly not in Seattle, we had to cut the plastic they wrap around DVDs off,  before we could watch the movie.

There seem to be several themes introduced early on. Sabrina,, (Julia Ormond), is a shy plain looking girl with a crush on Linus, (a young Harrrison Ford). I instantly empathized with Sabrina, though it kept running through my mind, "how do they make Julia Ormond look plain".

We also have a theme of two very rich brothers, one a never do well, the other a driven business man similar to Richard Gere in pretty woman. I loved the first line from the playboy brother, "It is rare to meet such a beautiful woman. I love your sense of humor and irony."

She went to work in Paris for a modeling company as a support person. Then she becomes beautiful, first she loses the glasses and you just sense what is coming next. Various events start to add tension to the story. Lots of tension and at the party for someone or another's birthday, I started to feel angst.  I am expecting a happy ending, but I feel like the road is going to get bumpy.

Note to self, don't put champagne flutes in the back pocket of your tuxedo and sit down on a chair. It can ruin your evening. Linus tries to make a move on Sabrina before his brother can deflower and drop her.  As the plot progresses, I find I am really rooting for Linus and Sabrina.  The quips Sabrina delivers at the beach picnic had both Kathy and I laughing they were terribly clever. At the end of their day together the dialog had me thinking of the Pretty Woman movie.

As day 2 of attempting a relationship, I find myself laughing till I cried. Apparently, this is a remake, I think I am going to see if the remake is available on Amazon, I love the plot line as it keeps going. At the lunch where they eat the food with their hands we see the seeds of a potential relationship. I find myself hoping for Sabrina and Linus, but she is still heads over heels for David.

Woah! No matter which brother she chooses, the plot has her headed for the path of pain. I am rooting for Sabrina and rooting for Linus to be a decent person. One of the quotes in the movie is that Linus is the only person on earth that "Linus is the only living heart donor that is still living".  The Larrabee brothers are such jerks, Sabrina is crushed, and the movie makes me sad, but hopeful.

I am not going to say anything about the conclusion, but I am glad this is in my library and we will almost certainly watch it again.

Under the Tuscan Sun 2003

This is not a review or a plot summary, these are my feelings evoked by the movie.

The opening of the  movie was a bit sad and scary as well, if your spouse turns against you it can be emotionally and financially devastating. I was happy to see her friends come to her aid. The plot in the beginning of the movie is zany but a good laugh.

NOTE: if you have significant issues with same sex couples, you might want to avoid this movie; in my case Kathy and I been together for 33 years. My philosophy is I have my girl, the rest of you have to sort yourself out.

When the bus was stopped by sheep crossing the road I cracked up, I have had that happen in three different countries.

The movie has some some of my favorite themes, the mysterious lady in a hat who can find ice cream anywhere, the three hundred year old house in disrepair, boy meets girl resulting in an impossible love and they weave all the themes into a happy, romantic movie.

Kathy and I have been to Italy several times and recognized several of the scenes, the Tuscan landscape, the view of the Amalfi coast from the ocean was stunning, it was taken from a boat and we only know the view from the highway, Positano and the beach.  When Frances, (Diane Lane), meets Marcello, (Raoul Bova), she is "hit by the thunderbolt" as they say in the Godfather. That is what happened with Kathy and I, we really resonated with that scene and it brought back memories for both of us.

The end of the flag throwing scene was so funny I belly laughed for minutes, can easily imagine that happening to me. I was playing ultimate frisbee on the field outside of Bushnell at Mary Washington University, trying to impress  a girl and was concentrating on the frisbee and hit the flag pole at full speed. Amazingly I was not hurt, but I left a bigger impression on my forehead than the girl.

At the risk of being a spoiler in the event anyone besides me reads this, I will not touch on any details, but it is a romantic movie that leaves you feeling good.

Godspell - 1973

This post is not a review or a discussion of the plot it is a reminder to me about how the movie makes me feel.

It is *so* 1970s that it really made me smile. I had never seen the movie, but I did see the musical on stage in London 1974 stage version of Godspell at the Wyndham's Theatre in London.

The very first narration only about two minutes with the odd voice and the psychedelic paint blobs didn't work for me.

The highlight for me was the sound track. I had a cassette tape of the Godspell sound track, ( Do you remember cassettes?), when I was on the Kennedy, (An aircraft carrier). Only had about a dozen tapes, so played them all a bunch wearing earphones, since the ship operates 24 hours a day, someone is always sleeping. My favorite songs were:
- Prepare ye the way of the Lord, it is a bit haunting and yet stirring at the same time, in my opinion it has a bit less vaudeville influence
- Turn back o man, what a gift to be a skilled dancer with the sultry singing voice
- All for the best, I loved the duet, but the dance part got a bit boring so I went to make a snack
- The musical reprise at the end of the movie

The happy dancing silly part of the movies is greatly diminished after the encounter with the Pharisees. I felt the sadness the show tries to project.

I am glad I have this movie in my library. I don't expect to watch it often, but I have a couple ideas about how I might use it other than watching it in my home theater.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Freedom Writers 2007

I have seen this movie twice. This movie really hit me hard, because my wife was an inner-city school teacher. Many things that happen in the movie are exactly what my wife would tell me about over supper. As retired educators, Kathy and I both understand the need to try innovative teaching techniques. At the SANS Institute and also at our graduate school, one of the biggest problems is to have the labs work for the students. As I watched the movie, ideas were pouring through my head.

I really resonated with the way Hilary Swank had such a hard time breaking through to her students.  She faced a very difficult time and that resonated with me. One reason the movie feels so real is that it is based on a true story; there really is an Erin Gruwell. In fact, there is even a Freedom Fighter Foundation.

Both of us cried multiple times. One of the real surprises was when the kids called their teacher "Miss G", the reason that hit home was Kathy's class called her "Miss N".

I am glad I have this movie in my library and certainly intend to watch it again.

Joyful Noise 2012

Most people appreciate good gospel music and this film rocks; it is state of the art for gospel. Amazing cast, it is easy to key on: Queen Latifah, Dolly Parton, but though I had never heard of Keke Palmer, or Courtney B. Vance, they gave the headliners a run for their respective solos.

How did the movie make me feel? Loved the performances and the love thread. Felt the constant arguing between Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton went on and on. It would have been better to have a different thread and keep the arguing to 1/5 of what they did. Grumpy Old Men pulled it off, but the chemistry just was not there.

Also felt the scenes with the pastor were a bit shallow.

I am glad I have it, but I think I will have my remote by my side and speed up some of the argument sessions.

Secondhand Lions 2003

First saw this on a plane. The two "great uncles", Hub, played by Robert Duvall and Garth, played by Michael Caine are hilarious. I loved the scene in the beginning of the movie when they are shooting shotguns at the sales people that kept driving up to their house in the country.

I am a sucker for movies when one of the actors starts a story to a kid and then the movie "jumps" into stories. Lions jumps in and out from the narration to acting it out in the movie.

Hub and Garth do an incredible job of toggling between sounding stupid and being incredibly brilliant. A lot of the movie was "cartoon physics", I laughed till I cried and it was touching throughout.

One thing I try to do, though this blog, over time, will prove beyond doubt I fail. I am certainly hoping to see this again, it is welcome in my library.

Godfather - Part 3 1990

Part III strains my credibility filters. Michael has killed or directed the killing of people every three minutes in Part I and II. He also had to testify in Congress.  Early in Part III he is being accepted into a Catholic order and somehow his massive family fortune appears to be a do gooder organization.

The helicopter machine gun scene where the Dons are nearly totally wiped out is in sharp contrast with the rest of the movie, but at least it makes it congruent with part I and II.

So much for the do gooder section of the movie, I will not give away the plot, though Wikipedia does, but are pretty much back to blood and gore.

Godfather Part II 1974

My main impression is that this film confused me as I watched it for the first time. It starts in Sicily when Vito is a little boy and then the next thing I know, Michael, who became Don after Vito passed seven years earlier is the focus of the story. I love the Sicilian landscapes in both Part I and Part II. I have been to Sicily hiking Mount Edna and spending some time on one of the widest beaches I have ever seen. It is quite the site over a thousand men in black bikinis. All the tourist brochures show lovely women in bikinis, but the beach I was on had overweight women in black one piece suits. I was with a friend at and the time most of the people had never seen a frisbee. They asked to buy them. At the time 25,000 lyra was about 25.00 USD if I recall correctly. And they were willing to pay it, good thing we brought our Frisbee golf bag :)

Then we switch back to Vito who has a wife and a baby. This is also a very dark movie. It ends with Michael doing some serious thinking, which is a lead in to Part 3.

The bottom line for me. Plot is hard to follow, but period cars and clothes are awesome.

Godfather 1 1972

It has been over 20 years since I have seen this movie. I remembered three of the famous scenes, "Don" Vito Corleone holding court before the wedding party, Sonny and the girl humping against the door, the horsehead in the bed. However, I was amazed at the sense of pageantry at the opening wedding scene. It would cost a gazillion dollars to try to create a movie with this level of detail today. I think the scene spans between 1945 - 1955. Coppola does a fantastic job of illustrating the best parts of traditional Italian life.

Yes, this is a terribly violent movie, but it could worth just watching the opening wedding scene if you have streaming video.

I am not going to summarize the plot, I think Wikipedia does a better job that IMDB in this case.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Your Highness 2011

This is a stupid movie, I can't believe I bought it. Two brothers, one a hero, the other a bumbler go on a quest. There are some fairly interesting computer generated special effects, I bet half the movie was filmed in front a a blue screen.

Natalie Portman plays the most sensible character and they have a great outfit for her. It does get slightly better in the second half. NOTE: there is a scene with partial nudity, the members of the quest are captured by a bunch of topless warrior women.  I would pass on this one.