"So Let it Be Written... So Let it Be Done"

The life and times of a real, down to earth, nice guy formerly living somewhere north of Boston, but now soaking up the bright sun of western central Florida (for now anyway.) Welcome to my blog world. Please leave it as clean as it was before you came. Thanks for visiting, BTW please leave a relevant comment so I know you were here. No blog spam, please. (c) MMV-MMXI Court Jester Productions

Monday, July 04, 2011

Aphelion

This year, aphelion is January 3rd (today), when the earth is as far away from the sun as it will ever be. That would be 94,512,005 miles. Perihelion was be on January 3, 2011.

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Saturday, February 19, 2011

SNMR 9.8: "Couples Retreat"

GREEN'S PEEING IN THE DEMO TOILET IS BAAAAD REVIEW:

Jason and Cynthia (Jason Bateman, Kristen Bell) are thinking about getting a divorce. In an effort to salvage their marriage they want to go to an exclusive couples resort for the counseling. But they can't afford it on their own and need to convince their friends to go with them so they all can get the group rate. After much hesitation, Dave & Ronnie (Vince Vaughn, Malin Ackerman), Joey and Lucy (Jon Favreau, Kristin Davis), and recently divorced Shane and his twenty year old girlfriend (Faizon Love, Kali Hawk) agree to go - but for the fun only.

When they get to the resort they are stunned by the beauty (filmed on location at a resort in Bora Bora) of the place and the amazing food but are shocked to learn that the group therapy and couples counseling is not optional and starts promptly at six in the morning.


Through the counseling Dave & Ronnie discover issues in their marriage that they didn't know existed, Joey and Lucy's bickering gets worse and overweight Shane just doesn't have the energy to keep up with a twenty year old.

What follows are some moderately funny situations that couples could find themselves in. After a blowup between one of the couples and a wild night at the singles club on the other side of the island, they all realize that all married couples have issues and that their marital problems aren't as bad as they thought they were.

The starring cast is excellent and there are wonderful performances from the supporting cast, including Jean Reno, Peter Serafinowicz and especially Carlos Ponce.

Former child star Peter Billingsley makes his feature length directorial debut and does a decent job managing this star heavy cast, getting everyone as much screen time as possible within the confines of the story. The script was written by Vaughn & Favreau with Dana Fox is witty and the story moves along fairly well.

The DVD features some nice extras including filming in Bora Bora and on the yoga scenes as well as deleted & extended scenes and a short gag reel.

This is a decent film and well worth a rental on Netflix or better, as a freebie from your library.

*** out of *****

Couples Retreat (2009, PG-13, 114 minutes) starring Vince Vaughn, Malin Ackerman, Jon Favreau, Jason Bateman, Kristin Davis, Kristen Bell, Faizon Love and Jean Reno. Written by Vince Vaughn, Jon Favreau and Dana Fox. Directed by Petere Billingsley.

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Saturday, February 12, 2011

SNMR 9.7: "Valentine's Day"

GREEN'S YOUNG LOVE, FULL OF PROMISE AND HOPE BUT IGNORANT OF REALITY REVIEW:

One year ago today, this aptly titled film was released, ostensibly in celebration of some upcoming couples holiday involving hearts, candy, dating, love and sex. Initially the concept seemed good: demonstrate how different people celebrate this Hallmark holiday by showing multiple couples during the entire day and how they interact with each other. This concept seems like a winner, especially with the recent trend of films that deal with non-linear and multiple story lines all jumbled and going on at the same time. One difference is, in those other films, all the storylines get tied up in the end so it makes sense. Like life and real relationships, not all of the story lines end happily-ever after. That is one thing this film has going for it, anyway.

I like romantic comedies. I really do. I really wanted to like this film more than I did. See, there are two major and one minorproblems with this film. The minor problem involves a continuity gaffe involving Jennifer Garner's character. The major problems are that the film does not have nearly enough comedy or romance in it and a simple case of overkill. Too many stars, too many stories and not enough screen time in a two hour and five minute film to do them all justice. What it all means that we don't have the opportunity to get invested in any of the characters or given enough grounds to care about any of them. This film would have been much more effective if there were half as many characters and storylines.

I have no problem with Garry Marshall as a director. He assembled a fine, all-star caliber cast of excellent and popular actors, who are each talented in their own right. With the amount of screen time anyone gets, I'd imagine the actors had a nice easy one or two days of filming and a decent paycheck to boot.

There were some touching story lines that I'd have liked see developed more, to the exclusion of others, but I won't tell you what they are.

**½ out of *****

Valentine's Day (2010, PG-13, 125 minutes) starring Jessica Alba, Kathy Bates, Jessica Biel, Bradley Cooper, Eric Dane, Patrick Dempsey, Hector Elizondo, Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Garner, Topher Grace, Anne Hathaway, Ashton Kutcher, Queen Latifah, Taylor Lautner, George Lopez, Shirley MacLaine, Emma Roberts, Julia Roberts and Taylor Swift. Screenplay by Katherine Fugate. Story by Katherine Fugate, Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein. Directed by Garry Marshall.

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Saturday, February 05, 2011

SNMR 9.6: "Love Happens"

GREEN'S "DAY BY DAY EXPERIMENT IN REALLY BAD DECISIONS" REVIEW:



Burke Ryan (Aaron Eckhart) has written a self help book on dealing with grief and moving on with it. He never expected anyone would want to read it when he wrote it. Now he's traveling city to city leading self-help workshops based on the popularity of his book. Lane (Dan Fogler), Burke's promoter, brings his tour to Seattle, unchecked emotions begin to surface about Burke's secret that he didn't expect. During the week long seminar, he bumps into Eloise (Jennifer Aniston), owner of a small flower shop. After a rough beginning, they become friends and she helps him deal with his pain without even knowing what it's all about.

This film, I think, was inappropriately named and is therefore misleading. Based on that, you'd think this movie was just some sappy romantic comedy but it is actually more than that. It's actually another study on how an individual deals with grief, specifically the loss of a loved one.

Aaron Eckhart is a very underrated and versatile actor. He does a convincing job in his lead role. Jennifer Aniston is my favorite Hollywood actress and she also gives a good performance, even though her character is not as fully developed as I'd like. There's one scene of her character's ex and then he's out of the film - his other scenes are found in the deleted scenes on the DVDs extras - which makes that one scene seem out of place. Excellent supporting roles from Martin Sheen and John Carroll Lynch help the film have more emotional depth.

This is Brandon Camp's feature directorial debut and he does a decent job - meaning he doesn't call attention to himself for crappy directing but neither is his debut outstanding. He co-wrote the script and I always say it helps when the screenwriter is also the director because he, better than anyone, knows his story and what he wants it to say. So I'll give him the benefit of the doubt here, until he has more credits on his resume.

The DVD extras include a feature length commentary, deleted scenes and a short bit on how green screen was used to insert the background shots for some of the key scenes.

This is the second time I've watched this movie. The first was in the theater, as I always go and see all of Aniston's movies, no matter what, on opening day. I waited for a while to buy the DVD until the price came down under $10. This movie is a worthwhile rental from your video supplier or your local library.


*** out of *****

Love Happens (2009, PG-13, 109 minutes) starring Aaron Eckhart, Jennifer Aniston, Dan Fogler, John Carroll Lynch, Martin Sheen and Judy Greer. Written by Brandon Camp and Mike Thompson. Directed by Brandon Camp.

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Sunday, January 16, 2011

2010 NFL Playoffs Divisional Round 1/16/2011

#4 Seattle Seahawks (8-9) at #2 Chicago Bears (11-5) (-10, o/u 41.5); 13:00 FOX. Let's face it: No one outside of Seattle gave the Seahawks a flaming chance to beat the defending Super Bowl Champions last week. But they did, thanks to a great game from QB Matt Hasselbeck and a brilliant late run by RB Marshawn Lynch. Even though the Seahawks won in Chicago in Week Six by a field goal means only the Seahawks aren't intimidated by playing here and have nothing to lose. As much as I despise the Bears, they present the Seahawks with little chance of winning today. The only chance the Seahawks have is if Bears QB Jay Cutler throws INT's all over the place (which could very well happen), but I don't think he will throw more than one. The Bears defense is simply better than the Seahawks offense and the Bears offense has more talent than the Seahawks defense. That being said, I do think the Seahawks will make a game of it and at least cover the spread. The winner will host the Green Bay Packers for the NFC Championship next weekend.
MY PREDICTION: @ Chicago Bears 34, Seattle Seahawks 28
ACTUAL RESULT:

#6 New York Jets (12-5) at #1 New England Patriots (14-2) (-9, o/u 44); 16:30 CBS. What better matchups can you get this weekend in the AFC, part two. The Jets and Patriots each won, in the regular season, as the home team. The Jets won 28-14 in Week 2 and the Patriots won 45-3 in Week 13. That last game will be hard for the Jets to get over, especially in Foxboro. Pats QB Tom Brady has lost his last two postseason games (SB XLII to the NY Giants (still painful) and last years wild card game to the Ravens.) and I doubt he'll make it three in a row. Jets coach Rex Ryan just can't seem to shut up and neither can his team. Do your talking on the field, boys. I do expect the Patriots to win, but the game will be much closer than 45-3. If the Patriots win, they will host Pittsburgh next weekend for the AFC Championship. If the Jets win they will play in Pittsburgh.
MY PREDICTION: @ New England Patriots 40, New York Jets 20
ACTUAL RESULT:

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Saturday, January 15, 2011

2010 NFL Playoffs Divisional Round 1/15/2011

#5 Baltimore Ravens (13-4) at #2 Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4) (-3, o/u 37); 16:30 CBS. What better matchups can you get this weekend in the AFC, part one The Ravens and Steelers each won, in the regular season, as the road team. Each game was decided by three points and each came down to a decisive key play that turned the game. I expect this game to be no different. The one element of this game that will benefit the Steelers is that, in the Week Four matchup, QB Ben Roethlisberger was serving the last game of his four game suspension. Another key is the health of Steelers S Troy Polamalu who has battled injuries late in the season and is huge for the Steelers defense. Looking at the headlines this morning is the health of Ravens RB Ray Rice, who is reportedly ill. If he can't go or is less than fulll strength, it could be detrimental to the Ravens running game and their chances of winning. The winner of this game will either host the New York Jets or play at New England next Sunday for the AFC Championship, depending on the results of tomorrow's game. I believe this game will be another low scoring nailbiter, with the Steelers winning.
MY PREDICTION: @ Pittsburgh Steelers 17, Baltimore Ravens 14
ACTUAL RESULT: @ Pittsburgh Steelers 31, Baltimore Ravens 24

#6 Green Bay Packers (11-6) at #1 Atlanta Falcons (13-3) (-2, o/u 43.5); 20:00 FOX. The Packers lost in Atlanta 20-17 in Week 12 primarily because of some late mistakes and a last seconds field goal by Atlanta, otherwise this game would have gone into overtime. The Packers come in confident, knowing they match up with Atlanta. Aaron Rodgers is playing as well as any QB and is dangerous. Fir the Falcons, this is probably the worst matchup. However, they are at home where they have only lost once this season. QB Matty "Ice" Ryan has a superlative home winning record since he became the starter three seasons ago. The Falcons have one advantage I believe Green Bay can't handle, and that is future Hall of Famer TE Tony Gonzalez, one of Ryan's favorite targets. If Atlanta wins, they will host either Seattle or Chicago next Sunday. If Green Bay wins, they will play at either Seattle or Chicago. The Packers won't go down easily but I think the Falcons pull out a tough one.
MY PREDICTION: @ Atlanta Falcons 23, Green Bay Packers 21
ACTUAL RESULT: Green Bay Packers 48, @ Atlanta Falcons 21

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Sunday, January 09, 2011

2010 NFL Playoffs Wild Card Games 1/9/2011

#5 Baltimore Ravens (12-4) (-3, o/u 40.5) at #4 Kansas City Chiefs (10-6); 13:00 CBS. Everyone knows about Ravens LB Ray Lewis and their excellent defense. Not many people question their intensity. Nationally, no one really knows about the Chiefs. They went 4-12 in 2009 and were last in the AFC West. Chiefs QB Matt Cassel had a breakthrough year with New England in 2008 and was below agerage in 2009, his first in KC. This season Cassel again was good, finding a receiver in Dwayne Bowe and a league leading running game (164 ypg avg.) with Jamall Charles and Jets castoff Thomas Jones. The Ravens are 5th in total run defense, allowing a bit over 93 yards per game. If this game were being played in Baltimore, I'd pick the Ravens but it is not. Arrowhead Stadium is a hugely difficult place to play and the Chiefs were 7-1 at home this season, the Ravens were 5-3 on the road. I'm taking the home team in a tight game. The winner of this game will play in Pittsburgh next Saturday thanks to the Jets beating the Colts yesterday.
MY PREDICTION: @ Kansas City Chiefs 28, Baltimore Ravens 24
ACTUAL RESULT: Baltimore Ravens 30, @ Kansas City Chiefs 7

#6 Green Bay Packers (10-6) at #3 Philadelphia Eagles (10-6) (-2.5 o/u 46.5); 16:30 FOX. The Packers beat the Eagles in Philadelphia in Week 1 when Michael Vick played the second half, turning a potential Packers blowout into a close loss. THe Eagles offensively are scary. Vick can run and pass, have excellent WRs and RB's and are playing at home. The Packers also have an excellent offense and have potential defensive player of the year in LB Clay Matthews. This game is going to be a dogfight. However, the knowledge that the Packers won here earlier plus the Eagles lackluster finish to the season and uninspiring home record (4-4) say Packers will win. If the Packers win, they will play in Atlanta next week. If the Eagles win they will play in Chicago next week, sending Seattle to play Atlanta.
MY PREDICTION: Green Bay Packers 24, @ Philadelphia Eagles 23
ACTUAL RESULT: Green Bay Packers 21, @ Philadelphia Eagles 16

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Saturday, January 08, 2011

2010 NFL Playoffs Wild Card Games 1/8/2011

#5 New Orleans Saints (11-5) (-10, o/u 45.5) at #4 Seattle Seahawks (7-9); 16:30 NBC. New Orleans is the defending Super Bowl champion while the Seattle became the first division winner with a losing record. Because of the NFL's playoff format, division winnners get home field advantage over wild card teams, which is why this game is being played in Seattle rather than in New Orleans. The Saints are obviously the better team, and have beaten the Seahawks already this season in Week 11 34-19. That game was played in New Orleans. Playing outdoors for a dome team is tough and Q-West Field is one of the loudest outdoor venues in the league. The Saints are hurting at RB but QB Drew Brees and the Saints have superior WRs. Seattle has QB Matt Hasselbeck back after missing the Week 17 playoff clinching victory over the St. Louis Rams. Hasselbeck has great career numbers vs. New Orleans. The winner of this game will play either at Atlanta or at Chicago, depending on the result of the Packers @ Eagles game tomorrow. Seattle, playing at home, will make it a close game for three quarters but the Saints will pull away in the 4th Quarter.
MY PREDICTION: New Orleans Saints 30, @ Seattle Seahawks 17
ACTUAL RESULT: @ Seattle Seahawks 41, New Orleans Saints 36

#6 New York Jets (11-5) at #3 Indianapolis Colts (10-6) (-2.5 o/u 44.5); 20:00 NBC. These two teams did not play each other in the regular season. The Colts defeated the Jets in last season's AFC Championship game. Jets coach Rex Ryan is 1-5 vs. Peyton Manning's teams and has said that this week is personal. The one win Ryan has came late last season, when the Colts were resting most of their starters. That won't be the case tonight. Ryan is bold and outspoken and, while the media loves him for his mouth, he needs to shut-up. Jets QB Mark Sanchez played sparingly in the Week 17 win over Buffalo, not throwing a pass and resting his sore shoulder. The defending AFC Champion Colts have been decimated by injuries to key players on offense and defense and needed a four game winning streak at the end of the season to qualify for the playoffs for an NFL record tying ninth straight season. The Colts have been running the ball better of late and the Jets running game has struggled late in the season. If the Jets win, they play at New England next Sunday. If the Colts win, they will play at Pittsburgh next Saturday. I'd be crazy not to pick Peyton Manning at home in the playoffs.
MY PREDICTION: @ Indianapolis 24, New York Jets 16
ACTUAL RESULT: New York Jets 17, @ Indianapolis Colts 16

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Thursday, January 06, 2011

Resolve isn't just a stain remover

I recently said to myself that I was going to blog more often in 2011. I've been slacking in the blogging department for quite some time now. Yet I haven't done anything about it and realize that if I don't do it, no one will do it for me. Not that I'd want anyone to. What good would it do me if someone were to write my blog for me.

So here's to blogging more this year!

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Monday, January 03, 2011

Perihelion

This year, perihelion is January 3rd (today), when the earth is as close to the sun as it will ever be. That would be 91,407,361 miles. Aphelion will be on July 4, 2011.

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Saturday, January 01, 2011

MMXI

Happy New Year everyone! I hope 2011 is a better year for you than last year was. I'm certainly hoping so. A lot of changes in 2010, some good some bad. Hopefully more of the good and not so much of the bad. But someone once said if life were easy it woldn't be as worthwhile. Sometimes I want to punch that person in the chops, y'know?

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Monday, November 01, 2010

SNMR on hiatus until further notice.

but probably only for a week or two. We'll see how it goes.

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Sunday, October 24, 2010

the bestest 11 year-old I know...

... my son, M.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!

I love you buddy.

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Thursday, October 07, 2010

A

Happy Birthday to my brother A.

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Friday, October 01, 2010

16=9½+6½

*sigh*

Yes I'm over it but I still (and probably a part of me always will) wonder what might have been if different choices & decisions were made.


I need to get back in the game. Maybe that would help. Does any one know if the rules have changed? I suspect that they have but would like to know by how much and which of them are different.

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Saturday, September 25, 2010

SNMR 8.25: "Crocodile Dundee"

GREEN'S "THAT'S NOT A KNIFE..." REVIEW:

New York City newspaper reporter Sue Charlton (Linda Kozlowski) is in Australia covering a story for the newspaper but right before she is supposed to leave for home asks her editor (Mark Blum) if she can stay a bit longer and do a story on a local guy who was attacked by a crocodile.
Charlton then meets Walt (John Meillon) tour guide partner of the locally infamous Michael J. "Crocodile" Dundee (Paul Hogan) and is introduced to life down under in the outback town called Walkabout Creek. After a few days Charlton asks Dundee if he'd like to experience New York City at her paper's expense so she can continue writing her stories. Reluctantly he agrees and the hilarity begins as small town Dundee visits his first city of any size. Is New York big enough to handle him?

Twenty-four years ago tomorrow, "Crocodile" Dundee was introduced to American film audiences. This was also the introduction of Paul Hogan to Hollywood, instead of just being the charming pitchman for Australian tourism. This movie is also the film debut of Linda Kozlowski but you'd never know it by her performance. Not unusually, a real life romance between co-stars followed. What is unusual is that Hogan and Kozlowski celebrated 20 years of marriage in 2010.

Director Peter Faiman does a remarkably good job with this film, one of his few feature directorial credits. The story was developed by Hogan and he co-wrote the screenplay with two others. It's a good story with plenty of laugh lines especially as Hogan's character slowly gets used to city life. However, what makes the story work better is the obvious on-screen chemistry between Hogan & Kozlowski.

This was one of those movies that came out in theaters when I worked at the cinema in the town I grew up in. Because of this, there are scenes in the film that I've seen hundreds of times. My favorites are near the beginning, the scene with the bull in the road and at the very end in the crowded subway station. Both still crack me up.

The DVD release has zero special features. For the twenty fifth anniversary edition, I would like to see a re-release of the DVD with the cast and crew looking back on the experience of making the film.


**** out of *****

Crocodile Dundee (1986, PG-13, 97 minutes), starring Paul Hogan, Linda Kozlowski, Mark Blum, Michael Lombard, David Gulpilil and John Meillon. Story by Paul Hogan. Screenplay by Paul Hogan, John Cornell and Ken Shadie. Directed by Peter Faiman.

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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Autumnal Equinox & full Harvest Moon

Today, officially, autumn begins at 11:09 PM EDT (23:09). Not that I'll be able to tell from where I am living at the moment.

According to the online version of the Old Farmers' Almanac, "the autumnal equinox is defined as the point at which the Sun appears to cross the celestial equator from north to south. The celestial equator is the circle in the celestial sphere halfway between the celestial poles. It can be thought of as the plane of Earth's equator projected out onto the sphere. Another definition of fall is nights of below-freezing temperatures combined with days of temperatures below 70 degrees Fahrenheit. The word equinox means "equal night"; night and day are the same length of time. The spring equinox is in late March. In addition to the equal hours of daylight and darkness, the equinoxes are times when the Sun's apparent motion undergoes the most rapid change. Around the time of the equinoxes, variations in the position on the horizon where the Sun rises and sets can be noticed from one day to the next by alert observers."

Tomorrow is the full moon known as the Harvest Moon. Hopefully I'll be able to see it without any cloud cover.

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Sunday, September 19, 2010

SNMR 8.24: "Better Off Dead"

GREEN'S "HAVE YOU ANY IDEA WHAT THE STREET VALUE OF THIS MOUNTAIN IS?" REVIEW:

High school senior Lane Meyer (John Cusack) is contemplating suicide because his girlfriend Beth (Amanda Wyss) has just dumped him in favor of the snobby ski team captain Roy Stalin (Aaron Dozier in his only screen appearance). Lane's next door neighbor Ricky (Dan Schneider) and his obnoxious mother (Laura Waterbury) have taken in Monique (Diane Franklin), a beautiful French foreign exchange student who claims not to speak any English and whose lifelong dream is to see Dodger Stadium. Lane is also taunted by a goofy family, a neurotic paperboy and a pair of drag race loving Japanese brothers...

I'm still cracking up just thinking about scenes from this movie - and I've seen in about a gazillion times.

Writer/director "Savage" Steve Holland's screenwriting and directorial debut no doubt was a box office failure, grossing just over $10 million in its short lived US theatrical release, according to boxofficemojo.com. Over the years this film has become a cult classic and leaves a far greater legacy than box office dollars ~ especially for those of us who were high school age at the time of the film's release almost twenty-five years ago.

Holland's incredibly witty script has a host of quotable lines, memorable scenes and just as many wonderfully quirky and lovable characters, played beautifully by a mostly unknown character actor cast, except for David Ogden Stiers (M*A*S*H's incorrigible Major Charles Winchester.) Looking back, except for Stiers, star in the making John Cusack is really the only actor who has had a notable film career since.

The screenplay takes a page from John Hughes many high school age teen angst movies also made in the 1980's. He hits all the big teen issues: relationship problems and triumphs, a weird and wacky family, goofy best friends and hated rivals, your first car, and your first (unwanted) job.

I clearly remember pitching this movie to a friend of mine in college who had never heard of it. After seeing it told me that he was in hysterics while watching and couldn't believe he missed this.

What is sorely needed to do this film justice is a nice two disc DVD release with some retrospective interviews from cast and crew. The current DVD release has no special features at all, unless you count English subtitles as such.

If you haven't watched this movie in a while or happen to be among those who aren't familiar with it, you're seriously missing out on the fun.



***** out of *****

Better Off Dead (1985, PG, 97 minutes), starring John Cusack, David Ogden Stiers, Diane Franklin, Curtis Armstrong, Amanda Wyss, Kim Darby, Dan Schneider and Aaron Dozier. Written and Directed by "Savage" Steve Holland.

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Saturday, September 11, 2010

SNMR 8.23: "The Gift"

GREEN'S "MESSING WITH THE DEVIL IS GONNA GET YOU BURNED" REVIEW:

In a small southern town, Annie Wilson, a widow (Cate Blanchett) struggles to raise her three small sons, using her psychic abilities and a poor man's deck of tarot cards to help her friends and people who come to her. Some of those clients are everyday townsfolk, like Buddy (Giovanni Ribisi) the mechanic and Valerie Barksdale (Hilary Swank), the abused wife of Donnie (Keanu Reeves), the town bully. When a young socialite woman (Katie Holmes), the fiancee of the school principal (Greg Kinnear), turns up missing, the police chief (JK Simmons) reluctantly asks Annie for help. But how much does she see and know?

I bought this DVD a while ago because of the merits of the starring cast, not really knowing what to expect or what the movie was about, except that films Cate Blanchett are in are usually pretty darn good. Surprisingly, I liked this film better than I thought I would.

Simply, Cate Blanchett is amazing, with her southern accent and the way she looks so...plain and ordinary. She is clearly one of the top five actresses Hollywood has seen in the last fifty years. The supporting cast is also excellent. Keanu Reeves who I usually recall playing likable characters in his films is surprisingly good being bad. Giovanni Ribisi continues to prove versatile in the roles he plays and he does do a good job playing one who is a little loose upstairs. Greg Kinnear has never been one of my favorite actors but always seems to turn in a solid performance. I'm not sold as much on Katie Holmes and think you could have cast a number of other actresses in her part and wouldn't have missed a beat. And you can't even blame her casting on the fame of being Mrs. Tom Cruise because this film was five years in the can before that happened.

I was surprised to find out that Billy Bob Thornton was co-writer (along with Tom Epperson) of the screenplay. His writing skills, in my opinion, are questionable at best. That being said, the screenplay is decently workable. There was only one scene near the end that was missing that I thought would have closed the film nicely. If you've seen this movie you might understand what I'm thinking of but I'm not going to say in case you haven't watched this movie.

This is the project that director Sam Raimi worked on before turning his attention to the excellently done Peter Parker trilogy known as the Spiderman franchise. So you could legitimately say that Raimi, despite several credits on his resume, was still a relatively unheralded director at this time. What he was able to do here is take a decent script and guide it along to a better than average end result.

The main DVD extra is a short interview session with the actors and director which was good but could have been longer.

I don't put any stock into the whole psychic, tarot card reading thing, so it is a credit to this film that someone like me would enjoy it as much as I did.


***½ out of *****

The Gift (2000, R, 111 minutes), starring Cate Blanchett, Giovani Ribisi, Keanu Reeves, Katie Holmes, Hilary Swank, Greg Kinnear and JK Simmons. Written by Billy Bob Thornton and Tom Epperson. Directed by Sam Raimi.

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Saturday, September 04, 2010

SNMR 8.22: "The Other Boleyn Girl"

GREEN'S BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR REVIEW:

This movie is a period piece taking place in 16th century England that tells the story of the two Boleyn sisters, Anne (Natalie Portman) and Mary (Scarlett Johansson) and their dalliances with a certain King of England, Henry VIII (Eric Bana) and all of the familial and court intrigue that surrounds the British nobility.

Holy Cow!! What a dysfunctional family the 16th century English royal family was! Even the nobility was screwed up! Dysfunctional, screwy or both but still sickeningly and extremely fascinating.

I first borrowed this DVD from the library earlier this year and meant to review it then. But then something weird happened. When I returned some other DVD's, the library accidentally noted that I had returned this one as well when I had not. So it sat on my shelf for months while I signed out & returned other DVD's. Then at the end of May, I had to return it - still unwatched - to the library. Then I saw it at the store where I buy the majority of my DVD's and broke down and bought it, primarily because a) I hadn't watched it even after holding on to it for so long, and b) because of the two phenomenal female lead actresses. It didn't hurt that I have some interest in that period of English history.

As far as historical dramas go, you can't get much better than this. As I watched the film, I wondered how far from the actual written history the novel/screenplay went for dramatic effect. Apparently not far, as the novel's author, Philippa Gregory, admits to doing extensive research on the period and characters in one of the DVD extras. I also thought that at one time or another during the film either Anne or Mary could be considered 'the other Boleyn girl' and in fact are as confirmed by the screenwriter, Peter Morgan, also in a DVD extra. I think it would be fascinating to read the 600+ page novel and compare it to the movie, a roughly 120 page screenplay. I felt better about the movie after hearing Gregory praise the work that Morgan did in capturing the essence of the novel for the screen.

I had never heard of Justin Chadwick or what other films he may have directed and, as it turns out, rightly so. This appears to be his first big screen directorial effort amongst a resume of television show directing gigs. In other words, Chadwick did a good job with such a lavish production as this and has potential for other directing gigs.

The DVD extras include a short court biography of the historical figures portrayed in the film along with what it must have been like to be a lady in 16th century England and a short bit on bringing history to the screen.

This is an all around good movie and is worth your while to rent or own.


**** out of *****

The Other Boleyn Girl (2008, PG-13, 115 minutes), starring Natalie Portman, Scarlett Johansson, Eric Bana, Kristin Scott Thomas, Jim Sturgess, Mark Rylance and David Morrissey. Based on the novel by Philippa Gregory. Screenplay by Peter Morgan. Directed by Justin Chadwick.

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Wednesday, September 01, 2010

This Date in History

One notable event caught my eye.

Twenty-five years ago today, Dr. Robert Ballard of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in Woods Hole, Massachusetts - and his joint U.S. & French crew discovered the wreckage site of the RMS Titanic, 73+ years after it sank in the north Atlantic Ocean, on April 12, 1912.

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Saturday, August 28, 2010

SNMR 8.21: "Reality Bites"

GREEN'S "FONDLING THE REMOTE" REVIEW:

Lelaina (Winona Ryder) and her friends Vickie (Janeane Garofalo), Troy (Ethan Hawke) and Sammy (Steve Zahn) have just graduated from college and now are experiencing the ups and downs of trying to find their way in the real world, as it is down in Houston, Texas.

Lelaine is a television production assistant for a morning talk show with an ass (John Mahoney) for a host. Vickie works at the Gap, Troy (Ethan Hawke) has just been fired from his twelfth job and moves in with the girls for a place to stay. Accidentally, Lelaine and Vickie meet Michael (Ben Stiller), an up and coming video executive. Michael falls for Lelaine who is secretly in love with someone else but doesn't know it or want to admit it.

This is another one of my finds in the $5 DVD bin at Wal-Mart, which I had never heard of but purchased on the merits of the cast pictured on the cover. What I didn't realize at the time was that this movie is Ben Stiller's big screen directorial debut. I don't really think of Stiller as a director first but since this movie, he has directed a handful of other movies with varying degrees of box-office success. For a first timer, Stiller does a pretty good job, especially since he's also part of the cast.

The screenplay, written when she was a 19 year old college student at USC, remains the only writing credit Helen Childress has to date. First credit or not, the screenplay accurately captures the uncertainty that goes along with becoming a part of society and finding your place within it. I sometimes feel like I'm still having that problem.

The story strikes home for me because the characters in the film are all at or around my age now and were also when this movie was released in 1994. Even Lisa Loeb, the musician for "Stay," which runs over part of the end credits, is my age.

According to the excellent DVD extras, the lead role was written with Winona Ryder in mind. Coincidentally, when Ryder read the script, she was able to relate to the character and wanted to play the part. The rest of the cast is very good and each brings something extra to their performance. You can tell that the main cast got along well and had fun making this movie.

This film I keep thinking of in comparison to this movie is "St. Elmo's Fire" which is the 1980's coming of age story of recent college graduates trying to fit in.

I happened to watch the 10th anniversary DVD edition of the movie. The aforementioned extras, done for this release, include deleted scenes, feature commentary with writer and director narration, the retrospective featuring interviews from cast, writer and producer as well as an interview with Lisa Loeb and her music video "Stay," directed by Ethan Hawke in one take.

I don't think this would have been a movie I would have wanted to see in the theater, not because it's a bad film but because its just not one of those films where the viewing experience is enhanced by watching it on a large screen.


*** 1/2 out of *****

Reality Bites (1994, PG-13, 99 minutes), starring Winona Ryder, Ethan Hawke, Janeane Garofalo, Steve Zahn, Ben Stiller, John Mahoney and Joe Don Baker. Written by Helen Childress. Directed by Ben Stiller.

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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Remember these quiz thingees??





You Were a Peacock



You carry yourself with beauty, dignity, and confidence.

You are able to see the past, present, and future with clarity.

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Saturday, August 21, 2010

SNMR 8.20: "Paycheck"

GREEN'S "YOU KNOW YOU LOVE ME" REVIEW:

When a company wants to develop new technology, they don't invent it themselves. They hire engineer Michael Jennings (Ben Affleck) to take an existing product and make it better. With the completion of each job, Jennings' memory is erased back to a certain point, so he can't be linked back to any one company's technology.

Most of these jobs don't last more than eight weeks, because that's the maximum time frame deemed necessary to keep the engineer's mind safe for the next job and the time passed feels instantaneous.

Then, at a party, Jennings meets Rachel (Uma Thurman) a beautiful bio-chemist who works for Jennings' friend Rethrick. At this party, Rethrick offers Jennings a job with an eight figure paycheck - that will last for three years - enabling Jennings an early retirement, if he so chooses. But when Jennings realizes that he's been betrayed, he must discover who is responsible and why using an envelope full of ordinary items...


Allcom, Rethrick's company, has Jennings developing a future reading device, similar to that technology seen in BIG SCREEN #50 review Krrish, and is predecessor, Koi Mil Gaya, if my memory serves me correctly.

What I can't figure out is how I missed watching this movie for so long. It only took me accidentally finding in in the $5 DVD bin at Wal-Mart several months ago to realize its existence.

John Woo is an excellent director and is no stranger to action movies and how they should work. Ben Affleck, with hard work, has become a competent and versatile actor with that debonair Cary Grant look. Uma Thurman is a proven action movie heroine (having done this film sandwiched around Tarantino's Kill Bill films). She plays well paired with Affleck. Aaron Eckhart is an excellent and very versatile actor in his own right and proves it with each role. Though I admit it has taken me a while to see this.

I have not read the source material but many of Philip K. Dick's short stories have been adapted successfully to the screen. Count this among them.

The Special Collector's Edition DVD that I watched contained two very well done featurettes regarding the design of the film and the sets, extended/deleted scenes and an alternate ending. Both Woo and Affleck admit in the extras that they were going for a Hitchcockian North By Northwest-ish feel to this film, and it does.

Maybe it took me so long to find and watch this movie because I wasn't a big Ben Affleck fan (aside from Good Will Hunting), and hardly knew who Aaron Eckhart was.

For those of you who like action and suspense, along with a well written and conceived story - this movie has all that. I was pleasantly surprised by this movie and, if you haven't seen it, you will be too.


***** out of *****

Paycheck (2003, PG-13, 118 minutes), starring Ben Affleck, Uma Thurman, Aaron Eckhart, Paul Giamatti, Colm Feore, Joe Morton and Michael C. Hall. Based on a short story by Philip K. Dick. Screenplay by Dean Georgaris. Directed by John Woo.

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Saturday, August 14, 2010

SNMR 8.19: "Trading Places"

GREEN'S "GET OFF YOUR KNEES, LOUIE" REVIEW:

Would you be able to dramatically alter two people's lives over a bet of $1? That's the wager Mortimer and Randolph Duke (Don Ameche and Ralph Bellamy) make. They secretly wager that they can better the life of a 'hoodlum' like Billy Ray Valentine (Eddie Murphy) by giving him a decent job and place to live and ruin the life of an upstanding young socialite ass like Lewis Winthorp III (Dan Aykroyd) by taking away his livelihood. Now homeless and destitute, Lewis gets help from beautiful, smart Ophelia (Jamie Lee Curtis), who is also a hooker.

When Valentine accidentally learns of the Duke brothers' wager, he and Winthorp decide to turn the tables on the Dukes.

Like it or not, this is one of the essential movies that helped define the decade of the 1980's. Controversial director John Landis takes a witty script and a mix of veteran and young actors and turns it into a solid rags to riches to rags story. This was the second film that writers Timothy Harris and Herschel Weingrod co-wrote and have teamed up on several other films since.

For whatever reason, I don't think I actually saw this movie for the first time until the mid 1990's. For me the novelty of this film, now, is to see the young cast and where their careers have gone since this film was released twenty seven years ago. This was only Eddie Murphy's second film, having come through the ranks of SNL and his stand-up comedy. Even Dan Aykroyd and Jamie Lee Curtis were not household names, though they each had memorable roles prior to this film. It is also interesting to note some of the cameo actors you see in this film, whose careers have taken interesting paths since, like Jim Belushi and Al Franken.

It's interesting to me that three of the main actors here have long since passed away, and how this movie fits into the panorama of their careers.

I watched the "Looking Good, Feeling Good" Edition of this DVD which has several worthwhile extras, including a making of feature, costumes, some unseen interviews, and an industry promo piece, done for a convention in Las Vegas, when the movie was in production.

If you haven't watched this movie in a while, you should. If you can find it for under $5, like I did, it is worthwhile to own.


***¾ out of *****

Trading Places (1983, R, 116 minutes), starring Dan Aykroyd, Eddie Murphy, Jamie Lee Curtis, Don Ameche, Ralph Bellamy and Denholm Elliott. Written by Timothy Harris and Herschel Weingrod. Directed by John Landis.

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Saturday, August 07, 2010

SNMR 8.18: "Julie & Julia"

GREEN'S "524 RECIPES IN 365 DAYS" REVIEW:

Julia Child and her diplomat husband Paul are living in Paris in the early 1950's. Julia doesn't know what to do with her life, so she puts herself through the Cordon Bleu cooking school and finds her passion. In 2002, thirty year old Julie Powell is going through a life crisis of her own, so she decides to learn to cook by making all of the recipes from Child's book "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" in one year and blogging about her experience.

This biopic is based on two true stories, which screenwriter/director Nora Ephron blends seamlessly into a film that is better than good, but not quite great. Ephron's skill as a screenwriter is not in doubt. What makes this film worthwhile is the performance by Meryl Streep, who despite being eight inches shorter than the real life character she portrays, beautifully captures the essence of who Julia Child was and her passion for food. She rightly deserved an Oscar nomination for her role.

Amy Adams, whose films I generally like, does a good job portraying Julie Powell.

The supporting cast, Stanley Tucci and Chris Messina, are perfect complimentary characters, supporting their spouses in what they want to do with their lives.

It is evident throughout the movie that Julie Powell holds Julia Child in the highest regard. I was surprised to learn from the film that toward the end of her life, Child (who died in 2004) heard of what Powell was doing and was not happy about it.

I remember as a kid seeing some of Julia Child's cooking show on PBS but was too young to appreciate it.

The film has a good pace to it but for me was a bit too long. As a tribute to Julia Child, for whose legacy we have to thank for the myriad cooking shows, Rachel Rays and Emeril LaGasses, and probably FoodTV as well, this film is an excellent tribute.


***½ out of *****

Julie & Julia (2009, PG-13, 123 minutes), starring Meryl Streep, Amy Adams, Stanley Tucci and Chris Messina. Based on the book by Julia Child & Alex Prud'homme and the book by Julie Powell. Screenplay and Direction by Nora Ephron.

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