based on a book, film, must see

Movie Review: Sense and Sensibility

I do not know why but sometimes when I watch a periodic film my thoughts are: were people really like this? The short version is yes, although maybe it is not as bad but I did not live back then so who knows. Anyway, this 1995 periodic drama based on the beloved Jane Austin novel stayed as true as it could to the 1811 novel, which helped that Emma Thompson (who was convinced to be the lead) wrote the script. It is still regarded as one of the best adaptions of Austin’s work and I would never argue with that. Spoilers ahead as usual. I DO NOT OWN THE PICTURE.

Just before he dies Mr. Dashwood (Tom Wilkinson) asks his son from his first marriage John Dashwood (James Fleet) to take care and provide for his second family: his wife Mrs. Dashwood (Gemma Jones) and their three daughters: Elinor (Thompson, nominated for her part), Marianne (Kate Winslet, nominated for her part) and Margaret (Emilie Francois) as they will not inherit anything after Mr. Dashwood’s death. However John’s manipulative wife Fanny (Harriet Walter) convinces her husband to break his word to his father and not help his half sisters. They almost immediately move into the Dashwood home forcing the girls to find a new home. Fanny has her brother Edward Ferrars (Hugh Grant) move in as well. Edward and Elinor form a friendship and it seems that something more could have happened. However Fanny informs Mrs. Dashwood that Edward will be disinherited if he does not marry someone important. Having had enough Mrs. Dashwood takes her daughters and moves into a cottage provided by her cousin Sir John Middleton (Robert Hardy) and his mother in-law the ever scheming and energetic Mrs. Jennings (Elizabeth Spriggs). The Dashwood ladies also meet Colonel Brandon (Alan Rickman), a longtime friend of Sir John who falls for Marianne the moment he sees her; however she does not reciprocate his feelings as he is too old. After a walk in the ran has Marianne taking a tumble she meets John Willoughby (Greg Wise) a very charming gentleman she quickly falls for and makes no attempt to hide it, much to Colonel Brandon’s chagrin (in more ways than one). Mrs. Jennings invites her daughter Charlotte (Imelda Staunton), son-in-law Mr. Palmer (Hugh Laurie) and cousin Lucy Steele (Imogen Stubbs) to visit where Lucy confides to Elinor her secret relationship with Edward, much to Elinor’s heartbreak but agrees to stay quiet. The elder Dashwood sisters soon have to find a way to handle their heartbreaks. About as far as I should go without giving away the rest of the movie.

I was amazed when I watched the film for the first time at not only how well it was written, but the acting. Emma Thompson is incredible as Elinor and she wrote a wonderful script; which did not surprise me when I read she won the Oscar for her screenplay (so far the only person to win Oscars for acting and writing) This was not Kate Winslet’s first film, however she gained a lot more attention with her role as the woman with her heart on her sleeve Marianne. Hugh Grant was amazing as Edward, I know a lot of Jane Austin fans thought he was “too handsome” for the part (which I almost laugh at but I have not read the book yet so what do I know), but apparently Thompson had Grant in mind when she was writing the script. Rickman is adorable as Col. Brandon, one of his most memorable roles outside the Harry Potter films. I loved the rest of the cast as well, with a special shout out to Elizabeth Spriggs as Mrs. Jennings, a character I almost wish would stop meddling, but it is so entertaining. I would call Sense and Sensibility a must see if you love periodic, drama or romantic films or any of the actors in this movies. Even if you are not this is still a very cute movie and a great adaption of Jane Austin’s work.

based on a book, film, Nicholas Sparks

Movie Review: The Lucky One

An already sappy Nicholas Sparks book turned into an incredibly sappier movie. I watched this movie shaking my head pretty much the entire time going “Ok what are the odds of this?” I’ll give you the answer: ZERO! Reality and cute gagging out of the way, this 2012 film is not too bad (not great but not terrible) compared to the other Sparks films with some decent acting and an actually interesting story. Spoilers ahead as usual. I DO NOT OWN THE PICTURE.

US Marine Logan Thibault (Zac Efron) is serving in Iraq and first hand sees the horrors of combat, including the deaths of his friends. One day he finds a picture of a beautiful woman by a lighthouse just before an attack and he survives. After failing to find the owner of the picture he keeps it and miraculously (and this is when my head starts spinning) keeping the picture keeps Logan alive. Returning home to his sister and nephews in Colorado Logan begins experiencing PTSD and survivor’s guilt and decides to search for the mystery woman, having discovered a clue about the lighthouse in Louisiana. He and his dog Zeus walk to Louisiana (yeah Colorado to Louisiana walking) and shows the photo around town before he finally gets an answer. The woman is single mom Beth Green (Taylor Schilling) and she is just as pretty in the picture as she is in real life for Logan. Believing he is there to apply to be a hand on her home Beth’s grandmother Ellie (Blythe Danner) hires him, much to Beth’s annoyance in not asking her. However Beth begins to warm up to Logan after getting to know him, as does Beth’s son Ben (Riley Thomas Stewart) who is glad to have a positive male role model after the death of Beth’s brother (yep probably not hard to figure out from there). Beth’s former husband, the sheriff deputy and son of the town judge, Keith Clayton (Jay R. Ferguson) does not like Logan hanging around Beth and Ben and constantly threatens to take Ben away from Beth. It doesn’t stop Logan and Beth from falling in love, however when the real reason of Logan being there is revealed things may change. Again probably not hard to figure out the story, but I am gonna stop here before giving away the rest of the movie.

Now this is not the best Sparks book to film adaption, but it is far from the worst. Zac Efron is pretty good as Logan; showing his more romantic side and if I may say he looked good in uniform. Before she was in Orange in the New Black Taylor Schilling was awesome as Beth who had some fascinating character development as she deals with her ex, her brother’s death and falling for Logan. Finally Blythe Danner as Ellie was the highlight for me as she liked Logan immediately and was the only one on his side after the truth comes out. If you like sappy Sparks movies then this is one to watch, otherwise this might not be on your need to DVR or rent list.

based on a book, classic, film

Movie Review: The Graduate

I have often told you guys, and I’m sure other people in your life have said “Oh you have got to watch this movie asap”, or “You haven’t seen this movie, why not it’s great?” No movie have I heard this more than this 1967 classic, based on the 1963 book by Charles Webb. Now don’t get me wrong I get why people like or even love The Graduate, but for me I did not like it as much as I thought I was going to. Spoilers ahead as usual. I DO NOT OWN THE PICTURE.

Recent college graduate Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman) has no idea what he is going to do in life. His parents share his accolades and at his graduation party many try to offer him advice, although it is obvious he is uncomfortable. Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft) insist Benjamin drive her home after the party as her husband, Benjamin’s dad’s partner at his law firm, neglects her again. She invites Benjamin in for a drink and he soon realizes she is trying to seduce him. He tries to calmly reject her, but after his parents continue to pressure him he gives in to Mrs. Robinson’s advances. Benjamin’s parents and Mr. Robinson encourage him to spend time with Elaine (Katharine Ross), Mr. and Mrs. Robinson’s daughter, but Mrs. Robinson tells Benjamin not too. However after discovering he has more in common with Elaine rather than Mrs. Robinson, Benjamin becomes conflicted between the woman he loves and the woman he is sleeping with. About as far as I should go, but the ending is kinda famous.

I finally DVR’d this movie about a year or two ago because many adults I know were pestering me to watch the movie. As I stated before I get why people like the movie. The writing, acting, directing (as it won the Oscar) and cinematography are fantastic and I do not deny that for a second, but maybe it is because I already knew what was gonna happen or the story bothered me when I first heard about it; either way I did not like this movie as much as thought (or others thought) I would. Without a doubt this might be the best roles or at least the roles most identified with the careers of Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft as well as the start of a set of films where not a lot was left to the imagination. Many people who have watched the movie told me this was the start of more “sexy” movies. While I am positive there were real life stories not in the public eye, this might have been the star of the older women with younger men becoming more obvious, but don’t take my word for that. The Graduate has become an iconic film, it has been placed on the American Film Institution’s lists multiple times as best films, love stories, songs and at least two quotes on the best quotes of all time: “Mrs. Robinson you’re trying to seduce me” and “Plastics”. While I did not like the film too much if you were to ask me would I recommend The Graduate; while not must see without question yes.

based on true story, Disney, film

Movie Review: Disney’s Glory Road

This is actually one of my favorite sports and live action Disney movies of all time, while I won’t say it is as good as a few of their other sports movies this one still holds a place in my heart. Released in 2006, Glory Road talks about the true story leading up to the 1966 NCAA University Division Basketball Championship game and the huge impact it had going forward. Spoilers ahead as always. I DO NOT OWN THE PICTURE.

Don Haskins (Josh Lucas) is now the head basketball coach for Texas Western College in El Paso, TX. Looking out for the best talent Don finds many basketball players and students regardless of the color of their skin, much to many chagrin at first. Many of the people Don finds have raw talent and skill, but need teamwork in order to be better. Among the people he finds are Bobby Joe Hill (Derek Luke) who falls in love with a waitress named Tina (Tatyana M. Ali) along the way, Harry Flournoy (Mehcad Brooks) who has some funny moments thanks to his mother, David Lattin (Schin A.S. Kerr) a huge guy and Willie Cage (Damaine Radcliff) who is temporarily sidelined due to a heart condition. Don trains his team hard and gets very little help from his superiors because of the black players. The team does very well in the games as Don eventually allows them to play how they want as well as how he wants. Unfortunately the more they win the more threats and acts of violence occur to the team and to Don’s family; his wife Mary (Emily Deschanel) and their sons. The team makes it to the NCAA finals against the top ranked team in the nation, the University of Kentucky Wildcats led by Adolph Rupp (Jon Voight). Don decides to do something drastic, playing only the seven black players in the game. Probably shouldn’t go into too much without giving the movie away.

I love this movie so much. Josh Lucas is incredible as Don, showcasing so much passion (keep an eye out for the real Don Haskins in this movie). The basketball players in the movie are amazing, showcasing so much skill. The writing is fantastic and there are many great camera shots. I watched this movie along with my entire seventh grade during one of the last days of school and it was quite an experience. I could hear people going “Hmm OK” whenever we first saw one of the players showing off some skill, rounds of applause when the team was doing well or a very impressive move as well as people upset when acts of racism appeared (there was one scene after the team returns from the hotel after a particularly tough game where you could have heard a pin drop in that auditorium). The final game had everyone on the edge of their seats, and I am confident in saying my entire seventh grade had a great time that day. Now while not everything in the movie actually happened to the team it is still a great film to watch, it even won the ESPY for Best Sports Movie. I wouldn’t call Glory Road must see, but I would say it is worth the watch.

classic, film, must see

Movie Review: Sunset Boulevard

While not quite a horror movie it is pretty scary and has gone down as a classic. Released in 1950 Sunset Boulevard is regarded as one of the best films of all time, as well as a very successful Broadway musical (well at least successful after Andrew Lloyd Webber got his hands on it). Spoilers ahead as always. I DO NOT OWN THE PICTURE.

Joe Gillis (William Holden, nominated for an Oscar) is a screenwriter that is having strings of bad lucks after trying to sell his script to Paramount producer Sheldrake (Fred Clark) only to get rejected and criticized by script reader Betty Schaefer (Nancy Olson, nominated for an Oscar). While avoiding guys trying to reposes his car Joe drives into what he thinks is an abandoned mansion. Joe hears a woman calling for him to come in to the house, mistaking him for someone else. He meets the woman and recognizes her: Nora Desmond (Gloria Swanson, nominated for an Oscar) a silent movie star who is basically forgotten about, although she doesn’t know it. Learning Joe is a writer Nora asks him to look at a script she has written for her return to film about Salome. Joe finds it horrible, but seeing an opportunity convinces Nora to hire him as a script doctor. Nora has Joe move in so she can keep an eye on him while her butler Max (Erich von Stroheim nominated for an Oscar) explains to Joe that Nora has basically refused the fact that her spotlight has faded, and any attempts to tell her has forced her to attempt suicide. Joe works with Norma on her script, but soon becomes uncomfortable with her constant need for attention; however any attempts he makes to get away she pulls him back in. About as far as I can go without spoiling the rest of the movie, but I will say this ends about as well as you think it is going to.

This was a movie I had heard about for many years prior to watching it, mostly the two famous lines by Nora Desmond. If you know movie quotes these two lines may seem familiar: “I am big, it’s the pictures that got small” when Joe tells Nora she used to be a big star (and to be fair a clue of how nuts this woman is) and finally the last scene and final line by Nora “All right Mr. DeMille I’m ready for my close-up” when Nora’s sense of reality is gone. The writing and acting are some of the best I have seen in any movie, hence why it has so many accolades. Sunset Boulevard was nominated for 11 Oscars, winning three for its writing, art/set direction and music. It is also one of very few films to have nominations for all four acting categories but not to win (and I would say it is a shame but I can’t argue with who won that year). If you have not watched Sunset Boulevard I would highly recommend it, but be prepared for crazy.

based on a book, film, Nicholas Sparks

Movie Review: The Longest Ride

Another Nicholas Sparks romance brought to life on screen. Released in 2015 this film actually made someone a star, and unlike the other Sparks films focused on not just one but two love stories, which kinda made the movie unique. Spoilers ahead as usual. I DO NOT OWN THE PICTURE.

Luke Collins (Scott Eastwood) is a bull rider on recovery after an injury the year before, but is desperate to return. While recovering he meets art lover Sophia Danko (Britt Robinson), a college student set for an internship in New York. Despite their differences the two click and go on a first date. While on the way back they come across a car accident and help the driver, an old man named Ira Livingston (Alan Alda with Jack Huston as the younger version). Sophia and Luke finds old letters and pictures in his car and both (Sophia mostly) visits to Ira to find out what the letters are about. He tells her about his own love story with his beloved late wife Ruth (Oona Chaplin) and their own struggles. Meanwhile as Sophia and Luke fall in love their own story may come to a halt because of Luke’s journey to bull riding despite his injuries.

While I think it is not the best written or acted Nicholas Sparks movie I have ever scene, it is somewhat more realistic compared to the other Sparks films. I actually enjoyed both Britt Robinson and Scott Eastwood in this movie. While this was not Eastwood’s first movie this was the one where everyone took notice of him and his ability as a leading man, like father like son I guess. Both love stories in this movie are two of the much closer to reality love stories Sparks has written, course I don’t know many bull riders but it shows that relationships are with people who may be of different backgrounds, hobbies and wants; but if the couple wants to be together then they have to make it work. I would not put The Longest Ride high on a movie watch list, but if you come across it on TV it might be worth a DVR record.

based on true story, film, must see

Movie Review: Spotlight

Being a journalist this was a movie I had to see as soon as possible, and I was not disappointed. Released in 2015, Spotlight was nominated for six Oscars and won two for Best Original Screenplay and Best Picture. I probably should say before you watch the film if you have not already the topic is very uncomfortable, as it is based on a true story (even then it is not easy hearing the details). I also read the book attached to this film and lets just say sleep did not come easy those nights. Spoiler alert as always. I DO NOT OWN THE PICTURE.

In 2001, The Boston Globe team of investigative reporters, known as Spotlight, is pushed by their new editor Marty Baron (Liev Schreiber) to investigate claims of a priest sexually abusing children and those who kept the stories covered up. The team of reporters include Michael Rezendes (Mark Ruffalo), Sacha Pfeiffer (Rachel McAdams) Ben Bradlee Jr. (John Slattery), Matt Carroll (Brian d’Arcy James) and editor Walter “Robby” Robinson (Michael Keaton). The team at first believes it was one priest they were investigating, but more clues and people coming forward, including a lawyer named Mitchell Garabedian (Stanley Tucci) who represented the victims, to speak with them makes them realize a pattern is forming, a truly disturbing one. The team must also get by legal documents that may prevent them from publishing their story. About as far as I can go without giving away the rest of the movie.

As I watched the movie with my best friend we both knew going in the number of priests was going to get higher, but as the number kept growing and at the end of the movie they showed how many scandals involving priests (not just in the United States but in the world) we could not believe it; my skin was crawling by the time I left the theater. I have to give a huge round of applause to the entire cast; Ruffalo and McAdams were nominated for Oscars while I also loved Keaton, d’Arcy James, Tucci, Schreiber and Slattery (on a side note there is no doubt in my mind Ruffalo will win an Oscar one day). I know this was probably a topic not just the actors but the real life reporters must not have been comfortable with but this was a huge story and as a reporter myself you have to do your job regardless of your personal feelings. Spotlight is a truly amazing film, I would even call it must see, but prepare to have your eyes opened, and your skin crawling.