Category Archives: Movies

Because I’m happy

I LOVED Hector and the Search for Happiness.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean you will.

hector_and_the_search_for_happiness_simon_pegg_posterThis movie will evoke a very specific, personal response from each and every theatergoer.

When Hector, a London psychologist, feels he is no longer helping his patients, he embarks on a trip around the world to research happiness.

His girlfriend supports his quest and even gives him a journal to record his findings.

A few of these findings really resonated with me, leaving me tearful in the theater and very thoughtful long after I left.  It even inspired a two-hour phone call.

Simon Pegg is well-known for his zombie comedies, but Hector is a big step, I believe, toward bigger and more exciting roles.  He hits it out of the park.

It is rare to not only enjoy a movie but also feel it has so much to say about your own life and experiences.  I wouldn’t be surprised if I’m still talking about this one for weeks to come.

 

Shopgirl

It’s been almost 20 years since Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks put Manhattan’s Upper West Side on the map in the rom-com classic You’ve Got Mail.

Visit my neighborhood today and all the movie’s sights are still here — the local restaurants where they rendezvoused, the farmer’s market, Riverside Park. Everything but her little Shop Around the Corner.

Well, that’s changing.

book-culture3Book Culture is opening their doors literally around the corner from my brownstone apartment and taking up the ‘small bookshop mantle’ that Meg’s character abandoned lo’ those many years ago.

Their window says it best:

youvegotmailNow, the modern version of the movie’s ‘big bad Fox Books’ exists today — Barnes & Noble is just a couple of blocks away.  So it will be interesting to see how this small store will compete on selection and pricing.

But I for one am excited to see life imitate art just feet from my doorsteps.

Wonder if the proprietor will be as photogenic?

When Wallace Met Chandry

It’s no accident that the movie poster for What If places good friends Wallace and Chandry at a diner.

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The film is clearly trying to be the When Harry Met Sally for this generation…and does a decent job.

Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan are quirky and appealing, their friendship believable,  their banter quick and smart.

She has a boyfriend (who made me laugh), and Daniel has emotional baggage — plus best friend Adam Driver of Girls who has huge energy…and is huge standing next to Daniel (which is pretty funny right there).

This is a rom-com, so there are misunderstandings, yearning, romantic postcards (in this day and age), implusive international flights, fist fights, and at least two weddings — babies, too.

What if that stuff still worked in films?

You know — it kinda does.

Star gazing

This morning was grey and rainy, so I decided to go see Guardians of the Galaxy.

Guardians-of-the-GalaxyI didn’t think the trailer looked that interesting, but all the critics were singing its praises…and a few friends who attended the first showings loved it, too.

So, off I went.

If you love Chris Pratt from Parks and Recreation and have been on the fence, go see it.  This is a superhero film infused with his trademark sense of humor.

Bradley Cooper is also hilarious as the voice of the raccoon.  And the talking tree, who can only speak four words, will become a favorite.

I have to admit, though, one of the most gut-wrenching movie moments in the theater today was seeing the trailer for Interstellar for the first time.

Wow.

Schooled

kidnapped for christIf you subscribe to Showtime, I encourage you to watch the documentary Kidnapped for Christ, currently available OnDemand.

The film centers on a Christian boarding school in the Dominican Republic that advertised itself as a rehab center for troubled US teens.  The filmmaker, an evangelical school student, was allowed complete access to the teens there and, during production, uncovers disturbing information about the school’s “behavior modification program.” She also learns that some students had been kidnapped from their homes with their parents’ full knowledge and permission.

Her commitment to the project eventually morphs into a determination to help these abused teenagers — one in particular who wants to leave the school where he is essentially being held prisoner.

This story is heartbreaking and, I learned, just one case among thousands around the world.

It is a must-see.

 

Cold justice

I was lucky enough to catch Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind on HBO over dinner tonight.

eternal sunshine

Such a wonderfully inventive story, and perhaps Jim Carrey’s most powerful and controlled performance.

As I watched, I questioned yet again why he didn’t win an Oscar…or even get nominated.  So I used the Google machine to remind me — who did take the prize in 2005?

The Oscar nominees for Best Actor in a Leading Role were:

  • Don Cheadle in “Hotel Rwanda”
  • Johnny Depp in “Finding Neverland”
  • Leonardo DiCaprio in “The Aviator”
  • Clint Eastwood in “Million Dollar Baby”
  • Jamie Foxx in “Ray”

Foxx took home the prize; it was no shock.  His portrayal of the musical legend was spot-on. He sang and played the piano, too.  I wasn’t a fan of the film, but of him, yes.

I concede defeat.

But I would argue that Carrey’s performance deserves to be on that list as much if not more than Leo.  Or Johnny.  In fact, the list would be stronger for it.

Isn’t it funny how quickly you can become bitter about something that happened 10 years ago?

(Imagine how Jim must feel.)

That’s life

Richard Linklater’s film Boyhood has received enormous attention and near perfect reviews.

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It should.

The fact that it was 12 years in the making is epic enough. That the same actors gathered together to recreate this family each year…so the passage of time Is made all the more authentic by every bad haircut, each pop culture reference.

But Boyhood’s true appeal lies in Linklater’s choice of subject matter: the simple, day-to-day ups and downs of a family doing their best to juggle school and jobs and divorce and remarriage and financial worries and love and loss.

Chances are, at certain points in this movie, you will recognize yourself or your family.

And it will make you smile.