Category Archives: Movies

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.

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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.

Constructive criticism

Feedback — we have to give it and receive it, sometimes daily depending on our jobs.

That doesn’t make it any easier to hear.

Tim Minchin, the Olivier-award winning and Tony-nominated songwriter of Broadway’s Matilda, once received a very bad review that he couldn’t really shake off.  How did he deal with it?

He wrote a hilarious song about it.

I’ll have to try that sometime…

Note — Minchin is currently workshopping a new musical in London based on the movie Groundhog Day. Can’t wait to hear those lyrics!

Renewed vows

It’s no coincidence that most movies end with the wedding.

That’s when reality kicks in.
112 WeddingsThe documentary 112 Weddings (HBO OnDemand) gives audiences the opportunity to see how that reality measures up.

Filmmaker Doug Block shot wedding videos for 112 couples over his career, and in this documentary, revisits some of those couples a decade or more later after the ‘I do’s.’

Most are still married. One couple is in the process of divorcing and agreed to be interviewed separately.  But all agree that marriage is far different from any idea they may have had at the start.

Many have faced real challenges.  Seriously ill children.  Depression.  But all answer the simple question: would we do it all again, knowing what we know now.

The film manages to be both sobering and joyful at the same time…which is how couples should probably approach such an important life choice.

If you stop and think about it.