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The Flick Chick
There are always a few swell films out there: Dozens in the Cineplex, Jillions on the Box at home. Don't know which which are the tasty ones and which are the clunkers? Read on. Check here for the FlickChick's flickpicks.
Do your opinions match mine? Then take in the ones I like.
TWO MOVIES ABOUT MR ROGERS
Mr Rogers: Interesting person. Caring person. Generous person. Minister who ran TV shows for children. Never saw his show as a child. As an adult, never saw his show all the way through. Thus the Chick came to these two films with a fresh mind.
Very Innnnnnteresting. This Korean film (with excellent subtitles, BTW), features a family of four who live in a chaotic sub-street level apartment in a sub-social-level city environment. Almost by chance, the young-adult son of the family lands a job as a tutor in a wealthy family, and one-by-one his sister, father, and mother worm their way into the wealthy family's service jobs. Almost immediately, hubris takes over. In a series wildly unliklely incidents, French farce comedy turns to violence and tragedy.
ONCE UPON A TIME ... IN HOLLYWOOD
Tarantino. So that means mega-violence, of course -- just not the violence we were led to expect. And it was a hate-piece of Hollywoodians: their emotional shallowness, their idle cruelties, their wasted humanity, their druggie sensibilities. Leonardo DiCaprio acts a third-rate B-movie hero, slowly losing his grip. Brad Pitt, beautiful as ever, is his strong-man/chauffer/valet/drinking buddy/friend, who is at one moment a confidante and advisor, then summarily dismissed as a servant. DiCaprio lives next door to Roman Polanski, and the storyline revolves indirectly around the girls of the Manson family. You spend the film dreading the set-up. However, it never happens. Oh, don't worry, there's plenty of violence, much of it performed by Pitt, our somewhat admirable hero (he even exhibits human concern and occasional good judgement), but the film ends before the real-life violence takes place. One touching note: Sharon Tate, as airhead, sneaks off to a theater to see her one film -- in which she has a bit part, and watches herself, wriggling with joy. Interesting film, but you need an appetite for violence to fully enjoy it. (Spring 2020)
Maybe you never read the book? Truthfully, the Chick read it only after her so-called adulthood, so perhaps it did not have the full impact on her. She liked An Old-Fashioned Girl much better. But she did read it, along with a bio of Louisa May Alcott, and thus feels qualified to offer you a three-dimensional critique of this latest Ver. of that elderly classic:
This dramatization of the true story of Harriet Tubman is a real winner. Starring the excellent Cynthia Erivo, this is more than a biopic, it is exciting, moving, and historically accurate. Ms Tubman freed not only herself from slavery, but numerous others, starting with her family members, and then expanding her efforts to bring many more through great danger. The courageous behavior of all those who worked the Underground Railroad is truly inspiring!
WON'T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR?
This hugely popular film, given dozens awards, scoring something like 98% on Rotten Tomatoes, and much beloved by millions, is about the life and work of Fred Rogers, the Mr. Rogers of TV fame. He held deep concen for the social and emotional well-being of children, seeking always to solve their emotional distresses, through puppetry, and puppet theater sets. Also, he was evidently a warm, kind, loving, human being.
OH, WELL . . . There are some pleasures that are all too difficult to describe: That first spoonful of ice cream, silk sheets, a shaft of sun after a rainy day, the delicious charm of Paul Newman in his prime. Robert Redford as a golden boy. It has a lovely, complicated plot, with a new surprise in every chapter. It all holds up. It all delights. Taste it again.
TO CATCH A THIEF
Some oldies are goodies. Some oldies don't age well. This certainly belongs in the latter category. Gorgeous Grace Kelly. (Yes, she really was an ice cream/whipped cream beauty, but the heavily suggestive playfulness cloyed.) Captivating Cary Grant. (Yes, he had been a box-office miracle that never failed to bring in a film for profit, but he had been doing it for a bit too long by the time this baby got in the can. He was still slim, still moved well, but the man-tan he had bathed in was not enough to hide those years.) And it had a horrible premise: She was an heiress. He was a retired jewel thief, living in a villa on the profits of his crime. (Oh yes, he had helped the French Resistance during WWII, so that made it okay. Sure it did!)
Some oldies are goodies. Said that before, I know. Anyhow, here's a good one.
CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME
Strange flick. Ordinarily, the Chick dislikes films in which one roots for the lawbreaker. And Ms Israel, as played by Melissa McCarthy, was certainly charting a successful vocation as a forger. And her wierd, grifter sidekick, Jack (Richard Grant) was a willing accomplice. So much for the Dark Side. Even so, it was an excellent film. Virtue eventually triumphed, and Ms. McCarthy's confession scene was genuinely touching. The Chick's recommendation? Yes, see it. (Also, as a saving grace, she genuinely loved her cat, and the cat itself put in a sincere performance.) (2019)even
MARY POPPINS RETURNS
Truly, I went prepared to sneer, but, oops! I loved it.
Vice, as in Vice Prez Cheney. The first 15 mnutes seemed to have been created by adolescent amateurs smoking MaryJane. I begrudge those 15 mnutes. (Never bothered with the rest) I could have been . . . shining my shoes, doing sit-ups, or getting a drink of water. Anything else would have been time better spent. (2/219)
Don't waste your time; don't waste your dime! This is a truly unpleasant film, about disagreeable people. It's bad history (what's new?) and maligns poor queen Anne -- who, indeed, was not such a red-hot queen, but certainly not the moaning, helpless, easily swayed dummy in the film. In real life, she had a tough go -- a dozen children: one of whom died at age two, one who lived to be twelve years old and the rest were stillborn. She loved her husband and was faithful to him and mourned him when he died. It's true that she has several female faves who tried to influence her -- and numerous courtiers all struggling for favor, but Wikipedia gives her something between a B- to C+ as a queen. Poor thing. (4/19)
THE GREEN BOOK
WHAT! Strider? Aragorn, son of Arathorn? Metamorphasized into an Italian American tough guy with a New Jersey accent and a beer belly? Ye Gods!
FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD
Full of criticisms: Almost no plot. Bad sound. Could not understand what the actors were saying. (That may have been our DVD, but you do lose a lot.) The character played by Eddie Redmayne is not really strong enough to carry this movie. The sidekick was not as appealing in Beasts II as he was in BEASTS I.
Not nearly enough screen time for Jude Law as Dumbledore! This was clearly a warm-up show for the fatal battle which we will probably not see until BEASTS VII. And what was the deal with the "blood brothers" blood in the locket? And did I mention that there was almost no plot?
History: The Washington Post is one of the three premier newspapers in America, the others being the NY Times and The Wall Street Journal. Early in the 20th Century, the Post, then in bankruptcy was purchased by Eugene Meyer, who built it into a sound, well-run business. An excellent newspaper. Meyer's wife was an intellectual, freethinker, and society woman. Their children were uninterested in the business -- with the exception of one daughter, Katherine. During his lifetime, she and her father exchanged a multitude of letters in which he fostered her journalistic skills. As a young woman she covered riots and police actions, and she was headed toward becoming a solid reporter when she met and married Phil Graham, a brilliant young lawyer. They started a family. He volunteered in the Army during World War II, and when the war was over, he returned home as a major and promptly went to work for his father-in-law. On Meyer's death, Katherine and her husband inherited the paper.
The Chick found this multiple award winning flick to be dark, dark dark. Fascinating, but very dark. Frances McDormand is marvellous, as always (though with lots of violence, and much heavy language). Woody Harrelson, who so often plays a bad guy, is a convincing good guy. Sam Rockwell is a very convincing bad guy. One of my faves, Peter Dinklage has a minor part, but he is in the turning scene of the film: McDormand's character has taken -- and given -- so much punishment, and in this scene her brutal ex-husband comes over and harasses her for being at dinner with a dwarf. Dinklage, offended, leaves the restaurant, and McDormand picks up a full bottle of wine and slowly stalks across the room toward her husband and his teen-aged girlfriend, hefting the bottle. And you're thinking, "Oh no, don't do this. Please don't do this," fearing she will launch an attack that will be the culmination of the angry abuse she has been receiving and handing out all during the film. And possibly even do murder. She stops at their table, lifts the bottle, her husband shrinks away, (the Chick's heart was in her mouth), but when the extremely young girlfriend makes a sweet, gushy remark . . . McDormand puts the bottle on the table, saying, "Treat her better than you treated me." The scene ends as she turns away. Deeply powerful moment, which helped to make the resolution of the film more convincing.
ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN
This is a great old flick! These two Journalist studs, Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman . . . (What? You think they're nothing but Codgers? Think again. That flick was made when the world was new. They were darlings then! This one film inspired a whole generation of idealistic newspapermen. Probably newspaper-women, too.) Anyway, they battled the forces of Evil and came out on top! So much on top that now and then you can still see the real live originals, talking about politics on PBS and MSNBC.
Oh, this is a really goofy movie! Cumberbach has done very little for his rep by starring in this one. The optics were okay, but the action was REALLY SILLY!
Well, she looks great. All those Amazon women looked great -- trim, good hair, nice profiles. Isn't that the first question you ask about a female protagonist? They have good moral characters, too. (Although if nobody ever told a lie, how come they needed to invent that golden lasso of truthfulness?) True to the original comic book character, she runs off to join that handsome lieutenant (Or was he a major? Yes, and maybe she was a lieutenant in the original story) to save the world. And thanks to lengthy and stunning special effects, plus a moderate serving of heartbreak, she does indeed save the world from the Nazis. Thanks, Girlfriend!
films about Genius. Good ones, I mean, not just the "Oh you're
beautiful without your glasses, Dr. Madeline, and thank you for saving
the universe." Really, really, smart people are intrinsicly interesting,
and they do interesting and often useful things. They are also very
human. Movies that convincingly show really smart people are few and
far between. But this is one of them!
THE ACCOUNTANT (video)
course it was good. It was about a genuinely heroic, true story. Of
course it was good. It starred Tom Hanks. I guess you know the true
story about the plane that ran into a flock of birds, lost its engines,
had to land in the Hudson river rather than crashing into New York
City and killing everbody on the plane plus a couple of blocks of New York
ANOTHER STAR WARS
OBOY! More starships streaking theough space. A reprise of Princess Leia and Han Solo. (We miss you, Carrie Fisher.) We have a girl hero at last, and not all the humans have the same skin color. Lots of extraordinary BEMs, but no BEM band, alas. Really enjoyed it all. Can't wait for the next one. (12/16)
FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM
Well, it was pretty cute.
Englishman Newt Scamander comes to America with his magic bag that
carries, not socks and a clean shirt, but several thousand pets, a
trip downstairs, and a variety of other surprises. Oops! Some of the
pets get loose, pandemonium ensues, and (Oops again) magic is strictly banned in the US (except for the
Underground, of course, which includes many vindictive Enforcers,who
get nicely trounced by the end of the film).
WHISKEY, TANGO, FOXTROT
Tina Fey was charming, and before
you ask, yes, that really was
Billy Bob Thornton
colonel. And it was more or less from a true story. And we did pretty
much enjoy it, I guess.
THE BIG SHORT
Praise it to the skies! If you ever wanted to know how it worked, how
the evil deeds got done . . . this is your chance. There is a scene in
which two young mortgage brokers (maybe somewhat inebriated) are
laughing and saying, "But it is so easy to sell these ARMs to stupid
people!" They just look at the teaser rate! They don't even
what the ceiling is on the rate when it changes! And we're
so much money!
" (Not a direct quote. Relying on the
meaning of their statements here.) And two of the sane guys are
listening, and one sane guy says softly to the other, "Why are they
confessing to us." And the second guy answers, "They're not confessing.
They're boasting." Oh.
STAR WARS 2016
OH BOY! Could hardly wait, and it was really fun. Plot a little thin (not unusual), but great BEMs, great action, good to see some of the original characters, though Harrison Ford is really showing his age (must be just his makeup, no?). And what a splendid change to have some diversity of main characters! Although the beachball robot failed to thrill me, I hopefully await the next film in which . . . maybe . . . the bit player with the fishhead will turn out to have a charming character and start a close friendship with . . . a mermaid? Anyway, you've already seen it, so -- what more can I say? (12/16/2015)
BRIDGE OF SPIES
Hey, this is a
film! Wonderful talents: Tom Hanks (can't miss,of course), Stephen
Spielberg as director, written in part by the Cohen Brothers, a small
part for Alan Alda, and (wait for it!) Mark Ryland -- the memorable
actor who played Thomas Cromwell in the PBS series,
I could go on and on, but I'd rather you just saw it for yourself, and
can supply the admiring adjectives.
Huge respect for Will Smith as an actor. His performance was stunning, and it made this only-moderately-good film worth seeing. The Chick has commented earlier on the abilities of Dustin Hoffman, of the super-great Tom Hanks and a very few others. This performance rates up there with them. Without wanting to be a spoiler, I can say that Smith's character is troubled and torn, while masquerading as cheery-normal, and he does it so splendidly that I was spellbound. I'd definitely recommend it for that reason, if for no other ... and it was not that bad a film anyway. (11/25) DVD
While desiring to cast no aspersions on Angelina Jolie . . . so sorry, but you can't perform the same trick twice. Has to be a new trick every time. Or at least wait a long while before you do the trick again. You know, make them guess which trick it will be this time. Otherwise, ho-hum. Anyway, Disney of all people should know better. Fractured fairy tales is one thing, but same new trick twice in two years? C'mon. It was devastating in Frozen , but this time, well, spoiled it. (10/15)
CHARIOTS OF FIRE
Englishmen are in fierce competition for the Olympic gold in track. You
like them both, sympathize wth them both, and can't help but root for
each of them.
TOM AND VIV
is a great film. Willam Dafoe (superb actor, superb performance) plays
Tom -- T.S.Elliot, to you , Miranda Richardson is Vivian Haigh-Wood,
his ailing wife -- and she got an Acadamy Award for it in 1984. True
story. But . . . you'll hate this film.
THE IMITATION GAME
Really a very successful film. There's a question as to whether charming Benedict Cumberbach can present a character who is not arrogant and socially insecure, but Sherlock fitted very nicely into the Alan Turing character. And it is a truly moving true story, with a genuinely heartbreaking ending. Best of all, the writers did not mess it up (as writers have been known to do -- especially with true stories). So: yes, absolutely yes. This is one to see, to enjoy, and to remember. (11/2014)
Downey, Jr. couldn't save this 1996-made Restoration-period film. Sam
Neil couldn't save it. Meg Ryan couldn't save it. Hugh Grant couldn't
save it. Ian McKellen couldn't save it. The producers couldn't save it.
The writers and directors most certainly didn't save it.
INTO THE WOODS
to being a bit of a softie for fairy tales, and having looked forward
to seeing this flick, I must tell you that I was dismayed at this soggy
porridge of fairy-and-folk tales that were slammed together without
much rhyme (even in the songs!) or much reason. None of the characters
were very appealing, and the heavy-handed cynicism with which they were
treated made me want to turn away from the screen.
WOMAN OF GOLD
The marvelous Helen Mirren carried this film. Looking German, tight-lipped, and slightly dowdy, she made a good case for the film's premise: that stolen property should be returned to its owner, even after many years of its traveling from hand to sometimes-governmental hand. It does not make up for other losses, but there is indeed satisfaction in having justice done. Excellent film, frequently touching. (March ' 15)
Not generally a big fan of Disney anime', but the Chick must say good words about this huge hit. Not just because it was the biggest-grossing anime' ever, so far, but (amazingly) because of its message ! At this remove in time, It is hardly a spoiler to say that the switcheroo on what constitutes "true love" was a moving change. So if you like Disney at all, this is a flick you can probably really enjoy.
Sorry only watched the first 20 minutes. Joaquin Phoenix is an excellent actor, but no can sell this one. BTW: It was a rented video, and there were approximately 721 very unappetizing teasers (over 15 minutes worth!) before we ever got to the film. That may have influenced our opinion. (3/15)
earth is falling apart. Crops die, horrible dust storms, everybody
denies how bad it is (maybe they forgot) and there's no help anywhere.
Except . . . (yeah, always there's an except) . . Hero & Brilliant
Young Daughter, by the merest chance, manage to find the secret,
secret, secret group of scientists who have (surprised?) been building
a secret, secret space ship, the most recent of several, to send into a
black hole to find out why the other space ships never came back with
news about where the human race can find another planet to move to.
Wow! This venerable Monty Python offspring is so charming, so off-the-wall, so wierd, so adorable that, well, words fail the Chick. Thank you, Pythons. Do it again, please!
THE STATION AGENT *****
review should be written in gold! What a grand film! What a stellar
performance by Peter Dinklage! Touching but not sentimenal. Makes you
think, but not preachy. Funny but not slapstick.
THE SHIPPING NEWS
Suave, smart-alec, clever Kevin Spacey is convincing as an innocent sort of dummy, wearing a watch cap and/or with his hair in his eyes, who slowly wakes into warm, real life. Stars Julienne Moore and Dame Judi Dench are equally compelling. Even the weather is great in this one. After I saw the film, I read the book, and that was great, too. Only one thing is lacking: In the novel, as our hero is learning to write for the Shipping News newspaper, and is practicing writing snappy headlines each chapter is prefaced by its own snappy headline. But that aspect is only faintly marked in the film. Nevertheless, the Chick really recommends this one. (She also recommends the book, in case you're interested.)
A NEW LEAF *****
Oh, this is a grand, wonderful film! Walter Matthau (Henry) as a spoiled, selfish, heartless wastral who marries sweet and innocent and fabulously rich, but astonishingly klutzy Henrietta (Elaine May). Yes, the results are predictable, but the journey to their happy ending is hilarious! One viewing is not enough. Two is not enough. You may want to buy the DVD!
GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL
was really funny. We laughed and laughed. The actors were adorable,
completely unbelieveable, charming, disarming, some foolish, some
ghoulish. There were unexpected walk-ons by famous persons (sometimes
persons). There were gorgeous settings,
people running upstairs and downstairs very fast, like characters in a
French farce. There were sly asides, ridiculous behaviors, and lots and
lots of pastry boxes! And of course, Ralph Feinnes, Jude Law, Bill
Murray (not enough Bill Murray, of course, but who can get enough of
Bill Murray?) Ditto Jeff Goldblum, ditto Owen Wilson, ditto Tilda
Swinton, ditto Tom Wilkinson. And lots of Tony Revolori, and several
other younger actors, of whom I had never heard before, but of whom you
will very probably hear again.
Many, many years ago, a TV
comedian named Red Skelton ended his show with a pantomime of a Space
Walker who has broken his tether and is slowly, slowly slipping away
into the dark, writhing in terror.
How great Saving the Art Wonders of the World from evil-doers! How great a film starring George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, and Jean Dujardin! And really, it was a very nice, enjoyable film. Not really great, maybe. But certainly the 1940s effort was a great enterprise especially in real life. And it was certainly worth celebrating. So, all things taken into consideration, the Chick liked it well enough to recommend it, if you don't get MUCH better offer instead. Oh, yes Cate Blanchett was in it, also, looking very repressed. (2/14)
SAVING MR. BANKS
How can any film that stars Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks be anything but excellent? Hmm . . . well . . . it wasn't exactly bad, but it was not as excellent as one had hoped. True, Emma Thompson did a splendid job. True, Tom Hanks did a splendid job. True, the Chick was still humming music from the Mary Poppins film for a week afterward. But the P.L. Travers character was so thorny, and the Walt Disney character was so like Walt Disney himself that, well, there was not much to love about either of them. (Sigh.) Even though I had enjoyed the Mary Poppins books and the Disney film. (Sigh.)
FOYLE'S WAR *****
NOT A MOVIE! This was/is a long-running British TV series probably the least violent, least flashy, and
most satisfying group of characters and episodes you will ever run
into. Set in Great Britain during WW II, Michael Kitchen plays Timothy
Foyle, gently announcing, "I'm a policeman," when mistaken for a swell
because of his quiet authority. Honeysuckle Weeks is his bright-eyed
driver (no romance, there, though) and Anthony Howell is the wounded
vet who is mercifully returned to Foyle's side. Most of the storylines
are good, many are excellent, and you will never forget these
A splendid film: beautiful; touching; heart-wrenching; gripping; funny. All the good adjectives. Daniel Day Lewis is too pretty in real life to play Lincoln, of course, but with the makeup and the beard, he was intensely believable. Lots of Lincoln's beautiful words, all the parts we already knew, plus some we didn't know about him. (Note that the Chick was reading Gore Vidal's Lincoln simultaneously which may have added to the fervor of her appreciation. ) But gosh! of course it had to be great. It was about Lincoln! When the film ended, we were all crying. And clapping. Of course! (11/2012)
definitely a winner. Simple story: Two pre-adolescents run away
together; chaos results. Bill Murray is the dad, in a bit part. Frances
Mcdormand is the mom, in an even smaller part. Bruce Willis, playing
against type, is the fairly dumb sheriff, but it's the kids who carry
the show: Gold stars to Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward, who are quirky,
natural, always intent. While thinking, "Hey, kids aren't really like
that," you realise that they really ARE like that.
MIDNIGHT IN PARIS
Ah . . . a darkened
street, the sound of jazz playing over the radio on a silent evening,
and then an elegant, antique car stops at your feet, a hand reaches out
holding a brimming champagne glass and invites you in. And then you're
off to ornate drawing rooms filled with great paintings and enlivened
by the presence of beautiful women in jeweled flapper-style headbands
and feather boas, and tall, thin gentlemen in evening clothes, speaking
with English accents. Take time for a chat with Hemingway, Picasso,
F.Scott Fitzgerald. Consider dreams and dreams come true.
SHERLOCK HOLMES I & II
Well! This is not the Holmes with
whom we have previously been acquainted. Nor the Watson. We have always
suspected, my dear Reader, that there were areas of Holmes' life into
which we had hitherto never delved. But now the veil is lifted, and we
discover that Master Detective is also a master of the manly arts, as a
bare-knuckle fighting event displays his skills. His softer side is
also on display from time to time, and we frequently see him
dishabille, unkempt and unshaven. Moreover, we are made privy to his
genuine regard for his young friend's rapier-like wit and also his
skill with the rapier. (Obviously, in Watson's narratives, his innate
modesty has kept him from revealing the true extent of his own
abilities.) And, as we always suspected, the fair sex is not immune to
Holmes' charms, nor is he immune to theirs.
JULIE AND JULIA
Been a long time since a film gave
way old. But this film confirms all the horrible things we always
suspected were true about fast food. It's bad for your health. It makes
you fat. And eating it makes you act dumb. Our protagonist (playing
himself) goes from doctor to doctor and is pronounced in super health
before he goes on a one-month three-meals-a-day diet of MacDonalds. At
the end of the month he has gained 20 pounds, feels awful all the time,
raised his cholesterol into the danger zone, possibly damaged his liver
and (according to his outspoken girl friend) seriously damaged their
sex life. OOps!
Yep, this 2004 film is still on the top page. Just consider it a reminder to you from me . . . on behalf of your heart. Available on DVD.
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