Monday, March 31, 2008

Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Waterhorse


2007 Scottish film by Jay Russell, who's made a career of sappy, heartwarming movies like Ladder 49 and Tuck Everlasting. This movie isn't much different. Waterhorse tells the beginnings of the loch ness monster legend. So a boy finds an egg on the beach and whimsical adventures ensue. The movie is well acted and scenery of the Scottish highlands is amazing, but the overall story is formulaic and often ridiculous. For example, the boy (often in shorts and short sleeved shirts) goes into the water and dives deep w/ the "monster." However, there'll be snow on the ground and the lake, mind you, is the deepest in Scotland, so how was he not freezing then? Well, movies are all about suspending disbelief right? Well, you have to suspend alot of it for this one. It's sweet and generally uplifting but it's just simply not that engaging (at least not for this adult). It's alright and if your young one is looking for a movie and you want one that's not objectionable I might recommend this, but otherwise you can skip it and not miss a whole lot.

Saturday Afternoon

The Nazi Officer's Wife


2003 documentary by Liz Garbus, whose done mostly TV work, like American Justice and MTV's True Life, and this movie feels a bit like a TV doc. It's good though, just not great. It tells the story of Edith Beer, a jewish Austrian who posed as a regular arian housewife during the second World War. Basically she escaped the horrors experienced by other members of her family by posing as a simple, normal, nazi housewife. She forged documents and committed outright fraud to live a "normal" life while the rest of the Jewish community is living in terror. She goes to great extremes to live the fraud, including, eventually, marrying a nazi army officer. It's a crazy story, but it's a surprisingly boring documentary. They spend very little time on the nazi period and alot of time on the build up. I would've liked to know more about her experiences as an actual nazi officer's wife. Still, that said, it's a very interesting story and worth at least a rental.

Saturday Afternoon

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Keeping Mum


2005 British comedy by director Niall Johnson (who hasn't really done much else) about a family from a very small town in the English countryside that's falling apart. The wife is having an affair with the hot American golf instructor. The husband's a vicar who's about as clueless as it gets and the daughter is sleeping with just about every able bodied teen in area. The family is about to disintigrate when Grace comes along, a sweet, wonderful housekeeper who seems to put the entire home back in order. But, there's something a little weird going on. The family doesn't suspect a thing until they found out that Grace just might not be who she says she is. This movie is very enjoyable. It's alot like older English movies that mix comedy and mystery and it's certainly fun to watch. Now get this, the primary cast is Kristen Scott Thomas, Rowan Atkinson, Maggie Smith and Patrick Swayze. Whoa, what a cast. And of course, Kristen Scott Thomas is great and Maggie Smith is absolutely brilliant. And this has to be Rowan Atkinson's most subtle, subdued flick yet. So, the film is funny and fun to watch. It's nothing earth shattering or very emotionally engaging, but it's definitely worth a rental.

S'Good

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Game Plan


2007 film by Andy Fickman (She's the Man) about a pro football star who suddenly finds out he has an 8-year-old daughter. His nickname is the king and life is all about him...that is until she shows up at his door. I'm not sure what to say about this movie. It's a dumb, live-action, Disney movie starring The Rock. So, what can I really say? It's everything you'd think it is. I saw this movie b/c it was out and appropriate for my daughter. There was a cheap matinée and so on. It had some heartwarming moments, maybe a genuine moment of performance or two. But in general it's just like so many movies by Disney before from Snowball Express to...well....She's the Man. It's not horrible, but it's certainly nothing worth running out and seeing. I mean, even my six-year-old daughter got so bored at one point she was asking me if we could go to the arcade and come back.

Saturday Afternoon

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium


2007 flick starring Natalie Portman, Dustin Hoffman and Jason Bateman about a magical toy store and a not so magical girl. Or is she? Basically this movie tells the story of a girl who wants to be a concert pianist and has a "temporary" job as the manager of a toy store. She keeps working there for years b/c she can't seem to find that sparkle that makes her unique as a musician. Despite the fact that she's surrounded by the magical, she doesn't feel like she has any magic in herself. I loved this movie. It's heartfelt and uplifting and fun to watch. It's basically like a college student getting a job at Willy Wonka's factory and, in the course of things, finding her true self there. It's a great story, the production design is great, the performances are great, the message is great, it's all darn good. If you have kids this is a good movie for any age (nothing scary or vulgar) and really I think most adults (especially the young at heart) will like it too.

Worth Watching

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Once


2006 Irish film by John Carney, who, like most of the actors in the film, is more a musician than a filmmaker. In fact, the two leads aren't actors at all, but musicians who said they felt uncomfortable with filmmaking and would never make another. This is sad to me, b/c I loved this movie. It was so genuine and natural that it almost didn't feel like a movie at all. The story is very simple. Two thirtysomethings meet each other by chance. She's a maid and flower girl who met him when she came to his dad to get her vacuum repaired. He is a street musician. They find that they both love music and together they pull themselves out of their broken homes and impoverished lives and bring rays of hope, where so little light was before. There's no sex, there's no big money. It's just that they discover their own selves by finding each other, two people who seem, somehow or another, to truly get each other. So they start out in a bad way and end in a place of hope. I loved it. The performances are good, the scenes are well shot, the music is good and the overall feel/message of the film was wonderfully endearing.

Worth Watching (borderline BA)