Movie Catch-up

Posted by barb on Sep 6, 2005 in Movies

I’ve seen a lot of movies lately that I haven’t blogged — I’m going to round most of them up here with a very brief blurb on what I thought, though these reviews may not be all that useful to anyone else. (Mainly I want to remember what movies I’ve seen…)

  • Skeleton Key – Caroline Ellis takes a job as caregiver to Ben Devereaux. She begins to suspect that his condition is not the result of a stroke, but rather that he believes that he was the victim of Hoodoo. This was a fun diversion for an evening, though I saw the twist ending coming long before the end. [IMDB link for Skeleton Key]
  • Miss Congeniality 2 – Not as good as the first one. As with many sequels, most of the good parts of this concept were done in the original movie, and not much can be added to the second flick. This time around, Gracie finds that she can’t do undercover work anymore, due to her celebrity from her highly televised performance in the pagent from the first movie. She takes to the talk-show circuit as the face of the FBI until her friend, the winner of the pagent, is kidnapped and held for ransom. [IMDB link for Miss Congeniality 2]
  • The Jacket – this is a triller about a gulf war vet convicted of murder of a police officer that he can’t remember. He’s sent to an asylum for the criminally insane, and his treatment includes time in a morgue drawer while tied in a straight-jacket. The concept sounded interesting, but the movie itself dragged, and would likely have been better as a short film. That, and I saw the ending coming from a mile off. [IMDB link for The Jacket]
  • White Noise – Jonathan Rivers’ wife has recently died, and he starts to hear from her from beyond the grave through the white noise on the radio and TV. The idea of EVPs (electronic voice phenomenon) is creepy (if scientifically unsupported), but this movie was fairly slow-moving, and didn’t really capture my attention. [IMDB link for White Noise]
  • THX 1138 – Of course I had to check out George Lucus’ first feature film. This is another of the 70’s bleak look at an over-regimented future. It was based off of a short he had done in film school, and, frankly, it would have been much better as a short. Much of the filler was incomprehensible, and the ending was clear about half an hour before it came. [IMDB link for THX 1138]



Movies in the Morning/You Can’t Take it With You

Posted by barb on Aug 27, 2005 in Movies

Another fun movie from Cinema Art Theatre’s Movies in the Morning series this morning. We went to see You Can’t Take it With You, a very silly Frank Capra film. It’s a bit difficult to summarize the plot, but I’ll take a shot. An investment team is buying up several blocks of land to develop, but Grandpa Vanderhof won’t sell. He and his eccentric household live exactly the way they please, and no price will take them from their house. That is, until Vanderhof’s granddaughter, Alice, falls in love with the bank president’s son, Tony Kirby.

To say that the Vanderhof household is eccentric is a vast understatement. Vanderhof’s son-in-law and the house’s one-time iceman make homemade fireworks in the basement. Vanderhof’s daughter writes plays (when we first meet her, she’s gotten herself stuck in a monastery”). His other daughter-in-law dances her way around the house and her husband plays the xylophone and runs a small printing press. Sometimes it feels as though chaos reigns in the Vanderhof household. Sometimes I wished I could live there (though I probably would have bopped the dancing granddaughter after too long).

The movie was a lot of fun, and I’m sad to say that the Movies in the Morning series is taking a hiatus (possibly permanently) for a while.

[IMDB link to You Can’t Take it With You]



Movies in the Morning/West Side Story

Posted by barb on Aug 20, 2005 in Movies

There were two movies I wanted to see in the Cinema Arts Theatre Movies in the Morning series this weekend – West Side Story and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. However, since we wanted to take a longer bike ride at least one morning this weekend, we could only see one. We decided that West Side Story would be the better choice to see on the “big screen”. We were right.

I’d never seen West Side Story from beginning to end. I’ve seen selections – at least part of it in an English class when we studied Romeo and Juliet. I’ve also heard much of the music, both recently and in my distant past, because this was one of Dad’s favorite movies, so he had the LP.

While the gang violence looked tame by today’s standards, the message still holds up well.

[IMDB link to West Side Story]



Grizzly Man

Posted by barb on Aug 18, 2005 in Movies

4/5 stars

For 13 summers, Timothy Treadwell lived with grizzly bears in Alaska. For the last 5 summers he brought a video camera and captured some of the most incredible nature footage of the Alaskan wilderness. At the end of his last summer, in 2003, Treadwell and his girlfriend were killed by a grizzly. This film is a combination of choice bits of Treadwell’s extensive footage and a search by the director to understand who Treadwell was and what drove him to the Alaskan wilderness every year.

It’s hard to know what to think of Treadwell. In much of the footage of him, he’s talking about protecting the grizzlies. However, the only threat that he ever captured (according to the director’s narration) was a few fishermen throwing rocks at one of the bears, when the bear got close to their boats on the shore. The bears need lots of space, but it would seem that threats to that space would be best fought in city hall (or congress), not in the wilderness itself.

Treadwell also talked about studying the bears, but its clear that he was more interested in interacting than studying. I shutter to think what biologists would say about Treadwell’s form of study. I don’t deny that he was able to obtain some wonderful footage of the bears in their natural habitat, acting as bears do, but he also interacted with the bears – we see him stretching out his hands to bears when they get curious about the camera…he even taps them on the nose from time to time.

Treadwell did a lot, however, to educate children on the bears and their needs. He volunteered time in classrooms, and showed his footage to the children. Sadly, we didn’t get to see him in action in front of the kids. In some of the footage of Treadwell in Alaska, he looks a bit crazed, and he was likely bipolar. It would have been nice to see which face he put forward to the children.

His death was a tragedy, though some may say he asked for it. It was even more of a tragedy because he took his girlfriend with him. We don’t hear the audio that was taken during the bear attack that took their lives, and I was glad of that. I’m not sure I would have slept after hearing it. As it was, a very creepy medical examiner, the one who received the remains of Treadwell and his girlfriend, described what was on the audio, and that was enough for me.

Overall, an excellent film, both for its footage of the Alaskan wilderness, and for its exploration of Treadwell.

[IMDB link to Grizzly Man]



Movies in the Morning/Arsenic and Old Lace

Posted by barb on Aug 14, 2005 in Movies

The Cinema Arts Theatre started a new series of Movies in the Morning this week. Hopefully that means that they are doing well enough to continue for a while…Andrew and I are certainly enjoying them. This morning’s flick? Arsenic and Old Lace from 1944 with Cary Grant. I’d never seen this movie nor the play that it’s based on. Mortimer Brewster stops at his aunts’ house on his way from the courthouse to his honeymoon, only to find a body in his aunts’ window seat. He finds that his sweet old aunts have been offering their “charity” to lonely old men. Mortimer’s plans to help out his aunt are made more difficult by his fiance, his brother who thinks he’s Theodore Rosevelt, and the sudden appearance of his criminally insane brother. This movie was great fun.

[IMDB link to Arsenic and Old Lace]


Movies in the Morning/Bringing Up Baby

Posted by barb on Aug 6, 2005 in Movies

We continued supporting the Cinema Arts Theatre‘s Movies in the Morning this morning by going to see Bringing Up Baby. This is a screwball comedy of the best sort from 1938. Dr. David Huxley (Cary Grant) is a paleontologist trying to get a million-dollar grant from Elizabeth Random. His attempts to meet with Ms. Random’s lawyer, Mr. Peabody, however, keep getting interrupted by Susan Vance (Katherine Hepburn). While delivering a tame leopard to Miss Vance’s country home, Huxley finds out her aunt is none other than the Ms. Random from whom he’s trying to win the grant. Hilarity ensues.

Actually, it was quite good. While the plot is highly improbable, the humor holds up well over the years. We had a lot of fun.

[ IMDB link for Bringing Up Baby]



Movies in the Morning/The Philadelphia Story

Posted by barb on Jul 31, 2005 in Movies

We actually wanted to see all of the movies the Cinema Arts Theatre was playing this week for its “Movies in the Morning” series, so we went up again this morning to catch another one. (We can’t see them all, though, because they’re playing four different movies each week.) This morning we went to The Philadelphia Story, starring Katherine Hepburn and Cary Grant.

It is the day before Tracy Lord (Hepburn), a woman of some wealth, is getting married for the second time. Her ex-husband, C. K. Dexter Haven (Grant), indrudes upon the day, bringing a reporter and photographer from Spy Magazine to capture the day. Ostensibly, this film is a comedy, and it certainly has its moments. However, the portrayal of relationships, and long, odd speeches in the middle of the film just don’t fit in with the label “comedy”.

[ IMDB link to The Philadelphia Story]



Movies in the Morning/Talk of the Town

Posted by barb on Jul 30, 2005 in Movies

The Cinema Arts Theatre near our house continued its “Movies in the Morning” series this week, so we biked up this morning to watch Talk of the Town. Talk of the Town stars Cary Grant as political activist, Leopold Dilg, who has been accused of starting a fire that burned down a factory and killed the foreman. He escapes jail and moves himself into the attic of a rental owned by a girl he grew up with and rented for the summer by a prominent law professor. The film is a bit of a screwball comedy, and turned out to be a lot of fun.

Total miles biked: 9 miles

[ IMDB link for Talk of the Town]



Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Posted by barb on Jul 28, 2005 in Movies

4/5 stars

Fun, fun, fun!

Usually I don’t really like re-makes — the first version of something that I experience is usually the one that I’m going to like best. However, this time around, it’s hard to say which version I like best. I love Johnny Depp, and his performance here is an par with the best of his work. The film adds in a bit more of the background of Willy Wonka that is present neither in the book or the Gene Wilder version of the film, and I haven’t decided if I liked it or not (leaning toward not), though it does set it apart.

[IMDB link to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory]



National Treasure

Posted by barb on Jul 27, 2005 in Movies

3/5 stars

Standard thriller. Fun while it lasted, though, of course, completely unbelievable.

[IMDB link for National Treasure]


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