Friday, November 14, 2008

North & South :: Exceeds Expectations


North and South
[BBC, 2004]

Starring:
Richard Armitage
Daniela Denby-Ashe
Sinead Cusack
Others That Were Lovely Too

entertainment rating:
~
performance:
screenplay:
plot/storyline: ★
cinematography: ★
~
BBC Drama

******SPOILER ALERT******
(There are spoilers in this review! After the three paragraphs, spoilers will pop up! It's a kind of predictable story, so you probably shouldn't worry about it, but, just so you know...)

I'm back! And better than ever! With a terrifically long post! It's been a long time since I posted a review, but then again, it's been a long time since I've watched anything worth noting. After we finished the Eliott series, we were unsure of what to do next - the libraries seemed out of things to reserve, there was nothing we wanted to rent... There were a few things we did watch: there was the shallow but cute Nim's Island; Get Smart, which "missed it by that much;" the kind of depressing Evening; and the delightfully colorful Pushing Daisies; the hilarious and charming Miss Pettigrew Lives For a Day. And, of course, let's not forget Star Trek, the Next Generation, Season One.

And after all of this modern or futuristic film (c'mon, you know Star Trek is futuristic! Do you have a holodeck?), we were starting to hurt from 17th Century England withdraw. "Ouch!" we said, as Riker gets out his phaser and blasts a alien enemy. "Nooo," we say, "he's not attractive unless you put him in a tailcoat and cravat! Or even better, no cravat!" Tell-tale signs of BBC withdraw. And so you can imagine how excited we were to find that we could replace Star Trek (though it has its time and place) for a gorgeous and relatively new BBC drama. And not only was it just any drama, but it was adapted from an Elizabeth Gaskell book. Gaskell wrote Cranford, as well, which was adapted by BBC last year. A very good series.

Here is the brief version of my review, which contains NO spoilers. :)

North and South at first seems to be very much like other period dramas. The story told through the eyes of Margaret Hale (Denby-Ashe) and John Thornton (Armitage). Margaret is a strong young woman who, until the start of the story, lived in the comfortable, green South. (I capitalize the compass points for drama!) Her father uproots Margaret and her mother to move to the cold and dirty North, to a town called Milton, where the cotton industry and poverty rule the streets. John Thornton is the master of a prominent cotton mill - formidable, intelligent, to-drool-over without his cravat on... Moving on. The story revolves around how Margaret conforms to the ways of the North, how she adapts and learns to understand the people who live there - including the apparently unscrupulous Mr. Thornton.

We loved it. It is becoming our next Jane Eyre.

That is my brief version. :) I don't blame you if you chose to read the itsy-bitsy version and leave the rest and go about your daily life. But you see, I have *so* many thoughts on the movie that I simply had to continue writing about it, so my more in depth and spoiler-filled thoughts are as follows...

North and South seems, at first, to be like other period dramas. It is a perfect mix of a Jane Austen-like story, in the world of a Charles Dickens tale. Who could ask for more?!

Upon settling in Milton, Margaret's first acquaintances are the Thorntons, who own the most prominent cotton mill in Milton, Marborough Mill. And here is where you meet the leading man - Mr. John Thornton, Master of Marborough Mill. I loved how he was introduced: First viewed by Margaret, standing over his workrooms, and then, in a flying rage, beating a worker for smoking on the job. You immediately dislike him (despite his dreamy British qualities) - and so does Margaret. It fits! Finally, the prejudiced young woman *and* the audience doesn't like him much! I mean, who really didn't like Mr. Darcy, despite his incivility? Incivility doesn't affect an audience, nay, the more incivility the better, but to beat a helpless worker? To shout at her, telling her to get lost?

The characters in this story are very 3-dimensional. Mr. Thornton starts out seeming harsh, and slowly, through all four hours of the show, you see his depths. He isn't so bad, not at all. He is a self-made man, a sensible, clever man, who, despite his hard outward appearance necessary for his trade, is sensitive as well. His mother, Mrs. Hannah Thornton (Cusack), developed very much like her son - you begin by thinking she is an annoying, uppity, harsh woman, but as time goes on you see that she loves her son to death and her pride for him is explained. Some of the best scenes in the entire movie are between John and his mother. John's father died when he was young, so John and his mother have a close relationship - while his sister Fanny, who gave an absolutely hilarious performance - is just tolerated.

Margaret and her family are interesting, as well, though her parents aren't the most lively of people. Her mother is ill and her father is slightly simple, but neither are stupid. Margaret acts as the head of the family, independent and confident, though conforming to the ways of the North was a hard process. She befriends the workers, and as time goes on, she becomes familiar with the North, calls it her home as warmly as she before called the South so.

Margaret and John's relationship is hilter-kilter throughout. They begin on very bad terms, what with Margaret's deep loathing of him. They end up arguing at every meeting and generally make a mess of every conversation. However, Margaret is different than a stereotypical prejudiced young lady. She learns, she doesn't hold onto her grudges. Her opinions change, and though she once thought John was a harsh, horrible man, she adapts as she finds the reasoning to his methods.

All in all, it was a very enjoyable performance. The actors were great - Richard Armitage, whom we had never seen in anything before this, was really good (and so pale, my heavens.) His character had equal portions of acting with intensity, and with subtlety. Not many actors are equally good at both, but Richard aced it. Daniela Denby-Ashe was also a newbie for us, however, we liked her immensely. I love her eyebrows! She was really, really great at subtle acting, just the slightest change to her facial expression conveyed exactly what she was thinking about. And Sinead Cusack? Wow, she was fantastic, really awesome character portrayal and that accent...

We were also really impressed by how pretty the movie was - the colors and feel of all of the settings and clothes really reflected the story and setting. Very pretty colors; muted and dingy in the North, colorful and vibrant in the South.

I want to watch it again, already! We've watched it twice so far, but I have a feeling it's going to be viewed many more a time.


P.S. I promise that do so *not* have a thing for period drama guys with open shirt necks! What an accusation... Cross my fingers - I mean - heart!


Friday, August 29, 2008

successfully entertained me :)



House of Eliott
[BBC, 1991]

Starring:
Louise Lombard
Stella Gonet

average rating:
~
performance:
screenplay:
plot/storyline:
cinematography:
~
20's Fashion, lol

"House of Elliot" is a BBC TV drama made in the early 90's, about two sisters in the early 20's. Right before this, I had been on an "Alias" streak (because "Alias" is awesome, most of the time). The only movie store that owns all the seasons of Alias is a Vision Video in town, and when we made the trip over there and found that one of the discs we wanted was checked out, we had to find something else to occupy our designated, very important movie time.

So we were scouring the shelves (and finding the most entertaining box covers and old shows, but nothing we wanted to spend money on) when we came across a few BBC series. We like BBC, in general, they make such fun dramas, and when we saw "House of Eliott" we were interested, but we passed because it looked rather ancient. We know about ancient - aesthetics dictate that "ancient" when applied to "movies" often produce "awful." It's like 'i before e, except after c': it's true the majority of the time, but once in a while you find something that breaks the rule.

However, not but a few days after that a friend of ours (Sarraahhh) told us she had been watching "House of Eliott" and we about died. How weird is that? So we trollop over to the movie store again and pick up a few discs, though already forewarned that the series was "about practically nothing, but very hooking all the same."

And very true that is. The starring characters of "House of Eliott" are the two strong-minded Eliott sisters; Beatrice (Bea), who is a slightly conservative, nearly-middle-aged spinster; and Evangeline (Evie) who is a creative, beautiful, and innovative young woman. The two sisters, having been used to wealth, comfort, and seclusion, are suddenly left flailing in society when their father dies and leaves them no money and a slowly emerging scandal. While the two sisters (who are very close) struggle to find fair jobs in 1920 London, they stumble upon a few lovable characters and a few not-so-lovable ones. Jack Maddox, a popular photographer, takes Beatrice on as a secretary and becomes a very lovable part of the cast as the charming, sarcastic, supportive and (at first) somewhat questionably respectable best friend.

The acting is really quite splendid for a series that was broadcast by BBC in the early 90's. We've seen plenty of horrifying BBC productions from the early ages (haha), and in comparison, and actually in general, the acting is great. The two sisters are very, very natural together. *applauds*

The plot line is very simple, but at the same time it grabs your attention. The characters face ordinary troubles, yet you are just dying to know how they resolve them. Also, the feel of the 20's is always present, especially since the series evolves until the sisters own their own dressmaking business. The clothes are outrageous (I love them) and they are very consistent with their manner of speaking and the social ladder and the jazz music (which sends Mum into the realms of insanity).

We are only three discs into the first series, so I will post another review for the second season. Still, I would recommend this series to anyone who loves British people, adores simplistic stories, is infatuated with all things British + Simplistic + Slightly-Over-Dramatized....(I do!) Anyway, I can't wait to get on with the story. :)


Friday, March 7, 2008

Bringing Up Baby
[RKO Radio Studio, 1938]

Starring:
Katherine Hepburn
Cary Grant
Charlie Ruggles

average rating:
~
performance:
screenplay:
plot/storyline: ★
cinematography: ★
~
Comedy

Ohhhh, this has the be the funniest movie I've ever seen. It is so funny.

The story is about a very conservative young paleontologist named David Huxely (Grant), who is hoping for a certain wealthy old woman to donate her million dollar fortune to his museum, so he can finish his giant dinosaur fossil (a prop that looks to be made from cardboard bones...). In a series of misadventures, he meets a quick-tongued, scatterbrained young woman named Susan Vance (Hepburn), and chaos ensues. Though it seems like weeks, the two are only together for two days, in which hilarious things happen, such as Susan procuring a pet leopard named "Baby" from her brother. The title of the movie is generally stupid - they never "bring up" baby at all, but most of the plot revolves around the leopard and their problems with it. But the real point of the movie is that Susan immediately falls in love with David and when she finds that he is to be married to a strict young lady on Sunday, she goes out of her silly way to keep him by her side.

Despite the fact that this movie was made in '38, the acting is shockingly good. Both Grant and Hepburn are in roles they never had and never again stepped into (so far as I've seen). They were nothing like their stereotypical characters - the suave Grant and the intelligent Hepburn. They have really great chemistry and their acting was so natural, for example, at one point David was irritated with Susan and so he fakes choking her with his hands. You just never see such natural actions and gestures in old movies like that!

Anyway, if you ever get the insane urge to watch an old movie, don't pick up a Grace Kelly movie or, heaven forbid, an Alfred Hitchcock... go pick up "Bringing Up Baby." Or most things with Grant or K. Hepburn. :)

Thursday, March 6, 2008

National Treasure
[2005]

Starring:
Nicholas Cage
Justin Bartha
Sean Bean
Diane Krueger
Jon Voigt

average rating:
~
performance:
screenplay:
plot/storyline: ★
cinematography: ★
~
Action/Adventure

This is a very good movie, actually. We watched it last night, on a whim and a lack of library movies. For reasons later disclosed, I really like this movie, its so gripping. :D

Nicholas Cage, despite his extreme hairline, is really good in this. He plays a man named Benjamin Gates, who is obsessed with both American history and finding a legendary, historical treasure. Along with him is his technical genius, Riley (Bartha), who provides most of the humor and good fashion in the movie (I love everything he wears. That velvet suit jacket is AWESOME). Diane Krueger plays a historian who is dragged into the whole treasure hunt when Ben is forced to steal the Declaration of Independence before his former partner does.

The movie is quick-paced, interesting, and chock-full of historical facts. And, with an official oh my, it managed to stay within a PG rating. Kind of shocking, really. The entire film is clean and fun. Bravo to the director or whoever made that decision!

P.S. Nicholas Cage is actually moderately attractive with a hat on. That hair...

The Bourne Ultimatum
[2007]

Starring:
Matt Damon
Julia Stiles
Jean Allen

average rating:
~
performance:
screenplay:
plot/storyline:
cinematography:
~
Action

This was quite the disappointment. I admit that I was all excited to learn the rest of Jason Bourne's story. But this did not live up to my expectations, I wouldn't even say that it didn't live up to the Bourne story at all.

The beginning was actually quite promising, but the movie quickly plunged into a déjà vu-ish combination of the first two movies. There was little more discovered about Jason, and everything that was discovered was information one might have figured out on their own. The camera shots, while interesting in the first two movies, jumped off the deep end. Everything was shot by hand-held cameras, making every scene choppy and hard to watch.

If you have seen the first two movies, I recommend finishing the series, but I do wish it had been better. :(
The Bourne Supremacy
[2004]

Starring:
Matt Damon
Joan Allen
Brian Cox
Franka Potente

average rating: ★½
~
performance:
screenplay: ★
plot/storyline: ★
cinematography: ★
~
Action

"The Bourne Supremacy" was just as good as the first. It flows really well, introducing new characters and plot twists nicely. The character of Jason Bourne develops really well, through the subtle acting of Matt Damon. And, unlike many, many trilogies, this middle movie was a movie in itself, with a beginning, middle, and end. I was really impressed by that. Take the "Pirates" trilogy - the second movie was terrible and couldn't sustain itself at all.

Never Been Kissed
[1999]

Starring:
Drew Barrymore
Micheal Vartan
David Arquette
Jessica Alba
Leelee Sobieski
Molly Shannon

average rating:
~
performance:
screenplay: ★
plot/storyline: ★
cinematography: ★
~
Romantic Comedy

Why did this so loved movie get two stars from us? Perhaps it is the fact that Drew Barrymore has a seriously deformed face that Mother and I find hard to admire, yes, even to look at. Perhaps it is the fact that Micheal Vartan's hair curled much too far down the back of his neck. Perhaps it is the fact that John C. Reilly looks like pig. But I think I will set all of these vain, shallow reasons aside to allow for something more interesting, something more substantial. After all, there are many a movie in which we ignore deformities and haircuts, Jane Eyre (2006) for instance.

No, it was something else that spurred me to take the remote and speed through half the movie. I think that something was because the movie was, um, boring. Predictable. Same old. Simpering. Lame. Generally what defines a O.M.G. movie.

Runaway Bride
[1999]

Starring:
Julia Roberts
Richard Gere
Joan Cusack

average rating:
~
performance:
screenplay: ★
plot/storyline: ★
cinematography: ★
~
Romantic Comedy


So. I'm not even going to elaborate much on this movie. It was from 1999, so what can we really expect, but it was terrible anyway.

About a Boy
[2002]

Starring:
Hugh Grant
Nicholas Hoult
Toni Colette
Rachel Weisz

average rating:
~
performance:
screenplay:
plot/storyline:
cinematography:
~
Comedy

"About a Boy" is about how a very immature man is taught to grow up by a very mature boy. As you can guess, Hugh Grant plays this very immature man, named Will, who, on the lookout for hot single mom's, attends a "Single Parents Alone Together" meeting. From here, he meets a 12-year-old kid named Marcus (Hoult), who is entirely geeky. Pretty soon into the story you find that Marcus's mother has serious depression problems and tries to commit suicide at one point. After that, Marcus begins to drop by Will's house every day. They develop a reluctant relationship and Will learns to grow up.

The movie was really very funny. Hugh Grant played a moderately different character (who didn't stutter!!) and one of the funnest parts was that both Will and Marcus narrated the story. They would interject their thoughts into random parts of the story. It was really cute. Also, the kid who played Marcus was really good, and however horrible his haircuts may have been, he was funny.

This was yet another movie worth watching! Good laughs, cute story.

I'm about to post the movies that weren't worth watching, so hold your horses. :)

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Bourne Identity

Starring:
Matt Damon
Franka Potente
Chris Cooper

average rating: ★
~
performance: ★
screenplay:
plot/storyline:
cinematography:
~
Action

This was a really good movie. I'd heard good things about it and all, but this surpassed my expectations.

Matt Damon does a really great job. He plays an amnesiac who is slowly learning who he was - and that person was not someone good. Franka Potente is interesting playing his only friend throughout the film, a cute sort of romance among the impressive fighting scenes and CIA computers.


The story is so clever, which is half the reason the movie is so good. Everything to do with Jason Bourne (Damon) is awesome. He is such a complex character, having been previously programmed to be a lethal genius, and to never make mistakes, strategically, at least. Now that he has amnesia, he still has all of those skills, but doesn't know why. The movie is generally split into Jason and Marie (Potente) driving around the world in her little Mini Cooper and the CIA trying to track his moves. There are also some fantastic fighting and chase scenes.

Unlike many trilogies, the movie wraps itself up as a first, but with just enough loose ends to make a second. I don't think I've watched enough action movies to rightfully assume such an opinion, but I would say (if I watched lots of action movies, mind you) that it's a notch above the rest. (But I don't watch a lot of action movies, mind you.) :P

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Hairspray
[2007]

Starring:
Nikki Blonsky
John Travolta
Michelle Pffiefer
Zac Efron
Amanda Bynes
Christopher Walken
Elijah Kelley
Queen Latifah

average rating:
~
performance:
screenplay:
plot/storyline:
cinematography:
~
Musical

This was a really fun, colorful movie! If any of you have ever seen the old "Hairspray," you will be very impressed by this remake. Without changing much of the context at all, they reworked the movie into something entertaining and interesting. The 60's theme is so consistent, from the clothes to the colors and the racial issues.

Each of the actors were great as each of their characters. Nikki Blonsky could act, sing, smile, be chubby and still be absolutely adorable. John Travolta was absolutely hilarious as Mrs. Turnblad, dressed in a giant fat-suit, with long hair and make-up. John Travolta is tall, too, so he was gigantic. The rest of the cast consisted of Christopher Walken (always funny), Zac Efron (who was just okay, but he fit his character), Michelle Pffiefer (the evil Barbie Doll), Amanda Bynes (who was cute, but sort of mute) and Queen Latifah (as big as usual).

The songs were actual bearable, too, and the story was just altered enough so that everything fit into an actual story. Anyway, it was worth the watch, quite cute. :)

Monday, February 11, 2008

13 Going On 30
[2004]

Starring:
Jennifer Garner
Mark Ruffalo

average rating:
~
performance:
screenplay:
plot/storyline:
cinematography:
~
Comedy

We honestly thought that this movie was going to be horrible. The title "13 Going On 30" is not very promising for our type of movie. But we were wrong. "13" happens to be a really cute movie.

Jennifer Garner was absolutely adorable (as always). Her character is Jenna, a 13-year-old girl who wants nothing more than to fit in with the popular crowd. At her 13th birthday, her best friend Mattie gives her a model of her dream home and dusts it with a powder that is supposed to make dreams come true. After a few misadventures, Jenna knocks the dust onto herself and wakes up 30, all her dreams come true.

With an awesome performance by Jennifer Garner, Jenna discovers how she's lived her life since being 13, how she became editor of her favorite childhood magazine, how she never spoke her best friend Mattie (Ruffalo) anymore, how everyone thought she was a jerk. There are some really funny bits that just scream 13-years-old at you and some cute, real scenes.

I think one reason I liked the movie was because it wasn't really about love, and it wasn't really about fitting in, and it wasn't really about friendship, though those things were combined, the movie was really about making choices. And, of course, being careful what you wish for.

It was a funny, enjoyable watch, all in all, with some really great songs from the 80's. Lol, I'm kind of kidding... Liz Phair, Billy Joel, Lillix, Rick Springfield... If you want some serious songs stuck in your head...

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Notting Hill

Starring:
Hugh Grant
Julia Roberts

average rating: ★
~
performance:
screenplay:
plot/storyline:
cinematography:
~
Romantic Comedy

Notting Hill was actually much funnier than we thought it was going to be. I'd heard of it once, but that had been before I knew who on earth Hugh Grant was, and had thought it was just a silly romance.

Hugh Grant was hilarious, giving his stereotypical Hugh Grant performance (stuttering, thinking of ridiculous things to say, getting himself into ridiculous positions). His character was only slightly different from the characters in, say, Love Actually, or Music and Lyrics. He played a divorced British chap named William who lived in a flat with an insane Welshman and owned a travel-book store. I loved his character. But Julia Roberts wasn't so good. Her character was lame, as a matter of fact, and didn't deserve Hugh's character at all. She played a stereotypical movie star named Anna Scott who doesn't enjoy fame, who has a fling with a Brit while shooting some movie near Notting Hill (the village William lives in). Goo to you. Her mouth is too big, anyway.

The screenplay was hilarious, with lots of little lines that you might miss the first time. William's flatmate was equal parts funny and disgusting, while his family was 3 dimensional and cute. But the story was lame, honestly, the whole "movie star falls in love with regular chap" crap was really flat. If there had been an interesting spin on it, it might have been cool. But nope.

However, if you're a person with a good sense of humor and keen ears who is looking for a good laugh, watch it.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Sweet Home Alabama
[2002]

Starring:
Reese Witherspoon
Josh Lucas
Patrick Dempsey-Wempsey

average rating: ★
~
performance:
screenplay:
plot/storyline:
cinematography:
~
Romance

Sweet Home Alabama is a rather sweet movie, really. Lol, excuse the pun (if that counts for a pun...). Reese Witherspoon (who is so cute) plays a woman named Melanie Smooter who grew up in Hick-Town before moving away to NY to start a new life. Melanie changes her last name to Carmicheal, starts a fashion business, and tries to forget that she ever had connections with the fashionless, dirty, thick-accented losers from Alabama.

When her gushily perfect NY boyfriend (Dempsey-Wempsey) proposes to her, she is forced to take a trip back to Alabama to force her husband/ex-husband, Jake Perry, (Lucas) to sign the divorce papers that he's been blatantly refusing for seven years. Well, you can guess how it goes. She reacquaints herself with the simple ways of the south.

The acting is pretty good, the story is sweet, and the southern accents are hilarious.

P.S. If you are wondering to what tone I use the term "Dempsey-Wempsey," it is strong sarcasm and contempt... i think he's nasty!
The Mask of Zorro
[1998]

Starring:
Antonio Banderas
Catherine Zeta-Jones
Anthony Hopkins
Stuart Wilson

average rating: ★
~
performance: ★
screenplay:
plot/storyline:
cinematography:
~
Action Adventure

I'm sure there's everyone's seen the Mask of Zorro, so I'll cut the story bit. I'll just say that Antonio Banderas has very pretty eyes and that the movie was very silly. Entertaining, though, had quite a few funny lines. Mostly it was silly.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Mrs. Bradley Series
[1998, 2000]

Starring:
Diana Rigg
Neil Dudgeon
Peter Davidson
and guest appearances of:
Phyllida Law
David Tennant
etc.

average rating: ★
~
performance: ★
screenplay:
plot/storyline:
cinematography:
~
Mysteries set in the 20's... Rad fashion... Lovely acting...

I personally loved the Mrs. Bradley series. We had picked it up at the library once before, neglected to watch it because it looked really lame, and returned it. We didn't even think about it again until Mom reserved "The Avengers," which Diana Rigg
stars in, and somehow we wound up with the Mrs. Bradley mysteries on our T.V. room floor again. And I'm very glad we did.

Diana Rigg and Neil Dudgeon were great. Diana plays a smart, stylish, witty lady (and oldish lady), Adela Bradley, who works as an investigator and is very knowledgeable in all things Freudian. She is really great, her voice is awesome. With her is her endearingly loyal chauffeur, George Moody (Dudgeon), who always helps her with her mystery. If he wasn't in the series, I wouldn't have watched all of the episodes. They act together really, really naturally and it was very cute.

The stories were really silly, with lots of stabbing, bloodiness, choking, screaming and all that jazz. The mysteries were not necessarily predictable (we had fun guessing the culprits) but they were very silly.

The series are set in the 20's, and with the 20's comes the fashion and the music. Mrs. Bradley wears a different outfit every day, consisting of an outrageous hat and dress. At the beginning of each episode there is a really funny little song, and all of the rest is lots of crazy jazz. It's really quite hilarious.

Anyway, however tacky or silly this show might have been, there were many points at which we laughed out loud, wondered (with some concern) what was going to happened, and smiled.
Send Me No Flowers
[1964]

Starring:
Rock Hudson
Doris Day
Tony Randall

average rating: ★
~
performance:
screenplay: ★
plot/storyline: ★
cinematography: ★
~
Comedy

Life With Father
[1947]

Starring:
William Powell
Irene Dunn
Jimmy Lydon
Elizabeth Taylor

average rating:
~
performance:
screenplay:
plot/storyline:
cinematography:
~
Comedy

Miss Congeniality 2

average rating:

~
performance: ★

screenplay: ★

plot/storyline: ★
cinematography: ★★

~
Comedy
Mansfield Park
[Masterpiece Theatre, 2007]

Starring:
Billie Piper
Blake Ritson
Haley Atwell

average rating: ★
~
performance: ★
screenplay: ★
plot/storyline: ★
cinematography: ★
~
Jane Austen

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Odd Couple
[1968]

Starring:
Walter Mattau
Jack Lemmon
Herb Edelman

average rating: ★
~
performance: ★
screenplay: ★
plot/storyline: ★
cinematography: ★
~
Comedy


While You Were Sleeping
[1995]

Starring:
Sandra Bullock
Bill Pullman
Peter Gallagher
Peter Boyle
Jack Warden
Glynis Johns

average rating: ★
~
performance: ★
screenplay: ★
plot/storyline: ★
cinematography: ★
~
Comedy

Spitfire Grill
[1996]

Starring:
Alison Elliot

average rating: ★
~
performance: ★
screenplay: ★
plot/storyline: ★
cinematography: ★
~
oh the DRAMMMMMAAAAA

heartBREAKeRS
[2001]

Starring:
Sigourney Weaver
Jennifer Love-Hewitt
Jason Lee
Gene Hackman
Ray Liotta

average rating: ★
~
performance: ★
screenplay: ★
plot/storyline: ★
cinematography: ★
~
Comedy

Monday, January 21, 2008

Northanger Abbey
[Masterpiece Theatre, 2007]

Starring:
Felicity Jones
JJ Fields
Carey Mulligan

average rating: ★
~
performance: ★
screenplay: ★
plot/storyline: ★
cinematography: ★
~
Jane Austen

Friday, January 18, 2008

High School Musical
[2006]

Starring:
Zac Efron
Vanessa Anne Hudgens
Ashley Tisdale
Corbin Bleu

average rating: ★
~
performance: ★
screenplay: ★
plot/storyline: ★
cinematography: ★★
~
Disney Channel High School Cliche

High School Musical, to put it simply, has no good aspects, period. We thought that it might at least be funny, since there was so much fuss about it. The reviews for the movie on
www.imdb.com were, for the most part, ecstatic, saying how much they adored this Disney movie, how it was the best Disney Channel movie EVER and how it was cute and sweet and brought them back to their high school days.

Whoa.

The performances of main characters were ridiculously lame. I realize that the film isn't meant to be taken serious, but this was worse than just goofy. It was bad acting. Each one of those Disney stars (who were 18 through 22 years old, by the way) could have played their characters with more grace and reality, even if the movie was going for unrealistically cheesy.

The screenplay had about two lines that I found myself laughing at, but the rest was a ridiculous jumble of stupidness and mushiness. Ack. The story was all about peer pressure (fahhhhh, I'm so sick of peer pressure) and was otherwise stuffed with the same old high school cliches. Yeah, thanks, but we already learned about high school cliches in about thirty thousand other movies, such as Mean Girls and so forth. *scream*


Anyway, I don't have much more to say on the subject of this movie, because I honestly don't give a crap about it. It was stupid, cheesy, lame, not really funny, cliched, disgusting, blecky, and ultimately not worth watching.

Oh, and I didn't mention that the singing was excruciating. Efron and Hudgens were horrific, their voices edited to the point of vulgarity in the studio. Why couldn't they just let them sing? I guess they were just that bad.
Persuasion
[2007]

Starring:
Sally Hawkins
Rupert Penry-Jones

average rating: ★★★
~
performance: ★★
screenplay: ★★
plot/storyline: ★★
cinematography: ★★
~
19th Century England/Romance/Society

Exciting news! Masterpiece Theater is hosting a new 2008 Classic Series this winter beginning with the Complete Jane Austen. The lineup of Austen adaptations include: Persuasion, Northanger Abbey, Mansfield Park, Miss Austen Regrets, Pride and Prejudice, Emma and Sense and Sensibility.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/masterpiece/austen/index.html

Masterpiece Theater has also updated a few of the Jane Austen adaptations: Persuasion, Northanger Abbey, Mansfield Park, and a new film called, Miss Austen Regrets.
The first presentation in the Complete Jane Austen was Persuasion, Sunday, January 13, starring Sally Hawkins and Rupert Penry-Jones. This Austen story is about love and social classes, as are most of her novels. Below is the film's summary from MT's website:

Unhappily unmarried at age 27, and dealing with family financial peril, hope is fading from Anne Elliot's (Sally Hawkins, Little Britain) life. Circumstances bring Captain Frederick Wentworth (Rupert Penry-Jones, Casanova), a dashing naval officer she once deeply loved, back into her life eight years after Anne was persuaded by her family to reject his marriage proposal. Having returned from sea with a new fortune, Wentworth is surrounded by swooning women while Anne broods at the periphery, longing to be in Wentworth's favor. Now Anne comes face-to-face with the deep regret of her old decision, and her abiding love for Wentworth, as she wonders if a long ago love can be rekindled.

Sally Hawkins' performance as Anne Elliot was very good, and she did a fine job portraying Anne's situation; nearly too old for any marriage considerations, heartbroken from her long-ago love, and worried for her family's change in financial and social standing.

Rupert is a pleasant improvement as the British love-interest in this new adaptation. His portrayal of Captain Frederick Wentworth is good, although a little sparse, but his scenes seem to be enough to pull off the story's plot.
My only negative comment regarding this film, would be the fact that it's just too short. They crammed an entire Austen novel into 1 1/2 hours film time. Even the 1995 adaptation was longer, more detailed, and presented a more complete story line.

As Austen fans, Caroline and I are delighted to see Masterpiece Theater continue to update these excellent classics. (we LOVE last year's new Jane Eyre)

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Charade
[1963]

Starring:
Audrey Hepburn
Cary Grant
Walter Mattau

average rating: ★★★
~
performance: ★★
screenplay: ★★
plot/storyline: ★★
cinematography: ★★
~
Murder Mystery / Romance

Charade is a very silly movie, actually, though I'm sure that back in the 60's it was considered scary. When we first watched it, however, I do remember thinking that it had a good plot for the era, one that was genuinely unpredictable.

The story centers around a young woman named Regina Lambert (Hepburn) who's husband recently died, leaving her with three thugs on her tail, chasing her for a quarter of a million dollars that they think she simply must have. At first she seems to have a man named Peter Joshua (Grant) on her side, a man whom she falls in love with. But is he really Peter Joshua, and who's side is he really on? Meanwhile, a man from the American Embassy, Mr. Bartholomew (Mattau) claims that this quarter of a million dollars belongs to the government, though he is someone who seems to really be on her side.

Performances of Audrey and Cary are the same as they are in any of their other movies, but just as endearing. One of the best parts of the movie is when Cary Grant, after being coaxed to take a shower in Audrey's room, stubbornly and hilariously takes a shower in his full suit, claiming that it was a "drip-dry" suit and that the manufacturers recommended it to keep the suit in shape.

The movie is quick-paced and funny - definitely worth the watch.

[poster courtesy of moviegoods.com]
The Sound of Music
[Rogers & Hammerstein, 1965]

Starring:
Julie Andrews
Christopher Plummer

average rating: ★
~
performance:
screenplay: ★
plot/storyline: ★
cinematography: ★★
~
Musical... hence Julie Andrews being in it...