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Visit my previous Blog "Movies and More: Positively Personal Reviews" for my earlier (pre-May 2011) reviews and ramblings.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

"The First Grader"

"Maruge" (pronounced maa-roo-gay) is /was a Mau Mau veteran who survived the tribal wars and the imprisonment (and torture) by the British to emerge at 84 seeking admission to one of the first free public schools in Kenya, where the new government had promised free education to everyone. (Of course they were only expecting children to attend.) Based on a true story -well worth telling -- "Maruge,"  played by the irresistable Oliver Litondo, overcame huge obstacles because he was determined to learn to read. (Eventually his story, including appeals to government officials) made news headlines in the LA Times, the NY Times, and other periodicals.) Finally gaining admission into an elementary classroom, he was fortunate that the principal teacher, "Jane Obinchu" played by Naomi Harris, welcomed him and encouraged him, despite opposition, and even threats.   The children who portrayed his 6 year old classmates (not professional actors) were absolutely marvelous to watch.  I found the flashbacks to "Maruge's" younger days jarring, and difficult to follow, and was not prepared for the violence they revealed (Historically accurate, no doubt). However, this is a powerful and inspiring film well worth seeing.    Justin Chadwick: Director. Litondo and Harris are each worth Four Stars, but as a whole, I will hold back 1/2 Star and call it  THREE and a HALF STARS 

Friday, May 27, 2011

"Jumping the Broom"

OK, so I'm not sophisticated enough to dislike this film, or criticize it because the situation is quite familiar:   Rich, educated girl is engaged to man from a poor (really lower "class") family, and  the in-laws meet for the first time just before the wedding.  Yes, there is a definite culture clash, plus some family secrets emerge.  Agreed, it's not great, but the acting was excellent (Angela Bassett, Lil'Romeo, Mike Epps, and Paula Patton, the names I recognized). Some insightful dialogue about the human condition -- actually a lot of good dialogue, and all in all, taking into account my very personal "enjoyment meter,"  I am saying "E" for Effort and THREE STARS.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


If you are a cinephile -- appreciate the artistry and perfection of a well made, exquisitely acted, beautifully photographed film, then you will find "Poetry" a superb experience.  South Korean Writer/Director Chang-dong Lee has expertly crafted 129 minutes of heart wrenching drama/tragedy.  The heroine "Mija" is played by Jeong-hie Yun, a woman in her mid-sixties who is raising her grandson, a rather obnoxious teen-ager. In some lighting, Yun's beauty radiates, in other scenes, she looks old and tired.  She finds out that her grandson and four other boys in his school have repeatedly raped a girl in their class, who has committed suicide. Employed as a caretaker/maid for a nearly helpless man, I could barely watch "Mija's" scenes with him. This is not a pleasant film. I had to admire the the character Yun plays, and her determination to do the right thing.  I cannot give it the Four Stars it deserves from a technical standpoint because I found it quite sad, and it left me depressed. A far cry from the joy of watching "Midnight in Paris."  Of course, portraying gritty reality can hardly be expected to be lots of laughs.   Sorry,  THREE STARS

Friday, May 20, 2011

"Midnight in Paris"

I laughed, I giggled, I smiled, I laughed some more.  I don't know when I've laughed so much in a movie.  I totally loved this film, written and directed by Woody Allen, and so did the audience.  I'm so grateful I didn't know details about the story ahead of time, so it was a delightful, unique surprise. Really clever!  Suffice to say that a young couple (Owen Wilson -- his best performance ever,  and Rachel McAdams) have gone along to Paris with her parents (perfectly played by Mimi Kennedy and Curtis Fuller), the father having to go there on business.  A dream cast includes the always marvelous Kathy Bates who actually surpasses herself in this role; the irresistible, luminous Marion Cotillard is fabulous. She just couldn't be better!; outstanding Michael Sheen (remember him from "Frost vs Nixon" ?) and Corey Daniel Stoll in a role  you have just got to see to believe!  I don't want to leave anyone out, but the roster of players goes on and on, including Adrian Brody among those you will remember for sure.  A couple of typical Woody Allen trademarks (the Positive ones!): an Homage to a city (Paris, this time not New York), and Music (lots of Cole Porter) to enhance the nostalgia.   I want to see this one again. It is a real winner!   At least FOUR STARS and a loud, enthusiastic HURRAH!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Welcome to Shakti's New Blog!

Dearly Beloved Gentle Readers, known and unknown! I had to start a new blog (with the incomparable help of Guruka Singh) when I changed my email address. I hope those of you who followed my previous blog "Movies and More: Positively Personal Reviews," will be able to find this one. For those of you who are new, and by accident or intent opened this blog, let me say that I don't like 3D, I do like action films, and in the TV arena, I lean toward legal dramas, with, hopefully some humor. ("Fairly Legal" and "Harry's Law" my current favorites.  I definitely like "The Mentalist" and "White Collar."  I was sorry to read that they are canceling "Lie to Me."  Also, I'm addicted to watching "Jeopardy." I appreciate TCM (Turner Classic Movies) and often find oldies but goodies showing on it. Living in L.A. (the City of the Angels) not only gives me easy access to fine Multi-Plex theaters with reserved stadium seating, but there's a wonderful smaller chain, the "Laemmle Theaters," which present great Art and Foreign Films (I appreciate the sub-titles - being somewhat hearing-challenged). Thank you for your patience and kind attention. BTW,  I'm not a "critic" -- I try to avoid seeing films I that I probably won't like, so I read LA Times reviews, and look on "" ahead of time.  I won't see films with torture, kidnapping of children, or other weird stuff.  (Sci-Fi is OK, depending...) So as someone used to say (was it Robert Ebert?), "See you at the movies!"   SP