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

Friday, October 28, 2011


Reluctantly I went to see this story of a 27 year old young man ("Adam" played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) diagnosed with Cancer, and his battle to overcome it. I'm not a great fan of movies that include, or focus on disease and show hospitals, but this movie came so highly recommended, that I took a chance, and I'm glad I did.  It was truly excellent.  Brilliantly Directed by Jonathan Levine, written by Will Reiser, all component parts meshed beautifully to create this marvelous film. Acting honors to the entire cast, headed by Gordon-Levitt, whose performance is superb,  (Oscar?) Seth Rogan does a terriffic job playing his best friend (perhaps the best role of his career - so far.)   Anna Kendrick  in a delightful turn as a young (only 24!) psychologist.  And though she doesn't have many scenes, the movie is enhanced by the wonderful presence of Anjelica Huston who plays "Adam's" mother. Yes, it's good for a few tears, but also a lot of smiles.  Well worth your consideration (as we say in the biz.)

Monday, October 24, 2011


Ryan Gosling was great in "Ides of March" yet in "Drive" he possibly surpasses his excellence playing a very different type of role. As a stunt driver for the movies by day, and a "pick up" (waiting at a specified location, for no more than five minutes) driver for hire by criminals at night, willing to pay the price,  Gosling's  performance is simply marvelous.  Amazing car chases and stunts (that I usually don't like) were fascinating. The photography was superb, closeups of his (handsome/photogenic) face, which barely seemed to move, conveyed the exact thought/emotion intended.  This was probably the bloodiest, most violent films I've ever seen, with vicious hands-on attacks so brutal that I had to close my eyes.  Dare I admit I loved this film?  Well, I did.  I also appreciated the acting skill of Alan Arkin, another fine member of the cast.  Carrie Mulligan, playing a neighbor of Gosling's character, supplied a unique love interest with an unexpected sub-plot.  Be prepared to cover your eyes at times-- and enjoy.

Saturday, October 22, 2011


It's always wise to go in with low expectations in order to avoid disappointment. So I did.  Because this film had received luke-warm reviews, I wasn't anticipating anything more than what it was: basically,  to coin a very lame pun,  "for the birds."   Yes,  "The Big Year" was mediocre, even with Jack Black, Steve Martin, and Owen Wilson as main actors. (Brian Dennehey plays Black's father.) Dad  has no interest in birds, and thinks it's a silly waste of time.) The story has to do with the  competition among those who go "birding"  (not, what I, in my ignorance, had always called "bird watching") to establish who can see (and usually photograph) the largest number of different kinds of birds within one calendar year ("The Big Year").    Not all Birders are out to do a Big Year, some just go out anyway.  But if they are trying for a Big Year, well, it includes driving, flying, sailing all over the world to places where the birds are likely to be found!  That means following weather reports, and rumors -- and unfortunately, some mis-direction from some competitors.    Oh, well,  I had my popcorn and a comforttable seat in a nice theater. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


George Clooney has my vote anytime! He and Ryan Gosling, who plays his campaign manager, head up an excellent cast including Paul Giamatti, Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Marisa Tomei.  The plot reveals (and revels in!) the seamy side of politics. (That politics has a seamy side is no surprise, but nevertheless, this "expose" has some surprising twists.)  Running for office is not for sissies, and what happens behind closed doors doesn't always stay behind closed doors.  The story is set during an Ohio Presidential Primary, where all kinds of stuff is going on, such as betrayal, loyalty, friendship, secrets, infidelity (as distinct from "High Fidelity"). This one isn't about baseball, but it covers all the bases needed to make it a winner!  I was particularly impressed with Ryan Gosling's performance. (FYI : Clooney Directed, and also had a hand in bothWriting and Producing.)


If you are a baseball fan, as most people are, you will be ecstatic over this movie!  I know nothing about baseball, and I was never interested in it, yet I loved this film!  Brad Pitt was outstanding, and I wouldn't be surprised if he (and/or the film) get to stand up when Oscar time comes around.   Phillip Seymour Hoffman (whom I barely recognized) also turns in his usual  perfect performance. Based on true events in  baseball history, the story reveals the behind the scenes economic realities that pull the strings that move/trade  players from one ball club to another, or retire them.   Quite a revelation, and brilliantly portrayed.   Especially noteworthy is the work of Jonah Hill, playing the mathematical wizard who computes what (which combination of players) the team should have for success. Apparently Billy Beane is the name of the real life ball player that Brad Pitt plays.   I don't get the constant spitting, that seems to be required by the game, but then, that's just me.  

Thursday, October 13, 2011


So, what if possibly (probably?) Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid didn't die in 1908 as legend had us believing, but instead escaped to Bolivia, and lived there incognito, until about 1927 when this story takes place, well, you have the makings of film with lots and lots of scenery, and lots and lots and lots more of horses galloping (with and without riders), across the endless bleak scenery -- that some folks find beautiful.   I'm not one of them. Nor am I a fan of frequent flashbacks providing (ostensibly providing) plot background.    Sam Shepard plays the aged Cassidy, going by the name of "James Blackthorn" in a small Bolivian village.  He has a local love interest, there's the obligatory "mystery" of money missing from a mine robbery, and a sort of a "buddy" in the wilderness sub-plot.  Eduardo Moriego (really handsome guy) and Shepard take turns saving each other's lives, or chasing and shooting at each other, across the salt flats. Horses die, people die.  Critics liked this film.  Sorry, I was disappointedI found it boring, despite a few scattered scenes of interest (including conversation).  Not that I haven't enjoyed westerns in previous years.    This just wasn't one that I liked. (John Wayne, I miss you. Steeve McQueen, I miss you...)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

"Ides of March"

Before I read some "professional critics" criticism of this film,  I was about to gush all over about it --- because I loved it!   But, in order not to be considered too much of a pushover, I figured I'd have to qualify my enthusiasm by saying that it may not have been magnificent, but I since I wasn't looking for flaws,  I simply enjoyed it! For me, it was a treat just to watch the superb cast - headlined by George Clooney (who doesn't love George?) and Ryan Gosling (exceptionally excellent !) with equally fine performances by Philip Seymour Hoffman (who is always wonderful) and Paul Giamatti. Several other recognizable actors filled out the first rate ensemble cast, telling the sordid (and probably fairly accurate) story of nasty behind the scenes  political campaign strategies. I've never liked politics, so I was not disillusioned by what were probably all too true-to-life goings on.   (Directed by Clooney, in case  you're wondering, and he also participated in writing the screenplay.)