This time of year is the dumping ground for new movies. The
film industry hopes you are checking out the Oscar contenders, but if not they
still fill the theaters with product. Here are a list of movies that I have no
interest in seeing and will probably end up on DVD or streaming soon. The brief
commentary I give is based on Entertainment Weekly and The Dallas
Morning News reviews. So spend your money wisely – welcome to the winter
Hail Caesar – Coen brothers salute to Hollywood
with an all-star cast. I’ve heard mixed things – I think it could be amusing if
you don’t expect a lot. George Clooney plays a matinee idol screen star who’s
dumb as a stump and kidnapped for ransom. Hijinks ensue
The Choice – more Nicholas Sparks claptrap.
Boy meets girl. Can boy woo girl? Drama ensues
The Boy – creepy horror, if you like that
thing. I heard this was actually okay for the genre
Fifty Shades of Black – the Wayans brothers
make fun. No doubt some cheap laughs
Dirty Grandpa – even Zac Ephron with his shirt
off can’t save this one
13 Hours: Secret Soldiers of Benghazi – better
to read the book or watch the news
The Finest Hours – bad accents at sea. Better
to read the true story book
Jane Got a Gun = oh Natalie Portman, you can
The 5th Wave – young adult angst
and end of the world
Ride Along 2 – Kevin Hart is really funny but
I heard this was a complete repeat of Ride Along 1. Surely Ice Cube and Kevin
could have been more original
Daddy’s Home – this actually sounded very
amusing and got decent reviews. I just never made it to the theater. Will
Ferrell is the awesome, upstanding stepfather. Mark Wahlberg is the deadbeat
dad back in the picture. Competition and hijinks ensue.
After reading this list………maybe get back to your Netflix
streaming – so many good shows, so little time (check out Chelsea Handler's four documentaries. Also watch Australia's very funny Dreamland)
Harper Lee passed away on Friday at the age of 89. She won the Pulitzer Prize for her book To Kill a Mockingbird, now an American treasure. She continued to live in Alabama, and stayed true to her roots and valued her privacy. The book, her words, shall live on......
p. 9 Maycomb was an old town, but it was a tired old town when I first knew it. In rainy weather the streets turned to red slop: grass grew on the sidewalks, the courthouse sagged in the square. Somehow it was hotter then....
The story is told by Scout, a tomboy nine-year old girl now grown up - looking back and reflecting....
Scout, her older brother Jem, friend Dill (based on boyhood friend, Truman Capote), and father Atticus Finch - the noble lawyer - these characters come alive on the page. It's a small town southern tale, and a powerful story covering racism. It's an American story. And there's the elusive neighbor Boo Radley.
It's a family story with a strong father He turned out the light and went into Jem's room. He would be there all night, and he would be there when Jem waked up in the morning
If for some bizarre reason, you have never read To Kill a Mockingbird, stop reading this blog, go get the book, start reading, and don't stop. If you had to read it for school as a kid, now read it as an adult. Oh you'll appreciate it all the more.
and if you have never seen the movie version, well for goodness sake, Gregory Peck embodies Atticus Finch. It's a worthy version of the book.
If you have never read Jane Austen’s Pride and
Prejudice, well shame on you. It’s a literary classic in a good way.
And if the movie version doesn’t bring to mind Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy…well,
never mind. This just isn’t for you. But…if you are all things Austen, then
make haste to see Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. What
sounds horribly wrong actually works. Seth Grahame-Smith did the mash-up
version. He was loyal to the book and language and threw in a zombie apocalypse
for good measure. The book was quite humorous and now on the big screen, it is
a kick-ass tale from the 1800s.
Elizabeth Bennet (the lovely Lily James) is “a ruthless
slayer of the undead hordes” (Time mag.). She and her four sisters still seek
husbands to ensure financial security, and much of the movie still embraces the
manners and morals of the time. Elizabeth meets her match with Sam Riley’s
Darcy – together they pinwheel through the air wielding weapons. Their
swordplay and wordplay prove to be electric. Elizabeth looks out for her
older sister Jane (charming Bella Heathcote) who must marry first and falls for
the dashing new neighbor. But are the Bennets worthy? There’s quite the dance,
but love indeed wins out and zombies are slayed too.
Intelligence is key to the Austen primer. Fortunately “our
Elizabeth is fully capable of taking care of herself, but it’s still nice to
have a man around the house, especially when zombies are afoot.” (Time)
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is a lark in
all the good ways.
From the opening credits to the final post credit teaser, Deadpool
is snarky, spiky, and hilarious. This is the anti-Marvel super
hero who protests, “I’m no hero”. Instead self-mockery has him busting the
fourth wall. He turns and talks to his audience, lets us in on the joke. Ryan
Reynolds has finally received the perfect role. He can show off those abs as
he’s tossing a Sexiest Man Alive magazine. He voices a smirk with every line
and we eat it up. This is a perfect date movie – action, crazy violence, and
Reynold’s butt. Deadpool is very, very R – do not bring your
Director Tim Miller keeps things hopping. We meet Deadpool
as he’s shooting up some bad guys. Flashback to Wade Wilson, a slick mercenary
diagnosed with cancer. He’s got the perfect girlfriend, Vanessa (lovely and
smart Morena Baccarin) – a montage of their “fun” together is a highlight reel
of HOT holidays. Trust me. Wade turns to evil Ajax (Francis played by Ed
Skrein) to cure his cancer, but alas he is turned into a mangled face
cancer-free mutant. Wade dons his red spandex, becomes Deadpool and seeks
revenge for losing his face and (perhaps?) his girl (his choice).
The whole time he’s shooting or sword slashing, he’s
mouthing commentary – lots of culture references along with a Hugh
Jackman/Wolverine salute. It’s all in good fun. I keep using that word because
this movie does not take itself seriously. It’s truly crazy amusing, fast
paced, nutso entertainment.
A week ago Tuesday evening, Ray and I headed to The University of Texas at Arlington for another segment of the Maverick Speaker Series. This one presented former Texas Congressman, Ron Paul. In a one hour speech he discussed "Liberty Defined and The Future of Freedom".
Interesting man of conviction. He has been a "consistent spokesman for limited constitutional government, low taxes, free markets, and a return to sound monetary policies based on commodity-backed currency." (from the program blurb)
I have to say he was like a grandfather rock star to the students in attendance. It was an enthusiastic group with plenty of applause for his tag lines. He told the kids they were inheriting a mess, but it could be cleaned up with common sense. He's an advocate of personal liberty and feels that concept has been hijacked from its true form.
In one hour, he could not flesh out major policies. However, he gave salient points to consider and in an ideal world, a lot of it made sense. He talked fast and threw out a lot of history and where things went right and wrong (in his opinion). My head was spinning by the end - I needed more time to ponder a lot of his theories.
Bottom line - the talk made me think, it made Ray and I talk, and I assume students came away with a reason to do some research and dig deeper into America's issues. It was good to get out of the house on a Tuesday night and meet a maverick - Ron Paul.
Here I am with Dolly. Apparently she was a favorite friend back in the day. But after those very early years, I was not infatuated with dolls or remember playing with them much. I was certainly not a collector.
I remember Thumbelina. She had a wind-up key and from the commercials she should have been kicking her legs and practically rolling over and standing up. False advertising and major disappointment when mine on Christmas morning barely stirred.
Most of my dolls ended up with bad haircuts. I was not handy with scissors anyway. I cut what I knew. Looking in the mirror, all I saw were crooked bangs. I cut 'em, as I saw 'em. My mother wasn't pleased.
As for Barbie, I probably owned one, but it's not memorable. She did not influence my life. Thus I read the 2/8/16 issue of Time Magazine with curiosity. Barbie is on the cover and there's a whole discussion about American beauty, culture attitudes (now there's curvy, tall, and petite sizes), and the message being sent to impressionable brains by a doll.
But, face it - Barbie means bucks for Mattel Corp. If she ain't pulling in the dough, she has to be put out to pasture or reinvented.
And for kids today...do they care about the tangible product or.....is there an app for that?
So - what are your thoughts on Barbie? Were you a doll (or action figure) connoisseur? Any favorites? And how many of you flung your toy from a catapult or had it careening in a toy car off a ramp you created?
Room is absolutely Oscar caliber. Wow. The
book was excellent and now the movie brings it to the screen. The author
adapted the screenplay and that bodes well for quality Wow – I am still blown
The premise – a young girl (age 17) is abducted and stuck in
a garden shed that’s on lock down. She bears a baby from her kidnapper and we
first meet them both in “room”. He’s turning five and she’s twenty-four. Brie
Larson (Joy) deserves an Oscar hands down. Jacob Tremblay (Jack) deserved a
nomination. The performances are touching, nuanced, and amazing.
She’s raised this boy without the “father” seeing him or
being involved. She puts up with Old Nick’s visits and forced sex.(The boy goes
to the closet). She only has a skylight and television to remember the
outside world and freedom. Now that Jack turns five she knows he is her link –
her chance for them to escape. She has to explain concepts of the real world.
At first he doesn’t grasp it, but then thinks things through. He’s reading Alice
in Wonderland and she equates some of the concepts. She works up an
escape plan (I won’t give away details). And it works (this is not a huge
reveal) but has consequences.
The second part of the movie is about re-adaptation to the
real world for her, and new adaptation to a whole new world for Jack. Who does
better? I’m sure you can guess but the journey is fascinating and well
done. Joan Allen as Joy’s mom is always excellent. She thought she lost her
daughter and now she’s back. There are lawyers, media, etc to deal with.
The world has moved on while Joy was stuck in the “room”. For Jack, that
was his “world”.
Room is touching and gives one perspective. I
can’t emphasize enough how well acted this movie is. You feel for Joy. And Jack
is a revelation. ..he’s a newborn at age five. Wow. I keep saying Wow.
Trust me – join me in saying Wow! It’s a tough subject and yet (I’ll give this
away) it ends well. There’s hope for all.
Joanne Faries, originally from the Philadelphia area, lives in Texas with her husband Ray. She considers herself fortunate to be able to pursue a writing career after eons in the business world. Joanne enjoys reading and movies, and is the film critic for the Little Paper of San Saba.