Movies

Vitus – Movie Review

June 7, 2009 Written by JP

Here’s an intriguing question. What’s it like to live the life of a child prodigy? How would being uncommonly brilliant shape the way you see the world? Would your life be filled with more love or simply the envy of others? This is an experience that most people will never understand. A Swiss film from 2006 called Vitus attempts to explore that very topic and more.

Vitus is the name of the young, title character in the film. At a very early age, his parents discover that he has an extremely refined intellect and a prodigious gift for both mathematics and playing the piano. From the moment of that realization, it shapes all of their lives for better and for worse.
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The Hammer – Movie Review

May 31, 2009 Written by JP

One the benefits of watching a film on Cable TV is that if it’s horrible, you haven’t wasted any money or too much time and can always change the channel. That was my initial thought when watching the first couple of minutes of The Hammer. Luckily, I’m not a very impulsive film viewer. In fact, I’ve been known to watch even the worst films all the way to the bitter end just to see if they somehow manage to redeem themselves.
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The Flying Scotsman – Movie Review

May 24, 2009 Written by JP

In my previous life, I was a motion picture screenwriter. One of the lessons I was taught was that the opening scenes of a script/film should either surprise or inspire wonder in the viewers. The idea is to hook the audience immediately and provoke a desire in them to see what will happen next. It’s like making a memorable first impression on a job interview or date.

The opening sequence in The Flying Scotsman follows a lone man carrying a bicycle through the woods. He’s not riding it. He’s not stopping to rest. He’s just holding it and moving further away from the road and deeper into the forest. Eventually, the man stops and pulls out a rope from a bag and tosses it in the air. The rope loops around a tree branch. It becomes apparent that this is an instrument of death. The intended victim is himself.
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The Diving Bell and the Butterfly – Movie Review

May 10, 2009 Written by JP

We don’t know where we are. Bursts of light and muted images of people move in and out of focus. It soon becomes clear that we’re lying in a hospital bed. There’s quite a commotion going on around us. We wonder, “What are we doing here?”. Is this all just a vivid dream or perhaps a nightmare?

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly puts us inside the body and alongside the thoughts of a man named Jean-Dominque Bauby (“Jean Do”). He’s not a fictional character. Jean was the editor of French Elle magazine in the 1990′s until he suffered a massive stroke that left him completely paralyzed with the exception of the use of his left eye and a fully functioning mind. This is an extremely rare state of being that is known to neurologists as “locked in syndrome”.
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Flash of Genius – Movie Review

May 4, 2009 Written by JP

Every time we ride in the car with the raining pouring down we benefit from the “flash of genius” of one Mr. Robert Kearns. Like many inventors before him, he found a flaw in a commonly used device that has since improved the lives of countless drivers and passengers throughout the world. That fact alone is enough to make him a notable individual. But that’s just the starting point of his life’s story.
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Duma – Movie Review

April 27, 2009 Written by JP

A highway cuts through the heart of a nighttime desert landscape. On it we find an orphaned cheetah cub carefully testing the pavement with every trembling step. His eyes are wide open, his ears stand at full attention. What is this place? He wonders why a bright light is heading right toward him, making an unfamiliar sound. The light draws brighter and closer with each second. The sound roars louder and the ground begins to vibrate. The cub holds steady, not so much out of courage, but rather confused paralysis.

At the last possible moment, the on-coming motorcycle swerves away! Two figures, a man and a child, hop off the bike and approach. The smaller of the two carries a net and places it over the cub, scooping him up just before a thundering commercial truck barrels past. So begins Duma.
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Happy Go Lucky – Movie Review

April 20, 2009 Written by JP

You probably know somebody like Poppy Cross, the lead character in director Mike Leigh’s Happy-Go-Lucky. Someone whose cheerful and positive nature never seems to fade. In good times and bad, her effervescent personality and smile simply cannot be contained. It’s her point of view about life and when others don’t share it, she feels compelled to help them join in her happiness parade. But have you ever wondered what really goes on in the head of someone like that? What makes them tick? Happy-Go-Lucky takes us deep inside the life of one such character. It’s a journey that invariably provides glimpses of joy and laughter, but also a certain sadness that finds any individual who marches to the beat of their own drummer.
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Ghost Town – Movie Review

April 13, 2009 Written by JP

Dr. Bertram Pincus doesn’t like people very much. Actually, he doesn’t mind them, provided that they stay quiet, avoid annoying him in any way and steer clear of engaging him in any form of genuine human interaction. He’s a dentist with a mission: to live his life on his own somber terms without being bothered by his neighbors and patients.

But a funny things happens to Dr. Pincus during the course of a routine colonoscopy. While under general anesthesia, he dies for “almost 7 minutes”. When he comes back to life, a major shift occurs in they way he views the world around him. He is able to see ghosts roaming the streets of New York! But the ghosts are even more surprised that someone can finally see them. Did I mention that this is a comedy?
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Seven Pounds – Movie Review

April 5, 2009 Written by JP

In the opening scene of Seven Pounds we catch an unsettling glimpse of the popular actor Will Smith speaking words that are most unexpected. He’s in a dark motel room talking to someone on the phone. “There’s been a suicide”, Smith says. The 911 operator on the other end of the line replies, “Who’s the victim?”. The chilling reply – “I am”.
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Defiance – Movie Review

March 30, 2009 Written by JP

I’ll admit up front that I’m not a World War II aficionado. But even so, when I first sat down to watch the film Defiance, I really wondered what new things could possibly be said about this well worn period of history. I mean how many films, TV programs and mini-series can be dedicated to one war before things start to become redundant? I don’t know the answer, but I do know that when I screened Defiance I did indeed learn something new and experience the Second World War in a different way than I had before. Read more »


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Soul Men – Movie Review

March 22, 2009 Written by JP

It’s a story as old as time. Three friends from humble beginnings rise up from poverty to form an influential soul band. Their music shines and all the trappings of success come with it. All seems well until the charismatic lead singer decides to splinter off and plot a career path of his own. Read more »


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Last Chance Harvey – Movie Review

March 15, 2009 Written by JP

Last Chance Harvey is a film that has a lot going for it. Right off the bat, you have Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson as the leads. Surrounding their every move is the exciting city of London. Now, toss in the distinct pleasure of watching a film that actually embraces the possibility of romance between two characters that are about twice the age of most actors in similar roles. Read more »


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The Wrestler – Movie Review

March 8, 2009 Written by JP

In his acceptance speech at the Golden Globe Awards, Bruce Springsteen recounted a phone call he received from Mickey Rourke, the star of the critically-acclaimed film, The Wrestler. Mickey asked him to write the title song for the film. Rourke described the story line and offered his thoughts about the lead character, which he plays. With that information in hand, Bruce proceeded to write just such a song. Here are the opening lyrics he came up with: Read more »


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Bottle Shock – Movie Review

March 2, 2009 Written by JP

One of the greatest joys for a cinephile is being introduced to a piece of history that you never knew existed. Bottle Shock provided me with my most recent pleasure of this kind.

The film is based on the true story of the first “blind” wine competition between the reigning champions (the French) and the scrappy newcomers from Napa Valley (in northern California). Read more »


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Academy Award Trivia and Picks

February 22, 2009 Written by JP

Like many of you, we’re joining some friends for an Academy Award party this evening. So instead of my weekly movie review, I thought I’d pay a little tribute to Oscar on his 81st birthday. Read more »


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The Visitor – Movie Review

February 15, 2009 Written by JP

Have you ever watched a movie and seen an actor who looks really familiar, but you just couldn’t place him or remember his name? You think to yourself, “I’ve seen this guy before in lots of films, but which ones”? Such performers are often referred to as “character actors”. One of the best contemporary character actors is Richard Jenkins. At the tender age of 61, he’s finally getting some much deserved attention and a leading role. Read more »


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