And the Winner Is…Thoughts about 2015 Oscars

oscars
Full disclosure, I haven’t seen any of the films that were nominated, except for one, which I couldn’t finish watching because I thought it was pretty bad.

Last night I decided to watch the Oscars last night because it was raining, there was nothing else on and heck I hadn’t watched them for a long time. It could be fun, at least mildly entertaining – I thought.

The emcee for the evening was Neil Patrick Harris (of Doogie Howser and How I Met Your Mother). Opening number was typical Oscar, borderline cheesy but cute. Who knew Neil could sing?

Thoughts:

Why wasn’t he funny? His jokes didn’t land but I couldn’t figure out why.

Did anybody get the whole coming out in his underwear thing?

The predictions gag didn’t deliver

Highlights:

Lady GaGa (looking quite beautiful I might add) did an amazing tribute to Julie Andrews. Who knew she had that kind of range?

Eddie Redmayne’s acceptance speech, adorably boyish, humble and sweet. He could be a character in my stories any day.

John Travolta got his co-presenter’s name correct. And good for him for being able to laugh at himself.

Great performance of Glory the song that won the award. Not a dry eye in the house.

Ben Affleck looked pissed all night. Anybody know why? Maybe his underwear was too tight?

Ironic that the movie that took the ‘big’ awards was about a washed up actor trying to make a comeback. Isn’t that ironic? Actors and show people giving an award to a film about actors and show people? How diverse.

Political statements instead of acceptance speeches:

Some people like this sort of thing. I don’t. I’m not watching to hear about this actor or that actor’s views on politics. I love you Patricia but really? And John are we really still in the same mindset as 50 years ago? And, and, and…

For me, this sort of thing ruins awards shows which are supposed to be fun, glitzy and glamorous. And really, it’s not like celebrities don’t have a million opportunities to spout their personal views. Just saying.

Disappointments:

Nothing for Clint? Shocking. I mean cripes. Nothing for the biggest box office movie of the year? Maybe he needed a struggling actor character in the script?

Best part of the show:

Lady GaGa in a beautiful white gown singing her ever living heart out.

Worst part of the show:

Neil in his underwear.

Your turn. What are your thoughts? Happy about the winners? Wanted somebody else to win? Who had the best dress?

Writer Chick
Copyright 2015

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A Walk Among the Tombstone – Movie Review

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Based on the novel A Walk Among the Tombstones by Lawrence Block

This movie is based on an old Larry Block novel from the Matthew Scudder series. I’m not a huge Block fan but his books are solid and I do find the Scudder character appealing and likeable. So I was certain I would really enjoy the movie. Since I hadn’t read this particular book, I assumed that I wouldn’t have the usual hissy-fit about a poor adaptation that I have when I see movies based on books I know and love.

The story takes place after Scudder has left the police department and is working as a sort of free agent P.I. He’s sworn off alcohol and lives a quiet, albeit lonely life. He’s approached by the brother of a high level drug dealer whose wife was kidnapped and murdered.

Scudder goes to see the drug kingpin and they don’t hit it off, so Scudder passes on the job. Later on, the drug dealer shows up at his place and gives him the real story of what happened. And it’s grisly, cruel and inhuman what these men have done to this guy’s wife.

Scudder decides to take the case. But as he investigates, he discovers that there are other women who have suffered the same fate. All connected to drug dealers, all tortured, raped and killed in sadistic ways. Scudder now has a hard-on to find these degenerates and put an end to them.

For a little comic relief and human interest, we meet a young homeless boy named TJ, who Scudder befriends and helps. He’s a funny, smart alec kid with Sickle Cell Anemia with loads of attitude, some courage and a good heart. Probably the best scenes in the movie, in my opinion.

While I wouldn’t pan the movie – it’s definitely watchable – I don’t necessarily recommend it either. I don’t know if it was Liam Neeson’s portrayal of Scudder or the direction or both but the movie was too glum. And dark. And depressing. And I’ve never found Block’s novels to be that way so I’m assuming it’s the film makers that made that call. I realize it’s a murder mystery and not a musical comedy but the film lacked the humanity that Block writes so well. And for me, that has to be an element in a story like this – otherwise after you’re done watching it, you just want to blow your brains out.

Would I recommend it? Well, if it was a choice between watching this movie or watching reruns of Charlie’s Angels, I might opt for the movie. On the other hand, there are all those clothes and retro hairstyles. Maybe you’d enjoy the book more.

Writer Chick
Copyright 2015

The Equalizer – Movie Review

 

equalizer tv show

The_Equalizer_posterTypically, I’m not a big fan of movies based on old television shows (This one is based on the 1985 TV series The Equalizer, starring Edward Woodward). However, I am a big fan of Denzel Washington, so I thought I’d give this flick a look. I’m glad I did. When it comes to film adaptations of TV shows The Equalizer is probably one of the best I’ve seen.

Retired government agent (although they never name the agency, one assumes it’s the CIA) Robert McCall, has left his agent days behind and a lives a quiet, well-ordered life. He is a widower and most of his human contact is through his job at a local home improvement center. He is a mentor of sorts to a young kid named Ralphie who wants to become a security guard at the center and the other employees who are mostly younger men who call McCall Pops.

In the evenings he takes his book to a local coffee shop and reads while enjoying a cup of tea. At the coffee shop he befriends a young prostitute who aspires to be a singer. McCall takes a fatherly interest in the girl and treats her with kindness and intelligence – encouraging her to pursue her dreams.

Soon, we learn that the young prostitute, Teri, is under the thumb of the Teddy the pimp. A particularly sadistic jerk who works for the Russian mob. Teri defies her pimp and instead of taking a call, has a conversation with Robert in the coffee shop. Naturally, Teddy seeks her out, throws her in the car and the next thing we learn is that she was beaten up so badly that she was hospitalized.

McCall attempts to buy Teri’s freedom but is ridiculed by Teddy and his henchmen. Big mistake. CIA Agent mode kicks in on McCall and he becomes a one man wrecking crew determined to rid the earth of these scum suckers.

While the plot is pretty much the template for most action films, the actors, the writing and direction make it an above average watch. You care about these people. You care about McCall. And you want him to win. He’s like the ultimate bully fighter and does it with precision, calm and some serious creativity. I don’t want to give away any spoilers but in the final showdown sequence he does in some bad guys in some very MacGyver-like ways, that I loved. The film is fast-paced, with crisp dialogue and believable characters. And then of course there’s Denzel – who doesn’t love him?

At the end we see we’re set up for sequels (should the film do well, expect more Equalizer movies).

If you like fast-paced, sharp, tense action thrillers, I think you’ll like The Equalizer. It’s absolutely worth the price of a rental and even some popcorn too.

Writer Chick
Copyright 2015

Movie Review – Before I Go to Sleep

 

before i go to sleep

Nicole Kidman and Colin Firth star is this above average thriller.

Kris Lucas (Kidman), wakes up every day but remembers nothing about her current life. We learn that she had a terrible accident years before and as her patient husband, Ben (Firth), explains to her she has no memories of her life any more recently than her mid-20s. In every room are pictures of Kris’s life to remind her of who she is, and significant life events she’s experienced. All put up by her husband Ben in an effort to help qualm her fears.

Understandably, Kris is frightened and not sure if she can trust Ben is telling her the truth. To further confuse things, Kris receives a call every morning from her psychiatrist, (whom she is seeing without her husband’s knowledge) to remind her of the video memory she is recording on a camera hidden in the back of her closet. Her therapy is to record everything that she learns one day and to play it back the next day in hopes that this process will somehow help her recover her lost memory.

As the story continues and Kris continues in her camera therapy, she begins to remember very small snatches of her memory. Some of these memories make Ben look like a liar and yet when confronted he provides a reasonable explanation. But the good thing about the therapy is that it emboldens Kris to go out into the world to look for answers rather than remaining a prisoner in her home, trapped by fears of not knowing who she is,

I don’t want to give any spoilers but there are plenty of twists and turns and this fast-paced mystery really draws you in. Like Kris, you find yourself wanting to know what the heck happened to this poor woman. Kidman and Firth turn in excellent and believable performances, as well as the supporting cast.

The writing is clean, clear and doesn’t get in the way of the story. Direction and production values very good and the premise believable.

As a mystery fan who is often disappointed with what movie makers release as mysteries, I’d give this movie 4 stars. If you like good solid mysteries, I believe you’ll like Before I Go to Sleep very much.

Writer Chick
Copyright 2015

Movie Review – Gone Girl

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I caught Gone Girl this weekend and I have mixed feelings about it. I thought the story was compelling but I hated the direction and cinematography. So I’m not sure if I can say I loved it.

The premise is that Nick Dunne comes home to find his wife, Amy, has disappeared on the day of their 5th anniversary. There are signs of a struggle in the living room and he can’t find his wife anywhere. He contacts the police, who are somewhat cold and stand-offish.

Nonetheless, Nick cooperates with the police in their investigation of his wife’s disappearance. He surrenders his house to allow the police to search and shortly the whole thing becomes a media parade. Is she dead? Has she been kidnapped? Did Nick have anything to do with it? The missing woman becomes a sort of folk hero and a larger than life symbol for oppressed women.

Naturally, things continually go south for Nick. It looks bad. It looks really, really bad for him and public opinion gets worse and worse.

I don’t want to provide any spoilers but I will say there are some very nice and well executed twists. The writing is excellent, dialogue and characterizations spot on. Very well done in that regard. And the story is better than most recent thriller/mysteries I’ve seen lately.

What I didn’t like was the grainy, faded cinematography that had the look of a student film in my opinion. I imagine that choice was made to give the story a texture of grit and a feeling of hopelessness, but for me it just made it hard to follow and in some case see what was going on. Also the transitioning from one scene to the next was done oddly. If you watch the film, you’ll see what I mean. I found that very distracting. And the story jockeyed back and forth from present day to the past, which if you looked away from the screen for a minute could be really confusing. And flashbacks, especially when there are a lot of them are hard to do well in a film because it makes you feel like you’re standing still.

Overall, I’d say the film was worth the price of admission and would give a three out of five on the viewing scale.

So, if you’re looking for a decent mystery that may surprise you in the end, you’ll probably enjoy this one.

Movie Reviews – “Odd Thomas” and “About Time”

Odd Thomas

odd thomasI’m a huge Dean Koontz fan so imagine my delight when I saw that they’d made a movie based on the book Odd Thomas (also one of my favorite Koontz characters). Except for Anton Yeltchin and Willem DaFoe, I was unfamiliar with the other cast members and was a little worried I was going to hate it. Let’s be honest, we’ve all gone to see movies based on favorite books and have left the theater pissed as hell, right?

I’m happy to say that not only was the movie true to the book and the story but the casting was perfect. Yeltchin played a very believable and disarming Odd and Addison Timlin was fantastic as Odd’s true love, Stormy Llewellyn. The adapted screenplay was written by the director Stephen Sommers and I’m hoping there are plans for more Odd movies in the future.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Odd Thomas books – the story is about a humble 19 year old fry cook who lives in the tiny California town of Pico Mundo. He has two talents: he is an awesome fry cook and he communes with the dead. He can also see evil forebodings of death and destruction. He is a sort of unwilling psychic detective who reports his findings to the local police chief and together they work to stop crime and evil interlopers. In this movie Odd discovers that there will be a massive blood bath somewhere in town in 24 hours, that will leave hundreds of Pico Mundo-ians dead if he doesn’t figure it out and find a way to stop it.

In short, it’s a winner. Rent it, buy it, watch it on Amazon – but definitely see it.  ♥♥♥♥

About Time

At the age of 21 Tim discovers the men in his family can time travel – but only to the past and only in the past of their own lives. Naturally when his dad breaks the news to him, he doesn’t believe it. However, to humor dad and himself he tries it and by God, it’s true. Tim then decides that he will use his secret super power to find love. That is how he will make the world a better place.

The movie is produced by the same folks who produced Four Weddings and a Funeral and Love, Actually – so it has the same quirky, adorableness about it as the previous films have. It’s a simple story about a somewhat awkward young man who through trial and error (and a little correctional time travel) learns that indeed love does make the world a better place. He finds true love with a lot of bumps along the way, but it’s not perfect, it’s silly, and inconvenient, confusing and sometimes disappointing. But wonderful nonetheless.

This a sweet, feel-good movie that makes you a fan of the simple things in life.

Highly recommend.  ♥♥♥♥

What Would the World Be Like Without You?

 

As I’ve said probably too many times – I love the movie, It’s a Wonderful Life. Because I love the premise – What would the world be like without you? To me, that is a fascinating concept.

I mean, think about it – how many lives do you touch during the course of your life? How many times have you intervened without giving it a second thought – and possibly saved someone’s life? Stopped someone from doing another harm. Made someone laugh and change their mind about taking some dark course. Encouraged someone so much that they went on to succeed at something they might not have ever tried?

Like the lady I saw looking at peanut butter at the grocery store. I didn’t know her, I’d never seen her before in my life. Yet, I was compelled to say ‘make sure that isn’t one of those brands they found with semonila  (sp) in it.’ Now why did I say that? Was there some perception on my part that the food would hurt  her? Did I instinctively know she shouldn’t eat the dang peanut butter? As it turned out, she didn’t buy it and thanked me for saying that.

Or the kid I chased down the street to give a sandwich to because I knew he was living on the street and was hungry. Maybe he didn’t try to steal money from an old lady later that day because he didn’t need to. I don’t know and I’m not trying to make myself out as some sort of hero – not at all. I’m just an average person who tries to live as a decent human being, despite my rants and the things that aggravate me. I try to help people. To encourage people. It’s so much easier to give love than to withhold it. To help than to harm.

I don’t know what the world would be like if I weren’t in it. I don’t know if anyone would notice that something was missing. Maybe so. Maybe not. But I wish I could be like George Bailey and get a 24 hour period where I could see my life without me in it. I suspect it would make me much more grateful than I am, for all the many things in my life that I take for granted. And perhaps there’d be a few surprises that would make me feel differently about me.

I guess my point is that we all (too often) feel small and powerless in the world. And maybe even feel as though our efforts don’t matter in the greater scheme of things. But I think they do. I think that the aggregate of our small acts of kindness, love, help and awareness are part of the greater scheme of things. And without them, the world is a smaller place. We are all special and important in some way, to those we know, those we encounter and even those we don’t know.

So, what about it? What do you think the world would be like without you? I really want to know.

WC

If You Could Be Any…

literary or movie character, from any time period, who would you be? Being a lover of books and movies I find this question intriguing and appealing, so I’ll answer it.

 

If I could be any literary character I would be Dagney Taggert who is the hero in Atlas Shrugged. I know that some might think that John Galt is the hero but I’d disagree with them. Dagney is the epitome of guts, glory and rugged individualism. She is beautiful, smart, strong, innovative, self-sufficient and lives life on her own terms. But she is also all woman and when she finds the man of her heart she gives herself completely to him. Amazing. Amazing journey too. This 1,000 page plus book is a story of mamoth proportions but I loved being in that world for its entirety. How I wish I had two weeks to do nothing but read – I would go there again in a heartbeat.

 

If I could be any movie character, I would be Margo in All About Eve – played flawlessly by Bette Davis. She is brilliant, spoiled, talented, insecure, sexy as hell in a broken glass kind of way – and whips the hell out of the little schemer in the end. Ah…the pause that refreshes.

So, what about y’all? Who would you want to be and why, if you care to tell us.

WC

What Movie Character Are You?

Fun little test here will tell you who you are in the classic movie genre. I’m not sure it’s very accurate, although this one sounded right for me – but it is a fun little diversion.

For me, life would be nothing without movies. Movies of all makes and models. I can watch movies until my eyeballs bleed. So it may be I will dedicate much or all of this week to movie themes. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s movie meme.

WC

 PS: Just in case you don’t know the  movie, here’s a little clip.

And The Oscar Goes To…

Nah, not really – sorry Al, I doubt you’re getting any awards for your ‘film’ but it was quite an interesting piece of fiction. However, that dress is rather striking, so you might luck out and end up on the best dressed list for the Oscars. And have you been working out because you look positively svelte. 😉 WC

(hat tip to patriot post for the incredibly funny pic – lol, this picture just slays me!)

If you want to read a compelling and interesting post about Algore and his contentions check out this post from my buddy Mick.

WC