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

A_Walk_Among_the_Tombstones_poster

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

I am John Galt

I have waited years to see Atlas Shrugged adapted to film. And now someone has. I have just returned from seeing the movie which surprisingly was screening in only two venues in the L.A. area. Also, surprisingly there were not lines snaking around the theater for tickets. Perhaps Atlas is an acquired taste that will catch on – I certainly hope so.

Anyone who has read the book knows that it was published in the 1950s and though I knew ahead of time the producers had decided to ‘modernize’ the story, I still longed to see it as a period piece. Though I will say that the producers despite the modernization (which is minimal) have remained very true to the story and the characters.

There is something indescribable about a reader’s connection to a book – how they imagine the characters look, sound, and move – what the locations are – how they smell, the colors – all of it becomes a sort of movie in the mind. Which can be problematic when you go see a well-loved book adapted to film – often times the film makers miss the small details, the nuance, etc. However, that was not the case for Atlas Shrugged – as I watched the movie, it felt as though the film makers had plucked my images from my head and put them on film. The roles were perfectly cast, all without even one bagillion dollar star among them. Indeed, the film makers brought Atlas Shrugged to life – at least for me.

Because it a very long book, the film makers are making a trilogy to maintain the integrity of the story which I think is smart but I also found disappointing, as I would have been happy to sit through a six hour film. Of course that is just me and my attention may be longer than the norm.

Part I introduces us to many of main characters, the world in which they live and the increasing difficulty they face in pursuing their goals and dreams. A world of entitlement seekers and users who hold in contempt anyone not with the program. Slowly some of the exceptional rugged individuals (the creators as Ayn Rand refers to them) begin to disappear – leaving behind few to continue the good fight, which continues to get more difficult. The final scene has Dagny Taggart screaming, “No!” My sentiments, exactly – I didn’t want it to end.

I guess it’s time to pick up the novel again and get lost in the world of Atlas Shrugged.

For a taste of the film, watch the trailer below:

For anyone who loves the book – go see this film. Now. For anyone who has not read the book, read it and go see the film. And maybe if you do you will discover that you too are John Galt.

WC

Copyright 2011

Video and pictures from The Strike Productions

Visit the Official Atlas Shrugged Movie Web Site!

Timeless

One of the things that made this Christmas so wonderful for me was that I received a dvd of one of my all time favorite movies, To Kill a Mockingbird. Though admittedly, I hadn’t seen it for many, many years, it always remained in my heart as a story that was timeless and whose lessons could never die.

Last night, I popped it into the dvd player and sat back to re-experience this wonderful story. I’m sure most of you have seen it or have read the book – and I’m not going to detail the plot here but I wanted to just reiterate what really good fiction does.

Quite simply, it speaks to life. It is real. It immerses you in its world and does not release you until the story is told and sometimes holds you long after the story is done. The characters somehow endear themselves to you and become part of your lexicon and soul’s self. At least for me, that is what this story does.

Scout, who is the narrator and from whose point of view the story is told – is the classic tomboy, free thinking, irrepressible and an unassuming hero who sees the world through a special and wonderful way. Her brother, Jem, is Scout’s confidant, protector and best friend. Atticus, Scout’s father, is her hero, a constant source of suprise and wonder to her. None of these characters make any attempt to be anything other than what they are – they just are. They all make you believe that being who you are is the best thing you could be and that living a life of value and community means something.

You cannot read this story and walk away unchanged. You cannot see this movie and feel the same as you did before you watched it. Personally, I wouldn’t want to. Secretly, I always wanted to be Scout. To have her courage and pluck – her own world view. And maybe in some small way I have – I hope so.

Good fiction, owns you – and really it shouldn’t be any other way.

WC

Lights! Camera! Action!

A newbie on my blogroll (and a fabulous writer btw) Paul, wrote a post a while back where he talked about life being a movie. The whole idea tickled me and I’ve been thinking about it.

If you aren’t a movie star, a dare-devil or a railroad tramp, life is boring and lacks adventure for the most part and serves up a healthy portion of the mundane. We get up, go to work, come home, make dinner, surf the web, watch a little television and off to bed, only to repeat the same thing the next day – and the day after that and the day after that. The weekends may have a few highlights – perhaps lunch with a friend, a phone call to or from the folks back home, buying a spiffy pair of shoes at a bargain, maybe even a ballgame. But come 6pm on Sunday, our tummies are already tensing up for the coming work week. We are figuring out lunch menus, schedules to pick up and drop off kids, groceries to be bought, meetings to attend, deadlines to meet. Face it, exciting it ain’t.

So the whole concept of just waking up Monday morning and deciding what movie you want to be in that day has its appeal. Our fantasy life is the thing that keeps us going, isn’t it? Winning the lotto and daydreaming about how you’d spend the money. Thinking about if you could do anything in the world what that would be. Publishing a novel, becoming a celebrity, a world famous chef. We all have the big dreams in our little lives. So why the heck not?

So, here’s the question: If you could make your life any movie what would it be, and why? AND If your life were a movie as it stands today what would it be?

For me, my current life would probably be 9 to 5. Remember that one? All the gals stuck in the cubicle universe with the nasty boss? Yep, that’s me. That’s my life.

If I could have the movie of my choice for my life, I’d pick Rear Window – what more could you want, adventure, mystery, a rough and ready boyfriend who thrives on adventure and gorgeous clothes and looking like Grace Kelly? I’m saying.

So, those are mine. What are yours?

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 Do Movies Meme?

 

Using AFI’s list of 100 Top Movies, bold the ones you’ve seen, ital ones you’d like to see and add up to three that you think should be on the list.

1. CITIZEN KANE (1941) Brilliant mostly for its cinematic features, the story itself is over-rated in my opinion.
2. CASABLANCA (1942) A real classic – love it still.
3. THE GODFATHER (1972) To me, the epitome of gangster movies which meant for me I no longer had to see any more ganster movies which generally are boring as hell.


4. GONE WITH THE WIND (1939) a movie I was satisfied to see once.
5. LAWRENCE OF ARABIA (1962) a movie that was almost as hard to watch as Reds.
6. THE WIZARD OF OZ (1939) still afraid of those flying monkeys.
7. THE GRADUATE (1967)
8. ON THE WATERFRONT (1954) The speech with Brando and Malden in the cab is the best part.
9. SCHINDLER’S LIST (1993) Truly touched me.
10. SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN (1952) Who doesn’t love this one?
11. IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE (1946) always gets to me.
12. SUNSET BOULEVARD (1950)
13. THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI (1957) I never really ‘got’ this movie. What was the big deal?
14. SOME LIKE IT HOT (1959) Nothing funnier than Curtis and Lemon in drag.
15. STAR WARS (1977) Once was more than enough to see any of these movies.
16. ALL ABOUT EVE (1950) If  you haven’t seen this, you must the dialogue alone is worth watching it.
17. THE AFRICAN QUEEN (1951)
18. PSYCHO (1960)


19. CHINATOWN (1974) The sequel The Two Jakes is decent too.
20. ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST (1975)
21. THE GRAPES OF WRATH (1940)
yawn!
22. 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968) yawn!
23. THE MALTESE FALCON (1941)
24. RAGING BULL (1980)
25. E.T. THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL (1982)
26. DR. STRANGELOVE (1964)
27. BONNIE AND CLYDE (1967)
28. APOCALYPSE NOW (1979)
29. MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON (1939) Classic
30. THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE (1948)
31. ANNIE HALL (1977)
32. THE GODFATHER PART II (1974)
33. HIGH NOON (1952)
34. TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD (1962) I dare you to watch this movie and not feel changed by it.
35. IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT (1934)
36. MIDNIGHT COWBOY (1969) Very sad and tragic I thought.
37. THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES (1946)
38. DOUBLE INDEMNITY (1944) True Film Noir.


39. DOCTOR ZHIVAGO (1965)
40. NORTH BY NORTHWEST (1959) I was fascinated by the shine in Eva Marie Saint’s hair in this one. How did they do it?
41. WEST SIDE STORY (1961) Urban Romeo and Juliet which has never been improved upon.
42. REAR WINDOW (1954)
43. KING KONG (1933)
44. THE BIRTH OF A NATION (1915)
45. A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE (1951)  Blanche Dubois is one of the most unique characters ever written in my opinion.
46. A CLOCKWORK ORANGE (1971) Ugh, hated this
47. TAXI DRIVER (1976)
48. JAWS (1975) One of the best scary movies ever.
49. SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS (1937)
50. BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID (1969)
51. THE PHILADELPHIA STORY (1940)
52. FROM HERE TO ETERNITY (1953)
53. AMADEUS (1984)
54. ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT (1930)
55. THE SOUND OF MUSIC (1965)
56. M*A*S*H (1970)
57. THE THIRD MAN (1949)
58. FANTASIA (1940)
59. REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE (1955)
60. RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK (1981)
61. VERTIGO (1958)
62. TOOTSIE (1982)
63. STAGECOACH (1939)
64. CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND (1977) The mashed potato scene is my favorite.
65. THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS (1991) Chianti and fava beans, yummy.
66. NETWORK (1976)
67. THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE (1962) This version was superior to the recent remake.
68. AN AMERICAN IN PARIS (1951)
69. SHANE (1953)
70. THE FRENCH CONNECTION (1971)
71. FORREST GUMP (1994)
72. BEN-HUR (1959)
73. WUTHERING HEIGHTS (1939)
74. THE GOLD RUSH (1925)
75. DANCES WITH WOLVES (1990) I only remember how I longed for this movie to be over.
76. CITY LIGHTS (1931)
77. AMERICAN GRAFFITI (1973)
78. ROCKY (1976) Despite all the terrible sequels the original was one of the best movies every made.
79. THE DEER HUNTER (1978)
80. THE WILD BUNCH (1969)
81. MODERN TIMES (1936)
82. GIANT (1956)
83.
PLATOON (1986)
84. FARGO (1996)
85. DUCK SOUP (1933)
86. MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY (1935)
87.
FRANKENSTEIN (1931)
88. EASY RIDER (1969)
89. PATTON (1970)
90. THE JAZZ SINGER (1927)
91. MY FAIR LADY (1964)
92. A PLACE IN THE SUN (1951)
93. THE APARTMENT (1960)
94. GOODFELLAS (1990)
95. PULP FICTION (1994) totally over-rated and stupid.
96. THE SEARCHERS (1956)
97. BRINGING UP BABY (1938)
98. UNFORGIVEN (1992) Not bad, but did it really deserve all those oscars?
99. GUESS WHO’S COMING TO DINNER (1967)
100. YANKEE DOODLE DANDY (1942) It was a hoot to see Cagny dancing and singing after all those ganster movies.

I have seen 78 out of 100 – wow, even I’m surprised. The three I would add to the list are:

101. THE CAINE MUTINY
102. BODY HEAT 
103. WHITE CHRISTMAS

The three I’d remove from the list are:

1. Lawrence of Arabia
2. The Godfather Part II
3. Grapes of Wrath

What are your picks?
WC

Movies, All About

 

I love, love, love movies. And I love these dumb little tests. Feel free to throw up your own answers.

1. A movie that you have seen more than 10 times.
Rear Window – A Hitchcock Classic.

2. A movie that you’ve seen multiple times in the theater.
Annie Hall – for some reason I had to see the movie about 5 times before I felt satisfied. Also Harold and Maude.

3. What actor(s) make you more inclined to see a movie.
Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson, Edward Norton, Christian Bale, Johnny Depp, Julia Roberts, Sandra Bullock, Helen Mirren, Meryl Streep, Sara Jessica Parker, Reese Witherspoon, Drew Barrymore, Matt Damon

4. What actor(s) make you less likely to see a movie.
Russel Crowe, Brad Pitt, Mark Ruffolo, Tim Robbins, Susan Sarandon, Madonna, Jennifer Aniston,

5. A movie that you can and do quote from.
Casablanca, All About Eve, Rainman, the Maltese Falcon, Life of Brian, Young Frankenstein.

6. A movie musical that you know all of the lyrics to all of the songs.
My Fair Lady, Singing in the Rain, Westside Story -not much into musicals

7. A movie that you have been known to sing along with.
My Fair Lady

8. A movie that you would recommend everyone see.
Walk the Line, It’s a Wonderful Life, All About Eve, Conspiracy Theory, The Day the Earth Stood Still

9. A movie that you own.
Following. Now there is  a strange flick.

10. An actor who launched his/her entertainment career in another medium but who has surprised you with his/her acting chops.
Steve Martin, Robin Williams, Cher

11. Have you ever seen a movie in a drive-in? If so, what?
Sure. I don’t really remember, it was when I was a little kid.

12. Ever made out in a movie?
Of course.

13. A movie that you keep meaning to see but just haven’t yet gotten around to it.
Taxi Driver

14. Ever walked out of a movie?
Yeah – The Shining – terrible!

15. A movie that made you cry in the theater.
Terms of Endearment and you mean, sob, don’t you?

16. Popcorn?
Extra butter and salt with large diet coke on the side.

17. How often do you go to the movies (as opposed to renting them or watching them at home)?
Not much these days – most of the films seem more like rentals and go to dvd so quickly that it seems silly to pay the $10 or $12 bucks. A few times a year

18. What’s the last movie you saw in the theater?
Premonition – with Sandra Bullock, which I really, really liked.

19. What’s your favorite/preferred genre of movie?
Murder mystery.

20. What’s the first movie you remember seeing in the theater?
Sinbad and the Seven Seas or something like that.

21. What movie do you wish you had never seen?
The Exorcist. I couldn’t turn the lights off for weeks. 2nd place goes to A Clockwork Orange, made me sick to my stomach.

22. What is the weirdest movie you enjoyed?
Memento – tres strange, but oh so cool.

23. What is the scariest movie you’ve seen?
Exorcist – can’t seem to think of any other that has freaked me as much.

24. What is the funniest movie you’ve seen?
Monty Python and the Holy Grail. 2nd place goes to Groundhog Day. 3rd place goes to The Fabulous Baker Boys.

25. If you could only watch one movie for the rest of eternity, what would it be?
Definitely would be either a Hitchcock movie or a Frank Capra. Rear Window, Vertigo or It’s a Wonderful Life. Not sure.

Tell me about your likes and dislikes.
WC