The film Sunshine Cleaning was released on April 17, 2009. Rose (Amy Adams) is a single working mom whose son Oscar (Jason Spevack) is taken out of public school due to some of his antics. Rose’s boyfriend, a local police officer named Mac (Steve Zahn) suggests that she can make good money cleaning up after dead bodies. She convinces her sister Norah (Emily Blunt) to help her and her father (Alan Arkin) to watch after Oscar.
For some reason, this was considered a comedy. If there were any comedic elements in this story they were either dark or nonexistent. I was hoping that Oscar would have had more scenes, but the film mostly focused on Rose and Norah’s lives. The acting was good enough, but the writing was so-so. The directing was good as was the production. I hate to flog a dead horse, but instead of labeling this a comedy, they would have been better off calling it a drama.
I want to give the acting at least 3 1/2 stars because the main actors are well known. Having said this, I have to factor in the story line. I was really hoping for a funny movie but was let down. I would not buy this movie or recommend it to anyone. I give it, overall, 2 stars out of 5.
The film The Lobster is a multinational production which was released in the US on May 13, 2016. It is described as a dark dystopian comedy which takes place in a world where being single is a crime. Singles are rounded up and put up in a hotel for 45 days. If they do not find a suitable mate within that time, they are transformed into animals.
The lead characters of the film are David (Colin Farrell) and a woman simply referred to as Nearsighted Woman (Rachel Weisz) who form an attachment and escape to the forest with the other singles. Their acting was passable considering the drabness of their characters. The choreography was good, directing was bad. The story line, I suppose, would make sense if you were on drugs. I guess there was a touch of surrealism to the scenery, which I normally would like, but it was obscured by the dullness of the sound track.
This film was 2 hours, 3 minutes of sheer boredom. I really wish that I could be more sympathetic to the director/screenwriter, but I can’t. Unless someone had insomnia, I would not recommend this movie to anyone or buy it. If you’re someone who is into Art House type films, you’ll probably enjoy this. I can only give it 2 1/2 stars out of 5.
The film Christmas Inheritance was released on December 15, 2017. It is a romantic comedy starring Eliza Taylor (from The 100) as a party girl whose father sends her to a small town to deliver a Christmas letter. The town is where her father (Neil Crone) and his best friend (Anthony Sherwood) started up their Home and Hearth company.
Now, I am not really a fan of romantic comedies. Most guys would probably consider this as a “girly movie”. The story line was almost predictable, but it was tolerable and had some good comedic bits. Jake Lacey plays the town inn keeper who has been hurt romantically before. He is a very likeable character and was very believable. Andie MacDowell played Jake’s aunt and local cafe owner. As for the bad guy of the film, Michael Xavier played Gray, Eliza’s fiancee. He was definitely a New York stereotype of arrogance and rudeness.
The look of the town was successful in that it was very picturesque. I am also glad to say that there was no foul language and only one kissing scene. For a movie of this genre, I was surprised in that there was a good balance of romance and comedy. I would recommend people to watch, but as I stated earlier, I would not buy this film. I give it 4 stars out of 5.
The film Outlaw King was released on November 9, 2018. It is an historical film dealing with the history of Scotland under the role of Robert the Bruce (1275-1329). It starts with the submission of the Scottish lords to King Edward I of England in 1304. Chris Pine plays Robert the Bruce and Stephen Dillane is King Edward I. The film is a bit slow in the beginning due to the presentation of other historical persons, such as Queen Margaret of Scotland and Prince Edward of England and various influential lords.
This was a very bloody time in the history of Scotland but this was not shown until halfway through the film. The death of William Wallace was skimmed over. Another thing that is a problem with biopics is that historical facts are sometimes presented out of sequence. I understand the reasoning behind this, which is due to time limitations, but it presents a prejudicial viewpoint of history. Putting this aside, Outlaw King was a well written story. For the most part it keeps the viewer’s interest. The acting was sufficient and believable. The direction was excellent. I admit that if every battle ever fought by the English and the Scots, the back door politics, and other factors were shown in this film, it would probably last about 6-7 hours.
I like historical films for the most part if the subject is of interest. I knew a bit about Robert the Bruce and King Edward I, but this film gives an interesting perspective on the interaction between these two countries. I would watch it again and I would recommend it others. I give this 4 stars out of 5.
This film, Small Town Crime was released on January 19, 2018, and it was produced by Olivia Spencer. It deals with alcoholic ex-cop Mike Kendall (John Hawkes) who discovers a battered girl’s body. When he is told that she has died, he decides to discover her murderer. His brother-in-law Teddy Banks (Anthony Anderson) tries to discourage him but he refuses to give up. Through his investigation, he puts himself and his friends in danger.
The storyline was good and it flowed well. The problem that was a disruption of the story was that too much focus was put on Kendall’s alcoholism. This tended to make the story a bit preachy. There are better and shorter ways of getting this point across. The acting was believable and the two leads did a good job. Olivia Spencer also was in the film as Teddy’s wife. For a crime movie, there were plenty of gun battles and blood, but these scenes were toned down by the fact that a lot of these were shot during the night. It lessened the impact for those who like their crime dramas with blood and guts (as usually seen in Tarantino films).
I, for one, like to see some humorous scenes when I watch these sort of movies, but there was none except maybe for the final scene that was interspersed with the end credits. I did like the opening/closing song for the film which was “Good Times” by Eric Burdon and The Animals. I would watch it again but not soon. As for a recommendation for others to watch, I don’t see why not. It is rated R for violence and mature content. If they had put less emphasis on the main character’s alcoholism, I might have given this 4 stars out of five. However, because of this, I will only give it 3 1/2 stars.
A Christmas Star is an Irish film which was released on December 29, 2017 in the US. Noelle is a village girl who was born in a shed on Christmas night and throughout her life manages to stop people’s fighting just with a thought. When a former industrialist’s son returns to the village, he promises the village that the local industry, snow globe making, will remain. Noelle discovers that his actual plan it to tear down the village and put in an amusement park.
Erin Galway-Kendrick plays 11 year old Noelle who believes she can perform small miracles. Pierce Brosnan plays Mr. Shepherd, a land developer who sends the industrialist’s son and grandson to close the deal. I would like to say that I really enjoyed this movie, but there were some flaws that ruined it for me. The relationship between the industrialist and his teenage son was confusing and bordered on child abuse. The location and cinematography for the movie was excellent. The directing wasn’t horrible, just a bit uneven.
This was a decent enough Christmas film which I would recommend for viewing. I wouldn’t buy it for my collection due to the story line between the father and son. The concept of faith and love in order to stop hate is expressed well enough without sounding preachy or sickening. I give this 3 1/2 stars out of five.
Pottersville was released on November 10, 2017. Maynard Greiger (Michael Shannon) owns a grocery store in a town which is on its last legs. When a friend tells him he has to enjoy life more, he takes the advice and goes home early only to find his wife and the sheriff dressed as furries. He ends up getting drunk, decides to put on a costume and runs around town only to wake the next day and find out that he is mistaken for Bigfoot.
Michael Shannon’s character was played very low key which I think gave his character a sense of humility. Ron Perlman played the sheriff and he had some very funny scenes. Thomas Lennon played Blake Masterson, a phony Australian monster hunter. His portrayal of an Australian was about as authentic as Shannon’s Bigfoot character. For the most part, I thought the movie was funny with an underlining of Americana. The director did a very good job and the actors were believable. This could be classified, I suppose, as A Wonderful Life meets Ghost Hunters. There were a couple scenes that were, how should I put this? Cringy, specifically when Lennon sings a song about hunting yetis.
I liked the movie over all. It wasn’t specifically a Christmas movie but it was a good holiday movie. I would watch it again and I would recommend it to others. I give it 4 1/2 stars out of 5.
The Hallmark movie 48 Christmas Wishes was released on November 2, 2017. When one of Santa’s elves accidentally burns a sack of Christmas wishes, she and a helper go to the town to recover the wishes. The main focus is on the Williams family, which consists of a widow, her 13-year old daughter and 9-year old son. Since it was shown on TV and is classified as a family movie there is no foul language used.
The story line was good if a bit too sugary. The child actors, for the most part, were decent. There were a couple of characters that could have used better actors or have been eliminated altogether. The directing was good as well as the cinematography. I was happy to see that child actors played the elves instead of the film makers using animated elves. There were a couple scenes that tugged on my heart strings, as these sort of movies tend to do. The elves ear makeup was done well and the children made their characters believable. At the end of the movie there are scenes from a blooper reel which almost always brings a smile to my face.
For the most part, I found this to be a very nice addition to seasonal films. Some of the story line could have been strengthened, but I would not say that its a horrible film. Some of the child actors may have been acting in their first film. I know that is true for the boy who played Blake, however he has been in commercials and plays since he was 6 years old. I would watch this again, I would recommend it, BUT I would not buy it. In spite of some of the film’s flaws, I give it 4 stars out of 5.
Bitch was released on November 10, 2017 as a made-for-TV movie. It is a dark comedy about a woman whose life comes crumbling down due to her philandering husband and four demanding children. Due to all of the pressures of her family, she has a nervous breakdown and takes on the personality of a vicious dog. The rest of the film shows how this effects her husband and children.
This has a few physical humorous scenes, but for the most part it falls flat. Jason Ritter (son of late actor John Ritter) plays Bill Hart, a man who thinks that the women in his life are there for his own selfish needs. Marianna Palka (she also wrote and produced the film) plays Jill, a woman who is slowly sinking into mental oblivion. Since this is an usual story line, its difficult for me to say how believable the characters are. The child actors were good as well as the actress who played the sister-in-law. I wasn’t too crazy about the sound track which seemed to consists of experimental jazz.
I did watch this movie all the way through although at the point where the husband is left with the kids, I lost interest. The ending was, like the movie, up in the air. I don’t really plan to watch this again. Its like seeing something at a bakery that looks appetizing, but when you try it, you are sorely disappointed. Since there was some foul language, an irritating sound track and a disappointing story line, I can only give this 2 stars out of 5.