Saturday, November 16, 2013

#89: "Freedom Writers"

Stats: 2007. Starring Hilary Swank, Imelda Staunton, Patrick Dempsey. PG-13. Based on a true story.

Background: I’m a sucker for all the teacher-saves-her-at-risk-students movies. So when I heard about Freedom Writers, I knew I wanted to see it. I picked it up out of the Walmart $5 bin (where else?).

Plot: Erin gets a job as an English teacher in a school where racial tensions run high. Following the death of a student in a shooting, she implements a writing program, where students can pour out their feelings in a journal.  And pour their feelings they do. Throughout the course of the year, Erin’s students become a family, even as Erin’s own family is falling apart.

Reactions: When I put this movie in my DVD player, I expected to end up getting rid of it. And then I watched it. As I wiped away the tears as the credits rolled, I knew I wanted to keep this film! It serves as a powerful reminder of how one person really can make a difference. As someone who works in education, I sometimes need that reminder!

Verdict: Keep

Friday, September 27, 2013

#88: "Freaky Friday"

I'm back! Last posted six months ago. Yeah, that sounds about right!

Stats: 2003. Starring Jamie Lee Curtis, Lindsay Lohan, Mark Harmon. PG.

Background: I watched Freaky Friday in the theater with my sisters and loved it—in spite of Chad Michael Murray’s horrible haircut. Shortly after watching it, a friend gave me a copy of the soundtrack, and I listened to it non-stop. I got the DVD after my parents spent one semester as dorm parents—one of the girls left it behind.

Plot: Tess (Curtis) and her daughter Anna (Lohan) can’t get along. Tess’s wedding is just days away, and Anna is more concerned about practicing with her band and getting the attention of the cute guy (Chad Michael Murray) than helping her mom. The morning after the family eats at a Chinese restaurant, Tess and Anna wake up in each other’s bodies. As they try to figure out how to switch back, they also learn to see through the other’s eyes.

Reactions: Freaky Friday is a fun family movie. Yeah, it’s a little creepy how Jake (Murray) is so into “Tess” (who is really Anna, thereby making it a bit less icky), but overall, it’s a cute and funny film that I enjoy each time I watch it. The funniest part? When Jake serenades Tess with “Baby One More Time.” Comedic gold! (Go here to see it.)

Verdict: Keep

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

#87: "Argo"

Stats: 2012. Starring Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin, John Goodman. R.

Background: When Argo came out, I wanted to see it … but it didn't exactly come to a theater near me! My plan was to rent it from Redbox as soon as it showed up there. But one day (the day before the Academy Awards, actually), I saw it on display in Wal-Mart and bought it on the spur of the moment. My mom and I watched it that night, and we immediately threw our support for Best Picture behind it (for whatever it’s worth!).

Plot: When the American embassy in Iran is overtaken by revolutionaries and several embassy employees are taken hostage, six Americans escape to the Canadian ambassador’s home. CIA operative Tony Mendez comes up with a plan to bring the Americans home—but it will require the help of a Hollywood producer and the Canadian government, as well as a little luck!

Reactions: Oh my goodness! Even though I already knew the end result (it is historical, after all), the tension in this movie is incredible. What a fantastic story! Argo is phenomenal—totally worthy of the Best Picture Oscar.

It was fun for me to see Gary Hobson (Kyle Chandler) and Jimmy Cooper (Tate Donovan) in the film, and I especially loved the scenes with Arkin and Goodman as the Hollywood players. They added a great deal of levity to a very intense film!

I heard some complaints about the artistic license taken in the film. To me, though, it doesn't matter. The basics are the same, and if they changed a few details to add to the suspense, so what?

There is a considerable amount of swearing, so if you're sensitive to that, you may want to wait for the TV version or use a language filtering device (like Clearplay). But however you go about it, you should watch this film. It’s really, really good!

Verdict: Keep

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Rethinking My Postition

As some of you may have noticed (specifically my beloved brother Andrew), I often have difficulty getting rid of movies—even movies I don't like very much.

Here's what a commenter (Andrew) had to say recently when I decided to keep A Christmas Wedding:
You're getting weak! Don't let the collection stop you from getting rid of an uninteresting movie! You could microwave the disk! You could have a tiny shiny frisbee! You could etch Dean Cane's face into it and have a shiny portait of Superman!
Putting aside the fact that he doesn't know how to spell "Cain," I can admit that he makes a good point. Why hang onto a movie I know I will never willingly watch again? That's just ridiculous!

I also realized that my own rules (see the blog header) are causing me to keep movies on my shelf that should be long gone, simply because I haven't gotten to them in this never-ending project.

No more! If I'm breaking the rules, so what? They're my own rules to begin with!

I recently went through my DVD shelves and pulled off about 10 movies. I gave my sister Blendy first pick, and then I listed the rest on Some are movies I'd previously decided to keep (Christmas Lodge, Deliver Us from EvaFar & Away). Some are movies I hadn't yet reached in my rewatch project (Kiss the GirlsThe Matrix Collection, Romancing the Bride, Something New, Stealing Home.) Some are TV seasons (Bones Seasons 1-3). All are DVDs that, for one reason or another, I no longer want to own.

Going forward, I'm going to try to be less hesitant to get rid of movies. And if I decide I no longer want a movie, whether I've reviewed it or not, it will be gone.

I'm sure I'll still have moments of weakness ... and, dear brother, here's the first: I'm keeping A Christmas Wedding.

Friday, February 22, 2013

#86 "The Four Feathers"

Stats: 2002. Starring Heath Ledger, Wes Bentley, Kate Hudson. PG-13.

Background: Several years ago, I checked The Four Feathers out from the public library and watched it with my sister. I really enjoyed it, so when I found it for less than $5 on Amazon, I didn't hesitate to pick it up.

Plot: When Harry (Ledger) resigns his commission in the British Army upon the announcement that his regiment will be sent to the Sudan, three of his best friends and his fiancée (Hudson) give him white feathers symbolizing cowardice. He later learns that his former regiment has come under attack, so he heads to Sudan to rescue his friends and return the feathers.

Reactions: I’m going to be honest: I did fall asleep in the first 30 minutes of the film. But once Harry got to the Sudan, I was hooked. Basically all I remembered of the movie was that Harry got white feathers for cowardice, and he went after his friends to redeem himself. I think my absolute favorite aspect of the film this time around was something I only vaguely remember from my first viewing several years ago: Harry’s relationship with Abou Fatma (Djimon Hounsou), the mercenary who puts Harry under his protection.

I really enjoyed The Four Feathers. You have to be in the right mood for it (let’s be honest—normally I’m in the mood for a rom-com), but it really is a wonderful film. 

Verdict: Keep

Friday, February 8, 2013

#85: "The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain"

Stats: 1995. Starring Hugh Grant, Tara Fitzgerald, and Colm Meaney. PG.

Background: In high school, my best friend and I would go on weekend movie benders—we'd go to her house in Grand Island, rent four or five movies, and stay up all night watching them. Sometimes we'd rent so many that we wouldn't have time to watch them all ... or we'd hit a dud that was too terrible to finish watching. The Englishman is one of those movies. I think we may have watched the first ten minutes or so and then turned it off because we were bored ... after all, we had something like Clueless or Cocktail to watch! (Hey, I never said my mom would have approved of the movies we watched ... that's why we always had our movie binges at my friend's house!)

I recently bought British Cinema Collection: 8 Acclaimed Films from Amazon for $6.50. The Englishman is one of the films included, and I was excited to watch it—often, what I found boring at 15 I really enjoy at 31!

Plot: When two English cartographers visit a small Welsh village to measure "the first mountain inside of Wales" for inclusion on a map, they discover the "mountain" is really a hill. The villagers aren't ready to let their pride and joy be relegated to a measly hill, so they join together to add the 20 feet necessary to the top of the hill to make it a mountain ... but they must also keep the cartographers in town long enough to remeasure.

Reactions: Well, I was right—what bored me to tears at 15 thoroughly delighted me now! I especially enjoyed the quirkiness and determination of the villagers. And Hugh Grant is always a delight as a bumbling Brit (does he ever play anything else?) It's a gentle movie that's perfect for a rainy (or sick) day.

Verdict: Keep

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Thursday, February 7, 2013

#84: "Deck the Halls"

Stats: 2005. Starring Gabrielle Carteris, Steve Bacic, and Steven Culp. TV-PG.

Background: Even though I had cable in 2005, somehow I missed this Lifetime Christmas movie. Or maybe I purposely avoided it …

Anyway, it was one of the movies in the Lifetime 12 Days of Christmas set I picked up last November. I actually watched it in November (on a sick day, if I recall), but I failed to write about it then. So here I am in February, writing about a Christmas movie!

Plot: Widowed mom Holly (Carteris) works for her father-in-law’s toy company. When he hires Nick (Bacic) to help with marketing for the holiday season, Holly is at first repulsed by Nick…especially because he is her annoying new neighbor. But as time goes on, she finds herself drawn to him, and he helps her realize that she just may be ready to love again.

Reactions: Frankly, I would never have watched this movie if it hadn’t been part of this collection and I hadn’t been doing this movie rewatch project. And I would have been missing out.

I can’t believe how much I enjoyed this movie! The family interactions seemed natural, the relationship between Holly and Nick was fun to watch, and I never was quite sure how the film would end. (Was Nick Santa Claus? Would Holly end up with him? What about the kind veterinarian [Culp]?)

Deck the Halls ended up being one of the better Christmas films I watched all season. (To see my thoughts on some of the others, check out this post on my other blog.)

Verdict: Keep

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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