Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)

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I finally got myself to sit down and watch this movie. I had heard amazing things about, that it was a classic must see movie. I tend to hesitate when it comes to movies that came out before the 1950s, but still will attempt to watch them, give them the benefit of the doubt. I’m glad that I did so with this film. You can tell the age of the film due to (1) its in black and white (2) the way people dress and (3) the way that people talk. What is most interesting about the film is that it is still relevant today. I could see this film coming out today being just as popular and relatable as it was in 1939.

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Let’s start with the story. The writing was superb in this film. Older films tend to have these long drawn out sequences of banter/chatter that you could honestly do without, but in this film all of the chatter mattered to the overall story. The story could easily play out in today’s world just as it did in the 30s. The story is basically about a newly sworn in Senator (James Stewart) who is learning the ropes from an older Senator (Claude Rains). The new Senator is patriotic and excited to do something with his new position, he finds that it’s very easy to get on the “wrong” side of politics. It’s a story of patriotism, pride, and heart. It really had magical quality as you watched it and you could relate to almost every character that you came in contact with.

Next we focus on the acting. It’s no secret that I think James Stewart is an amazing actor. I pretty much love anything he’s been in.  In this movie he plays the perfect gullible guy that believes in his country, justice and the government. You also see some stellar performances by Claude Rains and Jean Arthur. Rains plays the Senator that mentors Stewart’s character and Arthur plays his assistant. The whole assemble works together beautifully to portray American politics at that time and the roles that each person played. I really can’t say anything bad about any of the actors in this film.

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Now we focus on the director. Frank Capra is known for his style and the way he shoots his films. He directed Stewart in another favorite film of mine, “It’s A Wonderful Life.” He has a way of focusing on his characters, on their reactions both emotionally and physically. A unique style is the way I would describe his directing. He does a great job of setting up the story and letting his play out as if it would in real life. His work tends to have a good amount of heart and realism and I think that’s why his movies tend to be successful or at least cult favorites.

So the overall feel of this movie is that it’s important to be patriotic and stand up for those that cannot do so themselves. Do not let people tear you down because you believe in doing the right thing. It’s a good moral story that really does at one point keep you on the edge of your seat. If I had to rate this movie out of 10, would rate it 9/10. It was so close to being perfect, but had just some small things it could’ve taken away and added. I encourage everyone to watch it, at least once.

When Breath Becomes Air-Book Review

whenbreathbecomesair1-680x796I had the privilege of reading a people magazine story late last year that caught my interest. It was the story of a neurosurgeon and his experience with family and being diagnosed with cancer. I found out that he had passed in March 2015 and that he had written a memoir shortly before his passing. After reading his story and seeing a pictures of those he left behind (his wife and daughter), I was intrigued. I knew that it took courage to be able to dive in and reflect on yourself during that time. The book covers the life of Dr. Paul Kalanithi before his diagnosis and after. The epilogue was written by his wife Lucy.

The writing style was seamless and addictive to read. You wanted to know more and more about the life of a student studying to become a neurosurgeon/neuroscientist and you wanted to know the thoughts racing through his read when he was diagnosed and how he persevered despite that. You really follow him on the journey through neurosurgery, finding out a lot of details you would’ve never known prior to reading this book. You get to experience his strength and resolve to keep going, realizing and helping the reader to realize that death is inevitable and that it comes to everyone. But what really matters is how you go on living and what you do with the time you have left.

e1b464ec9b5572f258b6729d1c0c1d3eI would really recommend this book to anyone that wants to know more about neurosurgery, what doctors go through every day, what its like to be diagnosed with a terminal illness and the decisions you can make if you are. I really cannot say enough about this book and I don’t want to spill all of its secrets. It’s a very well written and inspiring book. Well worth the read! Also, for more information about Dr. Paul Kalanithi, you can visit his website at http://paulkalanithi.com/.

Krampus-A Review

MV5BMjk0MjMzMTI3NV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwODEyODkxNzE@__V1_SX640_SY720_I didn’t get an opportunity to see this movie in theaters, but got a chance to check it out the day it came out on Redbox. I didn’t really know what to expect before watching it. I knew it was a Christmas/Holiday movie, but it looked dark as well. As I try to do with each movie that I watch, I went in with an open mind and was pleasantly surprised. The movie, although boasting some comedic actors was surprisingly dramatic, eerie and deep. All of the actors in the movie performed wonderfully.

The basic synopsis is: When his dysfunctional family clashes over the holidays, young Max is disillusioned and turns his back on Christmas. Little does he know, this lack of festive spirit has unleashed the wrath of Krampus: a demonic force of ancient evil intent on punishing non-believers.

The story is well thought out. You get to know the family that the film focuses on and realize that some of the relatives in the film closely mimic those in your life as well. Very relatable characters in general. The story doesn’t waste too much time with its set up or its message. It really gets right to the point that we take the holidays and the meaning of the holidays in a different direction than we’re supposed to. So we better be careful, otherwise Krampus may come.

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The movie has an overall authentic, class holiday movie feel. It also tackles issues with faith, relationships and of course with the horror of Krampus and his minions. The movie has a creepy feel and you keep holding your breath to see that Krampus creature. The ending was surprising and different. The movie has a clear mission and message for the viewer and I enjoyed the way they shared it. Definitely worth a watch in my opinion. My husband asked if it would be in my yearly Christmas movie watch list, I said it just might be.

Considering the acting, the story and the overall feel, I would give this film a 9/10. I gave it a little higher rating because there are very few current horror/thriller movies that actually creep me out like this one.

Joy-A Review

JoyfilmposterFinally got to watch this movie recently, after not getting a chance to watch it in theaters. I was really intrigued because the initial trailer was so random and I had no idea what it was about, but it had a lot of the same cast members from Silver Linings Playbook so I was interested in seeing it partly because of this as well. I learned before watching the movie that it was about the rise of Joy Mangano who is an inventor and business woman. The movie chronicles her life leading up to her first invention, the self-wringing Miracle Mop.

There are no complaints about the acting, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert Deniro and Bradley Cooper all give stellar performances. Virgina Madsen also gives a wonderful performance as Joy’s mother. I think everyone cared about this movie and it shows in their acting through every scene. I really didn’t see anyone phoning it in at all during this movie. You understood each character and felt for certain characters. You can make it personal as you watch this movie.

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The writing was well done as well. You wouldn’t think that a story about someone inventing a mop would keep you interested but it does. You watch as Joy experiences wins and losses as she grasps her way to becoming a better woman, mother and businesswoman. I really liked the story and it helped me understand who Joy is (the real Joy is alive) and what she had to go through to get there. Whatever you don’t see on camera is explained in words on the screen at the end, so there’s no loose ends of information, in my opinion.

The overall feel is empowerment. I don’t know about how men would feel watching this movie, but as a woman I felt empowered. To see what she had to go through to get noticed and accepted was amazing and pioneering for women who wanted to get into business. While watching you get excited for her, frustrated with her and empowered when she manages to get the pieces together. Definitely worth the rental or watch to check it out. Overall considering the acting, story and overall feel I would give this film a 9/10. Really enjoyed it.

Hush-A Review

Hush_2016_posterThis movie was released this year on Netflix. The trailer was great and the whole story line was very promising. I think somewhere along the line the story got lost or sent on a different direction without paying much attention to what it would do the characters and the overall feel of the movie was the viewer was done watching it. As always, I like to look at a movie and comment about the story, the acting and overall feel.

The basic synopsis that you can find for Hush is that a deaf writer who retreated into the woods to live a solitary life must fight for her life in silence when a masked killer appears in her window. Sounds like a story right? Well, it starts off well enough. The acting is pretty good, with some relatively unknown actors. It has the feel of a low-budget film and starts off fine with its main character, co-stars and story. It’s when we meet our villain that the story starts faltering. It feels like certain actions were done by characters not to benefit them, but to elongate the movie and to draw out the suspense for as long as possible. There are some things that would’ve worked better for the characters and the story, but then I’m sure that would’ve cut off time from the overall project.

If the story had been attended to a bit more, I think the whole movie would’ve been so much better. You end up not really caring too much for any of the characters and I think it’s important for the viewer to feel a connection with someone. If not the main character, the villain?

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Again, the acting was good, I think it would’ve been better with a more fine tuned script in their hands. But honestly, for a low-budget film the actors did an amazing job. The script kind of took an odd turn after turn after the first 20 minutes, the result is possibly not feeling a connection with the characters, but some may like this. I think they faced a dilemma of making some logical choices and having a shorter movie, or making some not so logical decisions and elongating the movie. The overall feel was of suspense. It had you starting with suspense and tension and left you with some question marks from the middle towards the end. But I think it’s worth the watch if you’re at home and want to watch something different.

Considering the acting, story and overall feel, I would give this film a 5/10.

The Forest-Movie Review

The_Forest_PosterI remember seeing the trailer for this movie and getting really excited. It looked to have mystery and I knew there would be jump scares. Because in today’s modern horror/thriller films, they were expected. Part of my excitement was due to the fact that the story was taking place in real creepy and morbid location.

The film takes place in Japan, mainly in Aokigahara, also known as Suicide Forest, at the base of Mount Fuji. If you just google this place you find out that hundreds, if not thousands of lost souls have gone here to die. One can imagine the chill in the air that surrounds the area. The forest itself is small, at 14 miles. However, it is said that the environment can be treacherous. There is dense vegetation, uneven forest floors and even caves/caverns that you can fall and injure yourself in. The forest is not easy to navigate so you can become easily lost. What makes that situation worse is that GPS devices, phones and even compasses tend not to work in the forest. So you really do have to know your way or…your purpose.

So on the location alone, the movie is great in showing casing its history and the beauty of it. The lead of the film is played by Natalie Dormer (Game of Thrones; Hunger Games). She carries the film well, having you sympathize with her and the situation she is facing, however, you do question some of her choices on multiple occasions throughout the film. The script/story for the most part is realistic but then it takes a weird turn. Without going into spoiler details, let’s just say that this movie went with the pattern that most horror/thriller movies are running with these days. That would be the whole, what is unseen, the hidden meaning/message is there. You’re supposed to learn something from it. The underlying message that the movie is trying to relay conflicts with the flow of the first half of the movie.

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It’s like the movie starts with a good old-fashioned story line and then halfway through it feels like the writers decided to change it into a different movie. If they had stayed the course with their original idea, I’m sure it would’ve been a film to rival The Conjuring and the Insidious films. The feel of the film is pretty creepy in the first half of the film. When it gets near the middle or just past the middle, the story starts losing me a bit. The film is no longer as traditionally creepy because you now know there’s some other agenda. It’s not just cut and dry like you want it to be.

Considering the story, the acting and the feel, I would give this film a  5/10. I was really hopeful for more, but did not get what I felt was promised to me by the film’s trailer. I would still encourage people to see it, to see if they agree with me.

I’m Chevy Chase…and You’re Not-Book Review

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I want to paint a picture for you…of a young girl age 8 in her Christmas pajamas. She’s watching a Christmas movie that she and her family watches every year. The girl not only enjoys it because it’s funny, but also because the dad in that film reminded her of her own dad. The film was about a notorious family just trying to celebrate the holidays with the usually traditions. Yes, I’m talking about Christmas Vacation. And yes, that young girl was me. I grew up watching Chevy Chase movies with my parents and loved them very dearly. I thought Chevy Chase was hilarious and I could’ve sworn he was a long-lost brother of my father. Seriously, they look very much alike.

Anyways, I grew up with Chevy Chase and was crushed when he started not appearing in the movies or on television, as much as he used to. I thought maybe he retired or was taking a break. Which really was the case. I got excited when he resurfaced again on a TV show called community. But I wanted more. I just couldn’t understand how one of America’s most beloved comedians/actors just suddenly became second fiddle to a bunch of young actors. I didn’t realize that there was an answer to these questions until I found his biography at the library. I saw it and just had to read it immediately.

The biography is less than 300 pages, so I was able to read it quickly. The book was a natural timeline, starting from Chevy’s birth to his decision to pull away from Hollywood. I learned things that I never before knew about Chevy Chase. I learned that he was physically abused constantly by his mother. I learned that a misunderstanding with a studio head and his wife, led to Chevy being professionally sabotaged. There had been a recent rumor that he had used the N word to describe a fellow actor on the show Community, but as the book explains, the press takes everything out of context. Chevy was upset at how some characters were being portrayed and that argument caused someone to say that he was being racist. Which in reality Chevy was not. He had hung out with people from different backgrounds frequently as an adult, with blues musicians he idled. But somehow, he was labeled a racist. I got to see a different side of the comedian/actor that reaffirmed what I had always thought of him. That he is a good person and deserves good things too. I really hope he regains popularity again soon, on both TV and movie screens.

For his book, I would rate it 9/10.

Trainwreck-The Review

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To be honest, when Amy Schumer first came into the public eye, I wasn’t so sure I would like her style of comedy or the way she conducted herself. I thought, do we really need a female version of Seth Rogan? Nothing against him, I just didn’t to see a woman needing to stoop to that comedy in order to be noticed. I know that women can be funny in all sorts of ways. Take me for instance, I can make people laugh, some have mentioned or joked that I should do standup. The problem is, I think my comedy comes from just being myself in everyday conversations. Who knows what would happen if I went on a stage to try to be funny. Anyways, there’s a point to this. In the comedy world, I feel that the majority of the films have been overtly sexual and/or raunchy. I’ve grown weary of watching another comedy that had more language and sex than actual substance and heart.

I had been putting off seeing Trainwreck for the reasons mentioned above, however I heard from a review that it was an important movie for women everywhere, that it broke boundaries. After months of avoiding the film I finally decided to risk it and watch it. I was pleasantly surprised as the movie and its story laid out before me. There really wasn’t a whole lot of sex, the language was tamer than I expected and there was definitely more heart than I would have ever expected. The basic synopsis of the film (from IMDb): Having thought that monogamy was never possible, a commitment-phobic career woman may have to face her fears when she meets a good guy. Amy Schumer plays the commitment-phobic woman and the good guy is played by SNL alum Bill Hader. They both have great chemistry in the movie as well as good dialogue.

The writing is fantastic, written by Amy Schumer of course, with its execution of drama, comedy and realism. It’s a story that seems more real and less all-positive romantic comedy. Schumer does a great job of having you keep track of what’s going on in the lives of multiple characters. You watch as all three of them grow throughout the timeline of the film and are satisfied with where they end up at the conclusion of the film. It was truly an amazing film covering many current topics of today: women in the workplace breaking the glass ceiling, women currently dating, whether a woman can be “adventurous” and the workings of a relationship. It really is a beautiful film and I would recommend it to anyone who is looking for a different, refreshing comedy. I’m really looking forward to Amy Schumer’s next film.

Addendum: I realized that to do a review, you must have some sort of conclusion or rating at the end. Considering the story, the acting and the direction, I would give this film a solid 9/10.

The War: A Ken Burns Film

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Recently my husband talked me into watching a documentary. I was hesitant at first because to be honest, some documentaries can be really slow or the subject can be something you consider non-documentary worthy. I really have to be interested in the subject, to be compelled to watch the documentary. I’m not crazy, you have to invest time when watching a documentary, so it might as well be on a subject that you’re interested in.

He told me it was a documentary about World War II. We’re both kind of history buffs and I especially was always drawn to World War II. I always consider that one of the biggest wars in our history. So when my husband mentioned the documentary I was intrigued. I knew I would need to set aside time to watch it, because it was a seven episode series and each episode is at least an hour or more. It was a great undertaking but, as I said, I was intrigued. I thought, how could you spend so much time on one war?

What I didn’t realize is that the documentary only covered the stories of those from a handful of towns in America. Imagine how much time the documentary would require to cover World War II stories from every city in America, because you know that every city experienced the war. Every city had to make sacrifices, including their loved ones going off to fight. I watched every episode learned every name and story. I liked the structure of the series, in that it started at the beginning of the war, introduced you to individuals and families that experienced it and at the end you get a conclusion for each person you learned about.

The series was filled with photographs and video showing combat, Americans at home, and Americans  who were POWs. It really is an interesting series and worth the time to watch. If you’re a history fan or love the documentaries, I think you will really love this series. Right now all seven episodes are streaming on Netflix.

Movie Review-House of Wax (1953)

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Just watched this old gem again last evening. It’s really amazing to see what they were accomplishing in film in the 1950s. I wanted to review this film in order to thrust it back into the spotlight, so it can be respected for its importance in history.

Atmosphere:

The overall atmosphere is generally creepy. You know that odd things are going on constantly and it is creepy not knowing what will happen next in the story. The atmosphere stays with you until the end/conclusion and possibly even afterwards, as you ponder what you would’ve done if you were in that position.

Script:

The story is well written and balanced. It starts well, with a conflict occurring that helps you to relate to the main character (played by Vincent Price). The dialogue is believable and the resolution is truthful and quite possible if this situation were to play out in real life. However, to me there is a question of whether certain parts were taken too far or whether certain things were focused on longer than they would’ve been in real life. Overall the script was bearable, as most 1950s films can have lackluster stories, and it keeps you interested and keen on seeing the conclusion.

Acting:

The acting overall is good, the best being of course Mr. Vincent Price. His performance is always a well balance of realism and dramatic flare. In this movie he did exactly what I expected, but had less dramatic flare this time. The other actors were fine, but you can really tell who the leading talent is in this picture.

Revolutionary:

I say this film is revolutionary mainly because of one part, which I hadn’t noticed in movies before 1953 (forgive me if I’m wrong), but a character was talking and interacting with the audience. I think this is the earliest example I’ve seen of this type of behavior. It really did surprise me.

Overall: This film may have not been nominated for an Oscar, but it’s definitely worth a watch if you want to watch something creepy and interesting. Would recommend anyone watch it for a good dose of creepy! 🙂