Total Pageviews

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Five enchanting Netflix finds in April

Netflix offers a couple of golden eggs this month if you know where to look. Here are five choices that are totally ten-buck worthy.

Enchanted April (1991)
Four British women rent a chateau on a remote Italian island in this sophisticated romantic comedy. I watch this breezy gem every April. Trust me; it’s charming enough for you to do the same. Available now.

Chris D’Elia: Incorrigible (2015) 
This Netflix original features an edgy comic who will be on everyone’s radar soon. You may know him from his sitcoms: Whitney, Workaholics and NBC’s rising hit Undateable. But a lot more people are going to clue in to his fine brand of funny now that he roasted Justin Beaver on Comedy Central. Available April 17

A Five Star Life (2014)
Hop into the life of Irene, a luxury hotel critic for about two hours (please!). A five star hotel is the height of luxury, of course. Although this film isn't a five star story, the settings are breathtaking and it's fun to see Irene simply doing her job — and learn a little about that industry. It's worth the trip. Available now.

Bound (1996)
If you haven’t seen all fifty shades of Wachowski Brother’s (Matrix) film starring Jennifer Tilly and Gina Gershon, now’s your chance. Netflix adds this surprisingly good erotic thriller on April 1, no foolin'.

Noah (2014)
After watching Bound, you may feel the need to check out this epic film from last year (2014). I expect this bloated, big budget film, starring Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly and Anthony Hopkins, will play better in the comfort of home versus than it did in the theater. Save it for a rainy day. Available April 18

Worth ten bucks: All are ten-buck worthy.

Bonus unseen film, but a good bet: Marvel’s Daredevil (2015)
I’m not suggesting you watch the Ben Affleck bomb, but I think Netflix’s new series with Marvel is a good bet; Daredevil was always one of the more interesting super heroes. The first three episodes will be available to stream beginning April 10th.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Woman In Gold

what is the painting from Woman In Gold
Bronze at best.

Woman in Gold is a film based on the true story of a Jewish refugee’s battle against the Austrian government to reclaim a family painting stolen by Nazis. It’s not just any painting. It’s Klimt's 1907 The Lady In Gold, the Mona Lisa of Austria.

It’s a fascinating 60-year story. And although the movie is not 60-years long, Simon Curtis, the director of the memorable My Week With Marilyn, tells it in the most boring fashion one could imagine.

It doesn’t help that the snooze-inducing and soulless Ryan Reynolds plays the key lawyer role. I don’t know why he was chosen — I suppose someone thought he looks cute in glasses? He is matched well with Katie Holmes, who generated unintended laughs by playing his wife in a tone that seems like she's doing another film. On the positive side, she does have some cute outfits to showcase.

Helen Mirren was obviously up for the emotional task of playing the elder Jewish refugee with a claim to the painting, but she has too much depth to play such a passive character to the action of the film and does not pair well with Reynolds.

I'm left to wonder what this film might have been with Mark Ruffalo or Eddie Redmayne.

Simply put: The Monument’s Woman: another non-masterpiece about seized art from the WWII era.
Award potential: A Weinstein film about art, starring Helen Mirren — released in March? Obviously no one is expecting any awards.
The ten buck review: Not worth ten bucks.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

who died in first best exotic marigold hotel
Second is not good enough.

While it was a joy just to see these fine British actors onscreen in their charming roles from the original The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011), the sequel offers zero of the inspirations found in the original film.

At best, the new film’s plot mirrors an episode of The Love Boat. Character’s stories are re-introduced, broken up and put back together with the time and care given to a 1980’s TV show.

Unfortunately for those of us fond of the first one, this is a painfully meandering two hours and two minutes long film. I believe those two minutes are the amount of time that the characters actually are in the hotel. The film is obsessed with moving. Everyone is constantly in a cab, motorcycles, trams, planes, convertibles, a new hotel, a convention hotel — or wandering aimlessly around the market. I’m not sure where all these characters were going; I just wish the film went somewhere.

Simply put: The title says it all. If you simply must go despite anything I say, I understand. You’ll enjoy zingers by Dames Maggie Smith and Judi Dench — plus the fun of a totally disruptive music video sequence.

Award potential: No awards for Second Best.

The ten buck review: Not worth ten bucks.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Survive the first Downton-less Sunday of 2015

When is the new season of Downton Abbey U.S.

It's fitting we should lose an hour this Sunday because it's the first Downton-less Sunday in a few months and we hardly need that hour. But if you can't stand the thought of waiting until January 2016, get your fix and feed your Downton Addiction with these five-plus films that even the Dowager Countess of Grantham would approve of.

1. Gosford Park (2001)
Gosford Park is a 1930’s period film, written by Julian Fellowes, the creator of Downton Abbey, and directed by the legendary Robert Altman. Upstairs guests and downstairs servants are assembled for a hunting party weekend when one of the group is murdered. It’s a high-class whodunit with a dream ensemble cast including: Helen Mirren, Kristin Scott Thomas, Emily Watson, Clive Owen, Ryan Phillippe — and Maggie Smith as Constance, a dependent countess with a quip for every occasion.

2. The Remains Of The Day (1993)
If you think Mr. Carson is uptight, then it’s time to meet Mr. Stevens. Anthony Hopkins (Mr. Stevens) and Emma Thompson (Miss Kenton) star in this moving story of a butler's steely devotion to his master (Christopher Reeve) and the high-spirited young woman who threatens to crack his reserve. The Remains of the Day received Academy Award nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Screenplay and more.

3. Cranford (2007)
Cranford, a BBC mini series, is a charming period drama set in northwest England in 1842. Dame Judi Dench leads a cast of quirky, snarky and lovable characters who live in a place governed by etiquette, custom and above all, an intricate network of ladies. Jim Carter, Downton’s Mr. Carson, appears in many episodes.

4. Anna Karenia (2012)
Set in late-19th-century Russia high-society, the aristocrat Anna Karenina (Keira Knightley) enters into a life-changing affair with the affluent Count Vronsky (Jude Law). Michelle Dockery, Downton’s Lady Mary Crawley has a role as Princess Myagkaya.

5. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011)
Both Maggie Smith (The Dowager Countess) and Penelope Wilton (Isobel Crawley) are featured in this film set in India and based on the book by Debora Moggach.
The film also features British actors like Bill Nighy, Judi Dench and 
Tom Wilkinson. See the original; avoid the pale sequel.
6. The Secrets of The Manor House Series
Secrets of the Manor House, a PBS documentary series, looks at many ancient British houses, and how mounting financial, political and social pressures brought momentous changes to both the wealthy and their servants. 
The Secrets of Highclere Castle explores the home that is the setting to Downtown Abbey, The Secrets of Althorp –The Spencers navigates viewers through the childhood home and final resting place of Diana, Princess of Wales and The Secrets of Henry VIII's Palace: Hampton Court Secrets of Chatsworth visits the Tudor palace. All are perfectly charming.  
All are worth ten bucks.