Movie Review: St. Vincent (2014)

St. Vincent (2014)

Watched BluRay (via Netflix) September 2015

Rating: 3.5 to 4 stars

Very brief synopsis (via IMDB): A young boy whose parents have just divorced finds an unlikely friend and mentor in the misanthropic, bawdy, hedonistic war veteran who lives next door.

This film surprised me.  All the performances were above average.  Granted, this wasn’t much of a stretch for Bill Murray, but he did have a few shining moments.  Lots of good laughs along with some very touching tragedy.  We were all smiling and crying by the time the credits rolled.

I can see why it did so well at last year’s film festivals.  Give this one a try.  You’ll probably like it.

Movie Review: Saving Mr. Banks (2013) – 4 Stars

Savings Mr. Banks

3.5-4 stars out of 5 stars

Watched BluRay June 1, 2014

My husband and I watched Saving Mr. Banks last Sunday evening.  We both enjoyed the movie, especially the acting.  I took the ‘story’ with a grain of salt, realizing early on that some liberties must have been taken with the facts to create a more enjoyable experience for the audience.  I confirmed this in my spare time this week and will relate some of those findings later on in this review.

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Movie Review: One for the Money (2012)

One for the Money (2012)

3 out of 5 stars

I can count on one hand (well, half a hand) the number of movies produced by Lionsgate that I enjoyed (most of them I couldn’t finish).  The most recent one I liked was Man on a Ledge and before that it was Conan, but only barely.  So I had a chip on my shoulder when I started watching One for the Money earlier this week.  I convinced myself I would not like the film but soon found myself laughing and forgetting the whole Lionsgate bad reputation stigma.

I only scratched my head once in confusion during the movie.  And it had nothing to do with the plot and everything to do with a t-shirt Katherine Heigl wore early in the movie.  Why would a girl from Jersey (where the movie was set) be wearing a University of Kansas t-shirt?  I even checked Heigl’s biography at but could find no trace of her being from Kansas, or attending KU, or having any ties to my home state whatsoever.  Perhaps the director is a fan?

Wardrobe malfunctions aside, the movie was funny and predictable, and I didn’t mind wasting my time watching it.  A little brevity goes a long way during the dog days of Summer.

Movie Review: Johnny English Reborn (2011)

Johnny English Reborn (2011)

3.5 out of 5 stars

Terry and I watched this movie on a lazy summer Sunday afternoon.  We got quite a few laughs from the antics of Rowan Atkinson as Johnny English, a reinstated (disgraced) secret agent for MI7.  The surprising appearance of Gillian Anderson as Pegasus, the head of MI7, supplied an interesting dramatic validity to an otherwise ‘normal’ British comedy.

Movie Review: Hatari! (1962)

Hatari! (1962)

4 out of 5 stars

I did a double-take when I realized this movie is fifty years old this year.  I grew up with this movie.  I’ve seen it I don’t know how many times.  So when I had a chance to catch it again this week via HDNet movies, I snatched it.

No, there’s not much plot, but there’s plenty of comedy, ridiculous romance (it was the early 60s) and action.  Hatari! provides a  feast for the eyes, with gorgeous cinematography of north Tanzania (back then it was Tanganyika) and the dormant volcano Mount Meru as a backdrop plus great action sequences, including an astounding close-up of a charging rhinoceros.  For my ears, I relaxed to the soothing jazzy soundtrack composed by Henry Mancini, including Baby Elephant Walk … one of the first songs I learned to play on the piano.

Most of the actors have passed on (John Wayne in 1979, Bruce Cabot in 1975, Red Buttons in 2006), leaving only Elsa Martinelli, who portrayed Dallas, and Hardy Krüger, who portrayed Kurt, but who is probably more famous for his role as Heinrich Dorfmann, the model plane engineer from The Flight of the Phoenix(1965), still alive today.

Interesting tidbit or trivia from the Wikipedia article on Hatari!

According to director Howard Hawks, all the animal captures in the picture were performed by the actual actors; no stuntmen or animal handlers were substituted onscreen. The rhino really did escape, and the actors really did have to recapture it – and Hawks included the sequence for its realism. Much of the action sequence audio had to be re-dubbed due to John Wayne’s cursing while wrestling with the animals.

The title of the film is the word “hatari,” which means “danger” in Swahili.

If no stunt double were used, then it’s a miracle that Hardy and Gerard Blain were not killed or seriously injured when their Jeep went tumbling across the African plains.  Danger, or Hatari! for real!

Movie Review: Hancock (2008)

Hancock (2008)

3 out of 5 stars

Terry and I surfed the St. Patrick’s Day line-up in despair of finding anything to watch.  ABC Family Channel had a Harry Potter marathon running opposite a Die Hard Day marathon on AMC.  We finally settled on doing a double-play (watching two channels simultaneously, sort of, from our DVR) of Hancock on FX and the original Die Hard on AMC.  We paused the movies long enough to grill up some Honey Garlic boneless chicken thighs and try some brown rice and quinoa.

This is probably the third or fourth time I’ve watched Hancock.  FX mutilated it for content and to fit the time allotted but I could easily fill-in-the-blanks from my previous viewings.  Not an earth-shattering story or performance, beyond Hancock’s abrupt take-off and landings, but a nice diversion for an otherwise lazy Saturday evening at home.

Movie Review: Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011)

Four out of Five Stars

My husband and I braved the last-Sunday-before-Christmas-crowds at the Legends shopping center to watch this latest installment in the Sherlock Holmes universe.  Strangely, our theatre (the largest one at the Phoenix Theatre complex) was sparsely populated for the mid-afternoon matinee.  Be that as it may, we thoroughly enjoyed the film. The musical score grated less on the ears this time (more classical orchestration instead of the out-of-tune upright piano cacophony overused in the first movie). I can’t wait to re-watch this on DVD so I can pause it and examine certain scenes minutely. Even with my photographic memory, modern day editing gives viewers nanoseconds to absorb an incredible amount of relevant detail.  Despite the dreary gray British and French winter countryside, the cinematography was gorgeous, the highlight being the Swiss Alps.  The action frequently sported ultra-high-speed slow-motion sequences, punctuated with excellently choreographed audio.

Movie Review: A Dog Named Christmas

Hallmark Hall of Fame Movie: A Dog Named Christmas (2009)

Four out of Five Stars

I read the book this movie was based on last year for Christmas.  The author, Greg Kincaid, lives in Olathe, Kansas, just twenty or so miles south of my home via K-7.  But for some reason, the movie was not re-aired last year (or I completely missed it in the avalanche of Hallmark Channel Christmas movies that start in late November and don’t stop until nearly New Year’s).  This year, I caught the movie on my DVR when it aired on Saturday night.  My husband and I spent a very pleasant Sunday evening with the McCrays and their on-again-off-again adoption of a dog named Christmas.

Movie Review: The Accidental Spy

The Accidental Spy (2011)

Three out of Five Stars

My husband and I have separate Netflix queues (and have for years).  This DVD came in the mail Saturday so we popped it in the player for Saturday evening entertainment.  Who can resist a Jackie Chan action movie?  Not me.  The Turkish bath fight sequence brought a smile to my face.  The plot was hardly believable, but I really didn’t care.  It’s too much fun watching Jackie pretend to play the spy game.