Watched: late September 2016 via Netflix streaming
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Directed by: Benny Chan
Starring: Andy Lau, Nicholas Tse with an appearance by Jackie Chan
Short Synopsis (via IMDb.com): After ambushing and killing his rival, losing everything in the process, dispirited warlord Hou Jie turns to a Shaolin monastery seeking salvation.
My husband caught part of this movie on our Dish Network DVR, but was unable to find another airing of it to re-record the whole movie. Neither was it available On Demond from Dish Network. I did find it, however, available via Netflix streaming. We streamed it on a lazy Sunday evening. We’d spent much of the day being lazy thanks to a gentle fall rain which ended in a spectacular sunset:
I didn’t realize until after finishing the movie that this was a remake of Jet Li’s classic Shaolin Temple (1982), which I have not seen (or don’t remember watching) but will remedy that lack in the near future.
While I enjoyed the story and the martial arts in Shaolin, what struck me most was the performance by Andy Lau. I’ve now added at least four more of his recent and highest rated films to my Netflix queue. Many of the supporting actors turned in good performances as well.
Many of the themes resonate with my Christian upbringing and lead me to further research and reading into Buddhism. I need to foster tolerance and understanding, embrace our similarities and understand our differences. Knowledge is power and tempered with love and compassion, can make the world a better place.
I watched Eye in the Sky several weeks ago and made sure my dad also watched it. We (my ad and I) had to wait to discuss the movie with my uncle, a retired Air Force Colonel, until had a chance to watch the movie. If you have not watched this movie, I highly recommend it.
My questions to him included the micromanagement of the civilian government(s) during the operation; the incredible moral dilemma placed upon the drone pilot; the portrayal of the American government as being the ‘shoot first, ask questions later’ sort; and of course the excellent closing remarks made by the now deceased Alan Rickman to his civilian government overseer.
“Never tell a soldier that he does not know the cost of war.”
Movie Review: Eye in the Sky, directed by Gavin Hood Four Stars “Never tell a soldier that he does not know the cost of war.” Alan Rickman’s last movie investigates waging war in the twenty-first century. The movie centers on the complexity and mortal dilemmas surrounding using drones as remote killing weapons. Helen Mirren stars, […]
via Movie Review: Eye in the Sky, directed by Gavin Hood (Four Stars) — As a Matter of Fancy
Watched BluRay: 06/23/2016
Directed by: Kevin Reynolds
Story by Paul Aiello
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Brief Plot Synopsis (via IMdb): In 33 AD, a Roman Tribune in Judea is tasked to find the missing body of an executed Jew rumored to have risen from the dead.
I normally detest police procedurals (there are way too many of those in a myriad of permutations in prime-time television), but this one intrigued me. Excellent sets, costumes, locations and above average acting gave me hope that this faith-based film would overcome it’s predecessors shortcomings. And for the most part, I was not disappointed. I had minor historical quibbles which I confirmed at IMdb’s Goofs page ( I caught them all without checking the internet).
Continue reading “Movie Review: Risen (2016) 3.5 Stars”
Release Date: April 2015
Watched via Netflix DVD: May 2016
3.5 out of 5 stars
Synopsis (from IMdb): The chief mercenary for the British East India Company, being double crossed by his former employer, has made his way to the American Colonies. Working to redeem his name, William Reynolds (Andrew Cheney) now hides behind a different mask in hopes of thwarting his former employer. As his past life closes in on him, Will must somehow gain the trust and the help of his beloved Charlotte, a woman he has been lying to, as well as a colonial intellectual by the name of Ben Franklin. All the while he races against time to defuse a plot that could have devastating effect on the birth of a new nation.
The story was intriguing and I’m always a sucker for a Revolutionary tale. The actors performed well (I laughed, I almost cried). Yet, I remained unconvinced in the sincerity of Will’s conversion, but his actions and convictions spoke louder than his words throughout. Charlotte’s constant protestations of confusion made me doubt her intelligence, but she redeemed herself admirably before the credits. I spotted the telegraphed clues to the mystery early on, so the plotting was almost as heavy-handed as the special effects, which I thought were a bit over-played.
I liked the score, except perhaps for the repeated use of Pachelbel’s Canon, which really wasn’t popular until the 1970s, not the 1776 (in fact it was pretty much lost to history until the early 20th century).
Christian film-making is improving. I continue to hold out hope and with each passing year my prayers are answered for an improved storytelling experience.
Give Beyond the Mask a try. You might find a spark of redemption waiting for you.
Testament of Youth
Released: January 2015
Watched Netflix BluRay: February 2016
Read Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain: January/February 2015
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Synopsis: In 1914, Vera Brittain overcomes the restraints on women of the time to become a student at Somerville College, Oxford. When World War I breaks out, her brother Edward, her fiancé Roland Leighton, and their friends Victor and Geoffrey, are sent to serve at the front lines. Brittain follows their sacrifice, leaving college to join the Voluntary Aid Detachment as a nurse tending the wounded and dying (both British and German) in London, Malta and France.
I watched this with my husband on Sunday afternoon, Valentine’s Day. A less bleak day than Saturday the 13th (overcast and never above 25 degrees). Today is bright and sunny and in the 50s. Almost spring like. I’m beginning to think I should have watched Testament of Youth yesterday instead of the Water Diviner. Continue reading “Movie Review: Testament of Youth (4 stars)”
The Water Diviner
Released: December 2014 (Australia) and April 2015 (America)
Watched Netflix BluRay: February 2016
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Four years after the Battle of Gallipoli, Australian farmer Joshua Connor (Russell Crowe) travels to Turkey to find his three sons, who never returned home from the war. When he arrives in Istanbul, he meets others who have also suffered losses: hotelier Ayshe (Olga Kurylenko) and her son, Orhan, who befriends Connor; and Major Hasan (Yilmaz Erdogan), a Turkish officer who fought against Connor’s sons and now may be their father’s only hope in finding closure.
My husband and I watched this on Saturday afternoon, Valentine’s Day weekend. I did not expect there to be a touching romance, but was pleasantly surprised to find one midst all the death Joshua persevered through in his search for his sons
Continue reading “Movie Review: The Water Diviner (4.5 stars)”
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.
The Railway Man (2013)
Watched via Netflix BluRay February 2015
3.5 out of 5 stars
Plot Synopsis (via Wikipedia):
During World War II, Eric Lomax (Firth) is a British officer who is captured by the Japanese in Singapore and sent to a Japanese POW camp where he is forced to work on the Thai-Burma Railway north of the Malay Peninsula. During his time in the camp as one of the Far East Prisoners of War, Lomax is tortured by the Kempetai for building a radio receiver from spare parts. This is apparently due to his falling under suspicion of being a spy for supposedly using the British news broadcast receiver as a transmitter of military intelligence. His only intention, in fact, had been to use the device as a morale booster for himself and his fellow prisoner-slaves. The torture depicted includes beatings and waterboarding.
Years later and still suffering the psychological trauma of his wartime experiences, with the help of his wife Patti (Kidman) and best friend Finlay (Skarsgård), Lomax (Firth) decides to find and confront one of his captors who had escaped prosecution as a war criminal. He returns to the scene of his torture after he has tracked down Japanese officer Takashi Nagase (Sanada) “in an attempt to let go of a lifetime of bitterness and hate”.
I believe I put this movie in my Netflix queue upon finishing the book Judy back in late November. The book told a more horrific story of the British POWs held by Japan after the fall of Singapore, but Continue reading “Movie Review: The Railway Man (2013) 3.5 Stars”
American Sniper (2014)
Directed by Clint Eastwood
Watched with husband in theater on Monday January 19, 2015
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Synopsis (via Wikipedia):
American Sniper is a 2014 American biographical war drama film directed by Clint Eastwood and written by Jason Hall. It is based on Chris Kyle’s autobiography American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History. With 255 kills, 160 of which were officially confirmed by the Department of Defense, Kyle is the deadliest marksman in U.S. military history. His widow Taya Renae Kyle was heavily involved with the making of the film.
To be completely honest, I did not plan on seeing this movie in theaters. We recently upgraded our home entertainment system (by remodeling the family room which spent nearly ten years as a rock band rehearsal studio) and find it less compelling to spend nearly $50 to ‘enjoy’ a movie in an actual movie theater. I hadn’t even seen any trailers because I rarely watch television and when I do, I fast forward through all the commercials. But an eye-catching Tweet popped up in my newsfeed that piqued my interest. It was the one penned by Michael Moore espousing that ‘snipers are cowards.’ I particularly like Newt Gingrich’s quick reply that Michael should spend some time in terrorist controlled zones to better appreciate our defenders (see CNN’s article for more on this controversy).
Continue reading “Movie Review: American Sniper (2014) – 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.
Savings Mr. Banks jumps back and forth between Continue reading “Movie Review: Saving Mr. Banks (2013) – 4 Stars”