• 2014

Year: 2014

“Palo Alto”–Typically “Shallow Alto”?

  I really, really wanted to like this movie, filmed on the street where we lived for almost twenty years.  I gave it every hall pass I could, especially since I think James Franco is a gifted actor, writer and artist.  Still, this is not a movie worth seeing.   The narrative focuses on shy, bored April (Emma Roberts), who comes from a family in which her stepfather (Val Kilmer), appears to be a stoner although there is no backstory whatsoever on her connection to her stepfather nor her feelings towards him.   She gets involved in a sexual relationship with her soccer coach Mr. B (a...

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“Belle”–Ringing for Justice

    Of the many movies involving slave trade, films like “Belle”, “12 Years a Slave” and “Amistad”  attempt to view the atrocities of slavery from the perspective of a slave or, in the case of Belle, an illegitimate daughter of a British nobleman, Admiral Sir John Lindsay (in a brief role by Matthew Goode).  Inspired by a 1779 painting of Dido Elizabeth Belle and her cousin Elizabeth Murray, the story looks into who Belle may have been, since few facts about her actually exist today. In the film, Dido (“Belle”, played by the stunning...

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SideTour–When You Don’t Want to Feel Like a Tourist

On a recent vacation in New York City, we thought we would try out SideTour (www.sidetour.com), an online marketplace for unusual, offbeat experiences and activities.  Originally designed not for tourists but for locals who want to discover secret treasures in their own neighborhood, the company has now begun to expand to Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Diego,  San Francisco, and Seattle. Acquired by Groupon in mid-2013,  SideTour continues to gain momentum and expand its repertoire while continuing to keep group size between 5-12 participants on average and costs within the $25-85 price...

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“Nebraska” –A Husky Tale in the Cornhusker State

In Alexander Payne’s Academy Award-nominated black-and-white drama, we see the story of a parent with unfulfilled dreams who has damaged adult children who care deeply but are also deeply wounded. A companion piece to “August: Osage County” (see my review January 29, 2014). The film opens with Woody Grant (Bruce Dern in the performance of his career!)  wandering the streets of  Billings, Montana.   Woody’s son, David (Will Forte of Saturday Night Live fame) is called by the police to pick up his septuagenarian father who wants to walk to Lincoln, Nebraska to collect...

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“Philomena”–The Story of a Mother’s Loss

It has been almost eleven years after the groundbreaking and award-winning film “The Magdalene Sisters” (2002), a fictionalized drama based on three young Irish women who survive the dehumanizing abuse as inmates of a Magdalene Sisters Asylum, one of many that existed in Ireland and other parts of the Catholic world in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.  Now, we have the remarkable and moving story of Philomena Lee, in the movie named after her, in which she searches for over fifty years for the little boy taken from her as a teenager. “Philomena”, nominated for...

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Netflix Instant Queue–My List

My last blog on the pleasure of curling up to watch past episodes of favorite TV programs or programs and movies you missed while they were being released for the first time was on February 6, 2012 (“Netflix Instant Queue”–BBC’s Your Best Bet). Netflix is now a juggernaut.  For me the pleasures of Netflix downloading has tripled just like their stock. And just as Amazon is challenging the distribution of bricks-and-mortar publishing by promoting e-books, so Netflix is challenging the entertainment world of cinema and television with instant streaming. A few recommendations...

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