Tag Archives: movies

Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

Geoffrey Rush and Sophie Nélisse made “The Book Thief” come alive.

Geoffrey Rush and Sophie Nélisse made “The Book Thief” come alive.

As regular readers know, the Mister and I see a lot of movies. In fact, on our first date we watched “A Fish Called Wanda” (and loved it). In 2013, we sat in the comfy AMC Theater or Santikos Palladium seats 37 times. It would’ve been a few more, but the Mister has had a horrible, hacking cough for a couple weeks (scores of early-morning movie patrons are thanking us for staying away).

That means I can’t add “American Hustle,” “Saving Mr. Banks,” “Frozen,” “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” or “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” to this list, all of which we plan to see this month. So keep that in mind when you consider whether or not you agree with my best and worst movie picks for 2013.

Virtual envelope, please!

My favorite flick last year? “The Book Thief.” I’m sure it was a tough task bring such an amazing, emotion-drenched novel (by Markus Zusak; read it!) to the big screen. The cast was outstanding. Foolishly, I only had one Kleenex with me; it was sopping wet well before the credits rolled.

Judi Dench always is good.

Judi Dench always is good.

Runners-up for my personal best movie were “Philomena,” “42,” “Monsters University” (I still love animated films), “Captain Phillips,” and “The Impossible.”

Loved the ending!

Loved the ending!

Films that surprised me in a good way? “Now You See Me,” “We’re the Millers,” “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” (better than the first one of the trilogy), and “Escape Plan” (yes, despite the non-acting abilities of Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger).

Now for the negative side of my selections. Fortunately, I liked most of the movies we saw. It seems like there was some redeeming value in the majority of them. Wish I could say that for the two that scraped the bottom of the barrel.

Boring with a rotten ending

Boring with a rotten ending

The runner-up was “All Is Lost,” a very apt title. Didn’t see it? Don’t! Robert Redford is the only actor, which should be enough . . . but it wasn’t. And I hate endings where you have to figure out what really happened. That’s such a cop-out.

And now . . . drum roll, please! . . . my pick for the worst move I saw in 2013:

Just so awful!

Just so awful!

It’s “The World’s End,” which is what I was wishing for halfway through the film. It made “The Expendables 2” almost worthwhile!

Well, not really.

Here’s hoping the Mister and I see many more good movies than bad this year. I’ve read that “The Expendables 3” is scheduled to debut on my birthday. That’s one present I do not want!

Our Kind of Father’s Day

Our younger and older sons surround their dad.

Our younger and older sons surround their dad.

When it comes to Father’s Day celebrations, ours are always low-key. Just like the Mister.

The boys made lovely cards.

The boys made lovely cards.

Our sons first gave their much-loved dad homemade cards.

Hope this gets a lot of use.

Hope this gets a lot of use.

Then the Mister got his big gift, as he was allowed to join the Nike FuelBand cool kids club (e.g., my younger son and I).

And now you don’t!

And now you don’t!

We always see a movie on Father’s Day. This time we opted for “Now You See Me” at our new Santikos Palladium. We liked both the flick and the venue!

That was followed with lunch at Pei Wei, and then everyone doing their own thing at home before we went to dinner at Wings ’n Things (the better to watch the San Antonio Spurs smack the Miami Heat). A fitting ending was our Netflix movie, “Think Like a Man,” which was pretty good.

This was the kind of day guaranteed to satisfy everyone . . . especially the Mister. What a wonderful Father’s Day for one of the luckiest dads in the world!

2012 Movies: Likes and Dislikes

Love those superheroes!

Love those superheroes (“Marvel’s The Avengers”)!

Most people we know will see a movie every few months or wait for the DVD to come out via Netflix.

But the Mister and I aren’t “most people.” We love seeing films on the big screen, usually AMC’s as we exercise its Stubs card. In 2012, we parked our carcasses in the plush seats 50 times. That’s a lot of indentions!

So does that make us experts when it comes to picking which movie will win the Oscar for best picture? Absolutely not (but I’ll bet “Lincoln” takes home the gold statuette). But that still won’t stop me from listing my selections for the year’s best and worst flicks that we did see (we tend to avoid the scary, ultra-violent, and just plain dumb movies, especially if they star Adam Sandler or Seth Rogen). I know what I like and dislike.

Drumroll, please!

John Goodman, Alan Arkin, and Ben Affleck in “Argo”

John Goodman, Alan Arkin, and Ben Affleck starred in “Argo.”

The Best 2012 Movies

1. “Argo.” With a plethora (my 25-cent word of the day) of wonderful movies, it’s really hard to pick a favorite. But what I really liked about “Argo” was how surprised we were at how well the story was told. Yes, even with Ben Affleck as the lead actor. If you didn’t see it in the theater, be sure to rent it.

2. “Lincoln.” Although it’s too long and tends to drone a bit, “Lincoln” is a great history lesson. Daniel Day-Lewis, who likely will win the Oscar as best actor, makes you believe that he really is Abraham Lincoln.

Eddie Redmayne

Eddie Redmayne

3. “Les Misérables.” Amazing singing, especially by Eddie Redmayne and Samantha Barks, as well as a compelling plot makes this a must-see for those who love musicals. Unfortunately for the Mister, who I dragged to this, it amounted to a $6 nap.

4. “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.” It’s nice to have a movie that works well for younger and older audiences. The acting was great, as was the story.

5. “Flight.” Denzel Washington. Enough said!

Honorable Mentions: “Marvel’s The Avengers” and “Looper.” I’m a sucker for superhero movies, possibly because the Flash is my animated husband. “The Avengers” was fun to see with my guys, especially on Mother’s Day. As for “Looper,” I loved the acting by Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as well as the plot.

“The Expendables 2”: Truly a dud

“The Expendables 2”: Truly a dud

The Worst 2012 Movies

1. “The Expendables 2.” This was possibly the worst flick I’ve ever seen! Bad, cheesy acting, ridiculous violence, and the dumbest storyline ever. Avoid, avoid, avoid!

2. “The Expendables 2.” Yep, it was that bad!!

3. “This Means War.” What was Reese Witherspoon thinking when she signed on for this creepy flop?

4. “Fun Size.” It just falls flat. All the good scenes were in the trailer.

5. “Jeff, Who Lives at Home.” Good cast, but the bad language ruins it.

What do you think of this list? Got your own faves and flops? Comment away!

A Cornucopia of Movie-Going

Bella and Edward continue in love forever.

During holidays, we love seeing movies. This recent Thanksgiving break was no different.

First up for me and my older son (he of the snarky, clever commentary) was “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2.” As continued from last year’s first part, Bella’s transition from human to vampire is explored, and the family prepares for the arrival of the nasty Volturi. I did like the somewhat-controversial twist at the end; it was a brillant addition to the plot.

Long story short, this flick is purely for Twihards who need to wrap up the series. Bella and Edward will live forever together. Fortunately for us, we don’t have to endure them and their band of wooden actors any more.

Sally Field and Daniel Day-Lewis: Possible Oscar winners again?

“Lincoln”

Usually we see a movie Thanksgiving morning, but this year we instead sweated out our Houston Texans’ overtime win against the Detroit Lions. Sweet! So the next day I dragged the Mister to see “Lincoln.” All I can say is “wow!” It’s definitely another Steven Spielberg masterpiece.

“Lincoln” is mostly about the struggle to pass the 13th amendment to abolish slavery by the U.S. House of Representatives. Earning probable Oscar nominations are Daniel Day-Lewis as not-so honest Abe, Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln, and Tommy Lee Jones as crusty Thaddeus Stevens. All delivered masterful performances.

My warning to future “Lincoln” goers is to make sure you’re fully awake, because the droning music will do its best to put you to sleep. Caffeine is a must!

Vanellope and Ralph become friends in a Sugar Rush game.

“Wreck-It Ralph”

When your kids love video games, seeing “Wreck-It Ralph” is a natural. I figured that the boys and I would really like it (and we did), while the Mister wondered if the fine folks at the AMC Theater would frown upon him bringing his pillow (he did end up enjoying it, though). It’s hard to beat the eternally important message that it’s best to just be yourself.

James Bond and M are together again.

“Skyfall”

Before my older son returned to UTSA yesterday, we finished our moviethon (well, at least it was for me) by seeing the too-long, new James Bond movie. The guys are big fans of both the films and some of the video games. I usually tag along to see how hot the actor playing Bond is (Pierce Brosnan, yes; Daniel Craig, no!). Oh, and I enjoy criticizing the ridiculous though thrilling chase scenes and massive destruction.

“Skyfall” had plenty of action but not much sex for a change (the kid says it’s because Craig is ugly, so women aren’t attracted to him; could be the case, I suppose). Javier Bardem was an interesting villain, and the plot centering around him and his relationship with M (Judi Dench) wove an intriguing storyline.

But did the movie really need two hours and 25 minutes to tell the story? The editors needed to do a better job with “Skyfall.”

As for the best flick of the four I saw? Being a history buff, I’d have to give the nod to “Lincoln.” It was just right on the money!

Movie Madness

Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a bicycle messenger in “Premium Rush.”

Just because I haven’t written a movie review since August 20 doesn’t mean that our family hasn’t seen any films. The evidence? Our soon-to-be worn-out AMC Stubs card.

Between the end of August and yesterday, we’ve mostly enjoyed “Sparkle,” “Premium Rush,” “The Words,” “Trouble With the Curve,” “Looper,” “Won’t Back Down,” “Here Comes the Boom,” “Argo,” and “Flight.” Two flicks not included in that list? “Fun Size,” which we saw with the boys when we visited our older son in San Antonio (meh), and “The Expendables 2,” which just might be the worst movie I’ve ever seen. Ever! Save yourself the agony and don’t even rent this dud.

Bruce Willis talks to his younger self (Gordon-Levitt) in “Looper.”

Here’s what we learned during those 11 weeks:

1) Joseph Gordon-Levitt (“Premium Rush” and “Looper”) is great in any movie as long as that awful Seth Rogen isn’t involved.

2) Bruce Willis (“Looper”) is wonderful as long as Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone (“The Expendables 2”) aren’t involved.

3) Schwarzenegger and Stallone still can’t act.

4) “Won’t Back Down” deserved a better fate. It didn’t do well at the box office, even though it was a worthwhile movie with fine acting by Viola Davis (who will earn an Oscar one day) and Maggie Gyllenhaal.

Amy Adams and Clint Eastwood (as her father) star in “Trouble With the Curve.”

5) We love baseball movies, so we thoroughly enjoyed “Trouble With the Curve.” Amy Adams and Clint Eastwood shone in this daughter-misunderstood father account. I even liked Justin Timberlake in it, but mostly because he’s so cute.

6) The Mister and I saw “Flight” yesterday. I was so glad I had him to hold on to during the realistic, scary plane crash. I hate to fly, so that didn’t help my mindset at all! Although a little too long as well as easily earning its R rating (nudity, drugs, drinking, and many f-bombs), “Flight” is excellent, mostly because of Denzel Washington, who plays the flawed pilot. It really makes you think.

7) Without a doubt, “Argo” was the best movie of the bunch. We were on the edge of our seats the entire time. We almost forgot that Ben Affleck really can’t act . . . almost.

Bradley Cooper. ’nough said!

8) Bradley Cooper’s eyes are so mesmerizing that anything he said or did took a back seat in “The Words.” And in every other movie he’s been in. With this latest flick, as a writer, I was able to relate to his character’s conflict (passing off a manuscript he didn’t write as his own).

In fact, Cooper wrote this blog post!

(Just kidding!)

“Timothy Green”: Fun Family Fare

Green socks for a “green” boy.

Here’s what you need to know about “The Odd Life of Timothy Green”: It’s a cute, PG movie that probably will make you cry.

Jim and Cindy Green yearn for a child.

The story takes place in Stanleyville, which is the pencil capital of the world. Jim (Joel Edgerton) and Cindy Green (Jennifer Garner) have reached the end of the line in their attempts to conceive a child. So they write down their hopes and dreams for a fantasy child, place the papers in a wooden box, and bury it in the garden. It rains that night . . . only in their yard.

Lo and behold, a muddy, 10-year-old boy (CJ Adams) appears in their house. His name is Timothy, and he has green leaves growing near his ankles. He’s everything his “parents” (he calls them Mom and Dad) wrote on the papers . . . but not always in the way you might think. Those were pleasantly unexpected twists.

Timothy and Joni like hanging out together.

Timothy manages to change the lives of everyone around him. He’s quite taken with Joni (Odeya Rush); their scenes together are some of the best in the movie.

This isn’t one of Disney’s finest films, but it’s definitely enjoyable, whether you see it in the theater or via DVD. I’d give it two and a half stars out of five.

“Hope Springs”: Yes, It Does!

Arnold and Kay show their dysfunction by how they sit on a couch.

This has been a banner year for movies that are targeted for the oldies but goodies set (which includes the Mister and I). First, there was “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” in May.

The newest flick aimed at us aging baby boomers is “Hope Springs,” which the Mister and I saw last Saturday morning. At an early matinee where we (just above and below age 60) were among the youngest in the audience. This definitely was the canes and walkers group. In fact, it seemed like we were at a nursing home’s movie of the week.

“Hope Springs” is billed as a comedy. While there were many funny lines and lots of laughter from the white-haired crowd, this really is more of a dramedy.

Kay (the incomparable Meryl Streep) and Arnold (Tommy Lee Jones, who can play curmudgeons in his sleep) have been married 31 years and are stuck in a rut with a dysfunctional, noncommunicating marriage. Kay timidly tries to relight the spark, but Arnold has blocked all his emotions. So Kay pays for them to go to a week-long intensive couples counseling in Maine.

Steve Carell is out of the “Office.”

Steve Carell ably plays Dr. Bernie Feld, the counselor who tries to help Kay and Arnold remember why they fell in love in the first place and push them out of their rut. As you can imagine, there’s plenty of awkwardness and cringeworthy moments with the couple trying to complete their intimacy lessons. Even though all of it is tastefully done, this PG-13 flick is not for younger teens.

In fact, “Hope Springs” might not appeal to anyone who hasn’t hit age 45 or so. But it really is great to have movies that explore themes interesting to those of us who are older and have been married a long time . . . without any swearing.

Hope springs that we’ll see more of these and less of the awful Seth Rogen f-bomb-fests and Adam Sandler idiot-of-the-year excuses for films.