Monday, November 29, 2010

Movie Monday - 11/29/2010

This past week, it was all about the Nazis and the romantic comedies.

The White Ribbon, in German with English subtitles, takes place in a small German village just before the start of WWI. A series of disturbing events occur. The story is narrated by the teacher of the town, who tries to figure out who the culprit is. Is it the austere, repressive preacher's children, the cruel and incestuous doctor or the exploitive baron? We never find out. The movie Is shot in black and white, which further underscores the bleak environment in which there people live. It was good.

Au Revoir Les Enfants, in French with English subtitles, is a film by Louis Malle based on events that happened in his life. It is about a French boarding school during WWII, that seems to be a safe environment for the boys. One day, a mysterious new student arrives who changes the lives of at least one of the other students, I may have commented on this movie before because it is the second time I've seen it, but I wanted to comment again because it was really good.

In Did You Hear About the Morgans? Hugh Grant and Sarah Jessica Parker play an estranged couple from New York who have to enter the witness protection program after they saw a murder. They end up in Ray, Wyoming where the married sheriffs in town, Sam Elliot and Mary Steenburgen, are charged with keeping them safe. It was predictable, but cute and funny. I liked it.

New in Town is another romantic comedy starring Renee Zellweger and Harry Connick, Jr. She plays a consultant from Miami who is sent to a small town in Minnesota to improve the efficiency of a manufacturing plant. He plays the union boss trying to save everyone's jobs. It was also predicatable, but cute and funny.

Ghost of Girlfriends Past, with Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Garner, Anne Archer and Michael Douglas, is also a romantic comedy and predictable.  McConaughey plays Conner Mead, a fickle, ladies man who learned everything he knows from his Uncle Wayne, played by Douglas.  Garner plays Jenny Perotti, the one that got away.  It's a twist on A Christmas Carol, with three ghosts from Conner's romantic past visiting him in an effort to make him see the error of his ways.  It was cute.

Finishing off the rom-coms is The Secret of the Grain, a really good movie in French with English subtitles.  It is an interesting look at a group of Arabic immigrants and their daily struggles.  Slimane is a shipyard worker in his early sixties who gets laid off.  With his severance pay, he decides to realize his life-long dream of starting a couscous and fish restaurant.  The trouble is that his ex-wife is the gifted cook who serves up fish couscous every weekend to the extended family, and he needs her help to make his dream go.  It is a long movie – two and a half hours, and it takes the first hour to set up the plot.  I thought it was worth the wait, and the surprise ending was rather fitting.  I really liked this movie.

MK out.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving Eve 2010

Instead of baking the pies for tomorrow, I am cowering in my sewing room...I cannot believe that I am admitting to this, but we have a pest problem.

A few weeks ago or so, we had a guy come out to take care of a couple of squirrels we could hear in the attic. It sounded as though they were bowling or something up there. Anywho...the guy came, set some contraptions, plugged the vents and off he went. The next day, I came home from work and my mom told me that a squirrel had been in the fireplace and would look at her and then disappear - and then repeat the process. I told The Husb and when he came home from work, he checked it out, didn't see the squirrel, but he noticed the damper was open so he closed it.

A few days later, we had such a fly problem. I think I easily killed over twenty flies a day for about three or four days in a row. We couldn't figure out where they were entering the house, but I noticed that they seemed a little weak and dizzy - I would even find some dead ones - which brought the body count up significantly. The first place I looked for rotting food was under The Kid's bed, because he had been home recently, and well...he's a slob with the food and the leftovers. Anyway, to my surprise, under the bed and his whole room was free of food debris.

Then, there were no more flies....

Until today. We must have killed twelve since The Husb came home from work tonight. Then, The Kid looked up as we were having dinner, and I swear to God, there were twenty flies on the ceiling in the kitchen. We looked in the den, same thing. There were some in the hall ceilings too. The Husb then had the big idea to check the fireplace, and when he opened the glass door, a fly flew out.

Oh yes...I said a fly.

Then I said, "Dude, could there be a dead squirrel on the other side of the damper?"

He said, "No, there would have to be one in the fireplace."

I said, "But when you closed the damper, you said it was gone."

He said, "No, I said I didn't see him...I carefully opened the glass doors in case he was still in there so he wouldn't jump out into the house."  (OK...let that one sink in.  He closed the damper, but was worried that there might have been a squirrel in there that could have jumped out into the house; so, he took care to open the glass doors very carefully. Hmmm.....Where would said squirrel have to be if the damper was now closed and he couldn't jump out into the house?)

I said, "Could there be a dead squirrel in the fireplace?"

Then he said, "Yes, I saw a furry tail."

There is a dead squirrel in my fireplace full of maggots and surrounded by hatched flies. 

Oh yes...I am in my sewing room with my momma, while The Husb and The Kid have a wonderful, holiday bonding experience while disposing of a dead squirrel.

This Thanksgiving, I am thankful that I am not the person who is disposing of said squirrel.  I wish you and yours a less dramatic holiday, but certainly all the best in the world.

MK out.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Movie Monday - 11/22/2010

I love my iPad...

The Secret of Kells is an animated feature about a mythical book that must be completed, an Abbey that must be fortified against the Vikings and a little boy at the center of it all. It was really good.

Tilda Swinton stars in I Am Love, about an upper crust Italian family who made their fortune in the textile business. The patriarch of the family dies suddenly, and it is interesting to see how the next generations take on the responsibilities of running the firm, but their own philosophies. The cinematography is beautiful and it is well acted. It is in Italian with English subtitles. Who knew that Tilda Swinton speaks Italian? I liked it.

Bright Star, with Ben Whishaw and Abbie Cornish, is based on the true story of the love between Fanny Brawne and John Keats. The two were kept apart by Keats' lack of money and by his writing partner. It was pretty good.

Because I seem to gravitate towards the Nazi movies, Katyn found itself in my queue. In Polish, with English subtitles, it is a true story about the circumstances surrounding the murder of thousands of captured Polish officers by the Russian army. Interestingly, the Russian government denied any part in the matter, also known as the Katyn Forest Massacre, until 1989. The end of the movie is very hard to watch. They show the murders, and the mass graves in which the bodies were buried. Very intense…

The Messenger is a gritty movie about a pair of war vets whose job it is to notify the NOK (next of kin) of soldiers killed in Iraq. Woody Harrelson, Ben Foster, Jena Malone, Samantha Morton and Steve Buscemi star. Woody was nominated for Best Actor for his role, but I think Ben Foster did a much better job. It was pretty good.

Ajami is set in a city in the West Bank where Jews, Christians and Muslims live uneasily side by side. Mostly in Arabic, but also in Hebrew, with English subtitles, it’s about a group of people whose lives become intertwined after a gangster is accidentally killed, and whose family means to exact revenge. It was alright.

127 Hours with James Franco is a very hard movie to watch, even when you know what is coming. It is based on the true story of Aron Ralston, a hiker/climber young man, who went on a rock climbing expedition on his own and he didn’t tell anyone where he was going. He fell down a crevice and was stuck for about five days with his hand wedged between a rock and the wall. His will to live was so strong that he cut off his forearm, got out and was soon found by some hikers and rescued. It was definitely a cautionary tale…and a little graphic in parts. It’s also a mother’s worse fear – that her kid gets into a jam and there is no one around to help. The scenes in which he was taping messages to his parents were really powerful. Most of the movie is just James as this kid in a horrible situation, and it was pretty realistic. I sat on the edge of my seat with my gut in knots. If you are up to this kind of ride, this movie is for you, but it is not for the faint of heart.

If you are old enough to remember all the hoo-hah when Secretariat won the Triple Crown, you will love going back down memory lane with the movie, Secretariat, starring Diane Lane and John Malkovich. Even if you weren’t alive yet, you will love this movie. It is a feel good, warm and fuzzy film and quite entertaining. The races were difficult to watch, even though everyone already knows the outcomes. I say, see it!

MK out.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Movie Monday - a Day Late

I haven't been to the theaters much lately, but I did see one out there recently...Life as We Know It is a really funny movie about two people who don’t really like each other, but are mutual friends with this other couple. When the couple dies and leaves their daughter for the two of them to raise, they are forced to take good hard looks at themselves, as well as each other. It stars Katherine Heigl and Josh Duhamel, and while it is not Oscar-worthy, it is very good.

I got an iPad for my birthday and have been watching some movies via the Netflix app.  I highly recommend it!

Please Give, with Catherine Keener, Oliver Platt, Rebecca Hall, Amanda Peet and Ann Guilbert, is an interesting character driven Indie. Keener and Platt play a couple of successful antique store owners who live next door to Guilbert, a cranky old lady whose apartment they want to buy when she dies. They intend to expand their living space. Hall and Peet play the old lady’s granddaughters. It was interesting. On a side note, Ann Guilbert played Millie on The Dick Van Dyke Show, and more recently (for you younguns), she played Yetta on The Nanny. It was pretty good, and a little bit quirky.

Mid-August Lunch is another character driven movie, this time from Italy. It is subtitled in English. It is about a middle-aged man who is still living with his mom. They owe money for the rent and probably have a tab for most of the goods and services they consume. His landlord and his physician decide to collect, by bringing their mothers by for him to watch while they go off to celebrate the midsummer festival of Ferragosto. It was quite entertaining to watch this guy try to keep up with four cranky old ladies who were each set in their ways. Also entertaining was how entitled Gianni and his mother are, despite living on the good graces of others. I really liked it.

Alexandra is about a woman who visits her grandson in the Chechen army. In Russian, with English subtitles…It is a character-driven story, but slower than most. It was alright.

Broken Embraces, in Spanish with English subtitles, and starring Penelope Cruz and Lluis Homar, is about an actress and director who start an affair. Unfortunately, the actress is the producers mistress, and when he finds out what is going on, he plans his revenge. It was alright.

The Soloist is based on a true story about Nathaniel Ayers, a talented cellist who ended up on the streets after his second year at Julliard due to his mental illness, and Steve Lopez, a journalist who happens upon Ayers and attempts to help him get his life together. Jamie Foxx does an excellent job portraying Ayers and Robert Downey, Jr. plays Lopez. Catherine Keener also stars. It was good.

A Secret, in French with English subtitles, is a character driven Nazi story. It is about Francois, who was a sickly little boy and who grew up feeling that he is a disappointment to his parent. One day, he finds an old toy in the attic, and eventually finds out secrets that his family never wanted discussed again. It was very good.

MK out.