Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Help--the movie reviewed

The place: Jackson, Mississippi. The time: The early 60's. The subject: A young white woman writer decides to write a book about the maids who work in her town from the maid's point of view.

Segregation is a subject that has been done many times in film but I have never seen it done better. I was surprised to find that this story was not based upon a true story, it has the ring of truth.

Although the film has its flaws, they pale in light of a story brilliantly told. The cast is universally excellent, with Viola Davis playing the primary maid with a brilliance that must be seen. Her performance screams Oscar, and I'll bet this film gets a bunch of nominations at the very least. Emma Stone as the writer is great too. But it is almost unfair to call attention to specific cast members since they were all really excellent. It is well written, well performed, and beautifully done in all respects, camera work, costumes, its all there.

I found it engrossing and moving from start to finish. Especially for those that grew up in this time period and have been at all involved with civil rights, this one will grab you and not let go.  Highly recommended!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Cherry, the movie reviewed

The coming-of-age movie is oft done, but I have never seen it done better than it is in this sweet indie flick. It has enormous heart, and nary a false note. It is funny, poignant, well acted and just all around outstanding. I was more than pleasantly surprised.

This is a movie that Hollywood could never make. It is too good. Its characters are real, the ring of authenticity is consistent throughout. Its funny though that it is not even reviewed on Rotten so apparently it has not been seen by many folks. I found it streaming on Netflix. Its worth seeking out. Not for the prudish. Highly recommended.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Fair Game--a movie review

This is an excellent dramatization of the Valerie Plame incident, during the run up to the Iraq war. If you recall she was outed as a CIA agent. The whole cast is top notch; Valerie is played by Naomi Watts, her husband Joe by Sean Penn.

This is a story of the dirtiest kind of misuse of power, its a story of a strong marriage challenged, and its also about integrity and the necessity to speak out when there is wrongdoing.

In spite of the fact that it deals with the USA's recent history, the issues involved are as current as today's headlines. This is an important film, well worth seeing. It is  also a call to action, and we best respond accordingly.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Bill Cunningham New York-- a movie review

This is a brilliant documentary about Bill Cunningham who has been a fashion photographer for the New York Times for eons. Now in his 80's, he is a fixture in Manhattan riding on his bike from fashion event to fashion event.

The film chronicles his amazing life, from his studio home in Carnegie Hall, to his work literally on the streets and sidewalks of New York, and of course at the glamorous events he chronicles.

The man is truly delightful and obviously a devoted artist who has found his passion and life's work and is devoted to it. The film is well done, respectful, and gives a vivid picture of an amazing man.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Driving Lessons--a movie review

This British coming-of-age story is charming. Rupert Grant plays Ben, a minister's son who is 17 and ruled by his domineering do-gooder mother, played by Laura Linney. Laura is always fun to watch and she does well in this role. One of her best lines, in her complaint about the Julie Walters character, she says:"That woman is an actress!". Like nothing more needs to be said:)

Ben's opportunity to break out comes with employment as an assistant to a retired actress played to a fare-thee-well by Julie Walters, who really chews up the scenery, having great fun with this juicy role.

She practically kidnaps Ben and takes him camping and up to the Edinborough Festival where there are plenty of opportunities for adventures and growth.

The genre is familiar but the treatment here is fresh and enjoyable. Recommended!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Barney's Version-the movie reviewed

This is a great movie. I think it will most appeal to the boomer generation, but anyone who appreciates a good story well told will enjoy it. Paul Giamatti takes a virtuoso turn playing Barney and Dustin Hoffman his father. The story is a retelling of 30 years of Barney's life, and he lived a rich, full and successful life.

Rosamund Pike plays Miriam, the love of Barney's life. The role is one of a very dignified, beautiful woman and its played beautifully. In fact the acting is consistently excellent in all roles, and its all very well done.

The movie is an adaption of the novel by Mordeci Richler. The characters are very human with human failings. It is an engrossing story well told. Recommended!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Bella--the movie, reviewed

Something that sometimes happens when your memory is faulty: you bring home a movie you've seen before. I realized it almost immediately after the movie began.

I'm sure if I had examined the cover more carefully I would have remembered it. I mostly saw the 4 star ratings. I ended up watching it again and I thoroughly enjoyed it again.

This is an Indie drama with nary a false note. It has a lot of heart and Soul and is very moving in its quiet, unassuming way. I really liked it. Its a NYC movie, involves a close Hispanic family, with a neat karmic resolution to what could have been an unresolved tragedy. Recommended

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert, a movie review

Browsing the shelves of DVDs at the library I recall seeing this one before and passing on it; not interested. I had quite enough of real drag queens back in my cab driving days in Chicago. I had driven cab nights during that whole period when gays were coming out and gay pride was real and flaming fags were the order of the day.

My parents were relatively enlightened and had been pretty careful to raise me without prejudice, to not judge others by the color of their skin, etc. The issue of sexual orientation really did not come up, but the same principle applies. I had to really work to reach a point of neutrality with these folks back in the day. I had to overcome an natural aversion to the lifestyle. Fortunately I knew to see someone as Soul no matter how strange their presentation.

Then a few weeks ago my first date with someone I had met online turned out to be transgendered. She was wise enough to reveal this only after an hour together, preceded by the challenge, “Now I'm going to see how open minded you are.”

All this is the back story that caused me to finally pick up a copy of this movie, bring it home and watch it and now review it for you.

The movie's three main characters are two drag queens and a transsexual who perform an outrageous act in Sydney Australia where they lip sync to popular songs and do a dance routine in flamboyant costumes. In fact the costumes in this movie won an Oscar; they are amazing.

They are given the opportunity to perform in Alice Springs and decide to accept. So this is a road movie, as we follow the trio across the outback in a bus they bought and converted into a rolling boudoir.

Gotta hand it to the Aussies, they handle this subject with maturity and panache. Terence Stamp plays the oldest of the three, a sarcastic transsexual who has seen it all. All three have plenty of anger in them which usually gets expressed as sarcasm and an over-the-top gaiety.

You quickly see how difficult life can be for them as they are so shockingly different from most people that ordinary people just can't handle them. Because performance is their calling and their way of surviving, you never see them hide their identities. They are always screaming fags and proud of it.

So there is plenty of action and adventure in this movie and it is quite entertaining and surprisingly poignant. You get to know these people and like them and even understand them a bit.

Its a worthwhile journey, eye-opening and fun. Keep an open mind! Recommended!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Amish Grace-the movie reviewed

This movie is based on the real tragedy that occurred in Pennsylvania in '06 when a shooter killed 5 Amish schoolchildren. It is a very respectful Christian adaption that feels a bit like a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie, showing how the community dealt with these senseless killings.

Its a very well done movie that makes you wonder if you could practice forgiveness if your own daughter was senselessly murdered. The Amish have to depend on faith to deal with this and some have a harder time of it than others.

Seeing this movie also gave me a fresh appreciation for Eckankar, which gives a fuller understanding of karma and reincarnation, that would make a significant difference is understanding how something like this could happen.

In any case, this is a worthwhile, very thought provoking movie, and needless to say, a bit of a tear jerker. Recommended.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

RED the movie, reviewed

RED is an acronym for Retired Extremely Dangerous. Bruce Willis is a retired special ops CIA who is called back into action to find out why he is suddenly a target to be killed himself. Mary-Louise Parker plays his girlfriend, and she is responsible for much of the comic relief in this farce, although the whole premise is cliched and comical.

That is if you get a big kick out of gratuitous violence as recreation. The variation here is that the good guys are seniors.  I was attracted to this movie by the stellar cast. But this is sort of like saying you read Playboy for the articles:) Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren, and John Malkovich are the team of retired cronies that Willis recruits. Richard Dreyfuss also plays a role.

So what are all these good players doing in this kind of movie? Having fun working and drawing a big paycheck no doubt. This is an extremely cynical movie based on a graphic novel, ie, comic book. It doesn't hurt that all the aging boomers will enjoy a little wish fulfillment watching these folks. Big demographic still worth pandering to...and the younger crowd will come along for the general mayhem which is appealing to them no matter who dishes it out.

John Malkovich as a paranoid burn-out who has taken way to much LSD for way too long is especially amusing. Truly there is no shortage of amusement here; it is like a night at a summer carnival.

So here are all these heavyweight Thespians playing comic book characters who shoot a lot of automatic weapons. It is all played with style, panache, and thoroughly tongue-in-cheek.  Ha Ha.

So that's why they call this kind of thing a guilty pleasure. It was fun, it was funny, it was exciting. Was I being manipulated? Oh yes by that very expensive whore, Hollywood. Do we eat ice cream when we want to lose weight? Duh:) Just let's not make it a steady diet, OK? And besides, its all Maya anyway, right?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Kids are All Right, the movie reviewed

Realistic, true-to-life story about a modern LA family. Lots of humor, heart and truth here. Annette Bening and Julianne Moore play a lesbian couple who have raised two well adjusted kids.

The youngest, a 15 year old young man is curious about who donated the sperm that fathered both he and his sister. He talks his 18 year old sister into finding out who he is.

Mark Ruffalo plays the father, an organic gardener and hip restaurant owner who shakes up the settled family dynamic when he enters all their lives. This is an enjoyable, mature, very well done film. Recommended.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Just Go With It, the movie reviewed

I had mixed feelings about reviewing this movie here because basically I don't recommend it, but I think it might be worthwhile to explore why.

The movie is a formulaic Hollywood RomCom production starring Jennifer Aniston and Adam Sandler. Saturday Night Live's presence is  here too with Rachel Dratch and Kevin Nelon also playing roles and the general sensibility in this farce borrows a lot from their approach.

The premise is the complications that come from basing your life on lies to get what you want. Naturally humorous situations ensue as the house of cards is maintained at great expense. The problem is that sincerity of any sort is as rare as hen's teeth, and when it happens, they key the sappy music and you know that this is where they are supposed to touch your heart.

It is all so manipulative that its a big turn off. The natural humanity of the likeable players manages to keep this from being a total loss, but I wouldn't waste my time. This is a fine example of the kind of movie this writer wants to avoid. Live and Loin.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Kingfisher the movie reviewed

This is a British romantic comedy for and about Seniors. The always delightful Rex Harrison plays the lead, a successful writer who has the opportunity to reawaken a romance with a woman he loved 50 years ago. This is a very civilized romp in the Masterpiece Theater mold. Enjoyable in a sedate kind of way:)

Saturday, August 6, 2011


This blog will serve as a compliment to the Facebook page: Music and Movies-Huzone.

Our purpose will be to share new discoveries or old treasures. The guidelines are that that they be fun, uplifting, or otherwise have some redeeming virtues. If you are interested in scary movies, etc. this is not the place for you.

There are lots of exciting new movies and music coming out daily; this will be our place to share our enthusiasms.

Somewhere down the road I would like to monetize this blog, so if you start to see links where you can purchase stuff assume that the working on paying his bills. I trust it will always be a win/win/win. Enjoy!