Fellow Movie Buffs

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

"Stand Up Guys"

When a movie stars Christopher Walken, Al Pacino, and Alan Arkin, you know it's going to be memorable. And this one was even better than I expected. It's about a guy (Pacino), who gets out of prison after 28 years. He hooks up with his old pal, (Walken) and the two of them spend a night of high jinx and trouble making. The only thing is, Christopher Walken has to bump off Pacino by ten the following morning because he accidentally may have shot a mob boss's only son. Great acting, well written, and a good story line. The movie is gritty and violent, but overall, I really liked this film. I don't remember it being at the theaters, and it came out in 2012.

4.5 stars out of 5

Monday, December 23, 2013

"Prince Avalanche"

Okay. Here's the plot of this movie in one sentence. Two guys paint lines on a highway. Seriously. You might think this movie would be dead boring However, this is a totally captivating little indie movie. If you don't like subtle, forget it. This isn't for you. It's basically a chick-flic for guys. It's about two guys who are out in the middle of nowhere in Texas, painting the stripes on a highway. But it's really about their conversations, their fights, and the two of them unloading their feelings. Paul Rudd plays the intelligent,  sensitive one and Emile Hirsch is his girlfriend's moronic brother.  The two have a nice chemistry. This movie is based on a German movie filmed in a remote part of Iceland. I'll have to check that one out as well. What a wonderful film.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


I know, another road trip movie. I just love this genre, but this one's different. It's about a family who've decided to move out to California by car. Only the kids aren't really on board with the decision. And guess what? Mom's not coming. It's really about a girl, Greta, who's coming of age during this trip. I can't say enough about this young actress. Ryan Simpkins was astounding in the role of the young girl. She's only 14 and has already beed in a bunch of movies. This is definitely not a happy film. But it will stick with you for a long time
4 stars out of 5

Friday, November 22, 2013

Arthur Newman

What an offbeat film. And a hard film to describe. Believe me, this is not a happy, feel good road-trip movie. However it's a deeply moving film. In the end, you feel for both of the protagonists. A total loser divorcee, who's son hates him, plans to change his identity and move away from his hometown and become a golf pro. Until he meets a crazy junky who he lets tag along. Okay, it sounds funny, but the story take a number of unexpected turns. It's one of the first movies where Colin Firth really bared his soul. Was this one ever released in theaters?

3.5 out 5 stars

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

My Best Enemy

I really like WWII movies, especially those involving the human side of war. This film centers on two individuals, a Jewish heir to an art gallery and the son of his family's servant. The two are good friends until the servant's son joins the Nazis. The rest of the story is about a Michelangelo sketch which the family owns and was supposedly stolen from the Vatican.  It keeps you guessing right until the end.  The star, Moritz Bleibtreu does a truly outstanding job!
4.5 out of 5 stars

Friday, October 11, 2013

"The Score"

I have to admit, I'm a sucker for a good heist movie, and this one turned out to be a pleasant surprise. The plot is pretty straight forward. Robert De Niro plays a jazz club owner who just happens to rob an occasional bank. He decides to retire, however he's offered one last job he simply can't turn down. Marlon Brando plays the mumbling fat slob who sets him up with a young hotshot, played by Edward Norton. The smarmy Norton has cased out the Montreal Customs House, where the government has seized a priceless 16th century jewell-encrusted scepter. Obviously, I'm not going to reveal what happens, but this movie had me captivated right up the the AHA! ending. Both De Niro and Norton give outstanding performances.
4 stars out of 5

Saturday, September 28, 2013


The movie is set in the distant future when everyone takes a drug to suppress emotions to create a peaceful society. When anyone is caught having feelings, they are put to death. Christian Bale is an enforcer who skips a few doses of the drug and begins to revolt. The movie is well done, nothing out of the ordinary in terms of special effects. But the fight scenes are way over the top--part kung foo, part pure action film. They so outrageous they're almost comical. Overall, an entertaining sic-fi, action flick.
4 stars out of 5.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

"Along Came a Spider"

Has Morgan Freeman ever made a bad movie? Because if he has, I've never seen it. He sure knows how to choose his parts. This intense thriller had me hooked right from the beginning. Freeman is a damaged retired cop, who had seen his partner killed in action. When a senator's daughter is abducted, the kidnapper taps Freeman to handle the case. He picks a female security agent who was in charge of the young girl at her school to help solve the case. The story takes a number of twists and turns, and I was flummoxed right until the last couple of minutes. The storyline and acting were both superb. Highly recommended.

4 stars out of 5

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

"Agnes Browne"

Just a wonderful movie. It took me by surprise. I'm not a big fan of Angelica Houston, but I thought she did a terrific job in this movie. It's about a widow in Dublin who has to raise her six children on her own. But the movie focuses on her relationship with her best friend. There are plenty of touching moments, but there are also a lot of laughs. I won't give away the plot, but the scene where they go for a driving lesson, is almost pee-in-your-pants funny. It's almost a chick-floc--but guys will find it funny too. My only negative comment is that the accents are a bit thick at times, and it can be hard to understand. So I missed some of the jokes. I couldn't find an official trailer, but I did find this clip of Agnes in a pub. It'll give you a feel of the film.

4.5 stars out of 5

Saturday, June 29, 2013


Bollywood meets Hockey Night in Canada. This movie took me by surprise. It was funny, romantic, well acted, and charming. The plot was pretty predictable. A young Sikh is devoted to hockey and plays on an all Sikh team. His father want him to go into the family's trucking business, which he's not overly enthused about. So he secretly enters his team into a hockey tournament while falling for the coach's sister. You know where this is going. In spite of its predictable plot, it's worth a watch. And the Bollywood dancing scenes add to the fun.
4 stars out of 5.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

"The Whistleblower"

This is one powerful movie based on actual events. Rachel Weisz plays an American policewoman who is sent to Bosnia, where she uncovers a huge sex trafficking operation. She gives a riveting performance as she fights the powers that be within the U.N. peacekeeping force. As you'd expect, there are some disturbing scenes. But ofttimes, the truth is not very pretty. Well worth watching.
4 stars out of 5

Saturday, April 27, 2013

"Telling Lies in America"

Karchy ( Brad Renfro) is a shy Hungarian-American living in 1960's Cleveland. He's a social outcast at his elitist Catholic high school. When he's taken under the wing of a hip radio DJ (Kevin Bacon), he suddenly becomes cool. But the lies he begins telling, quickly get him in trouble. This off-beat movie is fun to watch, not only for the plot, but for the excellent performances by Bacon and Renfro.
4 1/2 stars out of 5

I could only find this clip from the movie. There doesn't seem to be an official trailer on youtube.

Thursday, April 18, 2013


If you're in the mood for an action flic, this is it. Mark Wahlberg absolutely kicks butt in this movie. Here's the plot: a retired sniper, who's the best in the world at what he does, is hired by the government to prevent the assassination of the president. When a visiting dignitary is shot, everyone is after him, because they accuse of him of being the killer. But, Mark Wahlberg turns into a one-man-army! What a movie. Not a complicated plot, just a lot of fun!

4 stars out of 5.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

"High Tide"

In this movie, directed by Gillian Anderson, a backup singer to an Elvis impersonator gets the sack while on the road in Australia. She ends up stuck in a small town, waiting for her car to be repaired. While staying in a caravan park, she runs into her daughter, whom she abandoned years before. The daughter is being raised by her grandmother, and has been told that her mother is dead. Some great performances, especially by Judy Davis who plays the deadbeat mom, and her young daughter, Claudia Karvan.
4 1/2 stars out of 5

I could't find a youtube trailer, but this one will work. You'll have to do a cut and past.

Friday, April 5, 2013


Excellent little film. The story takes place in the rural South and revolves around Evan, a kid in his late 20s who has Down syndrome. He's a sweet, gentle guy who has a crush on a divorcee, who he knew in high school. When his mother dies, he inherits a bunch of money, which he wants to use to take care of his "girlfriend" who's always in financial trouble. There are several times in the movie where you say to yourself, "Uh-oh. I know where this is headed". I won't be a spoiler and tell you what happens, but let's just say, I encourage you to stick with the movie. The actor who plays Even, I believe is somewhat intellectually challenged in real life, but what a performance! And Shannon Woodward, as the girlfriend, is also amazing.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

Friday, March 29, 2013

"The Hunter"

Willem Defoe plays a bounty hunter who's hired by a pharmaceutical company to tract down an animal that's believed to be extinct. He goes to Tasmania in search of the Tasmanian Tiger. Wile there, he stays with a family, who's father has been missing for over a year, who also believed the Tiger to still be alive. The movie is a slow paced, psychological thriller. Did this film ever make it to the theaters? I'd never heard of it before and I can understand if it went direct to dvd. Some may find it boring, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. The acting and scenery are both outstanding. And the ending makes the movie worth watching.
4 stars out of 5

Saturday, March 23, 2013

"Surrogate Valentine"

A struggling musician, played by guitarist Goh Nakamura, is asked to teach an actor how to play the guitar for a movie he's starring in. The mismatched couple strike up an unlikely friendship. Goh is quiet and contemplative while the knucklehead actor is one of those guys who's talking and can't shut up. It's part road movie, part romance. The dialogue is well written and the two characters are instantly likable. It was one of those movies you didn't want to end. A real indie gem.
4 1/2 stars out of 5

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

"The Good Heart"

This is what indie films are all about. A low budget, quirky story, great acting and dialogue. Jacques (Brian Cox) is a cranky old bar owner who's just had his fifth heart attack. He realizes that there isn't anyone to take over the bar when he dies. So he befriends a young homeless person (Paul Dano) and teaches him the ropes of running a bar. The movie is a bit depressing at times since the main character is such a bitter, caustic old fart. But overall, it's an interesting story. Pay attention to the dialogue of the bar patron's-- they deliver some great lines.

4 stars out of 5

Friday, March 15, 2013

"Pope Dreams"

19-year old Andy is somewhat of a slacker. If fact, one of his only goals in life is to send his ailing mom to Rome for an audience with the Pope. Along the way, he falls in love with a beautiful girl, and is approached by her musician father to help write a Broadway musical. It's a sweet movie that isn't full of cliches. The acting and storyline were great. It's a nice, feel-good movie.

4 stars out of 5

Saturday, March 2, 2013


Will, an American mapping engineer travels around Armenia to take measurements to update the country's maps. He meets an attractive Armenian photographer who volunteers to travel with him. The couple start an intimate relationship as they roam the country together. There is very little action and there are long moments of silence. Definitely not an action film. But the pace, scenery, and their encounters are quite moving. Some people may find this film boring, but I really enjoyed it.
4 out of 5 stars

Friday, February 22, 2013


When I read the description of this movie I thought, "Oh, another film about a well-meaning, innocent teacher goes into a tough, ghetto school and turns the kids around." well, this is far from it. The teacher, played by Adrien Brody, is a disillusioned sub who gets a long term job in a rough school. He get's involved with the students and does earn their respect. He also gives shelter to a young prostitute. Meanwhile, he's looking after his grandfather who's in a nursing home. The film deals with the angst the teachers have in failing the students. Brody gives an an absolutely amazing performance.In fact, all the actors are excellent. This is definitely not a feel good movie. But it's quite powerful.

5 stars out of 5.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

"The Perks of Being a Wallflower"

This is not your typical coming-of-age film. It's about Charlie who's starting his freshman year in high school. He dreads it because he recently has had to deal with depression, which is due to the suicide of his best friend. He's terribly shy and introverted. But he soon befriends several oddball seniors who take him in and make him feel accepted. The movie has its comedic moments, but there are also some darker parts to it as well. The acting by Logan Lerman and Emma Watson is outstanding and very believable. This is a movie warranting more than one viewing.
5 stars out of 5

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

"Four Last Songs"

It's listed as a comedy but this movie is quite a bit more than that. The plot revolves around an American pianist (Stanley Tucci) who is trying to put on a performance of classical music by a recently deceased composer. Along the way he encounters numerous obstacles including the composer's widow, his mistress and other characters. His circle of friends includes a bunch of misfits and oddballs including the always whacky Rhys Ifans and Hugh Bonneville. The movie isn't just a light comedy--there are some emotional and heavy-duty moments in it. This is one of those rare films worth watching several times. Highly recommended.
4.5 stars out of 5

Friday, February 8, 2013

"The Giant Mechanical Man"

Janice, a thirty-something is adrift after losing her job at a temp agency. She ends up falling for a street performer, even though her sister and brother-in-law are pushing her to marry a writer with an ego the size of a house. Jenna Fischer and Chris Messina are absolutely charming in this little film. The writing and acting are first rate. And the best part for me was that it was shot in my hometown--Detroit. Would have loved to be an extra in this fine romantic comedy.

3.5 stars out of 5

Friday, February 1, 2013

"Punching the Clown"

If you're in the mood for some light entertainment, this is the prefect choice. The movie stars Henry Phillips, a folk singer who moves to L.A. to make it big. His career starts to take off until a vicious rumor begins to circulate. What makes this movie so special is the songs Henry Sings. They're truly twisted and laugh-out-loud funny. This is a movie I could watch over and over.
4 1/2 stars out of 5

Saturday, January 19, 2013

"Beautiful Girls"

What a charming little movie. The story revolves around a pianist who returns to the small town where he grew up for his high school reunion. He gets caught up in the affairs of his unambitious friends. Not a whole lot happens, but he faces the possibilities of what his future could be.The relationship he stikes up with Natalie Portman is absolutely priceless.  Great cast and writing. The film stars Timothy Hutton, Uma Thurman, Mat Dillon, Rosie O'Donnell, Mira Sorvino, and a very young Natalie Portman.
4 1/2 stars out of 5

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

"Jeff, Who Lives at Home"

The theme of this charming indie film is "Everything happens for a reason". The story centers around two brothers, played by Jason Segel and Ed Helm. Segel's character, Jeff is in his 30's and still lives in his mom's basement. Jeff is sent to the store to buy some glue for a home repair. And there his day of destiny begins. The story line is pretty unpredictable and the plot takes several twists and turns. It's offbeat and I can see why it didn't do well at the box office. Both Helm and Segel do a great job. Susan Sarandon playing the mom was also excellent, as usual. Highly recommended.
4 1/2 stars out of 5

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

"The Cure"

An 11-year old strikes up a friendship with the boy next door who's constantly picked on because he contracted AIDS through a transfusion. When they read that a doctor in New Orleans has discovered a cure for the disease, the two of them head down the Mississippi on a raft. It's a touching story, with plenty of beautiful scenery. And the two young actors, Joe Mazzello and Brad Renfro do an absolutely amazing job.
4 stars out of 5.

Saturday, January 5, 2013


A very different coming-of-age movie. The tale centers around Mason, a lonely teen-age boy who lives with parents who are totally uncommunicative. When a troubled girl moves into their small town, he falls for her and they form a close bond. When his dad accidentally hits and kills someone with his car, Mason takes the fall for him. The main part of the tale is after he gets out of a juvenile correctional facility. The movie has a lot of open spaces, both in terms of dialog and scenery. The photography is beautiful, taking its time showing the broad vistas of the mid-western landscape. And the acting is superb. You might get bored with the pacing of the movie, but I found it captivating.
3.5 stars out of 5.

Here's a link to one of the few trailers I found: http://video.search.yahoo.com/video/play;_ylt=A2KLqIGMTOhQfm4A9xj7w8QF;_ylu=X3oDMTBrc3VyamVwBHNlYwNzcgRzbGsDdmlkBHZ0aWQD?p=%22Dandelion%22+movie+trailer&vid=4ca8f78ba940ca7e7a407554ae238b4a&l=&turl=http%3A%2F%2Fts4.mm.bing.net%2Fth%3Fid%3DV.4796714816241807%26pid%3D15.1&rurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.videodetective.com%2Fmovies%2Fdandelion%2F58858&tit=Dandelion&c=1&sigr=11ko0tc2k&&tt=b