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Nine Movies I Loved in 2016

So 2016 is like so over, she said in her best Valley Girl voice, but I still wanted to post about my favs in cinema. Now while I didn’t get to see every movie I wanted to see (Queen of Katwe comes to mind), I wanted to take time to pay homage to 2016’s special 9, especially since tonight is Oscar night. Hey, the Academy has theirs and I have mine. Continue reading “Nine Movies I Loved in 2016”

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Does Sparkle Shine? A Movie Review

Provided by TriStar Pictures

I recently saw the movie Sparkle.  I don’t know if you guys are like me; I’m kind of leery of remakes.  It just doesn’t feel right to see new characters saying the lines you’ve long acquainted with some of your old favorites.

However, I was pleasantly surprised with this movie.  Firstly, this time I actually wanted to go see it because it was Sparkle for crying out loud!  The original version has a cult following and is considered a long-standing favorite amongst its fans.  Secondly, I had grown to love the actors in this movie in other projects.  And thirdly, Whitney Houston starred in and executive produced it.  She had had her ups and downs but I was pulling for my girl left and right.

For those who know nothing about Sparkle, let me summarize it briefly.  A single mom named Emma (Whitney Houston), has raised her three daughters – Sister (Carmen Ejogo), Delores (Tika Sumpter) and Sparkle (Jordin Sparks) – with a strong hand.  She had made bad choices earlier in her life when she was an aspiring singer – booze and bad men – and didn’t want her daughters to do the same thing.

But even after her Bible-thumping and bullying, her daughters made their own way.  The oldest, Sister, who loved money and flashy men, got married to a top comedian, Satin (Mike Epps), of the time.  The middle daughter, Delores, eventually went to med school to become a doctor. And the baby girl and center of the movie, Sparkle, followed her dream and became a singer on her own terms.

Now you know all of this didn’t happened before a lot of drama went down.  Sister, whose husband turned out to be a drug addict and wife-beater, eventually got hooked on drugs as well.  Of course her sibs try to save her – which culminated in a physical dust-up with hubby being killed.  Being the oldest, Sister did the honorable thing and took the blame for what Delores actually had done.

I know it sounds depressing and maybe somewhat violent, but actually, it was a good, solid, family movie with plenty of humor.  That’s saying a lot in today’s world where PG-13 is really R and R really should be X.  Because this was a small, low-budget film, it may not be still playing in your town but there’s always In Demand or Blu-Ray!  The music takes off where the story ends.  It will leave you with a smile and an upbeat spirit.  And that’s always good for the heart and soul.

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Renee Zellweger Plays the Perfect B

Courtesy of MGM/UA

Brit, that is.  Hey now, get your mind out of the gutter!  And please note:  if you don’t like movies with slow, uncomplicated themes, then this movie ain’t for you.  Back to the subject at hand, I was at home one day and decided to rent a movie through In Demand/Xfinity.

In the list of movies presented, I saw Miss Potter.  I remember Miss Potter when it came out in 2006 but I never did make it to see it.  Anyway, now was my chance.  What did I think of it?  This movie is a gem.  Its sweetness (not sappiness mind you) just made me melt.  Think Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre-esque quality.

Excellently played by Renee Zellweger and based on the life of Beatrix Potter – the British author of famous children’s books such as The Tale of Peter Rabbit. This film chronicles her seemingly mundane and boring life.

But of course, Miss Potter is more than meets the eye.  Instead of doing what her parents want her to do – she perfects her art.  Instead of bending to the will of society by marrying for the sake of marriage and money – she learns to write some of the most intriguing and long-lasting children’s books around.

To everyone’s surprise – and hers – a publishing house accepts her work.  Of course she and her assigned publisher – portrayed by Ewan McGregor – fall madly in love.  I am not really a fan of Mr. McGregor but I must say, he did his thang in this one.  I won’t give all the details away but there’s money, fame, sex, a death and a marriage – in that order.  And the fact that she’s surrounded by oppressive snobs make you root for this demur character.  You want her to succeed, and she does.

Oh, and the icing on the cake?  It was executive produced by a woman – Miss Renee Zellweger herself thank you very much!  For which she received a Golden Globe nomination in 2007 for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical.

This is great stuff.  Do yourself a favor and check it out.

Center Stage

We Bought a Zoo – A Movie Review

provided by 20th Century Fox

We Bought a Zoo is a movie based on a true story of a man named Benjamin Mee (played by Matt Damon) trying to deal with the death of his wife.  He’s trying to do the best he can but it seems he keeps missing the mark and some rather key points.

One key point he repeatedly overlooks is his son Dylan, played by Colin Ford.  How will they fare since their glue – deceased wife and mom – is no longer there? By the by, Maggie Elizabeth Jones who plays Rosie Mee, does a beautiful job of playing a blissfully ignorant 7-year-old.  So what seems to be the solution to this family dilemma? Move.  And not only do they move, but their new home is smack dab in the middle of a dilapidated zoo.  Now, it’s on.  The drama ensues.

In the end, it turned out to be a great family movie.  I cried, laughed and even cringed at the very poignant parts – the scene where Matt Damon’s character and his actor son argue is so real that it was like peering into the window of my neighbor’s.

Last note: for me M.D. has always been a great actor but not particularly sexy or good-looking.  His acting, A+.  His looks, meh.  But in this movie, how ‘bout all of sudden M.D. looks yummy enough to bite?  Just saying.

Let me know what you guys thought.

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Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol – A Movie Review

provided by Paramount Pictures

I lived at the movies last weekend.  The second movie I saw was the new MI:4.  Plot:  once again some crazy person has the bright idea of killing everyone in order to purify the earth.  The bad guy’s mission is to start another world war resulting in mass destruction.  They pin the bombing of the Kremlin on Ethan Hunt’s (Tom Cruise) team (Simon Pegg, Paula Patton and Jeremy Renner).  And of course, chaos ensues.

I don’t know what is was but I didn’t like this one as much as before.  Yes, there was action, good-looking T.C., his funny sidekicks, intense fight scenes and the oh-so-real stunts but something was still missing for me.

The latest installment even attempted to make Ethan more human and fallible.  And I approve of his new team.  But I didn’t leave there blown away as in the past.  Maybe it will be or was different for you.  Let me know.

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Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows – A Movie Review

Provided by Warner Bros

I saw the new Sherlock Holmes movie last weekend.  The premise goes like this – don’t worry, I won’t give it all away – Professor Moriarty (Sherlock’s nemesis) is at it this time.  The Professor is banking on starting a war to fatten his own pockets.  He’s amassed the latest and the greatest of weapons and is ready to sell to anybody who has the money to buy.  He’s cutthroat, fierce and intelligent – Sherlock’s evil match.

So how was the movie?  First, it started slow and I thought, oh-oh, another follow-up movie that doesn’t rank with the original.  But wait for it.  It slowly redeemed itself by using the same formula I’ve come to know and love with all Sherlock movies – quick wit, intelligent humor, surprising twists and plot dips and peaks.  For example, Sherlock dies, well, twice if you count the scene at the end, Watson gets married (sidebar: Jude Law is so, so, very, very sexy even with the Watson limp!), and the way Sherlock’s inner dialogue is played out before kicking butt is brilliant.  Director Guy Ritchie is on point with that one.

Oh, and Robert Downey, Jr.’s articulation of the British accent is so precise that it makes him seem more British than Jude!  RDJ is a fine actor; glad he stopped that nonsense.  Back to the movie review – when trying to escape from the bad guys, Sherlock and the gang run through the forest to catch their getaway train.  Ritchie uses a type of slow motion that gives the audience time to think and reflect.  It’s a weird and wonderful feeling at the same time.

Great film.  Can’t wait till the next one.

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Why Did the Critics Pan the New Green Lantern Movie?

provided by Warner Bros.

Okay, why did the critics basically pan the new Green Lantern movie?  On Movies I counted only two critics that gave this flick a decent grade of B-.  What’s the problem?

I’ll tell you my conspiracy theory.  I think Hollywood is its own clique and if you try to somehow crash the party or make the wrong person mad, that’s it.  You’re out.  I wonder what the director, Martin Campbell, did or said to tick the movie gods off.  Or maybe it was the lead actor himself, Ryan Reynolds.  You know there was that rumor that he and America’s sweetheart (of the moment), Sandra Bullock, had a fling.  Could that be it?

Or is it the old, when one person says you’re ugly then everybody says you’re ugly because they are glad it’s not them people are talking about syndrome?  Or let’s just consider the movie itself, and therefore, suppose for one moment that the critics did as well.  Could it have been the slight decrease of in-your-face kicks, grunts and rolls that are usually in this type of movie?  Which interestingly, were replaced with witty dialogue, moral lessons and the flawed-human made superhero affect.  All of which were the things that I loved about this movie.  Who buys that I’m a loner, don’t need anybody just rather sit here and brood crap anyway?

Green Lantern was a fresh face to an old story.  Great job guys.  Go see the movie and judge for yourself.  Leave all closed minds behind.