family connections · movie review

EXPLORING THE ROAD NOT TAKEN — A REVIEW

Rebecca Davitch is the centerpiece of this family that she inherited when she married Joe Davitch all those years ago. He captured her heart with his charisma, and despite the fact that he had three young girls to raise (because his wife left him), she marries him anyway.

The big Victorian house is the focal point of the Open Arms entertainment business, which also sweeps Rebecca up into its “arms” after the marriage, too.

Then, when Joe is killed just a few years later, Rebecca is alone with it all–raising the girls, running the business, and taking care of Joe’s elderly uncle whom everyone calls “Poppy.”

At the beginning of the film, we meet the characters several years later at a point in time when Rebecca has begun to question her choices, her role in the lives of this family, and the road not taken. Which is why she suddenly calls her boyfriend from all those years ago…just to see what might happen.

Back When We Were Grownups (Hallmark Hall of Fame) is based on the Anne Tyler novel of the same name, and throughout, I could feel Rebecca’s angst: the losses, the possible wrong choices, and the “what-ifs.” An amazing cast populates this film, including Blythe Danner as Rebecca; Peter Riegert as Zeb, Joe’s brother; Jack Palance as Poppy; Peter Fonda as the ex-boyfriend; and Faye Dunaway as Joe’s ex-wife, who swoops in for the occasional celebratory moment.

I had seen this movie several years ago on the Hallmark channel, but when someone recently mentioned the book—which I also have—I really wanted to experience this again. I am happy that I did. I award five stars to this colorful, dysfunctional, and wonderful family experience.

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holiday moments · movie review

MELTING THE HEARTS OF STONE — A REVIEW

What would it take for an uptight corporate executive, meeting her boyfriend’s family at Christmas, to finally win them over? It doesn’t look like it could possibly happen, and every time Meredith (Sarah Jessica Parker) opens her mouth, she seems to put her foot in it.

Her boyfriend Everett (Dermot Mulroney) tries hard, but serving as a buttress between his family’s hijinks and his girlfriend’s faux pas could be more trouble than it’s worth.

From the matriarch Sybil (Diane Keaton) down to the youngest upstart Amy (Rachel McAdams), Meredith has her work cut out for her. Only brother Ben (Luke Wilson) seems to understand her at all.

Then her sister Julie (Claire Danes) comes into town, and things seemingly turn on a dime.

How will Meredith finally learn to fit in? And what will finally bring about a “melting” of the hearts of Stone?

The Family Stone (Full Screen Edition) is a unique mixture of humor and emotion, played out against a backdrop of a very memorable Christmas. The cast is wonderful and the characters completely believable as they fill the screen with heartfelt and quirky moments in a challenging holiday get-together.  Five stars.

movie review · murder

PREDICTABLE MURDER ROMP….

The other day, I was thinking about movies I’ve enjoyed over the years, and thought of this film starring Burt Reynolds and Theresa Russell—from the late 80s.

Physical Evidence was a flick that I thought would be fun to see again.  And it was.

My favorite parts were the interactions between the characters.  Theresa Russell portrayed a defense attorney named Jennifer Hudson, while Burt Reynolds was Joe Paris, the cop on trial for murder.

Watching the growing attraction between these characters as they tried to solve the case (in between trial scenes) was fun, if a bit predictable.

The movie was set in Boston, so I also enjoyed the street scenes, as well as the interiors of some really gorgeous homes, like the loft where Theresa Russell’s character lived with her very annoying fiance, who was materialistic and a bit of an obsessive-compulsive snob.

Lots of action, some violence, and a few thrill scenes, especially toward the end—all added up to a so-so movie that I’ll probably watch again, but it certainly wasn’t one of my favorites.  Not like I thought it would be, since back in the eighties I obviously had different tastes.

However, I decided that it deserved three stars.

movie review · social connections

LOSING SIGNIFICANT CONNECTIONS

When George (Colin Firth) loses his lover Jim (Matthew Goode) after sixteen years together, the color has disappeared from his life. He goes through the routines, thinking often of the past; his primary connections are his students at the small university where he teaches and an old friend Charley (Julianne Moore).

His next-door neighbors have two small children, and the occasional noise and other activities sometimes feel like an intrusion into the quiet life he now lives.

Then one day a student seems to connect to George and a dialogue begins.

Meanwhile, however, George seems to be going through a process—getting his papers in order; picking out a suitable outfit; and buying bullets for his gun. As he moves slowly forward toward some kind of conclusion, we see fewer flashbacks into memories.

What happens ultimately, however, is a surprising “intrusion” that is unexpected and perhaps fortuitous. But then, just when we believe we know what will happen, another unexpected event turns everything around again.

Throughout A Single Man, I noticed the visual effects that set the past and present apart. The film makers displayed the past moments in vivid colors, while the present lacked the depth of tone. The present seemed almost cloaked in sepia tones, but not quite.

The setting for this movie was 1962 LA, with the Cuban missile crisis casting its own pall over the characters’ lives. There were many things that showed us this time period–rotary telephones; older cars; clothing; hairstyles; and, of course, the sense that the characters were grabbing life’s pleasures when impending doom seemed to lurk. Another telling aspect of the times was the “secrecy” surrounding George’s homosexuality, a definite pointer to a less accepting period in our history.

After I watched the movie, I felt depressed and cloaked in the futility of life and any kind of a future. It reminded me of how I felt during that year, when as college students, we listened to our professors as they vividly described the political climate in which we lived.

I gave the film four stars, primarily because I didn’t really like it. I got the message and I thought the different shades of color were a clever way to distinguish past and present. But aside from that subtle distinction, there was little about the movie that would linger on in my mind or add anything to my repertoire of memories.