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Monday, July 28, 2014

Movie Review: Lucy

Lucy (2014) is categorized as a French action film.  I would also say it's sci-fi.  Lucy hooks up with the wrong party guy (let this be a lesson to you girls!), and as a result, is used as a mule for a new designer drug.  When the packet leaks in her system, her brain rapidly evolves toward utilizing 100% of available neurons vs the 10% most humans have access to.

This film incorporates elements of current quantum physics, brain science, and scientific ethics.  For example, it asks the questions:  should we jump ahead and speed up evolution if we can?  If we had the technology to utilize 100% of our brains would we use it for good or for bad?  Would we lose what makes us human and connected to one another?

It is fast paced and violent (although not terribly graphic) and is rated R for this reason primarily.  We would have worked some scenes a bit differently...we would have given her the ability to instantly and kinetically heal herself and others and the final scene went on far too long and wasn't plausible...we would have divided it up showing her portion of things to completion, and then enter bad guy.

The film met with polarizing reviews.  I found it highly entertaining and engaging with good special effects and CGI.  Most action films are not plausible...but that's usually why we watch them.  I might not remember it tomorrow, but it was a fun way to pass a couple of hours.

Watch the trailer below or via this link.


Sunday, July 27, 2014

Movie Review: The Grand Budapest Hotel

The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) is a retrospective of the life of a hotel owner.  The hotel, The Grande Budapest Hotel has lost its grandeur and fallen from popularity.  Due to changes from the war and the economy, only a few regulars and residents wander its cavernous halls. The retrospective explores how the current owner climbed the ranks and came to BE the owner.

The film has a star-studded cast, including: 

There is a surrealism about the film that reminded me somewhat of Dick Tracy; bright vivid colors, caricature-like characters, and dry, straight humor.  Hubby said he was entertained but felt it was a little slow in spots.  I felt it was a lot slow and a lot strange.  I wasn't bored and it kept my attention but I'm undecided as to how I feel about it.  Didn't hate it...didn't really like it either.

We watched the DVD via Netflix.  It is rated R for some language and very brief nudity.  Watch the trailer below or via this link.


Friday, July 25, 2014

Documentary Review: Dear Mom, Love Cher

Via Netflix, we watched the documentary "Dear Mom, Love Cher" (2013), which chronicles the life, career and loves of Cher's 88 year old mom, Georgia Holt.

Georgia, born in 1926 grew up extremely poor and was somewhat exploited by her father in order to make money from her singing ability.  Married 7 times (twice to the same man), this documentary shows you who she was and what influenced her life and in turn, that of her actress daughter Georgianne, and Cher.

I don't think it's rocket science where Cher gets her anti-aging genetics from.  Georgia appears somewhat frail in her movements, but that's about all that betrays her.  There's no way she looks like a woman approaching 90.

The documentary has a lot of photos and clips of the family, the men, the kids, the career.

I'm a big fan of Cher, always have been.  So this was just an extension of that...gaining a bit of understanding of where she came from.  I enjoyed it.

Watch this duet clip below, or via this link.  They don't sound much alike do they?  HA!


Thursday, July 24, 2014

Movie Review: Alfred Hitchcock's Torn Curtain

Alfred Hitchcock's Torn Curtain (1966) is a story of the scientific race to nuclear power, government conspiracy and spies.

American physicist Michael Armstrong (played by Paul Newman) has funding cut to an important project of scientific research.  He has taken the formula as far as he could and is, in theory, stuck.  He pretends to defect to East Germany in order to trick a scientist there into giving up the part of the formula he needs.

His assistant and fiance Sarah Sherman (played by Julie Andrews) knows he's being dishonest and evasive but isn't sure why.  So she follows him and ends up in the middle of some very dangerous situations.

He gets into the country easily enough by feigning that he HAS the entire formula...but once he actually gets it, it's a little harder getting back OUT of the country.  A lot can happen...and does.

The film was made at the height of the popularity of both Paul Newman and Julie Andrews.  Andrews had recently finished both Mary Poppins and Sound of Music and both Newman and Andrews were big box office draws.  The extras on the DVD are interesting.  It was fun to watch Julie Andrews in such a serious and non musical, non-whimsical role.  Both Newman and Andrews are believable characters in their roles unlike many of the others in Hitchcock films.  This is yet another film I had never heard of.  We rented it from Netflix but you can, no doubt, watch all of it on YouTube.

"Torn Curtain" has to do with them going "behind the iron curtain" of East Germany and then getting back out again.  Hitchcock appears in the hotel lobby with a toddler on his lap in his cameo.

Watch the trailer below or via this link.



Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Movie Review: Alfred Hitchcock's Marnie

Alfred Hitchcock's "Marnie" (1964) is a disturbing psychological thriller starring Tippi Hedren and Sean Connery.

Marnie, played by Tippi Hedren is a compulsive thief and perhaps a bit of a sociopath.  Sean Connery is a business man who catches her in the act and then entraps her.

Mark Rutland (Connery) has a hobby interest in animal behavior and waffles between appearing to be helpful/genuine, and manipulative; as though Marnie is an animal for him to trap and study and modify.

Marnie has a traumatic childhood secret that has closed her off from others and Mark wants to "fix" her.  He goes about it in questionable ways...including forcing her to marry him or go to jail...and marital rape.

Sean Connery is his usual fantastic actor self.  Tippi Hedren (who also was the star of Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds) is over the top corn-ball acting.  But that was still an acceptable norm in that era.

I don't think I had even heard of this film and it's been interesting to work our way through as many Alfred Hitchcock movies as we can find.  Yes, you see Alfred's cameo appearance coming out of a hotel room.  I love watching for his "Where's Waldo" moments.

We rented the DVD from Netflix and I also enjoy watching the extras on the DVD where the process of filming, casting, etc is discussed.

Watch the clip below or via this link.



Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Documentary Review: 20 Feet From Stardom

20 Feet From Stardom (2014) is a documentary that follows some legendary (although often unknown) back-up singers.  We streamed it from Netflix but you can also watch the entire program on YouTube.

One of the things I found interesting about it, is that some of the back-up singers clearly aspired to become the headliner, but for reasons that appear to be a mystery, they were never able to break out to the "front line".  Others had little or no desire to be the famous one, and instead appreciated the magic of blended voices and the love of music.  For them, being unknown, but still employed and in the thick of the action was a good fit.  One of them commented that perhaps why some made it to the front and some didn't was the ability or lack of it to "self promote".

Another irony, is that many of these "back-up" singers clearly had voices that far surpass the headliners they work with/for.  Lots of interesting irony.  Some with obvious diva arrogance and some with utter humility and humbleness.

I found it quite interesting.  I like the glimpses into lesser known aspects of larger phenomenon.

Watch the trailer below or via this link.



Monday, July 21, 2014

Comedy Video Review: Josh Blue, Sticky Change

We streamed Josh Blue; Sticky Change (2012) from Netflix.  I think you can probably watch the whole thing on YouTube also.  It's a comedy stand-up routine.

Josh Blue won Last Comic Standing in 2006 and is one of the most endearing funny guys around.  Josh has Cerebral Palsy and makes those challenges part of his routine.  Because nothing is funnier than real life, and laughing at the ways in with "able bodied" people react to him.

The routine "Sticky Change" is no exception.  He talks about how others react to him, and the comedy in everyday life.  Married and father of two, he has plenty to say about parenting as well.

While not "vulgar" humor, he does swear quite a bit in this (including dropping of the f-bomb), so be forewarned if this is not something you can handle.  I think he would be just as funny without it, but then, it also doesn't offend me either.  Not for kids, but then, few stand-up comedy bits are.  I laughed a lot.  Thoroughly enjoy him.

Watch the trailer below or via this link.