Category Archives: my favorite movies

Solo: A Star Wars Story is a hit, despite the boycotts

Greetings, readers. Last night I went with friends to see the latest Star Wars flick. I had heard mixed reviews and quite frankly was expecting to be disappointed. I was not! As the first film in a possible trilogy, I liked Solo: A Star Wars Story as much as Rogue One, if not better. I do have a few light spoilers below.

Alden Ehrenreich did a wonderful job in my opinion of making the viewer believe that he was the younger version of the character Han Solo. He had all the mannerisms down correctly, and even looked like he could be Harrison Ford’s son. The only problem I had with him is he also looked like, in certain scenes, Chris Pine from the new Star Trek film series. But I easily gave that a hand wave.

Another major player was the younger version of Lando Calrissian played by Donald Glover. He also looked and sounded even more like his character than Alden Ehrenreich sounded like Han Solo. Of course for all Star Wars fans, we were introduced to Chewbacca who was not, unfortunately played by Peter Mayhew. His health would not allow all the walking around and physical things for the part. The growling voice, however, sounded identical. It could be that Peter did the voice acting for Chewbacca. When we were introduced to our furry friend, played by Joonas Suotamo, he was the bad guy’s pet, kept in a dungeon filled with mud on the floor. Han Solo was thrown into said pit to see how long he would survive against “the beast”.

Hon’s love interest, Qu’ra played by a marvelous British actress named Emilia Clarke was in the first part of the movie and then reappeared a while later to be happily reacquainted with her love, but she had secrets to hide.

The movie came out a couple of weeks ago, and unfortunately in its third week the box office sales have fallen off the table. My good friend’s brother told me that this was because many people were very upset with the previous Star Wars film, The Last Jedi, and many people boycotted the Solo film; it is a shame. I give it a solid 8 out of 10, with good acting, a reasonable storyline, and plenty of action.

Well, after reading this you may or may not want to see the film. For those of you who are die-hard Star Wars fans, trust me, you will love it. Don’t boycott it. Go treat yourself.

I’m taking a personal day tomorrow, so Rebecca will have the blog entry up. Until next Wednesday, have a great week, take care, and happy reading.

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B movies so bad that they were good

Greetings, readers. Today’s blog entry will use a slightly different format. Over the last few days I watched four movies that were so cheesy that they were good. What I’ve never done before is this: I am going to include the names of the people who uploaded the videos to the website; they are called YouTubers. In the brackets are the word for word description that each YouTuber included with the video. Then I’ll add a little bit about what this movie meant to me. In a way you could call this a top four list. So here we go.

The first movie I am going to describe is Area 407, from the year 2012, uploaded by YouTuber Mary Logan. [Her description: The terrified survivors of an airplane crash fight for their lives against a pack of monstrous, unidentified creatures in a top secret government research area on New Year’s Eve.] I’m not going to spoil this for anyone by telling you what the creatures are, but here are my thoughts on this film. First of all I love airplane movies and disaster films. When this movie began on an airplane, and then crashed with survivors, that gave it 5 stars from me right there. Soon after the survivors evacuated the plane, they heard a monstrous growl. Now, it was a race against time to find shelter and wait for morning. Little did they know, they crashed on a military base. The acting was pretty good, and it followed the airliner disaster movie blueprint. They had the heroes, the smaller child, and the grumpy man who was a pain in the rump to everybody. I love stories about area 51 and this reminded me a little bit of what might happen if an airliner really had to make an emergency landing there.

Dark Night of the Scarecrow, from 1981, uploaded by YouTuber A Touch of Evil. [American made-for-television suspense horror film directed by veteran novelist Frank De Felitta (author of Audrey Rose), from a script by J.D. Feigelson. Feigelson’s intent had been to make an independent feature, but his script was bought by CBS for television; despite this, only minor changes were made to the original screenplay] I remember watching this movie on TV, either when it first ran or when it was rerun. It’s the story about a mentally challenged man in his mid-30s who was accused of hurting a young child. SPOILER ALERT. Bubba didn’t do it. He saved the little girl from a dog attack. Anyway, the town folk tried to chase him down to kill him. Bubba runs and hides inside the scarecrow but they hunt him down anyway. The three men who killed Bubba meet terrible demises. END SPOILER ALERT. This film also has an extremely creepy last 30 seconds. I would rate this my favorite of the four films I’m talking about. Back when I first watched it, I actually hid under the covers. Even the other night, after all those years, I still had that tense feeling. I had forgotten most of the movie, so it was kind of like watching a brand new film.

Eyes in the Dark, from 2010, uploaded by Robyn Scaringi. [Secret video files just discovered on a FBI server prove that the government has been hiding unexplained disappearances in the Pacific Northwest wilderness.] This film to me was a combination of any of the films where people supposedly find videos and have big foot experiences. The film shows several groups of folks, as they are eventually hunted down by the growling creature with red eyes. About a quarter of the way through the film, the six main characters make their way to a lodge in the woods complete with hot tub and creepy caretaker. The kids find a cave with unusual markings and everything hits the fan from there. One by one, the six of them get killed by this never seen creature with red eyes. Only glimpses of red are shown through windows and car doors. This was the most B-looking movie, cheesy film of the list. I enjoyed it and the acting was fairly good. The hand-held bumping choppy camera work might have been deliberate, but it made the film look amateurish in my opinion and made me nauseous.

The Horror at 37,000 Feet, from 1973, was uploaded by The Celluloid Highway. [CBS TV Movie first aired on 13/02/1973 and featuring the mind blowing talents of William Shatner, Chuck Connors, and Roy Thinnes.] I watched this film last evening and loved it. Again, I love airplane movies and this film fascinated me. A man and wife were bringing back to the States from England a druid altar from an abbey church. The altar was haunted by spirits. I didn’t much care for the fact that the dog in the hold got frozen when the evil entity broke out of its container. Apparently if you got too close to this thing, it can freeze you to death or cause very bad frostbite injuries. Some of the passengers took actions to try to get rid of the evil that was going on in the hold, including lighting a fire, and sacrificing a little girl’s baby doll that included a lock of the woman’s hair. My favorite mistake was revealing which real-life airline they purchased the airplane from. It was supposed to be AOA airlines, but for a brief second, you can clearly read the three letters TWA. The airplane’s paint scheme was also that of Trans World Airlines. In other words they didn’t try to hide much. Even with all of my negative comments I still enjoyed this film very much. Many of the performances, included Shatner’s, were top-notch.

Like I said, not exactly a top ten list, but perhaps in a few months I’ll give you my thoughts and reviews on some more films I’ve viewed. Until next Wednesday, take care, enjoy your weekend, and happy reading.

I saw two good movies last night

Greetings, readers. I was searching through YouTube for something enjoyable to watch, besides Reba, and I typed in Sherlock Holmes. To my happy surprise, several of his films were listed. Both of the films I watched were from the 1940s. The first one was actually just under an hour long and the second one, slightly longer, was an hour and eleven minutes. Oh, how times have changed. Today you are hard pressed to find a film under an hour and a half.

The first movie I watched, from 1946, was about a murder that took place on a train and was called Terror by Night. The two stars were Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes and Nigel Bruce as Dr. Watson. From the outset I knew I’d be hooked because the story began with Holmes and Watson going to Edinburgh, Scotland on a train. Holmes was to guard a valuable diamond, and of course that was the prize catch for someone to steal. Shortly into the movie there is a murder; the son of the elderly woman who owned the diamond. Holmes and Watson conducted interviews with the suspects on the train one by one to discover who the thief and murderer was.

What really made this movie enjoyable for me was it took place on an old steam locomotive. As some of you might know from me writing about Train Simulator, looking at the old English carriages, with each compartment having its own door, was nostalgic. Another thing that was enjoyable for me was that these two films were in black and white, and the special effects were minimal. Back then, they concentrated on story line quality and good acting. I’m not going to give away the ending to either of these films, no spoiler alerts here. So let’s move on to the second film.

Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror, from 1942, was an equally intriguing and enjoyable film. It was set during World War II, as the Third Reich was destroying London. Everyday a radio broadcast, at first believed to be from Germany, would hit London’s airwaves, not only describing how poorly England was doing in the war, but also warning of impending disasters. Holmes found it odd that these catastrophes would occur either as the broadcast was taking place or shortly thereafter. It was fascinating to me to watch Holmes in action as he deduced where these broadcasts were actually coming from.

Both these films starred Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce, who were in series of Sherlock Holmes films in the 1940s. I do understand that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s original setting for his stories and books was in London and in the late 1800s. That was another thing I found so interesting about these two films. You can take these two characters and 221b Baker street, put them in any era, and it works. How brilliant.

Not only has last night’s entertainment spurred my interest in watching more of these films, but after work hours I’m going to the library to get one of the original books. I’m looking forward to it greatly. Remember, I did want to read more; it is on my list of things to do.

I shall keep you updated with how my new interest in Sherlock Holmes progresses. I don’t know how many movies were made but I intend to watch them all.

Until Friday, have a wonderful couple of days, take care, and happy reading.

From Rebecca: Frequency

I love stories about time travel. There is something about going back in time and changing history or someone’s life that just appeals to me. I love watching the set up events unfold and then watch for the changes after they have been altered. I can certainly think of a few decisions I would go back and change if I could – if I knew I would still meet the man who became my husband and that nothing bad would happen to my loved ones! Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I knew about my attention deficit disorder sooner or if I had taken library sciences classes in college. Would I have been able to improve the things in my life that went bad, or would I get to the same point eventually? There are a lot of books, movies, and TV shows about time travel and about changing life events (Stephen King has one out called 11/22/63 that I haven’t read yet but will soon), like The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, Sliding Doors and Groundhog Day, and it is hard for me to pick a favorite. The one I picked to write about today is from 2000 and is called Frequency.

Frequency is about a family torn apart by tragedy and the lengths a father and son will take to make things right. It stars Dennis Quaid and Jim Caviezel as the Sullivan father and son. Dennis Quaid’s character is a fire fighter who dies in a warehouse fire when his son was a young boy. Jim Caviezel plays the son who grew up to be a police officer. One magical night they are both on the ham radio 30 years apart when a strange electrical storm in the sky links their signal and they talk to each other. The information the son gives the father changes their lives when he does not die in that fire, but something else happened that changed history, and the boy’s mother, played by Elizabeth Mitchell, is killed a few days later by a serial killer. The rest of the film goes from the father’s time to the son’s time as they both try to figure out what they did, save lives, and stop the murderer. It is both a thriller and an emotionally moving film. The tone was consistent the whole way through and events seemed to flow naturally out of what had already happened. I was very pleased with the ending.

Given my love for stories like this, it is no wonder that I enjoy and love this movie. I recommend it to anyone who is also drawn to the idea of fixing a mistake or communicating with someone who is gone. There are a lot of these stories out there, once you start looking.

From Rebecca: Two films about father and son relationships

I spend a lot of time at Schlow Centre Region Library every week after my work hours with Joe. Schlow has a collection of DVDs that I browse through a lot. In the last couple of months, I found two films there centering around father and son relationships. I feel blessed to have a library where I can find character driven independent films like the two I am writing about today: The Music Never Stopped and The Thing About My Folks.

The 2011 movie, The Music Never Stopped, stars J.K. Simmons as the father and Lou Taylor Pucci as the son. Based on a real case history that was published in An Anthropologist on Mars by Dr. Oliver Sack, the movie is about a father (and mother, played by Cara Seymour) who reconnects an estranged son who recently had brain damage. The son will only respond to the music of the 60s that he grew up to as a teenager, and it is through this therapeutic tool that the father begins to hear his son speak and see the painful events of those years through his son’s perspective. It is a good film, and I highly recommend it. Especially if you like the music of the Grateful Dead – it is the son’s favorite band.

The 2005 movie, The Thing About My Folks, stars Peter Falk as the father and Paul Reiser as the son. Paul Reiser also wrote the screenplay. The father and son relationship is explored on a road trip they take together, after the mother has left the father with a note on the refrigerator. The father, owner of his own business until he retired, was away a lot and distant when the son was growing up. The son felt resentment about that and it is one of the many issues they work out on this trip. The acting of Peter Falk and Paul Reiser add believability and humor to material. The movie never felt mawkish or trite.

These films are about people learning that what they thought they knew about their family wasn’t the whole truth, and how they respond to that new information. I enjoyed both of them.

From Rebecca: 50 First Dates

I love the 2004 movie 50 First Dates with Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore. It is the story of a man who falls for a woman with short-term memory loss who never remembers him the next day. All the actors, especially Sandler and Barrymore, produce great performances. I found the characters believable and I liked spending time with them. The film has a lot of humor as well as romance.

When we first met Lucy, she doesn’t know that she is re-living the same day, the last day she has in her memory. Her father Marlin, played by Blake Clark, and her brother, played by Sean Astin, are also trapped in the same day so that they can help her be happy. Every night they reset the stage for her. Then comes Henry, who wants to spend time with her, and has an idea to make a new way. And it worked. He set them free to a new life. And then some complications set in.

*SPOILER ALERT* Part of why I love this movie so much is that the solution at the end with her waking up to a video, husband and child is that they were able to come up with a system that works without magically curing her. She still has the same condition, but they found a way to work with it and be together. *END SPOILERS*

I also love Sandler and Barrymore in The Wedding Singer, and may write about that another day. But for heartwarming, I love 50 First Dates.

From Rebecca: Steel Magnolias

I will be writing a series of blog entries about my favorite films; movies I like, enjoy, love, and/or that mean something to me. I am starting with the 1989 film Steel Magnolias.

I saw this film in the theater when it first came out, and I own it on DVD now. I have seen it a lot of times, including when it is shown on television. I love this movie and can quote whole chunks of it.

It is about a circle of woman friends sharing parts of their lives with each other, for comfort and support. It stars Sally Field, Dolly Parton, Shirley MacLaine, Olympia Dukakis, Julia Roberts, and Daryl Hannah. It is about woman making mistakes and learning from them, making choices and living with the consequences, and the many faces of love. Love for a friend, love for an enemy, love for a husband, love for a child, love for a mother.

There is a particular scene with powerful performances from the actresses. It made me cry when I watched it in the movie theater and it still makes me cry every time I watch it. And then laugh. Those of you who have watched the film know the scene I mean. The first time I watched it, I was laughing so hard I missed a few lines of dialog. “Laughter through tears. That happens to be my favorite emotion.” – Dolly Parton as Truvy. (That is the basic quote – I may have botched it a little.)

This is also a film I can watch with my husband, who likes it too, and that makes it extra-special to me.

If you want to add anything about Steel Magnolias, or share with us you favorite films, feel free to leave us a comment. Joe and I will respond.