Monthly Archives: February 2016

For Better or for Worse

For Better Or For Worse DVD 3D (1)For Better or for Worse brings former TV series The Facts of Life co-stars Lisa Whelchel and Kim Fields together again in two very different roles for each actress. If you like the former TV show, then you should find these two women together again a scream. Antonio Cupo also stars in the movie and is a regular in Hallmark movies, appearing in Love at the Thanksgiving Day Parade and I Do, I Do, I Do.

Based on the novel by Diana Hunt and directed by Marita Grabiak, Wendy (Whelchel) is a wedding planning coordinator. She is coming to grips with her grief of losing her husband.  In walks charming, and a bit of a thorn in the side, divorce attorney Marco (Cupo). He establishes his practice next door to Wendy’s wedding chapel. Rosanne (Fields) works for Wendy, is a good friend, and offers sage advice to the two business conflict with each other. A feud emerges as it becomes clear that weddings and divorces are like oil and water. When Wendy’s son and Marco’s daughter meet, fall in love and get engaged, Wendy and Marco are forced to team up and plan the kids’ wedding.  Opposites attract and well…you need to see the movie and find out how the romance blossoms between the two.

The movie is fresh and delightful as a romantic comedy and is a little too predictable for my tastes.  Yet, if you are a fan of Hallmark movies, then you will love this happy, go-round, and up and down movie.

My Boyfriends’ Dogs

My Boyfriends' Dogs DVD-f (1)Hallmark movies have their own flavor of entertainment based on a formula that works most the time. My Boyfriends’ Dogs works for me because of Ericka Christensen, who plays Bailey Daley, creates a very believe able winsome character that you can’t help but love.  She is on her own, unattached, charming, cute in a funny way and attracts guys more often than one would think.

The crux of the story is each guy who approaches her turns out having a dealbreaker.  It’s not because they are criminals or killers. It’s because they are control freaks or just don’t like dogs, which Bailey says is the grounds for a breakup.

In spite of everything, she meets three different guys, played by Jeremy Gilbaut, Oliver Rice, Jesse Hutch, and she gets serious enough to be smitten with their dogs.  She ends up breaking it off with the guys, but keeps their dogs, a golden retriever, a Dalmatian and a Shih Tzu. Here, we begin our story with Bailey because the rest of the story is told in flashback.  I like it.

Being a Hallmark movie is a shoe in to have a happy ending, and for this movie, it’s called a twist of fate. But just how it happens is what makes the story interesting to watch until the end.  You will like Christensen, the dogs, and even the ex-boyfriends.  The story may seem a bit slow, but it is worth watching for all the talent on the screen.

Tooken

tookenDirected by John Asher, Tooken is a gut wrenching spoof from Liam Neeson’s Taken.  The movie is billed ‘…a retired CIA agent uses his special skills to get his beloved dog back from Albanian mobsters.”  The mobsters are lead by Brown Finger, play wonderfully by Margaret Cho.

It sure sounds ridiculous, and it is ridiculous as we follow Bryan Millers, played over the top by Lee Tergesen, as the counter version of Liam Neeson’s Bryan Mills. Some of the other cast held their own  like Money Maker, played by Reno Wilson, is very funny, and Dirty Lady, played by Barbara Ann Moore, is pretty funny, too.

If you look at other reviews on the Internet, you will see Tooken doesn’t have much to offer, though some might like it. It is surely not for everyone or just for a selected few with offending nudity and crude humor.  It is nothing but crazy and nonsensical comedy filled with immature situations. Yet, there is even a spoof on “Non-Stop,” which is kind of nice to see.  That is about as good as it gets.

I am not a fan of spoof movies, so I am biased. But, if you are a fan, then you’ll probably laugh your socks off because it is completely stupid.

Stonewall

stonewallI find it interesting reviewing Stonewall because I am not gay and never heard of the historical time for the gay movement.  Another aspect I find interesting is the movie is directed by Roland Emmerich. The genre is completely against his norm with movies like Day After Tomorrow, Independence Day, The Patriot and Godzilla.

The feedback from those who were at Stonewall says Emmerich’s take on the event is a total lie and doesn’t capture what really happened.  I am sure the overall message from what happened is there, but it was not about a young, white, blonde, blue-eyed young man from the mid-west named Danny Winters, and played wonderfully by Jeremy Irvine. He arrives in NYC because he earned a scholarship to Columbia University.  He is without room and board and hardly has any money. He befriends a group of drag queens and transgender males. Ray or Ramona, played wrenchingly by Jonny Beauchamp, senses a connection and brings him into the fold. Ray convinces Danny to join their way of life and hustle in order to survive.  Sure, Ray is romantically interested in Danny, but he doesn’t feel the same way.  Though a nice story, it doesn’t have anything to do with the true story about Stonewall Riots.

Hardly any white people were at the riots. It was not a white young man who threw the brick and started the riots. A Puerto Rican drag queen named Marsha P. Johnson, he was black, started the riots. The reason for the riots is because black drag queens and black transgender males were relentlessly harassed by the NYC police department.  The true story makes sense to me because NYC is so diverse.   Yet, Emmerich’s version is just the opposite, and I am not sure why he went to the extreme and tried to rewrite history. Most of the non-white characters in the movie are non-threatening and exaggerated. Unreal.

All in all, the movie is a good story with great emotional acting from a talented cast and the music by Rob Simonsen creates the strong undertones need to support the story, but not the true story, only based on the incident.

Ladrones

LadronesDirected by Joe Menéndez, Ladrones follows a pair of modern day hoods who rob the rich and give it to the poor.  This is the sequel to the hit movie, Ladrón Que Roba a Ladrón. Starring two of Univision’s biggest stars, Fernando Colunga and Eduardo Yáñez, they play Toledo and Guzman.  The hoods set out to steal the original 1848 Texas land grants and return them to their rightful owners. The grants were stolen from the lawful owners by Miranda Milroy, played by Jessica Lindsey. She plans on leveling the ranches in order to build a cultural center where she plans to sing opera.  How these two pull off this caper is quite good.

The movie is in Spanish with English subtitles throughout.  It feels like a movie made for TV, though.  Comedy is not raunchy but mild, so I can’t figure out why it is rated PG-13.  The storyline is simple with a little bit of action that makes the movie slow at times. On an upbeat note, Jackie played by Cristina Rodlo is funny as super intelligent, and her ranch hand boyfriend played by Vadhir Derbez is undoubtedly hired for just his looks. The characters keep the movie fun and entertaining, but the plot is just too straightforward with not enough hooks to keep me strongly interested.

Though you think this is a guy’s movie, it is not. Families with older kids can watch this movie without much flack. Some points in the story go unexplained or are just too simple to bother me.  Like when Toledo and Guzman nabbed the land grants. The situation should be handled, but it didn’t. The conflict kept going, which didn’t make sense.

Born to Win

BorntoWinWritten and directed by Frans Cronjé, Born to Win is a Christian Faith movie based on a true story that will get believers inspired and follow one man’s journey to find his faith.

From the producer of the hit faith movie Faith Like Potatoes, which sold over 2.2 million DVDs in 17 languages worldwide, Born to Win is not quite as good, but still tugs at your heartstrings.  The movie follows Leon Terblanche, played brilliantly by Greg Kriek (Momentum), a teacher at a school for disabled children. He finds himself confronted with the question: “Where is God?” This sets him on a journey where he discovers that he has never been alone through all the hurt and brokenness of his past. Leon learns that no matter how broken you are God is always our only living hope. Born to Win shows how God turns the hurt, frustration and emptiness of a man into hope, faith and victory to inspire people to be the winners they were born to be.

The movie is beautifully shot by Jorrie van der Walt with an endearing soundtrack by Simon Ratcliffe. Both set the movie’s rhythm and poise creating intense, realistic, and heart driven levels of pain with impossible odds. Leon goes through a failed relationship and circumstances beyond his control. What he experiences with the children is pure heartache.

The movie was theatrically released in South Africa in 2014 and received the Golden Crown Award for Best Evangelistic Film in 2015 (ICVM).  The movie is poignant with very touching performances by other cast members including Leoné Pienaar (Break Away), Nadia Beukes (Mooirivier), Cobus Venter (Skin), Marie Cronje (Faith Like Potatoes), Dorette Potgieter (Citizen Verdict), Anrich Herbst (Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom), Sylvia Mdunyelwa-Kobus (Tula Tula), Garth Collins (Zulu), Merlin Balie (Break Away), Tim Theron (Mooirivier) and  Leandie Du Randt (Semi-Soet).

The Condemned 2

TheCondemedIn the ring, Randy Orton is close to being WWE’s most lethal idol. Being a third generation wrestler gives him the DNA talent that makes him a legend in his own honorable way. “The Viper” is his ring name for the way he can strike like a snake from nowhere. By the token of his talent in the ring, one would think his acting hits the mark as well.

Directed by Roel Reiné, The Condemned 2 is not the ringer WWE fans would like to see. The movie is a sequel to the Steve Austin movie released in 2007. The movie was knocked out before the end of the first round.  Surprisingly, WWE Studios never throws in the towel, and the studio keeps making modicum movies with their wrestlers.

With the visceral of taking on the bad guys, Orton plays bounty hunter Will Tanner. Tanner and his team are on a mercenary venture with the intention of capturing a leader, played by Wes Studi. He runs a tournament where challengers are forced to kill one another in televised games. Tanner’s operation hits a glitch right off the bat, and his team misses out on any potential cash they would have been rewarded for the capture of the leader.  Identically, Will is in difficulty with the law because they are not happy with his day job as a bounty hunter.

Tanner turns into more than a wanted man once a newcomer to the games Raul, played by Steven Michael Quezada, recreates the televised games. Not only he makes Tanner primary target but it is not long before Will is kidnapped.  He is hurled into fighting for his life and survival against his former team. A flash of big shots betting on Tanner’s chance of survival is set among a lively cast of warriors and places Tanner up against interesting fighting styles.

Reine seems to do a decent job of directing with the budget available. He can blow things up with cookie cutter choreography mapping out a so-so plot. The hodgepodge, dull soldiers take whimsical shots at Tanner through rifle scopes. They even put him through a desert with land mines.  Still, nothing seems to work for the movie because so much potential is lost in the acting and budget constraints

Full of Grace

full of graceUnderstanding the passion related to Christian stories has flocked our existence since the beginning of telling stories. Each biblical story brings an example to us while the parables offer a lesson, and here we have the Virgin Mary’s story, “It’s not about explaining things. It about living…”

Directed and written by Andrew Hyatt, Full of Grace captures the soul of the perfection of our Lord Jesus and his blessed Mother. Even though the movie was produced on an indie budget, it still shines with the Christian influences of heart and soul.

The movie is about the Virgin Mary played by Bahia Haifi with pure dignity, gravity, and the keen sense of maternity that is related to such a heroine.  We follow as she deals with the rising church after the Resurrection and Ascension of Our Lord. Mary spends her final days helping the church regain its original encounter with the Lord.

The movie is awe inspiring with a very fitting musical score composed by Sean Johnson. As the movie follows Mary, the story speaks from her heart to every angle for each generation. Hyatt wove a masterful message while sharing the love and understanding of a mother, particularly the Holy Mother of God. With that, Hyatt won the Reel Rose Award for Best Feature Length Screenplay at John Paul II International Film Festival.

The movie is indeed very Christian for all Christian beliefs from Protestants to Catholics and the ones in between.

I would not be surprised if this movie played at every church social night because it does educate.  It does reaffirm the gospel of Lord Jesus. Whether you are a true believer or just an interested bystander, the story is good to know since society has lost its idealism and social graces, and we need to be reminded how important religion is to our existence.

Swamp People Season 6

SP_S6_DVD_3D (1)Swamp People TV show is not necessarily for just outdoors people. Like Duck Dynasty, the series has a quality that appeals to people who are not hunters and fishermen.  Watching the Cajun’s speaking Cajun French on this series is rather interesting and unique.  That is all the bait I need to watch men get into the swamp and noodle successfully for catfish. To say nothing of the alligator hunting, and it is quite a chilling experience.

Yes, it is a reality TV show, but at least, they are civil and forego dramatizing their flaws like the Kardashians.  Most would say this is one of the best reality shows and is rated the top show on the History channel. They set a nice example of how to treat other people where they are pleasant to each other and help each other.

The show takes a look inside one of the last American frontiers when Troy and the other swampers go on a 30-day alligator hunt, avoiding flood water and outwitting the smartest gators. Swamp hunters fight massive alligators and Mother Nature and journey into previously unknown, hostile areas of the swamp. Shrewd gators try to outwit the hunters’ new methods of capturing their prey. Whether using new indigenous bait, old decoys or employing a primitive alternative to the modern hook, these hunters constantly adjust their tactics to catch and fill their tags.

The series is exciting and nerve wracking while they wrestle with an alligator. The swampers protect people from gigantic gators by going after them in areas where people are in danger. They even assist crayfishers when the gators go after their cages. In light of all that danger, the series embodies a way of living that is far better any other reality TV show.  All in all, the series is worth watching because it will be a learning experience while it keeps you on the edge of your seat.

Meadowland

meadowlandHer directorial debut, Reed Morano’s Meadowland takes a brave look at two people who are in very deep pain.  They struggle with the darkness captivating one’s attention like crazy.

The first scene sets up the story and overall tone of the movie.  We meet a married couple, played brilliantly by Olivia Wilde and Luke Wilson. They are on a family trip and lose their young son. Abduction is what everyone assumes happened to the child.  The story follows the aftermath of their loss, one year later. Two people who were once in love are now individually alone.  The marriage crumbles from the inside while starting at the edges.  The mother wanders in the middle of the night going to the subway as her maternal love feels empty.  The father is a New York City cop, who turns cold, trying to resolve his issues at a support group, but failing to even make that go right.  They live in the past with only memories barely keeping them awake from the tragedy.

This is a very sad movie and as a parent, a hard movie to watch.  Yet, the performances are beautifully executed and capture the melancholy and carelessness followed by the loss of a loved one. The supporting cast, including Elizabeth Moss, Giovanni Ribisi, and John Leguizamo, offer deep, rich colors of despair. Reed Morano, who is known in the industry as a cinematographer for such notable movies as Frozen River and The Magic of Belle Isle, takes the viewers on an unbelievable and unforgettable journey as she guides these tormented characters.

Meadowland is beautifully shot and an expertly crafted movie, yet it is sad. Your mindset needs to be ready for a downer because the subject matter will turn your stomach inside out with emotion and fear of losing your own children.