Category Archives: book

A Kind of Murder

Directed by Andy Goddard, who spent quality time directing Downton Abby episodes, A Kind of Murder follows an obsessed crime novelist, played by Patrick Wilson, who is married to a suicidal wife, played by Jessica Biel. The movie is suspenseful, fascinating along with a captivating storyline that includes twists and turns like an old-fashion movie.

With such a talented cast, I was surprised that the movie’s tempo was slow and not as engaging as it could have been like the novel the movie is based. The novel by Patricia Highsmith, who also wrote other popular psychological thrillers such as Strangers on a Train and The Talented Mr. Ripley.

The movie follows a crime novelist obsessed with an unsolved murder case begins to fantasize about committing a crime of his own. His marriage is an unhappy one, and his desire to be free from his beautiful but damaged wife becomes an obsession. But when his wife is found dead the lines blur between innocence and intent, forcing the question who, in fact, is the real killer?

The movie is a thriller and has a story that should be engaging, but somehow it fell flat in the third act.

Office Downe

Directed by Shawn Crahan, Officer Downe is based on the graphic novel of the same name. The movie is a blood-soaked tale of resurrection, revenge, and justice as the story follows an immortal, crime-fighting police officer, played by Kim Coates, and his rookie sidekick, played by Tyler Ross, who learns that being stuck between doing what he thinks is right and what he thinks is best is not an easy task.

The best way to described this movie is Sin City meets dark science technology. The L.A. policeman is repeatedly resurrected and returned to active duty through a mysterious technology. When a rookie officer named Gable arrives on the scene as backup, we get to see Downe in a different way because Gable discovers there’s much more to the super-cop than a mindless law enforcement super-cop warring against twisted over-the-top super-villains.

The way the movie is told with over the top acting and action might be enjoyable for those you are looking for mindless entertainment. There is no thinking involved with this movie but, like I said, you will be entertained. You might even laugh because it is so over-the-top and unreal.

Sure, there will be those who felt they wasted their time watching the movie because there really isn’t much to it besides mindless fun.

The Great Gilly Hopkins

Directed by Stephen Herek, The Great Gilly Hopkins, is an inspiring film the whole family can enjoy. A true classic story that will capture anyone’s heart. The cast alone is worth renting or buying the movie including Kathy Bates, Octavia Spencer, Glenn Close. These talented women bring so much life to the classic young-adult novel by Katherine Paterson, who also wrote Bridge to Terabithia.

This great tale won the Truly Moving Picture award at the 2016 Heartland Film Festival. The story is about real, emotional, funny and captivating scenes featuring Sophie Nélisse, who was unforgettable in The Book Thief.  She brings her same talent to this adorable movie, which also stars Julia Stiles, who plays Gilly’s mother.

The story follows Gilly as a coming-of-age story about one girl discovering what a family really can be. We met the feisty and headstrong Gilly Hopkins where she has made a name for herself in the foster system. She outwits family after family in hopes of being reunited with her birth mother.

In a comical effort to escape her newest home and overly affectionate foster mother, Mamie Trotter, played by Bates, the young girl devises a scheme she believes will send her mother running to the rescue. When her grand plan backfires, Gilly realizes she may have been wrong about everything in her search to find where she belongs.

The movie brings up questions like “What is a family?” “What is family love?”

I was touch by this film because it holds life lessons with an impressive cast from a charmingly written novel. It all comes to life with a perfect mix of characters. I laughed, cried, and loved it.

Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party Giveaway

hillarysamerHillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party takes a rich peek into America’s future as Dinesh D’Souza, a leading voice in the conservative movement, uncovers the truth of what a country lead by the Democrats will look like if Hillary were President.

With an unprecedented election coming up, this detailed look at the Democrats’ agenda is practically essential viewing. D’Souza is well-known for agitating the film industry with the $33 million earned by his Obama 2016 film.

Bestselling author and influential filmmaker, Dinesh D’Souza reveals the sordid truth about Hillary Clinton and the secret history of the Democratic Party. This important and controversial film was released at a critical time leading up to the 2016 Presidential campaign and challenge the state of American politics. The film is his response to relentless Democratic attacks on Republicans as racist, greedy, and their cold-hearted attitude toward minority concerns.

The movie follows D’Souza as he researches the history and methods of the Democratic party. He indicates records showing Democratic President Andrew Jackson’s expulsion of the Indians to reservations in the 1830s was opposed by Republican congressman Davy Crockett.  Other documents included northern Democrats were key players to slavery’s survival in the pre–Civil War era. The Democrats at the federal level after the war voted against civil rights for blacks. They lost that battle in congress but managed to enforce Jim Crow laws, the former practice of segregating black people in the US, particularly in the South.

There are more records and more evidence that proves the Democrats did block civil rights throughout history such as the 1964 Civil Rights act.

The Hillary’s America includes special features like extended and deleted scenes, along with extended interviews.

Movie Roar has three copies of this controversial film in DVD format to giveaway. You can post your name in the comments and consider yourself in the drawing for the winners.

Sunset Song

sunsetsongSunset Song, directed by Terence Davies, follows Chris Guthrie, played steadily by Agyness Deyn, beginning with her in school, where she and her classmates are struggling in a French language class. Soon she meanders along as we get know her family, clearly, a struggle with her beloved mom, played heart-wrenchingly by Daniela Nardini, and her grumpy dad, played solidly by Peter Mullan.

Patently, her mother is not in a nurturing relationship, and her father is abusive with her and his eldest son, Will, played to the hilt by Jack Greenlees. Will longs to leave home because he is fed up with being abused and bossed around by his dad.  The movie meanders more with beautiful scenes of the Scottish land while Chris suffers through hardships. But, she is strong and gets through each poignant moment because the land she lives on never oppressions her and is always there supporting her no matter what tragedy she goes through.

Having Scottish decedents, I wanted to see this movie set in Scotland during the turn of the century and in the shadow of World War I. Sunset Song is the coming of age story of Chris as we follow her through personal hardships. Eventually, Chris is left alone to tend to the family farm and fend for herself against their abusive father, who eventually dies. Believing she finally found happiness, Chris marries Ewan, played intuitively by Kevin Guthrie, who enlists in the army to fight in The Great War, leaving Chris to tend to the family farm by herself. Ewan returns on leave and the brief reunion is not romantic but coarse and hard to bear. Yet, Chris stays strong and tends the farm after Ewan goes back to the front lines in France.

A tale of steadfast resilience in the face of overwhelming adversity. Yet, the meandering feel of the movie is the irony to the story. Such tranquility in the land but harsh injustice in society. Davies direction pulls it off well.

With cinematography by Michael McDonough, the movie looks more than just visually appealing from start to finish. McDonough captures the tone and era along with the heartache and loss of The Great War.

The movie is based on one of Scotland’s most cherished and notable novels in the last century.  A look at six years in the life of a peasant farm family before and just after the bloodshed of World War I. Life was severe, markedly for the women, who had no control over their destiny. The movie is worth seeing if you want an honest Scottish story that wanders incrementally from hardship to hardship.  The dialogue is totally Scottish, so switch on the English subtitles if it bothers you or just set back and enjoy the movie.

High-Rise

high-riseHigh-Rise, from genre-bending director Ben Wheatley, is an attempt to adapt the classic J.G. Ballard novel of the same name with a brilliant and talented cast including Tom Hiddleston, Oscar winner Jeremy Irons, Sienna Miller, Luke Evans and Golden Globe winner Elisabeth Moss. If you watch the movie knowing it is dark satire, then you might not have a problem watching this movie. It is boring at times because the pacing is off, but the acting is what saves the movie.

But the message is clear and just as poignant today as it follows the inevitable result of a breakdown of social strata and public decorum, known as class warfare. The classic book is a dystopia with a very strong message, but the movie doesn’t even come near to the heart of the book.

Dr. Robert Laing, played pretty solid by Hiddleston, recently moved into a luxury, high-rise apartment building designed by the enigmatic Mr. Royal, played by Irons. With a literal divide of the classes, the wealthiest residents live on the upper floors with the best amenities while residents on the lower floors experience routine blackouts and other disruptions of basic services. As additional flaws in the building begin to emerge, both physically and socially, the lower floor residents revolt, turning the building into a battlefield for an all-out class warfare.

I wanted the movie to be good and worth seeing because the Ballard’s book tells a great story and the actors are really good. Yet, the script and editing could be tighter. It just dragged on and on with no reason.

The Blu-ray comes with some bonus features that includes a commentary from Tom Hiddleston, Ben Wheatley and Producer Jeremy Thomas, an in-depth look at adapting the beloved novel from the page to the screen, a look at the acclaimed film’s 70s set design, special effects, and more.

Joseph & Mary

JosephandMaryDirected Oscar winner for Best Art Direction-Set Direction (Star Wars) Roger Christian, Joseph & Mary is a compassionate, preponderate and riveting story of the all familiar Bible story. The story follows Elijah, played by Stephen McCarthy, a devout Rabbi, during a time of discontent when King Herod the Great slaughter of innocents claims the lives of two boys Elijah had sworn to protect.  Elijah makes it his life mission to avenge their deaths, but he meets Joseph, played by Kevin Sorbo, Mary, played Lara Jean Chorostecki, and Jesus, played as a young boy by Lucius Hoyos and as a young man by Joseph Mesiano.

Elijah strong desire to revenge the two boys killed by King Herod are put into question. When the time comes for him to face his true enemy, Elijah finds himself wondering if to kill or forgive. Hence, this is a Christian Faith movie that has received the “Faith-Based Seal” by The Dove Foundation.

Elijah is one of the several stories in the movie about meeting Jesus but is the main story line. The acting is very well done and artfully depicts the biblical parents of Jesus as their newborn son helps them inspire faith in unlikely places. The scenes and direction are captivating with mesmerizing scenery, the miraculous journey delivers a powerful message of mercy and forgiveness.

Obvious a low-budget production that is meant to educate and enlighten, the movie is not for everyone because it is written to be shown at all Sunday School classes. The message is strong, offering the idea love your fellow man despite all efforts to do otherwise.

The von Trapp Family: A Life of Music

a life of musicDirected by Ben Verbong, who is both a writer and director of Netherland movies, takes to the hills as they come alive when The von Trapp Family: A Life of Music reveals the incredible real life journey of Agathe von Trapp, played beautifully by Eliza Bennett. The story follows her as she develops her own voice and pursues her musical dreams despite tremendous hardship.

The movie is based on the autobiography “Memories Before and After The Sound of Music.” I did notice some similarities in the famous Rogers and Hammerstein’s The Sound of Music, particularly Agatha’s love interest, music in the family, and the Nazi occupation to the escape from Austria.

I found the movie enjoyable and entertaining following von Trapp family’s incredible journey from the perspective of Agathe, the eldest daughter. As war encroached upon her family and friends, Agathe embarked on an adventure filled with remarkable twists and turns, joys and disappointments. Like The Sound of Music, the struggles and dark times were saved by the grace of music.

For those of you who have seen the movie The Sound of Music, you probably know it is based on the Von Trapp family and their flight from Austria when the Nazis were invading Europe. This particular story is told by Agathe von Trapp, the oldest child, in the Von Trapp family. The movie shows the family with Agathe as a young child and her mother is gravely ill. The mother eventually dies and the captain and his children move to Salzburg, Austria.

The story covers more than a decade from the time Maria enters as the new nanny and marries the captain, the children’s father. Even though, you may think it is like The Sound of Music, not so true because you will witness the story from Agathe’s point of view, where deep feelings and such are expressed. She had real conflicts with her step-mother throughout the movie. Still, love of the family conquers all and we witness their escape from Austria.

The Choice

BD_skew.OCARDNicholas Sparks stories are gentle, slow, and predictable. The Notebook is my eternal favorite because the acting and directing of the movie are brilliant. Starring legends James Garner and Gena Rowland with upstarts Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams, the movie is, also, my daughter’s favorite Sparks movie. With that, I am not a super fan of Sparks, but I am interested in his stories because they are spiritual. Current society at large can sure use some good old fashion spiritual revival.

Directed by Ross Katz, who won awards for producing Lost in Translation and directing and writing Taking Chance, begins The Choice with Travis, played by Benjamin Walker. He meets his match and neighbor, Gabby, played by Teresa Palmer.  She is focused on her medical degree while he likes to charm the ladies.

To say the least, Gabby and Travis ignite on less than friendly terms, but the story languorous around until a spark brings them seriously and hopelessly in love. Knowing Sparks stories, something tragic needs to happen. So tragic and so sad that only the spiritual connection can be its saving grace. It’s a long third act, but well worth the time if you are a devote Sparks fan.

I didn’t read the book, so I am not sure how closely the movie follows the book. I wonder if the book tells us more about Gabby’s family. In the movie, we only get to know Travis’ family, which left an empty spot in the storyline, making it a little too lopsided for a believable and caring movie. I would have liked to have gotten to know Gabby’s family better. Katz easily could have added a few scenes here and there with Gabby’s parents while cutting out some repetitive scenes between Travis and his family.

Tom Wilkinson plays Travis’ father, and he is a joy to watch. He is in the movie quite a bit, which put a smile on my face. Wilkinson can deliver lines like no other, just wonderful.

The Lady in the Car with Glasses and a Gun

the lady with the carDirected by Joann Sfar, The Lady in the Car with Glasses and a Gun reminds me of the 1960s European thrillers as an erotic, hazy story that spellbinds you because you can’t quite figure out what is going on with the femme fatal character. Is she good…is she bad? Still, she is the center of the movie, played by Scottish actress Freya Mavor.  Her luxuriant outfits, and cinematographer Manuel Dacosse leering camera offers the possibility of a good movie, yet the rambling mystery never fully takes shape.

Based on the 1970 remake starring Samantha Eggar and Oliver Reed, which I never saw, the story actually comes from Sebastien Japrisot’s convoluted 1966 novel.  The story follows apparently a normal French secretary Dany Doremus, played beautifully by Mavor.  She works for a shady boss, played by Benjamin Biolay. She arrives at his home to transcribe important documents. His wife, played by Stacy Martin, is at home, and she used to be friends with Dany. Now, they are uncomfortably distant. The couple asks her to drive them to the airport the next day.  They let her use his classic blue Ford Thunderbird. After dropping them off at the airport, Dany decides to take a joyride.

The movie is a bizarre journey, acid trip, and murder mystery. Nothing seems to add up as the story feels like an aimless road trip.  Situations happen to Dany, and she seems like she has a pipe in her head or a screw loose, but nothing is quite explained as to what is happening.

The story comes together, but by the time that happens, everything is lost. All except, Mavor as Dany. She is every man’s hot dream as well as Sfar, who films her at every and any angle to evocate what men want or can’t get enough of her.

The music haunts the film and crawls under the skin, especially with Wendy Rene’s “After Laughter (Comes Tears)” pulling off a mind-blowing result.

All in all, the movie has some good merits, and some will enjoy it.