Category Archives: family

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.

Little Men

Directed by Ira Sachs, Little Men stars Greg Kinnear, Jennifer Ehle, Paulina García, and Alfred Molina. The movie is an in-depth look at the innocence of young relationships and the inevitable evolution of human connections.

The riveting drama delivers a heartfelt narrative through Theo Taplitz and Michael Barbieri as Jake Jardine and Tony Calvelli in their unforgettable performances, truly make the movie worthwhile to watch.

When a 13-year-old, played by Taplitz, grandfather dies, Jake’s family moves from Manhattan back into his father’s Brooklyn home. There, Jake befriends the charismatic Tony, played by Barbieri, whose single, Chilean mother Leonor, played by Garcia, runs the dress shop downstairs.

Jake’s parents Brian, played by Kinnear, and Kathy, played by Ehle, ask Leonor to pay a higher rent and a feud ignites between the adults. The boys take an oath of silence against their parents in protest. From there the story is endearing. Sachs coats the movie with humanism and insight, as the story is about life-defining friendship amid family turmoil.

An interesting aspect of the story is Jake’s father, Brian, when he learns that his late father’s a small business was not profitable. He can’t continue the same business practice. As a result, there is deep-rooted tension with him and the owner of the business that is renting from him. The fact that his son is best friends with the owner’s son is even more intense.

This story is true and could happen to anyone. Thus, it will make viewers think about morality or what is right or wrong when it comes to making a living and surviving. A smart business person would raise the rent because why suffer.

Still, the whole story of the adult’s and the kid’s relationships are real and honestly looked at as the characters come to terms with the situation.

The movie needs more upbeat moments to appreciate the low points in the movie. Too much angst and not enough smiles and joy.  The abrupt ending could have played out a bit more with the whole story coming to a happy ending.

The two young boys are amazing on screen and worth watching if you want to see some fine talent.

Snoopy, Come Home

snoopycmehomI visited the Schulz museum in Santa Rosa, California for my daughter’s sake, thinking I would be bored out of my head. Boy, was I wrong, I discovered Charles Schulz, the genius who created a series of Peanuts comic strips that voiced the current social conflicts of the time and still today. Women rights, pray in schools, draft, and war. Growing up, I did read the comic strip without realizing he was bringing up social issues. As a young girl, I marveled at the expressions and characters of each personality. I watched the television specials with my family falling in love with Snoopy.

Watching Snoopy, Come Home brought memories back during the nights I’d watch the Peanuts specials with my family. I am still in love with Snoopy because he is so innocent yet creative. In this Peanuts movie, the story is quite good. It begins with him running off to visit Lila, his original owner, who is in the hospital. Woodstock goes with him, but they are captured by a rather overbearing girl who demands Snoopy and Woodstock be her pets.

Being clever the two escape, which includes some very funny and misplaced steps of amusement. Back at Charlie Brown’s home, he is concerned with finding out about Lila. Who is she? I will not share the ending of the movie, but I will tell you that it is so much fun to watch Snoopy get into many mishaps as he tries to sneak into places where dogs are not allowed.

The movie is tried and true, and now released on Blu-ray. The new format adds more of a sparkle with a widescreen format. Keep in mind parents, that the going away party for Snoopy might be a tearjerker for the kids or trouble understanding why people are so sad at a party. Still, the humor is fun to watch and offers great laughs.

In-Lawfully Yours

front-artIn-Lawfully Yours, directed by Robert Kirbyson, is a Christian faith movie where the discovery of the joys of falling in love in unexpected places makes it an enchanting romantic comedy. The sweet and wholesome movie features talented, funny and seasoned actors like Chelsey Crisp, Marilu Henner, Corbin Bernsen, Phillip Boyd and Joe Williamson. The Dove Foundation has granted the film a 4 out of 5 rating and a faith-friendly seal for ages 12 and older.

The story follows Jesse, played by Crisp, who is a New York City girl. She knows how to be fun in a heartfelt way. You just like her, right way. And you feel for her when she finds out her husband Chaz, played honestly by Boyd, cheats on her and eventually divorces her. Still, Jesse stands by her widowed mother-in-law, Naomi played by Henner and graciously helps her pack up her home in small-town Bethel Cove.

This is where Crip’s acting talent shines. She plays Jesse as a big city girl with candid wit. Yet, the small town clashes with her eccentric questions about religion and offbeat behavior around the local community, including the town pastor Ben, played by Williamson. Ben also happens to be her ex-husband’s brother-in-law.

As the story unfolds, Ben and Jesse discover what they are both looking for — each other. But when they make their relationship public, Jesse’s ex-husband rallies the community against her and gets Ben fired from the church.  Jesse leaves Bethel Cove to bring peace to Ben’s situation and to hopefully find a place where she truly belongs, in spite of the fact that she can’t stop thinking about Ben.

The ending is really great and fun to watch, but I will not tell you what happens. You have to see for yourself, but it is worth watching.

Much of the filming of the movie took place on and around Regent’s Virginia Beach with nearly 80 graduate and undergraduate students working on the film. The DVD includes special behind-the-scenes features, highlighting the student filmmakers who helped bring this really fun movie to watch to the screen.

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.

Perry Mason Movie Collection Volume 5

perrymasonV5Perry Mason Movie Collection Volume 5 continues to satisfy my viewer palate and is the final collection released by CBS Video. For a couple years now, CBS Video has been releasing the entire program of the Perry Mason TV series and movies.  That equals 271 episodes and 30 post series movies for television.

Growing up, Perry Mason was one of my family’s favorite television series to watch every week, and we were never disappointed by the stories because the writing never lets us down. The acting is first-class. There were no handheld camera shots or tight shots of beautiful women.  The series was pure plot-driven.  Perry Mason always found the real killer.

Some of you may have purchased the other Perry Mason Movie Collection Volumes, so you know what I am talking about. I hope you intend to purchase this final volume as well.  They are not cheap, but worth the value of good drama and priceless productions.

I was fortunate to be given a copy of Perry Mason Movie Collection: Volume 5.  The DVDs are in top quality condition with six wonderful and brilliant movies. Burr’s other co-star, Barbara Hale, had such wonderful rapport with him that can’t be reproduced in any other television show I have ever seen.

It can’t go without mentioning that Raymond Burr played a prosecutor in A Place in the Sun with Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift.  I guess, he was meant to be in the courtroom, though in Perry Mason he is on the other side of the court.

Below is the list of the final Perry Mason movies. The last four are without Raymond Burr and do not give the legendary series justice, but if you are going to collect these, you might as well have them all.

Perry Mason: The Case of the Telltale Talk Show Host (starring Raymond Burr)

Perry Mason: The Case of the Killer Kiss (starring Raymond Burr)

A Perry Mason Mystery: The Case of the Wicked Wives (starring Paul Sorvino)

A Perry Mason Mystery: The Case of the Lethal Lifestyle (starring Hal Holbrook)

A Perry Mason Mystery: The Case of the Grimacing Governor (starring Hal Holbrook)

A Perry Mason Mystery: The Case of the Jealous Jokester (starring Hal Holbrook)

Grace and Frankie

Grace and FrankieGrace and Frankie airs on Netflix and stars four legendary actors worth watching until it is obvious they have run out of material. Homosexually is not uncommon anymore. Nobody has to be in the closet because it is excepted now. I just wish the series moved forward more quickly with the story handling other situations that are funnier and not so sad.

Grace, played believably by Jane Fonda, is straight-laced and a former owner of a cosmetics company. Frankie, played over-the-top by Lilly Tomlin, is an open-minded hippie who tries to generate good vibes no matter if her life is falling apart.

The point to the series is these two women in their early 70s have nothing in common until their husbands, played by Sam Waterson and Martine Sheen, declare their love for each other and are leaving them to live as homosexuals.

All due respect, they are bisexuals and Waterson’s character clearly shows his attraction to his former wife, Frankie.

The series is a comedy with serious undertones, but it would have been much better in the 1980s with the issue a hot topic. Today, this is old news. Though husbands leaving a 40-year-old marriage for another man is not common, the idea is not shocking anymore nor is it funny.  Still the series has funny moments with more slow and off-beat situations.

The cast is what makes the series. They bring a lot of charm, verve and truth to their characters.  Sheen and Waterston are cast against type because they are not your usual eye-candies. Tomlin is as funny as ever as the flaky hippie, and Fonda timing is beautiful but a bit crusty.

I just wish the four of them would get on with their lives and deal with situations that are more entertaining for this day and age.

History Bible Collection

history BibleI have always been impressed with the documentaries produced by HISTORY. The Bible Collection is a fine example of a well-done production. The program covers everything you can image about the Bible and even more so. The quality of reenactments and speculations bring more life to such a devoted subject.

The 16-disc set of over 38 hours of programming examines both Judaism and Christianity.  The series explores the mysteries and hidden facts about the history of the Bible. Three discs offer some of the most famous biblical stories from both the Old and New Testament. Also featured are 12 programs about the most famous biblical figures, and the screen format is both widescreen and full screen.

Includes the following DVDs:

  • Bible Stories from The Old Testament – DVD#1
  • Bible Stories from The Old Testament – DVD#2
  • Bible Stories from The Old Testament – DVD#3
  • Christianity: The First Two Thousand Years – DVD#1
  • Christianity: The First Two Thousand Years – DVD#2
  • Banned from The Bible – DVD
  • Banned from The Bible II – DVD
  • History Classics: Mysteries of The Bible: The Bible’s Greatest Heroes – DVD1/2
  • History Classics: Mysteries of The Bible: The Bible’s Greatest Heroes – DVD3/4
  • History Classics: Mysteries of The Bible: The Bible’s Greatest Heroes – DVD5
  • Bible Secrets Revealed – DVD1
  • Bible Secrets Revealed – DVD2
  • Mysteries of The Bible FKA Collector’s Choice: Mysteries of The Bible – DVD1/2
  • Mary of Nazareth – DVD/Jesus His Life
  • The Execution of Jesus – DVD
  • God Vs. Satan – DVD

I doubt anyone could watch all the programs in one sitting.  I am sure most Sunday Schools would love this set, and play the DVDs that are appropriate for children.  Some adults might want to watch each video as it sparks their interest in a certain aspect of the Bible, like Mary of Nazareth or where the Bible has been banned. No matter how the programs are viewed, I am sure each person will appreciate the value of the production and become better educated about such an ancient book.

Shaun the Sheep: Season 2

shaurnsheep2I was going to post this review in the Kids section of Movie Roar since it really is safe for kids to watch and is really silly.  I changed my mind when I realized it really is funnier from an adult’s point of view.

Shaun the Sheep: Season 2 is hilarious. The short episodes are not too long nor too short – about 7 minutes. They are just right for any rainy afternoon or boring evening with nothing to do. My favorite one is about the bagpipe. The sheep and dog think it is a goose. I have never laughed so hard in such a short amount of time.

The package comes with two DVDs. If you have a free moment or two, just pop in the DVD and peruse the menu for an episode that catches your eye. The set has a total of 40 episodes. There are plenty of choices.

Let’s face it. These cute little sheep and the dog are hilarious. Each episode has no dialogue, just music and some grunts here and there. It is produced so well that I didn’t even think about the fact there was no dialogue.

Another funny aspect about the storyline is the dog and sheep try to steer clear of the farmer, who is as blind as anyone with a pair of opaque eyeglasses.  I just laugh thinking about it.

I recommend the DVD set for the whole family. Any age will enjoy these short stories. Just thinking about the sheep, the dog, and the farmer puts a smile on my face.