Category Archives: legend

Jackie: Official Trailer

Directed by Pablo Larraín, Jackie is another look at the Kennedy tragedy. How many times can Hollywood tell this story? Which angle of the lens are we seeing the Kennedy lineage this time? Fortunately, Natalie Portman is playing the role of Jackie Onassis Kennedy. It appears in this trailer that we will, once again, relive one of the most important and tragic moments in American history.

The movie follows First Lady, then Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy and places us in her world during the days immediately following her husband’s assassination. Known for her extraordinary dignity and poise, here we see a spiritual portrait of the First Lady as she struggles to maintain her husband’s legacy and the world of “Camelot” that they created and loved so well.

Jackie nabbed several Independent Spirit Awards nominations for Best Feature, Best Director, Best Editing, and Best Female Lead (Portman).

The Last King

the-last-king_rgb-3d-blurayThe Last King, directed by Oscar-nominated director Nils Gaup, follows an arduous and awe-inspiring journey through the snow-covered Norwegian mountains. Starring Jakob Oftebro and Kristofer Hivju (Game of Thrones), surprisingly, the movie turned out to be a great adventure story. With some awesome downhill, to die for, skiing stunts, so exhilarating. I totally enjoyed it.  The story has everything from action and drama to love and revenge.

The fact that this movie is based on true events intrigued me even more. It takes place in 1204 when the Norway had been in the middle of a civil war for decades because of a battle for the throne between the Norwegian King Håkon, son of legendary King Sverre of Norway, and the Church’s Bishop henchmen.

The King, on his deathbed after falling ill from a failed coup, soon welcomes a son, born in secrecy, with a woman named Inga of Varteig and that he is the heir to the throne. Yet, half the Kingdom wants the baby dead.

To shield their newborn King from those looking to end the family bloodline, two Birch Leg warriors, Torstein, played by Hivju, and Skjervald, played by Oftebro, make the arduous journey across the snow-covered terrain to return him and his mother safely to the kingdom.

For the life of me, I didn’t know what a “Birch Leg” was until I saw this movie. The birkebeinerne or “Birch Legs” (basically are the King’s men) who fought to protect him from the Baglers, an opposing party, supporting the Bishop of course, that wanted him dead and his bloodline ended.

The movie is not English and has subtitles, but after ten minutes into the movie. I didn’t notice the subtitles. The story captured my attention with the time period and the culture. The realistic battles and beautiful scenery of snow-covered trees and mountains and the Northern Lights filmed by Peter Mokrosinski stimulated my interest in finding out if the baby King will make it back and save the country.

With that, the history of this story is amazing because of what this baby represented for Norway. The movie is about the fierce fight that saved the life of the young child who was heir to the throne. He eventually ascended at the age of 13 and reigned for 46 years. It was a peaceful reign that united the country.

Games of Thrones fans will be happy to view this movie because both Oftebro and Hivju are believable warriors. They have a strong bond and also hold a strong sense of honor in protecting the baby. The rest of the cast complemented the story and made it richer in content. It’s a gem of a movie and worth watching.

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.

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.

Noma: My Perfect Storm

nomaI worked with a lot of chefs when I was a casting producer at Demand Media studios. Each chef was a unique and talented problem solver. When they are given their freedom to create in the kitchen, the results are bon appetite – marvelous.  With that freedom comes a lot of responsibility. In the feature-length documentary Noma: My Perfect Storm, we meet celebrated chef René Redzepi set against the backdrop of the Copenhagen-based restaurant, Noma, The Best Restaurant in The World 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2014.

Written and directed by Pierre Deschamps, the documentary stages Redzepi as a famous chef, rightly so, for his reinvention of Danish cuisine and pioneered approach to “foraging”, sourcing nearly all ingredients from the various environments of Scandinavia. Though the dishes do not seem appetizing, Noma is at the forefront of experimenting with new techniques in food. The documentary follows Redzepi, co-owner of Noma, on a creative culinary journey as he traverses the Danish landscape for inspiration, striving to achieve perfection and concoct bold, exciting dishes for travelers from around the world.

Truly a creative genius, Redzepi has been credited with revolutionizing the food world with his radical take on classic cuisine.  When I say radical, I mean, not everyone is going to like his dishes. Still, Noma has won its fair share of awards. That is what makes the documentary hold its own.  But, you need to be a foodie to appreciate all the complexities and personalities that go with celebrating a famous restaurant.

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)

Noah’s Ark

Noah's ArkThe story of Noah’s Ark is mentioned in the bible and is about two paragraphs or a page long, depending on the book. I watched Russell Crowe’s version called Noah and came to terms that Noah was under a lot of pressure. A huge rain storm was coming where it will rain for forty days and forty nights. Raining so hard that the world will be completely submerged in water, a great flood. He had to build an ark large enough to hold all the animals of the world in pairs, male and female. He could not take all of mankind, just his family. Then, he had to feed all the animals and his family until the world was no longer flooded. Right there is a great story with enough conflict to keep you on the crossroads of Heaven and Hell.

Directed by Kenneth Glenaan, Noah’s Ark is more biblical than Crowe’s version. The stories are the same to a certain degree, still Glenaan’s take on the story is clearly an educational message about faith. Noah is portrayed as a man believing in God.  An impressive cast includes David Threlfall, Joanne Whalley, Nico Mirallegro, and Ashley Walters.

Noah’s Ark is a familiar tale of a man, his family, and his passion for doing what God wishes, building an ark that saves his family, the animals, and mankind. If you are familiar with the story, you know God told Noah to build an ark, and then he did it. The movie takes a license because the story is so short in the bible.

Noah is a good farmer and a generous family man, but his family doubts him when he tells them he was instructed by an angel to build the ark in the middle of a very dry desert. He tells what will happen and how he will save his family and the animals. He asks them to be faithful and believe a devastating flood is coming. His sons reject his proposal and decide not to help his father build the ark.  But, Noah has faith in God, so risks derision from his caring but infuriated family. He, of course, endures embarrassment from the townsfolk as well.  He has a devoted and loving wife, who changes her mind and decides to build the ark with him. She wants to demonstrate her support and love.

The flood arrives close to the end of the movie. The forty days and forty nights of raining go rather quickly. Before you know it, the ark lands on dry land, and the movie ends. With melodramatic flair is how the movies ends. Yet, if your faith is strong, you should enjoy the movie for what it is – a validation of the faith in God.

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

Baseball Legends

B_LEGENDS_3D_DVDBaseball is America’s favorite past time.  We certainly have our fair share of baseball heroes who have become legends in their own time.  Watching the four documentaries in Baseball Legends, I learned so much about four very different athletics.  All special and talented in their own way, by some they are Gods, built the foundation of what we have today.

Co-directed by Josh Oshinsky and Jeff Spaulding, Baseball Legends is narrated by Martin Sheen.  The DVDs offer epic tales of four baseball heroes. Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Hank Aaron and Lou Gehrig turned baseball into the National Pastime that it is presently.

Each story is inspiring while bringing a fresh historical and poignant perspective of the lives of these sport icons. Using rare and enhanced archival material and state-of-the-art production techniques, these films are perfect for anyone who is interested in baseball and history in general.

Some keep points covered in the movies are Babe Ruth, his bat turned him into a household name, Ted Williams, the last player to hit .400, Lou Gehrig, won 6 World Series before illness ended his career, and Hank Aaron, rose from adversity to break the record of a king.

DVD Special Features include The Making of American Hercules about Babe Ruth, and his rare player interviews with historic game footage. Ted Williams Hall of Fame induction is included. Saving the best for last, there are several extended interviews with various experts and archival footage from the Major League Baseball Film and Video Archive.

All in all, I discovered information I had never know about these four legends. Babe Ruth cut his teeth as a pitcher with the Boston Red Sox. He developed in to a lethal opponent in both his arm and bat, helping Boston win a couple of World Series titles. Lou Gehrig was an Ivy League student and played baseball while going to school at Columbia. Ted Williams left baseball twice in order to fight for the Marines.  He was a jet pilot during both World War II and the Korean War. Hank Aaron went unnoticed as player for the Milwaukee Braves, yet he broke Babe Ruth’s career home run record when the team transferred to Atlanta.

The End of the Tour

The End of the TourDirected by James Ponsoldt, The End of the Tour brings to life the true story in 1996 when Rolling Stone reporter David Lipsky, played by Jesse Eisenberg, and writer David Foster Wallace, played brilliantly by Jason Segel, hang out together for five days.

Some might call it an intellectual movie, a road movie or dramedy.  The movie begins in 2008, when we are informed that Wallace has committed suicide. Lipsky is invited to present a tribute on NPR.  Here he slowly flashes back to 1996, when Wallace’s book Infinite Jest is released with worldwide praise, including a citation from well-read magazine as one of the 100 best English-language novels from 1923 to 2005. Lipsky thinks it would be a great idea to interview Wallace and pitches it to his editor. He agrees that it is about time Rolling Stone did a piece on a gifted writer and off Lipsky goes to Ohio for his interview.  How the story plays out is what the movie is all about, and I rather not spoil it for you. Though, there are some interesting points about the movie I’d like to point out.

The movie is based on Lipsky’s memoir Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself.  Published in 2010, the book was well-received by his peers.   Wallace and Lipsky hit it off right away, and engage in philosophical conversations about loneliness, love, writing, fame, and the meaning of life. In other words, they spend time looking for the answers to life that plaques them.  Clearly, the movie is not for everyone. It lacks action-packed drama that populates our movie theaters today.

Jason Segel is very good as Wallace, and this role is quite a contrast to his other characters in movies like The Muppets and The Five Year Engagement. Watching him in this movie is pure pleasure because there is so much depth to Wallace as a sovelist, short story writer, essayist, and college professor.

The sound track by Danny Elfman is brilliant and engages the story.  Elfman adds a bit of spice to the movie with songs from REM and Tindersticks, an English indie rock band.

If you don’t know about Lipsky and Wallace, then it might be difficult to understand and follow the movie.  It is worth watching, though, for the acting is great, including the supporting actors.