movie reviews

Rosemary’s Baby (1968) – Review

rosemary
A young  married couple, Rosemary (Mia Farrow) and Guy Woodhouse (John Casavettes) move into a notorious New York City apartment building.  They meet and befriend their neighbours,  an older couple, Minnie (Ruth Gordon) and Roman Castevet (Sidney Blackmer).   The young couple is planning to start a family soon and Guy treats Rosemary to a special dinner.  That night she has very strange nightmares.  Shortly thereafter she  finds out that she is pregnant. She switches doctors to Dr Sapirstein, a family friend of the Castevets. He gives her strange advice about her pregnancy. Hutch, an old friend of the Woodhouses is concerned about Rosemary and becomes suspicious of her naigbours. He asks Rosemary to meet him but he never shows up for the meeting…

 

Rosemary’s Baby is well crafted, with many “plants” and “payoffs”. It  is packed with detail and soaked in irony. It is a psychological rather than a visual attack. There are no prosthetic demons or elaborate masked monsters (this was before CGI), except for a few flashes. The images are not excessively gory. There is no one hacking off limbs or poking out eyeballs. There is no throwing up green gunk or spinning heads.  The only cheesy thing about this movie is some of the wardrobe and the phony sweetness of the apartment dwellers.

As far as horror movies go, I think Rosemary’s Baby works very well. It is technically well executed and has enough layers to be a well-rounded film. Psychologically it works very well and it stays with the viewer for a long time.  It’s a disturbing look at the fragility of trust. Is all this really happening or is it all in Rosemary’s head.

***

Rosemary’s Baby was several awards. Ruth Gordon won the Oscar for best supporting actress for her role as Minnie Castevet.

Director: Roman Polanski
Screenplay: Roman Polanski (based on a novel by Ira Levin)
Running time: 131 minutes

 

 

©lowercase v   2017

movie reviews

Veronica Mars – Movie (2014)

vmars movie
Background:
The movie is based on a eponymous TV series – Veronica Mars, created by Rob Thomas (not the lead singer from Matchbox Twenty).  The show ran for 3 seasons  (2004 – 2007) and is set in the fictional town of Neptune, California.

During the first two seasons, Veronica Mars (Kristen Bell) is a high school student who works as an assistant to her PI dad (Enrico Colantoni).  She also acts as private investigator for her fellow students and gets in all sorts of sticky situations. In season 3, Veronica is in college and living away from home. The series deals with several social issues and has a dark, quirky sense of humour.  The sound track also features some awesome music.

In order to make the movie, the producers and actors acquired funds through crowd funding. Those who contributed were allowed to be extras in the movie.

I wanted to go support the movie in theater, but it wasn’t showing over here. I got it later, on DVD.  The DVD featurette about the making of the movie and the Kickstarter campaign as a bonus material.

The Veronica Mars Movie:
Tagline: She thought she was out. 

The movie opens with a voice over (a common device in the show) and a quick recap of the series.  This works well enough in the context of a PI movie and introduces the characters and some of the references to those not so familiar with the show.

Veronica Mars (Kristen Bell)  is a college graduate, interviewing at prestigious law firms.  She learns that a classmate from high school was murdered and that her high school sweetheart, Logan Echolls (Jason Dohring) is the prime suspect. She returns to her home town of Neptune to help Logan with his case…  and is in town just in time for her 10-year high school reunion.

The role of Carrie Bishop was played by Leighton Meester , but in the movie the role was taken over by  Andrea Estella (lead singer of Twin Sister).   Although ailry central to the plot of the movie, Carrie was a minor character in the show.

In the TV show the Mars family had a pittbull, named Backup, who is absent from the movie (presumably the dog had already passed on given the time period).

The  Veronica Mars movie recalls the spirit,  witty dialogue and characters from the TV series. It is cool to see how everyone has grow… and also how some characters have stay exactly the same.   there are several references to the show and “inside jokes”  (this might go over the heads of those not familiar with the show).  The Logan vs Piz (romantic) rivalry from season 3 is back.

It was fun to watch the movie, being a fan of the show.  It did not disappoint, but if you are/were a binge watcher of the show, it leaves you wanting more.

Rating: PG-13
Running time:  103 mins
Director: Rob Thomas

Writers: Rob Thomas & Diane Ruggiero
Cast includes: Kristen Bell, Jason Dohring, Krysten Ritter, Ryan Hanson, Percy Dags III, Francis Capra, Chris Lowell,  Tina Majorino and Enrico Colantoni.

There are several well know actors in minor roles and cameo appearance.
Full cast and crew on imdb.

©lowercase v   2017 

short film reviews

Alone Time (short film)

alone time short
This movie was suggested to me by youtube.  You can view it: here.

A woman trapped in her mundane and seemingly lonely New York City life and takes a nature break for some alone time…

Director: Rod Blackhurst & David Ebeltoft
Written by: Rod Blackhurst

Alone Time features some beautiful scenery.  It is pretty well done and was clearly made by someone with film-making experience and/or film school training.  It is listed at comedy, although I didn’t really perceive it as such. The comedy is subtle and slightly dark. Like a good short film, there is a twist at the end.  The movie is sparse in dialogue, yet the performance of the actress (Rose Hemingway) conveys the emotion well.

I gave it a thumbs up.

©lowercase v   2017

movie reviews

Moonlight

Rated R.
A coming of age story of a young black man living in a rough neighbourhood in Miami. We first meet Chiron, aka Little (Alex Hibbert)  as a small, sensitive boy living with his drug-addict single mother (Naomi Harris) .  He befriends a couple, Juan (Mahershala Ali) and Teresa (Janelle Monae),  who become like surrogate parents to him.  He also befriends a boy named Kevin (Jaden  Piner).  We next encounter Chiron (Ashton Sanders) as teenager, being bullied at school. Kevin (Jharell Jerome), who is now a big-talking “womanizer”,  becomes his love interest. They, however, live in the cruel, fit-in-or-suffer world of high school and things get ugly. We next meet Chiron, aka Black (Travante Rhodes) as a muscle-bound, tough gangster. Kevin  (Andre Holland) calls him out of the blue…

Well scripted.  Well directed.  Beautiful cinematography and score.  Great acting performances. Mahershala Ali won the Oscar for best actor in a supporting role. The child actors are sweet, but not overly precious or cutesy.

This is a story about fear, prejudice, anger, betrayal, friendship and love. While it may be a “gay movie”, it is also a very beautiful human movie. There are some scenes of violence which might be difficult to watch.

While it’s not necessarily some action movie or thriller that has to be seen on the big screen, I would still recommend supporting it in cinema.

Memorable quote:
“At some point, you gotta decide for yourself who you’re going to be. Can’t let nobody make that decision for you.”

Moonlight has won several awards including the 2017 best picture Oscar and Golden Globe, as well as the Oscar for best adapted screenplay.
Running time: 1 hr 51 min
Release: 2016
Screenplay & Director: Barry Jenskins   (Based on a story by: Tarell Alvin McCraney) 
Full list of cast and crew:  imdb

 

 

©lowercase v  2017

 

movie reviews

13 Going on 30

I originally wrote this for another blog of mine.

13goingon30

13 going on 30 is a romantic comedy about a 13-year-old girl named Jenna Rink, who desperately wants to be one of the cool girls. After the other girls play a joke on her at her 13th birthday party, she wishes that she was 30 years old already.
The next morning when she wakes up, Jenna (Jennifer Garner) is 30 and her life resembles something from Cosmopolitan magazine. She is the editor of a glossy magazine. She lives in a stylish New York apartment and the “coolest girl” from high school, Lucy (Judy Greer), is now her best friend. Of course she’s a little freaked out by grownup stuff and she discovers her grown-up self isn’t such a nice person. She meets up with her childhood best friend, Matt (Mark Ruffalo), and is shocked to discover that they haven’t been friends for years. As Jenna spends more time with Matt, she falls hopelessly for the boy, whom she had been blind to as a teenager. She also brings a new fun streak to her job and grownup life.

This movie is what would be considered a “chick flick”. Whenever I have mentioned this movie to guys in the past, they would just shrug. They say things like they didn’t finish it, or that they found it silly. When I watch this movie with women or girls, we roll around with laughter. It may be silly, but there is more to it.

spoilers

I am unable to watch this movie halfway. It is too sad in the middle. I have to see the happy ending. I don’t always expect movies to have happy endings, (I mean common! Get Real!), but in this movie I really need it. In the middle of the movie, Jenna feels stuck in her life and she has no idea how she got there. I think this is a feeling many people experience

Personally, I love this movie. In both lives (13 and 30) the character grows as a person. It reminds us that sometimes, while striving for the things we want to have and the things we want to become, we sometimes forget who we are in essence and what we have already.

This movie reminds me about the parts of teenage life that I missed out on, of the things I wanted to skip and the things I held on to for too long. I think this is one of the better chick flicks. It’s bit of a guilty pleasure. Okay, I don’t feel guilty.

Writers: Josh Goldsmith & Kathy Yutspa (What Women Want).
Directed by: Gary Winick (Tadpole, Bride Wars, Charlotte’s Web)
Release: 2004 

©lowercase v

movie reviews

Hidden Figures

hidden figures

Running time: 127 minutes    Rating: PG

Based on a true story, Hidden Figures is set in 1960s America during the Space Race and follows 3 African American women working as mathematicians at NASA. Katherine G. Johnson (Taraji P. Henson) is a math genius who makes the crucial calculations needs to put astronaut John Glen (Glen Powell) in space and bring him safely back home. Apart from a cold reception she faces annoying practical issues like having to run to a different building to use the bath room because there are no “colored restrooms” in her office building.  Dorothy Vaughn (Octavia Spencer) is practically a supervisor, but lacks the job title or paycheck that reflects it. Mary Jackson ( Janelle Monáe)  has the ability and desire to be a NASA engineer, but is blocked because of her race and gender.

The supporting cast includes: Kevin Costner, Jim Parsons (Big Bang Theory‘s Sheldon) and a very demure Kirsten Dunst.

I loved this movie. It really shows the race and gender discrimination these women had to face on a daily basis. It’s sad (the reflection of the time period) and  you feel frustrated with the characters, but mostly it is inspirational.  There are many sweet little moments and moments of small (though ultimately large) victories.  A  poignant moment for me is when Katherine loses her high heeled shoe in the male dominated NASA environment (though I personally avoid wearing high heels at all costs).

There were only 3 other viewers in the cinema and they were all black women. I really hope this is only because it was at a quiet time and that more people are watching this movie in the evenings and on weekends.

Go/No Go?
It’s definitely a go! Not as a chick flick. Everyone should watch it. Kids too.

Director: Theodore Melfi
Screenplay:  Allison Schroeder &  Theodore Melfi
                         (based on the book by: Margot Lee Shetterly)
Awards:
The cast won a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture.  Hidden figures was nominated for 3 Oscars,  2 Golden Globes and  a Bafta. It also received several other  award wins and nominations.

Full cast and crew on IMDB.

 

©lowercase v 2017.