December 24th, 2018 (Christmas Eve edition)

I started Adrift and having completed it, here is my review.   I was intrigued by the film and the premise given that it was a true story.   Shailene Woodley has returned, and also produced this film.   The story has been told before, notably recently with Robert Redford in All is Lost.   The difference in this film is the love story that begins it.   The film moves around in timeline starting with the opening of Shailene in the hull of the yacht that has been through a horrifying storm in the Pacific.   Flashback then occurs to see Shailene arrive in Tahiti and make a Customs declaration that shows a woman just drifting through life as it comes to her.   She meets Richard (Sam Claflin) an older more seasoned sailor who owns his own boat, and they have a whirlwind romance.   Off they sail long distance from Tahiti towards San Diego (her hometown) at the behest of an English  couple who owns a large boat and wants it taken back there.   They have known Richard from before.    He asks Shailene to join him in the crossing.   The rest is fairly predictable and shows the beauty and perils of life on the ocean.   It is a story of resilience and survival and using your wits and instincts to get through an unimaginable ordeal.   This is Woodley’s film and she carries it well.   I liked the performance, and see that much of it was filmed on the open ocean (and not in controlled sets and environments.    This makes the challenge and continuity more difficult getting this film created.   In the end, it is worth a viewing.

It’s Christmas Eve, and I have already reviewed the new Grinch film, but every year I watch my favourite Christmas film, and that’s A Christmas Story.  This classic film is set in “Indiana” although the house is located in Cleveland.

The movie, which I may wrongfully assume everyone has seen, focuses on Ralphie Parker and his life with his family; Mom (Milinda Dillon – Close Encounters), Darren McGavin (Night Stalker) and little brother Randy.    Ralphie is played by Peter Billingsley and he with the voiceover of the story’s author (Jean Shepard) capture the life and times of a young boy in the 40s.   There is no TV, just radio.   Ralphie’s greatest desire for Christmas is the official Red Rider multiple shot BB gun.   His Mother and Teacher have put obstacles in his path to success by proclaiming “you’ll shoot your eye out!”.   The story progresses from one scene to another of the family getting through until Christmas.   From buying the tree, shopping, attending school and dressing for school to dealing with the school bullies.   It has many memorable scenes and Darren McGavin is excellent as the Dad.   From his battles with the furnace, to the neighbor’s dogs.   He is priceless.   Much like Shawshank Redemption, this movie gained momentum and viewers on the small screen.   Released in 1983, it was not a great success, but later TBS made it a staple and people began to watch and appreciate.   It remains a classic for me, and scenes make me laugh each and every time.    It prepares me for the holidays and ushers in the Christmas season.

Finally I rented Rampage for laughs just to see what they have done, and the creatures that they have created.   Well suffice it to say that I am glad that I didn’t spend money to go see this.  Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson plays an ex-military guy who eventually waged war on poachers and then became an expert with apes.    He helped raise an albino gorilla that was not killed by poachers that he rescued.  The ape is able to sign and communicate with Johnson.   Cue the corporate bad guys who are working to use CRISPR to militarize DNA editing (splicing).   They are creating super-animals that can be controlled and used for whatever reason.   Only the experiment goes wrong and a wolf, alligator and the white gorilla ar all infected and grow and become more aggressive.   They are very tough to kill, as they move towards Chicago for a reason that is muddled at best.  But there is the storyline.   There are some decent effects, but nothing ground-breaking.   The animals themselves with the genetic modifications are scary – and do things like crawl up large skyscrapers vertically that are just too much to believe.   So see this at your own discretion and peril.   There are better ways to spend your hard-earned movie dollar!

Merry Christmas to one and all, with a day filled with friends, family, laughter and smiles.   Hope those good feelings extend into the New Year for a marvelous 2019!   Hopefully a trip to the movie theatre will bring you a movie to remember and talk about and reflect upon positively.   TIFF Lightbox in Toronto is having a Steven Spielberg festival with many of his films, including Jaws, ET, Close Encounters, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Munich, Amistad and others.   I hope to catch a few myself.   On the big screen is where these movies belong.    Cheers!!


December 18th, 2018 – One day delayed

This is being written today, a Tuesday, but I have a good excuse, and that was I hadn’t seen a movie to write about until last night on a flight.   Now flights are not the best places to see films and mostly because most airlines are editing the films for content.   Heaven knows if you will sit next to a 6yo and they don’t need to see breasts on the screen!   So I give credit to American Airlines yesterday who make it plain that they do NOT edit the films, they are shown as shown in the theatres.   Good on them.   With that note, I was able to catch one and a half films.

Alison had sent to me the following blog list of Best Films as listed by Toronto critics.

I noted on this list both The Favourite, reviewed here just recently but also First Reformed and Burning (also reviewed –  So with that background I decided to watch First Reformed.

A reverand (played by Ethan Hawke) is the head of a small church in upper New York State which has been in existence since 1700s.  They are coming up to their 250th anniversary and there is a celebration being planned.   His parish is small and dwindling.  There is a corporate sponsored larger modern church nearby which watches over this smaller church.   The father has had some challenges in his life.   He is asked to counsel the husband of one of his more consistent parishioners.   Questions are asked which don’t have simple answers like:  “Can God forgive us to what we have done to his creation?”  ‘Can we be forgiven?”   There is further discussion about despair and hope.   Ultimately this is what I consider to be the main theme of the film.   Things unfold, and a degree of tension steadily grows.   The performance by Hawke drives this film ever forward.   He is very good.   You can see the anguish on the face of Hawke, who steadily keeps his tumultuous emotions to himself.   There are moments I will not spoil.   I will say that when the credits rolled, I paused and thought back to what I viewed and then felt it was appropriate.   I had (after seeing the trailer/preview) texted to Alison that I felt I knew what the good reverand was going to do.   I think it is fair to say that I wasn’t entirely wrong.    But then again, I wasn’t right either.   I am glad to have seen this.

I started to watch Adift with Shailene Woodley, and Sam Claflin, but this is Woodley’s picture.   I am glad to see her once again since it seemed she hasn’t worked in quite some time.   Ever since the whole Divergent debacle, where someone sold her a bill of goods on it being The Hunger Games, she has laid low.    But I like her, and think she is good here.   I have not completed the film (I got halfway through) but I have it on rent and will complete in the next day or so.    I look forward to finishing it and completing this review.