inkblot11

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The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
(2005)

View this very funny flick to cheer your after a terrible day!
Arthur Dent (Martin Freeman) wakes up one fine morning to see a dozen bulldozers outside his modest home. Seems the local authorities want to build a road just where Arthur's home lies. Naturally, Art falls in front of a machine and tries to call his attorney. Suddenly, a close pal, Ford Prefect (Mos Def) appears. As he distributes beer and snacks to delay the demolition, Ford hauls Arthur off a pub to break the BIG NEWS. He, Ford, is an alien and earth will be blown up in ten minutes. Yet, since Arthur saved HIS life once, Ford will take him above the fray and escort him through the galaxies. It happens. The evil Vogons arrive and tell the earthlings their time is up. Yet, Arthur and Ford make it to a hidden, sort of, chamber on a Vogon ship. Once there, after a horrid encounter with Vogon poetry, Ford leads Arthur on to another vessel, The Heart of Gold, where the President of the Galaxy, Zaphod (Sam Rockwell) is flying here and there with beautiful Trillian (Zooey Deschanel). But, wait! Trillian is from earth and was the gal Arthur fell in love with at a party, before Zaphod came traipsing in. She reminds him that she told him she longed to travel, so it should be no shock. Whatever. Soon, the Vogons will be trying to stop all of them with their evil doings. Will Arthur adjust to life in the vast universe? Or will he become majorly depressed like Marvin the Robot (voiced by Alan Rickman)? This funny, funny flick, based on the books by Douglas Adams, is just the antidote everyone needs after a terrible day on earth. It is nonsensical fun of the highest degree and has a great cast, costumes, script, special effects, and a dedicated direction. Many of the cast members got their first big break right here, including Rockwell, Deschanel, Def, Freeman and more and they are terrific. So, whats stopping you from viewing this film right this minute?

Hell or High Water
(2016)

High praise due for Hell or High Water ; excellent story, acting scenery
In the dry plains of West Texas, Toby (Chris Pine) has enlisted his brother, Tanner (Ben Foster) in a grand scheme of deception. They will rob banks, with ski masks, until they have enough money to reverse a "reverse mortgage" with which a bank fleeced their newly deceased mother. Not just any bank, the bank branches of the offending financial institution. Tanner, an ex-con, just wants the thrill of the plan but Toby wants to save the ranch for his two sons. What's more, they have planned it out in many ways to cover their tracks, such as burying getaway cars. Naturally, after the first two successful robberies, the Texas Rangers are called in. Marcus (Jeff Bridges) is on the verge of retirement; his partner, Alberto (Gil Birmingham), a half-Comanche, wishes he was about to rock in a rocking chair. By studying the methods used so far, Marcus gets an idea about what bank may be next. What's more, Tanner does one job on the spur of the moment and leaves clues. As the brothers get closer and closer to completion, will Marcus find them first? This excellent, sometimes violent, film has one sensational story. But, likewise, the cast is fabulous, the scenery is vividly desolate, and the direction is smooth. Are you a fan of old Westerns and cat-and-mouse plots? You will find H or HW a dream come true.

Casablanca
(1942)

A classic, in romance, in story, in cast and everything else
Rick (Humphrey Bogart) once lived in Paris, before World War II broke out. An ex-pat American, he now runs a cafe, named after him, in Casablanca, Morocco. Its 1942 and many folks who want to escape Hitler arrive in Morocco to look for a visa to go to the United States. Not very many are successful. So, Rick sees desperate people every day at his establishment. Most of the time he is unmoved, as for some reason, Rick is a jaded fellow. However, he does come across a pair of valuable visas when someone trusts him to hid them in his piano player Sam's instrument. Not long after, "THE WOMAN", Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman) comes into the place, asking Sam to play a song Rick has forbidden him to play. When he comes rushing to chastise him, he meets Ilsa. Flashing back, we learn that Ilsa had a grand love with Rick in Paris, just as the Nazis were getting closer and closer. Yet, when they made plans to escape on a train, Rick was jilted on the platform. No Ilsa arrived. Now, will Rick learn why this happened? Yes! Ilsa had a huge secret which comes spilling out, only to make Rick hurt all over again. In the meanwhile, the Germans in town are trying to find an escaped hero of their concentration camps, Victor (Paul Henreid). He is the most wanted man in Africa and word has it he's coming to Casablanca. Can Rick be an uncaring spectator forever? This beautiful, classic film has everything, as you have probably heard. It's a fine romance, with grand passion indeed. The story is a heart grabber and the cast is superlative. Made before anyone knew how long Hitler would remain in power, and at a time when he was winning the war, one sees how all of Europe wanted to escape his clutches. If you have never taken the time to watch Casablanca, don't delay. Almost every movie fan agrees that it is a top ten listing every time.

Isn't It Romantic
(2019)

Isn't it great to finally have a romantic comedy at the theaters? This one is darling!
Natalie (Rebel Wilson) is a minor architect at a NYC firm, where she mostly designs parking garages for other projects. As such, she lives in an average apartment, with average clothes and no boyfriend on the horizon. What she can't see is that Josh (Adam Devine), a co-worker, actually has a crush on her. Likewise, fellow employees often give her tasks they would rather not do, like throwing away their own takeout cartons! Yet, Natalie tries to please. One day, after a creep attempts to mug her as she exits the subway, Natalie gets a severe bump on the head and ends up in the hospital. When she regains consciousness, the world is changed. Everything looks like a fairytale romantic comedy and she even has a version of Julia Roberts dress and hat from Pretty Woman. Stores are lit up with girlie colors and her own apartment has been redone to look like heaven. In addition, a rich client, Blake (Liam Hemsworth) comes on strong to take her out. Whoa, this is one crazy parallel universe. What's worse, a beautiful yoga ambassador (Priyanka Chopra) develops a "thing" for Josh. Is this new world a good thing after all, when Nat sees her best pal Josh drifting away? What a joy to find a romantic comedy at the theaters and one which makes laughter an essential ingredient. Wilson is adorable and funny while the rest of the cast is charming, too. Add on fabulous sets, fine costumes, a terrific script and a lively direction and the result is titanic fun.

Designer Pups
(2015)

Cute, but not memorable
Stacy (Teagan Sirsee) lives at home and helps out with the family dog grooming business. Secretly, this 20 year old longs to be a fashion designer and has a booklet full of promising drawings. Her two darling dogs give a running commentary, unheard by humans, of how they can nudge Stacy in fabric selection, for they also have a keen eye for fashion. On the day she has an appointment with hotshot designer Michel (Torrey Halverson), a last minute dog grooming assisnment leaves Stacy unkempt for her interview. It doesn't matter. Michel is an egomaniac and dismisses her ideas with insults. However, an actress named Chloe has an accidental meeting with Stacy and loves her drawings. Asking the young lady to design an outfit for a fashion show, Stacy scores a bit hit while Michel's entry tanks. Soon, Stacy is climbing the ladder of the LA fashion scene while Michel is going down, down, down. Desperate, Michel gets an idea to kidnap the dogs, thereby throwing Stacy off kilter. Will his plan to ruin Stacy succeed? This sweet and cute film, while hardly memorable, has an attractive young star in Sirsee and a hoot of a bad guy in Halverson. Also, the dogs, a Pekinese and a Chihuahua, are just darling. Kudos to the scenes and fashions, too, while the script/direction are acceptable. If you love dog films and fashion, you would be content for an evening view with this one.

The Humanity Bureau
(2017)

Blade Runner meets Mad Max via Logan's Run; not for all but this viewer liked it
Noah (Nicolas Cage) is a dirty deeds henchman for a future American dystopian society. Global warming has turned much of the country into desert and ruins. In the city, the ruling class makes the decisions for all by running the Humanity Bureau. As such, all citizens are "watched" and if they can't really eek out a living in the parched earth, they are given orders to be escorted to The New Eden, a supposed Utopia development. One of those in charge, Adam (Hugh Dillon) delights in getting folks off the governments payrolls and into Eden. Thus, out drive men like Noah, who give the bad news to citizens and takes them, by hook or by crook, to their new home. However, there are rumors that Eden is no paradise but, instead, like a concentration camp. If Noah comes for them, they don't want to go. In fights, Noah uses the ultimate force and takes them down. One day, he is sent to a single mother, Rachel (Sara Lind) and her darling eleven year old, Lucas (Andrew Davies). She appears to be doing the best she can but Noah goes over the figures and says she and her son must go to the New Eden. Yet, when push comes to shove, Noah can't do it. There are secrets in his past which make him, instead, go on the run from the authorities with Rachel and Lucas. Can three little people fiee a well armed government with all available technology? We shall see. This average science fiction film has many similarities to classic ones like Blade Runner, Mad Max, and Logan's Run. One positive is its art direction, which has created a shiny, metallic, cold city and a ruined earth everywhere else. Another plus is the cast, for Cage is always great while Lind. Davies, and Dillon do great work, too. There is comic relief, in small part, by an African American actor whose name escapes me. But, in the end, the movie just rises slightly above lameness, with a meandering script and direction, while a sadly violent ending jolts the viewer to repulsion. If you like Dystopian movies, you will like this one, too; but most viewers will probably want to pass it by.

Love at First Glance
(2017)

Darling movie, great stars
Mary (Amy Smart) has been with her boyfriend Carl for six years and works on a newspaper called the Bugle. As she tells it to a pal, Carl wants to talk to her about "something special" at dinner and speculates its a proposal. Unhappily, he DUMPS HER. In his words, life with her is boring, down to the cheese ravioli she always orders at this particular restaurant. He wants excitement and he is starting with a red convertible and the chance to chase women. Mary is stunned but, on the subway home, she makes eye contact with a handsome stranger (Adrian Grenier). They smile and sigh. By happenstance, this man, James, leaves his tablet on the train car and Mary ends up taking it home, as the best chance to return it. Not only this, Mary is assigned to work up a Valentine story for her boss and is ALSO writing a story on photographer James to land a cushier job at a higher profile paper. To do this, she will interview a list of James' friends, as found on his tablet, and see HIM AS OTHERS SEE HIM. From his waitress pal who turned her life around with James help to the sky diving instructor who gives Mary a piece of the action James' enjoys, a clear picture of James as the ultimate good guy emerges. Mary is falling in love with him from afar. But, whoa! With all her new adventures and habits, Carl, who lives in her building, may want her back! This lovely, darling movie has two great stars in Smart and Grenier, who appears in many flashbacks and interesting siturations. They alone are enough to keep the movie interesting. In addition, other cast members, scenery, costumes, script and direction merit applause. As romcoms go, LAFG is near the top of the heap.

Playing It Cool
(2014)

One of the best romcoms available, and I've seen a TON AND A HALF OF EM
Me (Chris Evans) is a screenwriter who likes action films. Yet, unexpectedly, his boss asks him to write a romcom in order to land the next big action gig. This causes the writer great anguish, for he has never been in love. The reason? He doesn't trust a soul since his mother attached a goodbye note to his favorite Captain Crunch cereal box and left him in the care of G-pa (an outstanding Philip Baker Hall). He half-heartedly pitches an unusual romantic comedy idea between two folks with multiple personalities and his boss sends him home to work. Writers' block ensues. When his best pal Scott (Topher Grace) asks him to attend a charity event with him, Me agrees. Stop the presses! Its there he meets HER (Michelle Monaghan) who dazzles him and makes him laugh by saying audacious lines to all men. Yet, Me doesn't catch her name. What follows is NO screenplay writing and a wild pursuit of major charity events to find her again. Even then, though they spark a friendship, she announces she's engaged. Horrors, what will happen now? His friends including Scott, Samson (Luke Wilson), Mallory (Aubrey Plaza) and others try to give him the advice of a lifetime. Will he finish the screenplay and get the girl? This vastly enjoyable romcom has one of the wittiest and most clever scripts this longtime romcom fan has ever viewed. No, its not clean Doris Day stuff but as a PG -13, its not majorly offensive while being very, very romantic. All of the cast members do enchanting work and the scenery, costumes, and direction merit big raves. Towering over all is the great plot and words, words, words. Don't play it cool with this one, folks! Get it five minutes from now.

Santa's Little Helper
(2015)

Very pleasant, despite not knowing the main actors
Dax (Mike The Miz Mizcanin) is a hotshot banking associate with a seeming cold heart. He has just delivered bad news to a children's home; WE ARE SHUTTING YOU DOWN! But, no sooner does he get back to the office but he gets his own terrible message. You're fired, Dax. He goes home in a daze, where his lovely girlfriend packs her bags at the news. Yet, someone has been observing Dax from afar. Its Santa Claus and, up in the North Pole, he is making plans. His main elf lady, Billie (AnnaLynne McCord), who is a freak with normal ears, is astonished to hear that he wants her to visit earth, offer Dax a job from a secret employer and get him to go through a series of tests for the job. But, she does it. Once there, Dax loves her beautiful looks and sweet manner and agrees to do the trail so he can land a good job. But, what kind of tests involve apologizing to tough bikers in a bar and being a monkey mascot for a kids' party business? This cute, pleasant movie is a romcom which will delight the genre's many fans. The main actors are very attractive and the costumes, sets, and funny script will charm most everyone. Need a little help in the cheering-up department? Choose this helper!

Badlands
(1973)

Amazing re-creation of the Charles Starweather tale, darkly beautiful
Kit (Martin Sheen) is one troubled guy. Living in South Dakota, he is in and out of jobs and going nowhere. That is, until the day he meets Holly (Sissy Spacek). As she twirls her baton in front of her respectable house, which she shares with her respectable father (Warren Oates), Kit is transfixed. She's fifteen, he's twenty! It seems Holly is new in town and her sign painter father has an immediate disliking to Kit. Kit is not deterred. After some clandestine meetings, Kit confronts her father. It ends badly, with Kit shooting the older gentleman. Holly, likewise in her first "love", doesn't grieve strongly and goes on the run with Kit. They have a few idyllic months in the woods, in their own special treehouse. But, the law soon comes looking for them. As they steal getaway cars and gun down anyone in their way, will they escape their violent actions? This amazing film, shot near the Badlands of South Dakota, was Malick's first big film. His fictional take on the real events of Charles Starkweather and his fourteen year old girlfriend, Carol Ann, is all too real. Sheen and Spacek, likewise in her first huge role, are terrific as the star-crossed lovers who will eliminate anyone who doesn't let them remain a couple. Also terrific are the cinematography, the scenery, and the re-creation of the late fifties. Want to view a film which is far from an ordinary film experience? Take a trip to the Badlands.

Cinderella
(2013)

Wonderful adaptation of the classic Prokofiev ballet
In this production by the Dutch National ballet, the classic fairy tale of Cinderella retains all of its charm and adds the new element: dancing. Based on the classic Prokofiev ballet and featuring his intriguing, quirky music, all of the story's features are here. Cinderella (Anna Tsygankova) loses her mother at a young age and visits her grave often. Unhappily for her, father remarries a widow with two conceited daughters and Cinderella is relegated to being the housekeeper, for Father fails to chastise his new wife. The Prince (Matthew Golding) announces a ball and the stepsisters are invited but Cinderella is not. On the night of the ball, Cinderella is met by magical folk who change her drab appearance with a beautiful gown and slippers and create a coach to escort her to the ball. There, the Prince is transfixed by Cinderella alone, much to the anger of tipsy stepmother and mean stepsisters. When the clock strikes midnight, Cinderella rushes off, loses a slipper, and makes it out before the magic ends. Finally, the Prince searches far and wide for the lady who fits the slipper, creating long lines of females willing to try it on. But, only Cinderella is a match and the Prince marries her to pursue happily ever after. If you have seen many takes on this tale from feature films to animation, try this one, too. It retains all of the charm, humor, and pathos of the tale but adds the enchanting aspect of fantastic ballet. Tsygankova and Golding are fabulous dancers and the production's sets, costumes, choreography, and supporting dancers make for an amazing, light-as-air experience. Prokofiev's music is not always melodic but has its intriguing aspects which pave the way to appreciating more modern music, too. In short, try to find this very special film.

Gone Baby Gone
(2007)

This monumentally dark film is very fine
In Boston, a wee four year old girl, Amanda, has gone missing. Her troubled and careless mother, Helene (Amy Ryan) left the child alone in her second floor apartment for at least an hour and, thus, the girl vanished. Now, the whole city and the neighborhood of Dorchester, is looking for Amanda. In three days, nothing emerges. Very frustrated, Amanda's aunt Bea (Amy Madigan) and her husband Lionel (Titus Welliver), this latter being Helene's brother, ask private detectives and significant others Patrick (Casey Affleck) and Angela (Michelle Moynahan) to join the search. Reluctantly, they do. Police officer Remy (Ed Harris) and his superior, Jack Doyle (Morgan Freeman) bristle at the addition of the private eyes. Yet, Patrick and Angie immediately turn up clues that Helene lied and is not telling the whole story of her shady, coke-snorting life. Then, too, another child goes missing and notorious kid molesters are back in Boston, somewhere. Will Amanda be found? Alive and well? This monumentally dark film is very fine. The story, based on the superb book by Dennis Lehane, is a repugnant, heart-wrenching, all-too-real tale of woe. As such, director Ben Affleck has kept and darkened the tone, with shots of the downtrodden, ugly persons and venues of Dorchester. There are very few light moments while the cast recreates splendid roles with great skill. MOST IMPORTANTLY, the moral ambiguity and mighty issues that are at the core of the movie will have viewers discussing it till the cows come home and back out again. No, its not a happy film but dedicated movie fans won't want to bypass it.

Mary Poppins Returns
(2018)

Magical in nearly every way, don't miss it
On Cherry Tree Lane in London, Michael Banks (Ben Whishaw), grown up from the first film, is a struggling single father. His beloved wife has died in the past year and he misses her on every level. His three clever children, Annabel, John, and Georgie, try to help with home organization while Papa goes to his teller's job at the bank, but they are all under ten and not capable of completely taking over. Longtime servant Ellen (Julie Walters) also does her best but falls short. Lamplighter Jack (Lin Manuel Miranda) is often around to boy the neighborhoods' spirits. Finally, Aunt Jane (Emily Mortimer) is still single and involved in humanitarian causes, making her unable to take over the household and, admittedly, she is as scatterbrained as her brother. Enter a found kite! Once Jane and Michael's prized possession, Michael finds it in the attic when the house is, gulp, suddenly under foreclosure and documents are needed for shares in the bank. Georgie loves it and, making patches, flies it outdoors. Whoa, the wind is strong and changing. Suddenly, Mary Poppins (Emily Blunt) descends on the kite string and takes over! As magical and strict as ever, she enchants the children with a trip down the bathtub drain! Soon, she is minding children while helping to find a solution to save the house. Along the way, the group meets a stuffy banker (Colin Firth), Aunt Topsy (Meryl Streep), a legion of lamplighters, and others as their adventures take them so many places! Can the house be saved? This magical sequel was costly to make but the care shows in every frame. First, the cast is without flaw, as Blunt nails the "return" of Mary Poppins and Miranda is mesmerizing as Jack. The children are all darlings while Dick Van Dyke, Angela Lansbury, Streep, Mortimer, Whishaw and the rest are made to perfection. Secondly, the art direction is total flawless; one could search long and hard to find a more beautiful film, in live action, special effects, and animation. How, too, can one resist the absolutely wonderful songs and tunes, the dazzling costumes, and the fabulous sets? One cannot! My ONLY criticism is that the film is a wee bit long but, as Mozart said to Salieri, which parts would you like to eliminate? How would one choose? Finally, lets hope this new generation of children will run to the library to seek out the timeless books the movie is based on and install this film in the Magical Children's Flicks Hall of Fame!

Spies Like Us
(1985)

Still crazy after all these years
Its the Cold War and a rogue general has a plan to trick the Soviet Union. What he needs, however, is a set of decoy CIA agents to complete the venture. Look no further than Emmett (Chevy Chase), a son and grandson of agents who wants to do as little as possible and Austin (Dan Aykroyd), a nerdy genius who works in gadget development. Having to take an exam to "prove" their expendabilities, the two pass with flying colors. Ha, then its on to basic training where they are pushed into parachuting, swamp walking and more by Colonel Rhombus (Bernie Casey, hilarious). All too soon, they are sent to Pakistan where they narrowly escape natives who want to murder them for their ineptitude. From deserts to mountains to terrains in-between, these two eventually make it to the Soviet Union where, due to the deaths of the one of the original operatives, they are asked to complete the mission with beautiful, smart Karen (Donna Dixon). But, can they also turn the tables on the rogue and evil General? What a joy to see two superior comedians like Chase and Aykroyd in classic roles as the dumb, bumbling folks who make good. Both have priceless facial expressions and pratfalls. The rest of the cast is also fine, including cameos by Bob Hope, Sam Raimi, Joel Cohen, THE COSTA-GRAVAS, and more. Sets are fantastic and the outlandish costumes a major part of the fun. A great script and direction contribute to the film's success as well. Do you need laughter today? Who doesn't! So hurry to find this one!

Christmas Wonderland
(2018)

Wonderful in this Wonderland for romcom lovers
Heidi (Emily Osment) is from a small town but has resided in NYC for several years. Although she once dreamed of becoming an artist, she now helps run an art gallery for a very demanding lady. She paints on canvas very little. Yet, a call from her sister soon has her flying back to her little city. An opportunity too good to miss has come up for her real estate agent sis and her hubby so Heidi is asked to babysit for a few days. Once there, Christmas is fast approaching and her niece is preparing for a singing solo at the elementary school pageant while the nephew has a crush on a girl student. The crush has meant nephew can't concentrate on his studies so his caring teacher and hockey coach, Chris (Ryan Rottman) is trying to help bring his grades up. Wouldn't you know, Chris is also a former flame of Heidi's and neither of them has married! Soon, they are crossing paths as Chris is put in charge of decorating for the Snowball dance and Heidi is signed up for the same by her sis. Just what went wrong so many years before and is there hidden embers of love that can be flamed again? You betcha! This beautiful romance is one of the endless string of quality films by Hallmark, the pinnacle producer of modern romantic comedy. Osment and Rottman are two fetching and talented performers and backup cast, sets, costumes, script and direction all make for a winning view. Wonderland is wunnerful, wunnerful.

A Gingerbread Romance
(2018)

Add lovely gingerbread spice to your movie viewing experiences!
Taylor (Tia Mowery-Hardrict) has a love of travel, instilled by her wandering parents from her childhood. Now an architect who visits many venues for the next big "project", she returns to her childhood Philadelphia home for an unusual job. Her firm has entered her into a contest to construct a giant gingerbread house for the holidays. This necessitates teaming up with a baker and the first one jumps ship when Taylor explains that she wants to be in charge. Accidentally, she meets baker Adam (Duane Henry) and they brush each other the wrong way. Adam, however, a single father to darling little Brooke, wants a higher profile so he can open his own dream bakery; he soon gets on board. Initial plans have problems. But, working together, Taylor and Adam get deep into the project and deeper into affections. Ho ho, what will happen when Taylor's firm asks her to travel again and/or, she doesn't win the contest! This sweet movie is again a lovely romantic experience. The two stars shine brightly and the supporting cast is nice, too. It is ESPECIALLY great to see an actress who is not ultra-thin on screen. The movie shows off the best of Philadelphia while script, costumes, and direction make grand impressions on the viewer. Why not add a lovely gingerbread spice to your movie list?

A Christmas in Tennessee
(2018)

Whatever state or country you live in, romance fans, you will love it!
Allison (Rachel Boston) inherited her Dad's longtime bakery in White Pines, Tennessee, a small, lovely town near the Smokey Mountains. Her mother Martha (Patricia Richardson) helps with the shop and with Allison's young daughter but she is still grieving the loss of her husband. Thus, when the friendly letter carrier comes to deliver, Martha doesn't respond to his smiles. Allison, too, doesn't have a beau. Alas, business is slow and bills are being hard to clear. Then, when Allison's little girl writes an essay about the bakery's problems for a school project, the teacher comes calling. Only, the letter sails off into the sunset! Almost at once, a lady (Caroline Rhea) who resembles MRS. CLAUSE, comes calling and places a large order. Things are looking up. Yet, trouble starts afresh when businessman Matthew (Andrew W. Walker) and his snooty partner come calling with plans to buy out the downtown and convert it to a resort/shopping complex. Allison won't sell but could the handsome investor get around her refusal? This lovely romcom has much humor, sweetness and romance. Boston and Walker are very beautiful, talented folks who are wonderful as the main characters, while the supporting cast is marvelous as well. Needless to say, the scenery in Tennessee is lovely and costumes, script and direction are nicely done. Whatever state or country you live in, escape to a fine Tennessee romance!

Inferno
(2016)

Spectacular visuals and a fine cast do not overcome the frenzied, confusing plot
In the third installment of the Robert Langdon series from Dan Browns novels, Robert (Tom Hanks) wakes up in an Italian hospital with a head wound and short-term amnesia. A doctor, Sienna Brooks (Felicity Jones) tries to comfort him and explain he will likely recover and that she met him long ago, when she was nine. It seems she loves puzzles and ciphers. All too soon, there is an assassin trying to capture or kill Langdon, with the courageous doctor helping him escape. At her personal apartment, Dr. Brooks tries to help Robert remember where he was when he was wounded and who could be after him. At times, Dr. Langdon has horrendous visions of fires, chaos, and wounded people. However, he can't remember the small details. Soon, the duo has to go on the run again and more folks seem to be after Langdon. Their journey takes them to some of most prestigious museums and venues in Italy, where clues lead to more venues. Coming back in pieces, Robert's memories return. All of the puzzles are connected to a wealthy businessman, Bertrand Zobrist (Ben Foaster), who recently committed suicide. His websites still spout his beliefs that society is doomed without a way to reduce the world population and his bizarre theories to help in attaining this goal. In turn, these ideas are also part in part to Dante's work of Inferno. Can Dr Langdon and Dr. Brooks escape with their lives and solve the potential threat to mankind, even with betrayals on various sides? This film, based on a book by Dan Brown, has a twisting, frenzied plot that is hard to follow and, sometimes, hard to accept. Yet, the visuals are stunning and the sets are from some of the most beautiful cities in Italy. Also, Hanks, Jones, Iffran Kahn, Foster, and others do fine work in complicated roles. If you are a fan of Brown's books and Hanks, by all means, view this one as well. Be prepared, however, for a somewhat underwhelming experience.

Framed for Murder: A Fixer Upper Mystery
(2017)

Nothing to fix in this great movie! Romance and mystery fans will adore it
Shannon (Jewel) is a one woman dynamo. She runs her own home remodeling business, can change a flat, and solve mysteries. Just finished with a Bed and Breakfast project, she attends a lecture in Lighthouse Cove, her town. This talk is by Jesse, who hunts for sunken ship treasure and relates some of his more famous finds. Not long after, he is found murdered, at home. The police believe, at first, he fell and hit his head; no homicide. But, Shannon doesn't think so. Agreeing with her is new resident, Mac (Colin Ferguson) , a famous mystery writer who has just hired Shannon to re-do the crumbling mansion he has purchased. After some snooping and clues, S and M may be in danger themselves, as the killer strikes again. Could it all be over a famous necklace once owned by a Princess? This terrific move by Hallmark, who else, has it all. Jewel is a beautiful star, very talented and smart; she also gets to sing a small bit! In addition, Ferguson has long held my heart and the rest of the cast is wonderful, too. Seaside scenery, costumes, script (based on a series of books) and the enthusiastic direction make for a film that need no fix whatsoever. Get Framed, get it very, very soon.

Away and Back
(2015)

Lovely story, lovely actors, very lovely SWANS
In Oregon State, Jack (Jason Lee) is a struggling widower of three kids. The youngest, a girl Frankie (Maggie Elizabeth Jones), misses her mother every day and the bedtime reading of her favorite book, The Trumpet of the Swans. Dad, most times, only has time for a chapter. Also, Papa tries to keep his kids busy, making their own lunches and doing household chores, as he operates his door making carpentry business. Meanwhile, a bird-biologist, Jennie (Minka Kelly) nurses a swan back to health from a gun shot wound. All too soon, the kids favorite pair of Trumpeter swans come back to the pond near their home and lay eggs. Frankie and her middle brother row out to take a look but get too close. The swans, very protective and fierce, break her brother's arm. Then, tragedy happens. A power line kills the mother bird and Frankie takes the eggs to incubate at home. Realizing she is over her head, she eventually gets Jennie on the phone. Seemingly very disturbed, Jennie comes and confiscates the eggs, lecturing the children about the endangered species and her job to protect it. However, after this initially gruff meeting, Jennie does let the children come see the three hatched cygnets. Plus, the children are thrilled when Jennie comes to place them back in "their" pond, as father swan is still there. Its not a simple task and stretches into weeks. As Jennie lives in a trailer close to the family, romance and a new beginning may be in the offing. Then, Frankie comes up missing just as the swans are migrating. Will she be found? This lovely film has it all, lovely cast, scenery, script, direction, and gloriously lovely SWANS. Go away to the store and bring it BACK NOW.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
(2016)

Its complicated and scary, at times, but still rather fantastic, haha
Newt (Eddie Redmayne) arrives in New York with a bulging suitcase. All too soon, we learn why. Inside the carpetbag are "fantastic beasts", that is magical creatures unknown to earth. One slips out and its like the dam has burst as Newt runs to catch him while others escape. Meanwhile, in the city, there is a battle between wizards (one is Colin Farrell) and other magical beings and those who hate them, like Mary Lou (Samantha Morton). Caught in the middle is muffin-maker Jacob (Dan Fogler) who sticks by Newt to help battle the dark forces. From Central Park to Fifth Avenue, Newt and his gang have adventures to collect all the fantastic beasts and go back to England. Will he succeed? To explain the plot is quite difficult, so this viewer is not going to try. Suffice to say it has many twists, turns, ups and downs. Redmayne is sweet as the bumbling but caring Newt while Morton is absolutely scary as the evil Mary Lou who abuses the children she adopts on the pretense of saving them from the magical beings. Farrell is also great as the powerful wizard with a secret while Fogler is a total delight as film's comic, bewildered baker. Yes, too, the sets, costumes, and special effects are smashing. If you love fantasy, you shouldn't skip Fantastic Beasts.

Instant Family
(2018)

Don't wait an instant to see it, a funny and touching film!
Pete (Mark Wahlberg) and Ellie (Rose Byrne) are a childless couple who renovate and flip houses. When Ellie's sister announces she and her husband are trying to get pregnant, Pete starts a conversation with Ellie about why they never had children. They don't quite know the answer. Soon after, the couple takes a look at foster children who are on the verge of being adoptable. Sharon (Octavia Spencer) and Karen (Tig Nitaro) are two likeable, truthful social workers who teach foster parent classes and hold adoption events. P and E take the classes, go to spy out a good-fit foster child. As they approach a group of teens, an outspoken foster girl, Lizzie (Isabela Monar) tells them they don't need to look them over, the teens know no one wants them. Oh, but now they do! Amazingly, Lizzie has two younger siblings, Juan and Lita, so Pete and Ellie agree to take all three. What a challenge for the family, including loveable dog Meatball. Lita only wants to eat potato chips, Juan is accident prone, and Lizzie is gradually more and more defiant to rules. Then, just as things get slightly better, the natural mother comes back in the picture and may want the trio returned to her. Can you say heartbreak? This lovely funny tale of trials and joys of adopting older children is wonderful. Wahlberg and Byrne are quite fine as the realistic couple with love in their hearts and fumbles in their parenting skills. Monar is fabulous as the rebellious teen while the rest of the cast, including sensational Margo Martindale, are likewise priceless. The settings, costumes, script and direction contribute to the final result of one grand movie. Don't wait an instant, movie lovers! This one is a timeless tale of love springing from tragic circumstances.

Beverly Hills Cop
(1984)

Very fun, very funny; Murphy shines brightly!
In Detroit, Axel Foley (Eddie Murphy) is a detective who sometimes does things his own way. This upsets his superiors quite a bit. When a supposed apprehension of a drug heist turns into a hair-raising adventure, Axel is reprimanded sharply. Shortly after, Axel is surprised to see a long-ago friend turn up at his apartment. This buddy has been living in California and tells Axel about a mutual friend who has a high class job at a Beverly Hills art gallery. But, he doesn't tell Axel he has stolen funds from the same seller until the guys come for him. The friend is killed and Axel barely survives. Unhappy with the way the investigation of Mikey's murder in Detroit is going, he asks for a vacation. He gets it. However, he is warned NOT to conduct his own detective work in Beverly Hills. Not listening, Axel goes out to CA in his somewhat junk car and gets a room at a posh hotel. Meeting up with the mutual friend, Jenny (Lisa Eilbacher), Axel learns some information about her boss that doesn't please him. He also incurs the wrath of the Beverly Hills police for "bothering" the art seller. This includes sergeant Taggert (John Ashton) and goofy partner, Billy (Judge Reinhold) who take to trailing Axel. At every turn, he outsmarts them, including putting a banana in their tailpipe to stop their police car. Soon, Axel really is on to something sinister about art seller Maitland (Steven Berkoff) and his gang. But, since the art man is a rich and highly respected member of the community, will anyone listen? This very fun, very funny film was one Murphy's first big movies and also one of his best. His laidback but ultrasmart turn as a Detroit cop making mincemeat of Beverly Hills finest men in blue is just priceless. Reinhold, too, is very funny and got oodles of future parts from his portrayal of dimwit but erstwhile Billy. Ashton, Ronny Cox, Berkoff and all the rest give rousing support. Naturally, the scenes from one of the country's richest communities are very fine while the script and zesty direction keeps all viewers in stitches. Yes, there's a bit of bad language and violence but mostly, there's great amusement. Therefore, keep a copy handy to keep your spirits upbeat.

Geostorm
(2017)

So much over-the-top fun with a fine, let's rock this cast!
Jake (Gerard Butler), as a concerned scientist and astronaut, built "Dutch Boy" satellite to help with the growing problems of global climate change. Its lasers work well and have prevented many natural disasters on earth. But, Jake is late to meetings and has an arrogance which rebuffs Congress. Soon, they ask his younger brother, Max (Jim Sturgess), also a scientist and second in command on DB, to fire his older brother and take over. Reluctantly, he does. Jake goes home to work on green energy sources with his young daughter and Max leads Dutch Boy. Yet, three years later, the satellite begins to falter. In Afghanistan, villagers are frozen like statues. Rio has an ice storm as well while Japan experiences beach ball size hail. In Hong Kong, one of Dutch Boy's climatologists watches as the earth beneath his feet goes white hot and barely escapes with his life. No one knows what is happening so Max contacts his older bro to help figure out an answer. Naturally, Jake is still honked off. Yet, he built DB and wants desperately to prove its worth. So, the investigation begins. All too soon it is evident that SOMEONE WITH HIGH GOVERNMENT AUTHORITY is sabotaging the system. But, who, who, who? Could it even be the President (Andy Garcia)? This vastly enjoyable movie has a serious message which may be lost in the tongue-in-cheek humor of the cast and script. Global warming is real and here to stay. However, there is no "savior" satellite, at least, not yet. Thus, its a hoot to see the fine cast struggling to find the deadly culprit of evil. Butler, Sturgess, Garcia, Ed Harris, Abbie Cornish, and the rest dive in and let the effects rock and roll. What a stormy blast of corny, raucous good times!

High-Rise
(2015)

Fascinating and funny, it nevertheless descends into wanton sexuality and ultra-violence; only for the over 18 and open-minded crowd
Based on 70's JG Ballard's amazing book, the film begins with disturbing images of a blood-soaked Laing (Tom Hiddleston), a ransacked apartment and a dead canine. Soon, it goes back to the "bright and shiny" 100 floor modern high-rise which Laing has chosen for his new residence. It is near his job as a medical-teaching physician. Indeed, the High-Rise is breathtaking in its beauty and amenities. Meant to be a community within its brick and mortar confines, the building has a school, a grocery store and a fitness floor, including a pool midway up the structure. Its creator, Royal (Jeremy Irons) occupies the fabulous penthouse with his wife, rooftop gardens, a bevy of servants, and spacious rooms. Ah, but "inequality" has been built into the community. The upper third floors belong to the rich and famous; they have a private elevator and the best parking spots in the huge lot. The middle floors are inhabited with folks like Laing, not extremely wealthy, but respectable middle-class professionals. As one can guess, the lower third of the residence is occupied by the strictly lower-to-middle folks, mostly families with lots of children. In this part resides tv journalist Wilder (Luke Evans) and his very pregnant wife (Elizabeth Moss) and two other children. Curiously, when Laing moves in, he has a pile of boxes, which he doesn't begin unpacking, and a photo of his sister which he tacks on the wall. One day, on his balcony, Laing is almost hit with a falling cocktail from Charlotte (Sienna Miller) who resides one floor above, with her ultra-bright son. Admiring the beautiful lady and her wild-and-wanton persona, Laing eagerly accepts her invitation to a party on the upper floors. Almost before one can see it, the building and its residents begin to break down. The elevators for the lower residents stop working, which means a lot of stair walking for some. Then, the garbage starts to pile up in the shoots and no one takes care of it. Similarly, the store starts having more empty shelves and the pool crowd gets into fights about who can swim and when. Wilder tries to work up emotion for a "war" with the snooty on the top floors. Cars get broken in the lot and, horribly, a jeweler commits suicide, landing on an expensive sports car. No one cares to find out why. Laing, once button-down and immaculate in his appearance, starts to dishevel as he sometimes believes Wilder's approach is the best. Soon, all chaos breaks loose, with wild sex parties and violence among the residents. Is this Lord of the Flies High-Rise? Yes. This fascinating and darkly humorous film is really not for most. Its graphic violence and sex, while not truly plentiful until the last third of the film, is repulsive. Yet, how would WE ACT IN SIMILAR circumstances is the main question and its answer is horribly true to the nasty heart of humanity. Hiddleston is great and all the other actors sharp as well. Scenery, costumes from the seventies, and the energetic, wanton direction are fine, too. Above all, Ballard was a witness to the "decay" of mankind when he was held, as a child, in a Japanese prison camp, so he knows what evil man is capable of inflicting on fellow man. Do try to find it, if you think you can handle the above descriptions, for it is a one-of-a-kind film in the sea of movies presented each year.

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