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The Mighty Celt (2005)

Mighty is this tale of Donal and his love for dogs; tears will fall but don't stay away! Donal (Tyrone McKenna, outstanding) loves greyhound dogs and works for a questionable owner/trainer "Good" Joe (Ken Stott). Joe has some fast dogs for the track, no doubt, but he is horrible to the dogs which do not win. As Donal is the son of a single mother, Kate (Gillian Anderson), in their Northern Ireland home, he needs the work and truly tries to check Joe's dark impulses. Meanwhile, O (Robert Carlyle) , a former IRA member who is released from prison, comes back to the same town to stir up uneasiness for Kate. for they have a past. In truth, O seems a reformed man who gets a respectable job and turns his very damaged apartment into a nice abode. Soon, Donal falls for a dog he names the Mighty Celt, who loses his first race badly. Pleading with Joe not to "get rid of him", he says he will train Celt personally and asks that if MC wins his next three races, Joe will give the dog to Donal. Amazingly, Joe agrees and indeed the dog wins his next two races. But, Joe has a black heart and sees a money winner he will have a hard time letting go. What will happen? This film, first, has great stars in Anderson, Carlyle, Stott and especially young McKenna. What a joy to watch them. Also fabulous is the put-your-eyes out scenery in Northern Ireland, being beautiful beyond description. The direction is quite meticulous and as for the story, what a heart-squeezer! There is a time for tears, so be cautioned. But, as it ends happily, please don't skip the film! Beyond a doubt, the movie is a mighty miracle.

Table for Three (2009)

Funny but bawdy; those with sensitivities, find something else Scott (Brandon Routh) walks into a bar and begs for others to hear his tale of woe. It's a long one. A few months ago, Scott set up an elaborate rooftop dinner proposal for his girlfriend but, she retched and refused. Boo hoo. Trying to recover, Scott decides to find a roommate for his LA loft, as he works from home, too, and needs company. Some of the applicants are immediately rejected but soon he finds a couple with a yen to share his gorgeous space. This is Ryan (Jesse Bradford) and his lovely girlfriend, Mary (Sophia Bush). Although Scott is skeptical, they appear to be a very nice couple so he agrees. All too soon, the perfect arrangement starts to unravel. This is especially so when Ryan and Mary make love noisily at any happening and tease Scott relentlessly about his uptightness. It seems if they make trouble for someone else in close proximity, they themselves never fight. Poor Scott is only the latest victim. Happily, Scott does meet another lovely gal, Leslie (Jennifer Morrison) and wants to pursue her in a big way. Yet, Ryan and Mary may sabotage all his efforts. Should he kick them out? This funny but raunchy romcom has assets in the cast. Routh is a doll and Bradford/Bush as a team are hysterical in their chattering mocks. The scenery is also wonderfully sunny while costumes, script, and lively direction are all pluses, too. Although not for all romance fans, those who can risk a little bawdiness should set the table for this one.

On the 2nd Day of Christmas (1997)

Nice film for romance lovers; fans, go find it! Bert (Mark Ruffalo) comes from a family of police officers and had aspirations for the profession himself. Unfortunately, his eyes are not perfect enough for the job. Therefore, he has settled into a security guard's position in a major department store. Meanwhile, Trish (Mary Stuart Masterson) and her niece Patsy run street cons where they pickpocket and trick folks out of their wallets. The duo comes to Bert's store where they endeavor to take a gentleman's wallet. But, Bert spies the action. Despite Trish saying that she was merely trying to find the owner of the wallet, the store owner orders her and her niece to the authorities. Yet, its Christmas Eve, as Bert points out. The image of the store will suffer to have a CHILD arrested on the holiday. Therefore, the owner commands Bert to take the two back to his, Bert's, apartment and keep an eye on the them until the day AFTER Christmas. Ho ho ho, this should be fun. Trish and Patsy try to run away at least a couple of times, but Bert matches wits with them. Since the two adults are single and good-looking, can a thief and a guard fall for each other? You bet! This sweet, somewhat derivative film has two attractive, talented lead actors who carry the film along nicely. All other actors, including Howard Hesseman, are fine while the film has good sets, costumes, and plot concepts. Are you the type who loves holiday romances? This one will work its warm and fuzzy charm on you.

Little Women (2018)

Had my doubts going in; but, this is a beautifully realized modern update of a classic! Jo March (Sarah Davenport) is one of four sisters, living in the Boston area. The others are Meg, Beth, and youngest one, Amy. Having aspirations to become a writer, Jo directs her sisters in home-grown productions of her works. Mother Marmee (Lea Thompson) encourages all the girls by giving them model "air castles" in the attic of the old, crumbling house, so they can decorate them with their aspirations. Meg, who is the oldest and home-schooled like the rest, wants to make friends with the popular crowd outside the family. By contrast, Beth loves home-life and playing the piano while Amy is a budding artist. Father is away fighting in the Middle East and the girls love skyping with him. Soon, a new young man, Laurie Lawrence, moves next door with his Grandpa. They, unlike the Marches, are wealthy. But, when Meg and Jo attend a party, Jo meets Laurie as they both seek refuge in small room. Friendship thrives. All the girls soon love Laurie as a brother. Laurie's tutor, John, develops an eye for pretty Meg, rescuing her from a party of temptations. Beth makes friends with Laurie's gruff Grandpa when she plays his piano on a visit while Amy constantly nags Jo to take her along with outings between her older sister and Laurie. But, as the four girls grow older, changes are inevitable. Jo, especially, has a hard time reaching her dreams, struggling on re-writes of her stories with a Columbia professor, Freddy Baer. Also, tragedy arrives. Will the girls make their parents are proud, as Papa always refers to them as "little women"? When I heard of this modern adaptation of a beloved classic, I was skeptical. Yet, this production is mostly faithful to the original, inspiring novel of Louisa May Alcott. The girls retain their unique personalities and the story is true to original plot. Sometimes the chronological ORDER of the events has been changed but it doesn't alter the impact. But, Meg still burns her hair with a curling iron and Amy still burns up Jo's writing notebook in a fit of revenge! As the principal character, Sarah Davenport is especially effective. Also, the settings around Boston, the costumes, and the careful direction make for a lovely movie to behold. Ladies, don't miss this chance to bring your daughters to a movie that is powerful in its "girls can be anything" message!

Irrational Man (2015)

Excellent film for the thinking, analytic viewer Abe Lucas (Joaquin Phoenix) is a philosophy professor with equal parts respect and disdain from others in the academic field. He has come to Newport, Rhode Island's smaller Braylin College to begin again in a new setting. But, Prof Lucas still has problems. For one, he drinks too much, startling the lady showing him his faculty housing by offering a flask before ten o'clock in the morning! But, more importantly, his alcoholic tendencies are the symptom of a larger problems: depression and disillusionment with life. What is life's meaning but a long string of broken relationships, natural disasters, petty day-to-day events, etc.? Despite the welcoming of a fellow philosophy professor, Rita (Parker Posey), Abe wants to keep to himself. Yet, when a beautiful student, Jill (Emma Stone), now in her senior year, insists on learning and conversing more with her prof, his icy demeanor begins to thaw. The two fall in love. Then, wonder of wonders, a miracle occurs in Jill's presence. At a local diner, Abe eavesdrops a conversation at the next booth about a divorce court judge ruining the "good" parent's existence in a match of wills. Eureka! Abe suddenly finds a new reason to live! What if he, Abe, could rid the world of a person making others miserable and broke? Wouldn't the murder of a colossal despot be the ultimate raison d'etre? He starts hatching plans even as Jill is obliviously to his determination, thinking it a big joke. Then, the judge indeed dies on a park bench. Is Abe responsible? This film is a deep-thinking person's dream, as it spews out philosophy of the world's greatest and those who aspire to be so. As the disenchanted professor, Phoenix is wonderful. Stone and Posey are sharp contrasts and the entire cast is very fine. As for the coastal RI setting, it is magnificent while the costumes are well-chosen. Naturally, however, the biggest acclaim must be given to Allen, whose words and direction are, again, something very, very special in a world of run-of-the-mill movies. Therefore, its entirely rational to run for places where this film is to be had.

Carpool Guy (2005)

Ok, the best part is actors Jeanne Cooper and Corbin Bernson, real life mother and son! Joel (Rick Hearst) has a great advertising job and a beautiful wife, Hope (Lauralee Bell). So, what's the problem? Its the Los Angeles traffic which makes Joel consistently late to work and late getting home. The head of his firm, Mrs. Lunsford (Jeanne Cooper) and her second-in-command son, Michael (Corbin Bernson) have been lenient on tardiness, for Joel is a valued employee. However, their patience is running thin. Then, too, some of Joel's ideas have been popping up at competing companies and the bosses are suspicious of Joel working against them. Also, Hope wants a child but things don't seem right for Joel at this time. One day, Joel spies two things. A homeless veteran holds a sign "will work for food" and the freeway has a sign announcing carpoolers can use the fast, fast lane. By making an agreement with the Vet (Anthony Geary), Joel can now make it to work and to home on time. But, is there someone still out to sabotage Joel's life? This mildly entertaining film, directed by Bernson, has an acceptable cast, script, etc. But, its nothing extraordinary. By far the best part is the fireworks between Bernson and Cooper, who are real life mother and son. Watching Cooper scream when things upset her and Bernson doing the same is entertaining. Also, Geary does good work while the real David Oreck of vacuum cleaner fame makes an appearance, too. If you come upon it at some late, late hour and you can't sleep, it can help you make it through the night.

I Give It a Year (2013)

I give it a rousing cheer! Fun and romantic Natasha, er, Nat (Rose Byrne) has met the man of her dreams, Josh (Rafe Spall) and in seven months, they are hitched. She's a very organized ad writer/creator and he's a author, with one rather famous book under his belt. But, others around them are very uneasy about the marriage. First, the parents of each are not happy or confident it will last into the future. Chloe (Anna Faris) was once Josh's girlfriend and she sees trouble ahead, even if he can't. Josh's close, goofus friend Danny (Stephen Merchant) gives them the most disastrous wedding speech ever and is totally oblivious. Soon after, Guy (Simon Baker) comes calling at Nat's ad agency and is smitten with the business lady. To prevent losing his account, she doesn't tell him she's married and takes off her ring when he is about. Between toilet seats left up, nagging, household decisions and no fun, will Nat and Josh stay together? Will counseling help when it becomes clear that the newlyweds have little in common? This is a funny, sweet film of mismatches. It might even make a good film for pre-marital counseling although those who think they are "in love" rarely pause for advice. Byrne and Spall are terrific as the newlyweds while Faris surprises with a subtle, touching performance and Baker is a doll! As for side-splitting funny, Merchant is amazing as a total moron. The costumes are wonderful, so are the sets, polished script and direction. So, I give it a rousing cheer and I really believe you will, too!

I Feel Pretty (2018)

A fun romantic watch, thanks Ms. Schumer! Renee (Amy Schumer) splits her pants at a gym workout and leaves embarrassed. As she tells her best friends, why do some girls get the looks and the men and she, Renee, struggles? At work, where she and one male employee are holed up in Chinatown to work on her favorite cosmetic company's catalog, this blonde lady asks the same question. There is no good answer. But, the next time Renee is on the spin cycle at the gym, she falls off the machine and bumps her head badly. When, she regains consciousness and looks in the mirror, Renee believes her wish has been granted, just like Tom Hanks' character in Big. NOW SHE IS BEAUTIFUL! After startling the gym employee who just wants to make certain she is okay, Renee breezes out to the dry cleaners. It is there she meets Ethan (Rory Scovel) and she flirts in a big way. She even has the confidence to grab his phone and insert her digits! Moreover, dropping off some proofs at Lily LeClair headquarters, she sees there is an opening as a receptionist and applies at once! Avery LeClair (Michelle Williams), the snobby partner in the firm is aghast but her mother (Lauren Hutton) thinks Renee would be grand. The firm needs an "ordinary folk" perspective. Whoa! As she amazes everyone with her "false" beliefs that she, Renee, is model perfect, she gives Avery great suggestions for a new line. Ethan asks her out again and again. But, she neglects her best friends and "old" life. In addition, what will happen if she ever "loses" her magical self perception from the blow to her head? This film is fun, romantic, and a great pleasure to watch. Schumer is most responsible, as she is a natural comedian with great instincts. Just watch her enter a bikini context with model-type contestants and generate a ton of laughs and kudos! Scovel, also, is quite a find, playing a wonderful, charming leading man. Williams, too, is funny with her baby-like voice and dim wits while what a pleasure to see Hutton! Costumes, sets, script and direction are quite nice. Let's hope Schumer continues to make many films as she is this generation's answer to comedy greats like Madeline Kahn, Diane Keaton, and many more.

A Very Merry Mix-Up (2013)

Very merry, very sweet, very romantic, what's not to like? Alice (Alicia Witt) met a man named Will on an online dating site. Although she runs an antique store with a modest income and Will is a high-powered salesman, she thinks she has found the right guy. The gentleman decides to propose to Alice in a restaurant, where his food choices have left her baffled. Nevertheless, she says yes. Just as they are making plans to meet his parents, Will has to miss the flight for business. But, he persuades Alice to go on solo and he will catch up. What a mistake! Alice's luggage goes missing and then her cellphone accidentally gets wet and dies. Thus, Alice doesn't know the address of Will's parents. By happy accident, Alice meets her fiancé's brother, Matt (Mark Wiebe) who has just returned home by plane, too. Initially apprehensive, Alice is welcomed warmly by Will's parents and grandfather and all is joyous. Or is it? Unbelievably, there are two families in the same town, with the same name. Alice is SUPPOSED TO BE at the other one! Once at the correct home, the poor redheaded, newly engaged lady is very much disappointed in Will's actual family. Plus, she misses Matt, whose likes and dislikes are more like her own. In addition, could Will possible working behind the scene to damage her business, which he doesn't truly like? This very merry, sweet, romantic Hallmark film is a fine choice for a snowy or sunny evening. Witt and Wiebe are attractive cast members with a great appeal and all sets, costumes, script lines, and direction talents are topnotch. Want to "get merry" ? Get this one!

Christmas Wedding Planner (2017)

Funny, sweet, and romantic, plan to see it soon! In a snowy northern US town, Kelsey (Jocelyn Hudon) is planning a wedding for her cousin, Emily (Rebecca Dalton). Its her first of what she hopes will be many future jobs. Making it somewhat difficult is Emily's mother, Olivia (Kelly Rutherford) who is an overbearing task-master. Kelsey knows this first hand. It was Aunt Olivia who finished her upbringing after Kelsey's mother died ten years ago. At her first pre-wedding event, a couple's bridal shower at Emily's home, an old boyfriend of Em's, Connor (Stephen Huszar) seems to crash the party! No, Em says its fine. But, privately, Connor reveals to Kelsey that he is there on a JOB; yep, he was sent to investigate whether Em's fiance, Todd is the successful businessman he appears to be. Horrors! What could be more upsetting to Kelsey's job than to have a P.I. snooping at nearly every turn! Plus, what if he finds something objectionable and her cousin's heart is broken, again? Yet, certain happenstances seem to indicate that Todd has something to hide. As Kelse agrees to help Connor, what will they find? Between Olivia's demands, catty bridesmaids, wedding dress difficulties and so on, will this wedding be a disaster? And, could Connor's charms be growing on Kelsey? Plan on seeing this funny, sweet, romantic romcom. It has a great, attractive cast, wonderful costumes, beautiful sets, catchy lines and an energetic direction. In short, romcom fans, its love Nirvana.

All I See Is You (2016)

I like challenging films, usually; this one I didn't but Lively gives a great performance Gina (Blake Lively) has been blind since her preteen years. Her parents died in the car crash which damaged her eyes yet she seems to have a good life. For one, she has a devoted husband, James (Jason Clarke) who has a lucrative insurance job. Two, the couple lives in Thailand, exotic and interesting. Finally, Gina has musical talent and teaches guitar while also enjoying swimming and caring for her dog. As she very much wants to become a mother, she consults doctors. One of them, an eye specialist, believes he can restore her right eye's sight. What happy news! The operation is a success and soon Gina is adjusting to the sighted world again. Only, things are not as happy for her as she expected them to be. James and she have always has a fine love life but it suffers when his appearance is not as appealing to her as it was when she couldn't see. Then, she doesn't like their apartment's drabness and tells James she wants to search for a house. She also buys new, more revealing clothes and dyes her hair blonde. This upsets James very much, as he feels her moving in directions he doesn't control. A "second honeymoon" in Spain doesn't rekindle their closeness, either. Also, Gina begins to think James has been tampering with the eye drops she must take every day, as her sight grows dimmer. Will the couple stay together? This challenging movie has a good story which is somewhat difficult to piece together. Amid a bevy of interesting camera shots, sparse conversations and "you figure it out" happenings, the viewer must struggle to keep up. In some flicks, this is appealing but, this time, along with a slow pace, it fails to keep a movie fans attentions at every moment. Then, too, while the settings are spectacular, the movie has many well-deserved R-rated sex scenes which makes it unsuitable for many viewers. Lively it truly wonderful in a difficult role but neither she nor the other actors are very likeable. Therefore, if all you can see are a few choice films a year, you can feel free to skip this one.

Stealing Christmas (2003)

Sweet Xmas romance, fans of love tales will like it Jack (Tony Danza) and his partner Harry are experienced thieves. Its their profession. But, alas, at a mall, security guards catch them in the act and they have to run for their lives. Thinking quickly, Jack grabs a Santa costume and bags the money in a duffel. Even this is risky and the handsome robber ends up opening the mall doors early and throwing money in the air to escape. He hops a bus to who-knows-where. Ending up in a lovely small town called Evergreen, he is soon mistaken for the Santa hired to listen to children at a local tree farm, run by attractive widow Sarah (Lea Thompson) and her seventeen year old daughter, Noelle (Angela Goethals). About to decline, Jack notices the bank in town. Ho Ho Ho, maybe Evergreen can spare some cash. Initially disliking one another, Jack soon discovers he can be a good Santa and a good fill-in father for Noelle, who has typical teenage problems. In addition, Sarah is soon working her way into his affections and visa versa. Jack even has great advice for luring shoppers to the stores in Evergreen for the holidays! How will this affect Jack's plans to make off with the town's monetary holdings? This sweet Xmas romance has two fine, eye-catching performers in Danza and Thompson. Also nice are the setting, costumes, script and direction. Betty White shows up to enchant the audience, too. Therefore, steal away to view this one in December or any other time of the year.

Crazy Rich Asians (2018)

Rich and crazy in laughs, love, life lessons Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) is a self-made professor at NYU. Raised by a single, immigrant mother from China, she has an impressive resume and she is beautiful and sweet as well. Thus, its no surprise that she has claimed the affections of businessman Nick Young (Henry Golding) for a year. Now, he wants to push the envelope of their relationship. Will Rachel agree to travel to Singapore for his best friend's wedding and meet his family? Certainly. Mother Chu helps pick out her important dress for the occasion. However, when the couple boards the plane, Rachel discovers that Nick has purchased first-class tickets, something she didn't think they could afford. Its then that Nick confesses that his family is "comfortable" ; read rich. Once they land in Singapore, this becomes even more apparent when Rachel goes to meet an old college friend, Piek Lin Goh (Awkwafina) before she shakes hands with the Youngs. PLG is ASTOUNDED Rachel doesn't know that Nick is the most eligible bachelor in the country and his family the richest of the rich. Holy Goldmine, Batman! Quickly giving Rachel another dress for the occasion, far more expensive and chic, Rachel is primped to meet Nick's mother Eleanor (Michelle Yeoh) and elegant cousin, Astrid (Gemma Chan). But, although seemingly welcome to her son's girlfriend, Eleanor soon reveals her true colors. She is deadset against the relationship going any further, as she tells Rachel on the QT. Nick is clueless about his mother's attitude, which upsets Rachel even more. But, can a young American from Flushing become a Chinese Cinderella? This wonderfully rich and crazy film is manna to a romcom lover's heart as well as a thoroughly entertaining film for most everyone else. Set in the fantastic setting of the super rich, its opulent scenery is amazing. This is true also of the fabulous costumes, comedic script and bouncy direction. Yet, even then, the storyline proves that riches can't buy everything. Most importantly, Wu, Golding, Awkwafina, Yeoh, Chan and all the others are near-perfect in their lively, touching roles. The one possible caveat is that the riches displayed make one hurt inside for those less fortunate. But, as "only a movie", most can dismiss this more easily. Movie tickets are happily not only affordable by the super rich so grab one soon, soon!

Funny Valentine (2005)

Although it often feels like a deja vu romcom, its still enjoyable if a touch risque Josh (Anthony Michael Hall) is a single gentleman looking for the right gal. Alas, he has trouble approaching women in bars and other typical meet-up places. Therefore, his "swinger" pals Sean and Tim try to give him advice on the different kinds of women out there and how to secure a date. They even create a profile for him on a dating site and insist they will pick the three finalists for Josh to review. However, as a shy magician, mime and book seller, Josh meets a beautiful woman, Doreen (Marlo Marron) when he performs at a child's birthday party and likes what he sees. But, once he is out of his mime make-up, will she look his way? Or, as Sean and Tim insist, is she way out of his league? For her part, Doreen is a working single mother and graduate student who truly doesn't want to give her heart to another jerk. Is this really a match made by Cupid's sure arrow? This is a sweet romcom, for the most part, but there are some rather risque scenes involving the two "love em and leave em" friends of the main star, Hall. Therefore, Doris Day lovers may not like it. But, the scenes involving Hall and Marron are sweet and touching. Especially nice are the movies Hall imagines in his mind, with him starring as Chaplin and Bogart, and Marron as his leading lady. Also darling is Marron's son. The movie does not have any spectacular scenery, costumes, lines, or direction but, even so, romantic comedy fans will be glad they chose it. If that's you, add it to the list.

Dog Days (2018)

Sit up and beg Hollywood to make more movies like this; WONDERFUL! Elizabeth (Nina Dobrev) is a rising star in the world of LA morning talk shows. But, that doesn't mean her personal life is great. Her ex cheated on her, at their apartment, and left her and doggie Sam very unhappy. A handsome guest, retired football star Jimmy (Tone Bell) starts flirting immediately, baffling Liz and ticking her off. Meanwhile, Grace (Eva Longoria) and her hubby (Rob Cordrey) adopt a shy five year old girl, Amelia, and are jumping through hoops to please her. Nothing works until Am spies a fat little pug dog whose owner is missing. The wee gal is enchanted and starts opening up. Also, barista Tara (Vanessa Hudgens) has a marketing degree but makes coffee instead for handsome vets, without noticing, truly, a nervous man, Garrett (Jon Bass) who has a crush on her. Then, too Dax ( Adam Pally) upsets his pregnant sister and her husband by failing to show up to be the disc jockey at her baby shower, as he is too busy practicing with his band, Fronk. Sis is so upset, she goes into labor for twin sons and Dax has to babysit their enormous dog, Charlie, even though his apartment doesn't allow pets. Finally, lonely professor (Ron Cephas Jones) has lost his dog, Mabel, who his deceased wife adopted long ago. A caring pizza delivering sixteen year old, Tyler (Finn Wolfhard) volunteers to help find the dog, a pug. Will love blossom for the single parties? Will happiness come to those who are lonely, starting over, and recovering from losses? You can bet they will when canines come to the rescue! Hollywood, thank you for, ha, throwing a big, big bone to us starving romcom fans. But, moreover, one that is intelligent, funny, caring, sweet and filled with great performances! This film lover especially liked the jazz-infused band, with outstanding vocals from Jasmine Cephas Jones. Add on great costumes, fab scenery, and a zesty direction and viewers have the gift of a TOP DOG FILM! Go fetch it now.

Atomic Blonde (2017)

Charlize Theron nukes the enemy but good! Intriguing but very, very violent, not for all As the film opens, a battered and bruised woman, Lorraine (Charlize Theron) is telling her story to skeptical CIA officials, including Emmet (John Goodman). A few days ago, the Berlin Wall was about to come down, causing most people in the free world to rejoice. However, the undercover spies were in danger, for Britain and the USA had operatives which were believed loyal to the other side, Russia and the communists. There was a "list" of these folks which must not fall into enemy hands. Flashing Back, Britain sends its one-woman A-bomb, Lorraine, an expert in martial and "other" arts, to find the list first. She is to meet with the local chief spy, Percival (James McAvoy) and plan her next move. However, the limo which picks her up at the airport is not the correct one, being full of Russian-side agents. Using her high heels as weapons, Lorraine soon gets the Russkies dispatched. But, ho, someone has blown her cover already. Percival arrives to help her at the last moment and he brings her to temporary safety. Now, a new plan must be hatched, one that involves Percival, the "watchmaker", a beautiful French woman named Delphine and others. But, there is believed to be a supreme traitor among the spies which puts Lorraine and company is grave danger, from within and from without. Who will win ? Wow, Atomic Blonde is quite an intriguing film, made special by Theron whose beauty and lethal limbs make mincemeat of the enemy. The other cast members are quite fine, too, such as McAvoy, Goodman, Toby Jones, and more. The seedy underworld which Lorraine inhabits always has a television playing the joyous news of Berlin re-unification while spies are suffering. Quite a contrast. Beware, viewers, this is a very violent film, with some funny ironies, such as the "shoe" daggers and a spy getting hit with a refrigerator door. Therefore, its not a view for children AT ALL or any one who hates smash-em-up. Then, too, there is a gay story line some will not appreciate. But. for others, its a guilty pleasure indeed to see a female nuclear weapon do her stuff.

Heavenly Creatures (1994)

Heavenly and Hellish; an amazing story of a friendship which results in death In 50's New Zealand, Pauline (Melanie Lynskey) had a rare bone disease as a child, with leg scars. She has no friends at an exclusive girls' school, which her struggling parents can barely afford. They take in boarders, for Pauline is bright. One momentous day, Paul's class gets a new student, imaginative Juliet (Kate Winslet), who is wealthy, intelligent, creative and outspoken. Because Juliet, too, has weak lungs and spent 5 years separated from her family in a warmer climate, the girls have a bond that begins a close friendship. Both girls love Mario Lanza and play-acting. In fact, they envision their own special heaven called The Fourth World, which has knights, princesses, and an elaborate landscape. Both the well-to-do family of Juliet and the poor one of Pauline are extremely concerned about the closer-than-close ties between the two girls. There are other family secrets afoot, too, which eventually result in Juliet's family planning to move away and in Pauline's mother taking steps to separate the girls. But, this results in a tragedy beyond comprehension for two young ladies driven into madness by their own imaginations and strong wills. This amazing film is one for the ages. Not only are the two young performers, Winslet and Lynskey, touching and horrifying beyond their years. but the creative landscapes, real and imagined, are superlative. Also fine are the supporting cast, the tantalizing script (based on true events), and the superb direction by Jackson. Don't miss this heavenly and hellish journey into New Zealand's most notorious crime of the twentieth century.

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (2018)

Hear, Hear! do GO to see Mamma Mia 2, its spirit lifter with charming music! Alas, poor Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) ! She has lost her beloved mother, Donna (Meryl Streep). Out of her three "possible" fathers, only Sam (Pierce Brosnan) has stayed on their exclusive Greek island to help her through the pain. Oh, she does have her fiance, Sky (Dominic Cooper) but, currently, he is in the NYC, interviewing for a job that may take him away from Greece. Besides this, Sophie has worked hard to re-open her mother's hotel-with-eatery and she is in a mild state of frenzy for 2nd father Bill (Stellan Skarsgaard) is getting an award in Sweden and 3rd papa Harry (Colin Firth) is negotiating a big business deal in Japan. As Sophie ponders her future with unease, the movie flashes back to a young Donna (Lily James) and her raucous college graduation. Her own mother, a mildly famous singer (later Cher), doesn't even make it. Therefore, Donna hatches a plan to travel willy nilly around the globe, where she meets a trio of eligible men on the way to a small, half-forgotten Greek island. Harry wins her heart, temporarily, by giving a rousing rendition of ABBA's Waterloo. Likewise, Bill is there to take her on his boat when she misses the ferry. Lastly, Sam rushes to help her calm a spooked horse. At every turn, romance finds young Donna but Sam seems to be THE ONE before a secret is uncovered! This action is interspersed with scenes from the present, where Donna's longtime friends (Christine Baranski and Julie Walters) arrive to help Sophie with the opening of the hotel. They are both struck with Sophie's manager, Fernando (Andy Garcia) although he confesses he gave up love long ago from a broken heart. Sky, also, rattles Sophie by hinting he may accept the NY job while an unexpected guest arrives to stir things up! Will Sophie's new venture be successful amid memories of her mother's grit and liveliness? Hear, hear, fans of ABBA and the original film. The joy and wonderful music just goes on and on. Waterloo is a smash among other dazzling ABBA hits aided by superb staging. The cast is a dream, where those who reprise their roles continue the delight while the new faces, especially James, charm us, too. How I wish Cher arrived in the movie somewhat earlier but she is a showstopper. Naturally, also, the scenery of Greece and the stunning blue ocean water are lovely, lovely, lovely. When the world is crashing in, Mamma Mia! There's hope when you watch this winner and its predecessor!

Fargo (1996)

Tantalizing film, superb cast; the violence will be a bit much for some viewers In wintery Minnesota, Jerry (William H. Macy) has big problems of his own making. Secretly deep in debt, he has few options, although he is married to the daughter of a very rich man, Wade (Harve Pressnell) and works as the manager of his father in law's car dealership. Wade dislikes Jerry, you see. Desperate, he turns to two seedy characters in Fargo, recommended by an auto mechanic, to kidnap his wife, forcing Wade to pay up. The trio will split the proceeds. One of the would-be nappers, Carl (Steve Buscemi) is a non-stop talker with a loose cannon. The other (Peter Stormare) is a blonde menacing giant who says hardly anything. A car from Wade's lot will be the operation vehicle. Almost immediately, there are problems. Huge ones. A highway patrolman pulls the vehicle over, as it still have dealership plates. As Carl starts to reason with the officer, the giant shoots the cop. They drag his body to a ditch. Not only this, a young couple sees the crime from their car and a high speed pursuit ends in their deaths, also. Now, a small city police officer, Marge (Frances McDormand), six months pregnant, must find the perps for these deaths while Wade, frantic, tries to negotiate for the life of his beloved daughter. Meanwhile, Jerry sinks deeper and deeper into lies and deceit. Despite Marge's pregnancy and small town roots, can she solve these crimes? This tantalizing film has a superb plot, careful direction, and an eye and ear for snowy venues and upper Midwest conversation. In addition, the cast is fabulous, with Macy, Mcdormand, Buscemi, Stormare, and all others pulling off performances of great power. Don't forgo Fargo, even though it has some rough violence. The film's magnitude is richly deserved.

The Groomsmen (2006)

As a HUGE fan of Ed Burns, THE WRITER, DIRECTOR & ACTOR, this one is above good but not on the level of Looking for Kitty Paulie (Ed Burns) has been living with his girlfriend, Sue (Brittany Murphy) for three years. Now the lady is pregnant and they are about to walk down the aisle. For the ceremony, Paulie has asked his brother Jimbo (Donal Logue) to be best man. Jimbo, however, seems to be going through a personal crisis. His wife (Heather Burns) has reported a loss of communication, several job switches, and weight gain to her brother, TC (John Leguizamo) who has come to Long Island for the wedding. Also invited are local "best buds" cousin Mike (Jay Mohr) and Dez (Matthew Lillard), the only one of the group who has kids already. There are a number of problems for each man, not just Jimbo, although he argues with Paulie so much that his best man status is in jeopardy. TC has a big revelation while Mike can't seem to get over a broken relationship. Even Sue creates doubt as to the timing of the marriage, for she is a bit mad that the nursery isn't finished and, yes, that Paulie doesn't bring her flowers anymore. Will the wedding take place and the men stay friends? First, this will not be my favorite Ed Burns film but its head and shoulders above most of Hollywood fare. Its polished, complicated script has much to say about everyday life and how we endure. Then, too, what a dream cast, all doing fabulous work! As for the Long Island scenery, it is so beautiful the viewer is enchanted. Some parts are funny, as when Dez tries to get his sons to help carry the groceries by pretending to throw away their favorite cereal. Other parts are touching as most of these men have strong bonds with their aging fathers and their longtime friends. So, while I prefer Looking for Kitty and Sidewalks of New York, The Groomsmen is a fine choice for those who love quality cinema.

The Manchurian Candidate (1962)

The movie's concept is beyond stellar while the cast is great, too Raymond Shaw (Lawrence Harvey) is not well-liked in his Army company fighting in the Korean War. While other guys try to relax with drinks and dames, Shaw is a straight arrow wet blanket. Even his commander Ben (Frank Sinatra) is not crazy about him. Yet, one night, the unit's interpreter leads the men to be captured by a Chinese-Russian operative who whisk everyone away to Manchuria. In short order, the men are brainwashed and then let go. Now, every man down to the last, says Raymond is a hero who lead the group out of danger. Back in America, Raymond is given the Medal of Honor which pleases his ultra-ambitious mother Evelyn (Angela Lansbury) to no end. She is the energy behind her McCarthy like husband Senator John Iselin and she is looking to put him on the upcoming ticket as the Vice Presidential Candidate. Raymond himself detests his mother and stepfather and finds work as an aid to a liberal publisher. Meanwhile, Ben has continuing nightmares which sometimes show Raymond as a killer. He suspects the hero's story is a fraud. But, what really happened in Manchuria? What does the Queen of Diamonds have to do with anything? Is Evelyn even more manipulative than she appears now? Is the USA in grave danger? This film made long ago from a 1959 book by Richard Condon, is still riveting, intelligent fare of the highest degree. What if Russia, China or whoever brainwashed a pawn to take out enemies and thus leave traitors as the step-in leaders of the Free World? Yes, it could happen with terrible consequences unless heroes and heroines emerge to stop it. Looking at the US President elected in 2016, where Russia is suspected of influencing the vote in his favor, and we have the Republic shaken to its core. In this movie, events are scary beyond belief and the suspense is palpable. A simple trigger induces a man to commit crimes he wouldn't do in real life and he's not aware he is even doing so. Take heed, folks! Harvey, Sinatra and the supporting cast is great but one actress rises above all. Lansbury's Evelyn is one of the most evil, manipulative, repulsive women in the halls of moviedom. Sets, costumes, and a strong direction also contribute to the fabulous final product. Want to see a film which seems ripped from headlines of any decade in its depiction of spies, superspies, and regime changers? TMC is colossally smart and fearsome.

Live by Night (2016)

A dark, violent film but fascinating Joe Coughlin (Ben Affleck, who also wrote and directed) is Tom the police chief's son (Brendan Gleeson) in 20's Beantown. Nevertheless, he prefers the life of crime himself. He and his co-horts rob banks and poker games, upsetting his papa greatly. Love, however, remains strong between the two. Moreover, Joe is small peanuts in a town run by two mob leaders, one an Irishman and the other Italian. As fate would have it, Joe falls for the Irish mobster's "moll", Emma (Sienna Miller) and begins a clandestine affair, knowing the consequences if Boss Albert finds out. Joe daydreams so much about Emma that on a routine bank heist, his foggy mind upsets the apple cart. This leads to a police chase and fiery crash; Joe escapes, the cops do not. Albert IS looking for Joe, for he knows the score now, but doesn't get there before Tom arrives. Pulling strings, Tom gets Joe a very light sentence of three years. Wow. When he gets out, Joe doesn't know where Emma is, believing her to be dead, and decides to "relocate" to Tampa Florida, working for the Italian Boston Boss. He does this because the Irishman is worming his way into bootlegging and gambling down south, too, in Miami. Once there, Joe does a fabulous job, working with Cubans including lovely Graciela (Zoe Saldana). The straight-laced police chief, Figgis looks the other way and has a beautiful daughter, Loretta (Elle Fanning) who is off the star in Hollywood. But, what happens when the Italian mobster begins to believe Joe is weak and not into "killing" anymore? What about Albert, is he still looking for Joe? This very fine movie has great performances, many twists and turns, gorgeous sets, fabulous costumes, and a style that dazzles. Who can we thank? Why, first, Affleck who stars, writes, and directs and Dennis Lehane, whose novel came first. Purists may want to know that the ending of the film is different from the book while those who detest violence won't want to watch it. Even so, the violence is not pervasive and the story too good too miss. So, movie fan, don't skip it.

Days of Wine and Roses (1962)

If you want a good cry or a lesson in alcoholism, here is one the best Joe Clay (Jack Lemmon) is a stellar public relations man in San Francisco. Much of his time is spent wining and dining clients and Jack is a party guy first class, drinking to excess. He even is ordered to find lady "escorts" for CEOs partying on a yacht. It is there that he accidentally mistakes Kirsten (Lee Remick) for one of the "invited" women. Woe to him, she's the boss' secretary. Nevertheless, he discovers two things. One, Kirsten is part of the window dressing, being very beautiful, and she does very little of the actual work. Secondly, even she can succumb to an attractive man's charms and humor, as she starts dating Joe, and hurriedly gets married to him. But, alas, Joe doesn't want to drink alone, so he introduces cocktails to his teetotaler new wife. Starting with Brandy Alexanders, which has the chocolate Kirsten loves, she suddenly, too, gets in the alcohol "game". Even the birth of their daughter, Debbie, doesn't keep the couple sober. On one of their drunken binges, Joe smashes up his father-in-laws nursery. Joe also loses his job and a few others when his drinking leads to big problems. At last, Joe has had enough and realizes he has to join AA. Kirsten refuses to go. She even goes away to distant hotels for weeks and Joe doesn't know where she is. Eventually, Joe has to make a decision, a heartbreaking one. How can he stay sober if he lets Kirsten be part of his new life? This sad, sad film has the horrors of alcoholism on full display. Especially sad is Remick's role, for she is goaded to drink and then can't stop. Yes, there are moments of humor, romance, beautiful scenery, costumes and Blake Edwards great direction. But, unless you love the stars or are in the mood for a cathartic sobfest, this movie will put you in a sobering state of mind.

Overboard (2018)

Cute remake of a classic, with a gender reversal; Its manna for starving romcom fans! Leonardo (Eugenio Derbez) is the son of the third weathiest man in the world! Nice heritage from Mexico it is! Alas, he doesn't do much for his father's company, unlike his sisters. Instead, he voyages around on his huge yacht, partying with super models and drinking to excess. Meanwhile, single mom Kate (Anna Faris) lives in coastal Elk Grove, Oregon, where she delivers pizzas, cleans carpets, and studies AGAIN for the nursing exam she flunked the first time. Her three daughters sometimes feel neglected. As Leonardo goes up the Pacific coast, a wild party leaves the carpets dirty and Kate is sent to clean them. But, when she refuses to get Leo a mango juice, she is thrown overboard with her expensive equipment. What a creep Leonardo is! Later that night, Leonardo can't find something he needs desperately, goes out on a deck in a drunken stupor and promptly goes overboard, too. When he washes up on the Elk Grove beach, he has amnesia and ends up in the hospital. Naturally, the local newspaper runs a headline Do you know this man? Kate does and together with her friend, Theresa (Eva Longoria) they conspire to make Leonardo think he is married to Kate, a father to three girls, and a construction worker in the concrete business! What a scheme, so Kate can stay home to study and pay more attention to the gals, all the while getting back at Leonardo for stiffing her! But, wait, Leonardo is suddenly a "good guy", shouldering his responsibilities and charming Kate's socks off! Is romance in the air? This darling remake of the classic Hawn-Russell 80's film has many thing in its favor. Derbez is wonderful and attractive while Faris matches him well. All of the other cast members are terrific, too. Scenery, costumes, script and direction are very successfully delivered. MOST IMPORTANTLY, here is a romcom for the starving masses who Hollywood has mostly forgotten. This time, do go overboard and see it!

The Greatest Showman (2017)

New, contemporary music for a basically old-fashioned and inspiring film; IT WORKS! PT Barnum (Hugh Jackman) , as a poor child, lived near a wealthy mansion, for his father worked at the "big house". Unhappily, Phinneas Taylor is left an orphan while his best friend, Charity (Michelle Williams), the daughter of the landowner, is sent away to boarding school. Nevertheless, the two continue to write to each other consistently, for the young love turns into mature love. Bringing himself up by his bootstraps, PT finally convinces Charity's father to give him her hand but no money is bestowed on the couple. Dad thinks Charity will realize her mistake and come running back. NOT SO! PT has dreams of opening a museum of odd things even as the couple has two daughters. The museum soons evolves into a circus, with Tom Thumb, a midget, riding a horse, a bearded lady and other bizarre attractions. Its a big success, even though some of the folks in NYC object to what they call the exploitation of the deformed. Hooking up with a talented promoter, Phillip (Zac Efron) the enterprise becomes even bigger. Making things complicated is Phillips admiration and affection for the principal trapeze artist, Anne (Zendaya), for she is a mixed-race gal in a time when prejudices are front and center. Then, PT gets the notion to put Europe's greatest opera singer, Jenny Lind (Rebecca Fergueson) on a tour of many cities. Will the distance between PT and Charity and the girls bring strain? Ms. Lind, after all, is very beautiful. Then, another tragedy occurs. Can the Greatest Show on Earth continue? This biography of Barnum is an old-fashioned tale of love, endurance, hard-work and gumption. What rare values in today's society! Yet, the very fine music and songs are contemporary, making one doubt whether the two will mesh...they do! Days after I saw it I was still humming the music. Kudos to the composers. Also fine is the cast, with Jackman's handsome face and voice leading the way. Naturally, the period costumes are fabulous while the script and direction keep the tale moving along nicely. Folks, are you looking for a movie in the vein of of classic musicals but with a modern twist? You will find it here!

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