pieces of april

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few movies actually have an effect on me emtionally. usually i’m just a passive movie watcher who usually doesn’t allow myself to get too involved with what’s happening on the the screen.

to put it simply, i have never cried at the end of a movie.

that was until i saw big fish. that movie is something i call my “dad” movie. the ending just made me think of what it would be like for me and my father. i completely broke down. the end of the royal tennenbaums gave me that feeling too just not as much big fish.

i’ve been in search of my “mom” movie and feel that i’ve found it in pieces of april.

the movie revolves around an estranged daughter named april (katie holmes) who is currently living in new york city and spending the entire day cooking thanksgiving dinner for her mother, joy, (patricia clarkson) who is dying of cancer.

they haven’t talked in years and all joy can remember are the bad times. the family is really hesitant about going. the other daughter, beth (allison burns), does everything in her power to try and talk her mother out of going.

it could possibly be joy’s last thanksgiving so you get the feeling that she wants to be there.

the thing about this whole story is that i could see myself cooking some sort of big dinner for my mother if the time ever comes that she becomes sick or, god forbidden, dying.

even though i didn’t cry at the end of this movie, i did feel compelled to write something about it. if you love your mother or haven’t talked to her in a while, you may want to watch this movie and then call her afterward.

pieces of april

The Matador (2005)

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The Matador

The Matador

A globetrotting hitman and a crestfallen businessman meet in a hotel bar in Mexico City in an encounter that draws them together in a way neither expected.

We thoroughly enjoyed this movie which casts Pierce Brosnan as the anti-Bond. Unsophisticated, completely lacking charm, on the questionable side of the law (he’s a hit man). Throw in Greg Kinnear as a slightly twerpy salesman grieving his dead son and you have a recipe for fun. No, seriously.

The Matador has some graphic bits that will keep me from recommending it to a couple of people. Most of my friends, though, should see it. Rent the DVD, make some Margaritas and settle in for some good fun.

Rotten Tomatoes: Critics 76%; Audience 58%

Capturing The Friedmans (2003)

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Capturing The Friedmans

Capturing The Friedmans

I had heard a lot about this movie when it first came out and always meant to watch it. However, knowing the subject matter would be heavy and disturbing, I had never gotten around to it. When it came on satellite we tuned in – and climbed aboard a roller coaster.

The film propels you through the story without a firm foothold on the outcome – is he a monster? are they all? were they railroaded by the system? At various points you believe all those things and none of them. And at the end you are still left to wonder because this film does exactly what a documentary should do; it gives you all of the facts, but none of the answers. Those conclusions you must draw on your own.

I give it a rare 5 of 5.

From Amazon:

“Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival, and with over $3 million at the box office to date, Capturing The Friedmans is nothing short of the most riveting, provocative, and hotly debated films of the year. Despite their predilection for hamming it up in front of home-movie cameras, the Friedmans were a normal middle-class family living in the affluent New York suburb of Great Neck. One Thanksgiving, as the family gathers at home for a quiet holiday dinner, their front door explodes, splintered by a police battering ram. Officers rush into the house, accusing Arnold Friedman and his youngest son Jesse of hundreds of shocking crimes. The film follows their story from the public’s perspective and through unique real footage of the family in crisis, shot inside the Friedman house. As the police investigate, and the community reacts, the fabric of the family begins to disintegrate, revealing provocative questions about justice, family, and -ultimately – truth.”

Rotten Tomatoes: Critics 97%; Audience 86%

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (2006)

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Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest

I had no real plans on seeing this new Pirates movie this year. I didn’t really like the first one that much. I’ll admit, it was good fun, but it just didn’t really do anything for me. It was a little long but kept the action.

The sequel, Dead Man’s Chest, was like a treasure map without directions. It jumped all over the place with no real idea of where it was going. The action sequences were drawn out and pointless. The dialog was weak at best.

I didn’t feel anything for the characters. They seemed dumb with no real feeling or attitude or depth. The acting was sub-par. I think Johnny Depp forgot how he played Jack Sparrow in the first movie as I saw parts of his Hunter Thompson character from Fear and Loathing.

Keira Knightly was just going through the motions. She turned into a better actress than what was portrayed on the screen. I don’t even get Orlando Bloom. What’s this guy’s deal? The kid just can’t act.

The only redeeming quality in this movie was Bill Nighy playing Davy Jones. He’s a great actor anyway and brought a little respectability to the role.

Dead Man’s Chest was extremely long. A good 45 minutes could have been cut out of it. I felt sorry the people sitting around me because I kept yawning and moving around in my seat. It was just really slow and boring.

It’d be best if you stayed away from this movie. Wait for something else to come out. Snakes on a Plane will drop on August 18.

Jack Sparrow

Burn The Floor (1999)

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Burn the Floor

Burn The Floor

This is exactly the kind of thing I should love; dancing, music, big production. Unfortunately, the dancing is mediocre, the music is tired, the productions are pointless.

The choreography was about on par with what you would find in a high school production, particularly one where they are intent on keeping all the students on stage the whole time.

The costuming was trying way too hard to be ‘hip’ – as if they figured making it edgy would make it artistic.

I can’t give this anything on the WOM Scale; my friends that like dancing and classical music would be turned of by the edginess, my friends who like edgy would not be interested in the dancing and music…..

Rotten Tomatoes: Critics N/A; Audience 78%

Derailed (2005)

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Yeah, yeah, yeah – I heard the bad reviews. I like Jennifer Aniston, though, and Clive Owen is usually good to watch (in more ways than one), so I gave it a try.

I tend to like my suspense movies to be, well, suspenseful. This one was so obvious I kept thinking I must be wrong; surely there must be a twist coming that I was not seeing, surely it couldn’t be as insipid as it seemed. Unfortunately, it was every bit as predictable as the alphabet, but not as nuanced.

It also suffers from Thelma & Louise syndrome – two people making bad decision after bad decision, spiraling down into a worsening situation, able to stop it at any point simply by going to the authorities, choosing to continue on their merry little doomed way. By the end you actually want them to get taken out of the gene pool (I was so glad to see Thelma & Louise die – they were just wasting oxygen and police resources).

However, it took my boyfriend to point out one of the big failings – I just couldn’t put my finger on it. He nailed it right away; you just don’t buy Clive Owen as such a wuss. 1 of 5 just because I know a couple of girls who will sit through it solely to look at him for an hour or so.

Rotten Tomatoes: Critics 20%; Audience 61%

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