This week I've got reviews and commentary about Austenland
, Romeo + Juliet
, and Rush
MY GRADE KEY:A+ (Outstanding); A (Perfect); A- (Almost Perfect); B+(Great); B (Very Good/Memorable); B- (Good w/some flaws); C+ (Above average); C (Average); C- (Okay, but disappointing); D+ (Bad); D (VERY bad); D- (Dreadful); F (Don't waste your time)
97 minutes, Genre:
My Grade: C
Netflix Synopsis: Jane Hayes is so taken with Jane Austen's novels that she decides to splurge on a trip to an English resort that caters to Austen fans. But when the authentic period romance Jane was promised proves unacceptable, she acts to alter her fate.
This was sort of a mixed bag for me. While the costumes and setting were very well done, the cast was hit or miss, the acting was uneven, the script needed more work and the direction was all over the place. Things I liked:
The clever way they loosely followed the plot of Pride and Prejudice
; JJ Feild's suave and stoic portrayal of the Mr. Darcy "archetype," and Jane Seymour as Austenland's eccentric owner. This wasn't a bad movie. It just wasn't a great one. Whatever the case, if you like romance with a plash of the farcical, this one's for you.
113 minutes; Genre:
My Grade: B
Princess Diana, the world's most-watched woman, struggles to find herself after her painful divorce. In the two years before her death, she embarks on a vital campaign to ban landmines and on a passionate love affair with heart surgeon Hasnat Khan.
Naomi Watts did a great job slipping into the late Lady Di's skin. She delivers a very heartfelt and nuanced performance as the troubled, and oftentimes misunderstood modern royal. I was very surprised at how Diana actively manipulated the media, which was quite clever of her. I guess she figured they would never leave her alone, so why not use them to her advantage? I was also surprised to learn that she wasn't in love with Dodi Fayed, and instead fell deeply in love with Dr. Khan, and was still very much in love with him at the time of her death.
Here's her memorable interview with Martin Bashir in 1995.
80 minutes; Genre:
My Rating: B-
Netflix Synopsis: This fascinating documentary examines the life of performing killer whale Tilikum -- who has caused the deaths of several people while in captivity -- and questions the safety and humaneness of confining these intelligent creatures.
This was a highly emotional piece that chronicles the tragic deaths of killer whale trainers and the extremely sad lives of whales held in captivity. There is a lot of controversy going on about this film, namely from animal rights activists who, for decades, have railed against places like SeaWorld, charging them with inhumane practices. To stave the Blackfish backlash
, SeaWorld has responded with an aggressive PR campaign
that, according to some reports, has done little to improve public perception. I think the truth is somewhere in the middle. However, regardless of whether half the claims by the film's producers are true, I don't believe these magnificent animals should be held in captivity. Anyone viewing Blackfish
should be able to see why.
This movie is currently streaming on Netflix
ROMEO + JULIET
118 minutes; Genre:
Romantic Drama/Shakespearean Tragedy
My Grade: B+
Neflix Synopsis: Oscar-winning writer and "Downton Abbey" creator Julian Fellowes provides the screenplay for this version of Shakespeare's classic tale. The action unfolds in Renaissance Verona with Douglas Booth and Hailee Steinfeld playing the star-crossed lovers.
I don't know why I do this to myself. How many freaking R&J movies do I have to watch before I stop hoping they'll go off script? This is a tragedy, so why do I keep praying that the writers will allow R&J an HEA? IT NEVER HAPPENS, but yet and still, I spend five to ten minutes crying and hoping Romeo will open his eyes during "the" death scene, when it's clear that he's NOT going to wake up. Einstein's definition of insanity truly applies here. Doing the same thing over and over again, and then expecting a different result. When will I ever learn?
1hr 37m; Genre:
My Grade: B-
Netflix Synopsis: Putting a new spin on spooky, the haunted soul in this film -- 15-year-old Lisa -- is long dead, and the ghost she senses is a flesh-and-blood teen. Once Lisa figures out the score, she must help her real-life haunter unravel their house's secrets.
This was surprisingly original. It starts off very mysteriously, and the viewer is left trying to piece things together. Once you do, they pull the rug out from under you, and you're left to try to piece things together again. Haunter
is far from predictable, and it's very entertaining. It's also currently streaming on Netflix
Year: 2013; Rated: R; Time: 123 minutes; Genre: Biographical Drama
My Rating: A-
This dramatic portrayal of the intense 1970s rivalry between race drivers Niki Lauda and James Hunt captures the contrasts between the two champions. While Hunt was a charming and handsome ladies' man, Lauda was a loner with a single goal: victory.
My Take: This was a very exciting film based on the real life struggle between racing rivals Niki Lauda and James Hunt that led to tragedy, and triumph---for both of them. I'm not a race car fan at all, but Rush deftly pulls you into that wild thrill-seeking world, and doesn't let you go until the end. The characters are well drawn, the acting is top notch, the cinematography is stellar and the script is absolutely wonderful. Both actors brought their prospective characters to life. I would definitely watch this one again.
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