REVIEW: UPTOWN GIRLS

CAST

Brittany Murphy (Sin City)
Dakota Fanning (man on Fire)
Marley Shelton (Planet TError)
Donald Faison (Scrubs)
Jesse Spencer (Neighbors)
Austin Pendleton (The Muppet Movie)
Heather Locklear (The Return of Swamp Thing)
Fisher Stevens (Hackers)
Carmen Electra (Scary Movie)
Michael Urie (Ugly Betty)

Brittany Murphy, Marley Shelton, and Dakota Fanning in Uptown Girls (2003)Molly Gunn (Brittany Murphy) is a carefree and fun-spirited girl, living off the ample trust fund of her late rock legend father, Tommy Gunn. Molly falls for singer Neal Fox (Jesse Spencer) when he plays at her birthday party thrown by her best friends, Huey (Donald Faison) and Ingrid (Marley Shelton). They have a night of passion but he leaves in the morning, saying that he can’t stay in Molly’s carefree life. Adding to Molly’s misfortune, she finds out that her father’s accountant embezzled her money, so she is left penniless and homeless. She moves in with her best friend, Ingrid who tells her that in order to stay with her, she must find a job.Dakota Fanning in Uptown Girls (2003)Molly begins work as a nanny of an eight-year-old hypochondriac and neat freak named Laraine “Ray” Schleine (Dakota Fanning) who is the daughter of Roma Schleine (Heather Locklear), a music executive who is too busy to notice Ray. Ray’s father is in a coma and is being treated at home by a private nurse which causes Ray to stifle her emotions to maintain order. Although she enjoys ballet, she refuses to freestyle and often quotes Mikhail Baryshnikov: “Fundamentals are the building blocks of fun.” Molly attempts to show her how to have fun, which at first causes much conflict between them, but eventually Ray opens up to let Molly in.Brittany Murphy, Donald Faison, and Dakota Fanning in Uptown Girls (2003)Molly continues to pursue Neal and holds onto his lucky jacket in hopes of seeing him again. After a baking accident, Molly causes a fire that damages Neal’s jacket. She redesigns it to fix the damage but Neal breaks up with Molly when he sees it, claiming he has to pursue his music career and does not have time for her flightiness. Soon after, he gets a record deal with Roma and has a hit music video with a song that Molly inspired him to write, all while wearing the jacket Molly made. Disgusted, Molly agrees to Ingrid’s suggestions to sell off her possessions so she can prove that she is growing up. However, after a fight, Ingrid kicks Molly out to live with Huey.Brittany Murphy and Dakota Fanning in Uptown Girls (2003)The budding friendship between Molly and Ray continues to develop when Molly takes Ray to Coney Island and explains that when her parents died, she ran away to Coney Island and rode the tea cups. She encourages Ray to talk to her comatose father, and promises that it will help him improve. However, Ray’s father dies the next day, and Ray tells Roma to fire Molly. In Roma’s office, Molly calls Roma out for never paying attention to her daughter. As she leaves, Molly bumps into Neal, who begs to get back together as she was his whole inspiration. Molly turns him down and coldly tells him that he is selfish and only cares about her when she can give him something. Ray runs away from home and Roma begs Molly to find her. Molly finds Ray at Coney Island, riding in the tea cups. At first, Ray tries to be angry with Molly for raising her hopes but then she collapses into Molly’s arms, crying, finally coming to terms with her grief.Brittany Murphy and Dakota Fanning in Uptown Girls (2003)Molly, deciding to take charge of her own life, takes Ray’s advice to auction off her late father’s guitar collection to an unknown buyer; this enables her to afford her own place. At the wake for Ray’s father, Molly meets other musicians who ask her to design their clothes after seeing Neal’s jacket in his video. She and Ingrid also make up and Molly finds Ray to apologize as well. She promises to stay friends with Ray and enrolls in design school after realizing her talent for fashion. Molly arrives at Ray’s recital late and is pleased to see Ray is wearing the tutu Molly designed for her earlier. She is surprised when Ray dances freestyle to Neal singing “Molly Smiles”, a song written for her by her father when she was a child. He plays using Tommy Gunn’s acoustic guitar, while the remaining ballerinas dance with the other guitars from her father’s collection, revealing that he was the anonymous buyer. In a voice over, Ray says that the end was a new beginning for all of them.Brittany Murphy and Dakota Fanning in Uptown Girls (2003)Uptown Girls’ isn’t a great movie, but it sure is something that is surprisingly likable, if not lovable.

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REVIEW: FIFTY SHADES OF GREY

CAST

Dakota Johnson (Beastly)
Jamie Dornan (Marie Antoinette)
Eloise Mumford (Drones)
Jennifer Ehle (Contagion)
Marcia Gay Harden (The Hoax)
Victor Rasuk (Stop-Loss)
Luke Grimes (American Sniper)
Rita Ora (Fast & Furious 6)
Max Martini (Sabotage)
Callum Keith Rennie (Battlestar Galactica)
Andrew Airlie (Final Destination 2)
Dylan Neal (Arrow)
Rachel Skarsten (Reign)
Emily Fonda (Big Eyes)
Bruce Dawson (Flash Gordon)
Tom Butler (Blade: The Series)
Christine Willes (Dead Like Me)
David Orth (The Lost World)

Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan in Fifty Shades of Grey (2015)Twenty-one-year-old Anastasia “Ana” Steele is an English literature major at Washington State University (“WSU”)’s satellite campus near Vancouver, Washington. When her roommate, Kate Kavanagh, becomes ill and is unable to interview Christian Grey, a 27-year-old billionaire entrepreneur, for the college newspaper, Ana agrees to go in her place. At Christian’s Seattle headquarters called Grey House, Ana stumbles her way through the meeting. Christian, who is that year’s WSU commencement speaker, takes an interest in her; soon after, he visits the hardware store where Ana works. He agrees to Ana’s request for a photo shoot to accompany the article for which Ana had interviewed him. Christian invites Ana for coffee, but he leaves abruptly, saying he is not the man for her. Christian later sends Ana first edition copies of two Thomas Hardy novels, including Tess of the d’Urbervilles, as a gift.Jamie Dornan in Fifty Shades of Grey (2015)Ana and her friends celebrate graduation at a local bar. After drinking too much, Ana spontaneously calls Christian, saying she is returning the books and berates his behavior towards her. Christian goes to the bar and finds Ana, who passes out. She wakes up the next morning in Christian’s hotel room, relieved that they were not intimate. Ana and Christian begin seeing each other, though he insists that she sign a non-disclosure agreement preventing her from revealing details about their dalliance. Christian explains that he only has interrelations involving bondage that is clearly defined in a signed contract. Ana reveals that she is a virgin. While considering the agreement and negotiating her own terms, and after visiting his “playroom”, a room stocked with a variety of BDSM toys, furniture, and gear, she and Christian have sex.Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan in Fifty Shades of Grey (2015)Christian bestows Ana with gifts and favors, such as a new car and laptop computer. After Ana and Kate move to Seattle, Ana continues seeing Christian. During dinner at Christian’s parents, Ana suddenly mentions she is leaving the next day to visit her mother in Georgia. Later, Christian becomes frustrated when Ana expresses she wants more than the one-sided relationship he proposes. She is shocked when Christian unexpectedly arrives in Georgia, they have coitus again but he leaves soon afterward, to tend to an emergency in Seattle. After returning home, Ana continues seeing Christian, who wants further sexual experimentation. Ana initially consents, but Christian keeps emotionally distant, upsetting her. While still considering the contract, and in an effort to understand Christian psychologically, Ana asks him to demonstrate how he would “punish” her for rule breaking. Christian whips Ana’s buttocks six times with a belt. Upset and disgusted, Ana breaks up with Christian after concluding that he is wrong for her and his practices border on being deviant and excessive.In an alternative ending, both Ana and Christian experience flashbacks. Christian jogs in the rain, while Ana sobs in her apartment. Christian encounters a gift Ana gave him with the note: “This reminded me of a happy time. —Ana”Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan in Fifty Shades of Grey (2015)A given audience member’s reaction to this movie will likely be influenced by how she or he feels about Christian’s lifestyle, but evaluating this film solely on those criteria misses the point. Yes, the nudity and sex are enticing and anyone paying to see this movie for those scenes will be more than satisfied, but you’ll get more than eroticism for your money. Much like “Boogie Nights”, director Paul Thomas Anderson’s engrossing 1997 meditation on the 70s porn industry, this film is an examination of human relationships. “Fifty Shades of Grey” is a love story, a parable of male and female emotional and sexual roles in the 21st century and an exploration of a lifestyle which many people know very little about, but very few know much. Basically, this is simply an entertaining movie. Casting little-known actors in the main roles is very effective and both show more emotional range than I expected from simply watching the movie’s theatrical trailer. Director Sam Taylor-Johnson paces the movie well and she skillfully balances the film’s salacious nature with its deeper meanings.

REVIEW: A WALK TO REMEMBER

 

CAST

Shane West (Nikita)
Mandy Moore (Saved!)
Peter Coyote (Flashforward)
Daryl Hannah (Blade runner)
Lauren German (Hostel: Part 2)
Clayne Crawford (Lethal Weapon TV)
Matt Lutz (Angel)
David Andrews (Terminator 3)

Peter Coyote, Mandy Moore, and Shane West in A Walk to Remember (2002)In Beaufort, North Carolina, popular and rebellious teenager Landon Carter is threatened with expulsion from school after he and his friends leave evidence of underage drinking on the school grounds, and seriously injure another student during a prank gone wrong. The principal of the school gives Landon the choice of being expelled or atoning for his actions by tutoring fellow students and participating in the school play. During these functions, Landon notices a girl, Jamie Sullivan, he has known since kindergarten and who has attended many of the same classes as him, and is also the local minister’s daughter. Since he’s one of the in-crowd, he has seldom paid any attention to Jamie, who wears modest dresses and owns only one sweater. Jamie is labeled an outsider and a geek only because of her strong interest in astronomy. She makes no attempt to wear make-up or otherwise improve her looks or attract attention to herself.Daryl Hannah and Shane West in A Walk to Remember (2002)Landon has trouble learning his lines for the play, because he doesn’t really know how to act. Jamie, who is also in the play, agrees to help him on one condition: Jamie warns Landon not to fall in love with her, but he laughs it off and dismisses it as a foolish idea. Landon and Jamie begin practicing together at her house after school, but Landon remains wary of ruining his image and being friendly with an unpopular student like Jamie. At one point he makes the insulting suggestion that they be “secret friends”, and Jamie’s hurt but mature response (she tells him “I saw something good, something very good even, in you Landon–but I was wrong”) visibly embarrasses Landon, who stops being dismissive of Jamie afterwards and treats her like a friend. They get to know each other and a spark of romance buds between them.Mandy Moore and Shane West in A Walk to Remember (2002)On the opening night of the play, Jamie astounds Landon and the entire audience with her beauty and her voice. Onstage at the peak of the ending to the play, Jamie sings. When Jamie finishes, Landon improvises and kisses her, which is not a part of the play. Afterwards, Jamie avoids Landon until Landon’s friends play a cruel prank on Jamie and he protects her in opposition to his friends and she eventually warms up to him again. Landon asks Jamie on a date soon after, but Jamie says her father will not let her date. Landon asks her father if he can date his daughter, bringing up that he is looking for a chance at redemption with her and at life through her. Jamie’s father is initially hesitant but he agrees. On their first date, Landon helps Jamie to fulfill her list of things she wants to achieve in life, such as being in two places at once, and getting a tattoo. After that, they go to the docks. Jamie tells Landon about how she experiences belief and how it’s like the wind. It is then that he tells her he might want to kiss her now. On another date, where Jamie is very silent and unfocused, Landon asks Jamie what her plans for the future are. She then confesses she isn’t making any because she has leukemia and hasn’t been responding to treatment. A desperate Landon asks for his father’s help in curing her, but is disappointed by his reply and heads on a long drive home thinking about Jamie.Mandy Moore and Shane West in A Walk to Remember (2002)One by one, his friends become aware of the tragedy looming for Jamie and Landon. They give their support to him. Jamie’s condition grows worse and she gets sent to the hospital. While in the hospital, Jamie gives Landon a book that once belonged to her mother. She states that maybe God sent Landon to her to help her through the rough times and that Landon is her angel. Unbeknownst to Landon, Jamie is given private home care by Landon’s estranged father, relieving her father’s financial burden. Landon visits his dad, tearfully thanking him for his help. They embrace and are reunited. Landon is building a telescope for Jamie to be able to see a one-time comet in the springtime. Jamie’s father helps him get it finished in time. The telescope is brought to her on the balcony. She gets a beautiful view of the comet through the new telescope. It is then that Landon asks her to marry him. Jamie tearfully accepts, and they get married in the church in which her deceased mother got married. Jamie and Landon spend their last summer together, filled with an even stronger love like no other. Jamie’s leukemia ends up killing her when summer ends.Mandy Moore and Shane West in A Walk to Remember (2002)Four years later, Landon has finished college and been accepted into medical school. Landon visits Reverend Sullivan to return to him Jamie’s precious book that belonged to her mother. Landon apologizes to the Reverend that Jamie did not witness a miracle (an ambition she expressed in the class yearbook). The Reverend disagrees saying that in fact she did and that her miracle was Landon. He is shown to have completely changed his original opinion of Landon in the beginning of the film, where he completely detested Landon and did not hide it. Landon visits the docks contemplating the belief that although Jamie is dead, she is with him. It is then that he understands love is like the wind; you can’t see it, but you can feel it.Mandy Moore and Shane West in A Walk to Remember (2002)This movie doesn’t have an original plot, but it is good because of the 2 leads give wonderful performances. Mandy Moore is especially good as the straight-laced preacher’s daughter. And I liked how they showed the transformation of Shane West’s character. It was very believable. Of course, the ending won’t leave you dried-eyed. It’s sad, but we get to witness a sort-of “miracle” as the film puts it of how a wayward teen turns his life around. The music was great too. I definitely recommend this. It isn’t just some teen movie. The film has depth and the acting is much better than you would expect.

REVIEW: CRAZY MOON

CAST

Kiefer Sutherland (24)
Vanessa Vaughan (Away From Her)
Peter Spence (Home Fires)
Ken Pogue (The Hitman)
Terri Hawkes (Sirens)

2576-2This is a classic love story with a strange setting. Kiefer Sutherland plays a boy with some big social and affective problems, who falls in love with a deaf girl that is trying to find her place in the world. The way this is played out makes the story kind of hard to watch, but at the same time tremendously endearing.MSDCRMO EC004Both actors do a great job, especially the girl, Vanessa Vaughan. I’ve read she’s actually deaf, so I guess she had that as an advantage. Communication plays an important role in this movie, as both characters teach each other to beat their fears. And Vanessa’s smile is nothing short of spectacular.

 

REVIEW: GLITTER

 

CAST

Mariah Carey (Wisegirls)
Max Beesley (Torque)
Terrence Howard (Iron Man)
Da Brat (Kazaam)
Tia Texada (From Dusk Till Dawn)
Dorian Harewood (Levity)
Ann Magnuson (Panic Room)
Damon D’Oliveira (Earth: Final Conflict)

In the 1970s, Lillian Frank is a performer at a nightclub. Lillian tries to rouse the crowd with her torch song, “Lillie’s Blues”, with her daughter Billie Frank accompanying her on vocals. The plot fails and Lillian is fired. Lilian feels defeated and lights a cigarette, accidentally falls asleep with it and starts a fire, causing the building to be evacuated. Due to her mother’s actions, Billie is fostered. Years later, in 1983, the adult Billie is a club dancer along with her foster-care friends Louise and Roxanne. They meet Timothy Walker, who offers a contract as backup singers and dancers to the singer Sylk and the three are contracted. Later at a nightclub hosted by Julian “Dice” Black, Sylk debuts “All My Life”. Dice discovers that Billie is the real singer of the song, as a means to cover up Sylk’s absymal singing ability. Impressed, he wishes to produce her but Billie raises concerns about her contract with Timothy and he eventually agrees on the provision that Dice pays him $100,000.Billie and Dice start working on songs. Ultimately they sign with Guy Richardson of a major record label. With success in their hands, he asks her up to his apartment and they sleep together. Billie’s first major single, “Loverboy” is a success. Billie is called to perform at an awards, where she meets singer Rafael. Billie gets a threat from Timothy concerning the debt that Dice failed to pay. Billie, upset about how Dice lied about her contract and his arrest, argues with and leaves him. Following the break-up, Billie collaborates with several songwriters, including Rafael, with whom she makes another hit single, “Want You”, and her debut album becomes a massive success.a035b884afa29f51846bdab984980787Billie begins writing a song on her own, due to her emotional pain. Dice also misses Billie, and also begins writing a song. Billie goes to Dice’s apartment to reconcile with him but discovers he is not home. Billie discovers that the music he has written, and realizes they wrote the same song: “Never Too Far”. Dice, upon seeing her lipstick prints on his music sheet, plans a reconciliation, but is shot dead by Timothy. Before playing at Madison Square Garden, Billie sees the news report of Dice’s death, and onstage after, commands the band to stop playing “Loverboy.” She tells the audience, “Everybody out there, don’t ever take anybody… for granted.”, and she then starts to sing “Never Too Far”. Afterwords, Billie reads a note Dice had left her, where he tells her that he has found Lillian. Billie’s limo takes her to the secluded rural property where she is reunited with her mother once again.MV5BMjA3MjA4MTA1NF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNTA3ODczNQ@@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1513,1000_AL_Mariah’s acting is, well…. zombified. Her screen presence would actually be explained by her being under the influence of some medication designed to help with her later well known breakdown. Ms. Carey proves, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that bad over-acting makes for more entertaining badfilm than bad under-acting, which just leaves the viewer wondering why the movie was made.

REVIEW: LIE WITH ME

CAST

Lauren Lee Smith (Muatnt X)
Eric Balfour (Skyline)
Polly Shannon (Harvard Man)
Mayko Nguyen (Killjoys)
Kate Lynch (The Shower)
Ron White (Copper)
Kristin Lehman (Andromda)
Don Francks (La Femme Nikita)
Richard Chevolleau (Earth: Final Conflict)

j9Qv7d4Q0v9EA7VwLboklHugMP0The camera slowly zooms out on a young woman masturbating to a porn sex tape. She gets up abruptly and goes out to a party, looking for sex. Leila has learned she has some power over men with sex but feels a part of her is still untouched, holding back, despite her assertiveness. Before she can choose a partner for the night she is corraled by David, into a bathroom, while his girlfriend calls through the door. She leaves, but keeps her eye on David as she picks up a shy guy, with whom she has sex against a fence outside as David watches from his car while his girlfriend fellates him. Leila is in complete control of her encounter while David remains completely passive. He next sees her walking down the street, and follows her. She smiles but does not speak to him and breaks into a run, leading him to a playground. They crouch inside a small tunnel and watch each other as she begins to touch herself. But this time he leaves.maxresdefault-1024x576Leila visits her parents and learns that her mother is leaving her father and selling her childhood home. Her father is devastated, staying stoned on pot and refusing to do anything while her mother clears out the house. Leila’s best friend, Victoria, is getting ready to be married, but confesses that she’s had sex with an old boyfriend recently, despite her insistence that she loves her fiance and is ready to settle down. Leila is skeptical but supportive, and Victoria laughs when she turns on the VCR and discovers the porn tape Leila was watching; Leila tells her nothing about David. When Leila sees David again they finally speak to each other, and he takes her home, where they have sex. He asks Leila if she will go out with him on a real date, giving her his number when she leaves.zqHLgJUIoTMQF279PASkHrNi4zaThey finally do go out, and begin a real romance. She meets his father, who is physically fragile but very funny, teasing her about having sex and making noise in their apartment. David cares very tenderly for the old man, who is charmingly brusque. Leila is still skittish, although she is not intimidated when David’s old girlfriend confronts her at her job, warning her that David has intimacy issues. When they go back to the club again, Leila dances suggestively with a couple of men while watching David’s reaction, and he is hurt and angry when they return to his place. She brushes off his fears when he confesses that he thinks of nothing but her, that he needs her, but she acts like it’s all a game. He begs to her to promise that she won’t leave him, and she does, but doesn’t believe it herself.897c1ae07-1When David finds his father dead, he turns to Leila for consolation, but she doesn’t know how to comfort him. This leads to conflict, and ends with him asking her to leave. Later, he reconsiders; but he is unable to find Leila again, as he knows nothing about her except her first name. Leila finds her sexual world more and more unsatisfying and becomes increasingly frustrated. She picks up the shy guy again, but strikes at him in anger when he is unable to follow her peremptory commands, and throws him out of her apartment in disgust. Leila spends time with her parents as they go their separate ways, and gets ready for the wedding while the summer is coming to an end. As she rides her bicycle to the ceremony David sees her and follows in his truck. He waits outside the synagogue and approaches her as everyone floods out onto the sidewalk following the wedding, and then Victoria grabs Leila’s hand and she calls out to David, to ask if he’s coming. At the reception David watches Leila dance with an old man, but she runs away again when he approaches her. This time he follows her all the way home, and all the way inside, telling her he won’t leave her again. They both reunite and the film ends with the two engaging in a passionate kiss.2d274907738969-tdy-fiftyunblurred-150130-blocks_desktop_largeLie With Me is 100% honest. The sex is over-hyped as being X-rated. The sex scenes are long, filmic and beautifully shot. The film is not really about sex, but about the psychological. The female lead enjoys sex and pleasure and shuts out love and intimacy until she meets the male lead who is very intimate and emotional. Not a scene is wasted. Supporting characters comment on relationships, loneliness, the body as something that is unsexy. The leads are physically beautiful, lovely to watch from a filmic sense, and give naked performances. There are people in everyday life like this and it’s honest to see it up there on the big screen. A brilliant film.

REVIEW: THIS IS MY FATHER

CAST

Aidan Quinn (Paractical Magic)
James Caan (Elf)
Jacob Tierney (Preggoland)
Colm Meaney (Intermission)
Stephen Rea (V For Vendetta)
Brendan Gleeson (In Bruges)
John Cusack (Grosse Pointe Blank)

MSDTHIS EC024Widowed Kieran Johnson is a lonely, middle-aged, Chicago-based high school history teacher who feels disconnected to his life. He decides to take a trip to his mother’s small old hometown of Kilronan, County Galway, Ireland after he discovers an old photograph of her, she who now cannot speak due to a stroke, with a man he has never seen. He suspects this man may be his biological father. On the urging of his sister, Kieran takes his teen-aged nephew Jack on the trip. In Kilronan, Mrs. Kearney, the innkeeper’s mother and a bit of a gypsy woman who has lived in the area for the better part of her life, tells Kieran and Jack about life in the town in 1939 when a high-spirited Fiona Flynn, Kieran’s mother, started seeing a peat farmer named Kieran O’Day. Kieran O’Day grew up a “poorhouse bastard”, and as such he was always shy and considered an outsider amongst the townsfolk. MSDTHIS EC026Because of his standing in the community and the differences in their ages (she being only seventeen, he in his thirties), Fiona and Kieran’s relationship was looked down upon by those considered the upstanding in town, including Fiona’s widowed mother, Mary Flynn, and those associated with the church. Mrs. Kearney slowly tells the entire story of Kieran and Fiona’s relationship, the tragedy that prevented their love for not being enough to endure the scrutiny, the stories of the “curses” that befell the Flynn family, and the truth behind the person Kieran Johnson knew as his father.300761_originalGorgeous cinematography and solid acting make this a must see! Once again, it caters to my love of movies about people with flavor, zest, zeal and the bittersweet truths of life.