Movie Reel

Disney Digital 3D Alice in Wonderland. A Film by Tim Burton.

Starring Johnny Depp, Mia Wasikowska, Helena Bonham Carter, Anne Hathaway, Crispin Glover, Matt Lucas, Michael Sheen, Stephen Fry, Alan Rickman.

A 2010 fantasy adventure continues the story of Alice, now a 19 year old, who returns to Wonderland (Underland) where she visited once before 13 years earlier.

Mourning the death of her father and plagued by recurring fantastic dreams, Alice (Mia Waskiowska) is forced to grow up with a marriage proposal by Hamish Ascot (Leo Bill), son of Lord Ascot. Advised by her sister she should accept because one's pretty face does not last forever, she is in a conundrum. She runs off to "think", all the while chasing her childhood friend, the white rabbit in a waistcoat, through the garden. Following to a rabbit hole, Alice falls down the hole, down, down, down to Underland where she is met by the white rabbit, a dormouse, a dodo and Tweedledum and Tweedledee. The Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter) feels threatened by Alice for she knows the tale of destiny and orders her playing card knights to capture her. In her flee from the knights, Alice meets the Cheshire Cat who takes her to the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp). The Mad Hatter helps her escape but in turn is captured. Alice, now indebted to the Mad Hatter, must help. But what can a girl of nineteen do in this Underland? Is she "the" Alice who will slay Jabberwocky, the Red Queen's dragon like creature, thus restoring the White Queen (Anne Hathaway) to her rightful reign over Underland? No, she says, it is not her. But is it? Absolem, the caterpillar (Alan Rickman), says "not yet".

An impressive film of dream like quality, Alice In Wonderland, is the best Tim Burton movie this reviewer has seen. The less enchanting vision he presents as "Underland" portrays a world warped by the reign of the Red Queen. This world lacks the merriment and mystical aspect one pictures in Wonderland (Underland). Perhaps that is why it is called Underland to depict the difference between the land initially visited by Alice thirteen years before, a land Alice called Wonderland, and the current visage known as Underland. A land full of mystery, wonder and danger.

Rated 4/5 Now available on DVD and Blu-Ray

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Everybody's Fine (DVD)

"Everybody's Fine" stars a fabulous cast of actors: Robert De Niro, Drew Barrymore, Kate Beckinsale, Sam Rockwell. Following the death of his wife, Frank (Robert De Niro) finds himself lonely and plans a reunion with his four children. One by one the children cancel out so he decides on a road trip to see them. Starting in New York and travelling across the country to Las Vegas to reconnect with his adult children. Their lives are not as they have portrayed them but they are determined to play out the charade. A heart attack on his journey home draws the children but one together at his bedside. What truths will be revealed and how will he handle it?

This movie has it all, laughter and tears. It is sure to touch your heart. Robert De Niro does an exceptional portrayal of his character. A good evening rental. 7/10.

Posted by Shirley at 4:18 PM 0 comments Links to this post

Labels: Drew Barrymore, Everybody's Fine, family, Kate Beckinsale, Robert De Niro, Sam Rockwell

(500) Days of Summer (DVD)

Last night we watched (500) Days of Summer. Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Tom and Zooey Deschanel as Summer. Tom is a single young man who believes in destiny. He thinks Summer is his destiny. Summer, his boss' new assistant, works at the same greeting card company as Tom. They date and he falls in love. She doesn't believe in love. 500 days later she is married.

It is described as a romantic comedy however I fail to see why. This movie was slow, lacked ingenuity, and certainly provided few if any laughs. It was rented on the premise of being a comedy and a previously read review touted it as a good night's viewing. If dry comedy is where it's at, then this is certainly that. According to the Internet Movie Database, it was rated an 8/10. I would be generous giving it a 4/10. Warning:  language and sexual content

Posted by Shirley at 4:17 PM 0 comments Links to this post

Labels: 500 Days of Summer

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


"I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul" (William Ernest Henley)

Apartheid, rugby, South Africa. What do they all have in common? President Nelson Mandela. President Mandela, four years after being released from prison where he was held as a political prisoner, became president of South Africa in 1994 and remained so until 1999. He sought to end apartheid and develop unity between white South Africa and black South Africa.

As South Africa is about to host the World Cup of Rugby in 1995, President Mandela puts his support in the national team of South Africa, the Springboks. Aiding the team captain, Francois Pienaar, to "inspire" the team, he orders the team to take on "coaching" youth in rugby. This starts the proverbial ball rolling as they extend themselves beyond practice and drills thus making fans whereto for they had none. Black South Africa cheered on any team but the Springboks and white South Africa loved the Springboks despite their record losses. As the team draws together in their attempt to never again taste the bitterness of defeat, will that in turn unite the torn country?

Based on the book "Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game that Made a Nation" by John Carlin, this is an exciting and inspiring film. Starring Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela, Matt Damon as Springboks captain Francois Pienaar, and directed by Clint Eastwood; it is a must see.

Nelson Mandela speaks of a poem that provided him much inspiration while he was imprisoned. This film was named for it.

Invictus (Latin, meaning 'unconquered').

"Out of the night that covers me, Black as the pit from pole to pole, I thank whatever gods may be For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance I have not winced nor cried aloud. Under the bludgeonings of chance My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears Looms but the Horror of the shade, And yet the menace of the years Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate, How charged with punishments the scroll, I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul."  (William Ernest Henley)

My family and I thoroughly enjoyed this film! Movie rating: 5/5 Definitely one for the home library!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Revisiting Nights in Rodanthe

As I had dozed off last time, I proceeded again last night to determine if what I had missed was truly crucial to the story and it was! Adriene and Paul, in four days together, accomplish more in their relationship than many others do in months, even years. Each struggling with their own demons and with the freedom that being strangers offers, they confront eachother often in ways that come across as cruel. Calling it like it is, their confrontations force them to do some real soul searching thus realising life changing actions. A deep love and respect develops as each supports the other through this.

"It's one of the most intrinsically romantic novels I've ever done. It has a storm, an isolated beach and a wounded couple who come together and heal each other, and it involves a whole range of human emotion: happiness, sadness, anger, frustration, passion, impatience and patience." Nicholas Sparks.

"Paul chose early on to put career first, to be the best doctor he could be, not for the money but genuinely to help people. And he has accomplished that, though, in the process, he is estranged from his adult son and has lost his marriage and his home. Now, facing this emotional and spiritual crisis, he walks away from all the former touchstones of his life. He arrives at the inn uncharacteristically untethered," says Richard Gere.

Diane Lane comments about her character Adriene, "She's in a 180-degree spin, first bracing for divorce, now a possible reconciliation. Adrienne has given up a lot of freedom over the years by putting her family first and she's been comfortable with that, but lately she's been honing a new identity for herself as a single woman and finds it's not so easy to abandon that and go back," says Lane.

"What Paul stirs for Adrienne, and vice versa, is the audacity of 'Who do you think you are?' That's a good question," says Lane. "'Wait a minute while I think about that...who do I think I am?!' That's what people bring each other at the beginning of a relationship; the opportunity to say and do something intentional instead of just coloring by the numbers. It may be uncomfortable but it's liberating."

Each acting as a catalyst for the other, self-realisation unfolds as each rediscovers who they are and what they really want. Where better to get to know yourself than away from everything and everyone else, face to face with the forces of nature.

I like this movie for its ability to make one ponder within oneself. On the surface it is a love story, shrouded in storms external and internal, and what I note as some over-acted parts that don't quite ring true. But if one looks deeper, and sees the premise to it all, Nights in Rodanthe brings one to question, "Who do I think I am?" Sometimes friends and loved ones can help you answer that. Truly that answer comes from within. Look into the looking glass, who do you see? Sometimes spirituality provides the answer. Whatever your means, this movie reminds you to search within.

Though not overcome by the theatrical version, the premise is good and for that I do recommend Nights in Rodanthe as a rental. A 3/5. Tissues please.

Posted by Shirley at 8:52 AM 0 comments Links to this post

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Nights in Rodanthe (DVD)

"It's never too late for a second chance" (movie tag line)

Picture an inn on the Outer Banks. Imagine seclusion. Peace. Soul searching.

Picture a white sandy beach, waves lapping the shore and an encroaching storm. Picture two individuals, both troubled by inner turmoil, alone together in the remote inn and facing a raging hurricane.

Nicholas Sparks is one of my favorite authors and so you can imagine my excitement upon discovering this movie based on his book! Diane Lane and Richard Gere, both exceptional actors in their own right, play the lead characters: Paul a noted surgeon estranged from his family and Adriene a recently separated mother of two. Adriene is looking after the eclectically decorated inn for a friend and has but one guest, Paul. A romance ensues after a somewhat rocky start as they each struggle with their own inner storms.

A good premise indeed. Now I don't want to come off pessimistic here and perhaps it was the script, but the story seemed to drag on and I admit I dozed off and woke just in time to see Diane's character Adriene become the recipient of Paul's (Richard Gere) best loved belongings, all in one box and delivered by his son. What did I miss? Today, perhaps, I will revisit Nights in Rodanthe to ascertain if what I missed was worth a few minutes sleep. I will get back to you on that.

Posted by Shirley at 10:49 AM 0 comments Links to this post

Labels: Diane Lane, Nicholas Sparks, Outer Banks, Richard Gere

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

New Moon

My son, daughter and I went to a matinee yesterday. Twilight Saga - New Moon. What can I say? To its benefit, the graphics were much better than the first in the series, Twilight. The wolves were realistic and larger than life! Computer intervention with the graphics has improved and action scenes were better deployed. The chase scene with Victoria, for example, came off well. However, I left somewhat disappointed. The story lacked substance. Bella's depression was real enough and I am glad it wasn't dwelt upon but the story was slow. New Moon was perhaps the weakest segment in the series but what should have been climatic with the Volturi wasn't. New Moon was interspersed with great action scenes which help but don't make up for a weak script.

To make matters less than comfortable our seats were warped! Literally! Mind you we went to Movies 12 so you get what you pay for? Really? I recall the seats once being decent but now I think it's time for a makeover! The back sloped forwards and the sloping seat was inches from the floor making for an uncomfortable two hours. The man behind us saw fit to remove his shoes and we were plagued with the most unpleasant of odors. Perhaps I should have waited for the DVD.

Stephanie Meyer is an incredibly talented author and I am a fan of the series so I will buy the movie when it is released on DVD. I just hope the next in the series, Eclipse, brings the gripping story to realization on the screen and does it justice! I give New Moon a 3/5. Wait for the DVD.

PS Read Stephanie Meyer's new book "The Host"

Posted by Shirley at 12:42 PM 1 comments Links to this post

Friday, January 22, 2010


We have a tradition of going to a movie together as a family during the Christmas break. This Christmas we saw Avatar in 3D. Might I say it was amazing! The story line is somewhat similar to Fern Gully, I'll admit, but I have never seen such graphics!! Truly incredible. I enjoyed the humanity of it all - action, love, and a protagonist who underwent a great change of heart. It offers a welcome break from the graphic violence which often accompanies many films out there and although a somewhat simpler storyline, it won me over! Two of my children verified it was the best movie they'd ever seen! So here's to you, James Cameron, a toast of congratulations on a story well conceived and brought into production! It is no wonder you have the accolades of highest grossing film since Titanic not to mention the awards forthcoming! It is a 5/5!

2010, January 22

Julie & Julia
You have to see Julie & Julia! If you love to cook or eat...if you love a good laugh....this is the one to see!

See my blog for a review of the book by the same title and a comparison between it and the film!

Posted by Shirley at 5:21 PM 1 comments Links to this post