DVDs for December

December 4

Hope Springs – Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones

Kay and Arnold are a middle-aged couple who have been married for 30 years and now are sleeping in separate rooms and barely interact in any meaningful loving way. Finally, Kay has had enough and finds a book by Dr. Feld which inspires her to sign them up for the doctor’s intense week-long marriage counseling session. What follows is an insightful experience as Dr. Feld manages to help the couple understand how they have emotionally drifted apart and what they can do to reignite their passion. PG-13

Dark Knight Rises – Christian Bale, Ann Hathaway

It has been eight years since Batman vanished into the night, turning, in that instant, from hero to fugitive. Assuming the blame for the death of D.A. Harvey Dent, the Dark Knight sacrificed everything for what he and Commissioner Gordon both hoped was the greater good. For a time the lie worked, as criminal activity in Gotham City was crushed under the weight of the anti-crime Dent Act. PG – 13

Odd Life of Timothy Green – Jennifer Gardner

When a childless couple buries a box with all of their wishes for an infant in their backyard, their wishes are granted. However, their child, Timothy Green, is not all that he appears PG

 

Beast of the Southern Wild – Quvenzhane Wallis, Dwight Henry

Hushpuppy is a six-year-old living in an isolated bayou community. When her father Wink becomes ill, she sets off for the outside world in an attempt to help him. The journey to save her father is delayed by a ‘busted’ universe that reverses weather patterns and brings about long-extinct animals. Can Hushpuppy save the day?  PG – 13

December 11

Ted – Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis

As the result of a childhood wish, John Bennett’s teddy bear, Ted, came to life and has been by John’s side ever since. Their friendship is tested when Lori, John’s girlfriend of four years, wants more from their relationship. R

 

Bourne Legacy – Jeremy Renner, Scott Glenn

Aaron Cross is an agent groomed by the government program that also unleashed Jason Bourne, but with a few new wrinkles. Cross is busy training in Alaska when he’s caught in a tsunami of hurt, thus beginning a frantic search for answers to who and what he is. PG – 13

Ice Age – Continental Drift – Ray Romano, Denis Leary

Scrat’s constant quest for an acorn causes a shift in the ice. Manny, Sid, and Diego end up stranded on an iceberg in the middle of the sea. A group of misfit pirates are determined to stop the trio from ever returning home. PG

 

December 18

Total Recall – Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale

Welcome to Rekall, the company that can turn your dreams into real memories. For a factory worker named Douglas Quaid, even though he’s got a beautiful wife who he loves, the mind-trip sounds like the perfect vacation from his frustrating life. But when the procedure goes horribly wrong, Quaid becomes a hunted man. PG – 13

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days – Zachary Gordon, Steve Zahn

When Greg Heffley’s dad threatens to send him to military school if he doesn’t stay out of trouble, Greg finds all-new ways to land himself in the doghouse! For starters, Greg’s in over his head when he pretends to work at the swanky country club where Rowley’s family has a membership. Things don’t go much better on a father-son camping trip with the Wilderness Explorers, and then there’s the Heffley’s new dog, Sweetie, who fetches even more trouble for Greg. PG

Trouble with the Curve – Clint Eastwood, Amy Adams

Gus Lobel has been one of the best scouts in baseball for decades, but, despite his efforts to hide it, age is starting to catch up with him. Nevertheless, Gus-who can tell a pitch just by the crack of the bat-refuses to be benched for what may be the final innings of his career. The one person who might be able to help is also the one person Gus would never ask: his daughter, Mickie, an associate at a high-powered Atlanta law firm. PG – 13

December 21

Resident Evil: Retribution – Milla Jovovich

Alice fights alongside a resistance movement in the continuing battle against the Umbrella Corporation and the undead. R

 

 

Premium Rush – Joseph Gordon-Levitt

In Manhattan, a bike messenger picks up an envelope that attracts the interest of a dirty cop, who pursues the cyclist throughout the city.PG – 13

 

Arbitage – Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon

Robert Miller is a New York hedge-fund magnate who appears to have it all: money, power, a loving wife, and a devoted daughter working by his side. But behind the gilded walls of his mansion, Miller is running on borrowed time, trying to unload his crippled trading company before his frauds are revealed. A deadly error throws Miller’s life into a tailspin, raising the suspicions of a detective and threatening the future of his financial empire. R

Killer Joe – Matthew McCoughney, Emile Hirsch

‘Killer’ Joe Cooper is a Dallas detective who doubles as a hitman with the charm of a Southern gentleman. Chris hires Joe to kill his mother in order to collect her life insurance and pay off his debts. When Chris is unable to pay for the service up front, Joe takes Chris’s sister Dottie as a retainer until he can be paid. R

 

DVDs for October

October 2

People Like Us– Chris Pine, Elizabeth Banks

A twenty-something, fast-talking salesman’s latest deal collapses the day he learns his father has suddenly died. Against his wishes, Sam is called home to put his father’s estate in order and reconnect with his estranged family. While there, he uncovers a startling secret that turns his entire world upside down – he has a 30-year-old sister he never knew existed Rated PG-13

October 9

The Raven – John Cusack,

Baltimore 1849. While investigating a horrific double murder, police detective Emmett Fields makes a startling discovery: the killer’s methods mirror the twisted writings of Edgar Allan Poe. Suspecting Poe at first, Fields ultimately enlists his help to stop future attacks. But in this deadly game of cat and mouse, the stakes are raised with each gruesome slaying as the pair races to catch a madman before he brings every one of Poe’s shocking stories to chilling life, and death. Rated R

October 11

Prometheus – Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender

Explorers have discovered a clue that brings them to the origins of mankind on Earth. This leads them on a journey that takes them to the darkest corners of the universe.Rated R

 

October 16

Moonrise Kingdom – Bruce Willis, Bill Murray

Set on an island off the coast of New England in the summer of 1965, tells the story of two twelve-year-olds who fall in love, make a secret pact, and run away together into the wilderness. As various authorities try to hunt them down, a violent storm is brewing off-shore, and the peaceful island community is turned upside down in more ways than anyone can handle.PG – 13

Madagascar 3 – Europe’s Most Wanted – Voices of Ben Stiller, Chris Rock

Your favorite characters are back in their most hilarious adventure yet! Alex, Marty, Melman and Gloria are on the run through Europe in this wildly-entertaining and outrageous comedy critic’s call ‘charming and very funny’! With the fame-loving King Julian and take-charge Penguins, the whole crew joins the circus to escape Captain Dubois of Animal Control Rated PG

Tyler Perry’s Medea’s Witness Protection – Eugene Levy, Tyler Perry

Madea’s back in an all-new movie. A Wall Street investment banker has been set up in a mob-backed Ponzi scheme, forcing him to be put under witness protection with his entire family in Madea’s house down South. Rated PG-13

Abraham Lincoln : Vampire Hunter – Benjamin Walker, Dominic Cooper

Abraham Lincoln, history’s greatest hunter of the undead, must risk the presidency, his family, and his life to protect America from the bloodthirsty vampires.Rated R

 

October 30

Dark Shadows – Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter

Imprisoned vampire Barnabas Collins is inadvertently freed from his tomb and emerges into the very changed world of 1972. He returns to Collinwood Manor to find that his once-grand estate has fallen into ruin. The dysfunctional remnants of the Collins family have fared little better and are in need of his protection. Rated PG-13.

 

From Page to Screen: Fall 2012 Edition

Before you see these movies on the big screen, check out the books!

The Perks of Being a Wallflower (September 21) – Charlie struggles to cope with complex world of high school as he deals with the confusions of sex and love, the temptations of drugs, and the pain of losing a close friend and a favorite aunt.

Cloud Atlas (October 26) – Recounts the connected stories of people from the past and the distant future, from a nineteenth-century notary and an investigative journalist in the 1970s to a young man who searches for meaning in a post-apocalyptic world.

Anna Karenina (November 16) – Trapped in a stifling marriage, Anna Karenina is swept off her feet by the dashing Count Vronsky.

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part II (November 16) – Having made her choice between living a fully human life or joining the world of immortals to be with her beloved Edward, Bella finds her future threatened by a series of events with potentially disastrous consequences.

Life of Pi (November 21) – After the tragic sinking of a cargo ship, a solitary lifeboat remains bobbing on the wild blue Pacific. The only survivors from the wreck are a sixteen-year-old boy named Pi, a hyena, a zebra (with a broken leg), a female orang-utan – and a 450-pound Royal Bengal tiger.

*all book descriptions from publishers

Amazing Audiobooks Part Four: Fab Fiction

For this installment of Amazing Audiobooks, I have a jumble of fun, funny, exciting, just-plain-great fiction that didn’t fit with the previous three categories. But you have my word: all these are winners!

  • Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. You’ll laugh out loud at this one, in which the Apocalypse goes all wrong when an angel and a demon accidentally swap out the Antichrist for a normal human boy.
  • The charming Flavia de Luce Mysteries by C. Alan Bradley, beginning with The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
  • Calico Joe by John Grisham
  • 11th Hour, the latest from James Patterson (or if you’re new to the Women’s Murder Club series, start at the beginning with 1st to Die)
  • …In Death series by J.D. Robb: a futuristic police procedural – particularly recommended for those who like listening to sexy, seductive, lilting Irish accents.
  • The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach, a novel about a college baseball phenom (I reviewed the novel in June)
  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak: A deeply sad but very sweet and rewarding novel; tells the story of a girl who learns about death and love while helping her parents hide a Jewish man from the Nazis in a small German town. Appropriate for teens and older kids as well as adults.
  • Stephen King’s latest hit, 11/22/63, about JFK’s assassination and time travel.
  • The Night Circus, a lovely atmospheric love story brought to life by Jim Dale. Lexie reviewed this on the blog back in October. There’s a movie version in development scheduled for a 2013 release, so get in on the ground floor of opinionated ‘book-was-better’ arguments by reading the book first!
  • Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella: listen to Lara, a twenty-something Brit, spar with the ghost of her great-aunt Sadie, whose 23-year-old form has come straight out of 1927 to beg the living girl to track down her missing necklace. It’s a hoot!

Being There

Somehow I never got around to watching 1979’s Being There . A cultural touchstone at the time; it still holds up when you watch more than thirty years later. I was looking for movies set in Washington, D.C. and thought now was the time to watch this – thinking it would be a bit of a chore.

However, it is wonderfully absorbing. A certain calmness and serenity takes hold of you, the longer you watch it. Peter Sellers was nominated for an Oscar for his performance as Chauncey Gardiner, (the character tries to communicate his name as, Chance the gardener and is mis-heard by a wealthy benefactor played by Shirley McLaine). Melvyn Douglas (who did win an Oscar) becomes very fond of Chauncey and imbues his simple statements about gardening and nature with metaphorical wisdom.

This is a beautifully made and acted film. Peter Sellers, in his last role, inhabits the character with a solemnity and simplicity that makes it a completely unique character. Chance/Chauncy’s only experience of the outside world was through television, and there are frequent clips of commercials and shows of the day.  It’s really fun to see “Basketball Jones,” again.

DVDs for June

JUNE 5

John Carter  – Taylor Kitsch, Willem Defoe

Based on Edgar Rice Burroughs’s classic novel, a war-weary former military captain is inexplicably transported to Mars and reluctantly becomes embroiled in an epic conflict. It’s a world on the brink of collapse, and Carter rediscovers his humanity when he realizes the survival of Barsoom and its people rests in his hands. PG – 13

Safe House –  Denzel Washington, Ryan Reynolds

Tobin Frost, one of the CIA’s most dangerous traitors, resurfaces in South Africa after eluding capture for almost a decade. During his interrogation, the safe house he’s being held in is attacked by brutal mercenaries, forcing rookie agent Matt Weston to take the infamous Frost on the run. As the masterful manipulator toys with his reluctant protege, shaking the young operative’s morality and idealism, the unlikely allies must fight to stay alive long enough to uncover who wants them dead. R

Act of Valor – Rosie Sanchez, Nestor Serrano

When a covert mission to rescue a kidnapped CIA operative uncovers a chilling plot, elite, highly trained U.S. SEAL teams speed to hotspots around the globe, racing against the clock to stop a deadly terrorist attack. Pulse-pounding combat sequences, cutting-edge battlefield technology and raw emotion fuel this unprecedented blend of real-world heroism and original filmmaking, a thrilling tribute to the skills, courage and tenacity of the world’s most revered warriors. R

JUNE 12

Ghost Rider – Spirit of Vengenence – Nicolas Cage

Johnny Blaze is still struggling with his curse as the devil’s bounty hunter. However, he may risk everything as he teams up with the leader of a group of rebel monks to save a young boy from the devil, and possibly rid himself of his curse forever.PG – 13

 

JUNE 19

Big Miracle – Drew Barrymore, John Krasinski

Inspired by the true story that captured the hearts of people across the world, the rescue adventure, tells the amazing tale of a small town news reporter and a Greenpeace volunteer who are joined by rival world superpowers to save a family of majestic gray whales trapped by rapidly forming ice in the Arctic Circle. PG

Wanderlust – Paul Rudd, Jennifer Aniston

After George loses his high-stress Manhattan job, he and his wife Linda hit the road and wind up crashing at Elysium, a free-spirited community of hippies, tree-huggers, and the occasional nudies. R

 

JUNE 26

The Artist – Jean Dujardin, Berenice Bejo

In 1927, George Valentin is a silent movie superstar. However, the advent of the talkies will kill his career and he will sink into oblivion. For young extra Peppy Miller, it seems the sky’s the limit as major movie stardom awaits. Though their careers are taking different paths their destinies will become entwined. PG – 13

21 Jump Street – Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill

A pair of underachieving cops are sent back to a local high school to blend in and bring down a synthetic drug ring. R

 

 

Mirror Mirror – Julia Roberts, Lily Collins, Armie Hammer

An exiled princess is assisted by seven rebels in order to reinstate her stolen birthright. PG

 

Blotto, Twinks and the Ex-King’s Daughter by Simon Brett

If you enjoy P.G. Wodehouse, you will love Simon Brett’s newest mystery, Blotto, Twinks and the Ex-King’s Daughter  Blotto is even more clueless than the aristocratic Bertie Wooster.

While Wooster has his butler, Jeeves,  Blotto is also lucky enough to have a  much smarter sidekick.  In this case, the handsome son of the Duke of Tawcaster (pronounced taster) is guided by his sister, Twinks. She is not only smart, but beautiful and loves to use her analytical skills to solve mysteries. In this book, she feels fortunate to have a dead body right in her own home, Tawcaster Towers. Her mother, the Duchess, forces the local constable to spirit away the dead body before her dinner party adjourns for cigars.

Britain’s ruling class is parodied in a cheerfully absurdist writing style, and the time between the two world wars seems refreshingly innocent.

DVDs for March

March 6

Footloose – Julianne Hough, Dennis Quaid

Ren MacCormack moves from Boston to the small town of Bomont, where loud music and dancing are prohibited. Not one to bow to the status quo, Ren challenges the ban, revitalizes the town, and falls in love with the minister’s troubled daughter, Ariel. Rated PG-13

March 13

Melancholia – Kirsten Dunst, Alexander Skarsgard

In this beautifully filmed movie about the end of the world, Justine and Michael are celebrating their marriage. A planet called Melancholia is heading directly toward Earth and threatening to collide. Meanwhile, tensions are mounting and relationships are fraying as the family deals with their fears. Rated R

My Week with Marilyn – Michelle Williams, Eddie Redmayne

In the summer of 1956, Colin Clark worked as a lowly assistant on the set of The Prince and the Showgirl, the film that famously united Sir Laurence Olivier and Marilyn Monroe. When his diary account was published, one week was missing. This is the story of that week: an idyll in which he escorted a Monroe desperate to get away from Hollywood hangers-on and the pressures of work. Rated R

March 20

The Muppets – Jason Siegel, Kermit-the-Frog, Miss Piggy, Amy Adams

On vacation in Los Angeles, Walter, the world’s biggest Muppet fan, and his friends Gary and Mary, discover the nefarious plan of oilman Tex Richman to raze the Muppet Theater and drill for the oil recently discovered beneath the Muppets’ former stomping grounds. To stage the Greatest Muppet Telethon Ever and raise the $10 million needed to save the theater, Walter, Mary, and Gary help Kermit reunite the Muppets. Rated PG

J Edgar – Leonardo DiCaprio

J. Edgar Hoover was head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation for nearly 50 years. Hoover was feared, admired, reviled, and revered, a man who could distort the truth as easily as he upheld it. His methods were at once ruthless and heroic, with the admiration of the world his most coveted prize. But behind closed doors, he held secrets that would have destroyed his image, his career, and his life. Rated R

Girl with the Dragon Tattoo– Rooney Mara, Daniel Craig

Hoping to distance himself from the fallout of a libel conviction, journalist Mikael Blomkvist retreats to a remote island where the unsolved murder of a young girl still haunts her industrialist uncle forty years later.  Blomkvist’s investigation draws him into the secrets and lies of the rich and powerful, and throws him together with one unlikely ally: tattooed, punk hacker, Lisbeth Salander. Rated R.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy – Gary Oldman, Colin Firth

At the height of the Cold War, a precarious operation goes deadly wrong, and the head of British Intelligence wonders if a double agent is leaking vital secrets. Brought out of retirement to expose the potential mole, master spy George Smiley is the only one who can be trusted to expose one of their own. Or can he? Rated R

 

 

A Movie for Leap Year

February 29th will be here before we know it! Yay, we need more February, right?

The Proposal  doesn’t actually take place in a leap year as far as I know, but Sandra Bullock’s character, Maggie, does follow that holiday’s tradition of a woman proposing to a man.

The ruthless Maggie, in order to avoid deportation, forces her subordinate, (Ryan Reynolds), to marry her. Hilarity ensues when they visit the groom’s  family in Alaska. As is mandatory, Betty White plays a grandmother prone to mildly offensive insults and truth telling.

Alaska, Bullock and Reynolds are enjoyable to behold. You could do worse than pop this into the dvd player on your extra day of 2012.

Crazy, Stupid, Love

How often do you actually gasp with surprise anymore? Towards the end of Crazy, Stupid, Love, the many plot strands of this movie come together and there is a “reveal” that is truly unexpected.

 I applaud director Glenn Ficarra for adeptly weaving together so many relationships and wonderful performances, especially by Emma Stone. She and Ryan Gosling have a chemistry, rivaled only by that between Gosling and Steve Carell. When the last two have a falling-out, it’s almost more upsetting than the breakup of Carell and Julianne Moore. Gosling, as the epitomy of cool confidence, is a pleasure to watch. (There is a scene that will have you running to the library catalog to see if Dirty Dancing is on the shelf)

Go now, and have the time of your life-