What Women Want

Blurb: After an accident, a chauvenistic executive gains the ability to hear what women are really thinking (or rather, an inability not to hear it).

Believe it or not I’d never seen this movie even though it was  made in the years when Mel Gibson could do no wrong. It really does have some amazing moments even though the premise is really doofy. Also, there are some moments – not unlike in How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days – where the characters do things that are not in their nature because they want to make an impression on the story’s love interest. This is a flaw in the story, but a lot of movies have this flaw, and it does make for some interesting comedy. It’s not a bad movie. It’s not Nancy Myers’ best but it’s close.

The Paper

Netflix Blurb: Henry is an overworked, underpaid editor for a struggling New York City newspaper who is being wooed by a more stable paper to take a higher-paying position. When his paper gets a hot legal scoop, will Henry stay by his ill editor-in-chief’s side?

I’ve seen this a handful of times now and I think I end up attaching myself to a different character each time. The first time through I followed Henry. This makes sense since it’s his story. The next time I followed Alicia. The next time….well, you get the point.

The movie’s concept is that in 24 hours you can change the world and then it goes to show you just how that can happen. It’s not hard to get excited about the fast-paced newsroom or the way in which it affects each person separately and together. Yeah, some of these movies have a great cast, but this movie is chock full of GREAT CAST: Michael Keaton, Glenn Close, Robert Duvall, Marisa Tomei, Jason Robards, Randy Quaid, Jason Alexander, Catherine O’Hara, and Clint Howard. Whew. That’s a lot of greatness and I’ve probably missed some!!

Isn’t She Great

Netflix Blurb: Actress-turned-pulpy romance author Jacqueline Susann (Valley of the Dolls) was a dynamo who swept nearly everyone into the vortex of her irrepressible personality — and what better actress to portray her life story here than Bette Midler.

I tried to watch Valley of the Dolls when it popped up in the queue sometime last year. I was curious. You see, I remember “Valley of the Dolls” as a clue from Wheel of Fortune and until fairly recently I didn’t know what it referred to.

Sadly, I never made it through the actual movie, which is why there’s no post on this blog. It’s a 123 minute movie and I couldn’t figure it out. Apparently, from the brief mention of it in this movie Jacqueline Susann didn’t like it either. Maybe I should try the book.  “Isn’t She Great” is about Susann as a person – her drive, her desire for fame, and her dominating personality. It’s over the top but I have a feeling that just might have been the way she lived her life.

I wouldn’t rush right out to watch this again, but if it was a choice between this or Hope Floats, I’d watch this again in a heartbeat!

Hope Floats

Young mother Birdee Pruitt returns to her Texas hometown after learning (on national television) that her husband has been unfaithful. Humiliated, Birdee tries to build a new life for herself and her daughter as Birdee’s mother plays matchmaker.

I’d seen bits and pieces of most of this movie several times but not all the way through, until recently. I thought it would get better. It did not. Sadly there is nothing new in this movie that you haven’t seen before or read about in a magazine. Unless you have a thing for Sandra Bullock or Harry Connick, Jr., just go to another movie. I wish I had.

The American President

Netflix Blurb: Widowed U.S. president Andrew Shepherd (Michael Douglas), one of the world’s most powerful men, can have anything he wants — and what he covets most is Sydney Ellen Wade (Annette Bening), a Washington lobbyist. But Shepherd’s attempts at courting her spark wild rumors and decimate his approval ratings in this romantic comedy. Rob Reiner directs, and Michael J. Fox and Martin Sheen co-star. The film was nominated for a Best Score Oscar.

I needed a jolt of Sorkin and I didn’t want to go downstairs to find the 7 seasons of The West Wing. Thankfully Netflix had this in the queue. It’s pre-West Wing and you can see how Sorkin might have been  developing an idea for the future drama. In fact, Martin Sheen plays the Chief of Staff in this and later portrays President Bartlet in The West Wing. There are a couple of other overlaps but mostly what you’ll notice is that it sounds like Aaron Sorkin and it’s funny when it needs to be. Sadly, Annette Bening is the weak point. I notice this every time I watch it. Actually, I’m not sure if it’s her storyline or her acting. Either way she’s not helping. At any rate, it’s still a better movie than a lot of my choices so I’ll watch it again but I bet I end up trying to recast her role at some point in the future.

Shakespeare In Love

Netflix Blurb: Young Shakespeare (Joseph Fiennes) is forced to stage his latest comedy, “Romeo and Ethel, the Pirate’s Daughter,” before it’s even written. When a lovely noblewoman (Gwyneth Paltrow) auditions for a role, they fall into forbidden love — and his play finds a new life (and title). As their relationship progresses, Shakespeare’s comedy soon transforms into tragedy. This bittersweet romance won seven Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Actress.

Oh, how many times have I seen this movie. Let me count the times.

Yep, there’s a reason it’s won a bajillion awards. I don’t even care for either of the two main actors and I’ve even sat through this movie more times than I remember. I don’t really care for the premise and yet, I can’t look away.  It’s not about a time in history I’m interested in, but I watch these two nitwits again and again. Why? It’s a surprisingly funny movie. Each time I find more humor in it and in the least likely places. Imelda Staunton is hysterical as the nurse when she’s covering for the Lady Viola – rocking that chair in the hallway like there’s no tomorrow. And let’s not forget Dame Judi Dench. That woman is funnier than she gets credit for.

Chariots of Fire

Netflix Blurb: Two very different runners — hotshot Jewish Cambridge scholar Harold Abrahams (Ben Cross) and rigid Presbyterian missionary Eric Liddell (Ian Charleson) — compete for the British team in the 1924 Olympics, facing intense pressure and complex personal tests of faith. Hugh Hudson directs this edifying 1981 Best Picture Oscar winner, which is based on a true story. Ian Holm co-stars as Abrahams’s mentor, Sam Mussabini.

This is such a good movie to watch in preparation for the Olympics. Pop it in the queue so you have something to watch when your favorite venues are dark.

I’m old enough that I saw this in the theater when it first came out. I’m pretty sure that I also had the soundtrack, if you can believe it. I’m not sure why but I think my dad bought the cassette for his car. This is a classic for a reason. There are winners and losers but everyone is polite, well-dressed and good looking.

I had this movie in the background while doing some work around the house but I was still captivated by the stunning visuals and the excellent characterization. It is impossible to watch this movie and not know Harold’s motivation or understand the important of Eric’s faith to him. I will caution you not to go browsing through the internet while watching the movie – a good deal of poetic license has been taken when it comes to sequencing and minor characters. Just take my word for it. Yes, the unnecessary voice over is part of this issue. Forget it’s there and just focus on the main characters of Harold and Eric – that’s what we’re meant to do anyway.

Primary Colors

Netflix Blurb: When Newsweek reporter Joe Klein was unmasked as the anonymous author of Primary Colors — a thinly veiled take on Bill Clinton’s campaign for the 1992 Democratic presidential nomination — heads (and pages) turned. With a sterling cast (John Travolta, Emma Thompson and Kathy Bates) and a brilliant screenplay, director Mike Nichols transforms Klein’s roman à clef into a wry look at modern politics.

I hadn’t seen this in years, probably since it first came out, but it showed up in our ‘Suggested’ list and I added it to the queue. The acting isn’t great – except for flashes of brilliance from Emma Thompson and Kathy Bates – but it’s good to remember the story. If you strip the names from your memory and just delve into this as fiction doesn’t it just skeeve you out?

Politics is about people and they all have flaws just like we do, but in the end we hold them to a higher reality. Sometimes that’s bad and sometimes that’s good. I happen to think that character should be the basis of how we choose to cast our votes. And clearly we didn’t have all the information we needed. Well, some of us didn’t. Others apparently knew and decided to wait and write a book about it later and that just wasn’t fair.

Add this to your queue if your doing a political theme night but I wouldn’t suggest consuming any food or beverages. It still makes me sick to my stomach.

The First Grader

Netflix Blurb: An 84-year-old Kenyan Mau Mau freedom fighter wants to take advantage of a new universal education decree by learning how to read.

This is not only a beautifully made movie but it is touching and real. Yep, it’s a true story. I’ll wait now while you go to Netflix and put this in your queue. Just believe me.

This a beautiful story of a man who believed in freedom and equality, and who lost a great deal of his life fighter for that reality. Then once it was  granted he was in his 80’s and he wants to learn to read. He has a letter he wants to read. That’s his goal. Thankfully there’s a teacher who believes in him.

Being Elmo

Netflix Blurb: Narrated by Whoopi Goldberg, this documentary follows the career of puppeteer Kevin Clash, the soft-spoken man behind the furry red monster, Elmo.

This wasn’t even in our queue but we watched it one night in order to try to keep the kids quiet. They eventually left the room but we were mesmerized and – yes, there were some tears.

Elmo came to Sesame Street after I stopped watching as a kid, and babysitter, and before I started watching with our own kids. In fact, my first interaction with Elmo might have been that doll that everyone wanted one Christmas. I don’t care for trendy stuff so I didn’t really ‘get’ Elmo.

Watching this documentary gave me an entirely different perspective on the guy who created Elmo and how Elmo interacts with kids. There is so much information documented from Kevin Clash’s early life and his kind spirit is well shown.

I could keep gushing but really you should just put this in your queue and watch. It’s not long and you’ll be the richer for it. In fact, you’ll laugh – you’ll cry – and you might even learn something.