BEFORE-MIDNIGHT-stills

The third and last (?) in the Richard Linklater directed and Julie Delpy/Ethan Hawke starring series, Before Midnight again features more dialogue and banter between characters than plot. But, after three movies, we are used to that and we know these characters so well, we pretty much know what they are going to say and do. Not that this is a good or bad thing…but it’s comfortable. Like an old pair of slippers, these films have charmed us, endeared us, and romanced us. A little refresher on the series: Before Sunrise (1995) is set in Vienna and has Jesse (Hawke) and Celine (Delpy) meeting on a train and taking a risk by spending the whole day with each other. They talked and walked and laughed and talked and walked and laughed some more. As they fell in love, so did we with them.

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captain-phillips

I have issue with movies based on real stories where I know the ending…mostly because it kills the suspense. Titanic: No matter how much Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet love each other, the boat will still sink. Marie Antoinette: She tells the French people to eat cake and then she loses her head. Joan of Arc: She inspires France and gets burnt at the sake for her troubles. Now, I know Hollywood takes a lot of liberties with endings (adaptations rarely end exactly as they do in the book or on the stage, etc.) But, even the fickle movie industry would never be so brazen enough to change the ending of a real life tale, right? Titanic 2: It’s Didn’t Sink will never be produced, right? (Well, hopefully!)

So, in Hollywood’s latest string of based-on-real-life movies (Dallas Buyers Club, The Wolf of Wall Street, 12 Years a Slave), one stands out for me, EVEN THOUGH I was pretty sure I knew how the movie was going to end. Captain Phillips is based on a book by, that’s right, Captain Richard Phillips. Chances are (and I’m just GUESSING here) if he was able to write about his death-defying experience, he most likely survived. Again, I’m JUST guessing. So, what does this tell us…that we know the ending. Darn, another Titanic. But, wait. Not this movie. Captain Phillips is a wild ride, a fast-paced, highly enjoyable thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

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BlueJasmine

I have made no secret that one of a handful of my favorite movies of the 21st Century is Woody Allen’s Match Point. I liked Midnight in Paris (2011) a lot. I enjoyed Cassandra’s Dream (2007), Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008) and To Rome with Love (2012). But, for me, 2005’s Match Point is Allen’s 21st century masterpiece.  Why?  Well, it’s not Allen’s usual depressed, anxious and, at times, tedious schtick.  That worked fine in his early films, ala Annie Hall (1977) and Manhattan (1979) but over time, it just got overdone and overused.  Also, Match Point is far from Allen’s usual comfort zone…it’s NOT set in New York and it’s not a comedy —in any way.  Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989) also can be seen as an Allen drama, as could Interiors (1978) and September (1987), but those still have some of Allen’s trademark nervousness (Crimes and Misdemeanors even features Allen in a role where he acts in his usual Allenesque way).  Match Point does not feature any characters with serious neuroses. Yes, they are troubled but they are troubled in a calm, passionate way…not in a psychological, overly-emotional manner.

So, what do we have in Blue Jasmine, Allen’s latest film?

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Poster for Musical High SchoolWelcome to Adequate High School in Adequate, Oregon. The school motto is “Keep it adequate!” and the school cheer is “OKAAAY!” The drama club tries to stage a production of the muscial Mint Green Tap Shoes,  and in the words of Playbill writer and cast member Robbie, they face a lot of challenges. Gabrielle says, “Come for the laughs and good memories. “This play is a lot about accepting people for who they are!” says Rohini.

Click here to register for our premier (and only) performance. Don’t miss out!

When: Saturday, July 20 @ 11 am

Where: Large Meeting Room, 6960 Oakton St.

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Since Boston has been on our minds lately, I thought of featuring some Boston-set movies.  These films are all set in the historical city.  Some do not depict Boston in the best light, but nonetheless, they showcase the many facets of Beantown.

Bluehill Avenue. R. 2001.
The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day. R. 2009.
The Boondock Saints. Not Rated. 1999.
The Bostonians. Not Rated. 1984.
Children of Invention. Not Rated. 2009.
A Civil Action. PG-13. 1998.
Coma. PG. 1978.
The Departed. R. 2006.
Edge of Darkness. R. 2010.
Fear Strikes Out. Not Rated. 1956.
Fever Pitch. PG-13. 2005.
The Friends of Eddie Coyle. R. 1973.
Gone Baby Gone. R. 2007.
My Best Friend’s Girl. R. 2008.
Mystic River. R. 2003.
Saint Ralph. PG-13. 2004.
The Thomas Crown Affair. R. 1968.
3 Americas. Not Rated. 2008.
The Town. R. 2010. (also on blu-ray)

 

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Even though I am a sucker for British TV series, I had somehow skipped this one because I thought it would be too much like CSI for me. But, it most definitely is not…it’s a must see for anyone who likes crime shows. If anything, it’s unlike most crime shows because it focuses on cold cases…cases no one cares about anymore. And, yes, there is a certain CSI and Bones aspect to it…since one of the team members is an forensic pathologist. But, the show is much more than that. It’s about a people and the relationships between all of the team. They have to battle themselves and the past when looking into these past cases. All in all, a great, fascinating show that will keep you glued to your TV.

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BY FAR the best Romeo and Juliet adaptation out there, this film is a classic for The Bard himself would be proud of. Directed by Franco Zeffirelli and starring two then-unknown teenage actors as the star-crossed lovers, this movie oozes sensuality, humor and utter despair. Set, as the play is, in Verona, Italy, Romeo Montague meets Juliet Capulet and they fall in love at first sight. One MAJOR problem is that the Montagues and the Capulets are major enemies. We all know the rest of the story…what’s special here is the way Zeffirelli captures the passion and the intensity of the romance. And by using teenagers, we focus on what their young, impulsive relationship might really have been like. After-all, no one is more impulsive than an adolescent. And, then there is the music Zeffirelli picked (probably the most famous part of the movie) and the way he shot the film with such lush colors and muted lighting. Basically, if you’ve never seen an adaption of this story, this is the one to watch. And if you have seen others, this one will surpass all!

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A moving drama about a tutor and her student who survive a plane crash in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, only to wash up on a deserted island.  TJ missed a year of school while he was battling cancer.  Now that he’s in remission, his folks enlisted teacher Anna to tutor him while the family vacations in the Maldives.  All of that, of course, goes very wrong when their pilot has a heart attack en route to meet up with TJ’s parents already in the Maldives. 
At first, I found the story pretty Cast Away-esque.  Starting the first fire, cracking coconuts and catching fish for the first time were all VERY akin to the 2000 Tom Hanks movie, where Hanks’ character is stranded on an island in the middle of nowhere after a plane crash.  Sound familiar?  But, where this tale deviates is the growing, evolving, changing relationship between Anna and TJ.  Right after the crash occurs, they are very much teacher and student.  But, they soon learn to become partners in their desperate attempt to survive.  They care for each other.  They worry about each other.  And most of all, they learn to help each other survive under the direst of circumstances.  Yes, there are fights and frustrations.  But, for the most part, their mutual survival is aided by their strong and constant rapport.  Both characters grow quite a bit as people, both emotionally as well as physically.  One would think the TJ would do most of the growing here, since he is only 16 when they get stranded, but Anna starts off this story uncertain of her future and her life; she basically is not that grounded of a person.  They both are forced to toughen themselves up in all ways and to grow up fast.   There is no learning curve on the island — TJ doesn’t have high school and college to prepare him for “the real world” and Anna no longer can blame everything on the bad relationship she was in. 
And the relationship between the two of them is the best part of this novel.  I’m not talking about the romance.  I’m talking about the companionship and the friendship and support these two have together.  Each needs the other one to survive and when one’s survival is in jeopardy, the other is not sure they will be able to go on without the other.  And all of this is conveyed with sincerity and honesty in the book.  Garvis-Graves is an author to watch. 
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This book is about a girl named Valerie Leftman whose boyfriend commits a gruesome school shooting. What followed was the terrible fallout from that event. While it’s a well written book, it is painful even to read the opening chapters. You see the disintegration of Valerie’s personal life, her discrediting, and deep depression. To read of Valerie’s plight can be often very jarring, and quite disheartening. This doesn’t make this book a bad one. In fact, these gut-wrenching scenes are filled with compassion for Valerie’s troubles, but never sentimentality. I suppose it was to depict the harsh reality of school shootings. This book, for all its dark, depressing episodes, is lightened by the gallows humor of Valerie’s first person narration, but the eventual heartbreaking conclusion will leave readers feeling empty.
Grade: B
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