A fun, HIGHLY entertaining look at a senior chorus that performs rock/pop numbers to audiences around the world. This documentary will warm your heart and bring tears to your eyes…all at the same time. The documentary allows you to get to know the Massachusetts-based singers, the organizer, and how all of the processes come together to make some of the more entertaining concert scenes you will ever see. Live audiences seem to LOVE Young @ Heart and once you see this film, you will know why. You will be inspired by their persistence, talent and love of music. A must see!

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When a father tries to force early success on his musical prodigy child, he soon realizes what his child needs most is his love. On its own, the storyline provides meaningful and poignant scenes and makes a heartwarming film. Weave the use of music into the mix and the film becomes even more powerful and stunning. But, at the true heart of this film is the relationship between the old man and the child. This film proves that no matter how high of expectations we set for our children, we never stop loving them even if they don’t achieve all that is expected. A meaningful film for anyone who at one time was someone’s child—meaning a film for all.

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Hugh Grant playing Frederic Chopin??? When I found this out, I had to watch this film. And, Grant surprised me by pulling off the role of the fragile pianist with considerable ease. I bought him as Chopin, just as I bought the other characters in this subtly lavish film. Judy Davis plays unconventional 19th Century novelist George Sand, of whom then film revolves. Her relationships with men, especially Chopin, are chronicles here in a semi-farcical/semi-serious way. Knowing nothing about Sand’s personal life, I was fascinated by her character. She is a true rebel for the day…wearing men’s clothes and having open affairs with a variety of different men. The way the movie tells her story is by not exactly taking it all seriously and, on the same taken, not exactly poking fun of it. All in all, Sand, Chopin and all of the other 19th Century characters make this a fun, interesting look at the France in the mid-1800s.

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Not knowing anything more about Maria Callas than that she was an internationally renowned opera sensation, I was particularly interested to see this one. Not really a biographical film, this movie, as it states in the blurb on the back of the DVD case, is director Franco Zeffirelli’s interpretation of what Callas’ last months might have been like if things had gone differently. But, I wondered differently how? After watching the film, I got the impression that even though Zeffirelli worked often with Callas, the film is more about what he personally would have liked Callas to do with her last days, instead of apparently what she did do…which was pretty much…well, nothing. The film is a glorious tribute to Callas as a singer and as a “diva.” French actress Fanny Ardent does a great job of capturing both Callas’ torment at the lost of her voice and the admiration she thrives off once she becomes “famous” again. This film is not especially for someone who does not like or have even a mild appreciate for opera since much of the movie revolves around Callas doing a film production of Bizet’s Carmen. Of course, since Zeffirelli has directed many, many opera productions, he knows how to stage, light and shoot the musical parts. But even if you think you don’t like opera, between Zeffirelli’s beautiful direction and the sound of Callas’ voice in its prime, you might just find that opera is one of your hidden loves. If any film can bring that passion out in you, this one can.

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Based on a true story, The Soloist is a strong film about two heroic characters and their unlikely friendship.

Set in Los Angeles, Robert Downey Jr. plays a fledgling Los Angeles Times columnist, desperate for that ONE story that will revitalize his career. He meets Jamie Foxx’s character, who is a homeless man playing a two-stringed violin. When Downey does some research, he finds Foxx was a young cello genius before mental illness forced him into the depths of homelessness and playing music on street corners for change.

I’m not a big Downey fan, but he is good here. Very much akin to the Tom Cruise role in Rainman, Downey has the so-called “easier” job of playing a “normal” guy. But, that is where the misconception comes in…for sometimes normalcy can require more skills than behavior that is perceived as “abnormal.” And, Downey is great in that “normal” role…you can feel his pain as he travels the rocky road with Foxx.

But, Foxx really does deservedly steal the show here. Once again, Foxx proves he is a highly talented actor who is capable of playing pretty much any type of role. We buy completely into Foxx as a homeless cello prodigy. We feel for him, understand him, cry for him, and long for him to be mentally stable. This could not have been an easy role for Foxx…it is quite obvious he is actually playing the cello. It’s also the kind of role that can really flop quite spectacularly if done wrong. Thankfully, that is not the case here.

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Sometimes a movie comes and changes your world. I would like to say that this movie made me a better person, but I think that would be a fantasy. It did, though, move me. It reaffirmed my faith in movies and moviemaking and acting. No action here. No sex. No blockbuster styling or CGI. Just a touching story that is perfectly acted, simply directed, and one of the best movies I have seen all year…if not even longer than that. The main character here is Walter, a stuck-in-a-rut Connecticut college professor and widower who craves some “music” (meant both figuratively and literally) in his life. We see him in the beginning taking piano lessons. He’s not that good…but we can tell he wants to keep trying. He is a complacent person who we can tell is looking for something. But, what? He is so complacent he even balks at going to NYC to deliver a paper he co-authored (though he had little to do with it, apparently). In NYC, he finds a couple living in his apartment. This couple is Walter’s salvation. They are the “music” he has been looking for. I’m making it sound like Walter’s change is overnight. It is not. He’s a middle-aged man who is set in his ways and it takes time and energy to get him out of his rut. Though Walter’s transformation is a positive change, this movie does not paint everything in a rose-colored light. This is a tough world…dirty and stark. Walter’s awakening is just one ray of sunshine. But, what a ray it is! If there is a movie to change your world, this one just might be it.

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This is a warm, touching film that will warm the hearts of anyone. A VERY small Egyptian band heads to Israel for a concert and, on arrival, they discover no one is there to meet them. While looking for a bus to take, they meet a charming shopkeeper who offers to take them in for the night…since the bus won’t run until the next morning. Perfectly acted in just the right tone, this film shows how friendships and platonic love can be therapeutic for ailing loss. A sweet type of film not made often enough these days, sadly.

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Billy Wilder’s comic masterpiece stars Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon as musicians who find themselves in the middle of the mob after they witness the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre and manage to escape. To hide themselves, they pose as females in a traveling band, where they meet Marilyn Monroe’s Sugar Cane, the all-girl band’s singer. Arguably the funniest movie in motion picture history, Lemmon and Curtis create comedy in this film just by wearing women’s clothes. But, Monroe, with her steamy, sultry performance, adds more than just cross-dressing humor to make this a well-rounded movie with more than a fair share of laughs.

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The “wrong man” (or “wronged”) man has always been a running theme in Alfred Hitchcock’s films. From 1935’s classic The 39 Steps right up to Frenzy in 1972, Hitchcock had been thrilling audiences as they follow along a story about a man accused of something he didn’t do. In 1956, Hitchcock made the ultimate “wronged man” movie…giving it a very appropriate title and look. The look was that of a documentary…black and white (but that was still pretty common in the mid-50s), dark, humorless (which none of Hitchcock’s prior films had been), cameo-less (no Hitchcock peeking around a corner in this one), and lacking the fast-pacing of most of Hitchcock’s films up to that point. The director chooses everyman Henry Fonda to play his hero—the “wrong man—this time around. Fonda is perfect in this role since he’s adapt at morphing into any type of persona. Cary Grant, a Hitchcock regular, would have been way to sleek for this role. Jimmy Stewart, even, would have lacked the ability to enter the character with his tall, imposing stance. Fonda has the right look and build to play someone that just might look like the other guy…someone who is the ideal husband and father but could also look slightly sinister in the right light. The film starts off by showing Fonda’s routine…work as a musician in a nightclub until early morning then home where wife (also perfectly played by Vera Miles) is already sleeping…discussion with wife about money problems in morning…etc. Once Fonda finds himself in a mistaken identity mess when he is spotted in an insurance office as a former robber and arrested, Hitchcock mixes the plot with quite a bit of police procedures which offer insight into not only what criminals go through but also how law enforcement officers handle the daily grind. If you want to watch the quintessential Hitchcock film, rent North by Northwest, another “wronged” man film and much more typical of The Master of Suspense’s technique. If you want to watch a good film where Hitchcock experimented with the art of cinema and his own style, watch this one!

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