May 27, 2015


Testament of Youth
Just prior to WW1, a well brought up young English country girl pleads desperately with her parents to be allowed to study at Oxford University. However, shortly after she commences her studies, the war breaks out. As she watches her fiancée, brother, and friends all go off to fight, she feels that she too should contribute somehow to the war effort. The woman abandons Oxford, and enlists in a nursing unit. She is sent to the frontlines in Flanders, where she observes first-hand the gruesome carnage of the war. This good English costume-drama is based on a bestselling memoir by Vera Brittain, who, in later life, went on to become a successful novelist and a well-known pacifist. The movie is superbly staged and costumed, and, very elegantly directed by James Kent. Alicia Vikander gives a great performance as Vera.

Ride
The son of an over-protective divorced mother flees the nest. He drops out of a New York college, and, heads off to Southern California to become a surfer. Peeved by his abandonment, the mother takes some time off from her career, and flies out to the West Coast. There, she surreptitiously spies on her son, and his new surfing friends. Still, curious about what the attraction is, the mother decides to take some surfing lessons herself. Pretty soon she is hooked. This situation-comedy is written, produced, and, directed by Helen Hunt, who also stars as the mother. The movie is charming, however, you do get a feeling that the whole project was conceived to show off Ms. Hunt’s prowess on a surfboard. This is not the first surfing movie that she has made!

Beyond the Reach
While on a hunting expedition in the Arizona desert, a Los Angeles ‘big shot’ shoots and kills a hermit prospector. The ‘big shot’ decides to kill his tour guide, the only witness to the accident, and destroy all of the evidence. However, the ‘big shot’ also decides to turn the killing into a kind of sport. He gives the tour guide a head start, and, then, proceeds to track him down. Director Jean-Baptiste Leonetti does a good job of keeping the tension up, while, he also captures some remarkable panoramas of the desert. The desert itself becomes a third character in the story. Michael Douglas produced the movie. He knows it is really a load of rot, but, he has lots of fun acting in it.

An Act of War
An American war veteran is wracked with guilt over an incident which occurred during his tour-of-duty in the Middle East. He is at the point of a nervous collapse, and, cannot differentiate between what is reality and what is hallucination. The veteran spends most of his time between his rundown apartment, a late night diner, and, a sleazy ‘art-house’ cinema, where he works as a projectionist. He is also in a relationship with a prostitute, and, addicted to an undisclosed narcotic. Something has to give. By making his protagonist a projectionist, this allows director Ryan M. Kennedy to explore many historical classical film genres. Ultimately, he settles on ‘film noir’, and proceeds to make a contemporary movie in this style. I found this black and white movie to be fascinating, but, it might not be to everyone’s taste.

Run All Night*
The son of a New York hit-man witnesses a gangland slaughter. He and his father must spend the night fleeing from the mob, some corrupt police, and, a contract-killer, who are all out to get them both. So much for the silly plot. Jaume Collet-Serra makes a stylish movie, full of some terrific fast-paced editing, and, some fabulous photography of New York’s gritty underbelly.

Spare Parts
Based on a real story, this movie is intended to be uplifting and inspiring. A group of under-privileged Hispanic boys, from a high school in the slums of Los Angeles, enter a competition to build an Under Water Rescue Robot. They must compete against students from some of the best schools in the country. Of course they win the prize! Why make the movie if they didn’t?
Kingsman, The Secret Service
Colin Firth stars, as an Intelligence Officer, who recruits a young lad to train as a Kingsman. This is a Top Secret British Intelligence Agency. The movie is a spoof on all of those James Bond movies. Lots of gadgets and gimmicks. That kind of stuff. The movie is amusing enough, but, not all that absorbing.

Maggie*
America is in the grip of a nasty plague. If bitten, people are slowly turning into zombies. Hoping that the authorities will not discover her and put her in quarantine, a father takes his infected daughter to an isolated farmhouse. There, greatly to his own risk, he has to watch her ‘turn’. Fans of Arnold Schwarzenegger are going to be bitterly disappointed. There is no action in the movie. Just a lot of talk talk talk. We know Arnie isn’t very good at that.

Any Day
After 12 years a man convicted of involuntary murder is released from jail. He has problems rehabilitating himself back into his family and community.

Welcome To Me
After winning much money a woman makes a television show about herself.

Preggoland
The check-out girl in a supermarket pretends she is pregnant, to save her job.

After the Ball
The Cinderella fairytale is revamped and reset in the world of ‘high’ fashion.

* Also available on Blu Ray.
# Also available in 3D.

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