Sunday, November 30, 2008

Four Christmases: Review

There used to be a time when it wasn't appropriate to show the best parts of a movie in the trailers. I guess the movies were better and they could leave things out. Or, trailer makers were better at their jobs taking a funny moment in an even funnier scene so that when you see it again during the movie it still surprises you. I've seen too many trailers for Four Christmases, so I could see the baby vomiting on Reese coming from a mile away, but for a change, it was even funnier in the movie because there's more to that scene than just what you see on TV in the trailers. In general, I also have a beef with movie marketers who think all movies must fit into just a few molds, and so they market them that way. "This must be a comedy, that must be an action thriller", etc. However, by inaccurately marketing movies usually just leads to disappointment when you leave the theater, though many of them reach audiences on DVD because by then they only have their name or popularity to sell them, rather than their supposed plot. Four Christmases wasn't a misrepresented as many comedies have been, but there's a lot more to it than just continuous hilarity.

Reese and Vince Vaughn have been dating a while, and they like doing things together and having fun (I won't ruin it, but the opening scene is hilarious) and avoid their families at Christmas. They usually lie ("you can't spell families without lies") and go off on a wonderful vacation. This year, flights grounded for a day and being seen on the local news means they have to actually see their divorced families. While each family represents stereotypes a bit, they're not quite caricatures (though Jon Favreau as Vaughn's brother was annoyingly over the top). Vaughn's dad and brothers are middle class NASCAR fans who love to wrestle and be men's men. Vaughn never fit into that mold, left and became a lawyer. Now he's back and has to figure out how to avoid getting his ass kicked. There were two supporting characters that made this scene work and relatable, Tim McGraw as a father of two boys he can't afford to give big presents to, and Katy Mixon as Favreau's super pregnant wife who makes bologna casseroles and extols the virtues of her husband. He's touching (without meaning to) and she's hilarious without actually being crass.

Each of the other Christmases has something that would resonate with anyone from or with access to a large family. There are elements of not fitting in, rising above what you were born into, trying to meet your family's expectations and just plain disliking your family. The bigger theme I liked throughout the day was whether Reese or Vince actually knew enough about each other to have a life together. Can you love someone if you don't know where they come from or who their family is? How much do you need to know about someone so you feel like you really know them? They did a good job of exploring that a little bit more with each family. I liked the movie and give it a 3.5 LAMBS/stars

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Tuesdays Top-Grossing Reviews: 2002

Year: 2002
Film: Spider-Man
Box Office Gross: $
Awards: Nominated for visual effects and sound
Actors:Toby Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco, Willem Defoe, J. K. Simmons,

The first Spider-Man tells the story originated in the comics, with Peter Parker (Maguire) becoming Spider-Man and fighting the Green Goblin (Defoe). Everyone knows the story so I won't fully elaborate here. Instead, I'll whine about what I don't like about the entire Spider-man series. Mostly the acting is fine, the special effects are good, though often overwhelming the story. The first film has a cohesive story, they have background on most of the characters (Green Goblin used to be Norman Osborn who made weapons, Parker is trying to figure out what it means to be Spider-Man "With great power, comes great responsibility", etc.). The story was well established and well written. The successive films lost a lot of that, and thus the acting suffered. Without a great story, even terrific actors like Alfred Molina (Doc Ock) can't make the movie better. I like movies based on comic books but this series never really grabbed me.

Monday, November 24, 2008

'Friends' on Thanksgiving

There were many reasons to love "Friends" and this week I'm thankful that they always had a terrific Thanksgiving episode. I like it when a TV show acknowledges that it doesn't live in a vacuum and realizes that it exists on Thursday nights and Thanksgiving is always a Thursday, and the producers at "Friends" always made unique Thanksgiving shows ("Boston Legal" is another show that acknowledges it knows it's a TV show from time to time). Most series do a Christmas/holiday episode of some sort, but with the current schedule of episodes, Christmas shows often appear the first week of December with no new episodes until well after the holidays.

Season 1 - "The One Where Underdog Gets Away" This episode brings all the friendless Friends together when they're supposed to be celebrating elsewhere. They pretend that Wonderdog escaped from the Macy's parade and ends up down in the Village near their apartments, getting locked out and missing dinner. Not the best, but a classic.

Season 2 - I don't know why, but there's no Thanksgiving episode this season.

Season 3 - "The One with the Football" None of the Friends are dressed well throughout this episode, and it always bothers me. They decide to play football in the park, it becomes really competitive and dirty tricks abound. Joey and Chandler fight over a hot girl, but as they learn, most girls don't want to be told who they get to go out with. The episode ends with Monica and Ross still in the park holding onto the football waiting to see who wins The Gellar Cup.

Season 4 - "The One with Chandler in a Box" This is one of the all time best episodes of Friends. Joey won't forgive Chandler for kissing his girlfriend Cathy. To make up for it, Chandler spends Thanksgiving Day in a box. Monica gets ice in her eye and goes to see the eye doctor - Richard's son (hot Michael Vartan) who she invites to Thanksgiving Dinner. The whole thing becomes kinda weird, particularly with Chandler sticking his fingers out of the hole in the box, but it's got one of the best lines ever from Monica yelling at the others for judging her crush on Richard's son:

"Fine! Judge all you want to but, [points to Ross] married a lesbian, [points to Rachel] left a man at the altar, [points to Phoebe] fell in love with a gay ice dancer, [points to Joey] threw a girl's wooden leg in a fire, [points to the box Chandler's in] live in a box!"

Season 5 - "The One with Thanksgiving Flashbacks" All the Friends flashback to Thanksgivings they remember. The show always did this well, with Monica in a fat suit, Rachel with her old nose, Ross and Chandler's 80s hair. They flash back to the 2 Thanksgivings when Ross brought Chandler home from college. The first year he calls Monica fat behind her back, so the next year she's back to her normal size. She says she hates him, which parallels to their real time affair, deciding they love each other. There's a great moment when Joey has the turkey on his head.

Season 6 - "The One where Ross Got High" This is another of my all time favorites. The Gellars come over for Christmas and Rachel makes trifle but accidentally adds beef with peas and onions. Phoebe dreams about Jack Gellar fighting Jacques Cousteau. And Ross and Monica out each other on all the secrets of their childhood: porn, broken porch swing, pot smoking. They find out they've been blaming Chandler for lots of things which is why the Gellar parents have always hated him. When they find out the truth, they thank Chandler for watching out for their kids. Joey comments on Rachel's trifle: "What's not to like, Jam:good, Custard: Good, Beef: Gooo-od"

Season 7 - "The One Where Chandler Doesn't Like Dogs" This episode didn't really fit into their Thanksgiving canon. Phoebe has a dog she's been hiding in the guest room even though Chandler hates them and says he's deathly allergic. Not too much goes on beyond Rachel flirting with Tag and he finds out she likes him.

Season 8 - "The One with the Rumor" This was when Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston were still married. Pitt guest starred as a friend of Ross' from high school who used to be really fat. Rachel spends most of the episode trying to figure out who he was and flirting. But he and Ross had a club in high school called the We Hate Rachel Greene club. Rachel is pissed when she finds out considering she is pregnant and having a kid with Ross. Pitt applauds Ross for knocking up Rachel. It's a really funny episode with lots of Thanksgiving cooking.

Season 9 - "The One with Rachel's Other Sister" Christina Applegate shows up for Thanksgiving and spouts her narcissistic opinions on how to raise Rachel and Ross' new baby Emma. She assumes she'd get to raise Emma if Ross or Rachel die, but they've already planned to ask Monica and Chandler. This causes all kinds of discussions about why certain people would or would not be good parents.

Season 10 - "The One with the Late Thanksgiving" Monica reluctantly agrees to cook Thanksgiving dinner again, but Ross and Joey go to a hockey game, and Phoebe and Rachel enter Emma in a beautiful baby contest so everyone's late. They spend a lot of time talking to Monica and Chandler through the door with the chain on, floating heads. Joey of course gets his head stuck. It's a really funny classic Friends episode of fighting, but no one being really upset. Great finale to the Thanksgiving series.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Tuesdays Top-Grossing Review: 2004

Year: 2004
Film: Shrek 2
Box Office Gross: $
Awards: Oscar nomination for Animated Feature and Best Original Song "Accidentally in Love"
Actors:Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz, Eddie Murphy, Antonio Banderas, Julie Andrews, John Cleese

This is was the highest grossing sequel until The Dark Knight came along breaking all kinds of records. It expands the story of the original Shrek, our green, ornery ogre who has fallen in love and married the Princess Fiona who is also an ogre. Now they have to return to the Kingdom of Far, Far, Away to see her parents. They're of course shocked that their daughter is an ogre and married to Shrek. The King (John Cleese) hires Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas) to get rid of Shrek and of course they become friends. However, the real Prince Charming (Rupert Everett) still wants to be Fiona's husband and works with the Fairy Godmother (the brilliant Jennifer Saunders from AbFab) to get rid of Shrek. Lots of hilarity ensues, I think Puss is terrific, the swashbuckling kitty who uses his cuteness to win fights when he knows he's losing. Ultimately, this movie didn't really do much more than the first one. The first was incredibly original, riffing on traditional fairy tale characters and ideas. This one does take that a little further with the new characters, but not a lot further. A good sequel, but not a fantastic stand alone movie.

Monday, November 17, 2008

DVD Round up

I'm not sure there are two movies more different than the fairy tale Penelope and the powerfully violent Blood Diamond. Penelope is a fable of sorts that tells the story of Penelope (Christina Ricci), a young woman from a blue-blood family with a curse: The first female baby born in the family will have pig nose and ears. The curse can be broken if she can get "one of her own" to marry her. Penelope's family hides her away to keep their secret, even faking her death. When she's 18, her mother (Catherine O'Hara) starts interviewing young blue-blood men to see if they'll marry her. This goes on for years, with all of them running away when they finally get to see her. One of them, Edward, is particularly scared when he sees her and puts a story in the newspaper about the monster living there. A reporter, Peter Dinklage, who was injured by Penelope's mother when she was leaving the hospital and he was getting a picture, partners with Edward and they hire Max (James McAvoy) to go in for an marriage interview and get her picture. Max has a heart and he starts talking to Penelope and they hit it off. Since it's a fairy tale, you can image how the rest plays out, except that you really can't. It's an original story about beauty being inside, and a reversal of the Beauty and the Beast idea (the woman is the beast in this case). It's beautifully shot, colorful, imaginative, and the supporting characters are terrific. Catherine O'Hara as the over-the-top mother with a heart of gold, and Reese Witherspoon as Penelope's crazy friend once she reaches the outside world. 4 LAMBS/stars

The second movie I saw this weekend was Blood Diamond with Leonardo DiCaprio, Djimon Hounsou and Jennifer Connelly. The acting is terrific, the story well articulated (which I found remarkable considering understanding conflict in Africa is rarely simple), and the violence overwhelming. If you're willing to watch the film by fast-forwarding the shooting scenes, I'd give the movie a 4.5, if I'd had to sit through this in the movie theater or with someone who won't let me fast forward, I'd give it a 3 for excessive violence. So here's my description of the 4.5 version. Hounsou plays Solomon Vendy, a fisherman from a small village in Sierra Leone in 1999 during their civil war. As he's walking his son to school one day, the R.U.F. (Revolutionary United Front) attacks his village and his family is divided. He is sent to work in one of the diamond mines in Kono where he finds an enormous pink diamond. He manages to hide it before the rebels find it. Meanwhile, Danny Archer (DiCaprio), a Rhodesian (Zimbabwean) soldier from the wars in Angola turned diamond smuggler has managed to get caught smuggling diamonds into Liberia (here's what I learned from the film: to avoid exporting diamonds from known conflict zones, like Sierra Leone in 1999, the diamonds would be smuggled into another country and then exported as clean diamonds to be sold around the world, 60% to the US. Because they are smuggled, the diamonds are dirt cheap and to gain money for fighting the war, both sides sell the diamonds. However, to keep the global price high, the diamond companies hoard the diamonds. The diamond companies even have an interest in keeping the conflict going because it keeps the price of diamonds low. I can't vouch for the validity of any of this, but that's what the movie seemed to be saying). Anyway, Hounsou and DiCaprio eventually meet in jail and DiCaprio convinces him to let him sell the pink diamond. They start to head back to Kono to get the diamond, and meet up with Connelly, a journalist trying to prove the conflict diamonds are being purchased by the diamond companies. They try to reach Kono and run up against government military troops, supplemented by the same Rhodesian/Angolan military DiCaprio used to belong to, as well as the R.U.F, AND local militia who are trying to protect their homes from both sides. Watching this movie you start to feel like everyone's in the wrong, that all the people are evil and just trying to make money. The leader of the R.U.F. has a terrific line that makes the movie seem a little more real, "If I am a devil it is because I live in hell." There's another conversation between Hounsou and DiCaprio where Hounsou is trying to explain how it feels to be living amidst a civil war where most of the people are not on one side OR the other, but living on the battlefield. The R.U.F. would steal young boys and force them to be soldiers. They're brainwashed into believing they are right, and given guns, drugs, money, and gifts to keep the cycle going. I've lived in Kenya and Gabon (neither in any conflict while I was there) but it's still nearly impossible to understand all the atrocities, war, violence, and bloodshed that goes on during these internal conflicts. This was a terrific movie to see how it can work from a single family's point of view, just fast-forward through the gunshots.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

More Songs from Movies

Here are some more songs from movies that I can't hear the song without wanting to watch the movie:

"Can't Take My Eyes Off of You" sung by Heath Ledger in 10 Things I Hate About You

"Golden Years" sung by David Bowie, and danced to by Heath Ledger in A Knight's Tale. Some friend's and I were watching this and drinking one night and somehow decided chocolate ice cream and Pirate's Booty popcorn would taste really good with gin and tonics. It doesn't.

"Jump (For My Love)" sung by The Pointer Sisters, and danced to by Hugh Grant in Love, Actually

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Then She Found Me

Helen Hunt's feature film directorial debut explores the different meanings of family and stars a great group of actors. Then She Found Me stars Hunt as April, a NYC teacher who was adopted by a Jewish family as a child, and married to fellow teacher, man-child Matthew Broderick. She's desperate to have a child of her own, but at 39, it's not been easy. In fast succession Broderick decides he can't live the life she wants, and her adopted mother dies. A few days later, April's biological mother, a super-kooky daytime TV show host played by Bette Middler, gets in touch and wants a relationship. Meanwhile, Hunt has gotten to know the parent of one of her students, single dad Colin Firth. Lots of various lies are told, revealed, apologized for, forgiven and a little more sex happens. Hunt struggles with what it meant to be adopted and what her own family might look like. Firth is terrific, outgoing and compassionate with the same mystery as his famous Mr. Darcy. Ben Shenkman plays Hunt's adopted brother really well, I'm surprised he doesn't get more work. It's a good independent movie that tells the story a little differently than others. Plus, the scenery around NYC is always fun to watch. 3.5 stars/LAMBs

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A question of love

This has nothing to do with entertainment, but Keith Olbermans says the things I've been trying to say much better than I can. I have no opinion of him as a commentator, I've never seen his show, and have no idea of the rest of his politics. I saw this clip on a fellow movie blogger's site, and think the more people who see it, the better.

Who are you thankful for?

The L.A.M.Blog-a-Thon this month is celebrating the people in entertainment that we are thankful exist and practice their craft. "The catch is, it can't be a director or actor. Those cats just get too much love already, don't you think? With these posts you can focus on anyone working in the film industry from any time period from any country that isn't a director or actor. It is okay, though, if the person has done both directing and acting, so long as your post acknowledges their exceptional work in another part of the filmmaking process." While my choice already gets a lot of love, I am yet again thankful for his work. Aaron Sorkin. Writer.

I like nearly everything Aaron Sorkin has had come to the screen. And by nearly everything I'm including everything I've seen, and the nearly encompasses the stuff I haven't seen. I loved "The West Wing", which continued to be good even after he left thanks to the genius that was the set of characters he created. Even more relevent to the past week was the final season of "The West Wing" when a minority Democrat candidate wins the White House. The NYTimes had a terrific article describing how prescient it was (though Sorkin didn't write it, he did get a cameo in the final episode). "Sports Night" was fun, sassy, and just never found its audience. There are elements of both of these shows in "Studio 60", which never found its footing, but has achieved some of the same brilliant moments of its predecessors. I like the fact that Sorkin picks all kinds of small elements of society and brings them into prominence on his shows. He gave President Bartlett M.S. and educated a whole viewership about it, if only on a superficial level. He always seems to present situations where people matter more than the politics of the action - e.g. it's significant that Tom Jeter was speeding because he wanted to see his brother before he deployed to the Mid-East and not just that he's a celebrity getting out of a ticket, or Toby saving the astronauts by exposing a military asset. Sorkin makes it clear what matters and that things are rarely as simple as they seem at first. He makes us think about why we believe what we believe, and I admire that about his writing.

The feature films he wrote include A Few Good Men, The American President, and Charlie Wilson's War. Here's my favorite speech The American President:

Anyway, I am Thankful for Aaron Sorkin and everything he's brought to television and film.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

W. Reliving the present

Oliver Stone's new movie W. probably won't win any awards (though a nomination for Josh Brolin wouldn't be out of place), and it probably won't change anyone's mind about our out-going President, but it did remind me that we should make a bigger fuss about who surrounds our President, who the advisers are should make almost as big a difference to the American people as the President himself. W. runs along two time periods. The first follows George W. Bush from his early days at Yale, through several jobs, drinking, meeting Laura, working for his dad's election campaign, to running a baseball team in Texas and finally becoming Governor of Texas. The second timeline follows President George W. Bush through his decisions following 9/11 and going to war in Iraq. You see all the people who advised him, most played by terrific actors who gave solid performances that emulated real people, rather than tried to map them exactly. The lone caricature was Thandie Newton's performance of Condalezza Rice, it was much more of a mockery than any of the other performances (including staunch democrat Richard Dreyfus playing VP Dick Cheney). The movie itself isn't anything like a mockery. It feels at times critical of the topic, but at others sympathetic. I don't know how much of the dialogue came from first-hand accounts or reports (since the President's day is mapped to the minute, it wouldn't be hard to verify certain meetings, but actual conversations probably not), but all the conversations map carefully to what actually happened later and who towed the line after actions were carried out. I would love to find out any argument the actual people had with the movie. The main theme carrying through the whole movie, which may be more or less true is George W. Bush's attempt to please his father and gain his respect. That was the only storyline that seems to be based on innuendo and assumption, rather than known fights or disagreements. Overall, I really liked it, both as a story told well, and a movie creatively put together. Rarely do I notice a movie's lighting scheme, but the lighting in the situation room, and in most of the White House scenes was always just a little dark and treacherous seeming, creating a mood. Ranked 4 of 5 LAMB/stars.

I just read the Mahnola Dargis review of the film in the NYTimes on October 17, and I loved this line, it does describe the overall feel of the film: "History is said to repeat itself as tragedy and farce, but here it registers as a full-blown burlesque."

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Saturday, November 8, 2008

DVD catch up

I just saw Baby Mama on DVD, so here is my review. Baby Mama is a really funny story about Kate (Tina Fey) trying to have a baby. She's 37, single, and a VP at an organic foods company in Philadelphia. She can't conceive herself, so after many tries, pursues surrogacy at a posh firm run by Sigourney Weaver (who keeps having her own babies in a strange/funny gag). Kate meets Angie (Amy Poehler) and Carl (Dax Shepherd, dreadful) who are volunteering to be her surrogate (for a lot of money). There are lots of jokes about first-time parents and the process of childbirth, which are always funny. What I didn't know about the film going in was that Steve Martin and Greg Kinnear also star in the film. Martin is the owner of the organic foods store and plays the aging hippie money-whore perfectly. He rewards people with good ideas with "5 minutes of uninterrupted eye contact". And Kinnear as the owner of a fruit juice place (like Jamba Juice) who flirts with Kate, is pretty terrific. He has a small role, but plays it perfectly. I often find him over the top or trying to do more than is interesting. Kate takes care of Angie as she gets farther and farther along. Secrets are revealed and the story wraps up well. Unlike a lot of movies with SNL cast members this movie isn't too long, too silly, or too much. It's a great little comedy. 4 of 5 LAMBS/stars.

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Alphabet Meme

I was tagged by Fletch at Blog Cabins and Rachel at Rachel's Reel Reviews to participate in the Alphabet Meme. Here are the rules:
1. Pick one film to represent each letter of the alphabet.

2. The letter "A" and the word "The" do not count as the beginning of a film's title, unless the film is simply titled A or The, and I don't know of any films with those titles.

3. Return of the Jedi belongs under "R," not "S" as in Star Wars Episode IV: Return of the Jedi. This rule applies to all films in the original Star Wars trilogy; all that followed start with "S." Similarly, Raiders of the Lost Ark belongs under "R," not "I" as in Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark. In other words, movies are stuck with the titles their owners gave them at the time of their theatrical release. Conversely, all films in the LOTR series belong under "L" and all films in the Chronicles of Narnia series belong under "C," as that's what those filmmakers called their films from the start. Use your better judgement to apply the above rule to any series/films not mentioned.

4. Films that start with a number are filed under the first letter of their number's word. 12 Monkeys would be filed under "T."

5. Link back to Blog Cabins in your post, cause he made up the rules.

6. If you're selected, you have to then select 5 more people. (I'm not going to tag anyone, though if you do decide to do it, please link back to me!).

American President, The
Becoming Jane
Cold Mountain
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Fifty First Dates
Gone With the Wind
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Incredibles, The
Just Like Heaven
Knight's Tale, A
Little Mermaid, The
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
Notting Hill
Out of Africa
Princess Bride, The
Quiz Show
Regarding Henry
Sense and Sensibility
Top Gun
Under the Tuscan Sun
V for Vendetta
When Harry Met Sally
X-Men 2
You've Got Mail

These are my favorites under each letter, but some are definitely better than others. Since I'm that nerdy, I actually alphabetize my own collection of several hundred DVDs, so this was pretty easy.

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Songs that remind me of movies

I've been playing my ipod on random lately and keep hearing songs that remind me of movies I love and so I thought I'd share. Thanks to YouTube, you can hear AND see the scenes I like.

"Somewhere Over the Rainbow" - 50 First Dates

"Tenderness on the Block" - Sliding Doors (okay this is a pretty obscure movie so I couldn't find the right clip, but this song plays at the very end of the movie where you finally see that everything happens for a reason).

"Thriller" - 13 Going on 30. I know there are probably lots and lots of other things to think when you hear this song, but I still love this scene with Jennifer Garner dancing.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Keira Knightley keeps getting better

Keira Knightley is still really young considering the blockbusters and Oscar nominees she's been part of so far in her career. And, in my opinion, she keeps getting better. She was captivating in Atonement, showing her skills rather than just pouting her lips. She was perfectly fine in the two sequels to Pirate's of the Caribbean, though her character became more ridiculous (I thought her career might be over after she spent most of the third movie in pointy shoes). She probably deserved her Oscar nomination for Pride and Prejudice, though I really disliked the remake. However, her recent performance in The Duchess is fantastic. The movie follows the story of Georgiana, becoming the Duchess of Devonshire, wife of the most powerful, if somewhat short-sighted, member of the political party rising to prominence in 1774. Georgiana's sole duty as his wife is produce a male heir, and keep at it until she does. The Duke (quite a few years her elder) has the love-making skills of a horse, and while Georgiana conceives, a son eludes her. Meanwhile, she has become beloved by the rest of the social scene, and one of the most fashionable, intelligent, influential women in the country. She makes friends with Lady Elizabeth Foster, who comes to live with the Duke and Duchess. Ultimately, the Duke decides he likes Bess better, but continues to torture Georgiana's bed to get his son. Lots of mini-scandal occurs, carefully hidden, but obvious given some of Ralph Fiennes strange acting choices. So Bess, the Duke, the Duchess, and their kids live on together. The story is incredibly well-told, and it's hard to miss the ties to the current political climate, as well as to current celebrity status. Just after their wedding, the Duke and Duchess ride through town as people watch, trying to catch a glimpse through the carriage. Georgiana was a distant relative of the late Diana Spencer, Princess of Wales, and it's hard to miss the similiarities, though the story holds well on its own. The costumes are fantastic, the set dressings impressive (I never understood why women's dressing tables had the weird little chairs with no back, but when you see how the dresses get in the way, it starts to make sense) and overall the world is carefully and fully created. Keira Knightley fills the screen every time she appears and leads the movie with terrific emotion and strength. 4 of 5 stars/LAMBS.