Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Visitor

The Visitor came out earlier this year, and was such a great little movie that Richard Jenkins managed to get a SAG nomination for Best Actor. He plays a widowed professor, Walter Dale, who has given up on finding something new to like about his field of work. He heads to NYC to present a paper a colleague wrote, and finds a couple living in his apartment. Tarek and Zainab are illegal immigrants from Syria and Senegal, respectively, and thought they'd legitimately rented an apartment. When Walter arrives they realize the scam and start to leave, but Walter offers them a few days to find something new. Tarek plays the African drum and Zainab makes and sells jewelry. Since Walter doesn't care about anything in his own life, he hangs out with Tarek quite a bit, and Tarek even teaches him to play the drums. While trying to get on the subway with their drums one day, Tarek gets caught and jumps the turnstile to escape, but the police see him jump and arrest him, finding out he's illegally in the U.S. He's sent to a detention center in Queens. Walter gets involved in trying to help Tarek, who is a really good person caught up in a few bad bureaucratic snafus. The director and writer, Thomas McCarthy, also directed The Station Agent, one of the best movies ever. He likes characters who don't mind the silence that many people find uncomfortable. Now with The Visitor, he's examined another character and how he interacts with strangers. Just a terrific film, 4 stars/Lambs

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Songs in movies, some thoughts

There are often songs used in movies by particular characters to help convey a message or develop the plot or the characters emotions or desires. Two movies this year have made use of this device: WALL*E and Australia. However, only WALL*E shows how to do it effectively without overusing the music instead of more creative dialogue. Australia uses the song "Over the Rainbow" from The Wizard of Oz. Nicole Kidman's character sings it to Nullah as a bedtime lullaby, but can't remember all the words. Enough of the lyrics capture Nullah's imagination and he hums the song throughout the movie, and the director Baz Luhrmann uses the lyrics to help tell Nullah's story. However, having Nullah actually attend a showing of The Wizard of Oz starts taking the device a degree too far. Everyone watching the film (as it's not meant for children) already got the symbolism, given that it's one of the most wellknown songs around the world. In WALL*E however, the movie benefits from several choices: using a somewhat less well known songs, "Put on your Sunday Clothes" and "It Only Takes a Moment" from Hello, Dolly!, and having the actual music play - the movie plays, as well as Wall*E's recordings of the songs. The characters don't sing the music often, and in particular because they don't speak, the music does a good job as a complement to their emtions rather than just playing repeatedly without obvious context. Wall*E seeks to have a connection, and literally hold hands with someone (EVE) like they do in the movie Hello, Dolly! during "It Only Takes a Moment". Wall*E makes use of the music in a much better way than Australia does, in my opinion. Just something I've been thinking about. Here's a clip from Wall*E with the song they use.

Monday, December 29, 2008

The Magic of Benjamin Button

I thought The Curious Case of Benjamin Button lives up to much of the hype. Since I whine a lot about movies that are inappropriately or inaccurately marketed, I suppose I should praise a movie that has sold itself for exactly what it is: the life of a man that is a unique story. Julia Ormond is sitting with her mother in a New Orleans hospital on the eve of Hurricane Katrina, and her mother asks her to read from a diary. What she reads is the life story of Benjamin, which includes a love story, but is not limited by it alone. Benjamin is born at the end of World War I, but is obviously different, looking like an old man with old man problems (cataracts, poor vision, loose skin, arthritis). His father abandons him on the steps, where Queenie finds him. Queenie (brilliant Taraji Henson) says that he's a child of god and they should look after him since the doctor doesn't think he'll live long anyway. Queenie manages an old folks home so as Benjamin gains years, but becomes younger, he fits in really well with the residents. They teach him things, change his life and help him deal with the comings and goings of death. He says a few times through the movie that "Nothing lasts" which sort of becomes the theme of the movie, but a better catch line might be "youth is wasted on the young". We also watch Daisy (the elder played by Cate Blanchett) age from 6 year old child visiting her grandmother and befriending Benjamin to a careless 20-something dancer who doesn't know what to do with herself when she gets older. As the ads show, they do find themselves "meeting in the middle", but Benjamin does meet lots of others along the way, and if I may, Brad Pitt is gorgeous as he "youthens" (gets younger).

It's a beautifully shot movie that absorbs the pace of New Orleans from the 30s and which becomes Benjamin's pace of life. It's slower paced, but not slow. It seemed to me a story of magic of a single person living an every day life. Whatever magic touched him and created him the way he is makes him special and able to share some of that magic with others. I didn't love the very end, but I don't know they could have found a better way - you decide. Right now I do think it deserves an Oscar nomination for best picture and for Brad Pitt, but I still haven't seen many of the other acclaimed movies, so I'll reserve judgement on the best picture for a few more weeks. 4.5 Lambs/Stars.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Movies of 2008

So, based on the list of movies from 2008 at Variety, I have seen only 45 new movies this year, and even fewer actually in the theater! That seems low to me, but given the fact that I repeat watch movies, watch LOTS of TV, including TV on DVDs, maybe it's not completely surprising. That, and the fact that many of the likely Oscar nominees, a category I try to see many if not all of in the theater, have not arrived at my local cineplex, perhaps it's not a bad number. Here's my list. I'm going to wait to post my Best of 2008 until at least mid-January, or at least after I've seen Benjamin Button, Milk, Valkyrie, Seven Pounds, The Reader, Doubt, Revolutionary Road, and Slumdog Millionaire since those are on many of the Golden Globe/SAG and many Critic's awards lists. What did you see this year?

Movies of 2008 I’ve seen:

Baby Mama
Be Kind Rewind
Burn After Reading
Charlie Bartlett
The Counterfeiters
The Dark Knight
Definitely, Maybe
The Duchess
Fool's Gold
Forgetting Sarah Marshall
Four Christmases
Horton Hears a Who
In Bruges
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Iron Man
Kitt Kittredge: An American Girl
Kung Fu Panda
Mad Money
Mamma Mia
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day
My Best Friend’s Girl
Nim’s Island
The Other Boleyn Girl
Over Her Dead Body
The Secret Life of Bees
Sex and the City
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2
Smart People
The Spiderwick Chronicles
Step Brothers
Then She Found Me
Tropic Thunder
27 Dresses
Under the Same Moon
Vantage Point
The Women

Addendum: As you can see from the reviews I've now see Benjamin Button and The Visitor, so the total became 47. Not bad.

Monday, December 22, 2008

DVD Review: Wanted

I would be reviewing Fred Claus which I also just saw, but I didn't finish watching it because it was too awful. Vince Vaughn's style of interrupting and explaining to people what they really mean and why his feelings could be hurt if the person continues to tell him what's real, just drove me NUTS. Normally it's not that painful, The Break Up wasn't terrible, but it was just barely good, and I actually liked Four Christmases, but Fred Claus is just dreadful. But this review isn't about that, but better movie, Wanted.

Wanted tells the story of Wesley Gibson (James McAvoy), an account manager in a cubicle that is living a life of unfulfilled potential and doesn't know how he can change anything. He suffers from "anxiety attacks" that he can't understand (he doesn't have anything to be anxious about) and his best friend is screwing his girlfriend. Then one day he's picking up pills at the pharmacy and Fox (Angelina Jolie) appears to save his life from a guy who's shooting at them. He learns from Morgan Freeman, that his father has just been killed and he used to be part of a brotherhood of assassins that have spent hundreds of years fulfilling their destinies. They want to train Wesley to be an assassin too, since he already possesses the skills, trying to contain them is what brought on the anxiety. There's lots of fighting and training and hitting and kicking and riding on trains and obviously getting hurt and fixed and learning to be an assassin. He eventually becomes an assassin (you don't want to find out how they choose the people to assassinate, you wouldn't believe me) and works his way up to hunting the man believed to have killed his father. Some ridiculous stunts take place, most of which are incredible and funny, but there are also explanations that make it even harder to believe. Overall, I liked the movie, it embraces its cheeziness to the point where at the end McAvoy looks into the camera and addresses the audience. Light entertainment, great special effects, wholly unbelievable story, but still worthy of watching. 3 Stars/LAMBS

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

More Songs from Movies

Here's another bunch of actors singing in movies. I don't hear these songs much, but they're such great scenes with people singing their hearts out.

This is Andie McDowell singing a song she wrote in Michael.

Here's Hugh Grant and Nick Hoult singing at the school concert in About a Boy. One of the most painful scenes in movies, but still a good song, and they try so hard.

And finally, the best scene from 27 Dresses. Singing Bennie and the Jets

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Tuesdays Top-Grossing Reviews: 1990

Year: 1990
Film: Home Alone
Box Office Gross: $
Awards: Nominated for 2 Oscars for best Score and Original Song, "Somewhere in My Memory" (which I don't actually remember)
Actors:Macaulay Culkin, John Heard, Catherine O'Hara, Joe Pesci, Daniel Stern

First, I was amazed when I made the list of the top grossing movies in the US for the past 20 years that there was a holiday movie on the list, so I saved it. I'm also nearly finished with this series, so I'll do a wrap-up before the end of the year. Since it's been 18 years, I'm not sure there are many people who don't know the plot of Home Alone, but I know some of my fellow movie bloggers are actually under 18 years old or thereabouts, so I will stop being ageist and give a bit of a summary. Basically, Kevin McCallister (Culkin), 8 years old, is being a brat when lots of his family descends on his house at Christmas en route to a vacation in Paris. Inadvertently, Kevin is left behind when the family leaves. However, Kevin's street has been targeted by two theives who plan to break into all the houses while the families are away for Christmas. Kevin overhears their plans and decides to defend his home. Much of the hilarity ensues as Kevin sets up all kinds of booby traps around his house (ice steps, hot doorknobs, a bb gun, a blow torch, ornaments on the floor, glue, spiders, everything). The story I find funnier 18 years later is Catherine O'Hara's determined attempt to get home to her son as fast as possible rather than waiting the two days until a direct flight is actually available. She pairs up with the late John Candy and his polka band to drive across the Midwest. I just like her line when arguing with the airline lady and insisting her quest must be possible. "No, no, no, no. It's Christmas, the season of perpetual hope." Here's hoping you're still hopeful for Christmas.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Kung Fu Panda: Review

I liked Kung Fu Panda. I didn't get to see it in the theater (mostly because it was a hard sell to my movie viewing partner), and it actually might have been more fun watching it with lots of kids. There's a lot of slap-stick humor with the panda falling down, breaking things, etc. And Jack Black couldn't have been a more appropriate choice to voice Po, the Panda. He's the son of a duck (that sounds like it should be an insult, but it isn't) who runs a noodle shop. However, in his heart he's always wanted to be a famous kung fu master. We start the story on the day that the kung fu master of the village in China, Oogway, is going to announce which one of the apprentices (Tigress, Mantis, Crane, Monkey, or Viper) will be made the master of the Dragon Scroll, and thus the ultimate Kung Fu master. Through a series of misadventures, our Panda Po is selected. He begins training to be a master with Master Shifu because the evil Tai Lung has escaped prison and seeks the Dragon Scroll and only the master of the Dragon Scroll can defeat him and save the valley. Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, Lucy Liu, Seth Rogan, and Jackie Chan voice various characters. It has terrific animation, beautiful scenery (reminiscent of Mulan, which I've always loved), and a captivating story. The final message is that it's within anyone to be anything, but it's sometimes hard to find a path to one's Kung Fu talent. 3.5 Stars/LAMBS

Thursday, December 11, 2008

40 Inspirational Speeches in Two Minutes!

I watch a lot of bad movies because I like to be inspired. I've probably seen Rudy thirty or forty times. So I particularly liked this video montage on YouTube.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Why I love David Krumholtz

Anyone who knows my dating history knows I tend to go for geeky guys, so in some ways David Krumholtz is my Brad Pitt. And this love has a bit of a history. Here's why I love David Krumholtz:

"Numb3rs" - Krumholtz plays Charlie Epps, a math genius who uses all his abilities to help solve crimes with his brother Don (Rob Morrow) at the FBI. He lives with his Dad (Judd Hirsh) too (or since he owns the house, his dad lives with him?) and dates one of his former grad students, Amita (Navi Rawat). His former mentor and current colleague is the brilliant Peter MacNicol (so hilarious on Ally McBeal). They solve crimes, try to figure out normal society, how to use your gifts to serve others, and how to be a family. It's a fun show for nerds, and anyone into math. I heard on NPR they even have a module for school kids to better understand the math on the show and have fun learning. Krumholtz is awesome. It's hard to believe one person would know that much math, but he pulls it off.

Serenity - Krumholtz just had a small, but pivotal, part in the movie of the space cowboy story Serenity as Mr. Universe. He seemed to have access to all the electronic media in the galaxy and helped out Mal and others when they needed it, so of course he's a good guy. His wedding with the robot is hysterical.

The Santa Clause (1 &2) - This is a thankless part in a possibly forgettable Christmas series (not in my house, I just watched the first one while decorating the tree, and the next 2 are up soon), but that doesn't mean he doesn't do it well. Krumholtz plays Bernard, the head Elf at the North pole. He guides the new Santa (Tim Allen) through his responsibilities as the new Santa. His quick paced dialogue and no-nonsense business-like attitude give credence to the North Pole as a business AND a magical place.

"ER" - He only guest starred in 3 episodes (in two different seasons) as a schizophrenic law student who has a break and kills Lucy (Kellie Martin) and stabs Carter (Noah Wyle) sending him in a tailspin of drug addiction. He's innocent looking, but once he goes off he's scary enough that you remember him 2 seasons later when he reappears.

10 Things I Hate About You - Probably not his best role, but definitely my favorite. He's the super geek at Verona High School (ousted by his clique when a rumor spreads that he busy his izods at an outlet) who introduces Joseph Gordon-Leavitt's character to the school and helps him win the fair Bianca. He's just a background character, and hardly recognizable today, but I still think he's hysterical.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

DVD Roundup: The Good, The Innocent, and the Ugly

It's time again for a really random group of DVDs I've watched recently. All the movies came out this past year, to mixed reviews, but since they all starred people I like, I rented them through Netflix. I'll review them in the order I saw them: Get Smart, Kit Kittredge: An American Girl, and Over Her Dead Body.

Get Smart, based on the 1960s TV show, starred The Office star Steve Carrell and Anne Hathaway. The supporting cast wasn't bad either, with Supporting Actor Oscar winner Alan Arkin, Dwanye Johnson, and Masi Oka. Carrell longs to be a field agent, his agency gets destroyed and only he and Anne Hathaway can inconspicuously infiltrate the bad guys group and save the world. That's about all I understood of the main storyline, but it didn't really matter. The action is only slightly better than a TV series would put together, kind of like a funny Alias. Mostly it's about silly jokes and Carrell hurting himself with weapons. Decent entertainment, but nothing ground-breaking. 3.5 LAMBS/stars

I rented Kit Kittredge because I like Abigail Breslin (see Nim's Island and Little Miss Sunshine) and I'm kind of a sucker for kids movies, and it got decent reviews in the theaters. Based on a doll (The American girl series, which I had when I was a kid) and the books written about her character, Kit lives in Cincinnati during the Great Depression. She wants to be a writer when she grows up and keeps submitting her stories to the newspaper (edited by Wallace Shawn!) and keeps trying to write stories they might publish. Her father (Chris O'Donnell) loses his job and moves to Chicago to find work and Kit and her mom (Julia Ormond) open their house to borders to help make the mortgage. A mix of people move in, helping create fun stories, quirky characters and a good mystery. It was a strangely pertinent story as our own economy struggles that our society's view of poverty might not have changed much since the Depression. They treat "hobos" as criminals, and since few weren't susceptible to unemployment, anyone could become a hobo. I'll admit while watching it I got kinda nervous as they were echoing things that have been appearing in the papers lately. But since it's a kid's movie, it all worked out in the end and Kit solves the mystery and saves the day. It's still fun entertainment. 4 LAMBS/stars.

And finally, the ugly. Over Her Dead Body is a bad redo of Just Like Heaven (with Reese Witherspoon and Mark Ruffalo) which wasn't a good enough movie to do again. Basically, a woman dies, can't accept it, haunts someone, and there's a love story. Lake Bell is the main character and isn't interesting enough to carry a movie. That's my first problem with it. The second was that someone convinced Eva Longoria Parker (who I love in Desperate Housewives) that she should both tan extensively and dye her hair blond so she's the same color all over. Plus, half the story is about how Paul Rudd can't get over the death of his fiancee and thus won't smile anymore. Most of Paul Rudd's appeal is his humor and his smile. So basically this movie stinks. The reviews weren't good, but they were kind. It's worse. 1 LAMB/Star. Don't watch this movie.

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Secret Life of Bees

There are many, many books that have become movies, and some books that have become plays, and even some movies that have becomes plays and plays become movies, but The Secret Life of Bees is the only story I know that I first read the book, saw it performed as a one-woman play, and now have seen the movie. I'm also happy to say that the story holds up to the various media. Lily Owes (Dakota Fanning) lost her mother as a child and now lives with her father, T-Ray (Paul Bettany in a scary yet sympathetic role) on a peach farm in South Carolina during the 1960s. President Johnson has just signed the Civil Rights act, and Lily's housekeeper, Rosaleen (Jennifer Hudson, proving she deserved her Supporting Actress Oscar) is going to register to vote. She runs into racists idiots who won't let her register and beat her up. This is the impetus Lily needs to run away, helping Rosaleen escape the hospital and heading to Tiburon, SC. Lily has just a few items from her mother, an image of a black virgin Mary, white kid gloves, and a photo. It's the Mary that sends her to Tiberon where she finds the Mary as the label for a brand of honey. This brings her to the pepto-bismol pink home of the Boatwrights, August (Queen Latifah), June (Alicia Keys) and May (Sophie Okonedo). Lily lies about why they are in Tiberon, but the Boatwrights take them in and teach Lily about beekeeping and Rosaleen helps May in the kitchen. There are quirks about each of the women, and the story resolves itself with the sad conflicts you might expect in a story about black women in South Carolina in the '60s. Overall, I really liked the movie, but found that without the tidbits about bees and beekeeping the book weaves through, the story is mostly sad. 3 stars/Lambs. In case you've missed the trailers, books, or plays, here's the trailer to remind you.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

L.A.M.Blog_A_Thon: Volume 2 - Christmas Scenes

As I love holiday movies, I have many favorite movies, and usually a favorite scene within each movie too, so I love this month's theme for the LAMB blog-a-thon. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation is a family favorite ever since my grandparents were forced to spend the night due to a blizzard on Christmas Eve. Not having any way to entertain her parents, my aunt put this movie on and the rest is history. I've even found kindred spirits by quoting the movie in front of strangers and having people respond in kind. (B-mama, I'll get you something "real nice" for the holidays). Anyway, quoting the best scene properly is something of a badge of honor in our family and usually leads to disagreements about the actual words, leading to putting the movie on and watching it all the way through as this scene is close to the end. Enjoy.

Thursday, December 4, 2008


I saw this over at Hoping for Something to Hope For, and I just like the idea.

1. One movie that made you laugh:
Step Brothers

2. One movie that made you cry: Out of Africa

3. One movie you loved when you were a child: The Little Mermaid

4. One movie that you have seen more than 10 times: Groundhog Day

5. One movie you've seen multiple times in the theater: Aladdin (5 times)

6. One movie you walked out on: Battleship Earth

7. One movie that you can and do quote from: National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

8. One movie you loved, but were embarrassed to admit it: Stuck On You

9. One movie that you keep meaning to see but just haven't gotten around to watching yet: Blade Runner (I know, I's in my queue)

10. One movie you hated: The English Patient

11. One movie that scared you: Seven

12. One movie that made you happy: WALL-E

13. One movie that made you miserable: Finding Neverland (very sad)

14. One movie musical for which you know all the lyrics to all the songs: Most of them, but I'd say I know all the lyrics to all the songs in Mary Poppins

15. One movie that you have been known to sing along with:
Almost any movie that has music

16. One movie you would recommend that everyone see:
Out of Africa

17. One movie character you’ve fallen in love with: George Bailey in It's a Wonderful Life

18. One actor that would make you more inclined to see a movie: Robert Downey Jr.

19. One actor that would make you less likely to see a movie: Nicole Kidman

20. One of the last movies you saw: Australia

21. One of the next movies you hope to see: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Milk

If you want to play along, consider yourself tagged!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Out of Australia

Baz Luhrmann's new film Australia meets all the qualifications of an epic film, and hopefully will achieve the recognition it deserves as the child of Ben Hur, Casablanca, Gone with the Wind and Out of Africa. It tells the story of Lady Sarah Ashley (Nicole Kidman), who arrives in Darwin, Australia on the eve of WWII, to force her husband to sell their cattle ranch and return to England. She arrives to find he's been murdered, the cattle scattered, and nothing to keep her around. Then she meets Nullah, a half-caste young boy afraid of being taken by the "coppers" and sent to the island where the government is trying to adapt the kids to a white lifestyle and "breed the black out of them". The Australian government recently apologized to the Stolen Generation for their policies. Anyway, Mrs. Boss (as Kidman becomes known) realizes she has people who depend on her and decides to drove the cattle to Darwin to earn a contract with the military. The process of bringing the cattle involves The Drover (Hugh Jackman in a terrifically sexy role). There are wonderfully beautiful scenes throughout this act, and action sequences that will make you gasp. There are three acts to the movie, the drove to Darwin during the dry season, the middle act, a time of peace when the rains return, and the bombing of Darwin. Each one might have been a movie individually, but together they tell an epic story.

I expected Nicole Kidman's character to annoy me - her hairstyle mimicked The Golden Compass which was a dreadful role with coldness and dispassion (the opposite of what's required for Australia) but I did believe her falling in love in with The Drover (how you could you not?) and Jackman's acting was terrific. He reminded me of Robert Redford in Out of Africa, playing the disinterested loner who falls in love, but doesn't want to admit that comes with responsibilities. His character has lots of depth, that unfortunately, due to the script, only gets to come up in pieces. When he appears in a white tuxedo jacket at the top of the stairs I kept thinking how much he invoked Humphrey Bogart. However, the absolute winner of the film that makes it a story worth following is Nullah (Brandon Walters). You can feel the yearning for goodness in his eyes. On a personal note, I live in Kenya for a year studying zebras (another life) and lived at a research center where the next youngest person was the three-year old daughter of the manager and she became my best friend. She was Kenyan, half white, a quarter black, and a quarter West Indies, with the creamy skin and dark soft hair and huge curious eyes. We called her Dudu (swahili for little bug) thanks to the look of her eyes. Nullah looked very much like Dudu, so I had a strong connection to his story throughout the movie, wanting people to take care of him and make it all right. But this was a movie, so all kinds of things happened, including using all kinds of magic and aboriginal culture to bring the stories to life from a unique place in history. I really liked the overall effect of the movie, the stories were beautiful, the plot was fine (yes, predictable, but not cliched), and the love story (both between Kidman and Jackman, AND Mrs. Boss and Nullah) was wonderful. Great movie, definitely go see it in the theater, completely worth it. 4.5 LAMBS/stars

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Twofer Tuesdays Top-Grossing Reviews: 1995 and 1992

Year: 1995
Film: Toy Story
Box Office Gross: $
Awards: Nominated for 3 Oscars (before Best Animated Feature was a category) including winning an award for Special Achievement for a feature length computer animated film
Actors:Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Don Rickles, Wallace Shawn, John Ratzenberger

This movie holds up even though computer animation has made leaps and bounds since this movie was completed. It was an in
novative concept as a script even before we were awed by the new techniques behind animation which most people only notice when they're bad, not that they're amazingly new. I just read that Joss Whedon helped write the screenplay, which was nominated for an Oscar which, with Finding Nemo, are the only animated films nominated for best original screenplay. The characters they created were iconic toys, but given voices that seemed totally appropriate (wouldn't you assume that Mr. Potato Head spoke like Don Rickles?) and then sent on an adventure to return to the little boy who loves them. It's a great story, and deserves the accolades heaped upon it. This description of Buzz Lightyear sums it up for me.

Year: 1992
Film: Aladdin
Box Office Gross: $
Awards: Nominated for 5 Oscars (before Best Animated Feature was a category) including winning 2 awards for Original Score and Best Original Song for "A Whole New World"
Scott Weingner, Robin Williams, Linda Larkin, Jonathan Freeman, and Gilbert Gottfried

Aladdin was the first movie I saw in the theater more than once. I think I actually saw it 5 times in the theater (back when movies cost $2 for kids) I liked it so much. Robin Williams' comedy as the genie was terrific and started the trend of big stars voicing characters in animated movies. I'm not sure this movie holds up as well for grown-ups because I've only seen it once since I was a kid, and most of the other animated movies I love I still watch. I'm still surprised this movie was the highest grossing for 1992, even over Batman Returns (the one with Penguin and Catwoman), Home Alone 2, and Lethal Weapon 3. Okay, maybe I'm not surprised.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Young @ Heart

In the documentary spirit of King of Kong, Spellbound, and Wordplay, the film Young @ Heart presents interesting people doing interesting things, learning to excel at something and triumphing over challenges. Young @ Heart follows the story of a choir of senior citizens, some very senior, as they prepare for a new show learning new songs including James Brown's, "I feel good", and Sonic Youth's "Schizophrenia". They have some troubles learning and there are obviously less talented singers, but their passion overwhelms their skill anyway. The director follows several of the more prominent singers and interviews more people. Not to give anything away, but several of the members are in or out of the hospital, changing the dynamic both of the group and the movie. It's an uplifting story, and you can sing along. They even do music video-like montages of songs from Bowie's "Golden Years" to The BeeGee's "Staying Alive". I really liked it and highly recommend it. No special mood is required to watch it, and rapt attention isn't required so watch it while you write holiday cards.