Amazing! Lots of heartfelt dialogue and I could understand every word! I hope Charlize Theron continues to produce her own movies because:
  • She's a wonderful actress (and no one looks better in high-heeled snakeskin boots with tight jeans!)
  • The movie actually has an involving story
  • The acting is excellent for ALL involved
  • The location stuff is so authentic I got chilblains just watching!

Charlize Theron ("Monster" and "The Italian Job") is a fresh-out-of-options single mom who browbeats her indecisive younger brother, effectively played by Nick Stahl ("In the Bedroom" and "Terminator III"), into letting her and her daughter come stay with him. During the next week or so, his life is so disrupted he loses his job, she takes off, the girl drops out of school and goes AWOL from court-mandated foster care. Under the circumstances, he can see nothing to do but take off with her.

They have limited resources, so he heads for the family farm where the father, played by Dennis Hopper (he dates back to 1954 in "Johnny Guitar" and 1956 in "Giant"), still lives and works. In very short order, his abusive personality manifests itself as he berates his son and practically enslaves his granddaughter. When he starts physically slapping her, things take a huge turn for the worse, even though some in the audience applauded when Stahl leapt to her defense.

This movie will not be a big box-office hit, but it is a worthwhile project. Theron once again, shows us what a terrific actress she is and I respect someone who puts her money where her mouth is...

Violent Saturday

This time I'm going to brag. This movie is caught up in some sort of litigation and is NOT available for rentals, or for libraries. Because I participate in a blog-type website for residents of Bisbee, Arizona, one of the fellows from my high school class tipped me off on how to get a copy of this movie, which was shot in our hometown in 1955.

"Violent Saturday" takes place in Bradenville, a Southwestern mining town and starts with the daily blast in the Fairchild Copper open pit mine. They filmed what to us, was a daily occurrence. Of course, we didn't have Victor Mature ("The Robe" and "Sampson and Delilah") overseeing it, with the mine owner's drunkard son, played by Richard Egan ("A Summer Place") as a half-hearted participant. Mature's grade-school son gets in a fist fight with a classmate because the friend's father was a decorated war hero (WWII), while Mature had to continue working for the war effort by managing the copper mine, which was considered an essential industry.

Three bank robbers, played by Stephen McNally ("Battle Zone"), J Carrol Naish ("Rage at Dawn") and Lee Marvin ("The Dirty Dozen" and "Cat Ballou") are convening in town after scoping out a nearby Amish farm to ascertain if it has a telephone or any other means of outside communication. It doesn't. The Amish father is played by Ernest Borgnine ("Marty" and "Johnny Guitar") and the mother by Sylvia Sydney ("Mars Attacks").

The robbers intend to close the bank curtains, lock the doors early, and take advantage of the automatically timed bank vault which will open just before closing time at noon on Saturday, holding any customers at gun point while they empty the safe. They will steal a car and head out to the Amish farm where they have arranged to meet an accomplice who will be driving a truckload of baled hay. They will hide the loot in the hay and take off in the truck.

They steal Victor Mature's car and take him hostage, along with the Amish family as soon as they reach the farm. Borgnine councils Mature against using violence, that "The Lord will protect us." This conviction is put to the test as things heat up.

Of course there are secondary plots to enrich the script, plenty of scenic shots and, to us locals, a laughably garbled local geography.

I thoroughly enjoyed watching this DVD and agree with Leonard Maltin who gives it three (out of four) stars. I obtained it through http://www.movielead.com/ but it wasn't cheap! The fellow gave me permission to pass it on to you...


Run, Fatboy, Run

Now with a title like this, you really don't anticipate some sort of elevated "ART," do you? This movie title epitomizes "Truth in Advertising!" ART it certainly is NOT, but as a way to waste an evening, it's okay... My expectations for Director David Schwimmer (one of the "Friends" cast members), are mediocre at best anyway.

How does one oversimplify an overly simple plot? Simon Pegg ("Hot Fuzz" and also co-writer) is a clueless, lazy, mildly overweight under-achiever who jilted his pregnant fiancée at the altar five years before our story begins. The fiancée, played by Thandie Newton ("Crash" and "Mission Impossible II") is a forgiving, endlessly patient single mom who tolerates his tardiness, forgetfulness and slovenly appearance because it is clear to her that he truly loves their son, Jake. She has, however, met a paragon. This ideal man, portrayed beautifully by Hank Azaria ("America's Sweethearts" and "The Birdcage" - he was the hilarious houseboy in the thong), has a high-status job, elegant taste and adores Thandie.

This résumé would be bad enough, but he is also buying his way into little Jake's affections with tickets to shows and access to high-end toys. With a combination of ignorance, bluff and braggadocio, our hero blunders his way into entering "The Nike River Run," a London marathon, simply to show Jake (AND his mother) that he too, can be a super-achiever.

Because it is co-written by Simon Pegg, be prepared for crass humor, slams to the crotch and overwrought emoting, but also know that his heart's in the right place and he wants to show that perseverance IS important and love conquers all. (You cannot imagine how this race could possibly end, particularly when he ends up running for the "Erectile Dysfunction Society.") I was entertained, but was also aware that some of you might be offended.

You Kill Me

This is a black comedy...be warned! I checked the DVD from the library and I'm certain it is in the rental catalogs.

Sir Ben Kingsley ("House of Sand and Fog," "Sexy Beast" and "Schindler's List") is a professional hit man, employed by his uncle played by Philip Baker Hall ("Zodiak," "The TV Set" and "In Good Company") in Buffalo, which has become a war zone between three mobs; the Italians, the Irish and the Chinese. He has been a top-notch professional, but his alcoholism has caught up with him and he can no longer be entrusted with a job. His uncle, displaying notable kindness, ships him to San Francisco to "get in a program!" and dry out.

The uncle supplies him with a watchdog, played by Bill Pullman ("While You Were Sleeping" and "Independence Day") who furnishes him with an apartment and a job -- in a mortuary! While on the job, he meets Tea Leoni ("Fun With Dick and Jane" and "Flirting With Disaster"), there to bury her stepfather, and one thing leads to another... The scene where he is trying to figure out a list for one of the twelve steps...Make Amends...is a wry commentary on the AA program and his attempts to take each step as prescribed. His mentor in the program is a gay toll booth attendant, played by Luke Wilson ("Home Fries" and "Legally Blonde").

This highly praised 2007 movie has a notably clever script with witty dialogue, funny situations and loving relationships, all the while dealing with those pesky mob problems and our hero's obviously bad choice of professions.

I liked it very much!


Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day

To me this is a Chick Flick with enunciation problems. It has a wonderful cast even though most of us went strictly to see Frances McDormand ("Blood Simple," "Paradise Road," "Lone Star" and "Fargo") who is Miss Pettigrew. To any of you who have the least trouble understanding dialog in films where they whisper or confide in low tones, wait for the DVD so you will have captions.

For everyone else, go see this frothy piece set in the late 1930s London, which depicts a ditzy American actress and singer, played by Amy Adams ("Enchanted" and "Charlie Wilson's War"), as she juggles her three men:
  • Lee Pace ("Infamous" and "The Good Shepherd") who plays Michael, the pianist who loves her. He looks like either Colin Farrell or Clive Owens' younger brother. A key moment takes place when he forces her to sing "If I Didn't Care" as part of her nightclub act.
  • Tom Payne (British TV), as Phil, the besotted young lover she is manipulating into both marriage and a starring role in his next big theatrical production.
  • Mark Strong ("Stardust" and "Syriana") is Phil, the smarmy lover/promoter who owns both the elegant apartment where she lives and the nightclub that employs her.
McDormand is a just-fired governess/nanny who, in a desperate move (it's the 1930s, so "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?" plays in the back-ground during the montage that illustrates her tribulations), bluffs her way into a day's worth of employment with the actress.

During the course of the day (because she doesn't want to be seen with Oliver Twist's aunt!), the actress takes Miss Pettigrew shopping ("Any- thing Goes" is on the soundtrack), where our doughty heroine meets a fashion designer, played by Ciarán Hinds ("Persuasion" and "There Will be Blood"). Actually, she dumps her lunch on his shoes...

Lots of elegant sets, costumes, food; lots of period automobiles and street scenes; lots of sappy situations solved by clever maneuvering by Miss Pettigrew. It's funny and light, but deucedly difficult to hear. I know I'll enjoy the DVD.