Miss The Big Short & you’ve missed out


The Big Short:  We left the theater saying “I want to see it again.”  Everything about this film deserves an award. The only bad thing is, it’s a true story. And, it’s a story that cost hard-working, freedom-loving folks their hard-earned dollars.  Did anybody care?  These guys did.


Do not miss THE BIG SHORT: When I called my friend Michelle Rifenberg, another movie aficionado,  to recommend seeing this film, she was out the door and back with what I thought were best recommendations: •”The Big Short” is a film that should be mandatory viewing for those who have shuffled through life in a fog of cluelessness about what is happening. It’s time to put down 50 shades of trash, turn off faux reality TV, and stop the idle distractions and PAY ATTENTION! Some are waking up which may partly explain the Trump, Cruz, and Bernie revolts. This story was not an isolated, one-time event. It can and will happen again. “Big” is never good and these events are not just about “those rich people.” They are about all of us too. Think about that when you buy more mortgage, second mortgage, student loan, or credit card debt than you can afford; or vote for all that “free stuff” that you feel entitled. Greed is not good and no income level is immune from the seduction of avarice.

Michelle is right. There were those who tried to warn about the housing bubble but no one would listen. Why? Ego and greed.  If you are interested in other similar stories read No One Would Listen by Harry Markopolos,  or watch for this miniseries about Bernie MadoffThe Wizard of Lies stars Robert DeNiro to air on HBO.  Madoff ABC miniseries February 3&4 stars Richard Dreyfuss. My husband Mike recommends Too Big to Fail, also about the financial meltdown of 2008.  When ego and greed are the driving force of those in charge, it’s no wonder the American people lose.

BROOKLYN: Should she stay or should she go?

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Brooklyn portrays a young woman’s experiences emigrating from Ireland to America in the 1950’s. Director John Crowley develops the script by Nick Hornby into a journey of impassioned passage and transformation. (Michael Brook soundtrack is delightful!)

Crowley’s Brooklyn (2015) differs from the 1992 Far and Away couple (Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman) near-death experiences of trying to stay alive to partake in the 1893 Land Run; however, their nationality and gender injustices do arguably continue into the ‘50’s and today.

Eilis Lacey (Saoirse Ronan) leaves Ireland in pursuit of a new life. Thanks to Father Flood (Jim Broadbent) for arrangements, she settles in Brooklyn, works at a department store and goes to night school, albeit the only woman in her class of aspiring accountants. Her simple clothing and manners make her appear impersonal until adorable Tony Fiorello (Emory Cohen) becomes the love of her life.imgres Well, maybe. Eilis makes a return visit home and becomes involved with the friends and the country she still loves. Should she stay or should she go? Eilis has to decide and Ronan delivers a standout performance love story aficionados will delight in.

The film adaptation Brooklyn from Colm Toíbín’s novel brought thoughts of my grandparents and my mom’s arrival to America from war torn Czechoslovakia. They were a young family and with a language barrier to boot. Yet, they built a house (literally) and raised eleven children. And my grandma? She spoke Czech until the day she died—apparently too busy cooking, cleaning and caring for kids to notice a problem with communication. My grandparents, my mom, and millions like them, chose to come to American for freedom and opportunity. I pray God will continue to bless America.



Creed left me eager for its sequel!


The underdog theme in Rocky lives on in the newly released Creed (see what Rolling Stone has to say!). I recalled the audience cheering after the first Rocky movie (1976) I watched at the Riverview Theater in South Minneapolis. Creed didn’t quite hit the mark emotionally, but it did deliver in directing, casting, acting and soundtrack (Ludwig Göransson).

Creed is Adonis Johnson (Michael B. Jordan), whose father, Apollo Creed, died before his birth. With no father, and growing up in a tough neighborhood, Adonis had some heavy lifting to do before he even got to the gym. He was humble enough to know he needed help, a coach, and smart enough to get the very best, Rocky (Sylvester Stallone). Rocky hesitates but his love for Apollo brings him back to the ring.


Along the way Adonis is drawn to the beautiful Bianca (Tessa Thompson) who is strong, toughened by her surroundings, and probably also because of her handicap. Adonis respected her. (Co-writers NB: You could have shortened the couch scene).

To the writers’ credit, they chose to not go overboard with flashbacks nor dwsylverster-stalloneell on the past. Instead, we were introduced to attractive and refreshing new actors who delivered in Creed and left me eager for a sequel (sooner than later-after all, Stallone is nearly 40 years older since he wrote and starred in Rocky). Hopefully the writers will keep Adonis and Bianca’s relationship as pristine as that of Rocky and yo, Adriane. And, next time around, bring audiences to cheering.



McFarland is a “Yes You Can” movie


Coach Jim White (far right) poses with the members of the 1987 McFarland High cross country team that is featured in the Disney movie -- McFarland, USA -- that opens Feb. 20. Photo: Disney Pictures [Via MerlinFTP Drop]

Coach Jim White (far right) poses with the members of the 1987 McFarland High cross country team that is featured in the Disney movie — McFarland, USA — that opens Feb. 20. Photo: Disney Pictures [Via MerlinFTP Drop]

McFarland (2015) may start out on the sappy side; but director Niki Caro (The Whale Rider) knew how to develop its characters to inspire even a non-sports fan like me. Kevin Costner stars as Coach White in search of a teaching/coaching job after injuring a student. Valuable lesson here for anyone who has ever made a mistake about moving forward.
White’s family ends up in what they initially consider a loser school and a community of mostly migrant workers. Students who are potential track stars stun Coach White; but there’s no track team at McFarland High School–until he builds a team, a team of winners. The struggle to transform the team, their families, the whole darn town, had me off the couch and running in place during the meets. Family, teamwork, commitment, the whole notion of “yes I can” makes this film one of inspiration and hope. I love knowing that McFarland is based on a true story and seeing follow-up on the coach and his 1987 team.

Check Wiki for historical accuracy of the film: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McFarland,_USA
‪#‎McFarland‬ ‪#‎KevinCostner‬ ‪#‎crosscountry‬ ‪#‎nikicaro‬ ‪#‎inspiringfilms‬‪#‎teamwork‬

WOODLAWN shows faith in action on the field!


Just how much in my life am I willing to risk for what I believe is the question posed to a coach and his high school football team in WOODLAWN. Even Rotten Tomatoes couldn’t resist giving this soul-searching film about love, unity and a football field full of courage a 91% rating.

Though I’m old enough to remember the segregation and racial discrimination of the ‘60’s and ‘70’s, I never heard of WOODLAWN and the famous football players the high school produced. Was it in our newspapers up here in Minnesota? Was there a reason this story of success was kept under wraps? Or, is it because it was about one kid and one coach in a high school didn’t seem to matter much.

Had it not been for the courage of a few folks in Birmingham, Alabama may still be throwing bricks through windows and threatening anyone who dares stand his ground. Jon Voight as Paul “Bear” Bryant, University of Alabama’s head coach has some of the best lines in the show. Caleb Castille as Tony Nathan is that of a super role model not only on the field but in his personal life.

“It’s going on today,” my husband Mike reminded me as we left the theater, “that football player who’s being penalized for holding up his hand and the high school coach who prays with his team.” The bullying and ignorance from decades ago lives on.

Bridge of Spies happened and who knew?


My husband Mike and I are just old enough to remember when a CIA U-2 spy plane on a mission was shot down by the Soviet Union.

“His name was Powers,” Mike recalled.

The incident happened during the “cold war,” the setting for Bridge of Spies. Prior to that a Russian spy Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance), was caught and defended by American lawyer, Jim Donovan (Tom Hanks). Donovan’s is a rather humble, family man who believes in following the Constitution and the rule of law. The movie seemed more like a documentary as the scriptwriter holds to this true story. Hanks delivers on every count including arranging an exchange for the “spies.”

Like Sicario, this film puts the viewer in the “what would you do” seat. What would you do if you were the judge—put the Russian away for life? What would you do if you found out there were more than one American in the USSR prison? Are you wishing you had that ’57 Chevy?

Mike thought it was missing some action—so he gave it 3 1/2 stars. I believe the film was an easy 5 stars because I’m still talking about it.

SICARIO begs the question, “What would YOU do?”

7507500-sicario-posterSICARIO: If you like thriller, action and suspense movies, Sicario delivers with story, cinematography, and a talented cast led by Emily Blunt, Benicio Del Toro and Josh Brolin. A team of recruits go back and forth across the U.S.-Mexican border after the drug cartel bosses.


Alejandro’s (Del Toro) drive to get the big boss leads him to cast aside rules/laws. It’s pretty clear this is no country for idealism. There’s plenty of action with a soundtrack by Johann Johannsson (The Theory of Everything, Prisoners) that keeps up with the film’s intensity. The feeling of “what would you do?” lends to the excitement and value of Sicario.

MISSION:IMPOSSIBLE 5 was action-packed and fun


In case you missed opening weekend, treat yourself to the big screen and sound of Mission:Impossible Rogue Nation. Yes, Tom Cruise runs and is said to do his own stunts–believe me, he is nothing short of exciting and making me beg for more (I can’t believe I said that). M:I 5 was so much fun, I look forward to seeing it again. Yes, I loved the car chases, cycle chases, and having Turandot beautifully performed while Ethan Hunt (Cruise) gets the bad guy.  Writer/Director Christopher McQuarrie has provided a script sprinkled with some bits of humor that made for a delightful addition to Hunt ridding the world of one more terrorist group. How refreshing to have this action-packed summer delight not have to push pause on the action button to insert a ho-hum romance. Instead, we were treated to Hunt putting his team together and taking care of business.  The quality of this film guarantees-yes-an M:I 6. I can’t wait!