LION is tender-hearted movie across thousands of miles

LION, the story of an adopted man pursuing his biological family, was also a surprise adventure through two countries. The movie begins w/ a little Saroo who roams the streets to the point of being hungry and lost. His bed in a stationary train takes him thousands of miles from home to Calcutta. Change of language results in his adoption by a couple from Tasmania (Nicole Kidman and David Wenham). Another boy is also adopted by the couple.

Skipping through the years, the boys are grown and find themselves somewhat estranged. Dev Patel plays Saroo as an adult who is haunted by his childhood journey. He is particularly hurting because he knows his mother, who did not abandon him, must be looking for him. The pursuit of his mother reveals the anxiousness and tragedy experience by some adoptees. What an opportunity to join Saroo on his journey.

(spoiler) Lion is based on a true story. First-time feature director Garth Davis ends the film with the ideal real-life family reunion via pictures. The story was once told in Saroo’s best-selling book A Long Way Home. Lion will bring a tear to your eye.

Discovery and Deception makes GOLD compelling


Matther Mcconaughey and Edgar Ramirez in search of GOLD

GOLD: Film critics have been wrong before. I predict they are wrong on Gold considering the outstanding performance of Matthew Mcconaughey as the compulsive character Kenny Wells. No doubt Wells almost cartoon-like body confirms what will happen when you live like a bird on the wire with a diet of alcohol.

Gold is based on the true story of Canadian businessman, David Walsh. Yes, Walsh did buy land in Indonesia; and, he did hire a geologist who salted a mine with gold flakes. Bottom line, it was one of the biggest stock scandals in Canadian history.

Trust me, Mcconaughey could sell ice cubes to Eskimos. The film storyline offers just such an opportunity. Wells is a young man who wanted to do a good job not only for the money, but, foremost to honor his father. Just how far he is willing to go to do this is what gives his character purpose. Walsh’s frustration for success makes him the perfect pushover. I predict Gold is a film that will be played over and over on movie channels.

Rich in history even more in inspiration: Hidden Figures


Hidden Figures is a based on the true story of three brilliant women of integrity who were held back and basically ignored in the fields of math and science because they were women, black women. Such bizarre and ludicrous behavior undoubtedly stalled, possibly even damaged projects at NASA.

I cringed watching Katherine Johnson, played by Taraji P. Henson, a young widow with three daughters, required to do mile-long runs to relieve herself because “there’s no colored bathrooms in this building.” Real life Katherine Johnson is 98 years old, known for calculating the trajectories for many NASA missions. In 2015 Johnson received the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Mary Jackson, played by Janell Monae, shows what happens when brains and determination meet bigotry and pigheadedness. Jackson’s role will undoubtedly serve to motivate others experiencing discrimination.


My favorite of the three is Dorothy Vaughan, played by Octavia Spencer (The Help), whose wit, wisdom and intestinal fortitude eventually knocked down the doors of impossible. Vaughan becomes the first employee supervisor of color in the space program. Oh that audiences everywhere watching Vaughan would strive to emulate those qualities at home and in the workplace.

My favorite is Dorothy Vaughan played by Octavia Spencer. Vaughan has chutzpah! Photo:

The film is adapted from Margot Lee Shetterly’s book by the same name. She grew up with many of these brilliant mathematicians around her. Shetterly’s thoughtfully and thoroughly researched book is a read for everyone to be inspired and even more for the revelation of our history that has been as the title says, one of “hidden figures.”



Patriots’ Day is a story of courage and resilience–always remember

Patriots’ Day director Peter Berg with actor Mark Wahlberg

Patriots’ Day is a 5 Star film from it’s opening scenes to the credit roll, Director Peter Berg delivers a perfectly paced thriller about April 19, 2013, the day of the Boston Marathon when 2 terrorists set off bombs on the crowded streets, murdering, mutilating and wounding its people. Berg outperforms Lonesome Survivor (2013) and Deepwater Horizon (2016) drawing deeper emotions for those whose courage saved lives and showed strength in unity. At times I didn’t know whether to cheer or cry as I watched first responders challenged by human emotions of sorrow, pain and the call to action.

Character development goes a long way in this violent type of film. Unlike Titanic, where I didn’t really care who fell off the boat, Berg has me believing I’m somehow related to these officers and bystanders. Sgt. Jeffrey Pugliese (J.K Simmons) bringing his wife a blueberry muffin for breakfast, a young couple whose love is blossoming, or a nurse who saves lives everyday, I’m with them all the way.

For the second time this year (the first was Deepwater Horizon) Mark Wahlberg shines in crisis mode. As officer/detective Tommy Saunders (a combination of Boston’s finest), Wahlberg delivers the lines of why Boston folks are strong, watch out for each other, and work together. His lines are heartfelt. After all, he went to school just 250 yards from the marathon finish line. Wahlberg is a master of crisis as Berg is with explosions—I hope they both keep them coming.

The film’s resolve includes several of those who lived to tell their story, stories of innocent people who gathered for a healthy, outdoor event turned tragedy. My thoughts were ranging from “God, I love the people of Boston” to “shoot the _______!” I realized that Patriots Day touched me in a reflective way. I questioned whether I would be as resilient as those who lost their leg(s) or a loved one? If I had the good fortune to escape the explosives, would I turn back to help those in need? Thankfully there were those who were unyielding in their determination to heal and to track down the bombers.

La La Land delivers in romance and chutzpah!

Waiting on a 4-hour car repair, husband Mike and I shuttled to see La La Land. From the opening traffic jam (reminiscent of Two Weeks Notice) drivers burst from their cars into song and dance. The film immediately had my attention. What? A real musical starring Emma Stone as Mia and Ryan Gosling as Sebastian made me lean back, take a deep breath and know that I was on a virtual romantic romp.


Damien Chazelle (Whiplash) showed that he has more guts than a Christmas turkey this time directing an original musical with Gosling singing and dancing! Mike couldn’t get past it and I loved it. Thanks to catching a Kevin McCarthy TV review of the film I knew that Gosling also did his own piano scenes. Yup, that’s his voice, his legs and those are his hands on the keys.


The romance between Mia and Sebastian was believable. Tenacity becomes a virtue that begs support from a mom, friend, or most of all, a sweetheart. They understood their passions and the risks that call for courage. I felt the spark and the tension between them as they sang and danced their way through setbacks and mistakes.


I can’t wait to see La La Land again. Chazelle deserves an award for engaging audiences everywhere to an estranged genre. I anticipate the Academy will reward this film accordingly.

“Please Lord, help me get one more.”

Hacksaw Ridge: Andrew Garfield as Desmond Doss in the Battle of Okinawa

Hacksaw Ridge: Andrew Garfield as Desmond Doss in the Battle of Okinawa




Not since Olympic runner Eric Liddell in Chariots of Fire refused to run on Sunday, has there been a film of such extraordinary conviction as Hacksaw Ridge. Mel Gibson powerfully directs the true story of U.S. Army Corporal Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield), a conscientious objector who saved 75 men in Okinawa. Des’s father is an alcoholic WWI veteran who beats his wife and sons and doesn’t want them going off to war after Pearl Harbor. In spite of his father’s objection, Des decides to enlist with no intention of bearing arms.

Saving a man’s life brings him to a hospital and the beginning of a romance with a beautiful

Teresa Palmer as Dorothy Schutte marries Desmond Doss.

Teresa Palmer as Dorothy Schutte marries Desmond Doss.

nurse, Dorothy Schutte (Teresa Palmer), reminiscent of the young lovers in “Notebook.” Des learns about medicine from her work and decides to serve as a medic. While at Fort Jackson, his wedding plans are deterred by Des’s arrest for insubordination for refusing to compromise his beliefs as a Seventh-day Adventist, neither to carry a rifle nor to train on Saturdays. Surprisingly, his father intervenes, the charges are dropped, and he and Dorothy are married.

vince-vaughn-hacksaw-ridge-618x375Sergeant Howell (Vince Vaughn) and the soldiers torment Des because of his religious beliefs. Yet no amount of suffering succeeds in deterring the young soldier from serving as a medic on the front lines. The harassing continues even in the Battle of Okinawa while taking on the Japanese forces stationed there. Vaughn and his troops were convincing in their roles as jerks.

As the battle ensues, Howell and others from Des’s squad are injured and abandoned on the battlefield. Des spends day and night carrying wounded soldiers to the cliff face of the Maeda Escarpment (Hacksaw Ridge). By rappelling them down on a rope, he is able to rescue over 75 soldiers. His prayer was a simple one: “Please, Lord, help me get one more.”

Gibson did not hold back showing the gruesomeness of the battlefield. The footage was not spared of men with their legs or heads blown off. Truly this is not a film for the faint-of-heart. The battle is won and Des’s courage noted. He was the first conscientious objector to be awarded the Medal of Honor.

President Harry S. Truman awards Desmond Doss the Medal of Honor.

President Harry S. Truman awards Desmond Doss the Medal of Honor.

Before the credits roll, Desmond Doss appears in an interview before his death in 2006 saying that what kept him going was prayer. Who knows that Gibson’s delivery of this story may just change the course of some who are tempted to abandon their convictions?

Super hero, savant, and a secret gunroom – Oh, my!

Ben Affleck stars as Christopher Wolff, an autistic math savant, CPA involved with some shady characters. What he does makes for a compelling mystery-thriller.

Ben Affleck stars as Christopher Wolff, an autistic math savant and a CPA involved with some shady characters. What he does makes for a compelling mystery-thriller.

The Accountant movie is about Christopher Wolff (Ben Affleck) a forensic accountant who happens to also be autistic and a math savant who combines the best of both as a CPA–or is he an assassin? Don’t let the title fool you! This accountant’s job has him living two lives intertwining the mundane with danger.

Gun enthusiasts may appreciate this article with more weapon idetail:

Gun enthusiasts may appreciate this article with more weapon detail: Guns of The Accountant.

If you followed any of the reviews, you would have missed this film because many of them reported over-the-top violence and a complicated plot(s). Rotten Tomatoes gave The Accountant a 51% while the audience score was 83%. The story was a mystery-thriller that kept my attention with good acting and directing by Gavin O’Connor (Warrior).

O’Connor took some risks with a pile-up of plots and tying in an autistic lead who could cause as much trouble with a felt tip pen as he can with firing guns from full-auto submachine guns to .50 caliber sniper rifles. Affleck was terrific in this role.images-2 J K Simmons (Whiplash) enters as a treasury agent whose suspicions of a successful company lead him to Wolff. A surprise in the cast is Anna Kendrick (Up in the Air) who’s just doing her job and ends up in the line of fire.

I found The Accountant to be a sleeper surprise. I liked the twists and turns. I want to see it again.

Film critic Kevin McCarthy gives more insight:

Deepwater Horizon is a rig–it’s also where 11 men lost their lives


Deepwater Horizon, like Captain Phillips, is a film about a real disaster that has its audience captivated by the action, nail-biting at the near-death and death scenes, and above all knowing that neither was a natural disaster. Deepwater’s casting is led by Mark Wahlberg, Kate Hudson, Kurt Russell and applause to John Malkovich—so believable I wanted to pull his hair out (heh!).

When BP management made a reckless decision—to ignore needed repairs of their rig minneapolis_bridge_01and more, I couldn’t help but think of our own Minnesota bridge collapse in 2007. (Lives were lost on the 35W bridge. Yet, to this day MN legislators choose to put Light Rail before bridge and road repair—the ONLY means of travel for fire, police, and EMT.) The employees are at their mercy.

Mark Wahlberg as Mike Williams who jumped 10 stories into the Gulf.

Mark Wahlberg as Mike Williams who jumped 10 stories into the Gulf.When the Deepwater explosion


When the Deepwater explosion occurred in 2010, my own recollection is what the media reported as the worst oil spill in American History. Clearly it was a disaster. Deepwater’s story differs from news reports by focusing on the loss of life, the loss of loved ones.

Deepwater Horizon is the third movie we’ve seen in the last few weeks – Sully and The Magnificent 7 – that portray in a thoughtful and meaningful way, the value of human life and the necessity of those in positions of power to have respect for that value and life itself. Deepwater reminds us of that value and its importance.

My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 with its original cast!

Original cast in My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 is family fun!

Original cast in My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 is family fun!

If you haven’t seen My Big Fat Greek Wedding, don’t even go to Greek Wedding 2 until you do. You’ll be lost in this big family film frolic.

Wonderful to see the original cast in Greek 2 BUT, I didn’t find the storyline as tight as the first one. It jut seemed like there were too many stories going on.

I blame the film’s flaws on a script with too many issues: Tula and Ian’s delightful daughter Paris feels smothered by extended family. As a helicopter parent, Tula’s issue is what to do with her time now that her only child is going off to college. A surprising technicality in her parents’ marriage license results in planning a wedding to correct the error. Imagine the chaos coupled with existing family conflicts like Tula and Ian’s insipid marriage, her Dad’s aging issues, neighborhood prejudices that had obviously gone unchecked, and Ian’s lack of involvement with his parents. Oh, and what about Tula’s estranged uncle? Whew.

I just don't think this is the help Tula was looking for!

I just don’t think this is the help Tula was looking for!

Yes, I did laugh out loud a couple of times. My adult daughter suggests that I see the movie again and maybe I will like it better. She’s right. That happened with Groundhog Day (shock! I must have had my mind elsewhere to have missed that one.) and Runaway Bride.

Vardalos is talented as an actress and writer. This time her writing reminded me of trying to throw everything at the wall to see what sticks. She could have saved some of the drama for Greek 3!
Will she consider yet another sequel? Let’s hope so. We could use more fun family entertainment.