Judy (2019)

Judy is a 2019 biographical film directed by Rupert Goold and stars Renée Zellweger, Jessie Buckley, Finn Wittrock, Rufus Sewell and Michael Gambon. The film follows Judy Garland’s career during the last year of her life when she moved her stage career to England and worsening of her health.

Though the film is about the last year of her life, it does make flashbacks to her start out in Hollywood as a child star under her boss Louis B. Mayer and the abuse she received from him, his wife and her mother. The film goes into detail about her weight issues that started when she landed her first film role as a child, her drug and alcohol abuse, her five marriages, her depression, insomnia, chain smoking, bankruptcy, homelessness and parental rights. You learn about how her growing up played a part in her health as an adult and how it had an affect on her daughter Liza Minnelli, who has struggled with drugs and alcohol and been married several times herself (but has gotten help).

Although Renee Zellweger is too tall to be Judy, since Garland was only 4’11,” and whether she actually sings or not, she still, along with her acting, portrays her outstandingly. At first I was skeptical about Zellweger playing Judy, but this film proved me completely wrong. Maybe the director could have found a 4’11” actress or someone around that height, but they probably wouldn’t have been nearly as good as Renée, who deserved every award she has won for this film.

Jessie Buckley is very good as Rosalyn Wilder, Judy’s production assistant in London. Finn Wittrock is excellent as Mickey Deans, Judy’s fifth and final husband, who was much younger than her and they were married less than a year, although they had known each other for years. Rufus Sewell is great as Sidney Luft, Garland’s third husband and father of their kids Lorna and Johnny. Michael Gambon is equally great as Bernard Delfont, a Russian born British theatrical impresario.

Although Judy Garland, like many celebrities, had an extremely troubled life, she is still an icon and still loved to this day. This film chronicles her life during the filming of The Wizard of Oz and the final year before her death at 47. She lives on in her films and music.

This fantastic movie shows the abuse such an iconic celebrity experiences as a child and their addictions they go through as a teenager and adult and the downward spiral of their life that leads to accidental young death. Despite all of the darkness of Judy Garland’s life and how she sometimes seemed like a mean, selfish person, it was her harsh childhood and drug and alcohol dependency that her made her that way. She wanted to stop, wanted to change, tried to, but was far too addicted and affected by her youth.

Though some elements of this biopic may be fictional, it is still an exceptional film. Zellweger shines throughout, though I would have liked to have seen more of Judy as a child and her early acting career under Louis B. Mayer. I also would liked there have been more of adult Judy in America, but I know that’s not what this film is about. Other than that is a 4/5 18+

Classic of the Week: Dark Victory (1939)

Dark Victory is a 1939 American drama film directed by Edmund Goulding, starting Bette Davis, George Brent, Humphrey Bogart, Geraldine Fitzgerald, Ronald Reagan and Cora Witherspoon.

The plot follows the story of Judith Traherne, a young, carefree Long Island socialite and heiress with a passion for fast cars, horses, partying and too much drinking and smoking. She ignores her severe headaches and brief dizziness, double and blurred vision, but when she falls off a horse, then falls downstairs, her secretary and best friend Ann King insists she visit the family doctor, who sends her to a specialist. Dr. Frederick Steele does a diagnostic test on Judy and confirms that she needs surgery to remove a malignant glioma brain tumor.

Steele discovers the tumor can’t be completely removed and realizes Judy has less than a year to live. The result will be painless and fast, but she will experience complete blindness and will die. Steele lies to Ann and Judy about the success of the surgery. Ann becomes suspicious and confronts him and he admits. He tells Ann Judy mustn’t know ever. Ann agrees to stay silent and continue to fib. Judith and Steele fall in love and eventually engaged.

Her Stablemaster Michael O’Leary, who for years has been in love with her, tells her of her troubled behavior and she confessed that she is dying. Their words convince her that she’s should spend her final months happy with the man she loves. She apologizes to Steele, they marry and move to Vermont.

Thieves film although it came out in 1939, shows how a brain tumor can lead to blindness and how people cope with it, which can be applied to today’s world. Bette Davis does an outstanding job as Judith Traherne, making the character seem like a real person. She doesn’t leave out one single emotion.

George Brent is great as Dr. Frederick Steele. He loves Judy, although he knows he is going to lose her. He gives her a forever within the numbered days they have. Geraldine Fitzgerald is fantastic as Ann King, the secretary and best friend of Judy. She stays by her side throughout the entire film, helping her out along the way. She a wonderful friend.

Humphrey Bogart is good, not great as stablemaster Michael O’Leary. His role isn’t as big as most of his others were. He uses short sentences and he is supposed to be in love with Judy, but only says so in one scene. He could’ve done better in this character, but it have been the screenwriter’s fault.

There is no humor in this film at all. Your heart gets warmed, then broken. This movie isn’t a very happy one, in fact, it’s really pretty depressing, but that doesn’t make it bad. It isn’t one that can be watched over and over again, as it is very sad. But it is wonderful from start to finish. You want it to turn out fine in the end. Despite the depressing nature of this movie, it is still a classic that will always make you cry. It has passion, sadness and friendship. It is such a heartbreaking story, but is so well done. Bette Davis lives on! 4.5/5

 

The Lighthouse (2019)

The Lighthouse is a 2019 psychological thriller horror film directed by Robert Eggers and stars Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe as two lighthouse keepers who lose sanity when a storm leaves them stranded on a mysterious New England island in the 1890s. The film is shot in entirely black and white.

This film has an Edgar Allen Poe meets James Joyce, meets art film feel to it. It starts out really slow, actually very boring, but does eventually pick up, but it then goes in a pattern, intense to slow. It isn’t consistently intense. Some scenes last too long. They go insane from boredom, no other people around, missing their family, the constant sound of the foghorn, cabin fever and drunkenness, so that explains a lot of the bizarre scenes, but there are far too many of those parts.

The two keepers start out as sort of pals, then become best friends, then eventually enemies. They end up hurting each other, physically and mentally. They found out truths about each other, good and bad. They don’t do much but watch, clean, paint, repair, etc. on the lighthouse, fish and trap lobsters, cook clean, eat, sleep, drink and read a few of the books they have. They do sing and dance in a couple of scenes, which are only part of a small portion of happier segments.

This film takes place entirely on the mysterious island, which doesn’t make it extremely interesting, nor entertaining. It is filled with hallucinations, disturbing scenes, depressing parts and slow segments as well. Very little about this film is happy. It has nothing to make you laugh or cry. It is very bizarre and distressing. There is almost too much bizarreness. It needed more happy scenarios.

Both Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe are equally fantastic in this film, but they don’t make the story and the actual film a whole lot better. I hate to say this film was awful, because it has two award winning and outstanding actors in it, but it was still just that bad. Slow, disturbing and depressing and no other setting but that island. I don’t understand how this film has gotten the praise it has, because it doesn’t deserve any of it. I love Pattinson and Dafoe, but they can MUCH better. 18+ 2/5

Classic of the Week: Blackboard Jungle (1955)

Blackboard Jungle is a 1955 social commentary film about teachers in an interracial inner-city school, directed by Richard Brooks, based on the novel The Blackboard Jungle by Evan Hunter. The film stars Glenn Ford, Sidney Poitier, Vic Morrow, Anne Francis and Louis Calhern. This is the breakout role for Poitier.

The film follows the story of Richard Dadier (Ford), a new teacher at North Manuel Trades High School, an inner-city school of a wide range of ethnic backgrounds where many of the students, led by student Gregory Miller (Poitier), frequently take part in anti social and rebellious behavior.

Though this film takes place in the mid 50s, it is still very much relevant today, as there are still an alarming amount of troubled youth today and still many functioning alternative schools across the country. This film, though fictional, shows how life in an alternative school for boys was back then and can be compared to today’s schools and troubled teen boys. It is educational, even without being factual. Every single lead star is equally great in their roles. This movie is known for its clever use of rock and roll in its soundtrack and for the unusual breakout of an African American cast member, the future Oscar and Golden Globe winner, Sidney Poitier.

This film along with Rebel Without a Cause are two of the greatest movies depicting troubled teenage boys. Adults try to help them, but they refuse it and won’t even help themselves. In Blackboard, just like in Rebel, the boys eventually see the light and realize they can’t go on living their lives the way have been and do try to better themselves. In this movie, it’s an entire school of troubled kids. It’s the students, versus the teachers, and at first, the pupils win, but eventually the teachers win, showing the kids who’s boss and how to better themselves, their lives and their family and friends’ lives as well. They are taught life skills, as well as regular subjects and trades like woodworking.

Many other films have been compared to or inspired by this one, like: Less Than Zero (1987), High School Confidential! (1958), The Outsiders (1983) and Rock and Roll High School (1979). But this classic will always be a moving depiction of difficult, rebellious and violent teen boys, regardless of its time period. It is one that every teen (boy or girl) should watch in high school or college.

Before watching this movie and hearing Bill Haley & His Comets’ “Rock Around the Clock,” you might have thought of a 1950s sock hop with poodle skirts and black leather jackets, not boys in an inner city school. But this song has become an iconic 1950s sock song, as well as being this film’s theme.

This film is a bit violent at times, a tad slow at other times, but eventually inspiring, eye opening and educational. Every teacher, teenager and film lover needs to watch this one at least once in their life. 18+ 4/5

Greatest War Films of All Time

  1. Black Hawk Down- 2001
  2. A. Very Long Engagement- 2004
  3. Kelly’s Heroes – 1970
  4. Coming Home – 1978
  5. Braveheart – 1995
  6. Lone Survivor – 2014
  7. The Tin Drum- 1980
  8. War Horse – 2011
  9. The Thin Red Line – 1998
  10. Life is Beautiful- 1997
  11. Fury – 2014
  12. Korengal – 2014
  13. Courage Under Fire – 1996
  14. Zero Motivation- 2014
  15. Sergeant York – 1941
  16. Casualties of War – 1989
  17. Catch-22 – 1970
  18. A Midnight Clear – 1992
  19. Doctor Zhivago- 1965
  20. Tangerines – 2015
  21. Land of Mine – 2017
  22. Atonement – 2007
  23. The Wind That Shakes the Barley- 2007
  24. Where Eagles Dare – 1969
  25. M*A*S*H – 1970
  26. Lebanon – 2010
  27. Born on the Fourth of July- 1989
  28. Good Morning Vietnam- 1987
  29. The Longest Day – 1962
  30. Gallipoli – 1981
  31. Salvador- 1986
  32. The Wind Rises – 2014
  33. Platoon – 1986
  34. The Dirty Dozen – 1967
  35. Hacksaw Ridge – 2016
  36. Downfall – 2004
  37. The Big Red One – 1980
  38. Gunga Din – 1939
  39. Glory – 1989
  40. The Last of the Mohicans- 1992
  41. No Man’s Land – 2001
  42. The Killing Fields- 1984
  43. Come and See – 1985
  44. Last Days in Vietnam- 2014
  45. Rescue Dawn – 2007
  46. Zulu – 1964
  47. Letters to Iwo Jima – 2006
  48. The Guns of Navarone – 1961
  49. Inglorious Bastards – 2009
  50. The Great Escape – 1963
  51. From Here to Eternity- 1953
  52. Restrepo – 2010
  53. Twelve O’Clock High – 1949
  54. Grave of the Fireflies – 1988
  55. Three Kings – 1999
  56. Lincoln – 2012
  57. The Imitation Game – 2014
  58. Saving Private Ryan – 1998
  59. Patton – 1970
  60. The Pianist- 2002
  61. Major Dundee- 1965
  62. Waltz With Bashir- 2008
  63. The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp – 1943
  64. Ivan’s Childhood – 1962
  65. The Deer Hunter – 1978
  66. The Bridge on the River Kwai – 1957
  67. Das Boot – 1981
  68. Stalag 17- 1953
  69. Schindler’s List – 1993
  70. Eye in the Sky – 2016
  71. Zero Dark Thirty – 2013
  72. Shoah – 1985
  73. Ran- 1985
  74. The Best Years of Our Lives – 1946
  75. Son of Saul- 2015
  76. Henry V – 1946
  77. Spartacus – 1960
  78. To Be or Not to Be – 1942
  79. A Man Escaped 1957
  80. Lawrence of Arabia – 1962
  81. Army of Shadows- 1969
  82. Apocalypse Now – 1979
  83. All Quiet on the Western Front – 1930
  84. The Battle of Algiers – 1967
  85. Casablanca – 1942
  86. Dunkirk – 2017
  87. La Grande Illusion- 1938
  88. Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo- 1944
  89. Overlords – 1975
  90. The Train – 1964
  91. Run Silent, Run Deep – 1958
  92. Paisan – 1946
  93. The Chimes at Midnight – 1965
  94. Paths of Glory – 1957
  95. Children of Hiroshima- 1952
  96. The Fog of War: Life Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara – 2003
  97. Persepolis – 2007
  98. The African Queen- 1952
  99. Gone With the Wind – 1939
  100. 1917 – 2019

1917 (2019)

1917 is a 2019 epic war film directed by Sam Mendes. The film stars George MacKay, Dean-Charles Chapman, Mark Strong, Richard Madden, Colin Firth, Andrew Scott and Benedict Cumberbatch. The film is based in part on a story told to Mendes by his grandfather, Alfred Mendes.

The film tells the story of two young British soldiers during World War I who are given a mission to call off an attack doomed to fail soon after the German head to the Hindenburg Line during Operation Alberich in 1917.

This film’s effects, the cinematography, scenery, costumes and music is outstanding. This movie is hard-hitting, like a punch in the stomach. It starts out rather slow, then gradually picks up, but the majority of this film is action packed. It captures British troops during World War I, with such raw and shocking emotion. Everything about this motion picture is extraordinary. You feel the characters’ emotions. You get scared, nervous, angry and sad.

George MacKay is fantastic as Lance Corporal William Schofield. Dean Charles Chapman is great as Lance Corporal Tom Blake, though his character is short lived. Mark Strong does a fine job as Captain Smith, Andrew Scott is good as Lieutenant Leslie and Richard Madden is also good as Lieutenant Joseph Blake, though his part is brief.

Whether this film is really based on a true story or not, it is still magnificent. Even if the film is only partly factual or not true at all, it is still a realistic look at British soldiers during the First World War. It shows the extreme violence, the killing, the shooting and bombing, the deaths, the life of the troops. You gain knowledge of how it was during that time in history. This film portrays the horrors of the war perfectly.

True or not and at exactly two hours long, this is a very important war film, next to others like Schindler’s List and All Quiet on the Western Front. It is one that should be watched on the big screen, to get the full effect and take in every emotion. This gripping movie is not one to be missed. It isn’t the happiest film, but it isn’t the saddest either, it has its depressing moments and happier ones too. The ending could have been different in my opinion, instead of just Schofield looking at picture, the end, but that is really all I’d change, everything else is perfect. Powerful and moving. 18+ 4.5/5

 

Classic of the Week: The Cat from Outer Space (1978)

The Cat from Outer Space is a 1978 American science fiction comedy film directed by Norman Tokar and stars Ken Berry, Sandy Duncan, Harry Morgan, Ronnie Schell and Roddy McDowell.

An unidentified flying object makes an emergency landing on earth and is taken into custody by the U.S. government. The inhabitant of the UFO turns out to be a strange cat like alien named Zunar-J-5/9 Dori -4-7. Since the Mother Ship cannot send a rescue party before it leaves the solar system, the cat goes about investigating how to repair the ship himself. The cat’s collar amplifies telekinetic and telepathic abilities.

Being a Disney film, this one is stranger than most of their films before this one. It’s storyline is weird and if it didn’t have comedy mixed with science fiction, it wouldn’t as family friendly and probably rather scary. There are a few things that might give younger viewers a fright, like the space ship and some of the special effects. But overall, it is very “G” rated, since there is no violence or inappropriate language, only mild words.

At times this film seems a bit a silly, other times, it’s quite entertaining and only a tad bit funny. Parts are a little slow, which might not hold a younger child’s attention. Not all children will like this movie, like other Disney live action films, some older ones might though. For a sci-fi comedy, this isn’t as action packed as one might expect. For a family film, it’s a bit long too.

The acting isn’t just terrible, but some of the special effects are. This isn’t Disney’s best live action film, but it’s definitely not their worst either. It has its clever moments and rather dumb moments, but some kid’s movies are like that. Any older child that loves science or science fiction and animals will most likely enjoy this one. Younger children and adults might get bored with parts.

As a youngster, I loved this movie and I remember begging my parents for a cat. This may be not be a wonderful movie, but it’s not Mystery Science Theater 3000 awful, it’s only good, not great. Being a Disney film, one would expect for greatness, but this one is far from that. The majority of this movie takes place at night, so it’s dark and children afraid of the dark, may not like that. I too, wish it had more light. Is scary? Not really. Is it exciting? Somewhat. This is a love it or hate it film. 7+ 3.5/5

Classic of the Week: When Harry Met Sally… (1989)

When Harry Met Sally… is a 1989 romantic comedy film written by Nora Ephron and directed by Rob Reiner. It stars Meg Ryan as Sally’s and Billy Crystal as Harry. The film follows the story of the title characters from the time they meet just before driving across the country and through twelve years of chance encounters in New York City.

This is a romantic comedy that isn’t cheesy or predictable. It has laugh out loud moments, as well as heartbreaking and heart warming times too. The main characters’ relationship is off and on, until they realize they were meant to be together. They fight and share laughs throughout. In the beginning, they can’t stand each other, then they warm up to each other and fall in and out of love, until the end, when can’t imagine life apart.

This is a clever film, unlike any other rom-com in history. You laugh, you get angry and you cry. You root for them to find true love. Both characters have become so iconic since this film came out. With some of the most iconic scenes in film history, like Sally’s delicatessen orgasm and the karaoke scene. They are both hilarious and priceless. Only Ryan and Crystal could have pulled off these characters so perfectly. They are goofy, yet have sweet sides as well.

This is the perfect date night movie, or if just need a good laugh, cry, or both. Not many romantic comedies today, come close to the greatness of this one. It is special in every way. Harry Connick Jr. singing popular classic jazz songs, is ideal for the storyline and mood.

This film will break your heart, then put it back together. It tugs on your heartstrings and pulls out every emotion. It is never dull, slow, or unoriginal. It is a movie that just gets better with age. It’s wonderful from beginning to end and makes you believe in true love and that sometimes, they were there all along. Don’t think this is a typical rom-com or chick flick, because it’s not, it is so much more. A delightful, fun and heartwarming movie. 18+ 5/5

Classic of the Week: Teacher’s Pet (1958)

Teacher’s Pet is a 1958 American romantic comedy film directed George Seaton, starring Clark Gable, Doris Day, Gig Young and Mamie Van Doren.

The film follows the story of night school instructor Erica Stone (Doris Day), who asks journalist James Gannon (Clark Gable) to speak in her class, but he turns her down via a mean letter to her. His managing editor, however forces him to go. He arrives late and finds Stone reading his letter to the class. Humiliated, he decides to join the class as a student. He poses as a wallpaper salesman named Jim Gallagher. He starts falling in love with her and eventually she falls for him too, making it hard for him to keep his alias.

This a fun, funny, cute, romantic and charming film. It is lighthearted at times, but also filled with mischief. Doris and Gable are a great pairing. Throughout the film they outsmart and bicker with each other. Although he was much older than her in the movie and in real life, Gable was still able to put on the charm. Doris put sass and back talking into her character, making it one of her most iconic roles.

The two main characters do fight a lot, but they eventually stop when they start falling in love, making this film or even enjoyable. Some parts are slow, others seem to have a bit too much bantering. It does take place almost entirely in the school, which, does get old. This romantic comedy isn’t super cheesy like most, it has its good and not so good.

Gig Young does a good job as psychologist Dr. Hugo Pine and Mamie Van Doren is equally good as nightclub singer and Gannon’s girlfriend Peggy DeFore. Although both characters are hardly shown throughout the movie.

This film is laugh out loud funny at times, but it is also clever in plot and sweet at times as well. Yes, there could have been less arguing and more scenes outside the school, but it is still a great film that will never cease to brighten your mood. It’s overall a very charming and fun film, though not quite as good as Doris’ “Pillow Talk.” But how can such a witty film go wrong with Doris singing theme song? Just makes it even cuter. 11+ 4/5

Little Women (2019)

Little Women is a 2019 American coming of age period drama film directed by Greta Gerwig. It is the eighth film adaptation of the 1868 novel of the same name by Louisa May Alcott. The film star should Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Eliza Scanlen, Laura Dern, Timothee Chalamet, Tracy Letts, Bob Odenkirk, James Norton, Louis Garrel an don’t Meryl Streep. The film follows the March sisters in 1860s New England, in the aftermath of the American Civil War.

Although this story has been done to death on the big screen, on TV and on stage, this is definitely one of, if not, the best productions. No, we didn’t need another’s version of Little Women, just like another Les Miserables, but this one is a close tie to the 1994 film version, as far as being the best. Saoirse Ronan is outstanding as Jo March, Emma Watson is too as Meg March, Florence Pugh is great as Amy March and Eliza Scanlen is equally great as Beth March. Laura Dern is fantastic as their mother Marmee March.

Timothee Chalamet is great a small Theodore “Laurie” Laurence, making the character so believable and realistic, you love him at first, then hate him, then forgive the character and love him again. Meryl Streep does a fine job as Aunt March, as does Tracy Letts as Mr. Dashwood. Chris Cooper does really well as Mr. Laurence, Laurie’s father. Louis Garrel does a good, not great job as Friedrich Bhaer, the German professor Jo meets while living in New York. James Norton does pretty good as John Brooke, Laurie’s tutor, who falls in love with and eventually marries Meg. Bob Odenkirk, who plays Mr. March, the girls’ father, does good, not great, but that is probably because his character is minor, because he is fighting in the war.

This film is filled with romance, struggle, friendship, family, fighting, winning and losing and even death. It shows how life was for lower middle class, upper class and dirt poor families during the Civil War. The costumes and scenery are spot on. Some of the actor’s accents aren’t perfect and with a couple of stars in particular, an almost British voice comes out. The music is beautiful, so is the majority of the backgrounds. Parts of this film are a bit slow, others a bit rushed. A few of the dancing scenes could have been longer, but that might have made the film even longer.

The casting for this movie was nearly perfect. The cinematography was fabulous. No, we didn’t need another Little Women, but we got one anyway. This one is definitely a contender for best version on the story. Louisa May Alcott would have been proud of this movie. Is this one outstanding? Not exactly, but it’s not awful either. It is really good, but nothing more. But with seven other film adaptations to compare this one to, you’d have to watch them all to really say this is the best film version. But out of the ones I’ve seen, this is one of the better ones. Greta Gerwig knew what she was doing as director. She made a very lovely film that can warm and break your heart every time you watch it. Perfect for teenage girls and women. 11+ 4/5