Movie of the Month - September, 2008

August 18th, 2008

Smart People

Smart PeopleFrom the producer of Sideways -- get to know a lovable yet dysfunctional family everyone can relate to in this lighthearted comedy People calls "smart and enjoyable." When Lawrence Wetherhold (Dennis Quaid) -- a widowed and self-absorbed professor -- falls for his attractive former student (Sex And The City's Sarah Jessica Parker), his all-too-predictable life suddenly turns sunny-side up. That is, until his freeloading brother (Thomas Haden Church) and his sharp-tongued overachieving daughter (Juno's Ellen Page) speak up, making "chaos" the word of the day. Now on DVD, Smart People is even funnier with never-before-seen interviews, deleted scenes and hilarious outtakes.

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August 15th, 2008
American BeautyLester Burnham: This isn't life, it's just stuff. And it's become more important to you than living. Well, honey, that's just nuts.

Charlie Bartlett

August 13th, 2008

Link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0423977/

Charlie BartlettAnton Yelchin (Alpha Dog) stars as Charlie Bartlett, who has been kicked out of every private school he ever attended. And now that he's moved on to public school, he's simply getting pummeled. But when Charlie discovers that the kids who surround him -- the outcast and the popular alike -- are secretly in desperate need, his entrepreneurial spirit takes over. Hanging up his shingle in the Boys' restroom, Charlie becomes an underground, not to mention under-aged, shrink who listens to private confessions of his schoolmates, and makes the imprudent decision to hand out the pills he's proffered from his own psychiatric sessions. Meanwhile, at home, Charlie keeps charming his way out of an inevitable confrontation with his adoring but utterly overwhelmed mother Marilyn (Hope Davis).

Then, Charlie Bartlett makes his big mistake: falling in love with the beautiful and bold daughter (Kat Dannings) of the school's increasingly disenchanted Principal (Robert Downey Jr.), who is hot on his trail. As Charlie Bartlett's world and fledgling psychiatric practice unravel, he begins to discover there's a whole lot more to making a difference than handing out pills.

Charlie Bartlett has a difficult time making friends. As he moves from one private school to another, by the time he finally begins to become popular he is expelled. The problem is that his popularity comes from doing something illegal. Charlie, ever the opportunist, has a creative and entrepreneurial mind for providing things that high school students should not have. As is the way (generally) with high school students, what they can't have is what they are willing to pay for. And Charlie will accept that risk to be popular. Now he has been kicked out of every private school and is left with only one option: public school. A series of events lead Charlie to his next big idea: provide a little medication and a lot of opportunity to unburden themselves of their problems. And just like that, Charlie Bartlett began helping fellow students cope with their problems...from the boy's bathroom.

Anton Yelchin stars as the movie's title character. He, if you have seen it, is the kidnapped boy in the movie Alpha Dog. In both movies he plays a charming, though slightly awkward, young man. While I am worried that he wouldn't be as successful in a more mature role, I think he was a great casting choice to be Charlie Bartlett.

The story was a little hokey. The characters were a little cliché. I concede those two points, but still contend that this is a good movie. I enjoyed how the movie did not shy away from those things, but rather embraced them. In fact, without cliché students in a hokey story, Charlie Bartlett would have been unable to effectuate change in so many lives. (I hope it doesn't disappoint you that there is a social message wrapped neatly within this movie.)

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Ruffino 2006 Orvieto Classico

August 11th, 2008

Typically the summer heat lures people into the light body and crisp flavors of white wines, though you can enjoy white wine all year. I do not drink much white wine. I normally find white wine to be too sour. I know they are typically described as too sweet for many palates, but it is the sourness like that of a green apple that I taste in many white wines. And that is the sourness I tasted in this wine specifically. This was my first Orvieto - coming on a recommendation from a friend - and I liked that it seems to be more dry than some other white wine varietals. I would consider Orvieto more on par with a Pinot Gris in that respect. I have had white wines that I liked more than this one, but I've certainly had worse. At around $10, this is a good value if you like green apple.

August 8th, 2008
Joe Versus the VolcanoPatricia: Nobody knows anything, Joe. We'll take this leap, and we'll see. We'll jump, and we'll see. That's life, right?

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - C.S. Lewis

August 7th, 2008

The Chronicles of NarniaNARNIA....a land frozen in eternal winter...a country waiting to be set free.

Four adventurers step through a wardrobe door and into the land of Narnia -- a land enslaved by the power of the White Witch. But when almost all hope is lost, the return of the Great Lion, Aslan, signals a great change...and a great sacrifice.

The classic tale of four curious children who wander through a dusty wardrobe into a magical land called Narnia. One of them discovers the portal on her own, but the others do not believe her. When she gets one of her brothers to venture through with her, they become separated and alone he is subject to the influence of the White Witch. It is up to the other three to save him and all of Narnia from the Witch's evil plans.

This is the quintessential childhood epic adventure. Whether or not you have read these books or seen any of the film adaptations, you always seem to know the story. In its recounting, it seems to grow ever-larger, though when I read the book now, it is so brief. I think that speaks volumes about how magical C.S. Lewis's Narnia truly is. I look forward to the rest of the series, with which I am unfamiliar.

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August 6th, 2008
Homer Hickam - Rocket Boys - 144

Mr. Hartsfield did his best to give us a tool to do our work. "Ladies and gentlemen, you must learn deductive reasoning!" He caught Roy Lee ogling the girl next to him and threw a perfect chalk strike to the boy's head. "Now, sir, let me put a general statement to you," he said to Roy Lee. "All human beings have brains, that's my major premise. Do you not agree?"

Roy Lee rubbed his head, chalk dust sticking to his lacquered D.A. "Yes, sir."

Mr. Hartsfield stood and balanced on his toes. "And all teenagers are human beings. That is my minor premise, controversial though it may be. And if my major and minor premises are so, sir, what is your conclusion?"

Roy Lee wrinkled his brow. "That all teenage boys have brains?" he finally allowed.

"Why, yes, my boy!" Mr. Hartsfield shouted and bounced a foot off the floor. "So what, pray tell, is your excuse?

Definitely, Maybe

August 5th, 2008

Link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0832266/

Definitely, MaybeFrom the makers of Notting Hill and Love Actually comes the charming and irresistibly funny romantic comedy Definitely, Maybe. When Will (Ryan Reynolds) decides to tell his daughter (Abigail Breslin) the story of how he met her mother, he discovers that a second look at the past might also give him a second chance at the future. Co-starring Elizabeth Banks, Rachel Weisz and Isla Fisher, it's a heartwarming story that makes you realize it's definitely never too late to go back...and maybe find a happy ending.

Will (Ryan Reynolds) picks his daughter up from school and finds that she, like all of the young children, received a very colorful lesson in sex education. The line of questioning he is subject to lasts until finally the daughter, played by Abigail Breslin, asks Will how he met her mother -- the woman whose name appeared next to his on the divorce papers he signed that same day. The story, which he reluctantly launches into, chronicles not only his move from the midwest to New York City, but also the few seemingly near misses he had with love. (And from here we need to assume that this young girl is mature well beyond her years, otherwise the story becomes a little ridiculous.)

I will admit right away that this movie served two secret purposes for me. Beyond my attempt to be entertained by the overall quality of the film, I was checking up on the movie's two stars. I wanted to see if Ryan Reynolds could leave behind the frat-boy comedic antics and enter a...well, a different role. And I wanted to see if Abigail Breslin was as talented as she was tauted to be after her breakthrough success in the Indie sensation Little Miss Sunshine.

Ryan Reynolds has stepped away from comedy before, with movies like Blade Trinity and Smokin' Aces, but I consider those to be transitions, or even Reynolds's metamorphosis, if you will. Neither movie was a comedy, though neither movie, if I may opine, necessarily took itself very seriously. Definitely, Maybe, though a romantic comedy, is intended for a more serious audience. I think Ryan Reynolds has good comedic timing and I'm glad he was able to bring it to this part. I thought he was successful, not only as a single father, but also as the "hopeless romantic with an indominable spirit."

And if we are able to forgive our young starlett for having a more mature understanding of interpersonal relationships than 98% of the people on the planet, I would like to applaud Ms. Breslin as well. Her ability to ask mature questions while she maintains her childhood innocence is impressive. She warms up to the camera and you feel comfortable giving her your attention until the credits roll. She was both cute and funny as she follows her dad on the journey through his quest for love. Little Miss Sunshine introduced Abigail Breslin, but Definitely, Maybe shows her real talent.

My thanks also to Elizabeth Banks, Rachel Weisz, Isla Fisher and Kevin Kline for what each of them brought to the film.

I thought the casting and acting were very good; I thought everyone played their part perfectly. Yes, it was a little High Fidelity-esque as it recounted relationships-gone-by, but it was new life in an old mold. It is a romantic comedy that focuses more on the romantic than the comedy, but there are plenty of laughs to be had. So after checking up on Ryan Reynolds and Abigail Breslin I can freely admit that I really enjoyed this movie.

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August 4th, 2008
Say AnythingLloyd Dobler: I am looking for a dare to be great situation.

2006 Ruffino Orvieto Classico

August 1st, 2008

Typically the summer heat lures people into the light body and crisp flavors of white wines, though you can enjoy white wine all year. I do not drink much white wine. I normally find white wine to be too sour. I know they are typically described as too sweet for many palates, but it is the sourness like that of a green apple that I taste in many white wines. And that is the sourness I tasted in this wine specifically. This was my first Orvieto - coming on a recommendation from a friend - and I liked that it seems to be more dry than some other white wine varietals. I would consider Orvieto more on par with a Pinot Gris in that respect. I have had white wines that I liked more than this one, but I've certainly had worse. At around $10, this is a great value if you like green apple.

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