Showing posts from October, 2010

Snapshots - #39: Coco, Pitch Perfect 3, Star Wars: Episodes VII and VIII

Coco (2017), (♦♦♦♦): Miguel, a young aspiring singer, is afraid to defy his family's forsaking of music. On the Día de los Muertos, a Mexican holiday to celebrate the dead, Miguel is, unwillingly, granted night passage to the Land of the Dead, where he meets his ancestors and gets valuable life lessons.

This Disney/Pixar production has great animation and music, is colorful, fun, has endearing characters (both living and dead). Coco also has meaningful lessons about the value of traditions, the importance of family, loyalty, and honoring one's ancestors, all in a very entertaining package. Don't let the fact that it is an animated movie deter you from enjoying this gem. Coco is a great story to ponder for kids and adults alike.

Pitch Perfect 3 (2017), (♦♦♦♦): The members of the a cappella singing sensation ‘The Bellas’ have graduated from college and are realizing that they suck big time at real life. They miss the singing, the mischief, and the camaraderie. The father of on…

Temple Grandin (♦♦♦♦)

This movie made for HBO television, covers the topic of autism in a very tender way. Temple Grandin (Claire Danes in an Emmy winning performance), an autistic savant, is diagnosed with autism at age four. Learned to speak at age four thanks to her mother’s unwavering support and dedication; later on, a science teacher in middle and high school recognized her amazing ability to see things differently and encouraged her to develop her scientific mind. After spending a summer at her aunt’s ranch in Texas, she began to observe and understand cattle behavior, which led her to develop a machine that was able to simulate the effect that hugging have on most people. Temple went to college and had to fight against the misunderstandings associated with her condition, but graduated at the top of her class and went on to obtain a Master in Animal Science. Her articles on animal behavior and her inventions to improve the treatment of livestock to make the process as humane as possible have made h…

Favorite Foreign Movies – Part I

The Lives of Others (♦♦♦♦♦), German
This movie won an Oscar to the Best Foreign Language Film in 2007. Set in East Berlin in 1980, this is the most in-depth portray of everyday life in a communist country that I have ever seen, where even the most intimates moments were exposed by the vigilance of secret police corps.
East Germany’s Minister of Culture falls in lust with an actress, who is dating a successful playwright, and everything falls apart for the couple, for the Minister is willing to destroy their lives if he doesn’t get to bed this woman. For that purpose he enrolls the assistance of a Stasi case officer, who starts recording and listening to the couple’s every conversation to uncover counterrevolutionary activities, of course even independent thinking is a crime against the state in a communist regime. The story unfolds with tragic consequences as the couple does not appear to find a way out.
Watch this movie. You won’t regret it! Its ending will resonate with you.

Life i…

Favorite Church Movies

Primal Fear (♦♦♦♦♦)

When an altar boy (Ed Norton) is found splattered with blood, everyone assumes he is guilty of a priest’s death. His lawyer (Richard Gere), however, is convinced that he can win the case on the basis of multiple personalities disorder.
This movie may also be grouped under the category “Endings that I Never Saw Coming”. Ed Norton excels as usual, but this is probably his best performance ever. You won’t be able to forget this film once you see it!

The Third Miracle (♦♦♦♦♦)

A skeptical Catholic priest (Ed Harris) is sent to investigate two supposed miracles attributed to Helen O’Regan, a nominee for sainthood. Her daughter, who grew up bitter and estranged, has the opinion that Helen was only human, but the priest must prove otherwise; though unconvinced, he ends up believing in Helen’s divine powers when he meets an unlikely witness of her third, or I should say her first, miracle.

Goya’s Ghost (♦♦♦♦♦)
Spanish painter Francisco Goya (Stellan Skarsgard) is targeted …

Iron Man 2 (♦♦♦♦)

In this star-studded sequel, Tony Stark, aka Iron Man, is summoned by the U.S. Senate to testify regarding the use of his armed suit and subsequent surrender to the U.S. military as property of the American people. Tony refuses on the basis of his “successful privatization of world peace”, also alleging that most countries are, at best, ten or twenty years away from achieving his technology. Little does he know, that a Russian physicist with a forty years old family grudge is about to bring mayhem on Stark’s empire.

The cynic, dry sense of humor that was Stark’s trademark in the first movie has been kept intact, thank God! Lt. Commander James Rhodes is played here by Don Cheadle rather than Terrence Howard, but I would have liked the latter to preserve more of the original elements that made this film so successful. Gwyneth Paltrow is a nerve-wreck in this installment, a contrast to the take charge Pepper Potts of the first movie. Tony’s nemesis, Justin Hammer, CEO of Hammer Industri…

Favorite Movies with African Themes

Hotel Rwanda (♦♦♦♦♦)
Amidst the Rwandan genocide, a hotel manager gives refuge to about 1000 of his countrymen, women and children included, and ends up saving their lives.

I could not stop crying during this movie; I just couldn’t believe the Western world seemed so unmoved and oblivious to the suffering and massacre of thousands of people! If you are looking for a fun movie, then pass over this one, but if you’re willing to get a deeper look at contemporary conflicts around the world, then this movie is worth seen! This is by far, Don Cheadle’s best performance ever.

Blood Diamond (♦♦♦♦♦)
Blood Diamond is the term coined to identify a diamond extracted in conflict zones such as Sierra Leone, where even children are recruited as instruments of war. Refusing to participate in such activities may cost someone their limbs or even their lives. This is the topic of this movie in which a fisherman (Djimon Hounsou) stumbles upon a giant gem and hides it away to buy his and his family’s safe …

Ghost Shadow by Heather Graham (♦♦♦♦)

Ten years ago, while giving a tour of his family’s museum in Key West, David Beckett, along with a group of tourists and locals, found the dead body of Tanya Barnard, his former fiancée, in one of the museum’s exhibits. David had a solid alibi, backed by none others than his grandparents, but despite it, he was the only person of interest in the police investigation. Since the police could not find Tanya’s killer or physical evidence pointing to her murderer, they closed the case. David Beckett, along with most of his high school classmates moved on. Ten years later, as a world famous photojournalist, David decides to go home, if only for a while, and find the truth of Tanya’s murder, if possible. Along with him, some of the town’s folks start to return as well, and then the killing starts again.

David Beckett, while actively involved in the investigation of his former fiancée’s murder, falls in love with Katie O’Hara, a local young woman with paranormal abilities, and both get deter…

I’d Know You Anywhere by Laura Lippman (♦♦♦)

This book is an “easy” read in the sense that it is easy to follow and understand. The plot, however, is as cold as it is enthralling. Despite being a book of fiction the story lingers, unfolding seamlessly like a parent’s worst nightmare. The narrative develops in flashbacks between the year 1985 and the present.

When she was only fifteen, Elizabeth Lerner was kidnapped for almost six weeks by Walter Bowman, a young man whom she caught in a state park land near a creek, burying the body of his latest victim. Walter decided not kill Elizabeth in that moment, and drove along the highway with her in tow, pretending they were siblings. Elizabeth, a pliable girl at home, learned to live with the man, ultimately deciding to endure whatever happened in order to stay alive.

Twenty two years after those events, already married and with two children of her own, after living in England for several years, Elizabeth Lerner, now Eliza Benedict, comes back to live in Maryland, where she receives a…