Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The Lake House (2006)

If you have read Mirkwood Reflections much in the past, you may have noticed this writer has a slight fondness for a certain actor whose name means "Cool Breeze Over the Mountains". So, The Lake House has been on my list of highly anticipated movies for quite some time!

This movie did not disappoint! I've viewed it twice now, and I will say that the second time was better, even though I knew the plot already. I could simply relax and enjoy the beauty of the movie. *ahem*

Yes, I did mention the plot, which involves a magical mailbox. Did I mention it has holes big enough to drive Alex's pick-up truck through? Um, ok. It really does have some problems with continuity and, well, simple reality. But, that's ok. I don't go to the movies for realism - I get plenty of that at home! I don't want to get specific, as not everyone has seen the film. It's enough to say that one needs to suspend disbelief, but that really happens automatically.

OK, the plot is covered, so on to the acting. :-D I love Sandra Bullock. I really do. Always have. I like her no-nonsense attitude and the charm she exudes. It's all here in this movie. She does the introspective thing so well, and it fits great in the mood of this movie. Christopher Plummer is excellent as the detached father figure. The supporting cast is excellent too - the mentoring female doctor, the architect brother (although he makes a lot of odd facial expressions), the lawyer boyfriend - all fit their roles well and helped to carry the movie along.

The Lake House itself is a sort of character in the film. It is what draws Alex and Kate (Sandra Bullock) together, and it has a history that plays a part in the film as well. It's a strange house - all glass walls, with a tree growing up through the middle of it! The scenery is beautiful - lots of shots of lovely Chicago architecture and beautiful autumn woods.

Now, who am I forgetting? Hmmmm..... Oh, yeah. ::smiles sheepishly:: Keanu Reeves! (Did you think I really forgot him? lol) Keanu is, of course, the male lead in the film, his first role opposite Sandra Bullock since Speed (1994). From the first moment he steps out of the aforementioned pick up truck and saunters toward the audience in a long shot, Keanu has the audience (well, the women anyway!) in the palm of his hand. Many women seem to have gained a deeper appreciation for Keanu's acting due to his role as Alex Wyler; some have even mentioned it to me, for some reason. Keanu has had some roles where his acting was a bit stilted, but this is not one of them. He smiles (never smiles as Neo!), he cries (never cries as Ted!), he kisses (I think he's done THAT before), and does it all so believably that the viewer is rooting for him before he even moves into the lake house.

Since the film is rated PG, there is no nudity and very little swearing. This is a nice romantic drama that even preteens can see, if they are interested. I'll certainly be seeing it again, and it's on my list of DVD's to purchase!

IMDB The Lake House
Screen it Review of The Lake House

Saturday, April 22, 2006

The Greatest Game Ever Played (2005)

Golf? A movie about GOLF?

That was my first thought upon seeing the previews for The Greatest Game Ever Played.

My second thought was - WOW! This movie makes golf seem exciting! From a person who thinks watching golf is slightly less exciting that watching grass grow, this is quite a compliment. But I wondered if the movie could live up to the previews.

Short answer? Yes! It does!

Now for the long answer....Shia LeBeouf plays young Francis Ouimet, an amateur golfer from the wrong side of the tracks, in this film based on real events. (Warning - Keanu-related fact: Shia played the earnest, but ill-fated Chas in Constantine also in 2005.)

Francis loves the game of golf, but it is a game for gentlemen only in this pre-World War I story. So Francis caddies and hones his skills, until the time when he gets his chance.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that there was almost nothing to ruin the family friendliness of this surprisingly exciting movie. There was a mild amount of strong language, but it was used in culturally realistic ways instead of for shock value. A love interest was present, but barely even acknowledged as the story goes on.

Some topics of interest I expect to discuss with my children when we watch this movie are: class differences in 1913 America and contrast that with current class differences, the responsibility to honor one's father and mother, the lengths one might take to realize one's dream, working hard, and friendship.

One of the most engaging parts of the film was the part of the irrepressible caddie Eddie Lowery (played by Josh Flitter). His rhyming catch phrases from this time period were delivered in such a charming manner and his attitude brought a lift every time he was on screen.

I couldn't review this film without mentioning the special effects shots. First seen in the previews and repeated often throughout the movie, the CGI allowed us to follow the golf ball through the air with speed, something we would obviously not be able to do in real life, but something that shows the precision and power behind a golfer's swing.

I thoroughly and unexpectedly enjoyed this movie!

IMDB Greatest Game Ever Played


UPDATE!!! My kids all watched this movie recently and enjoyed it greatly. Suzy did fall asleep, but it was nearly 10pm! David said he would recommend it to all his friends. Emily and James watched the entire thing with gusto! This is a great family film!

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Another Catch-All Post

Sadly, I have no time for writing reviews anymore. It makes me sad. I wish I had LOTS of time for it. So, here is my one sentence per movie, catch-all post of some of the movies I have seen recently.

Memoirs of a Geisha (The book was better, although this was beautifully filmed!)

Sky High (Story of a high school for developing superheroes; my kids just loved it. I thought it was OK.)

(Thoughtful and sweet; Gwyneth Paltrow plays a mathematics student whose father was a genius gone crazy. Jake Gyllenhaal is his earnest student. )

Matchstick Men (Nicholas Cage plays a con man who learns the value of family. I would have hated this if not for the last 5 minutes.)

Pieces of April (Katie Holmes (yes, Tom's Katie) plays a young woman estranged from her family. She hosts Thanksgiving dinner and everything goes wrong. It sounds hokey but it is actually very sweet and touching.)

Music of the Heart (Meryl Streep plays a violin teacher at a Harlem Elementary School. Based on a true story. Seeing all those kids learn to appreciate music really touched me!)

Yours, Mine and Ours (Better than I thought it would be! My kids enjoyed it too.)

Drumline (The best parts of this marching band saga were the drum solos and the marching band shots. The love story was silly, but I think it is worth a viewing!)

Walk the Line (From the buzz, I figured this would be totally mesmerizing. It wasn't. I've never really been a Johnny Cash fan, although I AM a Joaquin Phoenix fan. Maybe it was the relative normality of watching it in my living room and not on the big screen. I DID think Reese Witherspoon was charming as June Carter Cash, although I don't really know much about her in real life. I did like the movie, just wasn't bowled over by it, as I had planned to be. Oh well. And that was WAY more than one sentence!)

Flightplan (Another movie I had thought would be MORE than it was. It was a perfectly adequate thriller and I didn't guess how it would end, so that's always good.)

Ladder 49 (Now THIS one made me cry! I cried just about all the way through it! But it was such a GOOD movie! Another Joaquin movie, actually!)

Regency House Party (I love those PBS "House" Specials and this was from one of my all-time favorite historical time periods!)

Millions (Rotten movie that pretends to be a movie for kids and isn't at all! I didn't even let my kids watch it all.)

Thumbsucker (Touching movie about a teenage boy who sucks his thumb and wants to stop. The cures turn out to be worse than the problem and pretty soon he wishes he could go back to the way it was. Deserves its "R" rating. And, oh yeah, Keanu Reeves plays the orthodontist.)

Ok, that takes me back about 6 weeks! I've watched a lot of movies! And those are actually just the Netflix movies, not any I watched from the library or anywhere other than home! :-)