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Jay B. Lane "professional audience member" RSS Feed (Seattle, WA USA)
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Dawn's Early Light
Dawn's Early Light
by Elswyth Thane
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $22.65
27 used & new from $14.93

4.0 out of 5 stars Make a Miniseries of This One!, July 1, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Dawn's Early Light (Hardcover)
Elswyth Thane wrote "The Williamsburg Series" over a long period of time. It covers some related families in the United States (first The Colonies) in Virginia and England. We follow them from colonial times up to the early part of WWII. Each book covers a significant event in History, from the Revolutionary War up into WWII and follows the interrelated stories of both families. I wish someone would make a miniseries of THIS series. "Dawn's Early Light" is the first book and includes the Revolutionary War.


Hot Pursuit (Blu-ray + Ultraviolet)
Hot Pursuit (Blu-ray + Ultraviolet)
Price: $32.39

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I Liked the Trailer Better, June 18, 2015
This ridiculous road movie is frantic, predictable (then unpredictable), and sorta funny. Directed by Anne Fletcher ("The Proposal"), we explore the world of drugs and dirty cops, as a bungling police officer tries to protect the widow of a drug dealer. The widow is supposed to testify in court, so our dedicated cop has to keep her alive until the trial.

We see:
* Reese Witherspoon ("Wild") is a copper named Cooper, she's very by-the-book and uptight. Cooper is determined to honor her father's name; he too, was a police officer.
* Sofia Vergara ("Chef") Daniella flounces through this story in a skin-tight dress, stiletto heels and a suitcase on wheels. She is NOT impressed with her police guard so she derides her at every turn for being short, blonde and flat-chested. I am not amused by insult humor.
* John Carroll Lynch (Lots of TV) Captain Emmett is trying to help our heroine get past her latest bungle (her Taser ignited a criminal's shirt) and keep her in uniform.
* Robert Kazinsky ("Pacific Rim") In my opinion, Randy is the nicest character in the whole movie. I wish we had seen more of him (and we saw quite a bit!).

In addition, we saw our share of rifle-toting hillbillies, vehicular mayhem, Tasers and gunfire. This is PG-13, so the language was fairly ribald, the humor was anatomical, the sexual situations were only alluded to and the pretend lesbian scene was simply not funny.

I DID like their reactions to TV news clips as reporters kept making Cooper shorter and Daniella older than they really are but there was too much emphasis on Vergara's "chestal area."

I liked the trailer better....


Far From the Madding Crowd
Far From the Madding Crowd
DVD ~ Matthias Schoenaerts
Price: $19.98

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For Folks Who Rarely Go to Movies, June 18, 2015
This review is from: Far From the Madding Crowd (DVD)
This was the second Thomas Hardy book I read as a teenager ("Return of the Native" was the first). Wessex, his fictitious part of England, was as real to me as Sussex or Dorset, and a headstrong woman as the protagonist was right down my alley.

Working from Hardy's novel, screenwriter David Nicholls has provided director Thomas Vinterberg ("The Hunt") with an elegant and accessible interpretation, which, along with cinematography by Charlotte Bruus Christensenan, gives us a luminous film with lovely, lovely scenes.

We watch:
* Carey Mulligan ("The Great Gatsby") as Bathsheba Everdene; she is an intelligent, independent woman who has to choose among three suitors. This lovely actress is capable of gentle subtlety, so Bathsheba is both sincere and irresistible and we want the very best for her.
* Michael Sheen ("Masters of Sex") is William Boldwood, a shy, well-established local businessman who becomes the target of an innocent prank.
* Matthias Schoenaerts ("Lewis and Clark") Sturdy sheepfarmer Gabriel Oak is as steadfast as his name. We see how a playful young sheepdog can visit devastating financial ruin on a farmer.
* Tom Sturridge ("On the Road") plays Sergeant Troy; there's something about a man in uniform....
* Juno Temple ("Maleficent" she was Thistletwit) brings us Fanny Robin, an unfortunate young woman who misunderstands the name of a church.

The movie industry in England has period filmmaking down pat. Whole villages exist for filming so authenticity is never an issue. You can lose yourself in the story and not worry about minutiae. I DID appreciate that the soundtrack matched the sound of hoofbeats, to what we saw on screen. You'd be surprised how often that is overlooked! AND our characters didn't have a Hollywood-scale wardrobe. We see familiar articles of clothing several times. A tip of the hat to the production design and wardrobe teams.

Yes, Katniss Everdine of the "Hunger Games" trilogy was named after Bathsheba Everdene, even thought the spelling is slightly different.

This PG-13 film is for people who don't often go to the movies. You'll see no sweaty bodies, hear no profanity, experience just one (justified) gunshot and have someone to root for. I'm happy to see the release date for this DVD, I'm such a fan of Mulligan.


Gemma Bovery - Trailer
Gemma Bovery - Trailer
Offered by Short-form Videos
Price: $0.00

5.0 out of 5 stars That Light Sprinkle of Freckles...., June 18, 2015
This review is from: Gemma Bovery - Trailer
This delightful offering to the 2015 Seattle International Film Festival was submitted by France (captions when appropriate). Directed by Anne Fontaine ("The Girl From Monaco") we see a fairly wealthy, semi- retired Parisian move his wife and son to a quiet country village in Normandy where he decides to become the local baker.

They live not too far from where Gustave Flaubert placed his tragic heroine Madame Bovary to play out her ill-fated romances.

When an English couple moves to the neighborhood, our hero is intrigued to learn that their last name is Bovery. His restless imagination quickly shifts into overdrive!

We watch:
* Fabrice Luchini ("Intimate Strangers" and "The Girl From Monaco") is Martin, our gentleman baker. He keeps an eye on this couple because he can see that the wife is considerably younger than the husband. As Martin becomes jealous of her attractions for other men, he confides in his faithful dog!
* Gemma Arterton ("Pirate Radio") is Gemma, whose light sprinkle of freckles on her nose makes her irresistible to men, young and old.
* Jason Flemyng ("Snatch") is her husband Charlie, underemployed but very much in love with her.
* Niels Schneider ("Atomic Age") is Hervé de Bressigny, her young, handsome neighbor.
* Mel Raido (Lots of TV) is Patrick, a famous fellow who shares a history with our heroine.

The camera loves Luchini's face and we laugh as we watch his fixation grow. There are many side notes: arsenic, a Sevres porcelain sculpture, Gemma's curiosity about various French breads, the rain, etc., etc., etc.... But his son gets the last laugh.

We giggled when we shouldn't have, then exited to the bus stop eager to discuss our favorite parts.


Flowers (2014) ( Loreak ) [ NON-USA FORMAT, PAL, Reg.2 Import - Spain ]
Flowers (2014) ( Loreak ) [ NON-USA FORMAT, PAL, Reg.2 Import - Spain ]
DVD ~ Itziar Ituño
5 used & new from $20.76

5.0 out of 5 stars Malicious Flowers?, June 18, 2015
Spain submitted this award-winning drama (2015 Palm Springs Film Festival, Goya Awards 2015, and San Sebastian International Film Festival 2014) to the 2015 Seattle International Film Festival.

Directed by Jon Garaño and Jose Mari Goenaga, we see the impact of a flower delivery when it happens on a regular basis AND is anonymous. We become acquainted with a variety of people who either work together or are related.

We see:
* A construction crane operator, married to a woman with a young son.
* His elderly mother, longing for him to father a child of his own.
* His wife, a toll booth cashier; short tempered and impatient with her husband's family.
* A woman who works in the construction office; she's the one who starts receiving a bouquet delivered anonymously to her home each Thursday. By the third Thursday, her fiance doesn't think it's funny anymore.
* The fiance thinks these "malicious flowers" should be reported to the police, but what is the crime?

Most of the key plot points are unspoken but no lingering questions are left dangling by the final scene. The acting is convincing, the production design is authentic and the unpredictable story is engrossing. Most of our screening audience agreed that this one is terrific!

I'm glad I have an all-region DVD player because I can have this one in my private collection.


Virtuosity - The Fourteenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition
Virtuosity - The Fourteenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition
DVD ~ Jacques Marquis
Price: $19.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I'm Glad I Didn't Have to Pick a Winner!, June 18, 2015
What a great beginning to the 2015 Seattle International Film Festival! This documentary from the United States, Russia and Italy takes us to the 2014 Cliburn International Piano Competition in Fort Worth, Texas. This event takes place once every four years and attracts the best young talent in the world. Director Christopher Wilkinson ("Copying Beethoven") has crafted a film that shows us the humanity of the performers, explores the wonderful world of classical music and offers humor at every turn.

We become acquainted with a dozen or so young pianists, all of whom are protégées in their home countries, all of whom speak surprisingly good English (the sound is excellent and we didn't need captions), and all of whom approach the competition in distinctly individual ways. Each is allowed to select his or her personal choice of Steinway for the competition.

Their interviews are insightful and humorous. For example, the young man from Russia is never nervous, the young man from Italy always wears blue underwear, the young Ukrainian has connected with his long-missing father through Facebook, the young Italian woman likes to practice with her dog in the room; as a result of these interviews, we end up rooting for each and every one.

The judges are equally various: Several of them feel art is so subjective it's impossible to select "The Best"; one feels his readers like to be entertained by his reviews, so is witty and brutal in his assessments; one is careful to judge solely on artistic merits and completely avoid any personal or hurtful observations.

The editing is marvelous! As each pianist competes, we see his or her name, the name of the piece and the name of the composer. There are times when there are six screens with six competitors playing the same movement of the same composition, fingers and arms moving in unison.

I'm glad I didn't have to pick a winner!


Spy: Melissa McCarthy Must Save the World
Spy: Melissa McCarthy Must Save the World
Offered by Short-form Videos
Price: $0.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Laugh-Out-Loud Comedy, June 10, 2015
Melissa McCarthy's comedy has an unfortunate tendency to go over the top; I'm happy to report that this is NOT the case here (and you WILL become inured to the f-word after the first 20 times you hear it). Written and directed by Paul Feig ("Bridesmaids," and "The Heat"), we are transported to an R-rated James Bond'ish film, complete with iconic title credits and a song that evokes the genre.

This movie opens in the middle of an important mission to find and confiscate a nuclear device before it can be used against the United States. We see a supremely effective American CIA agent in constant communication with his high-tech handler in Langley, although they aren't even on the same continent. She provides tactical information from heat-detecting devices to warn him of approaching enemies. They make a top-notch team...until he is killed. Now the CIA needs a new face that isn't known to the enemy.

The cast:
* Jude Law ("Hugo") is perfect as the super agent. He has the looks, the manner and the wardrobe.
* Melissa McCarthy ("Identity Thief") is his heartbroken handler. She had been carrying a secret torch for her partner and now wants revenge, so she volunteers. Each new identity is more challenging (and funnier) than the last.
* Allison Janney ("Mom") is their boss. She doesn't like our heroine, but knows it is vital to prevent that nuclear device from being smuggled into the United States...and our gal's face isn't known.
* Rose Byrne ("Neighbors") This glamorous super-spy (with lots of hair!) is negotiating a deal. Nuclear devices are extremely profitable!
* Jason Statham ("Parker") You have NEVER heard such an egotistical, overly confident bunch of twaddle in your life. Statham is clearly having a ball doing a hilarious sendup of his usual super-macho personae.
* Miranda Hart ("Call the Midwife") Meanwhile, back at Langley, our heroine's gawky BFF has become, by default, her handler. She's confused and frightened but she's not stupid!
* Bobby Cannavelle ("Danny Collins") This wealthy industrialist is in the market for a nuclear device.

Of course we travel to lovely locations: Italy (one Italian agent learned his British accent from watching "Downton Abbey"); MANY scenic spots in Hungary; plus some beauties in France. We see vehicular mayhem (with our heroine on a scooter), physical combat (she's surprisingly good), numerous gunfights (she's a crack shot) and some aerial stunts (she learned on the trainer at Langley). We do NOT see sweaty bodies or blowie uppie stuff...(well, just a little bit).

We enjoy laugh-out-loud comedy with very few "fat" jokes. Even though we see agents, double agents and even a triple agent or two, we have several people to root for and we can trust that this will have a happy ending. Whew!


The 100 Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window and Disappeared
The 100 Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window and Disappeared
DVD ~ Robert Gustafsson
Price: $22.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BUY THIS DVD, June 8, 2015
"...Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared," or "Hundraåringen som klev ut genom fönstret och försvann," whichever suits you best. This silly, goofy entry from Sweden (English captions when necessary) is my first rave review from the 2014 Seattle International Film Festival. This black, black comedy played to a packed house; it generated howls of laughter throughout, then thunderous applause when it ended. Some of us laughed all the way home on the bus, too.

Director Felix Herngren crafted a brilliant script along with Hans Ingemansson, which was based on Jonas Jonasson's novel about a Zelig-type fellow who loves blowie uppie stuff. Over the course of this hilarious film, we see him with General Franco of Spain, Josef Stalin, Harry Truman, Albert Einstein, J. Robert Oppenheimer of the Manhattan Project, Mikhail Gorbachev, Ronald Reagan and others I failed to note at the time.

The movie starts when his beloved cat is killed by a fox...which he promptly blows up, and it goes on from there. The marvelous script unfolds in a logical way, it just sounds so unlikely!

We follow:
* Robert Gustafsson as Allan Karlsson (brilliant award-winning makeup!), as he ages from a young man who suffers an unfortunate surgery to a very elderly man who loves aquavit or vodka. He has a very simplistic world view and tends to let the big issues roll right off his back.
* Iwar Wiklander as Julius, the cordial fellow who helps our hero with his unwieldy suitcase (you should see how he came by THAT!) and dispose of that pesky corpse.
* David Wiberg is Benny, a perpetual student who never finishes anything he starts. He needs a firm hand.
* Mia Skäringer is Gunilla, who has a very firm hand (and an elephant)!
* We also have a terrific supporting cast: a law enforcement officer trying to make sense of the case; an infuriated mob boss demanding that suitcase (if only his thugs could find it!); that other corpse in Djibouti; the elephant who sits on a gunman; plus numerous other lowlifes, thugs and molls.

Little touches, like the music's exact match to Allan's footsteps, the cars and clothes that perfectly suit each time period, the senior discount for the bus ticket. It goes on and on.... I bought it when it was only available in Region 2 format because I have an all-region player, but now everyone on this side of The Pond can enjoy it too!

BUY THIS DVD.


Results
Results
DVD
Price: $6.99

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Ugh!, June 8, 2015
This review is from: Results (Amazon Instant Video)
Having a personal trainer is a great status symbol and could be the key to a happier, healthier life. However....

This brightly lit but drearily written little dramedy features a personal trainer who works for a fitness center. It is also a classic love triangle but if this is love...

Written and directed by Andrew Bujalski ("Computer Chess"), we follow three singularly unlikeable people as they trudge through their misbegotten choices.

We see:
* Cobie Smulders ("Avengers") as Kat, an extremely fit, popular and effective personal trainer. This actress is a capable performer and in my opinion, should go back to the better choices for which we know her.
* Guy Pearce ("Memento") is Trevor, an ambitious and highly motivated New Agey sort of guy. He wants to expand both his business and his consciousness. It's clear to me that physically, Pearce, with a notable six pack and great biceps, is well qualified for his role, but as an actor, he is over-qualified for this flimsy piece.
* Kevin Corrigan ("Community") is Danny, a wealthy out-of-shape new customer at the fitness center. To me, the only interesting thing about this loser was how he came by his wealth.
* Giovanni Ribisi ("Avatar") is Paul, an attorney who is acquired by our wealthy Danny on a whim. Ribisi looks singularly bored in his scenes. I can certainly understand why....although he HAS mastered the art of talking with his mouth full.
* Anthony Michael Hall ("Psych") is Grigory, a heavily accented fellow whose wife hosts a dinner for Trevor. I haven't seen Hall since his old John Landis comedy days ("Sixteen Candles") but he has been working all along.

This R-rated outing offers nudity, profanity, drug use, sex and a big muddle. Many plot points got by me because I couldn't make out what was being said. This is my criticism about accents, enunciation and sound engineering; evidently this movie was produced without closed captions. I won't beat that dead horse any more. 'nuf said. At least the DVD will have closed captions, huh?


Tomorrowland
Tomorrowland
DVD
Price: $14.99

29 of 35 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Big, Handsome, Action-Packed Bundle, May 25, 2015
This is a big handsome action-packed bundle of PG-rated entertainment with an upbeat ending. Part of the pleasure is who's involved, just look at the credits: Disney Studios; Brad Bird (Pixar's premier writer/director); George Clooney (everyone's favorite heartthrob), Hugh Laurie (one of the UK's finest actors); along with Tim McGraw (ask any Country/Western fan) as a classic dad.

This epic battle is not just between good and evil, but between optimism and pessimism. It incorporates many physical battles, high-tech weapons. space flight and blowie uppie stuff, but it works best when two capable girls are giving George Clooney a hard time for his bad attitude.

We begin with an enthusiastic boy whose jet pack doesn't "quite" work but is "recruited" by a little girl who tells him he is "different." He never looks back.

We enjoy:
* Thomas Robinson ("The Switch") as Young Frank Walker, the dauntless little boy with the jet pack. He meets Athena at the 1964 World's Fair in New York City. (An amazing set piece by the way!)
* Raffey Cassidy ("Mr. Selfridge") is Athena, who entices our young hero into the adventure of a lifetime.
* Hugh Laurie ("House") Nix is going back "home" after the World's Fair. He has plans...
* Britt Robertson ("The Longest Ride") is Casey Newton, who has serious objections when her school teachers preach gloom and doom for the planet. She finds a mysterious coin that flips her into another world when she touches it.
* Tim McGraw ("The Blind Side") is her father Eddie Newton, a space engineer who is resigned to being downsized.
* George Clooney ("Gravity") is Grown-up Frank; this pessimistic curmudgeon just wants Casey to leave him alone. Wait until you see his house!
* Kathryn Hahn and Keegan-Michael Key are the proprietors of a novelty shop where Casey tries to buy another one of those mysterious coins.

We enjoyed the humor throughout, the dazzling scenery and the high-tech gadgets, but we most particularly enjoyed the humans, their relationships and their challenges.

Warning: You will be on that ride and hear that annoying ear worm "It's a Small World, After All." Be advised! (...Now don't start!)


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