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Jay B. Lane "professional audience member" RSS Feed (Seattle, WA USA)

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Why? (Silver Tales)
Why? (Silver Tales)
by Lindsay Camp
Edition: Hardcover
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4.0 out of 5 stars I Was Impressed, October 20, 2014
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This review is from: Why? (Silver Tales) (Hardcover)
This was purchased for two little girls, a first grader and a fourth grader. The older one read it aloud to the younger one. The first grader thought it was funny that the child was so persistent and asked "Why?" about every single thing. Of course, that question becomes the stumper when aliens land, so you should read the book to see what happens.

The fourth grader actually worded out a de-coder chart and decoded the dialogue boxes over the heads of the aliens (it was a bit too complicated for the littler one).

I was impressed.

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day - Trailer
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day - Trailer
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5.0 out of 5 stars Super Coopers MUST Prevail, October 18, 2014
The full name is "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day" but I doubt if that will fit on very many marquees.

Based on Judith Viorst's classic book by the same name, we see a wonderful cast bring these beloved characters to life:
* Ed Oxenbould ("Julian") is our hero Alexander, caught up in his own misery, but eventually he realizes having gum stuck in his hair isn't the worst thing that's happened, he soon notices that he isn't the only one having a bad day...
* Dylan Minnette ("Prisoners") is his brother Anthony Cooper, who... well... you'll have to see it. (They call him Wreck-it Ralph at school.) Small hint, he has a driver's test today.
* Kerris Dorsey (Lots of TV) His sister Emily Cooper is scheduled to play Tinkerbell in the school production of Peter Pan today, but she woke up with a bad cold!
* Jennifer Garner ("Draft Day") is Kelly Cooper, his mother. You should see the typo in the children's book she is publishing!
* Steve Carell ("The Way, Way Back") is his dad Ben Cooper, who has cheerfully kept the home fires burning since he was downsized, but he has a job interview...and a baby to tend...and a birthday cake to bake... and a son in trouble at school...and a daughter in a play...and his wife may have lost her job.
* Dick Van Dyke ("Night at the Museum") makes us smile when he shows up ready and willing to read a brand new book to an eager audience... Oops!
* Megan Mullally (Lots of TV) is Nina, the demanding dame in charge of the publishing house where Kelly works.
* Jennifer Coolidge ("Austenland") is the driver's license examiner. In my opinion, I think that's a dirty trick that she pulls on Anthony.
* ...and then there's the alligator....

Well, you'd have to be there. We were in a theater full of little 'uns and not a peep was heard. There is enough silly mayhem on screen to keep them occupied and the adults laugh, too! (I like it when they kick the garbage cans.)

It's Disney, so the Super Coopers MUST prevail and a happy ending is enjoyed by all. Amazon will soon have the DVD, so you can see for yourself.

St. Vincent - Clip: Mowing Dirt
St. Vincent - Clip: Mowing Dirt
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5.0 out of 5 stars Watch the Final Credits, October 18, 2014
This review is from: St. Vincent - Clip: Mowing Dirt
Bill Murray and Melissa McCarthy in the same movie? This I've gotta see!

Written and directed by Theodore Melfi, this PG-13 comedy looks at the effects of a divorce on a young boy when his mom moves next door to a curmudgeonly drunk.

Sounds predictable, doesn't it? Well, it IS. But here is the surprise: Along the way we are treated to outstanding performances by all of the primary actors, including the little boy, AND we are entertained.

We watch:
* Bill Murray ("The Monuments Men") as our eponymous hero, who finds having a child next door is almost diverting, because he can have him help deliver laundry and take him to the race track.
* Melissa McCarthy ("Identity Thief") Maggie begins to doubt her neighbor, particularly when her son wins a schoolyard fight.
* Naomi Watts ("The Impossible") Daka never had a daytime job but pole dancing doesn't provide maternity leave.
* Jaeden Lieberher ("Playing it Cool") Oliver is caught by the class bully and has to learn how to stick up for himself. Plus he figures out what a trifecta pays and Mom is upset to learn he has been in a bar.
* Chris O'Dowd ("Cuban Fury") Brother Geraghty has Oliver in his classroom. This priest shows great flexibility when it comes to religions and he assigns his students interesting projects.
* Terrence Howard ("Sabotage") Zucko is Vincent's bookie and Vincent owes him a LOT of money.

There are many noteworthy scenes but it was nice to realize that we are allowed to figure out much of the plot on our own. Expect mild profanity, a schoolyard brawl, a drunken Vincent injures himself and a poignant history. Our screening audience applauded.

BTW: Be sure to stay during the final credits because Murray entertains us with a garden hose and a Bob Dylan recording.

The Internet's Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz - Trailer
The Internet's Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz - Trailer
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5.0 out of 5 stars "Terms and Conditions May Apply", October 18, 2014
I like to think of myself as well informed, but in talking with other audience members after we exited the press screening of this wonderful (and tragic) story, we realized how much we did NOT know!

"The Internet's Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz" is the full name of this US sponsored documentary. It is a tribute to Aaron Swartz, who championed open sourcing (he helped develop the basic Internet protocol RSS and co-founded Reddit) and believed in social justice, but committed suicide in 2013.

Our 2014 Seattle International Film Festival press screening audience was riveted by this compelling story about a highly principled young man who wanted to make the world a better place. Aaron is a happy, articulate fellow in news clips, a bubbly little guy in home movies and a hero in personal interviews with friends, colleagues and lovers. He was a programming protégé (attending national conferences by age 14) and an information activist.

Governmental agencies, already guilty of condoning abuses perpetrated by the big banks, wanted to demonstrate their diligence by prosecuting this young man. Aaron Swartz believed public information should be public, not locked up by for-profit agencies. He believed intellectual property, developed at tax payers' expense, should not be locked up by publicly funded institutions like MIT, and only made available to potential users for a fee to a for-profit company. The Obama Administration used the "Terms and Conditions" fine print for Internet use to charge him with seven felonies.

I know, I know, that paragraph needs to be re-read several times. It would be easier to go see the movie. I can't possibly convey all the important information we learned in this logical, lucid and important documentary.

My own personal take: My friends, if those "Terms and Conditions" are enforced, we are ALL lawbreakers. These only come into play when government has nothing else to use.

Grand Seduction
Grand Seduction
DVD ~ Taylor Kitsch
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fishing Village Baits Young Doctor, October 18, 2014
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This review is from: Grand Seduction (DVD)
Take a small Canadian fishing village that is no longer allowed to catch enough fish to support its families (shades of "Local Hero" in 1983); add a petrochemical company looking to locate a new recycling plant; include their stipulation that any town where they build MUST have a doctor; NOW the plot begins to thicken...

The residents are on the dole and they feel humiliated and demeaned. As we watched this delightful Canadian entry to the 2014 Seattle International Film Festival we knew that this would have a happy ending, we would get to know these quirky folks and we would have a whole armload of people to root for. We just didn't know exactly how we would arrive at this happy ending.

Director Don McKellar brings us:
* Brendan Gleeson ("The Guard") is the lead conniver. Watch him call his first town meeting! He talks the entire population into his charade as they blackmail a young doctor into a temporary gig during which they hope to seduce him into staying. He also sets up an illegal telephone monitor so they know what sort of impression they are making on the doctor.
* Taylor Kitsch ("Lone Survivor") is that young doctor, caught with a bit of cocaine at an airport and blackmailed by the former mayor of Tickle Cove to go there for awhile. Gleeson's character reassures him, to his dismay, that the town is "cocaine friendly."
* Gordon Pinsent ("Due South") is our conniver's best friend. He is game for anything...even trying to pretend he can play cricket! His wife is one of the women who listens in on our doctor's phone calls.
* Liane Balaban ("Saving Hope") is a lovely young woman our conniver would like to throw into the mix as bait for our studly young doctor. She has heard he is engaged so will have nothing to do with it.
* Mark Critch (Lots of TV) is the lowly banker in this hamlet, afraid he will be replaced by an ATM.

It's so much fun to watch the two older gals whose job it is to listen in on the doctor's phone calls. Of course, anything he says becomes common knowledge by morning, but he never tumbles.

Other than Mr. Gleeson, who is from Dublin, the director, writers and cast are all Canadian. I love it! This PG-13 film has no gunshots, fisticuffs, vehicular mayhem or blowie uppie stuff. Just lots of resourceful people trying to fool a fairly gullible young man and a good time is had by all. My DVD from Amazon will have closed captions!

Book of Life - Trailer
Book of Life - Trailer
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5.0 out of 5 stars Colorful Culture Lesson, October 17, 2014
This review is from: Book of Life - Trailer
95 minutes of animated PG fun. Of course, in keeping with today's trends, we have celebrity voices. In my personal opinion, professional voice actors would be a better choice, but who am I to second guess writer/ director Jorge R. Gutierrez? (Guillermo del Toro is a producer.)

This is the classic love triangle which starts when the three children are fairly young, then it continues into adulthood. It is set on the classic Mexican holiday, Día de los Muertos (the Day of the Dead), when families remember loved ones who have gone before.

We recognize the voices of:
* Zoë Saldana ("Guardians of the Galaxy") is Maria, the lovely young woman who resists getting married just to be married and she doesn't want to become a Flame of Perpetual Purity at the convent. She cares for both of the young men courting her.
* Diego Luna ("Casa de mi Padre") is our hero, Manolo, torn between his family obligations (bullfighting) and his heart's desire (music)...and of course, Maria! Plus, it's hard to fight bulls if you don't like killing.
* Channing Tatum ("Magic Mike") Joaquin, is the heartthrob who has a magic jewel which protects him from harm, thus he becomes a legendary soldier, unafraid because he can't be hurt...except maybe by a broken heart if Maria chooses Manolo...
* Ron Perlman ("Sons of Anarchy") brings his distinctive voice to Xibalba (you say it, I can't), the creature who places a bet on which hombre he thinks Maria will marry.
* Kate del Castillo ("Under the Same Moon") is La Muerte, the female counterpart to Xibalba. She bets against Xibalba.
* Ice Cube ("22 Jump Street") is The Candle Maker. His job is to explain our hero's new surroundings and teach him the rules.
* Placido Domingo ("Dora the Explorer") is Skeleton Jorge, the frustrated (dead) relative who had always wanted to sing opera. We are treated to bits and pieces of well-known arias.

We learn that Mexico is the center of the world (which made Seattle audiences snicker because we KNOW it's really Seattle!), we learn the traditions and the music, plus we see artwork and costumes that are typically Mexican. Children in the screening audience were NOT bored! I was amused by that little pig that always said "Maaa" instead of "Oink" and I liked that Manolo tuned his guitar before he played it. Nice...

Kill the Messenger - Clip: Biggest Story
Kill the Messenger - Clip: Biggest Story
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4.0 out of 5 stars Involving But Harrowing, October 17, 2014
Based on Gary Webb's biographical book "Dark Alliance" and Nick Schou's follow up "Kill the Messenger," this R-rated script by Peter Landesman and Nick Schou is directed by Michael Cuesta ("Homeland").

This involving but harrowing story explains how an illegal cocaine-for- arms deal was cobbled together by the CIA to fund anti-Communist rebels in Nicaragua. Reporter Gary Webb's work threatens to uncover some closely guarded secrets. We soon see how character assassination works as governmental agencies begin to debunk his exposé and deny any connection to drug trafficking.

This gold-star cast includes:
* Jeremy Renner ("American Hustle") is wonderful as Pulitzer Prize winner Gary Webb, the investigative reporter who is handed a transcript of testimony from a grand jury hearing. He is stunned to see a cover up between cocaine traffickers and governmental agencies; he immediately sets out to discover the truth.
* Rosemarie DeWitt (The Watch"") is his wife Sue. She has faithfully come with him to California, but there is "too much sun!"
* Mary Elizabeth Winstead ("Alex of Venice") plays Anna, Webb's editor. She tries to talk him out of his big story.
* Michael Sheen ("Admission") brings us Fred Weil, the fellow from the National Security Agency. He cautions our hero, "Some stories are too true to tell!"
* Ray Liotta (Muppets Most Wanted") John Cullen was deeply involved on both sides of the conspiracy, so he is determined to clear his own conscience.
* Michael K. Williams ("RoboCop") as Ricky Ross, the jailed cocaine kingpin who is the first to explain to Gary the connection between drugs and the U.S. government.

As you might expect, it's hard to find any good guys as the smear campaign against our hero gains momentum. Please stay for the post script; it's important!

Hector and the Search for Happiness - Trailer
Hector and the Search for Happiness - Trailer
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5.0 out of 5 stars He Loses Patience With His Patients, October 17, 2014
A typical psychiatrist, this guy is always searching for happiness. What could have been a soppy, maudlin exercise in mediocrity, is instead an extremely well-acted comedy with more than its share of drama and excitement. Based on Francois Lelord's novel "Le voyage d'Hector ou la recherche de bonheur," this R-rated comedy, co-written and directed by Peter Chelsom (Shall We Dance -2004), includes adventure in exotic places, e.g., China, Tibet, Africa and Los Angeles, plus domestic drama in London; so you'll get your money's worth.

Here is the cast:
* Simon Pegg ("The World's End") Hector wants to know what makes people happy around the world. He is pretty sure HE isn't, but wants to see what happiness looks like. We start with our hero in his well-ordered home and watch it all come apart.
* Rosamund Pike ("Jack Reacher") Clara very capably keeps the home fires burning. Isn't that enough to make him happy? Considering what she finds in the sock drawer, maybe not....
* Stellan Skarsgård ("Thor: The Dark World") Edward says Hector is the last person on earth with whom he would want to spend any time. Watch his face as our clumsy hero takes a seat next to him in First Class!
* Toni Collette ("Lucky Them") Agnes conveys more with a glance than most actors with pages of dialogue. Yup! Hector is in for a session of TRUTH!
* Jean Reno ("Alex Cross") Diego tries to dismiss happiness...and our hero ...with prejudice. At least a psychiatrist understands pharmaceuticals.
* Christopher Plummer ("Elsa and Fred") Popular Professor Coreman TEACHES happiness! With wit, understanding and hi-tech tools.

The travel aspects of this film provide an authentic feel for various parts of the world, even though he stays in touch with that Tibetan monk via Skype! I also enjoyed it when Hector lost patience with his patients. BTW, the diary in which he records his journey is a delight.

There is not a weak actor in this roster, but Collette and Skarsgård deserve special mention. I'd like to remind you that Pegg is versatile and talented, in case you have him typecast as "just" a comic. I always expect his characters to have a sweet center, and Hector delivers.

Dear White People
Dear White People
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4.0 out of 5 stars Racism Cuts Both Ways, October 17, 2014
This review is from: Dear White People (DVD)
This 2014 Seattle International Film Festival entry from the USA is a social satire about racial issues on a college campus. (This review was sent out to a few of you in May, 2014.) We focus on two of the houses that provide quarters for some of the is mostly black and the other mostly white. We see undercurrents of race, drugs, intolerance, and sex, and we draw our own conclusions.

The Dean of Students and the President of the University attended school together; one is black and the other white. Appearances to the contrary, they are NOT equal.

Here's the cast:
* Tyler James Williams (Lots of TV) is Lionel. I listed him first because he ultimately is the catalyst needed to address the issue. We see things through his reporter's eyes. Housing is his first problem...
* Tessa Thompson (Lots of TV) is Sam, an opinionated talk radio host and student on campus. She runs for president of her house ...and wins!
* Brandon P. Bell (Lots of TV) is our conformist Troy, son of the Dean and head of his house...but not for long.
* Kyle Gallner ("Beautiful Creatures") is edgy Kurt, a racist spark plug in his house...AND son of the university president.
* Dennis Haysbert (Lots of TV) is the Dean. He wants more for his son Troy and is afraid of how he will appear to others.
* Peter Syvertsen (Lots of TV) is President Hutchinson, proud of Kurt, despite how his son behaves, and is determined to prove his campus is NOT racist.

Justin Simien capably wrote and directed this involving story. The dialogue is almost too erudite, but I understand what he is doing. He makes it clear that intolerance cuts both ways.

I appreciated the soundtrack. Among other pieces, I heard "Rites of Spring," "Afternoon of a Faun," an excerpt from "Carmen" and one that is driving me crazy because I can sing it for you but I can't think of its name!

Oh well....

The Case Against 8
The Case Against 8
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5.0 out of 5 stars Unlikely Dream Team, October 17, 2014
This review is from: The Case Against 8
This documentary from the USA has already won awards at Sundance and SXSW, so we are happy to see it at the 2014 Seattle International Film Festival. This is a behind-the-scenes look at the case to overturn California's ban on same-sex marriage (Proposition 8).

The American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) assembled an unlikely Dream Team:
* David Boies and Ted Olson, who had previously opposed each other before the Supreme Court in the Gore vs Bush case. During the course of that intense time, they became friends. Obviously, Conservatives were NOT happy about this new pairing.
* Kristen Perry and Sandra Stier, carefully vetted to represent mainstream couples: comfortable, employed, raising a family of four. They married as soon as it became legal in California, but their marriage was rescinded.
* Paul Katami and Jeffrey Zarillo had refused a "domestic partnership" because they would be settling for a placebo which doesn't provide full marriage rights, e.g., Social Security and pensions.

There is a LOT of humor in this documentary. One activist said, "If Ted Olson, Dick Chaney and the Cato Institute all endorse gay marriage, maybe I'm on the wrong side!"

Directors Ben Cotner and Ryan White stayed with this project for the five years it took to follow the case, film it, and edit it down to documentary length. Despite the complexity of the case, it is presented in easily assimilated bits. We found it satisfying and entertaining.

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