Review: The Hot Flashes

The Hot Flashes was directed by Susan Seidelman and stars a slew of women, chief among them Brooke Shields, Daryl Hannah, Virginia Madsen, Camryn Manheim and Wanda Sykes. That attracted me before I even had a clue what the film was about.

part of the hot flashes poster
Part of The Hot Flashes poster

It turns out The Hot Flashes is about the efforts of a group of Texas women who were once state high school champions in basketball to raise money to save a traveling mammogram truck. This was before Texas decided to close nearly all the clinics in the state where a woman could get a mammogram because they also offer birth control services. The mobile mammogram service was desperately needed even then.

The former champs are now a varied assortment of housewives, car salesmen, aspiring mayors, drug mavens, and oft married grocery store clerks. They’re old, out of shape, and have resentments remaining from years ago when they played together in high school.

Somehow Beth, the Brooke Shields character, manages to wrangle them into playing 3 games against the current high school women’s basketball team – which includes her daughter (played by Charlotte Graham) in an effort to raise $25,000 to save the traveling truck.

Mark Povinelli, a little person, is convinced to become the coach. The woman who works in the mammogram truck becomes the team manager. Eric Roberts is Brooke Shields husband – who is not a bit supportive of what she’s trying to do, by the way.

I’d give the film 3 out of 5 stars, meaning I liked it even if it isn’t Oscar material for best picture. It was fun to watch. It was inspiring. For a tale about overcoming all odds, it’s original and worthy of your time.

The Hot Flashes is available on DVD and from Netflix and Amazon. It was released in 2013.

Review: The Sapphires

The delightful film The Sapphires is based on a real group of Aboriginal women from Australia who performed soul music in Viet Nam in 1968 for the troops there. Continue reading “Review: The Sapphires”

Trailer for John Sayles Latest: Go for Sisters

Go for Sisters is the latest film from my absolute favorite writer and director, John Sayles. The movie’s web site describes the story like this:

Bernice (LisaGay Hamilton) and Fontayne (Yolonda Ross) grew up so close people said they could “go for sisters”, but time sent them down different paths. Twenty years later, those paths cross: Fontayne is a recovering addict fresh out of jail, and Bernice is her new parole officer.

When Bernice’s son Rodney goes missing on the Mexican border, his shady associates all in hiding or brutally murdered, Bernice realizes she needs someone with the connections to navigate Rodney’s world without involving the police… and turns to her old friend. The pair enlist the services of disgraced ex-LAPD detective Freddy Suárez (Edward James Olmos) and plunge into the dim underbelly of Tijuana, forced to unravel a complex web of human traffickers, smugglers, and corrupt cops before Rodney meets the same fate as his partners.

As much a story of relationships as a story of crime, GO FOR SISTERS is a welcome return to the border for master filmmaker and two-time Academy Award nominee John Sayles (“Lone Star,” “Passion Fish”).

I love 97% of what John Sayles does. I loved Lone Star, Passion Fish, The Secret of Roan Inish, and more of his work. (Limbo made me angry – the only John Sayles effort I’ve ever been unhappy with.)

The indie Go for Sisters has a limited opening this weekend and will spread across the country to select theaters through April. I may have to wait for it on DVD, judging from the list of theaters where it’s scheduled, so if you have a chance to see it in a theater, please let me know what you thought.

Elders React to The Hunger Games

I went to The Hunger Games: Catching Fire the first weekend it was out, unlike the elders they interviewed for this film. I was not the only person in the theater with gray hair, either.

It was very exciting, dramatic and suspenseful – as you would expect from a film like The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.

Yes, there is gratuitous killing in the story. The deeper story is about revolution and change, about oppression and exploitation, about freedom and fairness. Katniss represents the power to energize people to make the world a better place. She symbolizes leadership and love and justice. She does it all while being female. It’s extraordinary. It’s important.

Gender Inequality in Film (Infographic)

New York Film Academy takes a look at gender inequality in film

Trailer for Muffin Top: A Love Story

Muffin Top: A Love Story is a movie by women, about women. It’s also about body image. And love.

I love it already.

Watch the trailer.

Muffin Top: A Love Story was funded by a Kickstarter project and a bunch of awesome people who like the idea of women both in front of and behind the camera as much as I do. The muffintopmovie.com website has more stuff about this chick flick made by real chicks.

Review: The English Teacher

The English Teacher has potential, I think, as I’m thumbing my way through Netflix on a Friday night. Julianne Moore, Greg Kinnear, Nathan Lane. It looks like a romantic comedy that could work on an otherwise long evening.

The English Teacher poster
The English Teacher poster

I took a chance. I enjoyed it. I watched it all the way through. It wasn’t so terrible that I had to quit 10 minutes in, but it was definitely not as good a film as you might expect from Julianne Moore and the other exemplary members of this cast.

The plot was fine. Julianne Moore is an English teacher – one of her former students returns to town feeling like a failure because his play was rejected – she decides to get the play produced at her high school. Nathan Lane is fantastic as the high school drama coach. Michael Angarano is perfect as the talented but immature playwright. Greg Kinnear, who of course we know will be Julianne Moore’s love interest simply from reading the cast list, does a fine job as the father of the young playwright and eventually makes it to love interest category. The play gets produced with a few bumps along the way.

Maybe “bangs” along the way would be a better term. Michael Angarano and Julieanne Moore have a moment on the desk in her classroom which adds complications to the plot. Especially when he then moves on to the high school girl leading the play, Lily Collins. And, of course, there are the complications involved in getting Moore and Kinnear together after they get off to a rocky start.

Predictable plots are a romantic comedy staple and new approaches to the various plot changes are always appreciated. This film does fine at that.

No, it wasn’t the plot.

It was the cute.

There was too much cutesy voice over. (Voiced by Fiona Shaw, by the way.) That grew annoying. Also, there was the cutesy way the teacher graded men like they were an English essay and we saw her “notes” plastered on the screen as she talked to them. If I could magically sweep away the cute, I’d recommend this as a great representative of the romantic comedy genre.

Alas, I can only recommend it as an average representative of the romantic comedy genre. Which, of course, is why I watched it all the way through and found it entertaining. Let’s face it, if you’re into rom coms, you’re used to average.

Check out the trailer.

If you watch The English Teacher, I’d love to hear your opinion of the cute. Was it as annoying to you as it seemed to me?

6 Movies to Watch at Home over the Thanksgiving Holiday

If you can pry the TV away from the football fans, there are many good movies available for instant streaming that can be fun for a family holiday weekend. Here are a few ideas for your Thanksgiving viewing.

For the Grown-Ups

Robot & Frank poster
Robot & Frank poster

Robot & Frank is delightful. Frank, warmly played by Frank Langella, is a former jewel thief and second story man who is losing himself to Alzheimer’s. His son, James Marsden, gives him a robot butler to take care of him. The robot makes sure he eats healthy and takes his pills. Plus, the robot can carry on an interesting conversation. One problem – or bonus – the robot makes no moral judgements about theft. The robot is voiced with great charm by Peter Sarsgaard.

Robot & Frank appeals because of its older lead characters. Here’s another.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel poster

A more complex story with many more characters that would do well for the family over a holiday weekend is The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. The cast includes many of the world’s best actors, most of whom are over 50! There will be a part 2 of this delightful movie in the future.

For the Younger Crowd

If you plan on heading out to the theater to watch The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, why not watch the original The Hunger Games before you go to refresh everyone on the story?

The Hunger games poster
The Hunger Games poster

Katniss Everdeen, played by Jennifer Lawrence, is an inspiring character that everyone in the crowd can root for.

There’s plenty of action in The Hunger Games, but another action-filled option for the late teen/young adult contingent would be The Avengers.

The Avengers poster
The Avengers poster

Everybody loves a good superhero, right?

For the Little Ones

Why not step back in time a bit to something the kiddos haven’t already watched 80 times in the last week. And why not pick something with enough humor to keep the adults interested, too. Once such choice is Cars.

Cars poster
Cars poster

Don’t be afraid to go way, way back to old classics. They always satisfy and keep the little ones glued to the floor until dinner is ready. How about Chitty Chitty Bang Bang one more time? You know you enjoy it.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang poste
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang poster

Our modern world brings so much choice in entertainment into your home every day. Why not put some of these movies in your watch list for the holiday?