Brain Dump: A Wife’s Nightmare, Annie, On My Way, Into the Woods

It’s time for a brain dump. My brain is teeming with thoughts about this and that – mostly movies I watched over the holidays. Short thoughts. Thoughts so short that combining them into one post seems like a grand idea.

A Wife’s Nightmare

Jennifer Beals in "A Wife's Nightmare"
Jennifer Beals

A Wife’s Nightmare gave us a Jennifer Beals who was unsure, compliant, nervous, and worried. The gaslighting part of the story was a new acting challenge for Jennifer Beals and she did it very well. I was happy she found her way to some backbone by the end of the story, however. Jennifer Beals is always a pleasure to watch. Here’s a full review.

Annie

dancing and singing on a rooftop
Rose Byrne and Quvenzhané Wallis in Annie

Annie is a wonderful update to the familiar story. The new songs were perfect contemporary music. The cast was excellent, particularly Quvenzhané Wallis. Hat tips to older versions of the story were well done.

I had the pleasure of going to the movie with a friend and her two grandchildren who danced in their seats and sang along. Afterwards they agreed that the movie was really good. These two biracial youngsters – ages 3 and 6 – wanted their hair freshly washed for the movie so it would look like “Annie hair.” The importance they placed on looking like Annie reminded me again how critical it is that we see someone who looks like ourselves represented on screens as smart, successful, talented, and worthwhile human beings.

On My Way

Catherine Deneuve and Nemo Schiffman in On My Way
Catherine Deneuve and Nemo Schiffman in On My Way

On My Way (French title Elle s’en va) is a French film with English subtitles I found on Netflix. Catherine Deneuve is the star, which is what caught my interest. It has 4 stars on Netflix, always a good indicator it’s worth watching. Catherine Deneuve is 71; she’s put on some weight. But whatever it was she had – she’s still got it. She’s still got ALL of it.

Into the Woods

Lilla Crawford as Little Red Riding Hood in Into the Woods
Lilla Crawford as Little Red Riding Hood in Into the Woods

When you start with talent like Stephen Sondheim and Rob Marshall, add in a screenplay by James Lapine, and cast fantastic people like Meryl Streep and Emily Blunt as the players – well, you end up with something utterly brilliant. That is all I have to say: brilliant.

Annie photo ©Sony Pictures. Into the Woods photo ©Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

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Review: The Imitation Game

The Imitation Game stars Benedict Cumberbatch as English mathematician and logician, Alan Turing. Turing helped crack the Enigma machine, a Nazi encryption device. He developed a code breaking machine which has come to be known as the computer.

Spoilers ahead. Continue reading “Review: The Imitation Game”

New Previews for The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel will release in late March 2015 in the US. I will be there, ready to be delighted by this wonderful cast and charming story.

Judi Dench on a street in India
Judi Dench in The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

New in this edition of the story will be Richerd Gere, Tamsin Greig and David Strathairn.

Still around are Dev Patel, Maggie Smith, Tina Desai, Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Celia Imrie, Penelope Wilton, Ronald Pickup, Diana Hardcastle, and Lillete Dubey.

The film is directed by John Madden from an original screenplay by Ol Parker. The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel was shot in India.

Lillete Dubey and Richard Gere
Lillete Dubey and Richard Gere in The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

The character Sonny Kapoor (Dev Patel) has plans to expand the Best Exotic Hotel for the Elderly and the Beautiful while getting married at the same time. It looks like we might get a bit of a Bollywood musical number at Sonny’s wedding. That should be fun.

Sonny’s mother is played by Lillete Dubey, who has an impressive list of credits in films made in India. She was in the first Best Exotic Marigold Hotel as well as Monsoon Wedding and many other films. She’s also a theatre director and founder of the Theatre Action Group in Delhi. In her world, she is as famous as Maggie Smith or Judi Dench is in the American/European market. It’s always wonderful to see this accomplished woman in action.

Poster and images ©Fox Searchlight Pictures

Jennifer Beals Stars in A Wife’s Nightmare

Does this sound like a Lifetime movie?

Inspired by a true story. When a mysterious teenage girl shows up on their doorstep claiming to be her husband’s long lost daughter, Liz Michaels welcomes her into their home – but when Liz starts to feel pushed out of her own family, she begins to question the girl’s true motives and doubt her own sanity.

Yeah. Definitely a Lifetime movie. Mild spoilers ahead.

But there’s a twist, and it’s a big one. This movie stars Jennifer Beals. A Wife’s Nightmare is the title to look for.

A Wife’s Nightmare gave us Jennifer Beals as Liz, a wife who is unsure, compliant, nervous, and worried. She’s just returned home after a mental breakdown. The arrival of a young woman claiming to be her husband’s daughter makes her question her own mind and thoughts. The gaslighting part of the story was a new acting challenge for Jennifer Beals and she did it very well.

I was happy she found her way to some backbone by the end of the story, however. Jennifer Beals is always a pleasure to watch. The ending was most satisfying.

I’d watch Jennifer Beals in almost anything, so I wouldn’t miss this one. The last Lifetime movie I watched – Big Driver – was very good, too. Lifetime is on a roll.

Jennifer Beals in A Wife's Nightmare
Jennifer Beals in A Wife’s Nightmare

The young daughter is played by Lola Tash. The husband, Gabe, is played by Dylan Neal.

The Trailer

Here’s a promo for the movie.

The film is part of a series, all filmed in Kelowna, British Columbia. The other films in the series are A Mother’s Nightmare, A Sister’s Nightmare and A Daughter’s Nightmare.

Review: Camp Takota

Thumbing through choices on Netflix or Amazon Prime is often frustrating because so few films pop up that have female stars. Camp Takota showed up as a featured choice on Netflix and I took the bait. This film has 3 lead female characters, played by actresses I’d never heard of: Grace Helbig, Hannah Hart and Mamrie Hart.

Grace Helbig, Mamrie Hart and Hannah Hart
Silly humor and lots of laughs at Camp Takota

Seems I’m not part of the in-the-know-crowd, because Grace Helbig, Hannah Hart and Mamrie Hart are famous for their YouTube presences. They have large followings for their particular brands of comedy fun.

The film hit Netflix on December 1. This indie project is a groundbreaking effort by the trio at a full length feature. It’s one of the first long-form films to feature multiple YouTube stars, so I’m sure many YouTube celebrities have been watching it closely to see how it fares. It’s been doing well on iTunes since its release early in 2014.

Camp Takota was funny, it was charming, it was delightful in a lot of ways. It was also very obviously low budget and predictable. Don’t let that stop you from enjoying it and from encouraging the indie efforts of these 3 very funny women. You’ll have a good time at camp with these people.

Photos by Erica Parise – © 2014 – Chill

It’s December. Sing a Song

Cheer for December and holiday music. Okay, so maybe it gets a little old by the end of the month, but here’s a little holiday cheer – some of it from the movies. Hope you aren’t already too jaded by holiday commercialism to enjoy it.

Don’t forget the New Year. Love this ukulele number.

Here’s one that you can just leave on in the background for 3 hours!

Watch This: Previews for Cake

Cake stars Jennifer Aniston as a woman in chronic pain. The big excitement is that she doesn’t wear any makeup in the film. Aaackk! Looking at a woman with no makeup on may cause brain damage! Are you prepared to put your brain in danger by going to see Cake?

That isn’t right. I made that up. The real truth is acting in a film without wearing makeup may lead to an Oscar. The point is, if you’re brave enough to show your face without makeup, you must be a great actress and not just some airhead from Friends.

All kidding aside, chronic pain is no joke. I deal with it. Many people do. I think the topic of the film is going to connect with a lot of people. Many people understand the agony involved in daily living with chronic pain depicted in Cake. And, yeah, give me ALL the pills.

The film also stars Adriana Barraza, Anna Kendrick, Sam Worthington, Mamie Gummer, Felicity Huffman, William H. Macy, Chris Messina, Lucy Punch and Britt Robertson. That’s an excellent cast. It’s directed by Daniel Barnz.

The film opens in January 2015. January is not the best month to release a film if you’re hoping for Oscar nods, but that’s the schedule.

Watch This: Trailer for Pitch Perfect 2

Pitch Perfect 2 won’t be in theaters until May 2015, but the first trailer has already been released.

The second installment of this teen-power anthem to women stars Elizabeth Banks (who also directed), Anna Kendrick, Hailee Steinfeld, Rebel Wilson and many more. My granddaughters loved this musical tale of the triumph of the underdog in the first Pitch Perfect. So did I. It looks as if Pitch Perfect 2 is going to uphold the standard set for the series.

The first poster for the movie is also already out.

Pitch Perfect 2 poster

Review: Still Mine

Still Mine is simply exquisite. The actors, the story, the drama: everything about it is beautifully done. It’s a gem!

The Canadian film stars James Cromwell and Geneviève Bujold as a couple married for 60+ years. They live in a big drafty house in New Brunswick. The husband, Craig, decides to build a smaller house nearby that will serve his wife Irene better. Irene is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. It’s starting to affect the way they live and the way they interact.

A poster for the film Still Mine

The beautiful relationship between Craig and Irene is inspirational. They even have a sex scene! I stand up and cheer when I see a movie where people in their 70s and 80s are allowed to remain human and still be the sexual creatures they’ve always been. This movie would have my vote based just on that one scene.

However, there’s much more to the movie. There are excellent performances from all the actors, particularly James Cromwell and Geneviève Bujold. There is the stiff-backed stubbornness of a man who knows what he’s doing and doesn’t take kindly to people telling him he can’t. There’s the worry, fear, confusion, and anger of a woman who knows she’s losing her memory. There’s the concern of the couple’s children. There’s the bureaucratic ass who tries to put the kabosh on every single thing Craig does to build his wife a better place to live.

The film was written and directed by Michael McGowan. It is based on a true story. It was released in the U.S. in 2013.

I absolutely recommend this lovely film. Look for it on Netflix and Amazon Prime.

Dad’s Army Stirs Up the Folks in East Yorkshire

The original Dad’s Army was a BBC sitcom about the Home Guard during WWII. It broadcast on BBC television from 1968 to 1977. The new version of Dad’s Army is a movie, currently being filmed in East Yorkshire.

Scene from shooting Dad's Army
Scene from shooting Dad’s Army

The film will be released in 2015 and stars Sarah Lancashire, Catherine Zeta Jones, Emily Atack, Bill Nighy, Toby Jones, Tom Courtenay, and Michael Gambon.

The town of Bridlington, East Yorkshire was used as a scene for a military parade recently. The folks there got quite excited about it. I thought you might enjoy the dozens of photos of the event. Each link will open in a new window or tab.

Image of Sarah Lancashire and Emily Atack ©Crosby Fame/Flynet.uk.com.