Category Archives: Movies

It Was Better Than The Critics Said

The movie The Goldfinch is being widely panned.  The reviewer in the Atlantic was absolutely scathing in his evaluation of the film. Friends asked us to go to the movie on Friday night and so we did, more to spend time with them than to see the film. But as we enjoyed snacks and drinks after the movie and talked about the film we all said it had kept us engaged. I actually liked the movie far more than I thought I would. The film The Goldfinch is based on the novel of the same name by Donna Tartt. It was a disappointing read for me despite the fact it won a Pulitzer Prize.  The book started off wonderfully, totally drew me in, and then slowed down to a painful crawl in the middle as the hero Theo descended into a hell of drugs, alcohol and a horrible life with his troubled father.   Thankfully in the film, this middle section of the story had to be condensed due to time constraints and that was just fine with me.

Some critics said the movie was hard to follow because it jumps around a lot between time periods in Theo’s life Having read the book already I had no trouble with plot sequence and in fact the jumps to different time periods kept me engaged. 

Nicole Kidman who plays Samantha Barbour in the film. She is with Ansel Elgort who has the main role as Theo Decker. 

The cinematography in the movie was well done, helping to bring to life the elegance of Theo’s New York home with the Barbour family, the stark barreness of the Las Vegas desert where Theo lives with his father, and the rich warm comfort of the furniture shop where Theo eventually comes to live with his friend Hobie.  

I wanted the book to have a more satisfying ending and hoped the film might provide that.  Unfortunately it did not. 

Sometimes when a movie gets amazing reviews you are disappointed when it doesn’t measure up in your estimation.  In this case, for me at least,  the movie exceeded the horrible reviews it received. 

Other posts……….

Movie or Book?

Haunted by a Movie

Mennonite Names At the Movies

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5 Reasons Why I Liked The Movie The Art of Racing In the Rain

1. The movie is based on the best selling novel The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. My husband and I read the novel with a book club we belonged to in Hong Kong. The film brought back good memories of having a lively time discussing the story with a great group of book lovers.

2. We saw The Art of Racing in the Rain on our anniversary with friends after a delicious meal, a glass of wine and some lovely conversation.  I was in a good mood and this charming easy to watch film fit the bill for the evening perfectly.

3. I liked the metaphor of racing in the rain. One of the main characters in the movie is a race car driver and he specializes in racing in wet conditions.  He needs patience and strength and courage to drive on a wet track and he needs those same characteristics, as we all do, for driving through the storms in his personal life.  

4. I loved the Jack Pearson character in the TV series This is Us and the main character in The Art of Racing in the Rain is played by the same actor the handsome Milo Ventimiglla. His character here is much like the Jack Pearson one. He is a man who loves his family devotedly and has a romantic heart.

5. This movie has a dog as its narrator.  I am not really a dog person but despite that, I was quite drawn to the loyal and loveable Enzo whose voice is provided by actor Kevin Costner.  His voice was perfect for the part. 

Other posts…………

Coop the Great

Fifteen Dogs and Writing Caradec Poetry

Between Dog and Wolf



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A Realistic Look At Aging?

The movie Diane starring Mary Kay Place makes aging look pretty depressing. We saw it last Friday night. Diane is seventy years old when the movie begins, a widow in a small town in Massachusetts. She is doing all the ‘right’ things to try to make the last third of her life meaningful.

She’s helping others. She volunteers at a drop-in that serves meals to the homeless and she delivers homemade casseroles to ailing friends and relatives. She visits patients in the hospital.

She’s connected to people. She maintains a relationship with her only son and his partner even though it requires tremendous effort on her part. She has friends she meets with regularly for meals and card games. She has close contact with her extended family and gets together often with them.

She has interests. She journals and reads and writes poetry. She takes walks in the woods and has bird feeders around her home. She attends church. She likes music. 

She makes lists of things to do each day setting goals and tasks for herself.
But despite all these efforts at engagement and connection her life still is pretty sad and bleak.  People she is close to keep dying. She tries to stay busy but there is still substantial time when she is alone and lonely.  During these solitary hours she thinks about her past, the mistakes she’s made and worries if she is doing enough to atone for them.

Diane knows the limitations of her situation and for the most part accepts them with grace, but every once and a while her anger and frustration bubbles to the surface.  

In the last years of her life my mother-in-law often said that growing old was not for cowards. The movie Diane makes that abundantly clear.  I’m not sure if I am glad I saw it or not.

Other posts………

 Mr. Holmes

Life Lines

She Walks in Beauty

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An American Invasion?

Saturday night when we came home around midnight after our Fringe Festival show we saw all these bleachers up and down our street draped with American flag style bunting. The next morning when we went outside to go to church there were American flags flying on every light standard and pole in the neighborhood. American flags were plastered on billboards, hydro boxes, and buildings.  What was going on?  Had the Americans invaded Canada?  Considering the wacky president who currently resides in the White House even the most unbelievable scenarios can seem possible.  No, an American invasion hadn’t happened overnight. Instead, we discovered that some parade scenes from an American movie called Flag Day were being shot in our neighborhood. The film stars and is directed by two- time Oscar-winner Sean Penn. Two of Sean’s children also have roles in the production which is based on the book Flim Flam Man a true story of a girl who finds out her father is a bank robber and career counterfeiter.  sean penn wiki commonsMaybe I should have stayed outside all day to wait for a glimpse of Sean Penn but I had other things to do.   The Winnipeg Exchange District is a popular location for movie makers.  I’ve jokingly told people we live in the middle of a movie set. And sometimes, like yesterday, it certainly feels like that.  

Other posts……..

I Live in A Movie Set

In the Middle of a Movie Set

Winnipeg in the Movies

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We Will Stand Up

In her documentary movie nîpawistamâsowin: We Will Stand Up filmmaker Tasha Hubbard tells the story of Colton Boushie a young Cree man who died from a gunshot wound in 2o16 after he and his friends drove their truck onto a Saskatchewan farmyard.  A jury acquitted farmer Gerald Stanley of murder charges agreeing he had killed Colton in self-defense.

Colton Boushie’s mother, sister, and other family and friends at the United Nations telling their story

After the trial, Colton’s family felt the legal system had failed them and took their fight for justice to Parliament Hill in Ottawa and then to the United Nations. Hubbard documents this whole process on film. I saw We Will Stand Up last Wednesday night at the Cinematheque Theater in Winnipeg. 

Filmmaker Tasha Hubbard’s documentary is very personal since she juxtapositions her own story with Colton Boushie’s.  Tasha was adopted by a non-aboriginal couple as a child.  Tasha says her adoptive parents were loving and affirming people and when she became a teenager they helped her find her biological family and encouraged her to connect with her aboriginal heritage. This puts Tasha in a unique position to tell the story of the relationship between the indigenous community so incensed by Colton’s death and some of those in the colonizer/settler community who supported Gerald Stanley. 

The pivotal scene in the movie for me was when Tasha and her young son are talking to Tasha’s adoptive grandfather. Tasha has made it clear previously in the film that she and her grandfather share a deep love and respect for one another.

Tasha and her grandfather talking

Her grandfather has saved some First Nations artifacts he uncovered as he tilled a piece of farmland he purchased many years before. Looking back he wonders if he did the right thing buying and farming land that really belonged to First Nations people. Something made him save the artifacts he found and he feels it is the right thing to pass them on to his beloved granddaughter.

He and Tasha and Tasha’s son talk about the Colton Bushie trial and Tasha’s grandfather wonders aloud if owners shouldn’t be allowed to defend their land. Tasha’s son is taken aback thinking his great-grandfather is suggesting perhaps the Boushie murder was justified. But responding to his great-grandson, the great-grandfather agrees the killing was wrong. Later Tasha’s son suggests that the three of them smudge together and they do.  

For me, this was a very moving moment. I respected the willingness of Tasha, her son, and her grandfather to honestly talk about the deeply entrenched feelings that have influenced settler and indigenous relationships for so long, but yet also willingly share in the smudge, a healing ritual suggested by Tasha’s son, representing the youngest generation. 

Tasha’s own sons are featured in her film. Tasha wonders how negative stereotypes of indigenous young men will impact their futures.

The film We Stand Up played to packed houses during its recent run at Cinematheque in Winnipeg.  In response, the theatre plans to bring the film back for a second run in August.  I would highly recommend it. 

Other posts………..

The Doctrine of Discovery

Residential Schools- The Hiroshima of the Indian Nation

Art That Makes You Feel Sick

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Knock Down The House

Last Sunday over dinner my son and I talked enthusiastically about a movie on Netflix we had both just watched.  It is called Knock Down the House and tells the incredible story of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and how she defeated ten-term incumbent Democratic Congressman Joe Crawley to become a candidate in the 2018 election and subsequently was elected to the American House of Representatives.  Although Crawley was a prominent member of the Democratic caucus, was backed by big business interests, and spent nearly twenty times as much money as Ocasio-Cortez did, she still won.  Everyone knows this story but it is chronicled in exciting personal detail in Knock Down the House

What I learned while watching Knock Down the House that I didn’t know before was that AOC, as she is affectionately called, was one of many new candidates for office sponsored by the Justice Democrats an organization that formed after the 2016 election to promote Democratic candidates that were not in the pocket of big business, candidates that were not funded by wealthy individuals or major corporations. The movie details the bids of three other women besides AOC who also tried to defeat established corporately funded candidates to be nominated in their congressional districts. Although they didn’t win their primaries their stories are also inspirational.  

In Nevada, Amy Vilela ran for nomination inspired by her twenty-two-year-old daughter who died because she didn’t get the medical procedure she needed due to confusion over whether the young woman’s health insurance would cover it.  

In West Virginia Paula Jean Swearengin a coal miner’s daughter ran for nomination inspired by the poor living conditions and low wages of coal miners and her concerns over the environmental damage caused by the industry including the high rates of cancer among her neighbors. 

In Missouri Cori Bush a registered nurse, ordained pastor and community organizer ran for nomination inspired by her own experience as a single parent having to rely on food stamps and Medicaid. She wanted to change a justice system that over-incarcerates, an education system that under educates and was disturbed by the fact that millions of American children live in poverty. 

Some critics say Knock Down the House would have been a better movie if it had just focused on the story of AOC but I think it is stronger for also showing us the other candidates, equally passionate, equally bent on changing America, equally dedicated to giving government ‘back to the people’, but women who ultimately did not have the success AOC did and were defeated by corporately backed candidates. 

My son and I talked about what we agreed was the most moving scene in the film for both of us.  After Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is elected to Congress she visits Washington DC  and remembers how her father who died in 2008 once took her there and showing her the great monuments in the capital said, “These all belong to us.” 

We have an election coming this fall in Canada and Knock Down the House is a good reminder that indeed our government belongs to us and that we each have an important role to play in determining our country’s future.

Other posts………

What Happens When A Women Take Power?

Women in Politics

Difficult Women


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Level 16

My heart rate was certainly at a pretty high level while I watched the movie Level 16 at Cinematheque last weekend.  I saw a matinee with two friends and while women our age can be known to nod off for an afternoon nap on occasion there was no chance of that during this heart stopper of a film about a girl’s school with a sinister purpose.

You don’t find out till right near the end what is really going on but as is the case with any good suspense film once you do know the outcome you can look back at various scenes in the movie and realize what a good job the writer and director did of foreshadowing.  

Another sign of a good movie is that the more you think about it the more you realize the film conveyed some great thought provoking messages to ponder while delivering a totally engaging story.  Level 16 makes you think about the way women have been taught to be submissive, our society’s preoccupation with outward appearance and way the powerful take advantage of the vulnerable.

 Level 16 which reminded me of The Handmaid’s Tale and Get Out is directed and written by Danishka Esterhazy. She is from Winnipeg. Just one more good reason to go and see the film during this coming week when it continues to play at Cinematheque. 

Other posts…….

Two Films About Menstruation You Need To See

Haunted By the Movie Wild Life

Won’t You Be My Neighbour?


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