In the Heights *

If you like musicals, In the Heights will not disappoint.  The music, the story, the dancing - it's all there.  And it's a Latino community of young people striving to make a better life for themselves, away from the barrio, as they aspire and dream.  The way the story is told is cool, as one of the characters is telling the story to little kids, and then we see the story played out.  A few main characters struggle and interact and sing and have family conflicts and all the things.  But music makes everything better, doesn't it?  I think so!  I really liked the young actors in this film.  There are a few sexual innuendos, but the film is pretty enjoyable and will make you smile often.  I'm a sucker for musicals, though.  And this is a good one.  I'd love to see it on stage. 


12 Mighty Orphans ****

Luke Wilson.  Haven't seen him in a while, and he's GOOD in this true story about a man that takes on the job of coaching a group of young men from an orphanage - in Texas.  We had never heard this story, this fascinating and inspiring story.  The young men were abandoned by their parents, and this coach has a hard time establishing trust and confidence in these boys - all of which you'll root for the entire time.  There are the relationships, the games, the stories of the boys, and the entire story line and setting that is just so good.  This is a summer must-see, and such a surprise to learn where something in the game of of football originated!  


A Quiet Place II ***

If you saw the first one, you'll most likely like this one.  It's the good kind of scary, the mom and her kids are still struggling to survive and not make a sound, and the daughter is showing that she's her father's offspring - with her mind and her determination to find a solution and a better life.  Emily Blunt is the mom, and all that she encounters with her kids to keep them safe is good movie watching! This story takes us further still...into the story and offers hope...and then the end...and oh my.  The Quiet Place - the reason I like it - is it's just the best kind of scary movie that we didn't even know we wanted.  Order popcorn, and enjoy...


Cruella*** (Theater)

It's not a kid's movie. And if you're looking for evil, it's there.  But if you enjoyed The Devil Wears Prada and you like Emma Stone, and Emma Thompson, you'll love this movie. We really enjoyed the film and the music and the costumes and the acting.  I hope both women are nominated!  It's the story of how Cruella came to be, and wow what a life this girl/woman had that led her down the path of she got her name...the friends she used along the way...and all sorts of things.  There are a few traumatic scenes, one song in particular that was questionable, and the lyrics were just bad.  That was at the end.  The rest of the story was riveting.  

movie wrath.jpg

Wrath of Man** (Theater)

Jason Statham.  He’s a tough guy in every movie we’ve seen him in.  And this is no different.  He takes a job as a security guard (but he has skills from who he really is that are almost super-powers) so that he can take revenge on those that inflicted pain in his life.  It’s a drama in true Statham fashion where he shows up mysteriously and with amazing precision to take out any person that seems remotely involved in the incident that has motivated him to rage.  That’s pretty much the essence of the film.  It’s action packed and a thriller, with not much more, but because of what happened – we are drawn in with him, hoping he can bring an end to the madness that tortures him daily.

movie here.jpg

Here Today** (Theater)

Billy Crystal and Tiffany Haddish – an unlikely pair?  Perhaps, but no so in this film.  He’s a famous comedy writer that’s now starting to show signs of dementia.  However, he has a pretty good grip on things, he thinks.  She meets him somewhat as a fluke, and they strike up this very unusual friendship that is quite endearing.  It’s not sexual or weird, it’s just two people that connect and need each other, and it works.  As he declines and starts to reveal parts of his past and his strained relationships with his grown children, she softens and finds herself giving and finding fulfillment in that, and these two come to experiences something pretty cool.  There’s a bit of crude humor, but  mostly the film is a nice (but sometimes sad) watch, mixed with humor from these two actors that are real-life comedians, themselves!  We enjoyed the film, except for one dumb scene where she has an allergic reaction and her face blows out of proportion a bit too much – dumb.

movie profile.jpg

Profile *** (Theater)

Almost the entire movie is a Skype conversation between a guy and a girl, and yet it’s riveting.  She’s working for a news company and pretending to be a teen girl looking to be recruited by the Syrian army, via the internet, so that the story of how they recruit can unfold and be told.  I was nervous the entire movie because while she’s talking to this ruthless recruiter that’s trying to woo her and get her to marry him, she’s clicking on other pages and having other conversations with friends and work – and I figure surely she will make a mistake that will give away her true identity!  And there are also many times, when the emotion of it all over takes her, and she seems actually enticed by this man.  It’s a different movie, for sure, and one based on a true story – so that made it even more intriguing.  Will she get the story without being caught, or will she succumb to this terrorist, or what?  I won’t tell you…just go see the movie.

movie state.jpg

State of Play*** (Netflix)

This was on Netflix, it’s 13 years old, but we had not seen it.  Ben Affleck is a government representative that had a mistress, and now she’s gone.  Russell Crowe is a journalist and a friend to Affleck’s character, and he works to figure out the real “story” for the newspaper, as SO MANY people could be the potential killers.  Helen Mirren is the newspaper boss, and Rachel McAdams is Crowe’s assistant on the case.  So it’s a star-studded movie, for sure.  I enjoyed the constant guessing and following the leads, to find out who the killer was, and I wasn’t expecting the answer.  If you figure it out early, it might ruin the movie for you, but then again…maybe not.

movie those.jpg

Those Who Wish Me Dead *** (theater)

Haven’t seen Angelina Jolie in a while, and she’s back in a thriller, alongside a young actor Finn Little, who’s amazing!  Jolie is a smokejumper with a heavy PTSD experience, sent to a fire station in the middle of a forest, alone.  Meanwhile, a dad that has discovered something huge that has bad people after him, has to protect his son, who finds himself alone in the same forest.  This movie is a thriller from the get-go, and it’s a good watch.  It is rated R and rightly so, for the chase and the killings that occur while the hunt is on for this little boy, carrying a note his father left him that will incriminate those after him.  Jolie and the boy are great, although her hair could have been a little more messed up from all of the running and the blood and the fire - I mean, seriously.


SAS: Red Notice (theate) **

A special forces operator is traveling with a doctor, planning to propose...BUT heavily armed war criminals enter the same train making demands and threatening to expose the British government.  Can this lone operator keep the people (and the doctor) safe?  It's quite a thriller, with nonstop action from beginning to end, which I like.  She (the militant leader) seems too smart for anyone to win against, but she's pure evil.  He (the operator), however, is up to her game and he has forces of good behind him.  It's a different sort of thriller, and I liked the characters and those that played them.  I doubt the film will win any awards, but it's a good watch on a Friday night...maybe while a storm is outside :)


Voyagers (theaters)**

I surprisingly enjoyed this film, a thriller of a different kind.  These children were created in a lab for a mission, to colonize a distant planet.  However, they are being "controlled" and soon realize that all of their emotions/desires have been suppressed. They stop drinking the blue liquid. Soon, this group of obedient teens experience the desires of good and evil - and don't handle it all.  Competition, desire, fear and all the things they never had before emerge.  It's an interesting idea, isn't it?  On the one hand, having no emotions can be good thing.  On the other, having it all erupts into "war" in space.  And it's not pretty...


The Girl Who Believes in Miracles **

I'm not usually a fan of these type of movies, but the premise sounded a bit different, and it was an interesting story. This little girl has faith, childlike faith, in miracles.  Something we could all use a bit more of.  Stunning things take place when she prays, and she becomes "famous" - until something hits home to her personally.  I found myself at first thinking "Oh brother" a few times and then by the end, I really liked the message.  It's a great family film to spark conversation with your kids, and with yourselves.  If you take kids, let them know there's drama but the end is good...that will help immensely.  And then see if you don't find yourself believing again in His goodness.  


Judas and the Black Messiah (theaters)**

It was the last of the Oscar nominated films we had not seen, so we saw it.  It's the story of the Black Panthers, and their young leader "Chairman Fred."  We follow their organization, his relationship with a young woman, and...a "friend" that's really an informant among them.  I think that's the most intriguing part of the story, how this young man (a thief) tries to keep his handler happy and supplied with info, and at the same time hides out among his peers acting as though he's part of the cause.  LaKeith Stanfield does a great job in this role.  Stay at the end to read the 'real story' of the characters. It's a hard watch in some respects, but a part of important history to know.

movie six.jpg

Six Minutes til M idnight *** (Theater)

Judi Dench - she runs a girls school in the 1930's - where daughters/granddaughters of Nazis are boarding, to be educated.  One of the teachers is murdered, and a replacement shows up disguising as the new teacher, only he's really an investigator into the murder.  The setting alone for this film is worth seeing.  It's sinister, foreboding, full of intrigue and the characters are interesting - to say the least.  Dench is just a sweet older lady that deeply loves her girls, there's her assistant, the new teacher, and then the girls themselves - all central characters we follow to see what happens next.  It was a real school - but not a real story.  But it sure could have been...

movie chaos.jpg

Chaos Walking *** (Theater)

Tom Holland - do you know this young actor yet?  We like him - he's so diverse in the roles he plays (in Bridgerton, Broadchurch).  I wasn't sure I'd like this film, but we needed a diversion and this was perfect.  It's sort of futuristic, there's this "noise" where the thoughts of the men (no women left on the planet) are heard by all, and then this girl (Daisy Ridley) appears.  It's a dangerous situation, but he seriously wants to help her out and protect her, while trying to control his thoughts so others can't know what's happening.  Odd premise?  Just odd enough to be a great night out at the movies for something a little different.

movie lies.jpg

City of Lies *** (Theater)

Johnny Depp and Forest Whitaker are the main characters in this investigative look into the deaths of Tupac and B.I.G. - remember this story?  Depp is Detective Poole, the one who spent years working on this case - in fact two decades! Whitaker is a reporter trying to find out why and who, and solve the mystery behind the murders.  As the story unfolds, we are taken into the corruption of the LA police department and its entire institution.  We enjoyed the film and the wonder of it all, as well.  These two guys are two of my faves, as well...

movie courier.jpg

The Courier *** (Theater)

Benedict Cumberbatch plays an astute businessman with a wife and child, and he's "recruited" to work with Soviet intelligence to help defuse the Cuban Missile Crisis.  It's based on a true story, and Cumberbatch is excellent in his mannerisms, speech and anxiety as he navigate home life/business life/and the dangers associated with his mission.  The film provides a good entertaining story that's suspenseful, as well as informative about that time of history...go see it.


Land *** (Theater)

Robin Wright stars in this film that's mostly stunning visually, as she plays a character - a heartbroken woman - that lives off the grid in an area of the country that's frozen in the winter, full of wild animals - in a house that doesn't have a bathroom.  She's deeply wounded and in need of solitude with nature, only after a while (and some scares), a stranger shows up at her door...someone with skills she desperately needs to survive.  The scenery is breathtaking, and watching this woman and following her journey, is interesting.  I did find a few things far-fetched, and the story didn't end like I wanted it to...and I left the theater a bit sad.  But she's a great actress, in my opinion, and she made rustic living a tiny bit appealing...maybe for a day or the spring...not the winter.


The Little Things *** (Theater)

Three actors with awards start in this story - one that didn't get great reviews by critics - but I liked it a lot.  Denzel is an older police investigator with a past, and now he's on a new case with another young investigator, as they try to figure out who the killer is - and one suspect sure seems to be the one.  Denzel Washington, Rami Malek, and Jared Leto are the three guys.  I thought the story was intriguing, there were details to be seen and noticed, and I wasn't so sure of the ending and wondered if one of these three - the most unlikely - might be the one that needs to be caught but isn't.  The story is mysterious and the characters drew me in...especially those played by Washington and Leto.  We  talked about this movie for days. And I still think about that ending... (you'll want to read the buzz about who the killer might really be).


Broadchurch **** (Netflix)-3 seasons

Love, love this series...except for a few scenes to fast-forward through...sigh.  He's a new detective in town, she's the current one, and they have to work together to solve the first case - a dead young boy.  The town is set on the cliffs by the sea, and there are many sordid characters that live there.  He's in bad health, she's unaware of things at home, and everyone they know is suspect.  Each person in the town has a connection to the stories, it seems. The casting, the acting, the scenery, and the stories are riveting.  I'm sad there are only three seasons and apparently no more...but these  We are almost finished, and I can't wait to see what happens in this last season.  So many I know that have watched this series say it's one of the best!


Emily in Paris ** (Netflix)-oneseason

Honestly, I only watched this show because of the fashion.  The storyline is interesting, as well.  She's a young naive positive young woman that lands a job at a French marketing firm, and her new boss cannot stand her.  Emily navigates a new life in Paris, way different from the life she knew in the states.  And that "new" includes lots of shockers sexually, which is the part I don't care for in the stories.  I fast-forwarded through a lot of scenes, and that was annoying.  Emily's clothes and the characters are fascinating and entertaining, but that extra "junk" made me not sure I'll watch the next season...


Nomad Land *** (Theater)

Frank McDormand is definitely a great actress, and she doesn't disappoint in this unique story of a recently widowed woman, displaced from a town that went dark, as she navigates a year on the her van.  It's an interesting premise, nothing hugely twisting or turning, but rather a look at a lifestyle and a group of people unlike the majority of us.  Most of us live in houses, but there are many that don't.  And just observing this woman's life, as if we're riding with her, was a different experience and one I'd recommend.  And watching McDormand is worth the price of the ticket.


News of the  World *** (Theater)

Tom Hanks and a new little actress - both worth watching in this film - because they're both great.  It's a good story about a "story teller" that rescues this little girl and together they move across old Texas terrain to get her home...  At first, she doesn't speak and only looks.  And she's amazing at getting across her feelings without words.  They travel lots of miles, as they face many dangers, to find both of them a place to call "home."  That's the story in a nutshell.  It's a bit slow in parts, in my opinion, but Hanks and Helena Zengel move it along with sheer perfection in their interactions with each other  


The Marksman *** (Theater)

It's a Liam Neesom movie, so you're getting Liam in his true form.  A tough older guy that always wins...  He's a rancher, lives alone, and suddenly his life changes when a young boy and his mother, fleeing from the Cartel, literally run across the road in front of him.  He ends up with the boy, on the run - the entire movie- from these deadly men.  At first, he doesn't like the boy and the boy doesn't like him.  But, of course, these two form an unlikely bond until the very end of the'll have to watch. I saw that this film didn't get great reviews, and I suppose there's nothing "new" from Neesom here.  But it is a great story and a fun watch and lots of heartfelt moments, and tough wins.  And sometimes, that's the best kind of movie for an evening escape.


No Man's Land *** (Theater)

This young man lives on a ranch with his family near the border of Texas/Mexico, and he's about to go off to college. However, one rash action on his part finds him running from the law and running to - trying to make things right - if that's possible.  George Lopez plays the Texas Ranger in pursuit of this distraught young guy, and we watch as the hunt continues.  I wasn't expecting the ending that came, but after a long Texas style man hunt, there's a scene that will probably result in a heartwarming tear rolling down your a good way.  A cleansing way...  It's a good movie.  See it.


Christmas on the Square *** (Netflix)

She's in it, she wrote the music, and it's a delightful holiday movie starring Dolly Parton...if you're still watching!  I don't like country music, but this is not a country music story.  It's full of some of the best voices singing in this musical, and that's totally worth the watch!  Seriously, I couldn't wait for the next actor(s) to burst into song.  There's a mean lady that's taken over the town (Christine Baranski) but she's really just a sad grownup little girl.  Dolly's character helps her to see that, and of course there's a happy ending - it's a Christmas movie, after all!  It's a good story, and I cannot say enough how good the music (and lyrics) are - we found ourselves smiling (and shedding a few tears) often!


Fatale **  (theater)

Hilary Swank (love her) plays a detective with a past and a grudge and a purpose.  She focuses in on an unsuspecting successful man with a wife, in order to ruin him and use him for her own gain.  She's ruthless, he's made one mistake, and this thriller never stops.  It's not a film for the faint-hearted.  She seems unstoppable.  But is she?  I like Swank, and I'm glad to see she's back on the big screen.  That was the draw for me.  She plays a good "bad cop" for sure, but there's only one thing about the movie that bugged me and that was the ending.  So you'll have to go see it for yourself...and decide if you like the movie or not.  Hold onto your seat...


Pinocchio***  (theater)

Do you remember Roberto Benigni from Life is Beautiful? (my favorite movie!)  He plays Geppetto and he's wonderful in this film, as well!  This is not the cartoon or little kid version of the famed kids' story of the little puppet that lied and his nose grew longer.  It's more of an old-thyme tale and it's dubbed in English.  It's a little slow, but I really like the way it was done.  I didn't really recall the five coins, or the donkeys, or so much more in the story, but the costumes and makeup on Pinocchio were great, as were the lessons learned, and the love of his father.  It's thoroughly enjoyable, but altogether different...and I rather liked that!  (and...I'm not  fan of cartoons.)


The Last Vermeer ** (Theater)

I usually like "true stories" and this one was certainly interesting.  Guy Pearce (plays his part well) is artist accused of conspiring with the Nazis over his famous art collection. It seems he's not the artist he appears to be...or is he?  Pearce plays his part so well, that of the extreme artistic talent who carries about him quite a lot of mystery and intrigue.  And he appears to be guilty according to evidence. What then plays out is the courtroom drama and an amazing revelation I didn't see coming at all.  We rather enjoyed this film and didn't realize it was a true story until the end.  That part is amazing, as well, and hard to believe.  Seriously, what a story.


Half Brothers ** (Theater)

I honestly wasn't expecting much from this movie, as comedies aren't my genre, and the reviews weren't that great.  However, we found ourselves laughing out loud and feeling entertained, because this movie was really different..and funny!  Two young men find out they have the same dad, and are sent on a scavenger hunt of sorts to find out why their dad wasn't really "in" either one's lives.  The brothers are complete opposites, and that fact alone makes for funny moments.  I felt sort of like I was reading a children's book because it had elements that made the story childlike, but then there were poignant family moments as well.  There's a plane that plays a central character, there's the mystery of the hunt, and there are the brothers that fight constantly only to realize...well...I won't tell you the end.  It's a good watch on a cold winter's night...for an offbeat movie you've probably not seen the likes of before.


The Grand Hotel *** (Netflix)

This is a three-season show from Spain (yes, subtitles) and has a few of the same actors from Cable Girls.  It takes place in a huge hotel, and there's this conflict between the maid/waiter staff and the elite/owners/managers/family of the hotel itself.  I didn't see Downton Abbey, but I think this might be akin to that kind of story.  There's a brother that shows up at the hotel to find his sister, who was a maid there, but now she's missing.  He poses as a waiter.  Immediately, he and the hotel owner's daughter connect - a big no-no in that world.  The hotel owner is an imposing woman that cannot be approached nor her plans thwarted, so every episode she reigns and rules over everyone, ruthlessly.  The head of the waitstaff is another woman that cannot be crossed.  However, Julio and Alicia are constantly on a missing to uncover facts about missing people, along with a detective and his inept partner.  There are a few moments of humor, others of abuse and deceit, and lots of intrigue and scenery and yes, romance - tho forbidden.  Lots of other storylines among the staff, as well, including a pregnant maid - and the birth of the hidden twins.  We like the series, a lot.  We are almost finished.  Unbelievable story lines, but each one keeps you wanting more...


The Informer ** (theaters)

The draw to see this movie was Rosamund Pike - she's one of my favorite actors.  The story is about an ex-military man that also did time in prison - but who's now an informant for the FBI - his "boss" being Rosamund Pike's character.  This man has a wife and daughter, but he has to do what the FBI needs him to do - and this time it's stop a huge drug deal.  The whole plan goes awry, the police get involved, the young dad is in peril, and the FBI - well they want to erase him.  The film is suspenseful, we of course want the dad and his family reunited safely, and we hope Rosamund Pike's character will do the "right thing."  Clive Owen plays the other FBI boss that's willing to move on without the informant.  It's an entertaining film, not the best of these kinds of stories, but a good popcorn-watching movie for a thriller, of sorts...


The War with Grandpa **(theaters)

I'm not usually a fan of "grandpa" movies because so many have been just dirty and gross, or just sad.  However, this one is entertaining and lighthearted.  De Niro plays the grandpa that is invited to move in with his daughter and her family, to take the son's room - while the son moves up to the attic.  However, the son is NOT pleased and feels invaded - so he goes to "war" with his grandpa.  Pranks and tricks and antics are slung back and forth between grandpa and grandson.  It's a rated PG movie, so actually that was a refreshing find as an escape from all the drama in the world.  So, this film is forgettable and nothing to ponder over after the credits roll, but as movies go - family ones - it's not so bad.  Most reviews were pitiful about it, but then it probably didn't have enough violence or sex for the critics.  War with Grandpa is a nice diversion, a rainy night see, and not a must-see but definitely something to consider.


Let Him Go ** (theaters)

Kevin Costner and Diane Lane star in this family drama film, and I really like both of them as actors.  So no disappointment there.  And if you've seen the previews of this film, you know it involves family abuse.  But be forewarned, the abuse is horrific.  That being said, the story of is of grandparents who are determined to "rescue" their grandson from an abusive situation involving the in-laws.  Lane and Costner are the best part of the movie, and it certainly is suspenseful.  Lane is especially endearing (and yet a bit foreboding) as a fierce grandmother that will stop at nothing to see her grandson safely home, with her.  When she and her husband meet up with the other grandmother (a monster of a woman) and her grown gnarly sons, the movie takes a turn toward - extreme violence.  I don't know what else to say.  Just go in aware of what you're going to see. I didn't cry, it wasn't that kind of movie.  I did wince, though.


2 Hearts ** (theater)

This film got horrible reviews, but the story line was interesting enough to prompt us to buy tickets and go. There are two couples in the story, neither knows the other, and both of the men have something wrong...gravely wrong.  One knows about his issue, the other does not. We follow both couples, back and forth, until we're invested in hopes with them for a wonderful life together with their spouses...until...well it's predictable once you figure out what's happening.  Critics don't like predictable stories.  However, this is a true story and what resulted in one of the men's lives after his experience is still changing lives now.  That's worth seeing, in my opinion.  You may recognize some of the faces of the actors.  There are sad moments, but warming ones as well.  Nothing spectacular, but yet something amazing. And this poster image to the left?  It's sappy looking, but the movie is not.


Yellow Rose *** (theater)

This movie was filmed in Austin, so it got an extra star just for that! :) She and her mother are "illegals" and her mom gets deported, but this teenage girl is left in the U.S. to make it on her own.  She has a gift - songwriting and singing - and pretty soon others see it.  She ends up at the Broken Spoke (honky tonk in Austin!) and Dale Watson (country singer) helps her out, along with a young man from school that likes her a lot.  There are some tense moments as the separation from her mom, and the scare that she too might be sent away, happen.  And there are some great sounds from this actress - a tune about a square peg in a round hole that is still reverberating in my mind.  It's a good film, another one that's entertaining - with a story of hope and music.  How can that be bad?


Never Again *** (Theater)

This is a Fathom Event documentary so if you missed it, I hope you can find it somewhere.  It tells the story of two men - one a Jew that survived the Holocaust - one an Isalm extremist that had a change of heart.  Each goes through their life experiences and the first survived and now thrives, and how the second made a decision that daily costs him his life.  This is part of CUFI - Christians United for Israel.  It's a film to bring awareness about anti-semitism.  It's growing on college campuses and across the world.  This is an interesting documentary and quite inspiring, and thought-provoking.  Miracles do happen  and these two men are living examples.  Anti Semitism is real, and we can all unite together to stop its tracks.


The Secret *** (Netflix)

I've liked Katie Holmes ever since she started in the film Pieces of April - and she hasn't been in many films lately.  So I wanted to watch this one.  She's a single mom with three kids, barely making ends meet, when this stranger arrives with an envelope for her...and then a huge storm hits.  Besides that, there's a man she works for that she's been dating for years, but then...this stranger appears.  There's something in that envelope that gets blown away by the storm and then reappears near the end of the movie.  That's the secret.  And it almost causes a storm of a different kind.  This is a nice, clean, and enjoyable movie - not sappy at all - but a great story.  We both liked it, as a diversion from murder mysteries, intrigue and was nice for a change!


High Seas *** (Netflix)

It's a whodunit on a cruise ship in the 1940's with the two main characters being sisters, one married to the owner of the ship, and the other a writer.  We were intrigued in the first season, as there are murders that take place, and each episode left us wanting more...and shaking our heads!  The costumes, the ship itself, all lend to a great watch (as well as the music).  We are on season 3 and we have really enjoyed it . The writer sister is a bit of a sleuth and she ends up solving or being a part of solving each murder.  Be forewarned that this show has a lot of gore and more (we fast-forwarded some scenes).  But if you like Agatha Christie type mysteries with an inspector, lots of suspects, and trying to figure out the killer on your own - you'll like the series.  Just read up on the content, so you won't be caught unaware...


Kajillioinaire * (theater)

Let me start by saying that this movie topped my list of worst movies ever.  There's this older couple and their grown daughter who are grifters (the mom is Debra Winger!)  They don't fit in to society AT ALL, and they live in a bubble plant in a room where bubbles seep down the wall, and they have to gather them nightly.  But they can't pay their rent.  So...along comes this other young woman who joins them (why, I never did understand) in their capers to make money (which are ludicrous).  The daughter of the couple knows her family is odd, and she seems to just want to be loved...but honestly...once we were there to that point - the movie when haywire.  We discussed it for a bit afterwards, and there was no sense to the movie at all, and it was a story line that seemed like it was developed while someone was sleeping and dreaming about nonsense.  I don't like those kinds of movies, and there was really no definable plot or connection between scenes or characters.  If you like crazy, off the wall, stupid - then go see it . Otherwise, skip it.  


The Call to Spy ***(theater)

I didn't know about this woman - Virginia Hall - or the others like her, who were called up as spies during WWII in France, when the Nazis invaded.  Women were thought to be good candidates for the job because they would be unsuspecting.  This story follows two particular women - one with a wooden leg - who is fierce and unstoppable (played by Sarah Meghan Thomas) and the other an Indian woman who will not give in, at all costs.  The story unfolds as these women are called up, placed, and required to journal and communicate without getting found out...  I love historical drama like this, and this film did not disappoint.


Infidel *** (theaters)

Jim Caviezel (from The Passion) stars in this story based on true events.  He's a famous Christian blogger, with a wife that's bitter (because they lost a child) so her faith is wrecked. They have a dear family friend from Iran, and it seems life is going well...until Caviezel's character is invited to the Middle East to be on a talk show and "share his faith" so he thinks.  The friend is not who they think he is, and the visit is not what the blogger hopes it to be, and all hell breaks loose.  He is captured...and his wife travels to Iran to make sure he gets set free. There are a couple of (really? seriously?) moments -  but Caviezel (as usual) is compelling in this tale of religious oppression, tension, and fear that plagues those who take religious faith too far.  Or do they?  


The Trial of the Chicago 7 *** (theaters)

I was only 11 when these events took place, but there were seven guys that were arrested for inciting riots and violence over the atrocities of the Vietnam War.  They were brought to trial, and this is their story.  It's a stellar cast of actors in this film, which makes it totally a film not to miss.  But the courtroom drama and the story of how each man landed there is dramatic and riveting.  Lots of great dialogue, the judge is appalling (great acting), and we are drawn in to see what unfolds...if justice will reign, if government is corrupt, and just what do we ourselves think should have taken place?  We both really loved the history, were disturbed by the reality, and drawn in to the response of the courtroom at the end of the film.  Go see it.


The Nest *** (saw in theater)

There's a dark sinister mood and music throughout this film, but the movie isn't spooky or haunted.  However, the family dynamics are dark and forboding...  Jude Law plays a father that's obsessed with appearing to be well off.  He's smart, but he spends what he makes, and his wife has had enough.  She's a horse lover, and they have two children, a weary teen girl, and a timid pre-teen boy.  The dad moves them once again, this time to a huge old home with character...but it's dark and old and creepy and large inside, and they have no funds to fix it up.  The dad buys his mom a horse, hoping to bring her joy, but tragedy strikes and that horse becomes symbolic of all that is wrong in this story.  My husband didn't care for the film, but I did.  It's very multi-layered, thought provoking, and the actress that played the mom was awesome...especially when she revealed all at the dinner table...


The Last Shift *** (in theaters)

If you know the actor Richard Jenkins, that will draw you to this film.  He plays an older white guy that has been working as night manager at a fast food restaurant for 38 years and it's his  last few nights...when he is called upon to train a younger black man to take his place.  This young man is a teen father, is on probation for vandalism, but is super smart.  These two are as different as night and day, and their conversations at night bring to light deeper issues within.  There are issues of racism, white privilege, prejudice and more.  But there's a sadness to both characters, so much that we are drawn in to their story, hoping for a happy ending.  What we get, instead, is an ending that left us talking about the layers of relationship made...and destroyed...all by words and attitudes.  And wounds and life...  I really liked it - Jenkins was amazing.


Enola Holmes *** (Netflix)

To be honest, I was tired when we sat down to watch this movie, recommended to us by a friend.  However, right away, the premise and the intro was intriguing - it's about Sherlock Holmes' sister!  She lives with just her mom, as her brother (and another brother) left long ago.  And they have a most unconventional life!  Right away, she finds herself alone and has to use the knowledge she learned from her quirky mom (it has to do with scrabble tiles and word games!) to make it in the world and come into her own...even after she does meet her older, disinterested brothers.  The actress who plays Enola (her name is Alone spelled backwards!) is from the show Stranger Things, and she shines in this film - she really does!  It's a different kind of story, and in a very great way!


Eleanor Oliphant (book) ****

I absolutely LOVED this book, but perhaps you have to be a bit quirky to love it, I don't know.  Eleanor is definitely different in the way she thinks, dresses, lives, and speaks.  And she's 30 years old, formed her own habits, and isn't really looking to change, until she sees this stranger and thinks he's "the one." As she tries to transform herself to fit into his world, she also befriends a nerdy fellow worker at her job, and they become connected over their happenstance of helping a dying man.  The best part of the book is Oliphant's narrative and the way she views the world, all because of a tragedy that happened to she can barely talk about.  And she doesn't, until near the end...and then it all makes sense.  I read that this book might become a movie, and I can't wait to see it...because I loved Eleanor.  After all, I'm a bit quirky myself.


Tenet **

This could have been a good film, if we could have understood it.  Lots of different accents that made it difficult to follow the story were a huge hindrance, so be sure to read the synopsis of the movie - a good one - before you go!  I'm not really a sci-fi fan, but this film and its premise is different and interesting.  There's lots of action, it's a LONG movie, and Denzel Washington's son plays the main character (remember him in BlackkKlanzman?)  There was a lot of hype about this movie before covid, so when it finally appeared in theaters, we wanted to see it.  But we left with more questions than answers, about the bullets that travel backwards...  Go see it.  But read about it before you go.  But you'll read about the horrible sound mix, and that just might make you skip it altogether.


Made in Italy ***

Liam Neesom plays a father estranged from his grown son, due to great sorrow that befell them both.  The father is a once famous artist, and the son runs an art gallery for his wife's family - only she's divorcing him.  Then...there's this beautiful family home father and son left after the tragedy long ago, that's begging for a restart...and the son wants his half of the sale.  Father and son come together to face their past and rebuild the home and their relationship...but is it too late?  We both loved the film.  It's quite a departure for Neesom, as this is NOT an action thriller!  And the best part is the son is played by Neesom's real life son!  It's a great heartwarming story, the scenery is breathtaking, and watching father/son act together was wonderful.  Made in Italy is worth seeing...and you'll want to read about the son's experience while he made the Google after the credits roll...


The Vanishing Half **

This was my recent book of the month choice.  Its about identical twin sisters that grew up in a southern Black community but then left in their teen years, eventually separating into two completely different lives.  One eventually returns to her hometown and her mom, with a black daughter in tow.  The other has passed herself off as being white and is a married to a husband who knows nothing of her past, and also has a daughter. Years and stories and experiences pass, and the daughters' lives intersect...coincidentally?  The one sister wants never to return to her roots, and the other one longs to connect.  I suppose the book is mostly about dealing with your origins and family and self-esteem...and how tangled all of that can be.  I enjoyed the read, but it wasn't wonderful...and I was dissatisfied with the ending.  But I'm pretty sure that ending was meant to leave the reader frustrated...and pensive...and it did!


Selena *** (at the IPIC)

We had not seen this movie back when it was in the theaters, 20 years ago or so. We did know the story of this young Latino singer that ended tragically.  When we saw it was showing, we decided to go, and then learned that this movie was Jennifer Lopez's first exposure and big break. She plays Selena, and honestly I thought she did a great job.  Selena's life to stardom, her over ambitious father, and her love story with one of the musicians in the band fills out this (long) film to the max, with the sad ending that is truly heartbreaking.  There's a lot of Selena's music in the film, and lots of insight into the Latino family culture.  We enjoyed it, but thought it didn't need to be over 2 hours in length.  It's worth seeing if you missed it like we did...


The High Note *** (at the IPIC)

She's a personal assistant (Dakota Johnson) to a famous singer(Tracie Lee Ross - Diana Ross' daughter!) but she's got a keen ear for music producing.  She meets a young man that she's certain has talent, and convinces him that she's a producer and can further his career.  However, the singer she works for is quite condescending and demanding, and producing the young man's career is quite time consuming and daunting...especially since she's not being truthful with either party.  And then, there's the ending - never saw it coming - and it was fantastic.  The music is GREAT in this film, and the story is different and very worth seeing.  Look up Ross after the movie....  We really enjoyed this movie, in so many ways...


Sweet Magnolias *** (NETFLIX)

Three best in the south...with pasts, kids, careers and an old stately home to run a business together. The southern charm is definitely thick in this story - a little too many colloquial sayings for sure.  BUT...the casting is great, the story line is I suppose "real to life." One was married to the local doctor but is divorced now, with three kids - all affected - and there's a new coach in town.  One runs a restaurant and has a teenage daughter that struggles with her mom/boys/etc. And the third is a lawyer, full of sass and hope for the isn't easy in this charming town, at all.  Too many tongues wagging and people bragging...while they drink sweet tea.  It's an entertaining show, and you'll like the three women.  


Land Girls *** (NETFLIX)

I had not heard about this...but in WWII girls/women were hired to work at local farms because the men were off to war.  This series is about the "land girls" that arrive to work on a farm, their personal stories and backgrounds, as well as their interaction on a daily basis with Lady Hoxley and the employees on her estate.  Each girl has a "story" with one being married to a soldier that is away, one that came to get away from abusive home life, a "city" girl with an attitude, and so on.  There is danger, intrigue, and all sorts of tangled webs that occur on the farm, and not the kinds with spiders!  We've enjoyed the series so far, I think there are three seasons.


Longmire *** (NETFLIX)

We are about five episodes into this six season series, at the recommendation of a friend.  Walt is a sheriff (an amazing detective) but he's recently lost his wife and lost his joy...  In his office he has a few deputies (one running against him for sheriff, one a feisty young woman, and one a barney-type guy), and a friend down at the saloon (an Indian played by Lou Diamond Phillips).  They work the Wyoming woodsy area, and deal with a murder in each episode.  Oh, and Walt has a grown daughter, Cady.  LOTS of drama, action, complicated plots, and real relationship and life woes - but put together well - and a good watch.  We are liking it so far!


The Stand at Paxton County **

It's been hard for us to find good we thought the story of this one sounded interesting.  A daughter that's a medic in Afghanistan is called home because her father needs her on the ranch where she grew up.  He's being threatened and about to lose his livestock and farm.  In fact, he's being harassed by the local sheriff.  The daughter and her dad were estranged for years, but this common quest to figure out what's really going on behind the threats brings them together, as the mystery and the drama unfolds.  The movie starts out slow...then picks up to become an okay film.  Supposedly, the story is based on true that's always cool.  It's a movie worth seeing if you need to see a movie and there's nothing else :). 


Worthy of Love ***

The author of this book is one of our writers, Kaelin Scott.  This is her second book, and I've not yet read the first one.  Worthy of Love is a Christian romance story of a ranch family that hires a new cook, a girl with a story and a past.  The main characters are Austin and Kacey, the ranch guy and the new hire.  One thing I loved about the story was that it was a refreshing read and a nice escape during this pandemic time.  It's a story of hope, forgiveness, salvation, and love.  All things that we know and believe, but we often become cynical about and take for granted.  I think most of us can find ourselves among these characters, either religious, loving, lost, wounded, searching for love, feeling unworthy of love...and more.  It's a feel good story in the end, and who doesn't need more of those right about now?


Happy & You Know It **

She's a musician recently kicked out of a band, and is hired by a group of wealthy moms with babies - to sing and bring musical "culture" to the children.  As she gets to know each one, she also discovers their HUGE secret in particular.  Will she tell all, and what will happen if she does?  I personally found the story itself very intriguing and wanted to keep reading.  However, this book is full of graphic  sexual encounters - that are not necessary - much like some movies.  Way too many..  And while the bulk of the book is a great read, the ending was a bit "eh" for me.  


Father Brown ***(PBS)

He's a priest in the 1960's in an English town, and he has an older lady and her niece that work with him.  He shows up at murder scenes to offer comfort, but it seems he's quite the sleuth himself - ever calm and wise and full of hope and faith.  However, the police detective doesn't like Father Brown, as he just wants to nab the first suspect and be done with it.  Each episode is a mysterious killing, and each episode is full of intrigue and suspense - against the beauty of the English countryside.  You'll enjoy, I'm sure...  And Father Brown always solves the case, while riding his bicycle and noting details.


Anne with an E****(NETFLIX)

We couldn't quit watching these episodes, the casting and the stories were so good!  This story is Anne of Green Gables revisited, with new actors and stories.  There's drama, adult themes (this isn't really for little kids), an amazing young lady's tenacity for plowing through life's struggles, and then there's Anne passion for learning and...her vocabulary!  Her guardians, Matt and Marilla, are equally as interesting as we find out what makes them act the way they do.  This is a must-see series for all.


The English Game ****(NETFLIX)

It's the late 1800's and the game of soccer is growing, but the players are divided between the Aristocrats and the Working Class.  There's friction and great competition.  There are also the personal lives of the main players, as they navigate loss, marital struggles, family matters and work issues.  The costumes are great, the story is intriguing and suspenseful, and we were so sad that it was only six episodes.  Wonderful stories told against an incredible backdrop, and it's all based on real life players! You'll definitely want to see this!


You are Not Alone ***

Shay Miller is looking for love, a fulfilling job, a place to belong...things we all want.  But she's isolated.  And then...she meets the Moore sisters with this life of glamour and perfection.  Besides that, there's nothing they want that they don't get.  Miller wants their life, she thinks.  But perhaps they want hers! This book kept me guessing and interested, it was hard to put down.  And the ending...what a twist and turn.  It's a great summer read, if you're looking for one!


Nothing to See Here ***

Not everyone will appreciate this book.  It's the tale of two children that catch on fire when they're aggravated.  That will turn some folks off. But I loved this story.  Two friends are now grown, the one is rich and has these two "firey" kids, and the other doesn't really live a life at all...partly because of the first friend.  The one is asked to come nanny these kids, and that's when the drama starts.  It's a story of friendship and parenting and emotions and heart wounds.  And I thought it was a great one, and told so smartly and well...


Doolittle ***

I thought this film was delightful, and that's saying a lot coming from a person that doesn't like talking animals. :) Robert Downey Jr plays Dr. Doolittle, hibernated away in his house, too sad to face the world. Until...a young boy and girl show up at his house and insist on his help for a wounded squirrel and a dying queen.  The animals are hilarious, and the story is heartwarming and fun to watch.  I wasn't expecting much when we watched, but was pleasantly surprised when the credits rolled..  Sit down with the family.  Enjoy...


Virgin River ***(NETFLIX)

This is a series that will return this fall, I'm told.  So we watched the first season and really liked it.  She's a medical doctor that needed to get away from her old life, so she takes a job in a rural California town - quaint - and full of people that apparently have past lives as well.  It's not at all what she expects, and she isn't even wanted there at first.  However, she settles in and meets him, and the others in the town, and the drama begins.  It's full of multi-layered individuals with stories to tell and experience, as we observe them all in this amazingly beautifully set town on a river...just outside of civilization.

Current Sightings
by Marcy Lytle

This column is full of TV show and book reviews, as well as movies!  It pays to be informed before we spend time watching or reading!

We will try to give a short synopsis, as well as our own opinion, along with a nod or a no, regarding suggestive content.


While movie theaters are slow to open, we're all at home wondering what to watch, read or enjoy...hope this helps!  If you have one to add, email us!