THYME REVIEWS ◽ TIPS
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Father Stu ****

We like Mark Wahlberg, and his performance in this film about a boxer that becomes a priest is award-winning, in my estimation.  I didn't know anything about this "true story" but wow - it tells the story that we all need to hear - and let sink in over time.  He's rough, he's tough, he's raw and he's real. And this guy was honest in his experience with God, and in his then traumatic diagnosis that changes his life and others around him.  Wahlberg's language and accent and attitude are spot-on, as are his humility and stamina at the end... I want to see it again.  I want others to see it.  We all need a bit of Father Stu's understanding of suffering and grace.  One goes so well with the other.

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Ambulance **

This a long movie, and it seemed that 2/3 of it was the ambulance chase.  There's never a dull moment, for sure. One brother needs money, the other one sees a way to make a lot, and together they think the job will be over and done - but it's not.  They end up in an ambulance trying to outsmart the police chasing them down.  That's really the story in a nutshell.  If you like action and suspense, this is a winner.  Nothing award-winning, but not nap-inducing either. it's a good Friday night thriller with popcorn kind of a film.

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The Mulligan **

This is a faith-based, inspirational story told through the game of golf, and through the eyes of the character played by Pat Boone (yes, he's still alive).  There's a dad that's way too driven in his work, has left behind his son and wife...and through his relationship with "The Old Pro" (Boone) he gets a second changes (the mulligan).  It's a great story about second chances and forgiveness for sure, BUT the Hallmark ending sort of ruined it for me.  It was a little bit too neatly wrapped with a bow, which is so not reality, at least in any families I've seen that are so broken. I love stories about God's grace, but I also love to see the struggle as part of the story...because that speaks volumes as well.  All in all, it was a good story with a good analogy to the game of golf.

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Aline **

This movie is the story of singer Celine Dion from childhood to stardom.  The worst part is that the actress that played Celine is 57 years old in real life, and she played even the childhood Celine - which was totally weird.  If you can get past that, and if you really like Celine, I think you'll enjoy the movie. She's the 14th child in her family, she marries her producer (26 years her senior) and her life was anything but easy.  I did like Celine Dion way back when, so I found the movie entertaining, moving and enjoyable.  (After I shook my head at the casting.)

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Stand with Ukraine: The Guide ***

The director of this film speaks at the start, and the proceeds from this movie go to support Ukraine.  That's why we went.  It's not a new film, but the story fits with world happenings now.   A young Ukrainian boy is taken in by a kobzar (you'll learn who that is) because the boy is carrying important documents about Russia.  It's a suspenseful story, and a reminder that loss of vision doesn't mean loss of purpose, and that music and singing lifts the darkest of nights.  And all that's wrong in the world is still being permeated by what is right.  It's a foreign film with subtitles, but of course it would be.  Worth seeing.

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The Adam Project **

I like the actors in this film, but I wasn't crazy about the previews...not a fan of time travel stories.  However, the young actor that plays the younger version of the Ryan Reynolds character, and his relationship with Reynolds, is worth seeing!  There's a story within the story, and the time travel part is just the frame of the snapshot inside.  Jennifer Garner plays the single mom in mourning, and her little boy really needs some direction and love because he's lost his father.  But the deeper story is relationship among all.  It's not award-winning, but it's entertaining and you'll still like the actors you already loved...plus a new one!

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The Outfit ****

This is one of the best thriller films I've seen in a long time...  A simple tailor in a quaint shop in 1956 is the setting.  But soon it's not a simple shop at all...there are men dropping off packages in the back room, and suddenly the tailor and his assistant are in the middle of murder and mayhem.  Mafia style murder! Mark Rylance deserves an award for his performance, for sure. I loved the way the story was told with the "weavings" of the tailor's job mixed in with the mystery of the hunt. There's violence, so be aware.  But the story is one of the best - we talked about it for days after.  

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Dog **

From the previews, I wasn't all that excited to see this movie that just looked goofy.  But in reality, the story and the lightness and the dog were a nice diversion from the heavy world.  I usually don't go see comedies, but this one is a nice one.  The relationship between the dog and his driver is a sweet one to watch unfold.  Neither one wants to make the trip they have to make, but in doing so, all sorts of good takes place.  Kind of like all of our lives...so it's very relatable. Even heartwarming...  

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Moonfall *

Halle Berry and her fellow astronaut have a harrowing experience in space, for which he is sacked. Later, she's now head of NASA and the moon is coming of of its orbit, headed for Earth, and she needs him back. I love a good impending doom movie, so I was so hopeful for suspense and thrills.  First of all, Berry's acting ruined the movie for me.  Her expressions were lackluster, to say the least.  And the side stories of her ex and the other guy's ex just muddled the movie.  It was a mess from start to finish.  And it could have been a good movie.  Moonfall fell, it wasn't a good film, so I'll just hope and wait for another one that is...  I would recommend skipping this one.

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Blacklight **

If I was just giving stars for entertainment with popcorn in hand, maybe this would have obtained a 3.  Blacklight has all of the Liam Neesom feel with his amazing ability to snag the bad guys and right wrongs, with suspense and intrigue.  So if you like his usual films, you'll like that part.  This time we see a softer side of Neesom's character, because he now has a granddaughter and wants to get that relationship right, since he didn't have one with his daughter.  When he realizes that his own boss is involved in a shadowy operation, and that his family is at stake, he does what only he does best.  However, this particular movie seemed more like one that could have just been on TV, not the best...but still worth seeing.  Just felt a bit disappointed at the end, and I didn't like that feeling.

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Marry Me**

Honestly, I don't care for J-Lo as an actress and I'm not a fan of Owen Wilson, either.  The storyline seemed heartwarming, so we went.  The thing that makes this movie float, and even soar a few times, is the music.  We both really liked the music!  One can see what the movie is all about from the previews - she's a big star, she gets jilted, he's an ordinary guy that ends up with her on a whim...but wait!  There's a little more depth to the story and to the characters, and for that the movie wins a star.  The tunes are catchy and the acting is not half-bad.  We were both surprsied and pleased, when the credits rolled.

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Tales from the Loop ***(Amazon Prime)

We're only two episodes in, but I wanted to write while it's fresh in my mind.  This (season one) reminds me of Twilight Zone - the old series.  And it's slow-moving, eerie but not demented, and one of the stars is Rebecca Hall - I like her.  There's this plant where the parents work (and ignore their children) and there are robots and other oddities strewn about the landscape where the children roam while their parents work.  Odd things are taking place and the children are affected.  The first episode we see a house  broken apart by the loss of gravity, and the second one two teens switch bodies and it's downright scary.  It's the good kind of scary, you know - the kind where you want to get a bowl of popcorn and watch wide-eyed with someone next to you, so you can both look at each other and say...what just happened?  I like it...so far.  It's a bit slow...but it should be.

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Encanto ***

If you've read my reviews very often, you know I don't care for animated films. But the storyline of this movie caught my attention, and we went to see it without the kids!  Just on our own!  An entire family has "gifts" that are quite spectacular and quite define them all, except one young girl.  I mean, who can't relate to that?  She feels less than, wonders why she was passed over, how she fits in the family, etc.  The characters are delightful, the colors are bright, and the music is wonderful.  And besides that, the story and how is unfolds to show us how this young girl finds her way and thrives is encouraging to all ages.  You'll leave the theater smiling and maybe dancing, with your own spirits lifted a little higher.

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The 355**

I really like the actresses in this movie, and I wanted to like the film.  After all, it's about four powerful women (agents) that save the world, and it's full of action and intrigue.  Jessica Chastain and Diane Kruger and Penelope Cruz and Lupita Nyong'O - I mean, how can this movie be anything but stellar?  However, I've grown a bit weary with films where women stick it to sorry men.  We all know there are bad men that treat women badly in this world.  But another movie where powerful women make men look bad is getting old, in my opinion.  It seemed that was the agenda, more than the storyline.  And that makes any movie lose a star, in my playbook.  I even fell asleep near the end...the end!  My husband told me what happened and the movie was forgotten.

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House of Gucci ***

I didn't know anything about the Gucci empire, how it came to be, only that it's a fashion name brand.  So I was intrigued before stepping foot in the theater.  Lada Gaga plays a young "wanna be rich" lady that marries the young Gucci heir, played by Adam Driver.  He's a likeable guy that doesn't want his dad's riches, only to make his own way.  However, the lady he marries turns into a force that is much like a deadly storm taking out everything in its path.  Gaga's performance is amazing, and worth watching.  The story is haunting, but a good watch if you like history and horror in the making...of an empire that's still around today...

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Ghostbusters: Afterlife **

I really liked the first part of the movie, where a single mom and her two kids arrive at a spooky old house left to them by their eccentric grandfather.  Paul Rudd is a teacher in the school, with an interest that connects them all...and the story is so entertaining and interesting.  Then...I felt like it turned a bit silly and goofy and that makes it wobble for me.  However, if you're a fan of this story, I think you'll like this new one.  The kids are great, and hilarious.  I just felt like I was intrigued in a good story with promise and then taken on a side trip that wasn't bad, just not where I wanted to go.

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West Side Story** 

I feel like you either know this story and all I need to convey here is whether or not this is a good adaption of it...or you've never seen it and want a summary.  There's forbidden love and a rivalry between street gangs, and this is a musical.  I hadn't seen the original, but those with me said this version was a bit different.  I really liked the cast, and the music, and the story was entertaining and again...long.  I'm all for getting my money's worth at the theater, but sometimes the movies are a bit too long.  This might be one of those.  Go see it, if you like musicals and you know this story.  Compare  the old with the new.  It will be great conversation after the credits roll...

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Spiderman: No Way Home ***

Everyone finds out who Spiderman is...you see this in the previews. And this wreaks havoc in Spiderman's world with MJ and friends, so he seeks help from  Dr. Strange to cast a spell to reverse this knowledge - at the expense of everyone forgetting who he is. Again, you see this in the previews.  What you don't see if the thrill of the film, where other enemies appear and so do a couple of surprise visits from the past - I think you'll love.  Will the spell work, does anyone die, who helps out Spiderman? All of these questions swirl, and lots of entertaining interaction takes place, as well as full Spiderman moves...all the makings for a great movie.  It's long, so you'll need lots of snacks.

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Nightmare Alley *

Bradley Cooper and Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara and more...seems like it would be a good movie.  The setting is a 1940's carnival where dark and sinister characters lurk about.  He's a (newly acquired skill) mentalist and he's connecting to others with their own "tricks," and it doesn't prove to be a story worth watching, in my opinion.  It seemed to drag on and because of the dark screen and the dark characters, even though the actors are stellar, the darkness won...I fell alseep.  Enough said..

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American Underdog **

We went with another couple to see this film based on the true story of Kurt Warner, and they all loved the movie.  I liked it, as it was an inspirational tale of a young man that was determined to play the big leagues against all odds, and his relationship with a divorced mom of two.  The story was good.  But the actor who played young Warner is 41 years old in real life, and he played a 22 year old guy - and that bugged me the entire movie.  The actor did not look the part!  So if that doesn't bother you, if you love the game of football and remember this athlete, and you want a heartwarming tale, go see it.  It's a pretty amazing tale of faith and football.

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Hard Luck Love Song *

We had read that this movie was written from a song from songwriter Todd Snider.  It's about a young man that cannot seem to get his life together, although he seems to be talented musician and singer (and pool player!)  Strung out, addicted to drugs and alcohol, he finds himself in a dive hotel room...and then she shows up.  She's pretty and seems "better" than he, but we soon realize the the two of them are toxic together - more than the substances they abuse.  So the movie is long and pitiful, and he gets beat up, and it's boring to watch.  The best part is when the credits roll and Snider sings his original song with his guitar, and we get the hear all the lyrics.  I really enjoyed that - but that was it.  SO look him up and listen to the song.  I really liked the part about not fishing in the mainstream.  Maybe a song made into a movie is a cool idea, but not this time...

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The Eyes of Tammy Faye ***

Jessica Chastain is one of my favorite actresses and she deserves an award for her performance in this film about the infamous TV charismatic couple that stormed the world of TV preachers and personalities.  The movie really looks into the background of Tammy and Jim  Bakker, and we're drawn into how their childhood home life really affected the way they behaved as adults.  Who knows if it's all true, as this was a just a drama...but it sure made for a good movie.  I even related to some of their "performance" issues, and I truly felt sorry, and at the same time appalled, at all that transpired.  I read about Jim Bakker currently, when we left the theater.  He's still at it...making the news.  And her story...well it's just sad.  And Chastain nailed it.

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The Addam Family 2 ***

I wasn't that thrilled going in, but I had heard it was somewhat heartwarming, so we went. The storyline is about the daughter who doesn't want to be her family, a familiar "real" teenage drama in lots of homes.  So the dad takes the family on one last family vacation in hopes they will bond once again.  Well...you  might say they eventually do, but not really.  I guess I was a bit disappointed and really sad because it's animated, so might attract the kiddos, but it's not really for them.  At all... And we both didn't love the ending...at all, either.

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The Rescue ***

Remember the news story about the boys and their coach trapped in a cave in Thailand a few years back?  The wait, the conditions, the difficulties were really insurmountable...so it seemed.  However, the volunteers and people that arrived on the scene were brilliant and brave, and this movie chronicles what took place before "the rescue."  It was quite fascinating and amazing to watch.  It's a good see...and inspirational for sure.  Even though you know the outcome, the plans and the hope that continued to thrive and the process - I had no idea...

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The Card Counter ***

Oscar Isaac is usually good in whatever film he plays, and this one is no exception.  He's suave, sophisticated and an exceptionally good "card counter" with at least one odd behavior - he covers everything in his hotel rooms with white sheets and rope.  He has a past, and he has a mission.  He meets up with a young man that knows who Isaac's character really is, and the young guy needs help with retaliation.  What then unfolds is truly a story that escalates until the very end.  It's not a movie for the faint of heart, but it's a thriller for sure, and Isaac may win an award for this one.

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The Alpinist ***

We've seen other films about mountain climbers, and while this story is as far removed from anything I can even understand, it's one I wanted to see - a young man with a passion for climbing the most dangerous show and ice covered mountains without ropes or safety gear.  Sounds absurd, and it is.  But we get to watch and learn what makes this guy tick, from a young age, and observe with awe and terror as he climbs.  He has a mom.  He has a girlfriend.  And they support what he does.  It's a true story, and there are many climbers like him that risk their lives and throw caution to the wind...literally.  If you like documentaries and the shake-your-head kind, this one's a must see.

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Show Me the Father ***

It's a documentary style film, so know that going in.  But don't let that deter you.  This story is one that's put together very well, as we hear the stories of some well-known men and their dads.  Some are sports figures.  All have incredible experiences that had us interested from the beginning until the surprising finale.  This is one of the Kendrick Brothers films and it's maybe one of the best we've seen.  If you had a disinterested or abusive dad, or a missing dad, or just need to be reminded in an incredible way about the Father's love, this film will tear at your heart strings in an oh-so-good way.  Seriously, take tissues, and cry...with some of the best tears you'll ever shed.  It's a really good film.

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Cry Macho *

Clint Eastwood is old and feeble, and that really overshadows this slow moving film.  It's hard to watch him act, in my opinion.  He's a washed up and injured horse trainer, sent to retrieve his former boss' son from Mexico, a young teen with an attitude - and with a controlling mother.  He and the boy have to avoid getting caught, they meet up with a nice lady in a cafe, and they form an unlikely bond.  Sounds heartwarming, and it barely is.  The film was slow, performances weren't great, and we were both disappointed.  If you love Eastwood, maybe you'll be okay with this movie.  We weren't.

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Blue Bayou ***

Alicia Vikander is one of my favorite actresses, so I wanted to see this film.  In the movie, she's married to a man that was adopted by an American as a child but was born in Korea.  He now finds himself about to be deported, and that's the story we watch unfold on the screen.  He has a past, his adopted parents were abusive, and can he hold on to the new family and love he's found in America?  The movie brings light to the plight of individuals in this situation, and the end of the film is emotionally gut-wrenching.  Performances were good,  the story is based on true circumstances for many in his same situation.  A hard watch, but a thought-provoking and good one.

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Jungle Cruise ***

Emily Blunt - I'd go see her in anything. The Rock - not so much.  However, they are the two stars in this cruise down the river on a quest - a bit reminiscent of Raiders of the Lost Ark, my husband noted.  There is lots of action and whimsy and great visuals, that I felt like I was on a fantastical ride at Disney!  The story was interesting, and Emily Blunt's character and her determination was riveting.  I'd say this is the end of  summer film to see if you want an escape from all that's wrong in the world, to be entertained and amused, and to emerge with a smile.  It's a fun movie. 

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Stillwater ***

I had read that this movie received a standing ovation at a film festival.  I didn't feel that inspired by it, but it is a good movie to watch - with Matt Damon as the star.  He's a dad with a daughter, and their relationship isn't so good.  But now she's in prison in another country for a murder she says she didn't commit, and he's going to get to the bottom of it all. I suppose it's a thriller of sorts, as we go along on his quest to find the truth and exonerate his daughter, while mending the breaks between them as well.  The movie is based on a true story, somewhat.  Damon is great to watch in his character role, and the story that unfolds has a few surprises.  It's worth seeing.

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Stillwater ***

I had read that this movie received a standing ovation at a film festival.  I didn't feel that inspired by it, but it is a good movie to watch - with Matt Damon as the star.  He's a dad with a daughter, and their relationship isn't so good.  But now she's in prison in another country for a murder she says she didn't commit, and he's going to get to the bottom of it all. I suppose it's a thriller of sorts, as we go along on his quest to find the truth and exonerate his daughter, while mending the breaks between them as well.  The movie is based on a true story, somewhat.  Damon is great to watch in his character role, and the story that unfolds has a few surprises.  It's worth seeing.

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Free Guy ***

If you've seen the previews, you know this is a one of those films about a game, and Ryan Reynolds in the star.  I was a bit reluctant to see it, as it's not my favorite kind of movie.  However, it was super entertaining, there's actually a storyline of interest, and lots of fun characters that bring about laughs.  Reynolds is funny, we empathize with his desire to come alive from his mundane life as a bank teller, and we hope for the best for these non-real players.  I know, sounds hard to explain.  There is quite a bit of crude humor, so I'd say it's not for young teens. I wasn't so bored, and if you like the previews, you'll be pleasantly surprised with the entire  movie.  Our friends were...

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RESPECT ***

Jennifer Hudson can sing, and she can act.  And she does both in this film about Aretha Franklin.  It's a long movie, so stock up on the popcorn.  From her childhood to her dealings with men, to her struggling music career, to her standing up for what she knew she wanted...we watch this amazing woman and wonder how she endured all that she did, with a father like she had. (played by  Forest Whitaker).  It's painful to watch, we are mesmerized when she sings, and we were still talking about the scenes long after the credits rolled.  Hudson shines in this movie, and the very end when Aretha herself sings - is so fun to see.  Go see it.  Don't miss it.

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Val ***

Remember Val Kilmer? As documentaries go, this is a great one because of his documentation of his life growing up. He even liked scrapbooking!  I didn't know that Val has had throat cancer and only speaks with a device.  The fact that his son narrated most of the move for him made it even more endearing.  Val's life and his commentary on that life made for a very good film, with lots of good footage, sad realizations, and interesting drama in this movie.  As in a lot of actor documentaries, there's an overshadowing sense of sadness at this promising actor that carried so many heavy loads, as well.  We both found the movie fascinating and were amazed at the complexity and talent in this now 61-year old man that's lost...and lived...and written...and told.

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Joe Bell **

This is based on a true story.  Mark Wahlberg plays a gruff/rough father that isn't so nice or attentive to his teenage gay son.  When his son is bullied at school and then takes his life, this dad wakes up to the reality of what happened and makes a decision to walk.  From Oregon to New York.  To talk to kids about bullying.  You might wonder why that trek, what about his wife and family, and what in the world?  That's the sad part of the movie.  While he's trying to deal with his own grief, he's causing grief in others. It gets even more sad.  So...I suppose if you like true stories on the screen, go see it.  The young teenage actor is great.  But you'll be sad when the story ends...

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Old *

I have liked M. Knight Shyamalan movies, and the premise of this film sounded intriguing, so we went.  Folks at a resort are given personalized cocktails and dropped off at a remote island. It soon becomes clear that all of these folks have "issues" of some kind, physically or mentally or emotionally.  And the aging process speeds up in warp time.  People start dying weird (and some grotesque) deaths.  It could have been a good mystery, but the acting was horrible, there were way too many cheesy moments, and the ending was just eh- disappointing.  Not the best of films in any way, but i so wanted it to be.

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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. 

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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!  

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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...

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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 revenge...how 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.  

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.  

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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...

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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...

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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.

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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 so...in the spring...not the winter.

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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 road...alone...in 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.

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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  

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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 film....you'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.

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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...

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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.)

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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.

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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.

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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...

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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...

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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.

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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...

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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.

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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?  

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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.

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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...

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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.

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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!

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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 her...one 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.

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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 film...so Google after the credits roll...

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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!

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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.

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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!

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The Stand at Paxton County **

It's been hard for us to find good movies...so 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 events...so that's always cool.  It's a movie worth seeing if you need to see a movie and there's nothing else :). 

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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?

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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 secrets...one 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.  

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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...

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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...

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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.

DO YOU AGREE WITH OUR REVIEWS? WHAT ARE YOUR FAVE MOVIES, BOOKS AND SHOWS RIGHT NOW?
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Current Sightings
by Marcy Lytle
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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!