Storks

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Storks
Cast

Andy Samberg, Katie Crown, Kelsey Grammer

Directed by

Nicholas Stoller, Doug Sweetland

Written by

Nicholas Stoller

Other Info

Animation, Adventure, Comedy
Rated PG
89min (and no more, thankfully)

For grown-ups: 2 Stars (2 / 5)
For kids: 3 Stars (3 / 5)
Storks landed in my local theater tonight and I was there with my 2 daughters ages 9 and 11.  By the way, I’m 47. I’m happy to report the 9 and 11 year-olds loved the film. I was only somewhat impressed.

IMDB gives this synopsis: Storks have moved on from delivering babies to packages. But when an order for a baby appears, the best delivery stork must scramble to fix the error by delivering the baby.

If that sounds like  a convoluted story, you don’t know the half of it.

Kids will like it though.

This film has been promoted in theater trailers and internet for what seems like a year at least. I think the makers felt the title would resonate in so many people’s childhood memories that they would mark the premiere date on their calendar as well as their Google alerts. As old as I am, my parents never told me anything about storks bringing babies. If any parents needed an explanation, it was them. I’m the oldest of 4 siblings and I was intelligent and very inquisitive as a kid. Thankfully for me, they shared the truth about how babies are made and how they come into the world at a reasonable age: no need for storks.

My dad on the other hand did get the stork story when he was a kid. I sent him a text after the movie joking that he should see this film. Maybe he’ll get it. I think this film assumed the audience knew this dishonest legend that parents used to tell their kids. It’s ironic how parents in the 1940’s needed storks to explain the mystery of childbirth to children. After this movie, a lot of parents will have to explain the mystery of the storks in the movie through the actual explanation of birth.

But, enough about the weird stork angle, let me tell you 2 things that do work in the film. 1) The babies. The first strong impression I recall of a baby in an animated film is Jack Jack in The Incredibles. He is a firecracker. I loved the way he giggled as he was blurting out superpowers. I think he stands out in all our minds as a movie baby we won’t forget. The babies in this film are amazing in a similar way. Their voices are perfectly timed with deft CGI artistry. This makes them extremely cute and loveable. The best aspect is the laughs. Their laughs make the Pilsbury doughboy sound stand-offish. They invite you to love them. I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of merch comes from this film. 2) SOME of the jokes. There is a small bird who is a sort of pseudo-nemesis. He is very funny. Some of the jokes lag too much though. I was surprised this film was so flat in its humor after having been in production for a year or more. Usually they test things like that with focus groups etc. This film feels “off the cuff” a lot. Moreover, so much is predictable because we have seen all this before.

Having said that …

Kids will like it. To them, I recommend it. All else, tell me what you think. I think I could have skipped this one and not have missed much.


This post appeared first at Riley on Film.

(Let’s Try this Again) Online Diary: ‘The Dust Storm’

I’ve been strategically future scheduling the publishing of posts between 8-10am. The last two days, for some reason the text was wiped out. I think I’ll stp that for now until I fgure out what’s going on. meanwhile, let’s try this again:

“Disillusioned saviors search the sky, wanting just to show someone the way.”
-Jackson Browne, Colors of the Sun

24183592502_1658e279b8_bIn the classroom where I teach, the door nearly blows off its hinges anytime a desert windstorm kicks in. You have to pull it closed slowly and carefully. When you fail to do so, there is a loud “Bam!” It really seems like the next time will be the one where it blows off the hinges. The poor kids cover their ears and cringe.

Today it was doing that because there was an emergency-alert-level wind and dust storm running through the high desert. The office announced the kids were on rainy day schedule because the dust was dangerous to kids’ lungs and eyes outside. It looked and sounded like a plague outside.

I love walking through a rainstorm, even a hailstorm as long as they’re not too big. I detest being out in a dust storm. It’s uncomfortable at best and painful at worst. It’s dangerous to drive in a dust storm. My iphone is set to receive emergency alerts for weather and Amber alerts. It was going off every hour on the hour today. It was like a Twilight Zone episode right there at my work.

How is dust like life? Well, when you’re body chemistry has you down, it’s overpowering like a dust storm that gets in your eyes. Often you can’t breathe correctly. You have to breathe in a safe clean place to regain your composure. Things around you can spin so fast, you don’t see the way to go right ahead of you. You really can’t create things like a blog post or lesson plans. The best thing to do is getting to a place where you can wait it out. These things always pass.

The message I give again and again on my blog and in my circle of friends and family is to take care of ones self. You can’t do much in a dust storm. You can’t do much when you’re down. Build yourself up, by all means necessary, and then take on the world. Too many people try to lead while blinded in a dust storm of their own life.

Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop: ‘On Seeing Improvement in My Movie Reviews’

Q: 6. What were you blogging about last year at this time? How have things changed?

tumblr_n9xjs3hedU1r45zsto1_1280.jpgA quick look at my archives showed I reviewed the film Sicario last year on this date. I was surprised how shrt my review was. I guess my real surprise was in the realization that I have improved quite a bit in my movie review skills. Take a look at a recent review I’m very proud of and see the difference: Hell or High Water. One item I particuarly like is my use of css to recreate the same sort of title and meta visual used in Roger Ebert’s reviews.

I’ve really almost 100% shifted my emphasis in personal blogging to the world of film reviews. In addition to that, I am currently trying my hand at podcasting with some other film reviewers, most long-term with Darren Lucas. We started our podcast Talking Stars just before Summer 2016 and it’s growing by the day. We’re actually recording one this Saturday in fact.

I still schedule in personal blog posts but I’ve found the reviews are the thing for me. I enjoy doing them and discussing films with other people. Where will I be in a year? Probably more of this but we shall see. My goal and hope is always foremost to get out to comment on more fellow blogs out there. I think I am doing more of that han ever and may that increase.

This post was inspired by Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop. Want to participate? The rules are below.

Choose a prompt, post it on your blog, and come back to add your name to the link list below. Be sure to sign up with the actual post URL and not just your basic blog URL (click on the title of your post for that URL). For good comment karma try to comment on the three blogs above your name!!

The Prompts:

1. Share a back to school memory.
2. Something you wanted to be when you grew up.
3. If you had to teach, what grade would you choose and why?
4. Write a blog post inspired by the word: substitute.
5. Share something you miss from before you were a mom.
6. What were you blogging about last year at this time? How have things changed?

Blog « Mama’s Losin’ It!

Darling

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Darling (2015)
Cast

Lauren Ashley Carter, Sean Young, Brian Morvant

Directed by

Mickey Keating

Written by

Mickey Keating

Other Info

Horror, Thriller
Rated PG
1h 18min

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Remember the end of Psycho when Norman was talking to himself as the camera slowly panned in on his staring face. This whole film is like that. I enjoyed it immensely.

Picture Stanley Kubrick meets Roman Polanski and you have this film. Normally I prefer films with character development. I can understand the actions of the protagonist as well as the consequences of her/his actions. I did enjoy this film but only for the look of it. This film is stylish horror with little to no dialog. I get into art-for-art’s-sake type of movies. People like my wife do not. I warn the traditional movie fans out there about this one: it’s an experiment in banal and simple black and white images. The effects are so minimal they are barely worth mentioning. Basically, Darling is a movie that shows a woman go insane with no character development. That was interesting to me but it won’t be to everyone.

Lauren Ashley Carter owns the screen with her eyes. Lately so many actors have come on the scene with dark and lovely eyes like hers. The return of the “Winona Ryderesque” brunette has come through a lot of theaters lately. How fitting that Sean Young is in the film as well. She defined the type in the 80’s.

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My daughters both make Youtube videos with their “Littlest Pet Shop” figures. There are entire online communities where people share these. This film is like an artsy form of that except the director is being compared to Roman Polanski and not many LPS owners will ever attain that.

Spoilers ahead.

There is a skeleton of a plot here that is thinly developed. A young woman is hired by an older woman to house-sit in a creepy aging house. She discovers someone was once killed in the house and becomes obsessed with a locked room. After finding an upside-down cross on a necklace, she begins changing. She murders a man she lures back from a bar and saws off all his limbs. From that point it is extremely hard to figure out and frankly, I gave up trying. I get the feeling the director doesn’t intend for viewers to figure it out. You might call this the art of being indecipherable. Mulholland Drive anyone?

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He’s working with the basic stuff that’s around. The story is awful, though I wanted it to be good. It wouldn’t hurt this film to tell us more as opposed to showing only curt and neat images with little or no dialog. This film is a trip. It takes you somewhere but its the kind of trip where you get out to look around and realize you never left the driveway. I felt a little cheated when the credit rolled. What the hell did I just see? At the same time, I wanted to discuss it, write about it. I went riht out and read 3 reviews. I don’t know, there may be something great in this film I’m missing.

Give it a try, the beatnik hippie in me is still snapping his fingers but I know this is definitely not everybody’s cup of tea.

The Hallow

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The Hallow (2015)
Cast

Joseph Mawle, Bojana Novakovic, Michael McElhatton

Directed by

Corin Hardy

Written by

Corin Hardy, Felipe Marino, Tom de Ville

Other Info

Horror
Not Rated
1h 37min

(3 / 5)
Some films on Netflix pass by my screen daily and I just have no interest. Well, second thought, I have an interest but not enough to give them my undivided attention. The Hallow has been like that for me the past year. Tonight I had the gumption to press play and for the most part, it was a good choice.

This is an Irish film starring  the incredibly beautiful Bojana Novakovic. known for Devil. She plays Clare, a wife and new mother living out in the sticks with her husband who has some sort of deforestation job. As they go through the normal rounds with their newborn, black War-of-the-Worlds type things are discovered growing all around. A seemingly psychotic neighbor warns them to leave repeatedly. As is part and parcel of most horror movies, they stay.

We learn this black material is actually creating beings. We are not told much about them but when they finally appear, they are very creepy and spooky looking. They seem interested in the child. This is the best I can do without a spoiler. The story is thin and noy much explanation is given about these creatures. Some things get revealed in the final scenes but not enough to really make me go “Aha! That’s what’s going on here.” Perhaps reliance on the look of the creatures was too heavy, a better story would have made this film more effective.

There are a few cheap scares at the beginning and soe medium ones half-way through. After that, the best part of the movie is watching the creatures who are shown to us quite close up. It’s talented artistry, the CGI costume and make-up team are to be commended. Apart from the creatures, it’s also a pleasure to watch Clare. She cares for her child with a motherly instinct and tries with all her might to keep her husband safe and their family intact. It’s a rather physical role and of all the characters, I think hers gets to stretch out the most and explore the limits.

If you want a light horror movie that is predictable yet still something interesting to look at, you may enjoy this film. For fans of this genre, I recommend it.