20 September 2018

The Wife

THE WIFE is based on the novel of the same title by Meg Wolitzer, and stars Glenn Close as Joan Castleman, the very supportive wife to her successful author husband, Professor Joe Castleman (Jonathan Pryce). Joan walks with Joe every step of the way in their marriage and his writing career. Unfortunately, Joe's success makes him extremely arrogant and not always a faithful husband. When Joe is honored with the Nobel Prize, Joan's resentment shows. Many women probably will identify with Joan.

As always, Glenn Close's performance is exceptional. Her real life daughter, Annie Starke, plays a young Joan during her college years. Annie also gives a solid performance, along with the rest of the cast.

THE WIFE is an intellectual drama. The official Web site is http://sonyclassics.com/thewife/. The movie is currently playing in theatres.


10 September 2018

Operation Finale

OPERATION FINALE provides an opportunity for viewers to observe some events that happened after the Jewish Holocaust (1933-1945). Ben Kingsley plays Adolf Eichmann, a former SS officer now residing in Argentina. Israeli spies from the Mossad--Israel's intelligence agency--discover his whereabouts and capture him in 1960. Their goal is to have Eichmann testify to his crimes in a court of law. This is significant because others like Eichmann, including Adolf Hitler, committed suicide and never received punishment for their wrongdoing.

It is gratifying seeing someone brought to justice after having caused and been responsible for the suffering of millions of people. Eichmann's capture by Holocaust survivors does not bring back the many individuals who lost their lives, but does offer a bit of closure for the families whose loved ones were unjustly tortured and exterminated. OPERATION FINALE features a talented cast and is successful in allowing the audience to feel relief that someone admitted his atrocities and will now endure the effect of them.

OPERATION FINALE is currently playing in theatres. The official Web site is https://tickets.operationfinalefilm.com/synopsis/.

22 August 2018

An Interview with God

Brenton Thwaites plays a journalist named Paul who interviews God (David Strathairn). They meet three times for Paul's article and have stimulating discussions. Many questions arise that most people have such as, 'Why do bad things happen to good people?' Also, Paul is confronted with conflicts in his life. The situations make him uncomfortable because God is supposed to be the subject and Paul, the journalist, is supposed to be professional by not making it about him. He especially becomes upset when God tells him He wants to talk about Paul's marriage. In fact, Paul and his wife Sarah (Yael Grobglas) are having problems.

The scenes between Paul and God are the best because most people probably do have many questions they want to ask God. The movie provides an opportunity for viewers to observe and consider what questions they would ask. This concept is immense; however, the story could have a larger impact if scenes are added that show Paul's editor Gary (Hill Harper) publishing the interview with God and people's reactions to it. This may not be the intention of the screenwriter or director, but would serve as a catalyst for an even stronger film beyond the wonder of being able to ask God questions.

AN INTERVIEW WITH GOD plays in theatres for three nights this week. The official Web site is https://aninterviewwithgod.com/. You can get updates about the movie and possibly learn about more screening dates.

06 July 2018

California Life

UPDATE: August 9, 2018 -- "California Life" is nominated for Best Web Series/Pilot Award by the Action on Film International Film Festival!  AOF MEGAFest 2018 is August 16-26 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

I created and produce a travel-lifestyle television series titled California Life. Our theme is: "Traveling in California...searching for unique places." Our host is Aryn Rozelle.

Aryn shows viewers real estate, shopping, unique dining options, and more from various towns in California. For the most part, we will focus on small to mid-size towns because they have more to offer than just charm, and are the heart of the state. Besides, many people have probably watched programs about California cities: San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego. We want to show other places in California, and over time may visit the cities.

The official Web site for California Life is https://www.tdaentertainment.com/CaliforniaLife.htm.

Our YouTube Channel is https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJtOUanPr0e85fv7cWCyu4Q/featured. We are looking forward to adding new episodes in the Fall.

The first town Aryn visits is Roseville. You can watch Episode 1 here:

05 July 2018

Sicario: Day of the Soldado

SICARIO is an excellent film; however, in 2015 I did not blog about it. Now I am grateful for the opportunity to write about the action thriller, SICARIO: DAY OF THE SOLDADO. Benicio del Toro returns as Alejandro Gillick, Josh Brolin returns as Matt Graver, and Jeffrey Donovan returns as Steve Forsing. Emily Blunt is not in this film, so her character, Kate Macer from SICARIO, is not part of the story. Instead Catherine Keener plays Cynthia Foards and fills the slot of a strong female presence.

The cast makes SICARIO: DAY OF THE SOLDADO a great movie. And, of course, Taylor Sheridan's screenplay is its strength. After watching both SICARIO movies and WIND RIVER, I am beginning to believe Sheridan is the contemporary Master of Suspense, which is a title given to the late filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock. This point is debatable. At any rate, I will infer that Hitchcock would have enjoyed Sheridan's screenplays.

SICARIO: DAY OF THE SOLDADO is directed by Stefano Sollima. His movie is relevant because of real life current events about the U.S.-Mexico border. Watching what people go through to immigrate to America is intense. This is the feeling Sollima wants viewers to hold throughout the film and that is accomplished.

SICARIO: DAY OF THE SOLDADO is currently playing in theatres. The official Web site is https://www.sonypictures.com/movies/sicario2soldado/.

28 June 2018

Gotti

GOTTI is a fun movie. The film is cut (edited) in a way that keeps a serious subject light (by inserting some humor). The lively mood is also due to the splendid cast, including lead actor John Travolta, who plays John "Dapper Don" Gotti, the real life New York City mobster and Kelly Preston (Travolta's real life wife) who plays his wife, Victoria Gotti. In addition, the film stars Stacy Keach (Niel Dellacroce) and Pruitt Taylor Vince (Angelo Ruggiero).

GOTTI is written by Lem Dobbs and actor Leo Rossi, who plays Bobby Boriello. The movie is directed by actor and director Kevin Connolly, and covers the three decades that Gotti reigned as a crime boss. Also, viewers see how his son, John Gotti, Jr., played by Spencer Lofranco, is brought into the Gambino crime family. GOTTI is very different from most mob films, as it focuses more on Gotti as a family man and how his community acknowledges him for his generosity. However, his unmerciful crimes are shown.

GOTTI is currently playing in theatres. The official Web site is http://gotti-movie.com/.



13 June 2018

First Reformed

FIRST REFORMED is a drama thriller movie that stars Ethan Hawke as Reverend Ernst Toller. Rev. Toller is depressed. His church membership and attendance are low, he loses his son who served in the armed forces, his health is bad, etc. But it is not completely clear any of these are reasons for his depression. The journal he writes indicates something is not right with him. And after counseling a parishioner's (Mary, played by Amanda Seyfried) activist husband (Philip Ettinger), he slowly unravels.

Pastor Jeffers' (Cedric Kyles) community, Abundant Life Church, partners with Rev. Toller's First Reformed Church. For example, Abundant Life Church hires a technician to fix the organ at First Reformed Church and they organize a service for First Reformed Church together. Pastor Jeffers does not initially realize Rev. Toller is depressed, but eventually discovers his odd behavior.

Rev. Toller is a friend to Mary, and able to be present when she calls on him. In their scenes, Rev. Toller appears stable. Ethan Hawke's performance is flawless and Amanda Seyfried is equally engaging. The Abundant Life Church choir is also very good. However, the movie's ending is ambiguous.

FIRST REFORMED is currently playing in theatres. The official Web site is https://a24films.com/films/first-reformed.


24 May 2018

Book Club

BOOK CLUB is a comedy film starring Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen, and Mary Steenburgen. The four actresses work well together and it is fun watching them interact with their male suitors played by Craig T. Nelson, Andy Garcia, Don Johnson, and Richard Dreyfuss.

For many years the four ladies have been friends and meet as a book club. They are all successful and each has her unique personality. Their lives are shaken by the latest book choice, Fifty Shades of Grey. The women begin talking about things they had not discussed in a long time. As a result, they begin making extraordinary choices when it comes to romance.

According to Fonda's blog, BOOK CLUB did not have a distributor when it finished filming. Fortunately, Paramount Pictures provided distribution.

Romance films showing women over 50 years old are rare. Perhaps more screenwriters will create adventures for the demographic because they are still viable and attract an enthusiastic audience.

BOOK CLUB is currently playing in theatres. The official Web site is http://www.bookclub.movie/.

26 April 2018

Beirut

The 1983 Beirut bombings serve as a setting for the movie BEIRUT, starring Jon Hamm and Rosamund Pike. In 1972 Mason Skiles (Hamm), a United States diplomat to Lebanon is living in Beirut with his wife Nadia (Leila Bekhti) and a 13-year old Lebanese boy they care for named Karim (Idir Chender). When Nadia and Mason are having a party, Nadia is killed during an attack when Karim is abducted by his brother Rami (Ben Affan). As a result, Mason leaves Beirut.

Ten years later Mason is approached to give a lecture in Lebanon. After the tragedy of losing his wife, he is hesitant to return to Beirut, but accepts the offer. When Mason arrives in Beirut, he meets State Department officials and discovers the real reason he was summoned. He agrees to work with CIA agent Sandy Crowder (Pike) to negotiate the release of his friend, CIA officer Cal Riley (Mark Pellegrino), who was recently abducted.

BEIRUT is a spy thriller with remarkable performances and wonderful direction by Brad Anderson. Tony Gilroy's screenplay provides a credible connection to the Beirut bombings of 1983 when President Ronald Reagan kept a U.S. military force in Lebanon. The constant fear residents are living in is apparent, as they are persecuted for their beliefs and explosions abound. The destroyed buildings are evidence of a war atmosphere and city of unrest.

BEIRUT is currently playing in theatres. The official Web site is https://bleeckerstreetmedia.com/beirut.

05 April 2018

God's Not Dead: A Light in Darkness

GOD'S NOT DEAD: A LIGHT IN DARKNESS is a drama film about a church located on a public university campus. Because of controversy, the university wants to tear down the church and make it a student community center, but the pastor, Reverend Dave (David A. R. White), insists he inherited the church from his father, it has been in its location for 100 years, and was in its place before the university existed. When the church is vandalized and a fire starts, killing Reverend Jude (Benjamin Onyango), the university demands the church be removed.

As a result, Reverend Dave seeks assistance from his brother, Pearce (John Corbett), who is an attorney. Pearce represents the church in the lawsuit, and spends time with his brother, staying in the home they lived in with their parents. The scenes that work very well in the movie are the ones with the two brothers, Dave and Pearce. Both actors give genuine performances.

Other conflicts include the university chancellor, Thomas (Ted McGinley). He and Dave are good friends, so the legal situation between the university and the church is tough on their relationship. Also, university student Keaton (Samantha Boscarino) struggles with her faith in God and breaks up with her boyfriend, Adam (Mike C. Manning), because he is unsure about God. Adam does not handle the break up well, and takes his frustration out on the church by vandalizing it and unknowingly starting a fire.

The Newsboys make an appearance in the movie. In addition, if you sit through the end credits you will hear Michael Tait's message. Lastly, Jennifer Taylor plays Meg, Dave's lady friend. The relationship provides Dave with an opportunity to share what is happening to him with someone who is not involved in the legal matters.

GOD'S NOT DEAD: A LIGHT IN DARKNESS is currently playing in theatres. The official Web site is https://godsnotdead.pureflix.com/.

28 March 2018

Paul, Apostle of Christ

PAUL, APOSTLE OF CHRIST is a film about Paul of Tarsus. His Jewish name is Saul, and he persecuted the Christian church. The New Testament book Acts illustrates Saul experiencing a conversion. Later on the island of Cyprus he is called Paul. Paul is author of 13 out of 27 books in the New Testament.

The film chronicles Paul's (played by James Faulkner) later years in a Roman prison during Emperor Nero's reign. Paul is seen as a threat to the Roman Empire and will be executed. This is a very dark time for Christians, and many, such as Aquilla (John Lynch) and his wife Priscilla (Joanne Whalley), lived in hiding out of fear of being burned like candles. Writer and director Andrew Hyatt captures this extremely well, as most of the movie is dark with very little light. Hyatt's direction is excellent and the cast is phenomenal.

Saint Luke, a physician, is played by Jim Caviezel (who many will recognize as the actor who portrays Jesus in THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST). Luke risks his life going inside Mamertine Prison to visit Paul. Christians view Paul as a highly respected apostle who is wise, and Luke writes his words, which later become the book of Acts. Paul's jailer, Mauritius (Olivier Martinez), is the one other person he communicates with, as Mauritius struggles to understand how Paul has such a powerful effect on so many people.

PAUL, APOSTLE OF CHRIST is a relevant movie, because not only does it remind the audience that "where sin abounds, grace abounds more," the filmmakers dedicate it to Christians who are currently being persecuted in various parts of the world. PAUL, APOSTLE OF CHRIST is currently playing in theatres. The official Web site is http://www.paulmovie.com/site/.

21 March 2018

A Wrinkle in Time

I looked forward to watching A WRINKLE IN TIME (2018), because I read the book by Madeleine L'Engle and taught it to sixth grade students. The novel helped students expand their vocabulary and discover the science fiction genre. They were also inspired by lessons the young characters learn in the story.

A WRINKLE IN TIME has a solid cast. Viewers see Oprah Winfrey (Mrs. Which) in a very different type of role from what she usually plays, and the young performers--Storm Reid (Meg), Levi Miller (Calvin), and Deric McCabe (Charles Wallace)--are outstanding. Reese Witherspoon is a good choice for the Mrs. Whatsit role, as Mindy Kaling is a good Mrs. Who.

Jennifer Lee and Jeff Stockwell are the screenwriters who adapted the novel and focus on main points of the story: Meg is an awkward girl who other kids pick on at school. Her brother Charles Wallace is a precocious child. For the most part, both children are smart. Their parents (Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Chris Pine) are scientists who discover a way to travel the universe by tesseract. It actually works, but their father is held captive and unable to return to earth. As a result, the children, with help from supernatural beings--Mrs. Which, Mrs. Whatsit, and Mrs. Who--travel by tesseract to bring their father back home. One of the noticeable differences is Meg's twin brothers, Dennys and Sandy, are not in the film. Also, planet Ixchel is not shown; therefore, the Aunt Beast character is not in this adaptation. However, the themes of good versus evil and triumph of love are in the movie.

Overall, director Ava DuVernay provides a vision of the characters' lives and the planets Camazotz and Uriel. While reading the novel, one must imagine how these characters and places appear.  A WRINKLE IN TIME is currently playing in theatres.  The official Web site is http://movies.disney.com/a-wrinkle-in-time.


22 February 2018

Samson

SAMSON is an action drama film. It is based on the man Samson who is mentioned in the book of Judges in the Old Testament of the Bible. Samson is known for his strength. In the movie he expresses God gives him great strength as long as he does not drink wine, touch a dead body, or cut his hair. The great strength allows him to battle an entire Philistine army and kill a lion with his bare hands.

Samson (played by Taylor James) is called by God to lead his people. They rely on his strength when dealing with cruel treatment from the Philistines. Billy Zane plays King Balek, who orders his son Rallah (played by Jackson Rathbone) to kill Samson, but Rallah wants to keep Samson alive so he can discover why Samson is so strong. As a result, Rallah pays a woman named Delilah (played by Caitlin Leahy) to ask Samson about the source of his strength so that he can obtain it. Samson is faithful to God (that is his real strength) and hesitates, but eventually tells Delilah. His decision to share with Delilah changes everything.

SAMSON is currently playing in theatres. The official Web site is https://samsonmovie.pureflix.com/.

08 February 2018

Winchester

I really wanted to see WINCHESTER, because I have toured the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California (http://www.winchestermysteryhouse.com/). The concept of the home's architecture is intriguing and Sarah Winchester seems like an interesting, but misunderstood individual. Currently, the home is smaller than in Mrs. Winchester's time, but still a maze of a residence with beautiful gardens. Here is a photo I took of Mrs. Winchester's notorious seance room:


Helen Mirren is a talented actress and always gives outstanding performances. She is an excellent choice for the role of Sarah Winchester.

WINCHESTER is a supernatural horror film. Since so many people are intrigued by Mrs. Winchester's desire to have continual construction on her home, the movie would be better as a mystery-suspense story. That could have worked because several gothic elements are already in place: large house, desolate location, mysterious events, etc. Screenwriters The Spierig Brothers and Tom Vaughan are clearly inspired by what prompted the home's design, but could have a more complete script by fully developing the character of Sarah. She is the one whose story needs to be shared, and then the mystery of the house would be solved. However, the full title of the movie is WINCHESTER: THE HOUSE THAT GHOSTS BUILT. So in this movie the focus is not on Sarah Winchester (as many may expect). Perhaps someone will write a story about Sarah Winchester one day, showing her home as the setting, and illustrating why she lived in such a residence.

Jason Clarke plays Eric Price. Eric is a doctor hired by the Winchester Company to assess Mrs. Winchester's mental state since executives want full control of the company. If Dr. Price can prove her mentally unfit, she will be removed from the business.

WINCHESTER is currently playing in theatres. The official Web site is http://www.cbsfilms.com/winchester/.


25 January 2018

Proud Mary

Taraji P. Henson is an outstanding actress. PROUD MARY shows audiences she has action film star skills. Henson is starting to produce more projects; hopefully there will be more action movies.

PROUD MARY also includes another fine performance by Danny Glover. He is the patriarch of the organized crime family Mary (Henson) works for. Also, Jahi Di'Allo Winston, who plays Danny, the young orphan boy Mary protects after feeling guilty about killing his father, gives an exceptional performance.

PROUD MARY is currently playing in theatres.  The official Web site is http://www.proudmary-movie.com/.


19 January 2018

English Grammar, Usage, and Mechanics

Before I started a career in education, I worked for various businesses.  I remember receiving e-mails, memos, and other documents that, unfortunately, had grammar errors and misspelled words.  Depending on the workplace, I was asked to proofread reports and brochures, because my employer knew I earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English.

As a result, I decided to go back to school and earn a teaching credential.  I figured I could teach English and help make a difference.  I wanted to assist people in becoming better verbal and written communicators.

Now I am teaching the course English Grammar, Usage, and Mechanics online for anyone to take.  You can be anywhere in the world and enroll in my class.  The course is for people who are learning the English language and individuals interested in improving their grammar.  I am also recommending the course to students taking a composition class.

For more information and to enroll visit:  https://www.udemy.com/english-grammar-usage-and-mechanics.

17 January 2018

The Post

THE POST is directed by Steven Spielberg and stars Meryl Streep as Kay Graham, a Washington D.C. newspaper heiress, and Tom Hanks as Ben Bradlee, the editor who works for her at The Washington Post.  The movie is set in the 1970's, and features the real story of journalists at The Washington Post attempting to publish an article titled The Pentagon Papers, which consists of classified documents never released about the involvement of the United States (U.S.) government in the Vietnam War.

THE POST makes journalism look exciting and basically highlights Amendment I of the U.S. Constitution, which grants freedom to the press.  Even though this movie is set during the 1970's, its release is timely.  We are living in a time when freedom of the press is being threatened, because some people question the integrity of most publications and news broadcasts. A common expression often used is 'fake news.'  Many people are concerned about this, and the audience I watched THE POST with clapped at the end of the movie. It is fair to assume the crowd supports the Constitution.

THE POST is currently playing in theatres.  The official Web site is https://www.foxmovies.com/movies/the-post.


20 December 2017

Roman J. Israel, Esq.

Denzel Washington plays the title character in ROMAN J. ISRAEL, ESQ.  As many have said, the role is different from what he usually performs, and that is a good thing. The movie provides its audience with an opportunity to witness Washington's skillful abilities.

ROMAN J. ISRAEL, ESQ. serves as a morality tale.  Roman creates a faux pas, and there are consequences for it. He is a proficient attorney, but his blundering social aptitude makes him misunderstood by many. Maya (Carmen Ejogo), a civil rights activist, is patient with Roman and sincerely tries to make sense of his behavior. She even tells Roman that he inspires her. George (Colin Farrell), the lawyer in charge of the law firm where Roman works, tolerates Roman and entrusts him with several clients. Ultimately, George respects Roman.

ROMAN J. ISRAEL, ESQ. is currently playing in theatres. The official Web site is http://sites.sonypictures.com/romanjisrael/site/.


12 December 2017

Riverdale

As I was growing up I discovered Archie Comics. I enjoyed reading the adventures of Archie, Betty, Veronica, and Jughead. I also looked forward to the occasional appearance of Josie and the Pussycats. In addition to reading the comic books, I watched the cartoon on television.

Today people can watch RiverdaleRiverdale is a television series based on the characters of Archie Comics. As a result, viewers who are afficionados of the comics probably expect a light, comedic program. On the contrary, Riverdale is a teen drama complete with mystery.

The main characters are fully developed. Archie Andrews (KJ Apa), Betty Cooper (Lili Reinhart), Veronica Lodge (Camila Mendes), and Jughead Jones (Cole Sprouse) each have conflicts. This creates a lot of drama, and is so different from the original comic books. Archie has a dark side, but is still musical. Betty is tougher than most would assume. Veronica is gentler than one would expect. Jughead is from the other-side-of-the-tracks and must join the Southside Serpents gang for survival.

During Season Two Josie McCoy (Ashleigh Murray) is beginning to have some conflicts and her friendship with the arrogant cheerleader Cheryl Blossom (Madelaine Petsch) is developing. Also, the parents are often involved in storylines. However, it seems they were more active during Season One. Betty's mother Alice is played by Madchen Amick, and is the parent viewers see the most because of her controlling nature. Veronica's parents, Hermione (Marisol Nichols) and Hiram (Mark Consuelos) are mysterious. Hiram is a businessman who committed white collar crimes and Hermione has connections with the Southside Serpents gang. Jughead's father FP, played by Skeet Ulrich, is in the Southside Serpents gang. It seems most of the parents have connections with the Southside Serpents (even Alice), except for Alice's estranged husband Hal (Lochlyn Munro) and Archie's father Fred (Luke Perry). Mayor Sierra McCoy (Robin Givens) strongly dislikes the Southside Serpents. And, of course, Sheriff Tom Keller (Martin Cummins) dislikes the gang. It is unknown whether he has any connections to them or not; his character is obscure. His son Kevin (Casey Cott) is a friend of Archie, Betty, Veronica, and Jughead. There are various recurring appearances by other characters. Lastly, there is Pop of Pop's Chock'lit Shoppe. Every time Pop places a milkshake on the table or counter, viewers probably crave one!

Season One provided the murder mystery of Cheryl's twin brother Jason Blossom (Trevor Stines). Season Two is all about figuring out who could be The Black Hood. This person shot Fred and is believed to be the one who killed the former music teacher Miss Grundy (Sarah Habel). Overall, Riverdale is a teen drama with a hook that even keeps adult viewers engaged. In many ways, the series is more appropriate for an adult audience.

Riverdale broadcasts Wednesdays on the CW Network. Netflix has exclusive international broadcast rights to the series. Official Web sites are http://www.cwtv.com/shows/riverdale and https://www.netflix.com/title/80133311.


01 November 2017

The Foreigner

THE FOREIGNER stars Jackie Chan as Ngoc Minh Quan, a former Vietnam War special forces operator who now owns a restaurant in London, England and seeks vengeance after his daughter dies in an explosion.  The movie is based on the novel The Chinaman by Stephen Leather. Ngoc challenges Liam Hennessy (played by Pierce Brosnan), an Irish government official he believes has knowledge of and is responsible for the bombing.

Jackie Chan is superb and THE FOREIGNER is an excellent action film.  The official Web site is http://theforeignermovie.com/.  The movie is currently playing in theatres.


The Wife

THE WIFE is based on the novel of the same title by Meg Wolitzer, and stars Glenn Close as Joan Castleman, the very supportive wife to her s...