29 December 2016


The movie FENCES is based on the play of the same title written by August Wilson. The story is set in the 1950's and shows a realistic portrayal of one African American family.

Denzel Washington directs the film and plays Troy Maxson, a hard working man that provides for his family and fights racial discrimination at his workplace. Viola Davis gives an outstanding performance as his wife, Rose. She stands by Troy through many struggles, keeping her dreams secret while supporting him and their son Cory, played very well by Jovan Adepo, in their aspirations. Rose is a strong woman who is asked to do the unthinkable. She probably represents many women.

Mykelti Williamson is excellent as Troy's brother, Gabriel. The entire cast is excellent, and it is apparent that most, if not all of them, worked together on the play.

FENCES is currently playing in theatres. The official Web site is http://www.fencesmovie.com/.

20 October 2016


When PRICELESS begins the audience knows about as much of what will happen as its leading character, James (played by Joel Smallbone): he has made some mistakes and tries getting his life back on track. At the same time, the story provides an informative vision of the awful world of human trafficking.

So as James is trying to get his life right, he steps into a deep hole. Since he now seeks to do what is right, he decides to rescue two women (played by Bianca Santos and Amber Midthunder) from their misfortune.  Over time, the character becomes likable, and ultimately is the hero of the story.

A favorite character for all that watch PRICELESS is undoubtedly Dale, played by David Koechner. He is smart and helps James in his quest to become a better person.

PRICELESS is currently playing in theatres. The official Web site is http://pricelessthemovie.com/.

10 October 2016

The Birth of a Nation

THE BIRTH OF A NATION does a good job of  helping the audience learn about its protagonist, Nat Turner (played by Nate Parker). The movie shows Turner as a young slave boy with the ability to read. The skill is encouraged and nurtured by Elizabeth (played by Penelope Ann Miller), his slave master's wife. As a result, Turner learns his calling to ministry and becomes a preacher. Studying God's word and sharing His good news with others is better than the laborious job of picking cotton, which is what Turner is required to do again after Elizabeth's husband dies.

When Turner starts his rebellion against slave masters, viewers are probably sympathetic to his cause after seeing how awful slavery is and getting to know Turner as a human being with much to offer. However, seeking revenge because people have done wrong, does not make the behavior acceptable. In the story, as in real life, all the violence and process of getting even just makes matters worse.

Despite the uncomfortable message in THE BIRTH OF A NATION, the story must be shared. Slavery is a significant part of American history.

THE BIRTH OF A NATION features several excellent performances by its cast and is currently playing in theatres.

09 September 2016

The Light Between Oceans

Lighthouses have a certain mystique. Some have unique features, but most look the same. Yet they are still fascinating. The romantic period drama film THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS takes place at a lighthouse, and the cinematography by Adam Arkapaw is beautiful.

War veteran (World War I) Tom Sherbourne (played by Michael Fassbender) is a lighthouse keeper on an isolated island in Australia. He meets a lady, Isabel (played by Alicia Vikander), in a nearby town, they fall in love, get married, and then want to start a family. Unfortunately, Isabel suffers two miscarriages.

One day a newborn washes ashore in a boat with its deceased father, and Tom, at Isabel's urging, agrees they should raise the child. He reluctantly buries the baby's father. For five years this is a happy family. When Tom discovers who the child's mother is the best part of THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS begins.

Rachel Weisz gives an excellent performance as Hannah, the young girl's mother. Hannah enters the story during the most compelling part of the film. She is a grieving mother and wife who believes she has lost her two beloveds forever.

This is a movie that shows someone who desperately wants to be a mother and one who is a mother experiencing the pain of loss. The person who raises a child is the parent, regardless if she is the birth parent. But is she entitled to keep the child once she discovers who the real mother is? This is an ethical question that seems easy for an observer to answer, but difficult for those who are involved.

THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS is based on the novel by M.L. Stedman and is currently playing in theatres.

Lighthouses I have visited:

Brockton Point Lighthouse in Stanley Park - Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Fisgard Lighthouse - Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

Point Cabrillo Lighthouse - Mendocino, California, U.S.A.

Point Arena Lighthouse - Point Arena, California, U.S.A.

02 September 2016


Reinhard Heydrich was a high-ranking German Nazi official during World War II and one of the SS leaders responsible for constructing the Holocaust (Final Solution). The movie ANTHROPOID shows how two agents (played by Cillian Murphy and Jamie Dornan) from the Czechoslovak government go to Prague on a mission called Operation Anthropoid to assassinate Reinhard Heydrich. They receive help from more agents that are parachuted to Prague, along with some resistance fighters.

It is good when movies like ANTHROPOID are made, because this is a segment of history not often discussed. It is surprising, especially since Heydrich was the only successful government-organized assassination of a top-ranking Nazi during World War II. As a result, this film is an educational period piece.

Unfortunately, a resistance fighter turned on the agents and they were pursued at their place of refuge, Orthodox Cathedral of Saints Cyril and Methodius. Hundreds of Nazi soldiers annihilated the cathedral and a vicious battle took place in which all the agents were killed.

Director Sean Ellis, who also co-wrote the screenplay, does a fine job of capturing the time period and the principal photography actually took place in Prague at locations where Operation Anthropoid was executed. The cast is remarkable, as the audience is able to get a full sense of how each person portrayed was affected by the arduous task of evading the Nazis.

The official Web site for ANTHROPOID is http://www.bleeckerstreetmedia.com/anthropoid. The film is currently playing in theatres.

27 August 2016

Hell or High Water

This movie is captivating from the start. Viewers are drawn into the lives of Toby Howard (Chris Pine) and Tanner Howard (Ben Foster), two brothers who rob banks in Texas for what they believe is a good cause. They are desperate.

Jeff Bridges is excellent as Marcus Hamilton, the Texas Ranger who is after the brothers. Marcus and his partner Alberto Parker (Gil Birmingham) are radically different from each other, but make a great team. Their dialogue is playful and funny. Other comical moments in this crime drama are via actors playing common folks that the brothers and Texas Rangers encounter.

HELL OR HIGH WATER is currently playing in theatres. The official Web site is http://hellorhighwater.movie/#home.

20 July 2016

The Infiltrator

Bryan Cranston is outstanding as U.S. Customs Special Agent Robert Mazur, whose autobiography is the subject of the movie THE INFILTRATOR. In the film Mazur goes undercover as Bob Musella who infiltrates the world's largest cartel and discovers the money laundering organization of drug cartel Pablo Escobar.

John Leguizamo's performance is exceptional. He plays Emir Abreu, a fellow agent working undercover. The movie also stars the astonishing Diane Kruger as Kathy Ertz, an undercover agent, and the always awesome Benjamin Bratt as Roberto Alcaino. Alcaino is Mazur's contact to Escobar and other cartel board members. In addition, Olympia Dukakis is remarkable as Mazur's Aunt Vicky.

These events happen during the 1980's. Music and a television clip of President Ronald Reagan accentuate this fact.  Screenwriter, Ellen Brown Furman, includes Mazur's home life with his wife and their two children. The audience sees complications experienced by a special agent undercover maintaining a traditional family in his real life.

The official Web site for the film is http://www.theinfiltrator.com/.

05 July 2016

Our Kind of Traitor

John le Carre writes excellent spy thriller novels. Since I like the movie A MOST WANTED MAN, I was confident I would enjoy OUR KIND OF TRAITOR.  Both movies are adapted from le Carre novels.

OUR KIND OF TRAITOR is highly suspenseful and keeps its audience on edge. Critical thinking is required in order to follow the mystery.  While watching this film, it is difficult knowing which characters to trust. The story is intriguing due to excellent acting and Susanna White's directing.

16 June 2016

The Man Who Knew Infinity

In THE MAN WHO KNEW INFINITY Dev Patel plays Srinivasa Ramanujan, a self-educated mathematician who grew up poor in Madras, India. Indian mathematicians quickly recognize Ramanujan's genius, but it takes longer for others to acknowledge it. The film is based on the 1991 biography novel titled The Man Who Knew Infinity by Robert Kanigel.

Eventually after writing letters with theorems, Ramanujan is accepted to Trinity College in Cambridge, England.  His professor, G.H. Hardy (played by Jeremy Irons)  guides him through the process of presenting theories academically. Unfortunately, Ramanujan faces discrimination in England. However, he is focused on uncovering proofs for his theories, and unaffected by the negative people.  The insults just make him stronger and more determined.

It is invigorating watching someone who has found his passion. It is even more pleasing when the person is willing to share and create something that will benefit others. THE MAN WHO KNEW INFINITY shows this, and individuals who watch the movie are likely inspired.

THE MAN WHO KNEW INFINITY is currently playing in theatres.

08 June 2016

Love & Friendship

LOVE & FRIENDSHIP is a romantic comedy set in the 1790's, adapted from Jane Austen's novella Lady Susan, which is an epistolary.  An epistolary is a story written based on documents, such as letters, diary entries, or newspaper clippings. Now one can even write an epistolary from electronic documents like e-mails and blogs.

Kate Beckinsale plays Lady Susan Vernon, a widow with one daughter. Lady Susan acts so proper, as everyone is polite. Meanwhile, there are rumors about her private life. She makes it a mission to find a husband for herself and her daughter.

The movie is very funny and Beckinsale's performance is very good. Overall, the film is well written, has a great cast, and it is enjoyable seeing the period costumes and estates in which the characters live.  LOVE & FRIENDSHIP is currently playing in theatres.

18 May 2016

Papa: Hemingway in Cuba

Ernest Hemingway is one of the most influential writers from the 20th century. It is fitting that a movie would be made about him. The film is called PAPA: HEMINGWAY IN CUBA, and follows a journalist, played very well by Giovanni Ribisi, who is an admirer. Ribisi's character, Ed Myers, is inspired by Hemingway to become a great writer.

After several years of working as a journalist, Myers writes Hemingway a letter, telling him what a big impression he made on a young man. Myers is surprised when Hemingway (an excellent portrayal by Adrian Sparks) responds via a telephone call. Hemingway invites Myers to visit him in Cuba; the two men develop a friendship.

Denne Bart Petitclerc, the real life 'Ed Myers,' is the screenwriter of PAPA: HEMINGWAY IN CUBA. He is someone who had a true friendship with Hemingway, being invited into his home and also befriending Hemingway's wife Mary.  Mary is played by the outstanding actress Joely Richardson. Watching Hemingway and Mary's relationship is intriguing, as they were authentic individuals.

This movie is for people who are curious about Ernest Hemingway's life. Certainly he has inspired many writers, and Petitclerc's screenplay includes writing tips and wisdom Hemingway shared with him. In addition, readers' of Hemingway's books and short stories will be interested to find out about how circumstances were for him privately, behind the scenes.

Mariel Hemingway, Ernest Hemingway's granddaughter, makes an appearance in the film, which takes place in Havana, and was shot on location at Hemingway's home. It is the first American movie to be made in Cuba since 1959.  PAPA: HEMINGWAY IN CUBA is currently playing in theatres.

30 April 2016

A Hologram for the King

In the movie A HOLOGRAM FOR THE KING Tom Hanks plays Alan Clay, a man who is dealing with personal problems and chooses to focus on having a successful career. Many people can probably relate to this. The story serves as a character study, which is a portrayal of traits and qualities of a single individual. In other words, Alan's personality is more important than the plot. Maybe this aspect is what attracted Mr. Hanks to the role.

Another interesting character is Yousef, played by Alexander Black.  Yousef is Alan's driver while he is in Saudi Arabia on business. He is also humorous and manages to intrigue Alan with details about his life. Surprisingly, this movie even provides Alan with a love interest from an unlikely individual. Falling in love really is the last thing on Alan's mind, but that is usually when it occurs.

A HOLOGRAM FOR THE KING is based on the book of the same title by Dave Eggers. It is currently playing in theatres in the United States and Germany.

07 April 2016

Caged No More

Human trafficking is a huge problem throughout the world.  Often the victims are young and unsuspecting. It is disturbing knowing that every 30 seconds someone is captured.  The movie CAGED NO MORE offers an illustration of how the process works and affects people who know the individual being enslaved. The movie stars Kevin Sorbo, Loretta Devine, Cynthia Gibb, Alan Powell, Debra Wilson, Abigail Duhon, and Cassidy Gifford.

Devine plays Aggie, the godmother of a dying woman who pleads with her to save her girls from their malicious father, Jack, played by Sorbo (Sorbo gives an outstanding performance as Jack and his righteous twin brother Richard). Jack is the one responsible for the human trafficking of his daughters. When Aggie discovers this, she does what is necessary to seek help from Richard. Richard, his family, friends, and church help Aggie through the process of locating Jack's daughters.

Richard is a wealthy man. Human trafficking can happen to anyone, even to people in the most affluent communities. CAGED NO MORE does an excellent job of bringing awareness to the issue. At the end of the movie, writer, producer, director Lisa Arnold and cast members speak to the audience, explaining how serious the problem is and informing there will be two more films; CAGED NO MORE is part of a trilogy.

For more information about CAGED NO MORE and how you can get involved, visit the official Web site at http://www.cagednomoremovie.com/.

06 April 2016

The Masked Saint

A unique film released this year is THE MASKED SAINT.  It stars Brett Granstaff (as Chris Samuels),  Lara Jean Chorostecki, Diahann Carroll, Roddy Piper (his final film performance), and Mykel Shannon Jenkins. The movie is based on the book The Masked Saint by Chris Whaley. Whaley is a former professional wrestler (The Saint) who became a pastor.

THE MASKED SAINT is a family film with an inspirational message (The wrestling sequences may frighten some, but most will be able to view them.)  Chris Samuels is a professional wrestler who decides to retire, despite threats from his wrestling promoter, Nicky Stone (played by Piper), and become a pastor of a church in a small town.

When Chris, his wife (Chorostecki), and daughter arrive at their new home, he discovers the town has quite a bit of crime activity.  Chris decides to fight injustice by masquerading as The Masked Saint, a vigilante superhero.

The plot may seem silly, but ultimately the story is an allegory.  Chris is a man of faith who wants to help people. His methods are unconventional, but his heart is in the right place.

In addition to the crime in town, Chris' church experiences financial difficulties. As a result, he goes back into the ring to raise money. Unfortunately, he is greeted by wrestling promoter, Nicky, with a comment like, "I knew you would be back," but stays focused on his goal.  Eventually, being a pastor, father, husband, "superhero," and wrestler starts becoming too much for Chris. He is forced to make an important life decision.

For more information about THE MASKED SAINT, visit the official Web site at http://themaskedsaint.com/.

05 April 2016


Colm To'ibin's novel Brooklyn is the inspiration for the movie, BROOKLYN. I have experienced being an immigrant just like Ellis Lacey (played by Saoirse Ronan). Usually hope and some fear are a part of the process.  Hope carries more weight, except in BROOKLYN Ellis is very young and still trying to discover who she is and if the dreams she has are actually hers. She also has difficulty leaving her mother and sister in Ireland.

The immigration process can include much adventure due to challenges of learning another culture. In the United States Ellis discovers there are many other Irish immigrants in Brooklyn, including the boarding home in which she lives. She also receives support with enrolling in school and finding a job. She even starts socializing and meets an Italian man named Tony (played by Emory Cohen) at a dance.

In the 1950's there are several opportunities for Ellis to discover who she is via experiences she has when getting help from people she meets, especially Tony. Falling in love for the first time is overwhelming for her, and thinking about going back to Ireland provides confusion. She does not even tell her mother and sister about Tony.

BROOKLYN is a coming-of-age story that is engaging. The writing and performances are excellent. It is always a pleasure watching Saoirse Ronan portray interesting characters.

For more information, visit the official Facebook page for BROOKLYN at https://www.facebook.com/BrooklynMovie.

04 April 2016

Woman In Gold

I saw the movie, WOMAN IN GOLD, almost one year ago. I realized I had not written about it here so today I will share my thoughts on this really nice film about Maria Altmann (played by Helen Mirren). Maria was a Jewish refugee forced to flee Vienna during World War II.

The movie begins at present day, following Maria living in Los Angeles, and the narrative is given in a series of flashbacks. She pursues obtaining a painting of her Aunt Adele, known as "Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I." At the time Maria escaped from Vienna, not only are Jewish individuals being captured, but the Nazis are stealing many items from them. "Portrait of Adele Block-Bauer I" is a painting of the "Woman in Gold," and very special to Maria. It means so much to her that she hires an attorney, played by Ryan Reynolds, to help her get it back from Austria. Unfortunately, the Austrian minister and art director are unwilling to part with the painting.

It is intriguing watching Maria and her inexperienced lawyer, Randy, as they travel to Austria to retrieve the portrait. When the minister and art director insist on leaving the painting at the gallery, Maria and Randy argue their position within the law. The case is even heard by the United States Supreme Court.

WOMAN IN GOLD is a historical and educational film.  Through literature I teach students about the Holocaust. The stories are usually from the point of view of survivors that were forced into concentration camps. Those stories are important and should be shared. However, WOMAN IN GOLD brings an awareness of the other wrongs committed by the Nazis, such as stealing valuable artwork.  These details should become known and taught as well. It furthers the reality that the Jewish people taken by force had class and lived normal lives.

For more information about WOMAN IN GOLD, visit the official Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/WomanInGoldMovie/timeline?ref=page_internal.

Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse

Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse National Historic Sites are located in Victoria, B.C. in the Colwood community. They are two miles (th...