November 30, 2009

My Month in Movies- Fall Edition?

My Month in Movies is a monthly feature I do to share one of my other entertainment loves! Clearly, I have been remiss in posting these so this segment is more fall season in movies...?? :/

Well, hope you can stand the long post! Descriptions of the movies come from Netflix (I truly heart Netflix) and my star ratings follow. Be sure to check and see what I am planning on watching next, too!

As the monsoon rains loom in director Mira Nair's romantic drama, Lalit Verma (Naseeruddin Shah) and his extended family reunite for the last-minute arranged marriage of his daughter Aiditi (Vasundhara Das) in New Delhi. But long-guarded secrets threaten to tear the family apart. As wedding preparations proceed, five stories intersect, highlighting different aspects of love and crossing boundaries of class and continent. **** (This movie totally got me in the mood for my trip to India and my sister's wedding! I need to watch it again and do another comparison, lol.)

Aishwarya Rai, Martin Henderson and Anupam Kher star in this joyous musical about the Bakhsi family, who's celebrating the arrival of a British-born man, Mr. Balraj, who may be perfect husband material for one the Bakhsis' four unmarried daughters. Maya, Lucky, Jaya and, most especially, their eldest, Lalita (Rai) are his for the taking. But Lalita refuses to marry someone handpicked for her, choosing to believe in true love instead. **** (We danced down the streets while we were in India just like in the movie (although because we were going to a wedding, not because we were in a Bollywood musical. ;)

A budding romance between noble underachiever Lloyd Dobler (John Cusack) and high school valedictorian Diane Court (Ione Skye) is threatened when Diane's overly possessive, disapproving father (John Mahoney) interferes with their relationship. With a prized scholarship to study abroad hanging in the balance, Diane must find a way to make both men happy. Writer-director Cameron Crowe steers this 1980s teen flick into instant-classic territory. ****

No one can explain the strange goings-on in room 1408 of the Dolphin Hotel. In this thriller based on a Stephen King story, writer and paranormal debunker Mike Enslin (John Cusack) is determined to demystify the ghostly events, even though a hotel clerk (Samuel L. Jackson) begs him to rethink his plans. Mike needs to write another book soon, and room 1408 may be his ticket to the top of the best-seller list. But will he survive even one night? ***

This beautifully filmed drama is based on the true story of anthropologist Dian Fossey (Sigourney Weaver). Lured to deepest Africa by the chance to study rare mountain gorillas, Fossey learns to communicate with her subjects, but the breakthrough turns her academic interest into an all-consuming obsession. Eventually, her passion leads her to risk her life to save the gorillas from poachers and animal traders. ****

A chronic daydreamer, 8-year-old Ishaan (Darsheel Safary) finds his life take a turn for the worse when his parents, frustrated that he keeps getting into trouble, send him away to a boarding school in hopes he'll become more disciplined. But Ishaan's misery abates when the unconventional new art teacher, Ram Shankar Nikumbh (Aamir Khan), decides to try to help his imaginative young student discover his true identity in this charming Indian drama. **** (Bollywood drama that my brother-in-law sent me. Taare Zameen Par means Like Stars on Earth in Hindi.)

Pint-size Clifford (Martin Short) is a handful, and his parents do the best they can to deal with him. But when one of his outbursts prompts a plane they're flying on to land mid-flight, his parents put their foot down; as they continue on to Hawaii, problematic Clifford is sent to stay with his uncle Martin (Charles Grodin). But Martin has equally bad luck, as Clifford throws the fit of all fits when Martin won't take him to Dinosaurworld. ** (Alea's I Dare You Challenge)

After the murder of Italian physicist Leonardo Vetra, Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon's (Tom Hanks) investigation with Vetra's daughter (Ayelet Zurer) leads to a secret society, the Illuminati, and a quest for the world's most potent -- and deadly -- energy source. Ron Howard directed the crime thriller, which is based on The Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown's novel and co-stars Ewan McGregor and Stellan Skarsgård. *** (Watched this on the plane from India to London. Not as good as The Da Vinci Code. Premise is kind of old to me. And Audrey Tautou was missing, so that sank it a half-star automatically. Love her!)

During an African medical mission in the 1970s, Scottish doctor Nicholas Garrigan (James McAvoy) impresses brutal Ugandan dictator Idi Amin (Forest Whitaker, in an Oscar- and Golden Globe-winning role) by acting swiftly in a crisis and becomes the dictator's personal physician. Garrigan enjoys the perks of his new position, until he begins to become aware of Amin's inhumanity -- and his own complicity. ****

One year after their incredible adventures in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, Peter, Edmund, Lucy and Susan Pevensie return to Narnia to aid a young prince whose life has been threatened by the evil King Miraz. Now, with the help of a colorful cast of new characters, including Trufflehunter the badger and Nikabrik the dwarf, the Pevensie clan embarks on an incredible quest to ensure that Narnia is returned to its rightful heir. **** (Not as good a story as the first movie and the Christian symbolism was a little too slap you in the face for my taste.)

A trio of Latino comedians (Carlos Mencia, Pablo Francisco and Freddy Soto) headline this stand-up showcase filmed on a national comedy tour by C.B. Harding. Each funnyman has a different performance style and sense of humor: Mencia concentrates on skewering social mores; Francisco creates humor through inventive vocalizations and sound effects; and Soto examines the absurdities of family life in a way that will have you busting at the seams. *** (I loved Carlos Mencia, but the other two I didn't care for.)

Prevented from marrying her nobleman lover (Rufus Sewell) because of her commoner status, real-life historical heroine Veronica Franco (Catherine McCormack) is left with two choices: join a convent or become a courtesan. Following in mother's (Jacqueline Bisset) footsteps, she chooses the latter. Set in 16th-century Venice, this biographical drama follows Franco as she rises to power and fearlessly fights off accusations of witchcraft. ***** (Period Drama Challenge)

This amazing biblical drama chronicles the brave and historic legend of Hadassah (Tiffany Dupont), a Jewish orphan with exceptional beauty who rises to become Queen Esther of Persia and saves Persian Jews from genocide. By revealing her heritage to the king, Esther thwarts the evil prime minister's plan to annihilate all Jews in the Persian Empire. The annual festival of Purim is inspired by her heroism. **** (Period Drama Challenge)

Veteran director Yimou Zhang helms this enduring love story starring Ziyi Zhang (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) as Zhao Di, a young country girl who falls head over heels for the village's new schoolteacher, Luo Changyu (Hao Zheng), in 1950s China. The couple's demure courtship is cut short when the new communist government summons Luo to the city for questioning during the Cultural Revolution, leaving Zhao to wait longingly for his return.**

Forlorn heiress Penelope Wilhern (Christina Ricci) is cursed, and the only way out is to fall in love with someone of suitable stock. But how can she find her soul mate when she's sequestered inside her family's estate with only her parents (Catherine O'Hara and Richard E. Grant) to keep her company? Oscar winner Reese Witherspoon co-produced this untraditional fairy tale about a girl who bucks convention to create her own happy ending. ****

Freelance assassin Martin Blank (John Cusack) faces a crisis of conscience as he heads home for his high school reunion and tries to sort out his feelings for his former sweetheart (Minnie Driver) -- all while trying to squeeze in a last-minute contract killing. But there's also the matter of a professional peer (Dan Aykroyd) who's dead-set on inducting him into the newly formed assassins union. Alan Arkin, Joan Cusack and Hank Azaria co-star. ****

This musical masterpiece tells the true story of Englishwoman Anna Leonowens (Deborah Kerr), who comes to Siam as a teacher to the royal court in the 1860s and finds herself at odds with the stubborn monarch (Yul Brynner). Brynner's Academy Award-winning performance and the unforgettable Rodgers and Hammerstein score, including the songs "Hello, Young Lovers," "Shall We Dance?" and "Getting to Know You," give this film its enduring charm. *** (Period Drama Challenge)

In this blockbuster sequel to Batman Begins, the caped crusader (Christian Bale) teams with Lt. James Gordon (Gary Oldman) and District Attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) to continue dismantling Gotham City's criminal organizations. But a psychotic new villain known as the Joker (Heath Ledger, in a Golden Globe- and Oscar-winning role) threatens to undo all their good work. Maggie Gyllenhaal, Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine also star. *** (Heath Ledger every bit deserved that Oscar, even if he had not died. He was incredible. I also thought Gyllenhaal did a good job of picking up the character of Rachel from Katie Holmes in Batman Begins.)

XXY (2007)
Inés Efron plays Alex, an intersexed 15-year-old, in this compelling tale. Though she's living as a girl, Alex and her family begin to wonder whether she's emotionally a boy when another teenager's sexual advances bring the issue to a head. As Alex faces a final decision regarding her gender, she meets both hostility and compassion. Director Lucía Puenzo's sensitive drama co-stars Valeria Bertuccelli, Martín Piroyansky and Ricardo Darín. *** (Ines Efron is remarkable as Alex.)

Actor-comedian Eddie Izzard stops in at New York City's Town Hall on his "Circle" tour, a hilarious and highly original one-man show that pokes fun at Charlton Heston, Darth Vader, Jesus, Machiavelli, Leonardo da Vinci and others. As always Izzard keeps his audience laughing by delivering a unique perspective that only his particular brand of no-holds-barred flamboyance can pull off. **** (It was worth watching if only for the bits about the Crusade, a Stoned Olympics, and Darth Vader in the canteen of the Death Star.)

In one of the most tragic face-offs in the history of law enforcement, the deadly debacle at Waco pitted the Branch Davidian sect against the FBI in an all-out war. This Academy Award-nominated documentary directed by William Gazecki makes the most of footage and recordings to examine how the events that led to the tragedy of April 19, 1993, unfolded, and how the FBI's unrelenting approach made what was already a bad situation much worse. ****

The film that launched a thousand journalism school students, All the President's Men chronicles how the work of reporters Bob Woodward (Robert Redford) and Carl Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman) contributed to the public downfall of President Richard M. Nixon. The duo connected a Washington, D.C., hotel break-in with a Nixon "dirty tricks" team assigned to discredit Democratic rivals, launching a series of tense events that forced Nixon to resign. *** (Redford and Hoffman are fantastic in this film. I didn't care for the abrupt ending, but the rest was good.)

Bachelor Hank Moody's (David Duchovny) got it made: he's a sexy best-selling author who's irresistible to the ladies. But as a part-time dad juggling his wild L.A. lifestyle with grown-up responsibilities, this say-anything writer's at a loss for words. This smart Showtime comedy also stars Natascha McElhone (as Hank's ex-girlfriend), Madeleine Martin (as Becca, his 13-year-old daughter), Madeline Zima and Evan Handler. **** (Note: It is a Showtime series for a reason. Lots of sex and nudity, language, and pushing the envelope.)

ROMANCING THE STONE (1984) (re-watch)
When a reclusive romance writer (Kathleen Turner) -- whose humdrum life in no way resembles the exploits of her fiery fictional heroines -- learns her sister's been kidnapped, she's soon embroiled in a wild adventure involving hidden treasure and a dashing mercenary (Michael Douglas). Set in the jungles of Colombia, Robert Zemeckis's breakneck action comedy co-stars Danny DeVito as a hilariously inept baddie. ***

Rosina (Minnie Driver), a young Jewish woman in 1840s England, must find a job after her father dies. Hired as a governess by the Cavendish family, she travels to their Scottish estate, where she quickly becomes involved in an intense affair with Mr. Cavendish (Tom Wilkinson). Sandra Goldbacher directs this moving portrait of consuming love that centers on a religious and emotional struggle against propriety. *** (Note: Some nudity.) (Period Drama Challenge)

Coming Up Next in My Netflix Queue:
~Sex and the City: The Movie (2008 Romantic Comedy)
~Queen Margot (1994 French Romance)
~Ghost (1990 Supernatural Thriller)
~Sky Captain & the World of Tomorrow (2004 Action Sci-Fi/Fantasy)
~Caramel (2007 Foreign Romance)

What have you been watching this month? Have you ever watched any of these movies? How did you rate them?


  1. I loved the Last King of Scotland...and 1408 was just plain scarrrrryyyy!

  2. Wowee! That's a boatload of movies. Good mix. Say Anything is one of my favorite movies of all times. I love Lloyd Dobbler.

    We just watched the documentary Murderball which was pretty interesting about quadriplegic wheelchair rugby. We watched Michael Clayton which was interesting - I liked the end. Aside from that we've mostly been getting caught up on Weeds and looking forward to more Dexter.

  3. Holy cow, but that's a lot of movies! I love to go the movie theater, but rarely watch movies at home.

  4. I loved this post and seeing how you rated each movie!! I must watch Dangerous Beauty!!!

  5. I love Bride and Prejudice! Every time I watch it I want to jump up and dance.

    Lots of John Cusack this fall, eh? My favorite of the ones you watched is Grosse Pointe Blank. There are just so many fun lines in it and the music is awesome.

    I can't watch Gorillas in the Mist without sobbing. Have you read Woman in the Mists by Farley Mowat?

  6. I definitely plan to steal some of your ideas for my own Nexflix queue!

  7. Lots of good movies on your list. I've got the first two on my own list.

  8. Aw, Say Anything! I have always had a soft spot in my heart for John Cusack.

  9. Great month of movies! I've seen --
    Say Anything
    The Last King of Scotland (I had mixed feelings about this one -- I thought Forest Whitaker was amazing!)
    The Dark Knight (not my cup of tea)
    All the President's Me (I loved it -- though yes, the ending was abrupt)

  10. Hooooooly cow, that's a lot of movies. I can't ever remember what I've watched recently. Hm, let's see--Moulin Rouge, which is fun, and Legend of the Red Dragon. That's about it.

    I liked Prince Caspian just because there was a lot of Peter in it. I find Peter to be incredibly attractive, for some very odd reason.

    Dangerous Beauty is one of my all-time favorite movies! And I think Grosse Pointe Blank is very romantic. :)

  11. Wow! That's a very long list! I love anything Royalty and set in the old times so I find King and I interesting.

    And Penelope.. Dangerous Beauty. Oh I should list some on a paper!

  12. Oh I loved Dangerous Beauty. I watch it whenever it's on television! Great movie I'd rate it high as well. There are so many in this list that I've seen and enjoyed as well.

    You've had a great month in viewing. Will you be doing a bunch of Holiday movies for December?

  13. I LOVE Penelope! I also *heart* Netflix - I can't imagine renting movies the "old fashioned" way anymore.


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