Blog Posts by Uncle Will

Posted by Uncle Will on 08/03/16
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A Perfect Day isn't like most other films. The story is a typical day-in-the-life for a team of aid workers in the Balkans (c.1995) who are trying removed a dead body from the drinking well of a small village near Bosnia. We learn early on that aid workers must be very careful not to do anything that would constitute them being a threat and then most likely killed. If they had a manual, Chapter One would definitely be entitled "Problem Solving 101."
This film quickly moves to "Advanced Problem Solving" and then onto "graduate studies" and beyond. IMDb lists the genre for this IFC (Independent Film Channel) as being a Comedy/Drama/War film; however, Oscar winner, Tim Robbins' character comes across as the film's lone, class clown. Oscar winner, Benicio Del Toro, is the team's proctor. He has the most sense and experience. Del Toro and Robbins are a formable pair who together have great timing and chemistry.

After watching, I couldn't help feeling honored that I was let into this film by the director. We take so much for granted in life. Most times it can't be helped just because of human nature. We try to make some sort of difference in our short lives. We hope we haven't wasted opportunities.

If you get the chance, checkout this bittersweet film. Don't miss the opportunity.

Posted by Uncle Will on 07/22/16
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Remember when a good script, great acting, strange settings, and a sound, musical score were the active ingredients to cooking-up a successful suspense-movie-thriller? Well, film director Atom Egoyan has once again prepared and presents his main course, Remember; a shrewdly slow-paced suspense film about long-awaited vengeance.
Remember stars Christopher Plummer (as Zev Guttman) and Martin Landau (as Max Rosenbaum) both Auschwitz survivors living present day in a nursing home. We learn that the 2 old men made a "pack" in the past. Zev agreed to find a former Nazi prison guard who killed his family. This guard has been living under an assumed name for 70 years in the USA. It appears that Max, who is wheelchair bound, is dependent on Zev doing all the "heavy lifting."
What follows is Zev going on a solo road-trip, with a deadly mission, that takes him all around the country and even to Canada. It's quite clear that Zev suffers from late-stages of Alzheimer’s. How he battles to keep focused on his mission is clever.
What's most clever about this film is the way that Egoyan keeps his audience's attention, when most all the action is led by an 88-year-old actor. It's like a scene in a zombie movie where the slow-footed zombie is attacking a human; all the while the suspense builds because of the anticipated attack. A super-fast zombie attacking is just not as suspenseful - the payoff comes much too quickly.
Not in this film. The payoff is slow and savoring.
Posted by Uncle Will on 07/09/16
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How would you like to live in a town that basically has just two rules? Those rules being: 1) one must have the means to earn a living and 2) one must live in a place that has a roof overhead. There's a fictional town in Norway, at the tip of the Artic Circle, called Fortitude and it's also the name of a UK TV series that stars Stanley Tucci and Michael Gambon.
Fortitude is the most northern city in the world. It claims to have no crime, because everyone living there is happy. Sounds like a nice place to live or visit. To attract more tourist is the primary the governor is trying to get investors to back an ice hotel construction project. All is proceeding nicely until something is found in the glacier that the hotel is to be built on that likely will jeopardize the chances for the building to ever reach completion.
A newcomer to the town is told that he must buy a warm hat with earflaps and purchase a rifle. The hat is to combat frostbitten ears. The rifle is combat all the polar bears that hunt this coastal town. Rifles are more prevalent in shopping carts than purses. We learn that once a polar bear attacks a human, that bear is eating the human. The bear isn't concerned with killing its prey, just devouring it. One gets the feeing that a rifle is a little more important than the hat with flaps.
The production is top-notch. The scenery is awesome. It's refreshing to watch brutal cold depicted on the screen when it's 90 degrees outside in reality. It might be cold outside in Fortitude, but the residents heat it up. Small towns are places where everyone knows everybody and their business. Dark days for half the year give way to a great deal of frolicking in Fortitude. The characters in this town are complex and believable. The actors playing these characters are so spot-on that not once did I think that I was watching actors.
Make no mistake. This is an adult TV series. What starts out as a dark, moody atmosphere, turns a lot brighter "red" by episode 9. Critics love this show.  An option for a 2nd season was picked-up and will soon be available at our library.
Posted by Uncle Will on 01/06/16
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I'm just a big, old kid. So sue me. In 1960 I saw on TV for the first time Peter Pan - starring the late Mary Martin as Peter and Sir Cyril Ritchard as Capt. Hook. I was hooked.
I'm still scared that if I hang a foot or arm off the end of the bed, a crocodile is gonna snatch it off while I'm sleeping. To date I've seen just about any and every version of this classic tale and of course read the novel by J.M. Barrie. I was gonna pan outta viewing this latest film adaptation until I brought it home and thought, what the heck, I'd give it a try.
Pan explores an interesting angle. . .that Hook and Peter once were friends and not always aversaries. It stars Hugh Jackman, who I enjoy his work. It also has refreshing newcomer, the 13 year old, Levi Miller, in the title role. His expressive eyes only adds to his charm.  
Adding to the charm of this film is a score that is both lively and supportive. The CGI is okay. I liked the way the pirate ships float in space. Garrett Hedlun (of Friday Night Lights fame) shows some potential to play a more devious role in the obvious sequel.
It is rated PG and not that scary. I almost was able to let my arm drift off the bedside as I fell asleep the night I watched this film. Almost...
Posted by Uncle Will on 12/04/15
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Wayward Pines is a suspense/thriller mini-series based on a 3-book series by Blake Crouch. I watched the DVD before I realized that the show was based on the books. The show was a little confusing and left me wanting more. Imagine my delight when I found that our library owned all 3 books. Needless to say, I checked them all out on 
the same day and read them with the speed of Flash, trying to get to the studio in time to make a cameo appearance on the set of Arrow.
Wayward Pines has a very good cast which includes two Academy Award winners (Melissa Leo and Terrence Howard) along with Matt Dillon, Juliette Lewis, Carla Gugino, and veteran character actor Toby Jones. The setting is a small town in Idaho that was "created" by a billionaire genius. Won't tell you any more. Don't want to spoil the surprises.  Won't even suggest what you should do first - read the books or view the DVD.
This mini-series has been compared to Twin Peaks (1990-1991). Both are quirky.  It basically comes down to what do you prefer:  a fine cup of coffee and a damn good piece of cheery pie or a double-scoop of rum raisin ice cream?
Posted by Uncle Will on 11/18/15
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I've been a composer for greater than 50 years. Over that time I've been asked a lot about my influences and what songs inspire me. Henry Mancini is probably my favorite composer and this song, Moon Dance, is quite inspirational.
It can be found on the CD, Down To The Moon, that won the Grammy in 1987. It was written by Andreas Vollenweider who is a Swiss harpist that's recorded 14 albums. Down To The Moon was his 5th album and it was re-released in 2005 and again in 2006. It's been written that his music ". . . evokes nature, magic and fairy tales. . . "
AHML will be hosting a library-wide exhibit on Fairy Tales (January-March 2016). Check this out if you want a head start getting into the mood.
Posted by Uncle Will on 10/16/15
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What if Santa Claus was the real deal? What if Santa was real, but just not quite the person you were led to believe he was? If this premise interests you, then this Finnish coal black comedy is just what you need to fill your holiday stocking. 
Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale is a film that was based on an award winning short film released in 2005 entitled: The Official Rare Exports Inc. Safety Instructions. That "shorty" is included in the DVD special features; however, please don't watch it until the film is over because it will be a spoiler. 
Newcomer actor, Onni Tommila, plays Pietari Kontio. Pietari lives with his father near the base of the Korvatunturi Mountains in Lapland. It is a rough life, but the two have each other, which makes up for any shortcomings. The plot is fairly simple. Once a year the countryside men hunt to kill and dress beasts to last them through the bitter winter months. What the hunters are not prepared for is a very different kind of beast.
This film is rated R and a bit too intense for younger viewers. However, if you are looking for a holiday film that is off-center, yet still entertaining, check this one out.  If you enjoy Onni Tommila's performance, you can catch him in his newest film which stars Samuel L. Jackson: Big Game.
Posted by Uncle Will on 09/16/15
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What would you do if you were suddenly taken back in time 200 years?
Such is the dilemma for Claire Randall, the main character in Diana Gabaldon's epic novel, Outlander, published in 1991 and recently adapted into a TV mini-series. Claire is a WWII nurse in England who reunites with her husband, post-war, for a second honeymoon in Scotland. While visiting a historic hilltop, Claire is mysteriously transported back to 1743, where she must worry for her life, find the secret to her journey into the past, and somehow overcome immense odds to return to her husband, who is determinedly searching for her in 1945.
This series is well-written, keeping true to Gabaldon's suspenseful plot.  The scenery is breathtaking and the soundtrack perfectly underscores the drama of the period. This series should be the first choice you make for date night with that someone who is special.  It has a little bit of everything:  action, romance, humor, history, and grown men in kilts! 
If you enjoy watching, make sure to place a hold on Outlander Season 1 / Volume 2.
Posted by Uncle Will on 08/14/15
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Back in 2007, two New Zealand musician/comedians took the USA by storm in the hilariously creative TV series Flight of the Conchords.  One of the shows stars, Jermaine Clement, has gone on to make several films. His most recent is the vampire spoof What we do in the Shadows.
Three vampires agree to let a film crew into their flat to capture the vampires' day-to-day activities...or more precisely, their night-to night ones. What follows in the next 85 minutes is near-genius. Bringing the undead to life is no easy task. This parody on horror films and reality shows will keep you laughing out loud. Be sure to watch through the credits, because this film wants the last laugh.
Below is a short clip highlighting "Stu" the trio's new found human friend, who they have all agreed not to eat!
Posted by Uncle Will on 07/24/15
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What does one say about a film that was made for less than 2 million dollars and has grossed over 14 million to date? This film had an extremely limited opening at the theaters, but the buzz it created was passed quickly via word-of-mouth. Soon it was opening all over the USA and drawing packed audiences.
It Follows is a different kind of horror/mystery/thriller.  There really isn't any blood or gore.  Its subject matter is quite controversial on several social levels. It isn't fast-paced, but moves more at a zombie-like creep.  What this film does have is goosebumposity.  There were several times, while watching, that I got the whole-body-shivers and progressive goosebumps that began at my toes and rapidly moved north.
This film isn't perfect, but it's perfect to watch on a late Friday night. Just make certain that there are two exits from where you are watching it. Just in case.
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