Blog Posts by Uncle Will

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.
Posted by Uncle Will on 06/29/15
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Join us on Sunday, July 26, 2015 for the second discussion in "What's Better: The Book or the Movie." We will be discussing Robert A. Heinlein's 1959 classic short story "All You Zombies" and its 2015 film adaptation "Predestination."
Don't let the title throw you off. The story is not about zombies. It's about the temporal police and their ability to stop crime, before it happens, through time travel. I have always been fascinated by the concept of time travel mostly because there are no rules. The plot is simple--a temporal agent who is performing his very last assignment is trying to stop his nemesis through time...The Fizzle Bomber.
Posted by Uncle Will on 04/02/15
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Looking for a new author?  Tony Schumacher's first book, The Darkest Hour, is one of the most impressive first-time author's novels that I read all year.  
The setting is London, 1946. The war is over. Unfortunately, the Germans won. John Henry Rossett was crowned by his king as "The British Lion" for his heroics during the war. He's a broken police detective with a tragic past. Rossett lost his wife and son to a terrorist bombing during the war. He's hired by the occupying forces to hunt Jews, place them on trains, and send them to France.  What happens to his captives is not his concern.  
What is concerning is that Rossett's no better than a machine . . . a tool. He does only what he's told.  He has no idea that he's being used for SS propaganda by his country's sworn enemy. What's worse is that Rossett could care less. It doesn't matter that he has no respect from his fellow Englanders. He has even less from the puppet masters that pull his strings. He's dead inside.
Then one day, for no apparent reason, Rossett rises from the dead. He finds a young Jewish boy hidden in an apartment wall and slowly starts his path to redemption.  
I couldn't put this book down. It's the fastest 400-page read for me in a long time; the beginning of a series that will rival Philip Kerr, has been born.   
Posted by Uncle Will on 12/31/14
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Here's a teaser.  What is the greatest coming of age book that you have ever read? Some will argue J. D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye. Some will argue Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird. Other readers that are not part of the Baby Boom Generation might choose Stephen Chbosky's Perks of Being a Wallflower. All sound choices. Each profound and still relevant. This probably explains why we still have 6 copies of each in our collection. However, there is another classic that never seems to get its fair amount of attention.
Attend to this: William Goldman is a two-time Academy Award winning American novelist, screenwriter, and playwright. Author of 16 novels, many of which have been adapted to film; today Goldman might best remembered for Princess Bride (1973) or Marathon Man (1974). In 1957 he published his first novel, Temple of Gold - and for over 50 years, I still recommend it to reader's of all ages.
This novel is only about 200 pages long. The setting is in the Midwest during late '50's.  Some of the fashions are a bit dated, but there's no doubt that in chapter one when Ray Trevitt begins his story:  " . . . My father was a stuffy man . . " a young person is about to come of age and his story still needs to be heard. . .even today.
Posted by Uncle Will on 11/19/14
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When Generation War, a German TV mini-series, first aired in Europe in 2013 it had over 7 million viewers a night.  It was originally titled:  Unsere Mütter, Unsere Väter (Our Mothers, Our Fathers). The mini-series, comprised of three 1.5 hours teleplays, was written by Stefan Kolditz and directed by Philipp Kadelbach.  So far it has been nominated for 23 film awards and has won 13 awards, including Best Television Mini Series in 2013. What makes this series standout is the excellent production quality. Its film editing, acting, and script are all top-shelf.
The story begins in Berlin in 1942. Five friends, all in their early 20's, have one last blast before they journey on life's path. Wilhelm and Friedhelm are brothers who are being sent to the Russian front. Wilhelm is hard-nosed and his younger brother is idealistic. Charlotte, a nurse, is in love with Wilhelm, but has never proclaimed those feelings. She too is being sent to Russia. Greta wants to be the next Marlene Dietrich. She will stop at nothing to further her career.  She's in love with a Jewish tailor, Viktor, whose parents are, like many Jews, still living in Germany . . . they refuse to leave their home and their country.
Critics have heralded the fact that this film presents a war story with a twist . . . its women characters are just as important or more so than the mens'.  This DVD is in German with English subtitles.   
Posted by Uncle Will on 11/01/14
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The Grand Seduction is a film about a harbor in Newfoundland called Tickle Cove. Hard times have befallen on the community.  Most of the men are collecting welfare checks. What was once a proud fishing community is now a place that is struggling to stay solvent.  Brendan Gleason takes on the role of mayor when negotiations turn serious with a plastic company that is interested in building a plant in the harbor that will create many jobs. Besides the bribes that the company executives are demanding, there is another major glitch in awarding Tickle Cove the plastics plant.
The glitch is that a doctor must be in residence and there hasn't been a physician living in the harbor for who knows how long. Taylor Kitsch is a doctor who gets coerced into coming to the island where the community tries to give the impression they're something that they're not to entice him to move his practice there.
In 1983 Burt Lancaster starred in a cute film call Local Hero about a small harbor in Scotland that Burt's Oil corporation is trying to purchase in its entirety. The Grand Seduction is a cross between Local Hero and Doc Hollywood, which starred Michael J. Fox as a doc-outta-water who to is being wooed to stay in a small town that also is in need of a resident doctor.
The lesson learned is about honesty being the best policy.  This lesson only takes 113 minutes, but is worth the time spent.
Posted by Uncle Will on 10/14/14
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Looking for a movie whose mission might make you feel good to be alive? Try actor/director Jon Favreau's latest creation Chef.  It is loosely based on the book L.A. Son : My Life, My City, My Food  by Master Chef Roy Choi. This movie has all the necessary ingredients:  a great soundtrack, perfect casting, clever script, a lovable kid, fantastic editing and if you like to cook, there's tons of tips. 
This movie has been categorized as a road-trip-flick, but it is much more. It tries to show the importance of following one's dreams, no matter what the cost.  
Before sitting down to watch this film, just make sure you've had a big meal, or you're gonna have to plan on pausing it before it's over, to run to the kitchen.
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