at the movies

Like many of you,
I LOVE my NetFlix.

I hope you enjoy my movie reviews and please, feel free to send me yours. I Love hearing about new movies to try.

There is nothing like finding a great tear-jerker, or that fantastic romantic comedy!



Ellen's Movie Reviews

The Way Back (2010) PG-13
After narrowly escaping from a wretched World War II Siberian labor camp, a small band of multinational soldiers desperately undertakes a harrowing journey to traverse Siberia, the Gobi Desert and the Himalayas on foot.
Unbelievable testament of human endurance and what makes it all the more incredible is that it is based on real life. Again, I have to say, you need to rent this one.
Out of 5 stars, I would give this a 4

Skin (2008) PG-13
Both her father and mother are white, but Sandra Laing is born with dark skin -- a complex problem in the era of South African apartheid
Very, very good! An interesting look at prejudice and the assumptions that are made and the problems that "color" will bring. I highly recommend watching this film.
Out of 5 stars, I would give this a 4

A Matter of Size (2009) NR
Fed up with their fruitless attempts to lose weight, Herzl (Itzik Cohen) and his three heavyset friends decide to give up their tortuous diets and try their luck in the girth-friendly arena of sumo wrestling. Led by Japan native Kitano (Togo Igawa), Herzl and crew discover that there are places in the world where oversized waistlines are appreciated. Dvir Benedek and Shmulik Cohen also star in this lighthearted comedy.
Foreign Comedies, Israel
Absolutely Hysterical! Loved it
If you hate subtitles, be warned, there are-- but it is worth it!
Out of 5 stars, I would give this 3.7-4

Antonia's Line (1995)
"Enough is Enough..."...says an old woman rising from her bed as she prepares for her last day on earth. Today will be the day she will die, we find out as the film opens. As Antonia goes about her chores and gathers her family around her, we are treated to a wonderful life affirming tale, and look back at her rich and full life.
This is how one of my favorite movies of al time begins. It is Dutch, so be aware it will have sub-titles, but it is about the power and richness of this one women's life. A beautiful and enriching story.
Out of 5 stars, I would give this 5

Alice in Wonderland 3D (2010)
You ALL know the story.
I am a big Johnny Depp fan and he did not disappoint me. He was as wacky and wonderful as ever in this film. Though it did not great reviews, I enjoyed it. I left happy and satisfied.
Out of 5 stars, I would give this 3.7-4

The Hangover (2009)
When three friends (Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis and Bradley Cooper) finally come to after a raucous night of bachelor-party revelry, they find a baby in the closet and a tiger in the bathroom. But they can't seem to locate their best friend, Doug (Justin Bartha) -- who's supposed to be tying the knot. Launching a frantic search for Doug, the trio perseveres through a nasty hangover to try to make it to the church on time.
My husband asked that I get a few more comedies (and not black comedies), so I TRIED... this was just horrible!! WHAT were they thinking... this was not even remotely humorous. Just stupid.
Out of 5 stars, I would give this 1- maybe.

The Reader (2008)
Michael Berg (Ralph Fiennes) reflects on the formative sexual relationship he had with older woman Hanna Schmitz (Kate Winslet, in a Golden Globe- and Oscar-winning role) as a young teenager in this poignant drama set in post-World War II Germany. The passionate affair ended when Hanna disappeared. But years later, Michael learns she's on trial for horrific Nazi war crimes. David Kross plays the teenage Michael in this film based on Bernhard Schlink's best-seller.
I gave this movie high ranking because it was so thought provoking. It was horrific-- what she did was beyond belief, how she could have done what she did... his feelings for her.....all so complex. It left me talking about it for days.
Out of 5 stars, I would give this 5

The Secret Life of Bees (2008)
Haunted by the death of her mother, 14-year-old Lily (Dakota Fanning) escapes the dreary life she lives on her father's farm and heads to Tiburon, S.C., with her friend and caregiver, Rosaleen (Jennifer Hudson), setting off on a life-changing journey of self-discovery. Set amidst the hotbed of racial tensions in the South in the 1960s, Gina Prince-Bythewood's dramatic tale is based on the bestselling novel by Sue Monk Kidd.
I loved the movie and I really loved this movie. It had me bawling!
Queen Latifa is great as always, but every actor in this movie was wonderful I am so impressed with Jennifer Hudson- she is so talented. Rent this movie!
Out of 5 stars, I would give this 5

Seven Pounds (2008)
Distraught over his wife's death -- and convinced that his own actions had something to do with it -- a depressed IRS (Will Smith) agent begins plotting his suicide, vowing to improve the lives of seven strangers in the process. But a chance meeting with a woman who has a life-threatening heart defect (Rosario Dawson) threatens to derail his plans when, suddenly, their budding relationship feels a lot like love.
I really liked this movie, BUT, it was very, very slow.
Out of 5 stars, I would give this 3-3.5

Sex and the City: The Movie (2008)
"Sex and the City" fans rejoice! Carrie Bradshaw and her girls Charlotte, Samantha and Miranda are back, and this time, they're coming to the big screen with this highly anticipated adaptation of the HBO comedy series. Golden Globe winner Sarah Jessica Parker returns as everyone's favorite columnist who, with her three BFFs (Kristin Davis, Kim Cattrall and Cynthia Nixon), braves the roiling romantic waters of the city that never sleeps.
I laughed and cried. BUT, it was not as good as the show, but it came close. For me, they played "dress up" a little too much-- the movie was a bit long, so these scenes could have easily been cut out and not be missed. I also was sad to see that Kim Cattrell had such a minor role in the movie-- she was such a dynamic (and outrageous) part of the show.
Out of 5 stars, I would give this 4.3

Changeling (2008)
Christine Collins (Angelina Jolie, in an Oscar-nominated role) is overjoyed when her young kidnapped son Walter is brought back home. But when Christine suspects that the Walter who was returned to her isn't her actual child, the police captain (Jeffrey Donovan) has her committed to an asylum. John Malkovich co-stars as the crusading reverend who comes to Christine's rescue in this gripping, 1920s-set drama helmed by ace director Clint Eastwood.
It was amazing what the police tried to do, as women our rights have soared from these times. Also, sadly what some human being are capable of is heart-breaking.
It is hard to accept that this is based on true events.
Out of 5 stars, I would give this 5

Vanilla Sky (2001)
Director Cameron Crowe delivers a bizarre yet beautiful take on love, beauty and morality. Tom Cruise has it all: wealth, good looks and a gorgeous woman (Cameron Diaz). But just when he's found true love with Sofia (Penelope Cruz), Cruise's face is horribly disfigured in a car accident, and he loses everything -
or does he?
Rather mind-bending- kept me wondering.
Out of 5 stars, I would give this 4

Australia (2008)
In the days leading up to World War II, Lady Sarah Ashley (Nicole Kidman) inherits a sprawling cattle ranch in northern Australia. Threatened by land barons, she reluctantly joins her farmhand (Hugh Jackman) as he drives 2,000 head of cattle across the outback. While on the grueling trek, they witness the Japanese bombing of Darwin, which heralds Australia's entry into the war.
Nice scenery (including Hugh Jackman), but rather slow and predictable.
Out of 5 stars, I would give this 3

The Greatest Game Ever Played (2005)
With a pint-sized caddie (Joshua Flitter) at his side, amateur golfer Francis Ouimet (Shia LaBeouf) shocked the world at the 1913 U.S. Open when he outplayed defending British champ Harry Vardon (Stephen Dillane). But Ouimet's rise to the top wasn't easy, with a hard-nosed father (Elias Koteas) and a hard-knock life to overcome. Actor Bill Paxton (in his third time out as a director) helms this inspiring true-life story based on actual events.
I really enjoyed this movie! I am not a big golf fan, but this story was captivating.
It kept you in suspense- was he going to win?? Could he?? Great underdog story. Equally interesting was the issue of class distinction and exclusion.
Out of 5 stars, I would give this 4.5

Alice's House
Synopsis: Brazilian documentary filmmaker Chico Teixeira brings a refreshingly natural touch to ALICE'S HOUSE, a working class drama about personal and family betrayal. A working class drama about personal and family betrayal. Forty-ish manicurist Alice (Carla Ribas) works long hours at the beauty parlor, only to return to a cramped Sao Paulo apartment she inhabits with her brutish husband Lindomar, three disrespectful sons, and her ailing mother. Struggling daily against such densely packed machismo, Alice is blind to the secrets simmering beneath her family's mundane existence. This includes her eldest son turning tricks with older men and her husband's affairs with teenage girls. Alice is soon drawn into her own web of infidelity by the reappearance of an old high school flame. As truths finally boil to the surface Alice must choose between a painful new reality and her desperate romantic hopes. Unlike the urban violence of recent Brazilian successes (CITY OF GOD, BUS 174), ALICE'S HOUSE is a quietly moving, warts-and-all observation of love, sex, and deception.
This was a very, very good movie! But, it was BLEAK. In spite of that,we walked out of theater talking about it for days.
Out of 5 stars, I would give this 4.5

Eastern Promises (2007)
Viggo Mortensen (in an Oscar-nominated role) returns with director David Cronenberg in this intense thriller, starring as Nikolai Luzhin, a notorious London gangster. When Luzhin learns that a midwife named Anna (Naomi Watts) has discovered incriminating evidence against his "family," he finds his normally steely resolve compromised. Vincent Cassel, Armin Mueller-Stahl and Sinéad Cusack co-star.
Not a bad movie- it gives you an interesting perspective into the Russian Mob. Good story line and an interesting twist. Also, total male nudity- something you don't see very often. In an action scene - which equals lots of dingle-dangle--- I kinda did not know where to put my eyes, BUT for once-- a movie that was not all about FEMALE nudity- finally some equality here!
Out of 5 stars, I would give this 3.5

I Am Legend (2007)
A terrible virus has spread across the planet and turned the human race into bloodthirsty monsters. Mankind's only hope for survival is scientist Robert Neville (Will Smith), the one person left unaffected by the epidemic. When he's not fighting for his life against the hordes of the infected,
Neville searches for a cure to reverse the virus's effects -- all the while battling his own doubt and despair as he spends every day alone.
Not bad as far as zombie movies go. Makeup and special effects were pretty cool. I have to admit a few scenes had me chomping my nails.
And, if you do rent this movie, you will know which scene TOTALLY freaked me out... (yes, it involves a dog)
Out of 5 stars, I would give this 3

Juno (2007)
Facing an unplanned pregnancy, teenage Juno (Ellen Page) devises a plan to locate the proverbial perfect parents to adopt her baby. But the seemingly ideal couple Juno chooses still has some growing up to do. Now, everyone in Juno's world must do a little soul-searching. Michael Cera co-stars while Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner play the pair of affluent yuppies anxious for a child in this offbeat coming-of-age comedy, which won the 2008 Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.
This is an anti-abortion movie, BUT, I believe it's message is not screaming "don't have an abortion", but rather showing that the alternative can be a feasible option. The teenage girl starring in the movie is WAY more mature than any 16 year old I have ever come across and her parents are WAY more accepting than mine would have ever been.... but, it IS a good movie. Catch it if you can.
Out of 5 stars, I would give this 4

Atonement (2007)
In this drama based on the critically acclaimed novel by Ian McEwan, a childhood lie irrevocably changes the lives of several people forever. When 13-year-old Briony Tallis (Saoirse Ronan) misinterprets a moment of flirtation between her older sister Cecilia (Keira Knightley) and a servant's son, Robbie Turner (James McAvoy), her confusion causes her to finger Robbie as the perpetrator of a crime. Brenda Blethyn and Vanessa Redgrave co-star in this Oscar nominee for Best Picture.
This is an "OK" movie. The filming is brilliant, the costumes are great, (Keira Knightly is impossibly thin!) but the story line is a bit predictable, but do watch it to the end- it comes together.
Out of 5 stars, I would give this 3

Away from Her
A drama about a long-married but still very much in love couple whose lives are torn asunder when one of them must enter a rest home. Julie Christie (in an Oscar-nominated role) plays the wife, and Gordon Pinsent plays the husband desperate to ensure her comfort in the new setting while burdened with guilt over past behavior. Olympia Dukakis co-stars.
This is a very good, but sad movie. What the husband does for the love of his wife is wonderful and heart wrenching. And, if I could look as good as Julie Christies does now, I would be a very happy woman! She is gorgeous!

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day
This was a very cute "chick-flick". If you are looking for something to do on a rainy weekend, go see it with some girlfriends, you will laugh and get a little teary eyed. Don't drag your husband!

The Other Boleyn Girl
I really enjoyed this movie - it was based on the book by one of my favorite authors, Phillipa Gregory. If you read the book, the movie stays true to her story. What I enjoyed most was the filming of it-- the director created "digital paintings" scene to scene- beautifully shot. The costumes and sets were fabulous. If you are a fan of British Medieval History, this is a must see.

No Country For Old Men
This had quite a line-up of great actors, but something went terribly wrong ---
this is one of those movies, that at the end, you sit back and say..."what the X$%^$ was that?"
I kept waiting for it to get better... it is brutal, unbelievably so... (they even kill dogs-omg) Woody Harrelson's performance was just that: wooden.
The most interesting thing was the main guy's bowl haircut- I was mesmerized by how bad it was! All in all, I would recommend skipping this one.

It is the summer of '66, and England is about to be consumed by World Cup Fever. For 12 year-old Bernie though, the biggest day of his life is looming: his Bar Mitzvah, and the day he becomes a man. However, Bernie's family are increasingly distracted by the threat of losing their business and their wayward older son, and the scale of Bernie's Bar Mitzvah diminishes daily. Worst of all the Cup Final is scheduled to take place on the same day and when England makes it through the qualifying rounds, Bernie's longed-for Bar Mitzvah looks set to be a complete disaster.
I simply LOVED this movie!

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They include strong language, subject matter and sexuality.

Xiu Xiu: The Sent Down Girl (1999)
At the height of China's Cultural Revolution, a girl is sent to a remote area as part of a government initiative and finds her exile a liberating adventure -- and a nightmarish trap. Brimming with beautiful images and moving performances, Xiu Xiu: The Sent Down Girl is a rich tale about the individual cost of collective decisions. Actress Joan Chen's directorial debut won accolades.
Starring: Lu Lu, Lopsang, More Director: Joan Chen
Rated R For strong sexual content

American History X (1998)
A California neo-Nazi (Oscar-nominee Edward Norton) gets sent to prison for murder and comes out a changed man. But can Norton atone for his sins and prevent his younger brother (Edward Furlong) from following in his hate-filled footsteps? With searing performances and gut-wrenching realism, American History X offers a compelling and anguishing look at racism, family and forgiveness.
Starring: Edward Norton, Edward Furlong, More
Director: Tony Kaye
Rated R For graphic brutal violence including rape

City of God (2002)
Cidade de Deus
Busca-Pe (Alexandre Rodrigues) lives in Cidade de Deus (City of God), a housing project reputed to be one of the most dangerous parts of otherwise magical Rio de Janeiro. He's frightened he'll end up like the countless others around him -- troubled, violent or dead. But his saving grace is his photographer's eye, through which the stories of several people who live in this forsaken "city" unfold. …
Starring: Matheus Nachtergaele, Alexandre Rodrigues, More
Director: Katia Lund, More
Rated R For strong brutal violence, sexuality AND drug content

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If you purchase a DVD from outside the US, you will need a UNIVERSAL DVD PLAYER OR A REGION FREE DVD PLAYER in order to watch DVD from outside of the US.
Who knew? Now I do.