Release Date: November 23
Run time: 113 minutes
Moana is Disney’s latest foray into the realm of princesses—although as a Polynesian Chief’s daughter she’s technically not a full-fledged princess but she’s pretty close. Moana lives with her family on a remote island and is raised to one day assume the role of the island’s chief. However, Moana is constantly drawn to the lure of the ocean and wishes to explore beyond the reef—which is strictly forbidden by her father. In an interesting twist for a Disney movie, Moana’s mother is still alive. Unfortunately, she barely registers as a character so I’m not sure that this actually counts as progress from usual dysfunctional Disney family dynamic. Moana seems resigned to live her life on land until a mysterious darkness creeps onto the island. Suddenly, coconuts begin turning black and vegetation starts dying. Moana’s grandmother explains on her deathbed the reason the island is in trouble. The legend states that demi-god Maui stole the jade stone heart of life-giving goddess Tehiti and the only way to stop the darkness is by bringing Maui back to Tehiti to replace the stone. Grandma knows that Moana is destined to be Maui’s guide as she witnessed the ocean delivering the heart stone to Moana as a baby. Read More →
I’ve got a secret that I haven’t shared with too many people until now—I might have a tiny little obsession with the Royal Family. It probably started when I woke up at the crack of dawn as a kid to watch the wedding of Charles and Diana. It continued as I joyfully celebrated the union of William and Kate and the arrival of their adorable babies.
So I couldn’t contain my glee when I found out about the new Netflix series The Crown which debuts November 4th. The series begins in 1947, when young Elizabeth falls in love and marries Philip. Their life changes dramatically when she ascends to the throne at the age of 25, much earlier than expected. The story promises to bring us into the private struggles of the Queen’s amazing life. If that’s not enough to grab you, The Crown will be one of the most expensive TV series ever made ($110 million!) promising amazing costumes, locations, and set designs (which should cheer up those mourning the loss of Downton Abbey!) I cannot wait for this series to begin. So if, like me, you have a serious love of all things Royal, here are a few other terrific options for you to enjoy.
(2010, Rated R)
This brilliant Oscar winning film focuses on King George VI (father of the current Queen) the man who wasn’t supposed to reign. Raised as the “spare” second born son, Bertie (as he was nicknamed) happily lives in his older brother Edward’s shadow and supports Edward as he becomes King upon their father’s death in 1936. When Edward decides to give up the throne in order to marry his divorced lover Wallis Simpson, Bertie must take the throne. Unfortunately, Bertie has suffered his entire life with a stammer, making it incredibly difficult and embarrassing for him to give speeches—a crucial part of his new job. Bertie’s loving wife finds help for him with speech therapist Lionel Logue. Bertie and Logue’s time together creates a great friendship as Logue helps Bertie to find his voice. With a stellar cast including Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter and my beloved Colin Firth (who won a well-deserved Oscar for best actor), this is a not-to-be missed gem of a film. Read More →
Based on the best selling 2015 novel, The Girl on the Train tells the sad tale of Rachel (Emily Blunt) a woman who has completely spiraled out of control since her divorce from husband Tom (Justin Theroux). Unable to move forward from her past life, Rachel drinks herself into oblivion as she rides the train past her old home during her daily commute to New York City. She is devastated that her house is now occupied by Anna (Rebecca Ferguson), the home wrecker who stole her husband and now proudly wears a ring on her finger as she cradles a beautiful baby in her arms. To dull the pain, Rachel focuses on an attractive couple that live a few houses down from her ex. Rachel projects all of her desires for a happy relationship onto this seemingly perfect couple she spies on every day imagining the wonderful life they share. Rachel’s fragile grip on sanity becomes untethered on the day she realizes the perfect couple she obsesses over is not so perfect after all. She sees the woman embracing another man and it rekindles all of the anger at the deception she faced in her own marriage. That evening, the inebriated Rachel gets off the train in a rage in her old neighborhood and heads down to the train tunnel. When we next see Rachel, she is bloodied and bruised in her apartment, and has no memory of the previous night. She quickly learns that the woman she has been spying on is named Megan (Haley Bennett), and her husband has reported her missing. What happened that night in the tunnel? Did Rachel have something to do with Megan’s disappearance? Read More →
Directed by: Oliver Stone
Run time: 2 hours 14 minutes
I had mixed feelings heading into the theater to see Snowden — the film based on infamous NSA hacker Edward Snowden. On the one hand, director Oliver Stone has created some pretty amazing films (Born on the Fourth of July, Wall Street, Platoon) but on the other hand, he can get overly political and I wasn’t sure I wanted to spend two hours of my life getting screamed at about privacy rights trumping our safety in a post 9/11 world. Still, I didn’t feel like I knew as much about Edward Snowden as I should and I was curious to see what actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt could do with the role of the quiet, almost robotic man. I’m so glad I gave this film a chance.
Snowden opens in a Hong Kong hotel lobby where documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras (Melissa Leo) and reporter Glenn Greenwald (Zachary Quinto) have arranged to secretly meet and interview Snowden regarding illegal surveillance practices at the NSA. The paranoid Snowden then tells his story of how he has ended up the world’s number one fugitive in a series of flashbacks of his career and life. We first go back to 2004, where Snowden has enlisted in the Special Forces. He is ill-equipped for this grueling job and injures his legs to the point that he is medically discharged from the military. We then move to 2006, where Snowden trains for a job at the CIA, a position much better suited to his considerable talents. At this time he also meets love interest Lindsay Mills (Shailene Woodley) a free-spirited liberal who quickly captures the buttoned up conservative’s heart. We then move forward through Snowden’s fast paced career as he and Lindsay travel from Geneva to Tokyo to Hawaii. The more he learns about the NSA’s practices, the more conflicted he becomes about the capturing of data from all citizens regardless of whether or not they are suspected of a link to terror. Snowden eventually reaches his breaking point and steals proof of the surveillance program while escaping to Hong Kong, leaving Lindsay behind. Read More →
Photo creds: Jamie Vinson Photography
I’m so excited to introduce you all to my friend, Jenny Jones. While we’ve been neighbors for several years, I only recently learned that she was a passenger on flight 1549 when we started discussing the movie Sully. I guess being in a plane crash isn’t something that normally comes up in casual conversation! While this event is a small part of Jenny’s life, I had to get the full details after seeing the terrific film based on the Miracle on the Hudson.
Married to: Tray 7 years (We got married May 30th after the January 15th crash)
Children: Annie almost 5, Lucy 2.5 and Maggie 1
Years in Charlotte: Born and raised in Charlotte
Alma Mater: Appalachian State
Occupation: Previously a Risk Manager until Annie was born in 2011. Now I am the president of crumbs, diapers, boo boos and snuggles!
I was excited and anxious about the movie. When I heard they were going to do a movie on Sully, I was excited for him. He is a very humble person who did an amazing thing, he should be given praise! With so much negativity around us in the media, it’s always nice to see something positive (or at least a happy ending). I planned to see the movie with Tray first but ended up asking my mom, brother, sister-in-law, sister and brother-in-law. They all came with me. Watching the movie was more intense than I anticipated; I shed quite a few tears. But overall I enjoyed watching the story unfold. Many of the images shown in the movie from video clips off of the piers to pictures taken of the plane floating were ones I’ve seen a million times yet never get old. The idea of a plane floating down the Hudson River is still one that baffles me. Read More →
Directed by: Clint Eastwood
Run Time: 1 hour 36 minutes
The “Miracle on the Hudson” flight ranks right up there with historic moments that you will never forget. Who would believe that a damaged plane carrying 150 passengers en route to Charlotte would safely land on the Hudson river and everyone would survive? It seems like it would be a stunt in a Mission Impossible movie, so it’s no wonder the event became a film. Having seen the extensive news coverage of the gripping story and later finding out that my own neighbor was on that flight, I was more than eager to see the movie.
To add to the excitement, I love Tom Hanks — I really do. This is a man who can completely disappear into each character he portrays. Once he gets going, you just forget that you are watching an actor at work and you just believe wholeheartedly he is either Captain Sully Sullenberger, he is Captain Phillips, or even Forrest Gump. I really can’t think of another actor who is so adept at his craft. Add to that director Clint Eastwood who blew me away with his directing of American Sniper and it’s a pretty irresistible combination in a film.
The question is, how do you turn a six minute flight with an ending everybody already knows into a feature length film? It’s especially hard when the main character is such a beloved hero whose character is beyond reproach and the villain in the story is a flock of geese in the wrong place at the wrong time. Luckily, the screenwriters worked the NTSB safety hearings into the storyline to create the added tension of questioning Sully’s unprecedented decision. Could the plane have safely made it to another airport instead of the making the more difficult forced water landing? The hearings really highlight how quickly and calmly Sully reacted, using his years of experience to make a brilliant decision. He proves the computer simulations were wrong, showing there really is no match for an experienced and tested pilot. The stress of instant celebrity status is also explored, where the once unknown pilot is launched into a media frenzy with countless interviews and tv appearances. That’s a lot of pressure to put on a man who just lived through a plane crash! These story elements combine to make the film so much more than the crash and water rescue. Read More →
Directed By: David Lowery
Run Time: 103 minutes
Having seen the 1977 musical version of Pete’s Dragon, I wasn’t too sure that a remake was wanted or needed. The sad tale of orphan Pete who escapes his alcoholic and abusive adoptive parents with the help of a green and purple cartoon dragon didn’t seem like a top contender for a makeover from Disney. Luckily, this new version ditches most of the original story and only keeps the main characters of orphan Pete and his best friend, magical dragon Elliot in a completely reimagined story that is a welcome respite from all of those big loud summer blockbusters.
Pete is only about five years old when his family adventure in the woods turns tragic. A car accident kills Pete’s parents, leaving the helpless little boy all alone in the woods with only a picture book and the clothes on his back. When wolves descend on the terrified child, he is saved by a giant green dragon who Pete decides to name Elliot. Pete and Elliot become the best of friends, and live happily together in the deepest parts of the forest. The CGI created Elliot looks fantastic, from his friendly gaze to his furry body to his playful smile. Elliot and Pete are inseparable, and their bond is displayed in several playful sequences as the two run and frolic and live together all alone in the woods.
Fast forward six years, and the forest is much smaller thanks to the logging industry. Pete (Oakes Fegley) is discovered by forest ranger Grace (Bryce Dallas Howard), as she argues with logger Gavin (Karl Urban) over how far into the forest he and his team can cut trees. She brings the scared and confused Pete to the hospital, separating him from Elliot. Grace doesn’t understand where Pete came from and how he has survived in the wild for so long all alone. Pete tries to explain Elliot to Grace, but the only person who believes him is Grace’s father Mr. Meacham (the always welcome Robert Redford). It turns out that Mr. Meacham had an encounter with Elliot once himself, and knows that a magical dragon lives in their woods. Of course the secret of Elliot doesn’t last long as mean old Gavin heads back to the woods and finds Elliot, who is frantically searching for his beloved Pete. Gavin traps Elliot, and then it is up to Pete and Grace to save Elliot from a life in captivity. Read More →
Directed by: Barry Sonnenfeld
Run time: 1 hour 27 minutes
When I first heard about the movie Nine Lives, I wondered why two-time Oscar winner Kevin Spacey would agree to play a talking cat. But I figured that with a terrific cast including Jennifer Garner and Christopher Walken and pedigreed directer Sonnenfeld at the helm, there must be some reason to watch this film, right? Sadly, I was wrong and this cat movie is purrfectly awful.
This cliched story features selfish dad Tom Brand (Spacey) who ignores his loving second wife Lara (Garner), adorable daughter Rebecca (Malina Weissman) and faithful son David (Robbie Amell). He’s too wrapped up in running his multi-million dollar company and building his crowning achievement—the tallest building in North America to care about his family. He’s so busy that he has to be reminded of his daughter’s birthday, so in a pinch he drives to a strange pet shop to pick up a cat as a last minute present. The store owner is Felix Perkins, a mysterious “cat whisperer” (Walken) who helps him select a cat named Mr. Fuzzypants. But then there’s a problem at his beloved building site, so instead of heading to his daughter’s party, Brand goes to the building’s roof during a thunderstorm. Bad idea! Lightning strikes and while Brand’s body lands in a coma, his mind inhabits magical Mr. Fuzzypants. Are you still with me? Read More →
Summer movie season is synonymous with sequels (say that three times fast!) and we all know and expect that. But this year has been especially unique because Hollywood is reaching WAY back into the movie archives to reinvent popular flicks from our youth. The summer 2016 box office is looking a whole lot like decades of old and I’m not convinced that it’s a good thing.
In case you’ve been trapped under a rock for the past six months, the new all-female Ghostbusters opens this weekend. I’ll definitely see it, and I’m curious to find out if director Paul Feig can recreate the magic of his previous female cast successes (Bridesmaids, The Heat). But in all honesty, I wasn’t the biggest fan of the original film. Feel free to boo me, but I recently watched the 1984 version with Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd again and while some parts were funny, it’s still a pretty ridiculous film. If you plan on watching the original with your kids, don’t forget that there are some scenes that are pretty sexual and inappropriate for younger ones!
Anyhow, let’s take a look at some of the newest oldies that are currently playing:
Independence Day: Resurgence
Directed by: Roland Emmerich
Run Time: 2 hours (you sure can blow up a lot in 2 hours!)
The evil aliens from the 1996 blockbuster Independence Day once again decide to attack Earth in Independence Day: Resurgence. The original film was a solid summer smash featuring Will Smith as a cocky fighter pilot. Smith added much needed humor to the disaster flick which featured eye-popping scenes of world landmarks being blown up and lots of devastation. While Smith does not return to the new film, many other cast members do including Jeff Goldblum as Dr. David Levinson, Judd Hirsch as his father Julius, and Bill Pullman as former President Whitmore. Just as the world is celebrating 20 years of alien-free life, the squid-like bad guys return. Liam Hemsworth attempts to fill the cocky pilot role as Jake Morrison, but as good looking as he is, he’s just not as fun to watch as Will Smith. Smith’s fictional son Dylan (Jessie T. Usher) fights alongside Jake, and he too fails in the charisma department. While the special effects have greatly improved in the 20 years since the first movie was released, the story just seems a bit tired and unfocused. They even attempt to recreate President Whitmore’s rousing speech from the first film with another big speech, but even that doesn’t generate the same patriotism and emotional lift the film needs. Don’t get me wrong, your teens will love it but it just pales in comparison to the original film. Read More →
You were introduced to my friend Judith Voglesonger back in 2012, when her business (JWV Artists) was relatively new. Since then, this gal has been very busy and has recently launched her rebranded business Art House Charlotte. It seems like the perfect time to check in with her and see what’s new! I first became friends with Judith after we shared a great adventure together coaching our boys on an Odyssey of the Mind Team in 2014. I’m also lucky enough to have used Judith’s amazing design skills to help me purchase some gorgeous paintings for my home. I definitely could not have done it without her!
Smarty Mom Stats:
Mom of: Weston 12, Anna Grace 11, Sarah Scott 9
Years in Charlotte: Coming up on 10 years in Charlotte! As an Air Force brat, that’s the longest I’ve lived ANYWHERE!
Hometown: Did I mention I’m a military brat…what’s a hometown? I went to high school in California…Edwards AFB, Mojave desert…middle of nowhere..That’s the second longest I’ve lived anywhere…5 years.
Alma Mater: University of Florida, Go GATORS
Occupation: Mom to 3, Owner / Art House Charlotte –I’m an art dealer. I sell art.
Art House Charlotte is still the same concept as JWV Artists, but with a more descriptive name. I specialize in selling original, affordable art. My goal is to take the intimidation out of the process of purchasing original art. You don’t need a degree in art history or a huge budget. You just need to trust your eye and buy what you like. I vet all the Art House Charlotte artists so I can ensure that they are talented and affordable. Read More →