Tag Archive: cate blanchette


Family Movie Night
By Karyn Bowman
Every now and again, you hear about a movie that makes you want to check it out.
Maybe it is because there is a favorite actor or it’s based on a book that you loved as a kid.
House with a clockAbout a week or so ago, my daughter told me about The House with a Clock in It’s Walls. This movie stars Jack Black as Jonathon Barnavelt and Cate Blanchett as Mrs. Zimmerman. I love Cate Blanchett and Jack Black can be good in small doses.
When surrounded by great actors, Black always becomes better. While still over the top in some ways, Black makes it work for his character by mixing in elements of low key behavior to create a more nuanced person. Blanchett, on the other hand, has the freedom to be more wacky and loose.
What is interesting is that the movie appears to be set in the early 50s. There are references to WWII as a somewhat recent event. Captain Midnight, a popular kid radio and TV show is a favorite of Lewis, Jonathan’s nephew.
Jonathan and Mrs. Zimmerman live next door to each other. They are two witches who are trying to solve a problem within Jonathan’s house. This is not an ordinary house, it has items that move constantly and creatures one would not expect. He inherited the house from another warlock that passed away a year or so before. And before he died, that warlock was creating something in the house that is evil.
To complicate matters, Jonathon’s young nephew Lewis has moved in. His parents recently died so the young boy is coming to stay with his uncle. Lewis is sad and gawky and he likes to wear goggles like his favorite TV hero. Starting school is not easy, especially as he is not athletic, he loves words, and he lives in a house with a bad reputation.
House with a clock 2But Lewis is also a lonely boy and wants to do whatever if takes to prove himself to his new friends. One night he breaks the one rule in his uncle’s house in order to impress another boy. And what that spell does unleashes something that cannot be easily stopped.
This is one of those movies that is only a little scary, Things jump out at you and there are moments of true creepiness (evil mechanical dolls). The computer generated animation was seamless and made various elements seem more real, more fun. It is the kind of movie you can watch with grade school aged children and the family can enjoy it. It is in that bridge area betweenScooby-Doo scary and PG-13 The Woman in Black scary.
As I watched the trailer a few times I began noticing little details I didn’t see before. That makes me want to watch the movie again. I also want to catch those moments of sadness and longing that might lead to deeper understanding of each character going through various stages of loss.
Fun, just a little scary, and a dash of emotional depth. Sounds like my favorite kind of scary movie,
Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Ocean’s Eight

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

I love a good caper movie.

I love it when everything works, bringing surprises in the end to a happy conclusion.

And when I first saw the trailer for Ocean’s Eight last year I knew I wanted to see it.

Sandra Bullock has gone from that slightly insecure but highly competent girl to someone in total control of her life. She is cooler than cool, even while walking down a New York city street with a simple ponytail on her head.

Her partner in crime is Cate Blanchette, a multi-award winning actress who is a night club owner that likes to water down her vodka.

After serving five years for a crime she alone did not commit, Debbie Ocean is looking for some money, something that will keep her happy for years to come.

Ocean needs help and soon that team is assembled from the most competent female masters of crime in NYC. And if they get a little more out of the deal than they bargained for, well, that’s all right.

This is a movie that is stylish and keen on the job they are about to complete. The women look great no matter what style of dress they employ.

As much as I liked this movie – and I really wanted to like it – there was something missing. These women were so good at what they do but there seemed to be missing some key chemistry. I didn’t buy all of the friendships. I didn’t feel enough camaraderie amongst the women. But nor did I see how some would not get along or their lives picked to death by their co-horts.

What worked was the pieces of the crime and how they all fell into place. That part was quite enjoyable as different characters began to shine, especially when faced with an arranged marriage. But it would have been great to see some of them, if not all, to have a more human touch.

In any case, my daughter and I really enjoyed this movie. At no point did either of us feel embarrassed by anything going on the screen. We have come across movies or TV show that we thought we would enjoy and it turned out we were both hugely embarrassed.

That wasn’t this movie. We really enjoyed it and I got a kick out of the soundtrack. There were jazz pieces, and classical bits that sounded fresh and revived. It is definitely a girl friend movie. But it also makes you think what would one plan for if they had five years to do it.

I hate using the word ‘revelation’ because it is a sloppy and lazy word. But that is what Sandra Bulock, in this role of a very thoughtful and confident woman. Sarah Paulsen also standouts as the woman who can organize anything. If she was real, I would pay her to organize my life.

Would I go see this movie again? Absolutely, because no woman or man can resist the charm of our characters as they pull of more that we expected while being exceedingly cool.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Thor: Ragnarok

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

Once I found out that Thor: Ragnarok was on video, I wanted to see it.

Thor RagnarokIt is no secret that I am a big fan of the Marvel comic series movies. I have seen most of them and love them. Each one fits into to the overall story line, with different issues being addressed specific to those characters.

But this one I knew was going to be different. It was reported that Chris Hemsworth wanted a different feel to this movie and I could understand why. Thor is a stoic character most of the time with a bit of fiery emotion that is hard to control. This can be hard to play all of the time.

In using new director Taiki Watiti, improvisation was the rule on set. Some of the lines came from suggestions from a fan who visited on set during a make-a-wish visit. Others came during the moment of filming. We have seen glimpses of humor throughout the past movies but here Hemsworth allows us to see a goofier and sometimes more honest version of Thor.

But there are other momentary glimpses of perfection. Such as when a Led Zepplin song is used for the final battle song. I giggled and screamed a little when I realized the legendary English band’s ode to Nordic myth set the scene for this important battle. I could have sworn Loki’s hair did a slow motion swoop during this scene, matching the musicality of the song.

The story is about Thor’s need to get home after being captured on a distant planet. He needs to beat the super opponent in order to be able to leave. And he must get back home to stop his older sister, that he never knew about, from destroying Asgard.

Thor and LokiWhile I love this series for developing characters and making us like them even more than before, never have I seen this group of actors mix the serious and the humorous so seamlessly. His description of the break-up with Jane is telling and funny and face-saving in one fell swoop.

But other characters, including Tom Hiddleston and Jeff Goldblum go for the humor as well, working in the subtleties of their characters as allowed. It is not a total wink at the camera but there is enough to let us know the actors are trying to have fun while dealing with the serious aspects of this movie.

There are plenty of sight gags and oops moments, physical humor and eye rolls that make us laugh. But there are also moments of emotional angst and personal introspection as characters decide who they really are as a soulful creature. There are always ethical issues to mull over in a Marvel comic book movie but here we get it mixed with humor.

Thor valkarie and helaCate Blanchette, Tessa Thompson and Rachel House are great as women warriors who fight with fury and their own sense of purpose or right and wrong. There are so many moments with these women that you just need to watch the whole movie to catch their wonderful moments that string along wonderful baubles into a beautiful necklace.

The essentials of the Marvel movie remains. But the differences make this movie worth the viewing. Who can resist The Immigrant Song by Led Zepplin during the major battle scene?

No one, I tell you, no one.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.