Friday, May 17, 2019

Quote of the week


Movie Review: “Long Shot”


By Matt Pascarella

Rated: R
Running time: 125 minutes

Is the unlikely necessarily impossible? That is the underlying question in “Long Shot”, where two individuals with very different lifestyles fall for each other. The movie centers around journalist Fred Flarsky (Seth Rogen) and Secretary of State Charlotte Field (Charlize Theron). The two meet unexpectedly and it takes off from there.

The movie opens with Flarsky about to be inducted as the newest member of a white supremacist’s group. As initiation begins to progress a little quicker than Flarsky expected, it is discovered he is a journalist. He jumps out the window, falling several stories onto a car and then runs off.

Then we meet the Secretary of State, Charlotte Field, sitting with current United States President Chambers (Bob Odenkirk) who confides in her he will not be seeking reelection. Charlotte says it would mean a lot if President Chambers would endorse her; he agrees. Field expresses an interest in running in 2020 to her team, but the only thing that seems to matter to the people they polled are not Field’s policies, but how she looks doing her job.

Back at Fred’s office, his boss tells him the company has just been bought by a giant media conglomerate and things are going to change. Fred is so disgusted he quits right there on the spot. Fred goes over to his friend Lance’s (O’Shea Jackson Jr.) office and Lance takes Fred to a party that night. Charlotte happens to be at the same party.

Fred is nervous when he first sees Charlotte because she used to babysit him, and he used to have a crush on her. She remembers him and although Fred makes a big scene at the party, Charlotte asks if he would like to work for her, punching up her speeches. He agrees to do so.

Charlotte has embarked on a ‘save the planet’ initiative and will be travelling around the world to try to get countries to join the initiative. One of the first speeches Fred helps her write goes very well and she is impressed. As they spend more time together, Fred and Charlotte get to know each other more and eventually start to fall for one another.

Amidst things going well, President Chambers tells Charlotte she needs to ditch her environmental agenda if she wants his endorsement. Understandably, Charlotte isn’t happy and tells Fred "I don’t want to do this job anymore."

Meanwhile, Charlotte’s assistant, Maggie (June Diane Raphael), tells her that remaining involved with Fred will hurt her campaign. President Chambers and a big media conglomerate then blackmail Charlotte, threatening to expose footage taken from Fred’s webcam.

What will happen to Fred and Charlotte? What will Charlotte decide about her campaign?

Rogen and Theron have real on-screen chemistry. This motley pairing is a recipe for a good comedy. This movie is funny, with a great soundtrack and is, at times, heartwarming. I enjoyed it and would recommend it to any fan of Rogen, Theron or anyone just looking for a funny movie.







Friday, May 10, 2019

Quote of the week


Netflix’s ‘The Highwaymen’


By Matt Pascarella


Rated: NR
Runtime: 132 minutes

The year is 1934. Bonnie and Clyde are infamous and beloved by many in the country for their rebellion against the government and the banks. They are not loved by law enforcement who are seriously trying to catch and stop these unruly criminals before they cause more bloodshed.

Netflix’s ‘The Highwaymen’ tells the story of the most famous Texas Ranger, Frank Hamer (Kevin Costner) and his partner, Maney Gault (Woody Harrelson) as they come out of retirement to catch these dangerous lovers.

The movie opens at Eastham Prison Farm in Texas where we see several prisoners working in the fields. At another location, a car pulls up and a woman with a tommy gun gets out and stands waiting. Back at the prison farm, a prisoner pulls a gun on a guard and shoots him. Gunshots are heard in the distance, the woman with the tommy gun is firing rapidly. Prisoners scatter everywhere. Several prisoners make it to the location where the woman, later learned to be Bonnie Parker, is waiting and a few prisoners jump in her car as it speeds away.

The governor, Ma Ferguson (Katy Bates) is questioned by the media regarding the prison break. She vows to capture the Barrows Gang, along with Clyde Barrows and Bonnie Parker. The warden, Lee Simmons (John Carroll Lynch) recommends Frank Hamer (Costner) be put on the case. Simmons visits Hamer, who is unofficially retired, and asks for his help; Hamer agrees.

Gault (Harrelson) is unemployed and living on his daughter’s couch. When he gets wind of Hamer’s mission, he confronts him and asks to join; Hamer begrudgingly agrees. Although there is a lot of action and shootouts in this movie, there is a bit of humor, too. Hamer and Gault chase a boy who could lead to Bonnie and Clyde. When they fail to catch him, Hamer says, “I thought you had my back, I could have died!” Gault replies, “If he’d run one more block, we’d both be dead.”

Intermittently, you see Bonnie and Clyde travelling around, causing destruction.

Hamer and Gault get a tip at a gas station that Bonnie and Clyde came through there recently, driving a blue sedan with black tires. The Texas Rangers catch a glimpse of Bonnie and Clyde in the next town, when their car is swarmed by adoring fans. Hamer and Gault manage to follow Bonnie and Clyde and tail them out into the desert where, after a hot pursuit, the dangerous duo escape.

Frustrated, Gault wonders if maybe he and Hamer don’t have it in them anymore to catch the crime couple. Do they? Spoiler alert: The answer is in the tagline.

Although the story of Bonnie and Clyde is very well known, it was interesting to see it from the point of view of these crotchety Texas Rangers, who Costner and Harrelson portrayed very well. The two make a good team. ‘The Highwaymen’ has plenty of action, some comedy and is a little bloody in parts. While the film is over two hours long, it kept me interested. Although you probably know the ending, ‘The Highwaymen’ is worth the time.











Friday, May 3, 2019

Quote of the week


Movie Review: “Avengers: Endgame”


By Daniel Kilgallon

Rated: PG-13

Runtime: 181 mins

I have been able to witness some monumental movie releases in my lifetime, but “Avengers: Endgame” is an event that simply steamrolls the rest. This film did something which has never been achieved before in concluding a shared universe of 22 major motion pictures, now called “The Infinity Saga,” which began with 2008’s “Iron Man”. Needless to say, “Endgame” holds a tremendous amount of cultural weight as legions of fans have quite literally and figuratively invested in these characters over the course of the last 11 years.

Financially, the movie surpassed all expectations, earning an astounding $1.2 billion in its’ opening weekend at the global box office. This shatters a record of $640.5 million previously held by its’ 2018 predecessor, “Avengers: Infinity War” (BoxOfficeMojo). While this is an impressive accomplishment, I am happy to say that I was equally stunned by the unpredictable story at the heart of this film.

Following the downfall of the universe caused by Thanos (Josh Brolin) at the end of “Infinity War”, the remaining Avengers must figure out a way to reverse his catastrophic actions in “Endgame”. 

Keeping in mind that some people may have missed the opportunity to experience the movie on opening weekend due to sold out theaters, I have decided to provide no further plot details here; watch out for a spoiler review in the near future!

From the opening frames, “Endgame” did an outstanding job of creating a feeling of absolute hopelessness again and again throughout the lengthy run time. By bringing the beloved heroes to new lows in this grim manner, the climatic actions of the story were made that much more powerful as various plots reached long awaited conclusions. Somehow, the abundance of character building was just as riveting as the fight scenes here and there were several truly heartbreaking moments in the film.

“Endgame” is even more dramatic than its’ predecessor, but every bit of character building made the last act of the movie that much more rewarding. To no surprise, directors Anthony and Joe Russo delivered a grand finale battle sequence which redefined just how epic a film can be. “Endgame” did justice to our favorite heroes while providing plenty of visually stunning superhero smackdowns - we just can’t seem get enough of them. From my interpretation this movie’s greatest accomplishment is maintaining a constant sense of urgency while delivering a groundbreaking epic that is full of surprises; “Endgame” is a must see.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Book Review: Elsey Come Home by Susan Conley


Reviewed by Jennifer Dupree, Circulations Supervisor at Windham Public Library

Full disclosure: Susan Conley is one of my writing mentors, and I have a lot of respect and admiration for her. That said, I wouldn’t say I liked a book unless I truly liked it, and I loved “Elsey Come Home”.

This is a quiet, gently emotional book about a woman living in China with her family and struggling with how to be a wife, mother, and artist. As the novel opens, Elsey’s husband, Lukas, suggests she needs help for her excessive drinking, and he urges her to attend a retreat in the mountains of China. Elsey does, and there she meets others who are at the retreat for their own reasons. Elsey stops drinking and the story becomes even more reflective.

Conley weaves Elsey’s present with her past. We learn about her sister’s childhood death and Elsey’s early life as a painter. We feel the pressure she feels, the sadness when she doesn’t live up to her own expectations. Elsey returns home sober but unsettled from the retreat.

This is a novel about place, about how we define “home.” For Elsey, home is Maine where she was raised, and home is China where she has lived for several years. But, ultimately, home for Elsey is her husband and two daughters, which is I think what resonates the most with me. Home is more people than place.   

Friday, April 19, 2019

Movie Review: "Shazam!"


By Daniel Kilgallon

Rated: PG
Runtime: 132 mins

“Shazam!” follows 2018’s “Aquaman” as the seventh entry of the DC Extended Universe (DCEU). The movie is directed by David F. Sandberg and stars Asher Angel, Zachary Levi, and Mark Strong. 

While this comic book franchise has lacked true cohesion thus far, I think that writers are starting to effectively construct a lighthearted, goofier brand of what has become an overwhelmingly popular film genre. If these great characters continue being brought to life like this in upcoming installments, I believe that the cinematic universe has enormous potential. “Shazam!” will most certainly be overshadowed by the upcoming release of “Avengers: Endgame” in a few weeks, but I must say this movie was much more unique than the “Deadpool” ripoff I was somewhat expecting.

“Shazam!” has an interesting premise in which a fourteen-year-old foster child named Billy Batson (Asher Angel) is granted magical powers after encountering an ancient wizard named “Shazam!” (Djimon Hounsou). The wizard selects Billy as his new champion, so whenever Billy says the word “Shazam!” he turns into an adult superhero (Zachary Levi). While he possesses superpowers such as strength, speed, and flight, the “grown-up” superhero still has Billy’s teenage mind. Billy explores his abilities all while adapting to a new foster family, and soon discovers that an enemy named Dr. Thaddeus Sivana (Mark Strong), has also acquired magic capabilities and is after him.

While the “fish out of water” nature of this story could have made for a boring, familiar movie, “Shazam!” turned out to be a far fresher film than I anticipated. Billy finds himself caught up in several uncomfortable, hilarious scenarios which he handles as one may expect of a rebel adolescent. 

The comedy shines brightest when Billy is discovering his powers; Zachary Levi really did an excellent job of making the adult version of this character both amusing and relatable in these moments.

Needless to say, “Shazam!” is primarily a lighthearted movie, but the profound family element at the center of this story excludes this from strictly being a comedy. There are positive messages to be found in the film and I really liked the way the writers naturally worked this into a very hilarious movie. In addition to that, there were quite a few connections to other DCEU films and this may be the first time that this world building didn’t seem forced into the story. All things considered, I was genuinely surprised by how fresh “Shazam!” was and I would recommend the movie to superhero lovers and families alike.



Friday, April 12, 2019

Quote of the week


Book Review: “Before you suffocate your own fool self” by author, Danielle Evans


Reviewed by Jennifer Dupree, Circulations Supervisor at the Windham Public Library

Perhaps it will show my privilege when I say that this book made me see the world in ways I hadn’t before. Evans’ stories center around young, smart black women. Every story revealed a little something I hadn’t thought about because I hadn’t had to. And yet, the stories are delivered gently, like chats between college friends. The voice in these stories is deeply engaging, personal, honest.

Two stories in particular moved me. In the first, Angel and Laura share an apartment and are friends until Laura, who is white, begins selling her eggs in order to finance her designer wardrobe. Angel, who is black, can’t. She says, “If they had wanted black babies…they would have just adopted.”

The second story that made me catch my breath was the last one, in which two high school cheerleaders, one white and one black, discuss playing a prank on the school. The white girl sees it as just a way to have fun, but the black girl objects. She says white kids play pranks, black kids get felonies.

If it sounds like this collection is too preachy, it isn’t. These are some of the best stories I’ve read in a long time. They are funny, poignant, open, and yes, provocative. These are stories of characters who get in over their heads, love fiercely, try hard and sometimes fail hard. Stories everyone can relate to, in other words.



Friday, April 5, 2019

Quote of the week


Movie Review: “Us”


By Matt Pascarella

Rated: R

The movie begins with a foreword. "There are thousands of miles of tunnels beneath the United States. Abandoned subway systems, unused service routes, and deserted mine shafts. Many have no known purpose at all."

“Us” centers around Adelaide Wilson (Lupita Nyong’o), who, as a child, wanders away from her parents during a carnival. She enters a hall of mirrors where she sees a girl that looks exactly like her. This experience is very traumatic for Adelaide and creates a fear of the ocean.

As an adult, Adelaide is headed to her family’s summer cabin with her husband, Gabe (Winston Duke), her daughter, Zora (Shahadi Wright Joseph), and her son, Jason (Evan Alex). We see Adelaide having flashbacks to that day at the carnival and a therapist explaining she might have post-traumatic stress disorder.

One day her husband asks if she’d like to go to the beach. At first she refuses, then eventually agrees. On their way to the beach, they see a man being put into an ambulance. Jason, the youngest, later sees what appears to be this man standing on the beach.

Upon returning home from the beach, Adelaide tells Gabe about the hall of mirrors incident. Suddenly, the power goes out. A family appears at the top of their driveway, wearing red jumpsuits. Gabe confronts them, but they just stand there. The red jump-suited family begins approaching the house and you hear glass breaking and a loud banging as they try to enter the home.

When the two families meet each other, Jason announces, “it’s us.” The doppelganger of Adelaide tells the story of a girl with a shadow (seemingly the evil Adelaide) and how the one girl got everything, and the shadow got very little.

The evil doppelganger family attacks each respective member of Adelaide’s family who must fight for their lives. What follows are several tense and stressful scenes with various unsettling moments and a few surprises.

Adelaide and her family soon discover that it’s not just them who have evil doppelgangers. They see a news report where people wearing red jumpsuits holding scissors are attacking people. The camera pans over to red jump-suited members hand in hand, forming a wall.

“They think like us and they know where we are,” observes Adelaide and the family decides to keep moving. Who will survive? Who are these evil doppelgangers?

The actions of the characters coupled with ominous music is tense and gets your heart pumping. While large parts of this movie are upsetting, there is some humor sprinkled in, which helps undercut the seriousness of the plot. There are multiple metaphors and much symbolism throughout the movie. To mention a few, 11:11 is a theme, bunnies are seen throughout as well as the mention of tethered and untethered people.

This is a fantastic horror movie that leaves you wanting more in the final scenes. I saw this film multiple times and missed the great twist at the end the first time. I would highly recommend seeing this in the theater. A+++



Friday, March 29, 2019

Quote of the week


Movie Review of "Captain Marvel"


By Kaila Mank

Rated:  PG-13

From a Marvel movie lover perspective, “Captain Marvel”, directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, was a very well put together addition to the Avengers movie series.

This is a 2019 American superhero film that was released on March 8th and is based on the Marvel Comics character, Carol Danvers (Vers/Captain Marvel), who was played by Brie Larson.

Briefly, the plot summary for this movie is explained by IMBd as, “Carol Danvers becomes one of the universe's most powerful heroes when Earth is caught in the middle of a galactic war between two alien races.After crashing an experimental aircraft, Air Force pilot Carol Danvers is discovered by the Kree and trained as a member of the elite Starforce Military under the command of her mentor Yon-Rogg.  Six years later, after escaping to Earth while under attack by the Skrulls, Danvers begins to discover there's more to her past. With help from S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Nick Fury (played by Samuel L. Jackson), they set out to unravel the truth.”

She escapes to planet C-53 where she uncovers more about her past. She does this while trying to harness her unique superpowers to end the war with what she thought were evil Skrulls.

When I first heard about this movie, I was not entirely sure what to expect. The trailer made it seem like they were going to be adding a character to what was already a fantastic Marvel cast.

Watching the movie gave me a completely different perspective. Somehow, Boden and Ryan managed to pull ideas from the original movies, such as “Ironman” and “Thor”, to make the movie seem familiar but also fresh.

If you have seen the rest of the Marvel movies, it will make sense to you that this movie took place as if it was the first Marvel movie. The directors of Captain Marvel followed their storyline very carefully from previous movies to fill in missing details that left many wondering in the past. From what this movie brought, I have high hopes and am excited for the upcoming film Avengers: End Game, which is due to be released on April 26, 2019.





Friday, March 22, 2019

Quote of the week


Table Top Game Reviews


By Lorraine Glowczak

Unlike the past, being a nerd is considered hip and indicates a certain level of intelligence. So much so, that there is even a popular game show where self-proclaimed nerds proudly gather together to display their intellect and ingenuity. “Table Top”, which is a web series and can also be seen on the TBD network is a series in which individuals play a wide range of hobby gaming titles, from classic German-style board games and family games to RPGs and card games.

Due to the popularity of table top games such as these, we thought we’d give you a break from the movie reviews and review a few of our favorite games. They are as follows and are in no certain order:

*“Mysterium” is a co-op game of ghosts, murder and hilarious incompetence, in that order. All but one player is a psychic spending the night in a horrid house where a killing took place. The final player, who may not speak, is a ghost sending everyone else horrible dreams. The ghost must guide the psychics to the correct murder weapon, crime scene and culprit before the week is over, or… well, I’m not sure. Maybe the psychics have concert tickets. It doesn’t matter, and you won’t care. You’ll be laughing too much and thinking too hard. (review by shutupandsitdown.com).

*In “Welcome to the Dungeon”, players are competing to be the first to negotiate a dungeon on two successful occasions, or to be the last player standing if all other players have two unsuccessful dungeon delves. Seems simple enough, but the twists are that:

Players only know a certain amount each about what the dungeon contains.
Players don’t choose to attempt the dungeon, they choose not to, so one player will be the last remaining and will have to enter on their own.
Players don’t even have their own adventurer - one is shared between players and only belongs to a player when they have to enter the dungeon.
So, this is a game about doing what you can with a limited amount of information, resulting in a lot of second guessing, clever bluffing, and a fair bit of luck. (review by board-game.co.uk)

*In “Dixit”, Everyone is given a hand of six picture cards, and the scoreboard is laid upon the table. The candles are lit, and the sounds of the woods Spotify playlist starts to play. Finally, and most importantly every player receives a cute bunny meeple to track their score. Now, it’s time to listen.

Each turn, one player, in a puff of smoke, transforms into the ‘Story Teller.’ They pick a card, any card, and create a wonderous tale about it. Relaying to the other players through a tapestry of words, a melodious humming, or an unintelligible series of grunts or Trump tweets.

Players listen, ingesting every word, and when silence finally overcomes the Story Teller they each repay the entertainer with a card. Not just any card, but the one that they best believe fits the constructed fiction. The Story Teller collects the cards, then with all the deviousness of a caravan of carnies, they shuffle and place them against the scoreboard, numbering them from one to twelve.

Each player chooses the card they think is the Story Teller’s. After everyone has locked in their vote, there can be no changes. Only then can the Story Teller reveal their card, and the scoring begins.

Because it’s easy to learn rules, and casualness, you can pull it out with your family and have a great time. Then the next night, you can pull it out with your adult friends and watch the game turn not safe for work in a heartbeat. It’s an all-purpose game, and one that I’ve had some of my best gaming memories with.  (boardgamegeek.com).


Friday, March 15, 2019

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Movie Review; “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”


By Matt Pascarella

PG-13

Whether you have kids, or you were a kid, you’ve probably seen “Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood”. It was a regular for my brother and I in the early 1990s so I thought it would be fun to see “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”, a documentary release in 2018 that talks about the children’s television star through interviews with cast members, guests, friends and family.

The documentary begins with early footage of Rogers on what would later become “Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood”. Rogers was all set to go into seminary and become a minister after college but decided to go into this ‘new’ medium called television. Rogers was a quiet, kind man who felt it was a responsibility of his to use the mass media, “to help children through some of the difficult modulations of life.” He believed television was a tool and he wanted his focus to be with children.
A resident of Pennsylvania, he started a show out of WQED Pittsburgh called “The Children’s Corner”, which later evolved into “Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood”. Children liked Rogers immediately. His son, Jim Rogers, said his dad’s inner child never went away; this made it easier for Fred Rogers to interact and relate to children.

Early on, Rogers found television hard, but it got easier when he created characters like Daniel Tiger by accident, when he put a puppet through a paper clock and began talking in a high voice.
This documentary features personal stories of interactions between Rogers and children and demonstrates how welcoming and accepting both sides were towards each other.

In 1968, the “Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood” aired its first episode. Each episode had a message and aimed to teach a lesson, even if the lesson was a tough one. Some of the subjects talked about were divorce, children getting lost, segregation and death.

When President Nixon wanted to cut funding to PBS, Rogers argued before the US Senate for $20 million and won. After this, Fred Rogers and “Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood” really took off. Rogers even tried a start a different show where he interacted with adults, but it didn’t go as well as “Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood.”

Friends and co-workers talk about Rogers personality and say he was the same on TV as he was in real life. He was someone who was truly about acceptance, kindness and love.

At his final commencement address to Dartmouth College, Rogers defined ‘you are special’ as you don’t have to do anything sensational for people to love you.

It was said in the documentary that Rogers never forgot how vulnerable it was to be a kid.
“Children have deep feelings, just like everybody does. Our striving to understand those feelings and better respond to them is the most important task in the world.”

This was a mildly interesting film and brought back nostalgia, as someone who watched the show as a child. However, there was more than one part where it dragged on and was boring. I felt, the entire documentary a little on the long side. While Fred Rogers was an amazing person, this documentary was only ok. If you really liked “Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood” and are interested in learning about Fred Rogers, I’d recommend it. If not, this documentary probably isn’t for you.












Friday, March 1, 2019

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Movie Review: “Roma”


By Lorraine Glowczak

Rated: R

I had no clue while watching “Roma” on Netflix over a month ago, during a winter Sunday afternoon laziness, that I was observing a film that would win the Oscars in the categories of Cinematography, Foreign Language Film and Best Director in this past Sunday’s Oscar Awards Ceremony.

I was simply fascinated by the plot and, from my perspective, a realistic story. Afterall, I have a cleaning business on the side, and I could identify with much that occurred throughout the film. 

Writers (and other artists) who follow their calling must do what they do to support their creative mission in life and, although this wasn’t a story about creativity, it was a story about serving those who live life through wealth and how that family of advantage, relies upon those they hire to serve them in a beautiful way.

It’s true that Netflix’s film “Roma” lost the Best Picture Award to “Green Book” but according to theverge.com, “….it made history in other ways. It’s the first Mexican submission for Best Foreign Language Feature to win in the category. And its Best Cinematography win for director Alfonso Cuarón (who also took Best Director) marked the first time in history that a director simultaneously won the Oscar in the cinematography category.

“Roma” is set in Mexico City in the early 1970s. It centers on a young indigenous woman who works as a maid for a middle-class white family that’s falling apart. As is the custom in this neighborhood, everyone lives behind locked gates and they all hire maids, cooks and drivers who are actually the people who keep homes running. In one such house, Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio) lives with and works for this family that scarcely seems capable of doing anything without her. In the morning, she wakes the children; at night, she puts them to bed. From each dawn and until long after dusk, she tends to the family and its sprawling two-story house. She serves meals, cleans away dog droppings and carries laundry up to the roof, where she does the wash in view of other maids on other roofs with their own heavy loads.

But that’s just the beginning. Cleo becomes pregnant and is not sure how to proceed, the husband of the family she works for is having an affair, and someone in the family almost drowns if it weren’t for Cleo saving them – despite her fear of water.

According to movie reviewer, Owen Glieberman, “Cleo is the central figure of “Roma,” yet for most of the film she barely says a word. She’s stoic and dutiful, with a wide face that suggests a statue of humble rectitude, and the fact that she loves this family as her own is presented without question. 

Speaking in her native Mixtec, Aparacio, a non-professional actress, makes Cleo a doleful earth mother with a deep presence, a kind of working-class saint — and, tellingly, a woman with problems she feels compelled to weather without protest.”

Go to Netflix - turn on your subtitles and watch “Roma”. And perhaps learn a little about those we believe as living a life - who have, by social standards, plenty and are the envy of most. However, they are far from advantaged in a non-physical sense, and don’t know it. Because they have what is most important in their life – Cleo.


Friday, February 22, 2019

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Movie Review of “42”

By Lorraine Glowczak

Rated: PG-13

In honor of Black History Month, the Windham Public Library has been showing films the past couple of Friday evenings about the challenges faced by African Americans in our history. The films included, “A Raisin in the Sun” and “Selma”. Today, Friday, February 22; the library will present the last of their black history evening films with the 2013 movie, “42”.

Before I go any further with this review, I must admit – I haven’t seen this film yet. Yes, even I think it may be strange to review a film you haven’t had a chance to watch. But I thought I would grab reviews from others who have enjoyed (or perhaps not enjoyed) the film and share it with you in the event you have Friday evening free and wish to watch a free movie with your family or friends.

The synopsis of the film, “42”, goes something like this: “In 1946, Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford), legendary manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, defies major league baseball's notorious color barrier by signing Jackie Robinson (Chadwick Boseman) to the team. The heroic act puts both Rickey and Robinson in the firing line of the public, the press and other players. Facing open racism from all sides, Robinson demonstrates true courage and admirable restraint by not reacting in kind and lets his undeniable talent silence the critics for him.”

According to Mick LaSalle who wrote a review for Rotten Tomatoes: “Appealing as drama, the movie is also an enticing trip back in time. The world of 1947, when Robinson became the first black player in major league baseball, may have been a nightmare in terms of social justice, but the fabric of the suits, the gleam of the cars and even the old-fashioned fonts on the street signs make us want to linger there. Watching it is like inhabiting a late-'40s technicolor travel short. "42" - named after the number on Robinson's jersey - is beautiful just to look at it.”

Roger Ebert had this to say: “If you were offended by the supposedly profligate use of the n-word in “Django Unchained,” it stands to reason you’ll be outraged by a scene in “42” in which Philadelphia Phillies manager Ben Chapman climbs out of the dugout and spews cruel racist epithets at Brooklyn Dodgers rookie Jackie Robinson.

You can see the pain and rage on Robinson’s face as he tries to concentrate on his at-bat, knowing if he goes after Chapman, the headlines won’t be about the hateful manager — they’ll be about the first black player in the major leagues ‘attacking’ the opposition.”

Ebert also stated that “42” is a valuable film — a long overdue, serious big-screen biopic about one of the most important American pioneers of the 20th century.

O.E Scott wrote in the New York Times: “After a clumsy and didactic beginning — in which every scene ends with Mark Isham’s score screaming “This Is Important!” in Dolby — the movie settles into a solid, square rhythm. By then we have met Robinson, played with sly charm and a hint of stubborn prickliness by Chadwick Boseman.”

If my Friday night opens up and is free, I’ll be at the Windham Public Library at 5:30 p.m. to enjoy “42” and learn a bit about history. Join me, won’t you?




Friday, February 15, 2019

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Movie Review of “Widows”


By Ben Parrott

Rated: R

I love anything directed by Steve McQueen, so last Friday night I couldn’t help myself when I passed the RedBox at Hannaford and realized “Widows” was available to rent. This movie is available on Redbox at most locations in the Southern Maine area.

“Widows” is a 2018 heist film and it stars popular actors such as Colin Farrell, Robert Duvall, and Liam Neeson. The plot follows a group of women who attempt a heist in order to pay back a crime boss after their criminal husbands are killed on a botched job.

The plot goes something like this: Harry Rawlings (Liam Neeson), a renowned thief, is killed alongside his partners Carlos (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo), Florek (Jon Bernthal), and Jimmy (Coburn Goss) during a botched robbery. His widow, Veronica (Viola Davis), is threatened by crime boss Jamal Manning (Brian Tyree Henry), from whom Harry and his partners robbed $2 million. Jamal needs the money to finance his electoral campaign for alderman of a South Side ward, where he is running against Jack Mulligan (Colin Farrell), the next-in-line of the racist Mulligan political family who have historically dominated the alderman position.

Basically, “Widows” is a heist movie that contains mayhem and a plot that contains too many twists and turns to count. It also contains grief, dread and desperation rather than the more popular movie themes of greed, ambition and rebellion.

“Widows” gives this world not only what it needs, but also what a lot of people are looking for in today’s culture and that is a film based around a group of strong and independent women. Veronica, Linda, and Alice, once dependent on their husbands, must take matters into their own hands in order to clean up the mess left by their spouses, reclaiming their independence. They are joined by single mother and Linda’s babysitter Belle. Together they attempt to complete what would have been their husbands’ next job in order to pay their debt and move on with their lives.

The filmmakers don’t really care about the money, politics, or strict rules.

According to other reviews, “a viewer expecting a jaunty fable of female empowerment along the lines of “Ocean’s 8” is likely to be nonplussed by the abstraction and melancholy of this film. But those are also its most surprising and interesting traits. It may lack the energy for fun, but at least it has the nerve to be sad.”

My perspective is that the film breaks the norm of what it means to make a heist film and rather than the fun and more light-hearted nature of the “Ocean’s” franchise, “Widows” is a serious film full of suspense. It deals with racism, corruption in politics, crime and the lengths a person will go to in order to save themselves and especially their reputation. A fair warning goes out to the faint of heart as this film is quite graphic and frightening, however, Director Steve McQueen does a phenomenal job of keeping it tasteful and sophisticated in this piece auteur cinema.














Friday, February 8, 2019

Quote of the week


Netflix Movie Review of “The Bill Murray Stories: Life Lessons Learned from a Mythical Man”

By Matt Pascarella

Rated: TV-MA

He’s very well known. From Dr. Peter Venkman to Carl Spackler to Mr. Bishop, Bill Murray has been all over the film and even some of the television screen. In this documentary, director Tommy Avallone discusses the famous Bill Murray stories - strange encounters with the actor in everyday life.

Murray started on “Saturday Night Live” (SNL) in 1976. He came from the Second City Improv group and after his success on SNL, his movie career began to soar.  “Caddyshack”, “Ghostbusters”, “Lost in Translation” and “Life Aquatic” are just to a few of the movies that are a household name.
The documentary begins with various people describing stories they’ve heard or experienced in which there is an encounter with Murray. Stories that include: A wedding photographer recounts meeting Murray while taking a couple’s engagement photos, or when Murray crashed a house party, where he danced and was the DJ. He also stopped by a bar and was bartender for a night, just out of nowhere.

He is slightly compared to Bigfoot in this documentary, but Murray has been spotted more times than Bigfoot and everyone is very accepting of these random Murray appearances. One person stated, “he has the power to make other people have an amazing experience.” He doesn’t make a big deal about himself, he’s just there to have fun and live in the moment, which is a big part of Murray’s lifestyle.
The documentary continues with more Murray appearances, some standard, like a Comic Con presence, others weirder, like randomly joining a kickball game. One of the funnier things he has said during these unplanned appearances is “no one will ever believe you,” which is true, unless you have proof.

Murray’s random presences aren’t just only wild experiences that happen out of nowhere. There are lessons that he inadvertently teaches to these unsuspecting individuals. He is about having a good time, the documentary explains. A theme in many of Murray’s movies and himself is ‘it doesn’t matter’ it’ll all even out in the end; a ‘roll with the punches’ attitude.

Individuals who have had encounters with Murray say he connects with people on a very human level. When he shows up at a party, he’s not there to perform or show off his celebrity, he’s there to just hang out and get to know people, to create a moment that people will doubt really happened, even after it happened. He is such a famous person, but he still finds the time for people. He removes the barrier between celebrity and regular person. I’ll admit, watching this made me want to meet Bill Murray.

This was an interesting documentary about an interesting guy. If you are a Bill Murray fan, I’d recommend it. If you’re just looking for something to watch, this is probably not for you as it airs a little on the slow side. While Bill Murray has made appearances all over the world, it made me ask the question, could Bill Murray appear right here in Windham, Maine? You never know.


Friday, February 1, 2019

Movie Review: “The Details"

By Lorraine Glowczak

Rated: R

I love quirky movies and I especially love the quirky Toby Maguire so I couldn’t resist watching “The Details”. Although dark comedies are not my usual go-to films, I was willing to give this Netflix movie, directed Jacob Aaron Estes, a try.

Briefly, Jeff Lang (Tobey Maguire) and wife Nealy (Elizabeth Banks) are a young Seattle couple with a two-year-old son. Jeff is an OBGYN and Nealy owns - what I think might be a small floral shop, but this is unclear. Considering a second child, they decide to enlarge their small home and also lay expensive new grass in their backyard. But there are worms in the grass and so raccoons regularly destroy it by uprooting the lawn on a nightly basis. Jeff goes to great lengths (it becomes more of an obsession) to get rid of the raccoons, including mixing poison with a can of tuna. Soon after, their neighbor Lila (Laura Linney), an older, lonely, cat woman, visits Jeff and reports that her cat Matthew, is missing. Jeff not yet realizing the connection, hopes Matthew will turn up safe.

The Toyota Prius driving Langs appear to live the idyllic suburbia life, but all is not what it seems. Ten years into their relationship, the spark of youthful love has subsided, and Jeff looks elsewhere to fill in the missing gaps and to reignite passion. He does so with a tryst with a former medical school classmate, Becca (Kerry Washington), who is married to Peter (Ray Liotta).  When Peter finds out, he blackmails Jeff in a roundabout way, and this is when things begin to fall apart – “uprooting” a seemingly perfect life. It doesn’t seem Jeff has learned his lesson because he also slips into a rendezvous with Lila.

Feeling down and unfilled, Jeff decides to donate an organ to a basketball friend, Lincoln (Dennis Haysbert), who is slowly dying and as a result of the donation, saves Lincoln’s life. One would think everything would turn around and become better for everyone at this point, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.

“The Details” is likely one of the most bizarre, absurd films I’ve ever seen. As one movie reviewer put it, “the movie plays like a demented fairy tale, replete with butterflies, rainbows and cross-bows.”
All the acting was superb – especially Laura Linney’s performance. Her execution of the eclectic, 1960s throwback, crazy neighbor is worthy of an Oscar. As for Maguire, he still seems like the unpopular teenage kid named Peter who was bit by a spider in the popular “Spider Man” series and I simply couldn’t get past that image. Maguire’s role as a husband and doctor was not a good fit for him.

Although considered a comedy, I never laughed once. The film was way too bizarre for me to find any humor in it. With that being said, I do believe it is worth the time spent to dive into something a little strange from time to time and watching “The Details” might be a good “stretch beyond your comfort zone” movie. It certainly is for those who are into watching peculiar films. It is not, however, a movie for the whole family. Adults only.








Quote of the week - Black History Month


Friday, January 25, 2019

Quote of the week


Movie Review: “And Breathe Normally”


Reviewed by Lorraine Glowczak

Not Rated*

On cold and lazy Sunday afternoons, almost nothing can take me away from staying at home and watching a movie on Netflix. However, since I do enjoy foreign films from time to time (which requires you to read subtitles), I was willing to give up a bit of my laziness and dive into “And Breathe Normally,” a movie set in Iceland and spoken in the Icelandic language.

The film which won the World Cinema Dramatic Directing Award, is described on Rotten Tomatoes: “At the edge of Iceland's Reykjanes peninsula, two women's lives intersect--for a brief moment--while being trapped by unforeseen circumstances. Between a struggling single Icelandic mother, and a political asylum seeker from Africa, an intimate bond forms as both fight to get their lives back on track.”

Kristín Thóra Haraldsdóttir, stars as Lara, the young, single, proud and tattooed mother who struggles financially to raise and create a happy life for her young and accommodating son, Eldar, played by Patrik Nökkvi Pétursson. In the film we learn, in very subtle ways, that Lara once had a drug problem and is tested to slip from sobriety, she did not always have custody of her son, and her mother lives in Norway – making it difficult for her to reach out for help.

Once she is hired as a border security guard trainee at Iceland’s main airport, Keflavík, the viewer heaves a sigh of relief for the main character, believing her financial woes will be behind her. But her debt is too deep. She tells Eldar, as they are packing their few possessions, “we are going on an adventure.” The adventure is homelessness.

In comes the political asylum seeker, played by Babetida Sadjo. Here, the heart wrenching, emotionally conflicting – and yet caring, intertwining adventure begins.

“And Breath Normally” was the most moving foreign film I’ve seen in a while – but it did defie my perceptions of an Iceland full of beautiful scenery as the background setting is always grim and desolate looking. But, I suspect that was intentional - to set the tone of the film.

George Fenwick of the New Zealand Herald described perfectly, my thoughts on the film: “Director Isold Uggadottir manages to keep the narrative away from melodrama or over-sentimentality. Her direction keeps a careful distance but is forgiving and empathetic to her struggling characters.”
If you are up to reading subtitles and enjoy the complexity that comes with no easy answers, then I suggest you give this film a go.

*Although this film is not yet rated, I suspect it would be considered rated R under American standards. There is one sexual scene and a few mature themes that may not be appropriate for children.