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Movie Review: Silver Linings Playbook

This Playbook Produces a Winner

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What happens when two mental patients get together? Sounds like the beginning of an old joke but Silver Linings Playbook is no joke.

Silver Linings Playbook is a sometimes disturbing and sometimes comical look into bi-polar, OCD, and other mental illnesses. Bradley Cooper’s character, Pat Solatano, Jr., has lost his wife, job, and house and is now living with his parents after spending 8 months in a mental institution because of a bi-polar outbreak. He nearly beat a man to death after finding him in the shower with his wife having sex to their wedding song.

His parents want him to settle into their living pattern and participate in their obsession with the Philadelphia Eagles which is accompanied with many OCD rituals. His father, played by Robert DeNiro, has lost everything betting on the Eagles and puts pressure on Pat to carry on the traditions of the game. Pat Sr. then parlays his bet and bets all he has in order to open a restaurant.

In the mean time Pat Jr. is trying to establish a new life for himself. He is invited to a friend’s house for dinner where he meets Tiffany, played by Jennifer Lawrence, who has her own problems. She is a young widow and a recovering sex addict. Both are a bit unconventional and lack the normal screening process most people have that prevents them from blurting out some inappropriate comments. And, speaking of inappropriate, Pat spends much of the movie dressed in a sweat suit and a trash bag.

The movie climaxes at a dance competition in which the novice couple, Pat and Tiffany, must win at least 5 out of 10 points in order to satisfy part of Pat Sr.’s bet.

This is a story of family and accepting one’s self and others no matter what life throws at us. It may not always go as planned but it usually has a silver lining.

The movie also has some powerfully emotional scenes played by Cooper, Lawrence, DeNiro, and Jacki Weaver as his mother. Silver Linings Playbook has been nominated for 8 Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director, and nominations for all four of the major actors—Bradley Cooper (leading male actor), Jennifer Lawrence (leading actress), Robert DeNiro (supporting actor), Jacki Weaver (supporting actress).

After seeing the movie I can understand why it has received so many nominations. The chemistry developed between Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, and Cooper and DeNiro is amazing.

Silver Linings Playbook is a good look at mental illness done with a touching and sometimes humorous hand. I give it a B+

Movie Review: The Quartet Makes Sweet Music

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If you think a retirement home is populated only with stodgy old biddy bodies just waiting to die, you haven’t seen the movie The Quartet.

The setting is Beecham House, a charity retirement home for musicians in England. It is a beautiful place and could easily be a neighbor of Downton Abbey. The mansion is alive with all kinds of music as the residents prepare for their annual fund raising event, the celebration of Giuseppe Verdi’s birthday.

We see enthusiastic rehearsals peppered with artistic differences, temperamental musicians, and the ever-present diva. Then the biggest diva of all arrives; the operatic soprano who never had less than 12 curtain calls, Jean Horton, played by the regal Maggie Smith. Smith has become an expert at displaying haughty disdain with a look and a few well-chosen words.

Ms. Horton’s arrival completes a long-time famous quartet who has been living contentedly at the home. Reginald or “Reg” is Ms. Horton’s ex-husband which automatically creates tension. Then we have “Cissy” who walks a fine line between reality and the other world and Wilfred or “Wilf” played by Scottish comedian Billy Connolly. Wilf is an aging playboy who says that, thankfully, he still has enough testosterone left to make life interesting.

Will the quartet get back together and reprise their roles? A lot more than the financial security of the home depends upon whether or not they will; they learn a lot about themselves along the way. You are never too old to live life and have a little fun.

This is actor Dustin Hoffman’s first directing effort and he nurtures his project into a flowering bouquet of colorful moments.

The Quartet is entertaining, beautiful, touching, poignant, and funny. It also has a few surprises at the end. I give it a B+

 

Movie Review on Video: Seven Psychopaths

You Do and You Die

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Seven Psychopaths is billed as a black comedy but the only thing comical about it is that it was ever made. The plot is confusing, complicated and convoluted and with more blood spilled and splattered than a butcher shop.

It is directed by Martin McDonagh and has its share of stardom in it including Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson, and Christopher Walken. It is one of the bloodiest and most gory films I have seen. I can tolerate gore if it has a good story behind it; but, here, I found no story. It was so disgusting that it is one of the few films I have refused to sit through to the end. Usually I see some redeeming factors but I couldn’t find any in Seven Psychopaths.

Although some of the professional critics have given it good reviews, in my opinion don’t waste your time or money.

I give it an F.

Ferris Wheels and Romance

Do you know what today is? If you said Valentine’s Day you are only half right. It is also the birthday of the inventor of the Ferris wheel—George W. Ferris.

It is interesting that the two are intertwined because I’m sure many romances began or advanced while riding ‘round and ‘round the giant Ferris wheel. The couple sits side by side on the bench of the Ferris wheel and the male uses the occasion to scoot a little closer and casually drape his arm around the female’s shoulder to steady her and console her as the seat tips making its journey around the giant wheel. Passion ensues.

George Washington Ferris designed the giant wheel for the main attraction of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. The Chicago promoters wanted something to outrival the Eiffel Tower of the 1889 Exposition. They wanted something “original, daring and unique.”  While Architect Daniel H. Burnham presented his search for the perfect project before an engineer’s banquet in 1891, Ferris sketched a design on a napkin during the dinner. When Ferris made his presentation before the design committee they feared the design was unsafe but when Ferris brought in testimony from well-respected engineers the committee approved the project.

The goal was to have a structure large enough to view the entire fair. Ferris claimed his Ferris wheel would “Out-Eiffel Eiffel.” And it was huge. The giant wheel was 250 ft. in diameter and 825 ft. in circumference. It was supported by two 140 ft. steel towers and run by two 1000 horsepower engines. Thirty-six cars held sixty riders each with a total capacity of 2,160. The ride made $726,805.50 on 50 cent tickets.

After the fair closed Ferris claimed the exhibition management had robbed him and his investors of their portion of the $750,000 profit. He spent the next two years in litigation.

Ferris died in 1896 at age 37 of typhoid fever. His ashes were unclaimed at a Pittsburgh crematorium due to non-payment until the engineering society stepped in to help.

To mark the dual occasion, Google Doodle is featuring a Ferris wheel love game which is like a roulette of animals—you never know what wild match you may find. I guess you could say that is the game of life.

Ferris-wheel

 

Google Doodle Mashup Spins Together George Ferris and Valentine’s Day

George Ferris interactive Google Doodle [HQ – YouTube

GEORGE FERRIS’s DAY OFF: To play today, Google Doodle marks 

www.washingtonpost.com/…/georgeferriss…/bcc8b37c-76c2-

 

A Valentine for You

Reprinted from www.homekeynotes.com. Written by my friend Anne Voight:

Hearts Pink & Black

LAUGH…..LIVE…..LOVE!

By Anne Voight

Love doesn’t bring money

but it gives so much in return…

Love accepts, believes, hopes

it’s watching children hug, giggle…

Noticing the elderly couple holding hands,

their eyes twinkling…

Love is a smile, a touch

to reassure, to support…

Love transforms, changes,

towards another or within…

Love is found in deeds, in helping

no matter how small the gesture…

Love says, slow down, look around and on this

Valentine’s Day, “have a heart”!

Be kind, gentle, hopeful and sing within…

Happy Valentine’s Day!!!

LAUGH…..LIVE…..LOVE!

 

(from Heartfelt Sentiments by Anne)

Hearts Pink & Black