Category Archives: Movies

Moana would make Walt Disney proud.

With nothing better to do on Black Friday (I don’t do Christmas), I treated my child self to a kidmoana flick – Moana. It would have made Walt Disney, the master of animation, proud as punch. The vibrant, saturated colors were all there. The fluid motion characteristic of masterpieces like Cinderella and Fantasia made you feel like you were on a magic carpet ride.  The music by Lin- Manuel Miranda of “Hamilton” fame was memorably beautiful.  With a story line that truly projected girl power, this feature-film-length movie made a powerful point of letting little girls know their potential is limitless.

Moana is a two-Kleenex movie. One is for some of the poignant scenes that will bring a tear to all but the hardest of hearts. The other is for the laugh-out-loud comedic scenes that had me rolling in the aisle. Although a good deal of the story line, the pathos and the humor might certainly be lost on the youngest audiences, it certainly is enjoyable fare for the child-like adult.

With so many adult films to choose from this holiday season, one might wonder why I chose an animated feature. In my day they were called cartoons  and I have always loved Disney cartoons. They had a simple premises — good triumphs over evil — someone gets lost then gets found — hardships are always overcome — love conquers all. They are beautiful to watch, sort of like watching fish in an aquarium. There is never any need to search for deeper meaning. They envelop me like a warm, fuzzy blanket.

Moana embraces Disney’s best, more so that any other modern-day animated feature I have seen. It is a treat for all the senses. There is need to wast your money on the 3D version. Disney films of old did not rely on 3D for effect, and it cannot add anything more to this magnificently created masterpiece. 

If nostalgia beckons you during the holidays and you want a taste of things past and your childhood memories included Disney’s Bambi, Pinocchio, Dumbo, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Alice in Wonderland among others, then by all means go and see Moana. You will not be disappointed.




Living Room Theaters – Just Like Home

There’s nothing like sitting down in a comfy chair with a big bowl of popcorn and a cold beer, throwing your feet up onto an ottoman, and relaxing to watch a movie. At Living Room Theaters you can do just that. Even better, you can order a full meal if you prefer or a glass of wine or a cocktail – whatever is on their menu. They have particularly good sweet potato fries.

I love the movies, and I love to go to the cinema where somehow the experience is a whole lot better than watching on my 50″ TV screen. Living Room Theaters is one of my favorite movie houses. The price is right – a big savings over Regal Cinemas. The movie offerings are more often indie and foreign films that you won’t ever get to see at the big chain theaters. The food is moderately priced and quite tasty and the drinks won’t break the bank either.

Six very intimate theaters provide comfortable seating where you can enjoy  top-rated films. Some seats even have those ottomans to put your feet upon. It’s about as close to home as you can get without paying an arm and a leg. The movie screens aren’t as large as at the major movie houses, but they befit the size of the venue. All of the auditoriums feature 5.1 sound and either 2K or 1080p HD digital projection.

A large part Living Room Theaters’ appeal is the bar/lounge where you can relax before or afterliving room theater bar-lounge a movie. Friday and Saturday evenings beginning at 8pm until midnight, there are live music performances. How perfect can it be? Have a bite to eat and a glass of wine during the movie. Enjoy a liqueur or Irish coffee and live music afterward.

There is another Living Room Theater in Boca Raton, FL. I don’t quite understand the two disparate locations, but I’m forever grateful that the owners chose Portland as well.


Fantastic Captain Fantastic

Thumbs Up For Captain FantasticViggo Mortensen isn’t the first person that comes to mind to play the character of Captain Fantastic until you realize that Captain Fantastic isn’t a Marvel Comics super hero. In fact, the somber, brooding Danish actor is every bit the perfect part for Ben, the patriarch of a brood of six siblings being raised in the Pacific Northwest wilderness. (Much of the movie was filmed in the State of Washington.)

The three boys and three girls, ranging in ages from about five to eighteen, are all adept at, among other things, hunting, rock climbing, spear fishing, languages, literature, science, history, and above all, fending for themselves. Although the plot is somewhat predictable, the acting is outstanding, especially that of the youngsters. I am always amazed that a six-year-old cannot only memorize many lines of a film script but also have such remarkable camera presence.

Truth be known, I can’t remember a film that starred a child actor/actress that wasn’t entertaining. Perhaps it is the sheer innocence of children that is reflected on the screen as a certain purity that fades with age, a freshness that one’s inner self connects with, sort of like the first time you made a snow angel or rode on a merry-go-round.

Some critics have called Captain Fantastic a comedy. Some have called it a drama. For my part, it is a dramedy. I laughed. I cried. I felt angst. I felt fear. The movie engaged all of my emotions, and when a movie can do that, I give it a thumbs up. And thought-provoking as it is, above all it is entertaining.

If you can still find it in a theater, do see Captain Fantastic. If is already gone, keep an eye out for it on DVD, Netflix, Amazon or in a secondary theater, and see it. You will not be disappointed.

D Is For Depp

mad hatterD is for Depp and it’s the letter grade critics have been giving Johnny Depp’s movies for way too many years now. Whatever has this man done that critics love to hate him. In my opinion, Johnny Depp is one of most talented character actors in the past two decades. He gave an unforgettable performance as Tonto in The Lone Ranger. What did he get for it? A “D.” His Mad Hatter in Alice Through The Looking Glass was a fantasy masterpiece. What did he get for it? A “D.” OK, Mortdecai wasn’t an award-winning film, but Depp’s performance as a character actor was still a cut above.

Johnny Depp will never be an American heartthrob. He may never play Hamlet, but I could easily see him as a mischievous Puck in an exceptional performance. He, in fact, makes the movies he performs in. In fact, I can’t imagine any of his “D-rated” films without him.  The originality that Depp brings to all of his characters deserves no less than a B+.  Maybe what we really need is a new group of critics.

Triple Treat

Saturday was a marathon movie day for me starting off with Zootopia, an animated film that delivers a rather adult message. Personally, I feel this film is lost on kids although the animation is stunning.

Up next, The Jungle Book, the Kipling classic made into a film that even Walt Disney would have a hard time believing it was animated. The boy that plays Mowgli is the only real thing in the movie, everything else was computer generated in a warehouse in L.A. Even so, the movie is truly magical, a feast for both the eyes and the ears.

Finally, to end the day, I enjoyed an hilarious Italian film, a part of the Italian Film Festival in Portland last weekend. There are two film genres that the Italians do well — drama and comedy. Ma Che Bella Sorpresa is the latter and funny it is. I laughed ’til I cried. There currently is no way to view this movie, but Netflix may end up streaming it someday. They have a pretty good foreign film library.

Until the next movie – Ciao!!