27 December 2016

And So it Goes (starring Diane Keaton and Michael Douglas)

Sometimes Amazon recommends DVDs to me based on genres I have enjoyed, sometimes because I’ve rated highly another film with one of the same actors. I suspect that the latter is the case for this one, as Diane Keaton is one of the leading roles. So it went on my wish-list, and I was given it for Christmas a couple of days ago.

Last night we needed to unwind and relax, and this film, ‘And so it goes’ sounded like an ideal one. ‘Funny, heartfelt and delightful’ was the review quotation on the front. Evidently it was one of the relatively recent genre featuring a relationship of some kind between older people, but that’s not a problem at all.

Michael Douglas co-stars as Oren, an estate agent who is trying to sell his mansion after losing his wife. He has a small apartment, where he is generally rude to his neighbours, but they accept him as a cantankerous old man whose heart is probably in the right place. Into the mix comes his estranged son, with a surprise that Oren is not expecting, which is the start of the (admittedly inevitable) softening of his heart.

Diane Keaton is Leah, Oren’s next-door neighbour, who works as a singer. She lost her husband some time ago, and is struggling somewhat to make a living; it doesn’t help that she breaks down in tears any time a song or comment reminds her of her husband. She’s the opposite of Oren in many ways: generous, open-hearted, kind, and extremely emotional. Keaton does this well although I never entirely believed in the character who seemed just a tad too ditzy for someone supposedly in her mid-sixties. It doesn’t help that she looks considerably younger, although the actress is in fact around the right age for the role.

There wasn’t much that we would class as ‘funny’; the occasional mild slapstick didn’t appeal, and while there were one or two places that made us smile, the overall theme and storyline was far from amusing. However it was undoubtedly both heartfelt and delightful. We all became caught up in the story and were pleased that the ending was as predictable as we had hoped. From the point of view of a movie about almost-retired people, it was encouraging and positive about the potential for enjoying life in one’s sixties.

Some difficult themes are touched upon; not just the loss of spouses, but several other issues that arise and could touch emotional chords with many. There are some quite intense scenes, too, including one of childbirth, and intimacies are quite overt, although no nudity is shown.

Language is crude in places, but relatively mild. The rating is 12 and I think that’s probably around right, though I can’t imagine that this would have any appeal to anyone under the age of at least 18, probably considerably more.

Definitely recommended.

Review by copyright 2016 Sue's DVD Reviews

15 December 2016

Big Business (starring Lily Tomlin and Better Midler)

This is another DVD that was recommended to me by Amazon, and sounded interesting, so I put it on my wishlist. I was given it for my birthday nearly two years ago, and had quite forgotten what the blurb said when we decided to watch it recently. I somehow had the idea that it was about people on stage - but was quite wrong.

‘Big Business’ starts with a classic mix-up in a hospital in the 1940s. A wealthy couple are passing through a small town when the wife goes into labour with twins. At the same time, an impoverished farmer and his wife also go into labour, also with twins. Fathers, in those days, were not permitted to be present at the birth, and the harassed nurses manage to muddle the babies up. Even more confusingly, both sets of parents decide on the same pair of names for their twin girls…

The story then moves forward around thirty years. The wealthy Rose and Sadie are businesswomen; Rose (Lily Tomlin)) is hard-hitting and materialistic, while the quieter Sadie (Bette Midler) often feels out of place, and hates to hurt people. Meanwhile the farming community Rose also feels as if she doesn’t belong in the countryside, and longs to see the world, while Sadie is very much at home there.

It’s all caricatured, of course, and the premise is ridiculous, but it sets the scene for a surprisingly enjoyable comedy. Neither of us is particularly keen on slapstick, but the script is clever and there’s some excellent direction as the pairs of sisters manage to cause confusion and avoid meetings by split seconds until the inevitable final realisation that they have met their doubles. Yes, much is predictable, but part of the fun was watching for what we knew was going to happen.

It's not pure fluff; there’s a great deal more to the story. Politics, business and relationships with men are all part of this film, which is unusual and original for the 1980s in having businesswomen as the main characters, while most of the men around them are either a bit clueless or somewhat hapless.

Overall it made a very enjoyable light evening’s viewing that didn’t require any deep thought, and which made us laugh more than once. Inevitably it feels quite dated at times without technology everywhere, but that was quite refreshing.

Rated PG, probably because there's almost no bad language and no nudity, although there are implied intimacies off-stage. Unlikely to be of much interest to younger children anyway.

Recommended.

Review by copyright 2016 Sue's DVD Reviews

04 December 2016

Delivery Man (starring Vince Vaughn)

I don’t remember where this DVD came from. It’s not something I put on my wishlist; perhaps it’s one my husband was given. Or perhaps it’s something we spotted in a supermarket in the UK, or even a charity shop, and thought it worth watching. Whatever the reason, it’s been in our unwatched DVD drawer for some time, until we finally decided to watch it last night.

‘Delivery Man’ is about the somewhat hapless David (Vince Vaughn) who works as a meat delivery man in the family business. He has clearly made some poor decisions in the past, and is far too easily distractible, as he regularly arrives late to work, or fails to make deliveries in time. On the other hand, he’s friendly and has a soft heart.

I rather wish we hadn’t read the blurb on the back, which gives away the huge plot twist that shatters David’s life when he learns something so unexpected that he doesn’t know how to deal with it. Since I had read it, I saw the early part of the film - setting the scene with his family, and girlfriend, and his general cluelessness - almost as filler, rather than relaxing and enjoying the story as it unfolded. I liked the scenes with his lawyer friend (Chris Pratt) and his four rather wild children, but was waiting for him to find out what I knew was coming...

The second part of the film follows him as he comes to terms with the incredible news he has been given, gets involved in a possible court case, and gets to know several individual people whom he would not otherwise have met. To say more would give away the storyline; suffice it to say that David appears as a likeable person with a very warm heart, a bit of a fish out of water in his family who are more practical and hard-working, albeit less intelligent.

It’s rated 12 (PG-13 in the US), which is about right given the nature of the story; I doubt if it would be of any interest to anyone younger, in any case. There’s a bit of bad language, and several innuendoes that are relevant to the plot. There are also one or two intense scenes and hints of violence, though none shown.

All in all, we enjoyed it even if the ending is somewhat predictable. The acting is all rather caricatured, but then the story itself is bizarre and unrealistic, and it’s certainly rather different from anything we had seen before.

Having said that, apparently ‘Delivery Man’ was a re-make of a former film by the same director, which was called ‘Starbuck’. We haven’t seen that, but some viewers of both claim that the original is better.

Review by copyright 2016 Sue's DVD Reviews

28 November 2016

Widows' Peak (starring Joan Plowright, Mia Farrow and Natasha Richardson)


I don’t remember why this DVD caught my eye; perhaps, as happens so often, Amazon recommended it to me based on something else I had liked. In any case, I put it on my wishlist and was given it for my birthday in the spring. We decided to watch it last night.

‘Widows’ Peak’ is set in a small Irish town, shortly after the first world war. So many women lost their husbands that this particular neighbourhood has become known as ‘Widows’ Peak’, ruled over the the domineering Mrs Counihan (brilliantly played by Joan Plowright). There are the elite in her circle, and the ordinary people of the town, and they rarely mix.

The one exception to widowhood is Miss O’Hare (Mia Farrow), who comes across as rather outspoken, even angry and it’s a bit of a mystery as to why she is part of the upper crust widows’ circle.

Into the fold arrives Edwina (Natasha Richardson) a young American woman who proceeds to charm almost everyone she meets, including Mrs Counihan’s thirty-something bachelor son Godfrey, who is very much tied to his mother’s apron strings. It’s a bit puzzling as to why Edwina is so taken with him, but no surprise at all that he is very taken with her.

The only person who does not like Edwina is Miss O’Hare who seems to take her in aversion from the start. It all seems rather puzzling, particularly when Edwina tries to offer friendship, only to have it rejected…

I thought the film was going to be a series of cameos of the life of these women, and enjoyed that aspect of it, but I gradually realised that there is also an underlying plot, one which becomes more convoluted towards the end of the film, in a series of unexpected twists and turns.

The scenery is sumptuous, the settings perfect, the acting giving just the right amount of caricature for light-hearted humour. The suspense is built slowly, almost imperceptibly, so that I didn’t quite realise that it was a mystery with a hint of thriller until the climax of the story. I had guessed some parts of the outcome, but not all, and thought it all very clever.

Rated PG, which reflects the lack of major bad language, and the family-friendly nature of the whole film. There are tense moments, and some mild fighting, but nothing to upset or offend anyone. Then again, it's the kind of film that's mostly going to appeal to older adults, and highly unlikely to be of interest to anyone under the age of at least fifteen.

Recommended.

Review by copyright 2016 Sue's DVD Reviews

02 November 2016

Not Another Happy Ending (starring Karen Gillan)

This isn’t a film I’d ever heard of, but our son is quite a fan of Karen Gillan - probably best known for her role as Doctor Who’s companion Amy - and brought it with him on a recent visit, so we could see it together.

‘Not Another Happy Ending’ features Jane Lockhart (Karen Gillan) as a successful writer who has been published by a small, almost unknown agency. Unfortunately, she’s the agency’s only success, and she’s so pleased with how popular her book is that she’s become, apparently, too happy to write.

She’s living with a rather arrogant screenwriter (Henry Ian Cusick) who is going to write the film of her book, and I found it a bit confusing that he looked rather similar to Tom (Stanley Weber) who clashes so much with Jane at the start of the book that he’s evidently going to fall for her…

The story is about Jane’s block and the tension in the publishing house, enlivened Tom’s efforts to try and make her unhappy to prompt her to finish her second book. There are brief forays into Jane’s difficult relationship with her father, providing some thoughtful background, and some surreal scenes when Jane’s protagonist apparently comes to life and starts hassling her…

The style was confusing to me, with some strangely angled shots that - so I was told afterwards - should have forewarned of what was coming, and some rapid passages of time to move the story forwards. There were mildly amusing sections, mostly involving Tom and his mate Roddy (Iain de Caestecker) as they came up with increasingly dubious ways to try and make Jane miserable.

It gives a few insights into life in a struggling publishing house, and the problems of an author who is feeling blocked, and the acting is mostly good, although some might struggle to understand the often rapid and quite strong Scottish accents (switching, a little erratically, to a French accent as far as Tom is concerned).

The storyline is predictable, which isn’t a problem with this kind of film, and the humour mostly understated, which is also fine as far as I’m concerned. Bad language is minimal, and there’s nothing explicit, although one rather unexpected nude scene (tastefully done) is probably what took the rating to 12 (12A in the US).

We didn’t dislike it, and it made a pleasant evening’s viewing, but it was nothing special. If you like Karen Gillan it certainly involves her and she plays the role well, but unless you’re interested in the inner workings of a writer’s mind, it might leave you a bit bemused.

Review by copyright 2016 Sue's DVD Reviews

23 October 2016

Enchanted April (starring Josie Lawrence and Miranda Richardson)

I’m not entirely sure why this DVD was recommended to me. I’m not sure I knew of any of the cast, but Amazon seemed to think I would like it, and the blurb sounded good. So it went on my wishlist, and I was given it for my birthday… two and a half years ago.

‘Enchanted April’ has been in our to-be-watched DVD drawer all that time, but we finally decided to watch it last night. Apparently it’s based on a 1920s novel, and it felt rather that way; having watched the film, I suspect that it’s probably not a novel I would have enjoyed.

The main characters are Lottie (Josie Lawrence) and Rose (Miranda Richardson). Both are young married women, neither of whom is entirely happy in her life or marriage. Rose’s husband is a novelist who spends most of his time out, without her, and Lottie’s husband is an uptight lawyer who makes her account for every penny. Lottie happens to spot an advert for a holiday in a castle in Italy, and persuades Rose to go with her…

They advertise for further companions, and are joined by the elderly Mrs Fisher (Joan Plowright) and the spoilt, beautiful Lady Caroline (Polly Walker). When they arrive, the peaceful, attractive environment of the castle and its grounds works a kind of magic on all of them, in different ways…

And that’s it, really. The scenery is stunning, the acting excellent. I particularly liked Mrs Fisher’s excellent timing and gradual transformation.

However I found Lottie a bit overwhelming at times, as she can’t seem to stop talking; I really disliked her husband. And it was all rather slow-moving. I didn’t dislike it; indeed, the conclusion of the story, such as it is, is encouraging and satisfying.

But it didn’t grab either of us, and I found myself glancing at the clock in the last half hour, rather than absorbed in the film. It’s not as if it’s over-long, either; it’s only just over an hour and a half, but not a great deal happens during that time.

I’m glad we finally watched it, and I did enjoy the scenery and the walks, but it’s not a film I’m likely to want to watch again.

Rated U in the UK, and PG in the slightly more cautious United States. There's no violence or intimacy or indecency, and only the mildest of language, but there are scenes showing both smoking and drinking. However, I can't imagine that this would be of the slightest interest to children.

Review by copyright 2016 Sue's DVD Reviews

11 October 2016

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day (starring Frances McDormand)

I think this film was recommended to me by Amazon a while ago. It went on my wishlist, and I was given it for Christmas nearly two years ago. It took all this time to decide to watch it; and what a treat it turned out to be!

Set in the 1930s, the film stars Frances McDormand as Miss Pettigrew, a rather dowdy middle-aged woman who has just lost her job. It appears that she’s somewhat unconventional in her style of work, and the employment agency don’t have anything for her. And then her day gets worse….

Eventually she finds herself at the plush apartment where Delysia, a night-club singer (Amy Adams), is panicking. The place is in chaos, and there’s a young lover in her bed. The apartment belongs to another man, whom she is rather afraid of… she’s glitzy, talented, and rather too addicted to men.

The contrast between the two women is dramatic. Delysia sees Miss Pettigrew as her saviour, however, and the film follows the day that they spend together, untangling Delysia’s love-life and determining her future.

The settings are realistic, the storyline unusual, and the acting mostly excellent. Inevitably there are caricatures, but it’s that kind of film: people behaved in character, if perhaps a bit exaggeratedly so. The pace was just right for our tastes, though it’s not going to appeal to those who want fast action. To lift a little from the humour, and show the serious setting of the frivolous lifestyles of nightclub singers, there are hints - and more than hints - of the coming world war.

There’s no real plot or storyline, it’s more a story of transformation: as Miss Pettigrew, as Delysia’s social secretary, gets her out of trouble repeatedly, she discovers new things about herself and makes new friends. The ending is unrealistic given that the events and meetings that take pace over a single day, but it doesn’t matter; it’s all highly satisfactory, and very nicely done.

We both enjoyed this film very much.

Rated PG, although I’d have thought the innuendoes and implications would have made it 12. Indeed, in the more cautious United States, the rating is PG-13. Still, there’s not much violence, and nothing explicit, nor is the language too ‘strong’. I don’t suppose it would appeal to children anyway.

Review by copyright 2016 Sue's DVD Reviews

03 October 2016

The Devil Wears Prada (starring Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway)

Although I’ve seen this film recommended to me several times, probably because I enjoy Meryl Streep’s acting so much, it had somehow never appealed. The title is rather off-putting, and the theme, I gathered, was related to high fashion, a topic which does not interest me in the slightest.But when I saw the DVD for a pound at a UK charity shop, in excellent condition, I couldn’t resist.

I’m glad I went ahead and bought ‘The Devil Wears Prada’, because it was a surprisingly enjoyable, if undemanding film. Anne Hathaway co-stars as the somewhat hapless Andrea who wants to be a journalist but manages to walk into a job she knows almost nothing about, working as a personal assistant in an exclusive fashion magazine office.

While Anne Hathaway is great in the role, it reminded me forcibly, more than once, of some of her other roles; in particular as the frumpish princess in the ‘Princess Diaries’, and also as Cinderella in ‘Ella Enchanted’. She’s grown up a bit in this movie, but looked fine to me at the point where the entire staff of the fashion store were laughing at her and calling her ‘fat’. Her eventual transformation is rather inevitable.

Meryl Streep, however, shows, once again, her amazing versatility, in a role unlike anything I have seen her in before. She plays Miranda, the owner of the fashion magazine, a snobbish, bullying and frankly nasty person who seems to care little about anyone other than her spoilt twin daughters.

While much of the fashion discussion left me mystified, the storyline is essentially character-based, charting Andrea’s gradual successes which are only in part due to her make-over, and contrasting them with what - and who - she begins to lose. She has to make a lot of difficult decisions, and I didn’t know how the film would end; it could have gone either way.

I didn’t find the film particularly amusing, although there were some light-hearted parts, and it didn’t need a great deal of thought. But I liked the theme of making conscious choices about careers and relationships, and the way the film clearly shows - without being too overt about it - how easy it can be to become unpleasant, even vicious to one’s colleagues and friends when ambition is too strong.

Overall, it made a pleasant evening’s viewing. Rated 12, presumably for the relatively mild bad language. But as far as I recall there’s no violence, and no overt scenes of intimacy or anything else that would warrant a rating above PG. Not that I would expect it to appeal to children or younger teenagers, particularly.

Review by copyright 2016 Sue's DVD Reviews

26 September 2016

An Unfinished Life (starring Jennifer Lopez and Robert Redford)

I expect Amazon recommended this film to me because Morgan Freeman is one of the main characters, and I’ve very much liked other DVDs where he has starred. I put it on my wishlist a couple of years ago, and was given it for Christmas last year. It’s taken this long to decide to watch it, and we liked it very much.

The story starts with the aftermath of domestic violence. Jean (Jennifer Lopez) finally makes the decision, pushed by her eleven-year-old daughter Griff (Becca Gardner) to leave her boyfriend. They make their way to her father-in-law Einer’s ranch, but he is still grieving the loss of his son, and blames Jean….

It takes a while for the movie to get going, after the initial drama, as there’s a lot of backstory to understand. But I like a gentle pace, developing characters and rounding out the past. Einer is brilliantly portrayed by Robert Redford, and his only friend Mitch, who is seriously injured, is played by Morgan Freeman.

The plot itself is perhaps predictable: ‘Heidi’ is probably the story best-known for a crusty old man who has his heart melted by his granddaughter. But the circumstances are very different; Griff is interested in farming, riding and even car mechanics. The close friendship between Einer and Mitch works well and is quite moving at times; it’s a good device to show Einer as a likeable person underneath his bitterness.

Overall it’s a story about coming to terms with the past, about forgiveness, and emotional healing, and the need to live life as it is rather than continually regretting the past. But the direction and the acting make it above average; we were particularly impressed with Becca Gardner as Griff, which was apparently the actress’s debut in films.

There are places where the story becomes quite tense: a bear is stalking the neighbourhood, and, mirroring this, Jean’s ex-boyfriend is trying to find her again. The contrast is shown between the natural tendencies of a wild animal and the cruelty of a human. There’s more violence than I’m comfortable with, although it’s necessary for the story and there’s nothing too gory.

The rating is 12 (PG-13 in the US) which is probably due to the violence and some instances of ‘strong’ language. There’s nothing else that would make this unsuitable for children, and the inclusion of a child may make this more appealing to younger teens.

Definitely recommended.

Review by copyright 2016 Sue's DVD Reviews

19 September 2016

It's Complicated (starring Meryl Streep)

I happened to spot this DVD in a charity shop when I was in the UK. Meryl Streep is always good value, and I was intrigued at the idea of her working with Steve Martin, who is listed as one of the co-stars. The plot sounded like a typical light romance, so I forked out a pound and brought it back to Cyprus.

We thought it would make ideal viewing for an afternoon when we were both somewhat tired but wanted to snuggle up on the sofa together. I hoped it would be uplifting, but hadn’t expected it to be such a thoroughly enjoyable film, if perhaps a tad slow to get started.

Streep stars as Jane Adler, a contentedly divorced woman who has three young adult children, and is about to experience an empty nest. Her ex-husband Jake (Alex Baldwin) is rather irritating, although smooth-talking, and is now married to a much younger woman, who has a rather hyperactive small son.

Jake and Jane find themselves meeting at mutual friends’ parties, and then at the graduation of one of their sons Jane is priding herself on being relaxed and polite around him, when circumstances throw them together one night, and they wonder whether there’s still a spark of attraction….

Steve Martin, meanwhile, plays an architect who is designing and overseeing a major extension to Jane’s house. His character is very like most other parts he has played: charming, a little shy, and prone to clumsiness. That was fine in this film, as he provided a very likeable contrast to the somewhat bumptious and jealous Jake. But of course Meryl Streep’s part is the most complex and also the most interesting; as ever, she plays it to perfection, utterly believable in the role of a middle-aged, attractive woman who is a great cook and slightly over-protective mother, but rather insecure about relationships.

There were a couple of places (involving Steve Martin) where we laughed out loud; his timing is excellent, and he worked well with Streep. Jake and Jane’s future son-in-law Harley (John Krasinski) was a surprising hit too, a likeable young man who saw things he shouldn’t have done, and if a little exaggerated in his role, did it very well. I found myself warming to him rather more than their three children, who never really developed characters of their own.

The pace wasn’t rapid, and there wasn’t a whole lot of plot, but until the end I wasn’t certain where it was going to go. It was quite emotive at times, and we were both totally absorbed in the film. Bad language was pretty mild and although there are several intimate bedroom scenes, they are tastefully done, with implications rather than anything explicit.

I was surprised that it had a 15 rating (R in the US): there’s no violence at all, nor anything remotely frightening. I suppose it’s due to there being a fair amount of drinking and some use of soft drugs, although mainly for comic effect. However as the plot features a middle-aged romance, it’s unlikely to appeal to teenagers.

All in all this made a nicely made and enjoyable ‘rom com’ - recommended to anyone who likes this genre.

Review by copyright 2016 Sue's DVD Reviews

04 September 2016

A Good Year (starring Russell Crowe)

I was staying with a friend; she suggested a film one evening, when her daughter was there and we were all feeling quite tired. I hadn’t seen this one and it looked interesting, so we watched it, and while it was a bit slow at first I liked it very much by the end.

‘A Good Year’ is about a high-flying and somewhat cold-blooded businessman called Max (Russell Crowe). We see a flashback of him to start with, a young boy (Freddie Highmore) learning to play good chess and taste good wine with his beloved Uncle Henry (Albert Finney). But then the story moves forward to his adult life, and we see the adult Max buying and selling stock, putting people out of business, and caring almost nothing for anything or anyone else.

Max (receives a message that his uncle has died and left him his entire estate. At first he decides to sell, but then makes the trip to France to meet his lawyer… and events conspire to keep him at the estate rather longer than he expected.

The overall storyline is somewhat predictable; it’s a fairly well-worn theme to have someone forced into a more relaxed lifestyle and discover what is really important to them. It could have been jaded, but I thought it was very well done. Perhaps Max is a bit too obnoxious at times, but there’s supposed to be a bit of humour in it. I don’t find that kind of thing amusing, but then it makes the scenes where he’s caught at the chateau more acceptable somehow. Those who like slapstick would probably find some of them quite funny; they were nicely done without going on too long.

There are one or two unexpected events that add to the change-of-heart storyline, and some that’s predictable, including a romance. I don’t know that I’d want to see it again, but it was pleasant to watch, and some of the scenery is sumptuous.

Rated 12 (PG-13 in the US) which I think is a tad low; there’s quite a bit of bad language and, if nothing actually explicit, a great deal of implied suggestive content. There are also scenes of a young child tasting wine, which could be shocking in some contexts. I’d have rated the film as 15. However it’s unlikely to be of interest to anyone under the age of about 18 or even older.

Review by copyright 2016 Sue's DVD Reviews

03 September 2016

The Hundred Foot Journey (starring Helen Mirren and Om Puri)

I was staying the weekend with a friend, and she suggested watching a DVD one evening. She pulled out a few of her favourites, and suggested this one. I hadn’t seen it, but it sounded interesting, and Helen Mirren is always worth seeing.

'The hundred foot journey' is about a young man called Hassan (Manish Dayal) who works as a cook in his father’s restaurant, initially in India. We meet the family as they move to Europe after a devastating attack, and the first half hour or so is a chapter of problems, some of them mildly amusing in a schadenfreude kind of way. It’s very much a paternalistic extended family, ruled over by the delightful Papa (Om Puri).

Eventually they decide to settle in a small French village and buy a derelict restaurant which they upgrade and convert…

Unfortunately they are opposite - 100 feet away from - a high class French restaurant which has a coveted Michelin star, and is owned by Madame Mallory (Helen Mirren). Her chefs are highly trained and look down on other kinds of food and cooking - all except for Marguerite (Charlotte le Bon), a sous-chef in training, who is rather attracted to Hassam, and takes an interest in what he’s doing.

Hassan, it turns out, is not just a good cook but has a stunning gift for tasting spices and getting things exactly right; the culinary equivalent of perfect pitch, as one review put it.

There’s not a whole lot of plot; it’s character-based and mainly features the conflict between the two restaurants, as well as the inevitable clash of culture as French and Indian cuisines compete. Those looking for fast action or excitement would do better to look elsewhere, but for those who enjoy light but somewhat thought-provoking dramas, this is an excellent example. The ways that the conflict is eventually resolved are not all predictable,and some of the onscreen chemistry is quite powerful,

There are some caricatures, inevitably, but as a study of culture and character, I thought this excellent. Uplifting, and with the benefit of some stunning scenery. I was thinking that it would be a good one to add to our collection at home, only to realise that in fact it had been on my wishlist, and I have a copy already. Definitely one to re-watch.

This film is rated PG, which slightly surprised me as there are some quite intense and disturbing scenes, albeit brief. However there are no explicit scenes, and almost no bad language, which raises it still further in my estimation. I doubt if a child would be interested in this film anyway, but other than the intense scenes, there’s nothing unsuitable for even quite young children.

Review by copyright 2016 Sue's DVD Reviews

27 August 2016

45 Years (starring Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay)

This isn’t a film I had heard of, but relatives had been given it, so we decided to spend an evening watching ‘45 years’. The back of the box told us that it was about a couple in Norfolk who were preparing for a party to celebrate 45 years of marriage, when a letter arrives to disrupt the husband’s peace of mind…

The letter is from someone he loved and lost nearly 50 years previously,but inevitably brings some memories back to him, and as he talks to his wife she realises he hasn’t been entirely honest with her, and becomes anxious and uncertain herself.

That’s really it, as far as the plot goes. This is not a fast-action film, nor is there really any mystery or even growth. The ending is positive, on the whole, but leaves the story open; it could go either way. The reason this film won awards is not the plot, but the way it’s made.

Tom Courtenay and Charlotte Rampling as the couple Geoff and Kate are superb. Initially shown as comfortably and contentedly married, walking their dog, going into town, doing errands, we gradually discover that there are many depths to their marriage and to Geoff’s past. The scenery is pleasant, the pace slow but absolutely right for a character-based emotive story.

The film is divided into days, each introduced briefly, as we see Kate making preparations for the party; sufficient is shown to see that this is going to be a big occasion, but never so much that it becomes dull. The problems inherent in growing older are shown without self-pity; Geoff had a serious medical problem four years earlier which is why they are celebrating 45 years rather than 40.

I was a little puzzled about when the film was supposed to be set. Made in 2015, it mentioned 1962 as the date when Geoff’s tragedy occurred, and that he was 25 at the time. Presumably he met Kate a few years later, and I thought at first that it must be fully contemporary; much of it seems to be appropriate to current country life. Kate wears jeans, a travel agent uses a modern flat screen terminal; yet neither of the pair have mobile phones and in the scenes showing them walking through crowds of people in the town, there was not a single person staring at or using a phone, which suggests perhaps the earlier part of the 21st century.

Rated 15 (R in the United States), presumably because there is one drawn-out intimate bedroom scene; nothing explicit as such but from the dialogue and implications it’s clear what is going on. There’s no violence or smoking or nudity, and only a few instances of bad language; however, I can’t imagine that the storyline would be of the slightest interest to children, or indeed anyone under the age of about forty.

Review by copyright 2016 Sue's DVD Reviews

14 August 2016

Children of a Lesser God (starring William Hurt and Marlee Matlin)

I doubt if I would ever have come across this film, which was made in the mid-1980s, had it not been for the recommendation of a friend. I put it on my wishlist and was given it some time ago; we finally decided to watch it at the weekend and found it mesmerising…

‘Children of a lesser god’ is set in a school for the deaf and hard of hearing in the United States. A new speech teacher, James (William Hurt) has just been appointed. His job is to encourage students, mostly teenagers, to be motivated to use language even though they cannot hear and to find reasons for doing so. His methods are somewhat unorthodox but he quickly becomes popular, at least with the teenagers he is working with.

It doesn’t take him long to notice Sarah (Marlee Matlin), a young woman in her twenties who is working as a cleaner. He learns that she was herself a pupil at the school some years previously, but that despite being highly intelligent she preferred to stay on to work at the school in a menial role rather than venture out elsewhere to study or work. He also discovers that she does not speak or lip-read, and is determined to find out why…

The story is essentially a love story between two very different people but it’s also, for the era, quite a thought-provoking and sensitive look into ways in which society looks askance at those who suffer from a disability. Sarah gradually reveals her rather sordid past, and her fear of failure, or of being considered stupid; James gradually realises that he needs to adjust to those whose needs are not the same as his.

The acting is excellent, the settings believable, the dialogue crisp, and the story moved at just the right pace for our tastes. I was a little surprised that there were no subtitles for some of the very rapid signing, although in most cases a ‘hearing’ person translates; but perhaps that was deliberate, to show a little of how deaf people feel when in the presence of those who are speaking rapidly without looking at them.

Marlee Matlin in particular was brilliant in the role of Sarah, with a very expressive face that communicated as much as words could have done. The actress is herself deaf, and this was her debut film role, for which she won a well-deserved Academy award for Best Actress.

The film is rated R in the United States, for several instances of ‘strong’ language, and implied nudity and intimacies; however it’s rated 15 in the UK and as young as 12 in some other countries. It’s not the kind of story that’s likely to be of interest to anyone under the age of about 14 or 15 anyway, in my view, but is certainly worth watching by anyone wanting to know a little more about attitudes to those with hearing difficulties.

Review by copyright 2016 Sue's DVD Reviews

09 July 2016

Dinner with Friends (starring Andie MacDowell and Dennis Quaid)

I’m not entirely sure why this DVD was recommended to me by Amazon. However, the blurb and reviews made it sound interesting, so it went on my wishlist, and I was given it for my birthday a few months ago. Last night we decided, along with an adult son, to watch it. I chose it out of the selection he was looking at because it was the shortest, and I was tired…

‘Dinner with Friends’ is apparently based on a play of the same name, which makes a great deal of sense in retrospect. It was originally made for TV, back in 2001. There are only four significant characters, which is quite unusual in a film. Karen (Andie MacDowell) and Gabe (Dennis Quaid) are the main pair. They’ve been married for about twelve years, and work together as food photographers and reporters. They have recently returned from a trip abroad, and we meet them when they, and their young sons, are expecting their closest friends to dinner.

Beth (Toni Collette) arrives in pouring rain, along with her two children, but her husband Tom (Greg Kinnear) is not with her. She makes an excuse but it’s clear that there’s a problem. Gabe and Karen seem remarkably unobservant and tactless, and she eventually breaks down and admits that he’s left her, after falling in love with a travel agent called Nancy….

The rest of the story is about Gabe and Karen coming to terms with this shock, and re-evaluating their own relationship. We hear Tom’s side of the story, and then there’s a lengthy flashback to the time when Gabe and Karen were newly married, and looking forward to their two close friends getting to know each other….

The first half hour or so was really quite depressing, full of angst, and not at all the kind of light-hearted story I was expecting. Perhaps I should have read the blurb on the back rather than merely the length. But as it progresses, I found myself caught up in the lives of these two couples. There’s not a great deal of plot; it’s an exploration of character and relationships, and I found it to be realistic, on the whole; neither couple is shown as ideal, and even the best of marriages is shown to have tensions, misunderstandings and some anger.

While Karen’s strongly Southern accent is a little difficult to understand at times, she gives a great performance, and the chemistry between her and Gabe works extremely well. Tom, too, is mostly convincing, but we found Beth a little fake at times. As a young bohemian artist she is believable; towards the end, having lunch with Karen, she is also authentic. But we couldn’t quite believe in her grief-stricken and angry phase, which is the main part of the movie.

The children have occasional bit parts which are realistic, and they all did well in a film which, presumably, they weren’t able to see in its entirety as it’s not intended for children. I didn’t find any of it humorous, though there were odd mildly amusing moments, mostly connected with the children.

I didn’t like the amount of bad language, which is probably what gives this a 15 rating in the UK, and R in the stricter United States. There’s a fair amount of discussion about sexual issues too, which would also make this unsuitable for children or younger teens, but there’s nothing explicit, nor any nudity, and the one mildly violent scene is not particularly disturbing.

I can’t imagine that the content would be of interest to anyone younger than about twenty or so anyway as it’s essentially all about marriage, long-term friendship, and growing older.

I found the ending encouraging and positive, and by that stage was completely engrossed in it.

No extras.

Review by copyright 2016 Sue's DVD Reviews

04 July 2016

The Rewrite (starring Hugh Grant)

I like browsing Amazon’s recommendations now and again, looking for things to add to my wishlist. I assume that they offered this suggestion because it’s a light romantic film with some humour, and also because it stars Hugh Grant, and I have given high ratings to some of his other films.

So I was pleased to be given ‘The Re-write’ for my birthday, and last night we watched it with an adult son. Hugh Grant, as our son commented afterwards, always plays similar parts, and this one suits him perfectly. He plays a washed-up British screenwriter in his late forties called Keith, who had one major success some years previously, but is now struggling financially. He is offered a temporary job teaching screenwriting at a small American university, and while he doesn’t think writing can be taught, he sees no alternative…

Keith is rather naive, unsure of what he’s supposed to do in his class, overwhelmed by the seventy scripts he has to read within two days, and nervous about his new role. It’s ideal for the slightly bumbling Englishman that Hugh Grant is used to playing, surrounded by women who evidently find him attractive.

There’s a storyline involving a seductive girl in his class and a pleasanter one involving an older student who has daughters of his own. And there are some gems about writing in general, as well as insights into university life. As Keith gets to know his class, he discovers that teaching isn’t such a bad career after all, and that he can learn to care about each individual and help them in different ways.

Most of the film is predictable, and I don’t recall any particularly humorous sections, but it’s light-hearted and fun, relationship-based rather than with any great plot. I liked the way that, although most of Keith’s students are attractive girls, the two rather unattractive nerdy boys play significant positive parts in his class, and in the story as a whole.

The rating is 12 which I think is right, though it wouldn’t be of much interest to anyone under the age of about sixteen. There are implied intimacies but nothing overt; some bad language, and a great deal of drinking, but no violence.

Recommended for a light and pleasant evening’s undemanding viewing.

Review by copyright 2016 Sue's DVD Reviews

13 June 2016

Doctor Who series 8 (starring Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman)

Although I have enjoyed some of the ‘new’ Doctor Who series in recent years, I wasn’t too certain whether to continue acquiring and watching the DVDs after yet another time lord regeneration. I very much appreciated David Tennant as the tenth doctor, but never quite believed in Matt Smith as the eleventh. The story-lines, too, became more and more complex with a lot of fast action, and although I enjoyed series 7, it was stressful to watch, in places.

We then managed to see the TV specials ‘The Day of the Doctor’ and ‘The Time of the Doctor’ via someone’s i-player system, and although I thought them clever and well done, I was a little dubious about Peter Capaldi becoming the twelfth doctor. He was excellent as a Roman citizen in Season Four, but I couldn’t quite envisage him as The Doctor.

Still, those who watched it in the UK said that Season Eight was excellent, so once the DVDs were available as a boxed set at not too great a price, I put it on my wishlist, and was pleased to be given it for Christmas six months ago. We’ve just finished watching it, an episode or two at a time, with our son. And I’m a convert. Peter Capaldi is excellent as The Doctor.

Clara remains as the assistant in this series, and does so extremely well. There’s an ongoing story arc involving her working as a teacher and falling in love with another teacher, called Danny Pink (Samuel Anderson).  Danny and The Doctor don’t trust or like each other, and the tensions play out in many of the episodes giving a nicely human and ‘real world’ touch.

There’s also a story-arc concerning a mysterious woman called ‘Missy’, who seems to welcome people into an afterlife. This seemed to be an addendum to just a few episodes and I kept forgetting about it, until all was revealed in the finale…

While it’s hard to recall every episode in this series, watched sporadically over six months, I particularly liked the one called ‘Robot of Sherwood’, where The Doctor is determined to prove to Clara that Robin Hood never existed, only to find themselves caught up in the band of ‘Merry Men’ and an archery contest. I liked ‘The Mummy on the Orient Express’ too, a clear nod to Agatha Christie, with quite a spine-chilling storyline. My favourite, though, was the gentler ‘In the forest of the night’, which involves a party of school children, led by Danny Pink, and some huge foliage that starts to spring up all over London, causing chaos.

The finale, in two parts, involves some of the Doctor’s classic arch-enemies, but once again with a new twist and a storyline which was clearer and less rapid than some of the other season finales. I thought it was very well done, with a bittersweet ending as the Doctor and Clara each try to hide something from the other, leading - one presumes - to their not travelling together in future.

There are of course plot holes, inevitable in time travel stories, and some bizarre ideas that seem contradictory to some of what went before (a 'good' dalek? Cybermen with emotions...?) but all in all, we thought it an excellent season, one that I can envisage seeing again in a few years.

I’m looking forward very much to seeing Series Nine at some point!


Review by copyright 2016 Sue's DVD Reviews

08 June 2016

Liberal Arts (starring Josh Radnor and Elizabeth Olsen)

I don’t think I had come across any of the actors in this film, so I think it must have been one of the many that Amazon recommended to me, based on my previous wishlist and reviewed DVDs. The blurb sounded interesting, so I put it on my list, and was delighted to be given it for my recent birthday. Last night our twenty-something son suggested that the three of us watch it together.

‘Liberal Arts’ is mostly based on a university campus in the United States. We first meet the newly-single Jesse (Josh Radnor) who is in his mid-thirties, and evidently an academic type. He doesn’t do well with practical details, as is amply demonstrated in the first scene. He seems to find books more interesting than people, He’s wondering what to do with the rest of his life, and why everything goes wrong when he gets an unexpected phone call from Peter (Richard Jenkins), one of the professors he particularly admired when he was an undergraduate, asking him if he would say a few words at his retiring banquet.

The story moves quite slowly at first, but that sets the pace nicely for a character-based story which doesn’t have a great deal of plot. That suited us ideally; we wanted something undemanding and light, and this more than adequately served its purpose. Jesse spends time chatting with Peter and some friends of his, including their 19-year-old daughter Zibby (Elizabeth Coleman) who is mature for her years, and finds herself very much attracted to Jesse. She persuades him to start listening to classical music, and then they begin a correspondence using pen and paper…

It could have been a predictable rom-com so we were pleased that in fact it wasn’t; unusually for modern films, moral issues were considered, and the romance as such is quite low-key. It’s a pity there had to be an intimate bedroom scene (nothing overt, though, and with a couple of unexpected great lines) but there are many subplots: Jesse finds himself mentor to a geeky intellectual, and befriended by a red-hatted bohemian, as well as having lengthy discussions with both Zibby and Peter.

Our favourite scene was the one where Jesse tells Zibby exactly what he had thought of the first of the Twilight series of books, after being persuaded that it was unfair to judge without reading it himself. We loved the way that most of the characters, one way or another, were readers and related through books.

Recommended to anyone who likes gentle, mildly intellectual character-based stories with great acting. Much of it felt so real that I sometimes forgot that it was entirely fictional. But if your taste runs towards thrillers or fast action films, then you might find this slow-moving and possibly even a bit dull.

The rating is 12 which seems fair; it wouldn’t be of much interest to anyone under the age of about fifteen or sixteen anyway. There are plenty of suggestive comments but no nudity; minor bad language, but nothing major; no violence at all.

Review by copyright 2016 Sue's DVD Reviews

07 April 2016

The Lady in the Van (starring Maggie Smith and Alex Jennings)

I had seen mixed reviews on this film, and the DVD price was such that I didn’t want to add it to my wishlist yet, not sure if I would like it. On the other hand, anything that stars Maggie Smith is likely to be worth seeing, and my father has a copy, so when I was staying with him for a few days, he suggested we see it.

The ‘mostly true’ story is about the writer Alan Bennett, played as two separate halves of his character, by Alex Jennings. He lives in a quiet street in London, and meets the eccentric, elderly Miss Fairchild who lives in a van. She smells bad, she is ungrateful and rude, and she is clearly saddled with enormous guilt for something in her past.

Alan invites her to park her van on his driveway for a month or two, until she has decided where to live next… and stays there for fifteen years. During that time he becomes more and more frustrated with her, but can’t bring himself to turn her out. The film is about their relationship with its ups and downs, and while there are parts that are fictionalised, the basic plot is true.

I haven’t read the book, and am not sure I want to: while I usually like books better than films, I can’t believe that any prose could match up to Maggie Smith’s flawless performance. The direction, too, was excellent. Having two Alan Bennetts - one who writes, one who lives - works brilliantly. We gradually learn more and more about Miss Shepherd’s varied life and career - she is not a school drop-out or from an impoverished family, but once had a stunning career, and then spent some time as a nun, attempting to quell her personal ambitions and loves.

While the story itself is not all that riveting, Maggie Smith is wonderful and Alex Jennings makes an excellent foil. There were a few places when I almost laughed aloud, but most of the story is bittersweet, portraying realistically the oddly liberal attitudes of the 1970s, the harshness of some Catholic institutions, and the plight of the homeless.

Alongside the main story is a subplot about the tragedy of dementia. This is not related to Miss Shepherd, despite being bizarrely eccentric with some delusions of grandeur, but in the author’s own mother.

The ending could have been depressing, although inevitable, but reveals the last of the puzzles in the story, and ends in a surreal scene that, somehow, despite the ‘mostly true’ story, seems appropriate in its oddity.

Rated 12 (PG-13 in the US) and I think that’s about right. There are a couple of instances of ‘strong’ language, and several mild ones, and one unpleasantly gory (albeit brief) scene at the end, but nothing else that would be unsuitable for children, although I can’t imagine it would hold the interest of anyone under the age of about 15 or so. There are implications about Alan's lifestyle, but it took me about half the film to realise what was going on; there's nothing explicit, and nothing that most children would notice.

Review by copyright 2016 Sue's DVD Reviews

01 March 2016

What we did on our holiday (starring David Tennant and Rosamund Pike)

‘Hilarious British comedy’, the blurb said. The stars are David Tennant, who’s pretty good value in anything, Billy Connolly, whom I’ve only recently begun to appreciate as a character actor, and Rosamund Pike, who was - I gather - one of the Bennet sisters in the 2005 version of ‘Pride and Prejudice’. It was an obvious film to add to my wishlist, and one that I was pleased to be given at Christmas.

We weren’t so certain about it when it started. We meet a family who are clearly under stress; the parents - we quickly learn - are separated, putting on a united front for the sake of an elderly and terminally ill grandparent. The three children are caught up in this, the eldest asking for clear lists of lies which should be told, and information that must not be revealed to the extended family. The youngest, meanwhile, has a passionate attachment to a collection of stones, all of which must travel in the car on their lengthy journey into Scotland.

The journey is long, dogged by traffic and parental bickering, and the eventual arrival overshadowed by the evident frailty of Grandpa, and the shallowness of the children’s uncle, who is organising a huge party to celebrate his father’s imminent 75th birthday.

It’s hardly the theme of a ‘hilarious comedy’, and could have been maudlin, even devastatingly tragic. But somehow it works. The acting is superb, the characters believable despite some increasingly bizarre scenes, and even the inevitable tragedy and parental obliviousness manage, somehow, to feed unexpectedly humorous lines and situations.

And yes, we laughed. This was no schadenfreude: our sympathies were with the children, feeling for them in their difficult decisions, and their determination to honour their grandfather. The parents, caught in the middle, with their petty, sometimes selfish concerns, were the ones who were the butt of most of the humour.

The children reminded me forcibly of the three ‘Railway Children’ at times, in the way they pulled together, and their general chemistry; we didn’t watch the extras so I don’t know if their parts were closely scripted or more spontaneous: it doesn’t matter. They were exceptional in their parts, believable as a family unit, pulling together in the face of unreliable adults, and their comic timing was superb.

I wondered in the early stages - and towards the middle - whether it would be disappointing, or depressing, but despite the bittersweet and potentially tragic theme, it was a thought-provoking, uplifting, and thoroughly enjoyable film.

Rated 12 for some bad language and innuendoes, and a potentially devastating scene that could disturb younger or more sensitive viewers.

Review by copyright 2016 Sue's DVD Reviews

16 February 2016

Hotel du Lac (starring Anna Massey)

I saw some positive reviews of this film, and it sounded like my kind of thing: gentle, about a writer, and with a hopeful ending. It went on my wishlist and I was given it for Christmas two years ago. For some reason, we never selected it when sitting down to a DVD evening.

However we finally picked out ‘Hotel du Lac’ and watched it last night. It was originally made for television, by the BBC, and is only 75 minutes long in all; that was part of the reason I decided on it rather than any of the others we were thinking about, as we started rather later than usual. It was evidently a bit dated in style; we discovered afterwards that it was made as long ago as 1986 and based on a book of the same name.

Anna Massey stars in this as Edith Hope, a middle-aged writer who has been quite successful in her field, although her personal life is more of a problem. We quickly learn that she’s been shipped abroad to stay in a hotel in Switzerland because of some ‘crime’; the nature of this becomes clear later on.

Edith is quiet, unassuming and rather dowdy, but has a quick and lively mind, even if she’s not very good at reading people. She get to know the other long-term residents of the hotel - mostly well-known actresses - who are all rather caricatured, slightly ridiculous in their way, and yet played to such perfection that I almost believed in them.

The story is character-based; Edith has to make some decisions, but she’s in no hurry to do so. Those who prefer action films would probably find it slow, even tedious, but I found it relaxing and enjoyable. There were one or two moments of pathos, and a few places where we smiled, though the humour is understated, in the people and their attitudes rather than anything more overt.

No bad language, no violence; intimacies are hinted at but there’s no actual nudity, as far as I recall. The rating is PG but I can’t imagine it being of the slightest interest to anyone under the age of at least twelve, probably older.

The scenery is attractive, the pace just right - all in all I thought it a pleasant evening’s viewing.

There are no extras on the DVD, other than the option of a commentary from some of the production staff. It's remarkably expensive at present, so I would not recommend buying it new; however it's the kind of film that's sometimes found in charity shops.

Review by copyright 2016 Sue's DVD Reviews

31 January 2016

The English Teacher (starring Julianne Moore)

I don’t know why this DVD was recommended to me, but it sounded good from the reviews, and I was given it for Christmas just over a year ago; it’s taken us this long to decide to watch it.

Julianne Moore stars as Linda, a single teacher in her forties. She lives on her own, and - according to the introductory voice-over - mostly enjoys her days, living vicariously in the novels she devours. She’s an inspiring teacher whose students enjoy her classes, and she’s fiercely independent. So much so that when an ex-student happens to see her, she rather over-reacts at first…

Michael Angarano co-stars as Jason, a young man who has graduated from university and written an incredible - if dark - play but has been unable to find anyone interested in performing it. His widowed father, he tells Linda, wants him to give up on his dream of being a writer and study instead to be a lawyer. 

Linda is determined to help out, and convinces her school to put on the show, no expense spared…

On the whole it’s light-hearted, the school production being caricatured and full of its own drama on the sideline. The main cast - including Greg Kinnear as Jason’s father - are excellent and believable. While the ending is somewhat predictable, there is an unexpectedly sordid incident - done with humour but still rather cringeworthy - that made me less certain about the likely outcome.

The storyline is not particularly original, but it’s nicely done on the whole. The rating is 15 (or an even more cautious R in the US) which I think is right: there was a fair amount of ‘strong’ language, which I could have done without, as well as a bit of violence and the rather obviously sordid scene mentioned above. I can’t imagine that this would appeal to anyone still at school; I would have found it embarrassing in the extreme when I was a teenager.

Still, we liked it, and thought it made a good light evening’s entertainment. So on balance I would recommend it.

The film is around an hour and a half long, and the only extras are some cast/crew interviews.

Review by copyright 2016 Sue's DVD Reviews

20 January 2016

Elsa & Fred (starring Christopher Plummer and Shirley MacLaine)

I didn’t really know what to expect of this film, but it has an all-star cast, and Amazon recommended it to me as a gentle light romance. So it went on my wish-list and I was given it for Christmas. I realised that it was about an elderly couple, as the main title roles are played by Christopher Plummer and Shirley MacLaine, but I think it’s a positive move that films are being made about those both in middle age and well beyond it.

The story starts as we meet Fred’s rather bossy daughter, who is helping him to move into a small apartment. He was widowed some months before the story opens, but although he’s not really grieving, he’s a bit lonely, and quite a hypochondriac. His daughter arranges for someone to cook, clean and provide company for him, but he’s cantankerous and prefers to spend his days in bed…

Then his neighbour Elsa comes into his life. She’s lively and imaginative, although we quickly realise that she has a habit of embellishing the truth, or even making up stories entirely to suit her purposes. She’s a dreamer, but she and Fred soon become friends…

It would be hard to say more without spoilers. It’s not a fast-moving plot, nor is it particularly original. But it’s nicely done with touches of humour here and there, and I found it mostly very engaging. I can’t say I particularly liked Shirley MacLaine’s character; I felt it would have been better played by one of the other well-known actresses in their early 80s, but on the whole the pairing works, and it’s a nice back-to-front touch that their younger offspring were the ones worrying about them, telling them what they should and shouldn’t do, and generally disapproving.

Since I associate Christopher Plummer primarily with ‘The Sound of Music’, I found myself expecting him to break into ‘Edelweiss’ when he picked up a guitar… and there was a bit of cognitive dissonance when Scott Bakula appeared as Elsa’s reliable accountant son; I’ve only known him as the star of the lengthy ‘Quantum Leap’ series. But he was believable, as was his artist brother, whereas I had a hard time believing in Fred’s controlling and unpleasant daughter and son-in-law.

Rated 12, which I suppose is about right; I did notice one instance of ‘strong’ language, and perhaps a couple of minor words, and there are several implied bedroom scenes, although nothing at all explicit. I’m a little surprised it’s not PG from the legal point of view, but the storyline would be of no interest to a child, or even a teenager; indeed, I wouldn’t really recommend it to anyone under the age of about forty.

The ending is bittersweet, as was inevitable almost from the start, but nicely done. Overall it made a pleasant evening’s viewing even if there wasn’t much that was memorable or thought-provoking.

Review by copyright 2016 Sue's DVD Reviews