Lost Girls

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Lost Girls resembles a made-for-TV-movie more than a feature film. Working class single mom, Mari Gilbert, played by Amy Ryan of The Office, tries to reach out to her estranged daughter. The girl goes missing and  when numerous bodies are discovered in Long Island, Mari presses the police to find her daughter. The first officer in charge sees Gilbert as an annoyance. He’s got a smarmy demeanor and seems fishy. Gilbert’s only help is the Police Captain played by Gabriel Byrne, yet Gilbert doesn’t trust anyone.

Based on a true story, Lost Girls is a moving story, but there’s nothing that distinguishes it from say a Law and Order: SVU. 

Seen at Sundance

The Crown

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After several friends recommended, Netflix’s The Crown, I’ve started watching. It’s no secret that I have a soft spot in my heart for British historical dramas from Downton Abbey to Victoria. The BBC and itv have won me over.

I did wonder how the American Netflix would do telling the story of the current royal family. From the start it’s clear that Netflix spared no expense in this lush drama with exquisite, expensive costumes and magnificent palace settings. I’ve finished the first season, which contains a lot of flashbacks to contextualize the history. When the story begins King George VI is sickly and Elizabeth is newly married and while educated to become queen, she figures that’s a ways off. Within a few episodes, King George passes away and Elizabeth becomes queen.

Her first Prime Minister is Winston Churchill, who’s played by John Lithgow. Lithgow does a splendid job as Churchill.

One major plot line, that I wasn’t aware of, is Princess Margaret’s romance with Peter Townsend, her father’s personal secretary. Townsend is much older than Margaret and married. This is quite a juicy part of the series. When Townsend gets divorced, he hopes to marry Margaret, however, these plans are foiled because there’s a Royal Marriage Act that prevents royals from marrying without the Sovereign’s approval until they’re 26 years old. In season 1 Margaret is 23. The new queen can’t approve the wedding because although people are starting to divorce more, the royal family is not supposed to in any way approve divorce. Elizabeth is head of the church and the church is against divorce. That confused me since the reason the Church of England began was because Henry VIII wanted to get a divorce. He was a terrible model for morality so I’m wondering how the modern royal family became bound to live by high standards.

Claire Foy does an exemplary job as Elizabeth II. Her voice and mannerisms make be believe she is the queen. Matt Smith does resemble Prince Philip whom I knew was no saint, but now see his cavalier, playboy-ish. I think Smith’s prince is a bit gawkier than the real one, but I wasn’t born at the time shown in the series. Perhaps Philip’s posture was more bent over.

Continue reading “The Crown”

Joyful Noise

I didn’t expect a 4 star film when I decided to see Joyful Noise, just an entertaining film with good music. Queen Latifah, Dolly Parton and Keke Palmer make sure the music delivers. Yet the story was weaker than expected. Boy did this need a rewrite. It seemed like a movie cobbled together to pander to a Christian, rather dull witted audience, rather than one meant to tell a good story about fascinating characters. All the characters here seemed to be made of cardboard and their petty disagreements didn’t amount to a hill of beans and immediately dissolved when it was convenient.

The premise is that a small town’s church choir needs to win a competition. Their choirmaster dies in the first minutes of the film and his wife played by Parton expects to take over. Instead the pastor appoints Queen Latifah. Ho hum. The usual second rate sitcom-ish conflict ensues.

Why must this choir win? Well, only because Parton says so at one point. Except for some good music and the occasional witty repartee between Latifah and Parton, there isn’t much here. The characters seem wooden and the many subplots are contrived. As I watched I actually thought, “It’s a decent enough film and it’s good that I’m watching in a theater because I would find something else to do if this were on TV or Netflix.”