Love Is All You Need (2012) R

Here’s a perfect movie to watch when you feel like you need a “romantic comedy.”  This sleeper-of-a-movie stars Pierce Brosnan as a wealthy but grumpy widower who travels to Italy for his son’s marriage to a young Danish girl. As the two very different families meet to prepare for and celebrate their children’s wedding, love and hope for a wonderful future materialize. Quirky but warm and funny, Love Is All You Need just might fit the bill.

Now You See Me (2013) PG-13

This entertaining, fast paced movie centers around four magicians, played by Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher, and Dave Franco, who are mysteriously brought together to perform a lavish act with amazing feats including pulling off elaborate heists. Are these thefts real or illusions?

Early on Eisenberg’s character says, “The more you think you see the easier it will be to fool you.” “The Four Horsemen” stay one step ahead of the FBI and Interpol in Now You See Me. Director Louis Leterrier also directed the action movie The Transporter.

Jack Reacher (2012) PG-13

Based on Lee Child’s book One Shot, Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise) travels across the USA and always runs into some very dangerous people who have killed innocent people and are planning to do more until Reacher stops them. In the movie as well as the book, James Barr is accused of killing five random people and the evidence against him will likely produce a guilty verdict. The suspect doesn’t want an attorney, he won’t confess even though the police and the DA have advised him that if he elects to be tried, the DA will do his best to get him executed. The suspect wants only one thing: to see Jack Reacher.

Jack Reacher has plenty of action, but it will give the viewer plenty to think about as well. Rosamund Pike gives a fine performance as Barr’s defense attorney Helen, as does Werner Herzog who plays the chief villain. Robert Duvall stars as Cash, and he gives a fine performance as well.

I have already seen this movie three times and I don’t usually see newer films this many times within such a short period (the last 7 months). I recommend it.

 

Horatio Hornblower: The Complete Adventures (1998)

Based on the book series of the same name by C.S. Forester, this period drama miniseries follows young naval officer Horatio Hornblower (played by Ioan Gruffudd) from midshipman to third lieutenant. Unlike most men in his service, Hornblower takes big risks and uses his wits to stop the enemy at every turn. Set during the Napoleonic Wars between England and France, this naval drama includes much of history and more of life at sea and at war. Horatio Hornblower: The Complete Adventures includes six different adventures which include many battles, storms, and challenges to overcome.

The cast is made up of a variety of characters in many positions across the ship, from the stern, yet fatherly Captain Pellew (Robert Lindsay) to the affable Archie Kennedy (Jamie Bamber) to the comedic relief seaman Styles (Sean Gilder). At the end of the collection, the officers and crew will feel like close friends and the viewer will not want to leave the ship (though a 2-part further adventures movie does exist, and it’s very good!). Well-acted and directed, this collection is an entertaining adventure series for fans of naval dramas and 19th century period pieces.

Unfinished Song (2012) PG-13

This is the story of the healing power of music. It has the power to unlock long forgotten memories and feelings no matter what age. Great actors: Terence Stamp plays Arthur, the curmudgeon husband, and Vanessa Redgrave plays his ailing goodhearted wife, Marion. They have one son who mother cherishes and father disdains. Marion sings in the local senior choral group lead by Elizabeth (Gemma Arterton). They decide to enter a local contest singing their favorite heavy metal tunes. The crowd loves them and they go onto further competition.

But the touching part of Unfinished Song is the relationship between Arthur and his wife. How we live every day is what counts is the message here. Have your Kleenex ready.

Sports Night. The Complete Series (1998-2000)

Before The West Wing, Aaron Sorkin created Sports Night. My only complaint for the snappy series is that it only lasted two seasons…but what an entertaining 45 episodes. Sports Night focuses on a group that produces a lives sports newscast, much like ESPN’s SportsCenter.

The snappy, rapid-fire dialogue, the witty banter, and the entertaining cast of characters will make the episodes fly by. And this isn’t just for sports fans – while the events of the show are centered around sports, it’s more about the characters and the clever dialogue. I’ve gotten friends who don’t follow sports hooked on Sports Night. Warning: if you try an episode or two, you may be compelled to finish the series immediately. Enjoy!

Oh, and if you need a bit more convincing…you’ll find Felicity Huffman pre-Desperate Housewives, Peter Krause before Six Feet Under and Parenthood, Josh Charles before The Good Wife, Joshua Malina pre-The West Wing and Scandal, plus Robert Guillaume.

The Simpsons Movie (2007) PG-13

Okay, if you like The Simpsons television show at all, you will laugh out loud at the movie more or less all the way to the end. It’s basically a supersized version of the TV show, and it even has moments that touch your heart (in a Simpsons’ sort of way).

In The Simpsons Movie, Homer has polluted Lake Springfield, which prompts the evil head of the EPA, voiced by Albert Brooks, to have a giant dome placed over the entire city. Meanwhile, the Simpson family goes on the lam to Alaska only to return to try to save their hometown which has been slated to be nuked. There is the typical Simpson family dysfunction, there is the entire Simpson cast of characters, and most importantly, there is Spider Pig. This is a fun movie!

Man of Steel (2013) PG-13

This 2013 retelling of the origin of Superman is superb. Man of Steel stars Henry Cavill as Superman and Clark Kent, and he is outstanding. Amy Adams gives a fine performance as Lois Lane.

If you are looking for action, there is plenty of it. And the special effects should get at least an Oscar nomination if not a win.

The chief villain is General Zod (Michael Shannon), and he is a great nemesis. The battles between General Zod and Superman are titanic. Kal-El’s father Jor-El is played by Russell Crowe, and he gives a very solid performance. For those of you who’ve forgotten, Kal-El is Superman’s Kryptonian name.

The movie, although a little dark at times, is a lot of fun.

Midnight in Paris (2011) PG-13

Did you ever wonder what Paris was like in the 1920s? Here is your chance. Owen Wilson is visiting Paris with his fiancé and her family. He is a writer with writer’s block. One evening he decides to take a walk to clear his mind. When a limo pulls up and the passengers offer him a ride, he accepts. This is the start of his adventure and a chance to go back to the Paris of the 1920s.

Kathy Bates as Gertrude Stein and Adrien Brody as Salvador Dali welcome him into their world. When Owen’s fiancé and her family become suspicious of his disappearing every night, they hire a detective. The results lead one to believe this may or may not be a dream.

Midnight in Paris is one of Woody Allen’s best. The acting is great and the literary characters are true to life.