Pride (2014) R

prideThis British LGBT historical comedy drama is based on a true story. Lesbian and gay activists raised money to help the striking British miners in 1984. The National Union of Mine Workers was reluctant to accept the group’s support because of publicity worries of being associated with a gay group. So the activists took their hefty donations directly to the small mining village of Onllwyn, Wales. What results is a wonderful story of the unlikely alliance between the two communities. It is told with love, dignity, and comedy.

I found that Pride kept its political correctness while providing good entertainment with a cast of wonderful actors like Bill Nighy, Imelda Staunton, Dominic West, and more.

For another take on Pride, read Jez’s review here.

Back to the Future (1985) PG

backfutureMarty McFly, played by Michael J. Fox, is accidentally sent back in time 30 years to 1955 by his friend Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd). While Marty works desperately to find a way back to the future, he inadvertently interferes with the relationship of his high school age parents. If he does not get them to unite, he may cease to exist. Christopher Lloyd is brilliant as nutty Doc Brown, and Michael J. Fox has just the right combination of awkward and cool to make you laugh and cheer at the same time. Back to the Future is a fun adventure comedy that the whole family will love.

Wind at My Back. The Complete Series (1996-2001)

This Canadian series ran for five seasons from 1996-2001. Set during the Great Depression in small town Ontario, Wind at My Back could be described as the Canadian version of The Waltons.

The Bailey family owns and controls the local mine in New Bedford, Ontario, and May Bailey, the family matriarch, controls the Bailey family. When her estranged son moves back home with his wife and children, May does all she can to control them, too. As the years pass, May can never quite lose her controlling ways, but daughter Grace and grandsons Hub and Fat each manages to find their own way. This is a delightful family story, sometimes funny, sometimes poignant, and full of wonderful characters.

Angels in the Outfield (1951)

angelsIn this baseball comedy, Guffy McGovern (Paul Douglas), the manager of a very awful Pittsburgh Pirates team, is foul mouthed, hated by his players, ridiculed by the fans, and regularly badmouthed by the Pirates radio announcer (Keenan Wynn). Newspaper reporter Jennifer Paige (Janet Leigh) is assigned to cover the Pirates and give a woman’s perspective on the team. When she initially tries to interview McGovern, he gives her a very impolite brushoff.

A short time later, an angel contacts McGovern, and tells him that someone has been praying for him and the Pirates. If McGovern can control his temper, the angel and some of his friends will help the Pirates win a few games. McGovern agrees and suddenly this heretofore awful Pirates team are playing great baseball.

Bridget White (Donna Corcoran), an orphan who is hoping to be adopted, has been praying for the Pirates. One day, the girls at the orphanage are brought to the ballpark by two nuns (played by longtime character actors Spring Byington and Ellen Corby). During the game, Bridget witnesses the angels helping the Pirates. Nobody else can see the angels. Paige writes a story about Bridget, which causes a lot of complications for all involved. But it also leads to lot of good things including an unlikely romance between McGovern and Paige.

Angels in the Outfield has a lot of laughs and a lot of heart, plus a few cameo appearances by Bing Crosby, baseball greats Ty Cobb and Joe DiMaggio, and famous songwriter Harry Ruby. It also has some stock footage showing old Comiskey Park.

This is my favorite baseball movie and I hope you enjoy it too. You can also peruse our list of other baseball films.

Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries

missfisherDo you love the Phryne Fisher mysteries by Kerry Greenwood? You’re in luck; there’s a television adaptation! Once Phryne has caught the trail on an investigation, it’s impossible to keep her out of it (no matter how much Detective Jack tries to do so). With the help of Mr. Butler, Cec, Bert, and Dorothy, nothing stands in Miss Fisher’s way of catching the latest murderer on the scene.

Check out Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, set in 1920s Australia, today.

The Mirror Has Two Faces (1996) PG-13

mirrorThis romantic comedy stars Barbra Streisand and Jeff Bridges. They both teach at Columbia University. Good looking but stiff and awkward, Gregory (Bridges) has had his share of troubles with the gorgeous but none-too-stimulating women he dates as well as with engaging his students. Rose (Streisand), an intelligent, popular teacher with limited dating options, struggles to find her self-worth and confidence in relationships. Gregory advertises for an intellectual companion, “physical appearance unimportant,” and unbeknownst to Rose, her beautiful sister (Mimi Rogers) responds to the ad for her. This sets the stage for a meeting and subsequent relationship between Rose and Gregory. Respect and friendship vs. attraction and desire result in a witty, enjoyable film. Lauren Bacall and Pierce Brosnan have fun secondary roles in The Mirror Has Two Faces.

Cake (2014) R

cakeI think the most interesting part of Cake is the amazing performance of Jennifer Aniston as Claire Simmons. She is a well-off L.A. divorcee who is a chronic pain sufferer due to the fact she was in a car accident that killed her son and left her with physical and emotional scars.

Claire is cranky, bitter, lies, steals to get what she wants, usually Percocet and the like. Even the people who are paid to be nice to her can’t stand her. She gets kicked out of her support group for expressing her admiration for a member who had leaped off the freeway overpass to her death.

Thank goodness the relationship between Claire and her Mexican housekeeper provide her saving grace. Claire still is rude to Silvana but comes to her rescue in one scene which gives the viewer a hint that there is some kindness under that horrible behavior.

As the movie progresses you wonder: will she ever clean up her act or have the ultimate meltdown?

Spotlight: Silent Comedy

Never was comic timing and sight gags at such a high point as in the silent movies of these comic geniuses.

Buster Keaton in The Navigator (1924). Spoiled rich boy Rollo Treadwell and his equally spoiled neighbor Betsy O’Brien find themselves adrift in the ship The Navigator. The two hapless drifters are at first completely at a loss when they have to try to feed themselves by opening cans of food or boiling water, but as the time goes by, they devise clever management skills and learn to work together to fight off swordfish and cannibals.

Charlie Chaplin in The Gold Rush (1925). The little tramp, Chaplin’s signature character, goes to the Klondike in search of gold. There he survives the bitter winter, makes his fortune, and wins the girl. Along the way he enjoys the famous boiled leather dinner and performs the dance of the dinner rolls.

Harry Langdon in The Strong Man (1926). At the end of WWI, a little, mild-mannered Belgian immigrant comes to America looking for his beloved pen pal, Mary Brown. All he knows is that she lives in America. He joins in the stage act of fellow immigrant Zandow the Great, the Strong Man, going on in his stead when Zandow is incapacitated. Langdon also performs his famous backwards climb up the stairs. Directed by Frank Capra.

Harold Lloyd in The Kid Brother (1927). Harold Hickory is the youngest and scrawniest of the Hickory boys whose father is the town sheriff. When his father is accused of theft, Harold sets out to prove to his family, his girl, and his town that he is the equal of any Hickory in Hickoryville.