The Zookeeper’s Wife


Picture Courtesy of Focus Features

Based on the true story and the novel of the same name by Diane Ackerman, The Zookeeper’s Wife tells the story of Jan (Johan Heldenbergh) and Antonina Zabinski (Jessica Chastain), two polish zoo workers who helped save around 300 Jewish lives during WWII.  I imagine working and living inside the zoo itself, the Zabinki’s would have had no shortage of tales to tell.  When war came to Warsaw during WWII, their zoo was taken over by German soldiers and many of their animals heartbreakingly killed.  With friends being round up and taken to the ghetto, the Zabinski’s took a risk by hiding a dear friend within a cramped space of their home.  Their zoo being damaged by the German bombs and their animals killed, the Zabinki’s managed to convince their acquaintance and zoologist to Hitler himself, Dr. Lutz Heck (Daniel Bruhl) to allow them to raise pigs at the zoo.  Under the guise of raising the pigs to keep their zoo running and to feed the Germans, the Zabinski’s took an even greater risk by smuggling as many Jewish people from the ghetto as they could and into their home.  With the help of resistance fighters and friends, they were able to funnel people out of the ghetto and out of danger.

The Zookeeper’s Wife tells the amazing story of the brave Zabinski family and those who risked their lives to save others.  The details of the story may be unknown to you, but you have a general idea of the plot based on history.  This does not; however, take away from the story.  There are many endearing moments that any movie with animals brings, though it was quite difficult to watch any scenes where they were killed.  Film versions of events usually embellish things for effect, but after watching the movie I can’t help but think of how much more of the story we likely missed.  Because of this I would be more inclined to read the book, but the likelihood of this happening does seem rather slim.

WWII has a way of peeking my interest though I can’t say it is for any specific reason.  This unique true story set during WWII and in a zoo no less tells a story the likes of which many of us could never have imagined.  The struggles and atrocities that occurred during WWII were widespread and boundless leaving no shortage of stories and unsung heroes.  Any chance to acknowledge these heroes and hear their stories is well worth the time and effort.




Picture Courtesy of Orion Pictures and Samuel Goldwyn Films


Pet is a psychological thriller starring Dominic Monaghan and Ksenia Solo.  Monaghan plays Seth who is a loner who works at a veterinary dog shelter.  One day during his long commute to work Seth sees Holly (Ksenia Solo) and creates a backstory that they knew each other from school.  Knowing details of her life, Holly assumes that he is telling the truth that they may have gone to the same school together but she does not remember him at all.  When Seth approaches Holly at her job as a waitress and tries to ask her out, she politely declines stating that she has a boyfriend.  Having stalked her online, Seth absentmindedly replies that she does not.  Creeped out by the situation, Holly shuts him down and asks him to leave.  Seth is persistent in his attempts and begins the creation of a cage and a plan to kidnap Holly.  Holly is determined to survive at all costs and uses Seth’s love for her in the hopes of escaping.

Not what you would have expected going in to the movie and things just get more and more strange as they progress.  While I can appreciate the work done to create the psychological aspects of the film I don’t think it was really worth the wait.  Fond memories of Dominic Monaghan from the Shire are long gone in this creepy attempt to disturb us, yet disturbed we are.  Make a u-turn and head back to the Shire, somewhere more pleasant and more entertaining.

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates


Picture Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

Courtesy of my prediction for July 2016 movies NOT to see:

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates (July 8)

“Let’s just casually skip over the fact that it is the worst attempt at naming a movie.  There are going to be some good laughs and a lot of stupid stuff.  Everyone is going to go to this movie and laugh and in the end it will just be okay and no one will ever talk about it again, as it should be.  Also… Anna Kendrick’s hair.”

Mike (Adam DeVine) and Dave (Zac Efron) Stangle are liquor salesmen, somehow, and just so happen to ruin every family occasion with their idiot antics.  As their little sisters wedding looms as the next big family function, their parents give them the task of finding nice girls to bring as their dates to keep them out of trouble.  The two put out an ad on Craigslist looking for nice girls to bring as their dates to their sisters wedding in an all expense paid trip to Hawaii.  Their ad goes viral as every type and age of girl (and guy) come out to try and win the two lucky spots.

Alice and Tatiana are best friends and co-workers.  After Alice’s finance left her at the alter she has been a complete mess getting drunk at work and high when she can and generally just being a crying mess.  When Tatiana sees Mike and Dave on TV talking about their hunt for nice girls. Tatiana hatches a plan to get her and Alice to Hawaii.  As most girls respond to the ad looking to set up a meeting, Tatiana decides to bring the meeting to the boys.  Tatiana and Alice create cover stories while Tatiana does most of the work and Alice awkwardly makes a series of bad lies until people look the other way.

The girls are a hit with the Stangle family and are so impressed that Mike and Dave were able to find such nice girls as their dates.  It doesn’t take long for them to discover that these girls aren’t so nice after all as all out chaos ensues threatening to ruin yet another family function.

Not only was there little thought put into naming the movie, there was probably about as much thought put into the plot of the movie.  The characters actions are all over the place, but when you create a film so ridiculous you know that your characters or the plot do not have to make sense.  You just need to make sure you can please your target audience.  Adolescent boys and their girlfriends both high off their rockers.

One could possibly applause Anna Kendrick’s acting in this movie for portraying such an annoying whiny pot head, but I can honestly say that her role in the first Twilight film was better done and much more believable.  Also, as a mentioned in my prediction, her hair.  I couldn’t stop staring at it and it just made things all the worse.  Aubrey Plaza plays the leader of the duo and pulls off her bad ass sex kitten role well though I could have done without the heart to heart.

When it comes to Adam Devine, he can sing and he can do the funny guy bit, but there has to be more to him than his signature funny face, right?  And lastly, lets all just admit that we will watch any movie with Zac Efron no matter how crappy it is.  That boy could sell an STI off a hooker and we would still buy it.

Well can’t say we are surprised by the outcome of this movie.  It delivers in its ridiculousness and we have already forgotten anything positive about the movie because of all the negatives that went along with it.



Picture Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures


It always surprises me how many stories of Roald Dahl’s I have not actually read.  We have all seen many of the film versions of his stories but I have not taken the tire to read the tales that have become such beloved movies.  This was no more obvious to me than the very long few moments that I sat and tried to work out what BFG stood for.  Naturally, my mind went for the four letter words category for $400 truly never coming to the correct conclusion.  The answer alluded me until one day someone mentioned it in passing and the lightbulb connected and my inner voice cautioned me to not say out loud what I thought it was all along.  I don’t know where that voice is today but there is such a colourful title of one of Dahl’s other books that would be willing to support my initial theory.  While the four letter word was my first choice I knew it was not the correct answer for the obvious fact that it was being created by Disney.

As many of you knew before me, our story is about a Big Friendly Giant.  Our main character, Sophie, lives at an orphanage.  From the beginning we can tell the she is smart, independent, and unique.  I can’t know for sure because I have not read the book, but I like to think that the book goes into more detail about Sophie and the type of person she is.  Sophie is played by Ruby Barnhill and whether her character matches the book or not I absolutely loved her in this role.  Sophie is taken from the orphanage by a giant who she has seen lurking around at night.  Because she now knows of their existence he tells her that she can never leave giant country, where he has taken her.  He is certainly seen as a friendly giant when we are introduced to some of the other giants who go by names such as the Blood Bottler.  Sophie, with the help of BFG and his dream skills, work up a plan to get rid of the giants with the help of the Queen of England.

The characters, the visual and that extra twist of all things Dahl create a magical setting for this charming story.  Things are going so delightfully well until Sophie hatches this rather odd plan of getting the aid of the Queen of England to assist them in ridding the world of these bad giants.  The film falls apart rather quickly from this point on including some absolutely ludicrous scenes made to make children laugh.  I suppose you cannot really berate the film or story for doing what it had initially set out to do, it is a children’s story after all.  Still, if the film only held on for a little longer I think it could have easily fit in with the other greats such as James and the Giant Peach, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, The Witches and of course Matilda.  Sadly it doesn’t quite cut it making it a delightful escape, though one place I would rather not go as often as these other great titles.



Picture Courtesy of Netflix


Using cute to make a statement.   Netflix is the go to for movie nights and binge watching, but it is also keeping its number one status by drawing in headlining shows and big named actors and actresses.  Premiering at the 2017 Cannes film festival and releasing direct to Netflix on June 28, 2017 Okja introduced a lovable and adorable super pig along with some deep gut feels.

The Mirando corporation is rebranding itself trying to wipe clean the atrocities of the previous owner and father of the new CEO Lucy Mirando (Tilda Swinton).  While unveiling their new image, Lucy also unveils the companies latest product.  “We needed a miracle and then we got one.  This beautiful and special little creature will be our revolution in the livestock industry.  Our super pigs will not only be big and beautiful they will also leave a  minimal footprint on the environment, consume less feed and produce less excretions.  And most importantly, they need to taste fucking good.”  The Mirando corporation claims to have found a super pig at a farm in Chile.  Bringing the pig back to their labs they have prepared 26 super pigs to be shipped around the world of the worlds leading farmers to be raised in each diverse environment.  After a period of 10 years, the winner of the super pig contest will be crowned and production will commence.

Mija (Awn Seo-Hyun) is a young girl who lives high in the mountains of South Korea with her grandfather and her super pig called Okja.  Mija and Okja are best friends as they forage the mountain sides, play and even sleep together.  10 long years since the commencement of the competition has passed, zoologist and TV personality Dr. Johnny Wilcox (Jake Gyllenhaal) is traveling the world to see each of the 26 super pigs in their diverse environments to crown the winner.  As soon as Dr. Wilcox sees Okja he knows he has found the winner.  Mija and her grandfather are proud to have Okja chosen as the winner and Mija is excited to have such a famous TV personality to be in her midst.  It isn’t until later that Mija discovers what this means for Okja.  Running away from home, Mija must try to find Okja who is in transit to New York where she will be crowned the winner of the super pig competition.  Along the way Mija runs into a group called the A.L.F (Animal Liberation Front) which includes familiar faces such as Lily Collins, Paul Dano and Steven Yeun.  With the help of the A.L.F. Mija travels across the globe to save Okja uncovering a sinister and disturbing plot concocted by the Mirando Corporation.

Okja is an adorable super pig that looks like a hippo meets an elephant creation.  She is adorable, friendly, smart and has a funny way of going number two.  It is no accident that the creators of the film made Okja the way she is.  The viewers meet Okja and instantly fall in love.  Furthermore we are touched by the deep bond between Okja and Mija and the serenity of their home up in the Korean mountains.  We are heart broken when Okja is taken from Mija, but this is only the beginning.  Viewers are immediately thrust into a harsh reality they aren’t ready to face.  The evil corporation that does unspeakable acts are in fact just like every corporation that deals in livestock today.  Each animal is just like Okja, and each clueless consumer are just like us.

The makers of the film definitely hit the mark with their objective gouging us in the head, the heart and the gut, serving us up on a platter like a delicious piece of meat.  If you are an animal lover you will definitely have some trouble watching this movie and you might even reconsider your feelings towards the things you eat.

I love this sort of surge in big named actors and actresses headlining or backing these productions that are directly pushed to Netflix.  As much as I love the movie going experience, there is something about the comfort of your own home, the fact that you already have paid for the membership for the entire month that is less than a standard movie ticket, no crowds, no annoying people… okay the list could go on.  Tilda Swinton is undoubtedly one of the strangest female actresses out there and for that we love her.  She is a chameleon in any role she is given, and this instance she was given two separate roles playing both Lucy and Nancy Mirando, twin sisters.  Gyllenhaal’s performance as Dr. Johnny Wilcox is both wacky and disturbing mirror the movies way of lulling you into a false sense of security before turning sinister.

Okja is a hard pill of reality to swallow.  Normally I am not fond of films or shows that push their propaganda, but you can’t help but feel and connect with the message they portray so well.

The Call


Picture Courtesy of TriStar Pictures

I can’t believe this movie was released in 2013.  I still remember seeing the preview and thinking how good this movie will be.  I put the movie on the To see list and even considered seeing it in theatres.  Life, money and time got in the way and this one managed to slip through the cracks.  I saw it pop up on Netflix a few times, but never took the time.

The Call stars Halle Berry who plays a 911 operator.  Definitely something that you don’t think about, those people on the other side of the line.  They have to deal with so many traumatic phone calls every day all day.  The emotional toll it must take on every single one of them must be immense.  Shout out to them.  Berry plays Jordan, a 911 operator who happened to be on the phone during an incident that has shaken her to the core.  No longer able to handle the stress of the “hive” and the direct calls, Jordan begins teaching new recruits.  When one of the newer employees is unable to handle the call, Jordan must step in and relive the horrors she experienced before when a teenage girl (Abigail Breslin) calls from within the trunk of a car reporting her own kidnapping.

The Call just so happens to be on Netflix now which gives many of you little to no excuses for not being able to see this movie if you haven’t already.  As I predicted back in 2013, this is one of those movies that should be on your TO see list and frankly I am shocked I haven’t heard more about this movie since then.  The Call is so INTENSE I was on the edge of my seat with my heart leaping out of my chest even further.  I am actually surprised that I did not have a complete heart attack while watching this.

The Call is a must see movie and I highly suggest you set aside whatever it is you are binge watching right now and take the time to watch this.  Be warned, if you have any heart issues you may want to steer clear of this one.

The Dressmaker


Picture Courtesy of Universal Pictures

Based on the novel of the same name by Rosalie Ham comes a revenge comedy like nothing you would have expected.

In the dead of night, a mysterious figure arrives in the small town of Dungatar set in the 1950’s in the Australia outback.  We discover that the mysterious figure is a woman named Myrtle Dunnage, a successful dressmaker who now goes by the name of Tilly (played by Kate Winslet).  Tilly has arrived in the small town with only a bag and her sewing machine to discover that her mother is still alive and living in deplorable conditions.  Known as Mad Molly (Judy Davis), she refuses to believe this stranger is who she says she is and it doesn’t take long before the whole town knows that Tilly is back.

Tilly’s past is shrouded in mystery and she has come back looking for answers, answers that all the towns people seem to have.  Piecing together the fragments of her past, Tilly stitches together the most beautiful gowns creating masterpieces for the women to wear to win them over.  There is something about makeovers that instantly wins me over, and nothing is more exciting than to see middle of nowhere country bumpkins going from plain floral frocks to couture gowns against the rough western backdrop.

In this deviously hilarious comedy, a small town where the devils themselves may be wearing Prada-like creations, comes one of those hidden gem films that everyone needs to see and I am truly shocked that I have never heard or seen anyone else raving about this film.  Kate Winslet shines in her role as Tilly, but each character in the town is so distinct and unique that the film boasts an entire town of memorable characters that come together to create this unique and enjoyable film.  The focus and wasted potential is often lost on the minor characters when the spotlight is always shinning on the main characters.  There is something about a story that invests in all the characters that gives it so much more depth reminiscent to that of the beloved stories from Roald Dahl.  You know the story has this quality when you can remember each character even with only a few seconds of mention.  While the character of Mad Molly is sad when looking at her full story from start to finish, Judy Davis brings so much comedy to the film that you can’t help but adore her.  You also know you are bound to visually cater to the audience when you bring a Hemsworth into the mix with  Liam Hemsworth playing the role of Teddy McSwiney, our small town hunky heartthrob and knight in shinning armour.

The Dressmaker is a wonderfully crafted story with memorable characters, great laughs and just the right amount of bite to it.  I truly enjoyed the movie so much that I am eager to also read the novel and perhaps one day add both the film and the book to my library collections.