Saturday movie review: The Rider

Saturday movie review: The Rider

What can I do now? Who am I? What am I worth? Is my past the best I'll ever be?

Many folks ask themselves such questions when circumstances or age put an end to beloved careers, the pursuit of dreams and goals not yet realized. The existential quandary usually rears its head around retirement age or perhaps amidst some midlife questioning.

Lakota Indian cowboy Brady Jandreau was far from retirement, not yet even near midlife, when he was forced to weather such weighty wondering. In 2016, Jandreau was riding higher and higher as a professional bronc rider on the rodeo circuit. Then a tumble from a bronc and a foot snarled in the stirrup resulted in his skull being crushed by the animal. Brady’s professional riding career ended in an instant—at the age of 20.

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Saturday movie review: Last Flag Flying

Saturday movie review: Last Flag Flying

When I covered the Denver Film Festival last November, one of the movies I was especially excited about seeing was the drama/comedy LAST FLAG FLYING, directed by Richard Linklater and starring Steve Carrel, Bryan Cranston, and Laurence Fishbourne. The trailers convinced me the road trip movie featuring the oft-comic cast as vets on a mission would be laugh-out-loud funny with a few touching scenes scattered throughout and a sure highlight of my festival experience.

Unfortunately I didn't see LAST FLAG FLYING at the festival. The movie was among the most popular and sold out quickly, so my husband and I missed out.

We hit the jackpot last week, though, when LAST FLAG FLYING hit the top of my Netflix queue. It took mere minutes after starting the DVD for my assumptions about the film to be flipped as it immediately proved...

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Saturday movie review: A United Kingdom

Many of us common folk — those of us who have no royal blood running through our veins — consider the lives of kings and queens, princes and their princesses charmed existences. Perhaps most especially when it comes to love, romance, and fulfilling one's heart's desire with a special someone.

The reality, though, as we have learned from Princess Diana's unforgettable (and often sensationalized) story, The Crown series on Netflix, and other dramatic depictions based on true tales of royal romances make it clear such stations in life may be more of a royal pain — particularly when it comes to love and romance.

A United Kingdom film

A UNITED KINGDOM is the most recent film I've seen on the plight of one's allegiance to a crown...

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Saturday movie review: Hunt for the Wilderpeople

As I sat down to write my movie review on the HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE, a New Zealand adventure/comedy/drama starring Sam Neill and Julian Dennison that premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, a few choice words came to mind. Rather than attempt to deftly weave those words throughout my review, I'll just lay them on the line right here, right up front.


offbeat • poignant • outrageous • hilarious • sweet • silly • memorable • coming of age • wacky • well done • charming • delightfully deadpan • madcap • touching • must-see

hunt for the wilderpeople

HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE ("wilderpeople" being a twist on "wildebeest") is one of those films that flew so below the radar that finding it — after seeing Sam Neill interviewed on...

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Saturday movie review: The Hollars

I have a soft spot for movies about messed up families. If dysfunctional families were a film sub-category, you know, like coming-of-age is, I'd have to say it's one of my favorites.

I don't simply have a thing for dysfunctional families. I come from a dysfunctional family. And, trust me, if a film were made called The Aukemas (my maiden name) and based on the Aukemas (my family of origin), it would not make for enjoyable viewing.

THE HOLLARS, though, is enjoyable to watch. Trust me on that, too. The dramedy puts fun in dysfunction and proved a pleasurable hour and a half with the Mom, Dad, and two adult brothers who make up the fictional Hollar clan.

the hollars on DVD

I give (most of) the credit for that fun and pleasure to John Krasinski. Sure, he played the youngest Hollar brother to perfection, but his acting takes a backseat here to his directing (he also produced it).

His first time in the director chair, Krasinski — working with a stellar screenplay...

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Saturday movie review: Gifted

The storyline of GIFTED — about a bachelor raising his young and astonishingly brilliant young niece after his sister's suicide — had me braced for a sweet and sappy affair when I was invited to a free screening of the film a few weeks ago. You know, a predictable tale typical of television movies most often run and rerun on basic cable channels.

gifted movie

GIFTED surprised me by its lack of sappiness and degree to which it rose above and beyond my expectations. What made it so much better than I braced for? Could be the feisty and frank gifted girl of the title. Perhaps it's the handsome bachelor who proves himself far more than eye candy as well as the blunt and beautiful teacher enamored by the fella. Could also be the the one-eyed cat named Fred, the bitchy grandmother, the outspoken and overly...

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Saturday movie review: Demolition

Losing a beloved spouse must be one of the most painful experiences of a lifetime. Bewildering, too, especially if the surviving spouse didn't really love the one who passed. Or at least feels that may be the case once a partner is gone.

Such is the challenge Jake Gyllenhaal as Davis wrestles with in the drama (with a believable dose of humor) DEMOLITION.

demolition film

Davis is a successful investment banker with a lovely wife, a high-end home, a fancy-schmancy car, and good looks to boot. Then his wife dies tragically — which isn't a spoiler, I assure you, as the film is about...

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Saturday movie review: Learning to Drive

LEARNING TO DRIVE is a chick flick. Literally. The touching dramatic comedy was written by a woman (Sarah Kernochan), directed by a woman (Isabel Coixet), produced by women (executive producer Eleni Asvesta and producer Dana Friedman), and stars always intriguing Patricia Clarkson in a story primarily about a woman.

LEARNING TO DRIVE also stars a few men, Ben Kingsley most prominently. Which factors into the film resonating with men as well as women. Yet Kingsley's presence isn't the only reason men might enjoy the insightful movie made primarily by women. That can be attributed most fully to the engaging, uplifting story of a broken marriage, a new marriage, and an unexpected friendship forged.

learning to drive movie

The film opens with Wendy (Clarkson) and her husband...

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Saturday movie review: Max Rose

Jerry Lewis is back in business. Back in the movie business, that is.

For many, many years, it seems Jerry Lewis' primary business — and passion — was supporting the Muscular Dystrophy Association in myriad admirable ways. It's been more than 20 years, in fact, since acting was his primary gig, since he starred in a movie.

That last movie — FUNNY BONES — was released in 1995. Like most of Lewis' films dating back to his first in 1949, FUNNY BONES was a comedy. Lewis plays funny like no other.

MAX ROSE proves Lewis plays serious and heartbroken like no other, as well. At 90 years old, Jerry Lewis is back in fine form, albeit a form most of us might not expect from the comedic genius.

Jerry Lewis in Max Rose

MAX ROSE stars Lewis as the title character, a retired...

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Weekend movie review: The Light Between Oceans

Regular readers of Grandma's Briefs likely know I'm a huge fan of movie trailers. I share them often here on my blog. I always ensure I get to the movie theater in plenty of time to see all the previews preceding a feature film. I even went so far recently as to set my DVR to record an AXS TV program called "Nothing But Trailers" — three full hours of trailers every Monday night.

About six months ago I stumbled across the trailer for THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS. Deeply moved by it, I passed it along to my oldest daughter, who was so deeply moved she purchased the novel, written by M. L. Stedman, within 10 minutes of watching the trailer. She in turn passed along a glowing, nay, raving recommendation of the book so I then purchased it too. Hardcopy versus her digital version that she couldn't share with me.

I was as enthralled by the book as my daughter, and we agreed when the movie came out, we absolutely must see it together.

the light between oceans movie 

Needless to say, when I lucked out and was invited to screen THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS earlier this week...

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Saturday movie review: The Fundamentals of Caring

Paul Rudd has created a career primarily out of funny films. I like him best, though, when he's not funny. I'm not talking comedic bits that crash and elicit crickets. No, I mean his dramatic roles where he reveals more heart than humor that most endear me to Mr. Rudd.

I found Rudd's most recent part of that sort, in THE FUNDAMENTALS OF CARING, more endearing than any before.

The Fundamentals of Caring Netflix Original

THE FUNDAMENTALS OF CARING is a Netflix Original film and I must first give kudos to Netflix for...

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Saturday movie review: Little Boy

Sometimes as adults and definitely as kids, we don't want to believe reality and think if we believe long enough and hard enough that the impossible can come true, that the inevitable bad will turn out to not be inevitable. If we have faith.

Little Boy movie poster

The 2015 drama (with a heavy dose of family friendly humor) LITTLE BOY carries the tagline "Believe the Impossible," which makes it pretty darn obvious it's gonna be about belief and faith and hoping for the impossible to become possible.

The little boy of the title is 8-year-old Pepper Flynt Busbee...

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