An American Tail (1986) by Starry Traveler’s Road – Ultimate 80s Blogathon

We’re nearing the end of week 2 of Ultimate 80s.  Please welcome the next contribution by Phoebe from Starry Traveler’s Road.  She doesn’t normally do movie reviews and she’s not exactly a movie fanatic by a long shot but she is one of my longest childhood friends.  I was her bridesmaids for her wedding and well..we have our stories. I totally appreciate her joining us in this awesome fun. Her blog is rather new and dabbles in areas like gardening and tidbit and tips on a variety of baby topics and she also likes to talk about cooking.  She’s also my designated foodie buddy (along with her family).

Give her some love and support.  Maybe we will turn her into a movie fanatic one day.  Let’s pass it over to her for her choice, An American Tail! 🙂


Hello everyone! First of all, big thank yous to Tranquil Dreams and Drew for hosting the Ultimate 80s Blogathon! This is pretty much one of my first “official” movie reviews, so please bear with me!

The movie that I have chosen is An American Tail as the animation holds a lot of sentimental value. According to my mother, its theme song “Somewhere Out There” was the very first song that she taught me and sang as a toddler. Now that I am a new mom, I do sing it time to time to my baby daughter (under 1 year old) in hopes it will become our first song as well!

I have not seen the movie since my toddlerhood; so, I watched it again while my daughter and I had lunch the other day for the purpose of this review and to see her reaction.

An American Tail (1986)

an american tail

Director: Don Bluth

Cast: Cathianne Blore, Dom DeLuise, John Finnegan, Phillip Glasser, Amy Green, Madeline Kahn, Pat Musick, Nehemiah Persoff, Christopher Plummer, Neil Ross, Will Ryan, Hal Smith, Erica Yohn

While emigrating to the United States, a young Russian mouse gets separated from his family and must relocate them while trying to survive in a new country. – IMDB

I am not terribly good with summaries. Anyway, Fievel, the main character, had to immigrate to the Americas with his family after an arson attack by the Cossacks and attack by their cats. During the boat trip, he got separated from his parents; yet, he still managed to reach the Americas through a bottle. From there, he meets various characters as he sets out to look for his family.

If you want to know my baby daughter’s reaction, there was a lot of squirming in her high chair and my arms during the movie. I was not surprised given it was 80 minutes long. Not terribly sure if she enjoyed it except she seemed to like some songs as she waves her hands in excitement (the only parts that I felt she paid attention to as she loves music!). So, I do not think this is a movie for anyone under 1!

Now that I am older and an history buff, I realized the toddler in me may not have possibly understood all the depressing historical details in addition to being a young child separated from his/her parents in a foreign country. One thing that I would totally agree with my daughter is how much I liked the songs to the point that I managed to sing along to Never Say Never and A Duo, songs that I have not heard in years. Anyway, I do like the storyline and animation, especially how the characters were drawn. I personally like this style of animation, it is so much better than 3D! Even if my daughter may not understand it, I took the opportunity to teach her not to wander off on her own or she will end up like Fievel and we will not know where to look for her! One thing that I truly appreciate was Fievel’s sister’s beliefs that her brother is still alive and his parents should continue to look for him. Her sense of hope is touching as I realized that I would have given up like their parents did.

Overall, I still think it is a decent movie even if it got 6.3/10 from Rotten Tomatoes. There are indeed things that I found strange like a disappearance of a character from the storyboard (probably due to cuts) and things here and there. If you ask me what scene that I remember the most other than the Somewhere Out There song segment before I re-watched the movie, it would have been burning of the houses and people escaping at the beginning of the movie.  So, I do think that parents/adults should watch with “older” kids (maybe 4 years and above) to provide some guidance on some darker historical stuff (e.g. prosecution, child labor, etc) just in case.

There is actually a sequel if you liked this movie. It is called An Americal Tail: Fievel Goes West. That is it for my review. Hope you have enjoyed it! 🙂

My Hometown Blogathon: Montreal, Canada

Caz at Lets Go To The Movies hosted their first blogathon.

my hometown blogathon

The theme is based on everyone’s hometowns.

The idea is to do a little bit of research to put together a blog post about your hometown and link it to film. – Let’s Go To The Movies

This is a pretty exciting blogathon for me because Montreal has been one of the go-to places to film movies.  In the last decade (or maybe more), Montreal has been turned into Paris or New York just to name two.



Finding movies set in Montreal and isn’t a Quebec production tends to be harder to find.  The first to come to mind is The Whole Nine Yards with Bruce Willis and Matthew Perry. I don’t remember that movie much but it includes popular location like the Notre Dame Cathedral set in Old Montreal.

Taking Lives with Ethan Hawke and Angelina Jolie is set around Montreal.  Its been a while since I’ve seen it but it takes place in various other smaller towns around the province of Quebec as well as the metropolitan area. Life of Pi is also in that basket where I’m not sure the exact location.

However, some notable Quebec productions set in Montreal are:

  • My Daughter, My Angel
  • Bon Cop Bad Cop
  • Incendies
  • Polytechnique

Thats just to name a few because the list does go on…


Increasingly, the amount of films shot in Montreal are growing.  Just this year, there’s been at least 4 films around my work area that has been filming.  Over the years, here are few titles that I’m familiar with in the list that I found.

A few surprises to me was Batman & Robin, Johnny Mnemonic, Death Race and Get Smart.

Some of the more famous titles are that the majority of The Day After Tomorrow was filmed in the Old Port of Montreal and around the city. Gothika also has a few scenes, one notably in a downtown park.  One of the biggest one that involved a lot of the Chinese community as extras including one of my mom’s good friend was The Art of War. Another one is the I’m Not There which I know takes a scene from the building right in front of my building in Old Montreal. Another one that I walked past a few years back on St. Catherine Street was The Factory where I saw John Cusack walking across the street in the scene from afar.  One that was filmed next to my work building and had a whole set and actually a lot of the Mont Royal view of Montreal (with an CGI wall) is Warm Bodies.  The biggest one of recent is X-Men: Days of Future Past.

Along some of the other titles that were shot in Montreal but I’m not sure where are these:

  • Upside Down
  • Orphan
  • Journey to the Center of the Earth

While some of these had theirs shot in the Cite du Cinema in studio in Montreal, they also include Source Code and Immortals.


Apparently there’s not a whole lot of famous people in film born in Montreal because I could only think of William Shatner.

And if you really want to stretch it, then there was one scene in Captain America: The Winter Soldier with Georges St. Pierre fighting.  Does that make him an actor? Probably not. But he’s born in Montreal too.

My research also lead me to find that Emmanuelle Chriqui is also born in Montreal. She was in a movie that I reviewed a few months back called Women in Trouble.


Other than William Shatner, another famous person raised in the surrounding areas of Montreal is Christopher Plummer. Thats pretty cool, right? The man in one of my favorite musicals, The Sound of Music and who also did the extremely awesome movie, Beginners raised in Montreal, love it! 🙂

How can I do this category and not mention this next one?  The voice of Hiccup from How to Train Your Dragon being his most memorable role in my mind, and thats Jay Baruchel. Although born in Ottawa, he was raised in one of the Montreal boroughs.  Wikipedia says he still lives there, and I have no idea how accurate that is.


Montreal is becoming a growing place to shot a movie even though not many are set here.  Its diverse cultural architecture gives it that advantage.  Having European influence in Old Montreal and Cite du Cinema studios, its having a lot of nice opportunities.  In the summer, walking around Montreal, its hard to not see little no parking panels for filming times for certain movies.  With bigger Hollywood ones, there are even road closures and security to block off the road.  Its definitely an exciting time.  I look forward to seeing what other movies are filmed here.

A huge THANKS to Caz for coming up with this My Hometown Blogathon! I had a lot of fun researching Montreal and its filming locations and film sets along with certain actors.  There were some films that I already knew but some took me by surprise.

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (2011)

Before I acknowledged the existence of the movies of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, I started reading the trilogy.  That series of book is possibly one of the most intense reads I’ve ever experienced.  Every book is a page-turner based on the issue of hatred and abuse towards women.  It shows it in one of the most extreme ways.  With the fantastic character design in their novel of Lisbeth Salander, it builds for a very intriguing story to be transformed to the big screen.  This originally being a Swedish novel, it was adapted in Sweden first.  Its success lead to this Hollywood remake.

the girl with the dragon tattoo posterDirector: David Fincher

Cast: Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara, Stellan Skarsgaard, Christopher Plummer

In the midst of a scandal involving a Swedish journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig), he accepts an offer by wealthy businessman Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer) to go to the countryside residence called Hedestad to investigate the disappearance and possible death of his beloved niece, Harriet 40 years ago.  As the killer still imitates the actions of his niece by sending him a gift at a certain time of year, he is determined to figure out what happened to her before he runs out of time.  As the case progresses, he requests the help of a young and very smart computer hacker Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara) who appears rebellious, different and peculiar in her ways.  As the investigation thickens, they follow the clues that unfold before them one by one.

Lets start by saying that I’ve read the novel (and all three of them) and I’ve seen the Swedish movies (also all three), this one is a decent remake but it lacks a little flare to it.

the girl with the dragon tattoo tattoo mara

The most apparent lacking feature of it has to be in the unique character of Lisbeth Salander. The original featured Noomi Rapace as Lisbeth Salander and she does such an outstanding job that it makes anyone else doing this role not as appealing.  Rooney Mara has a bit of a different style design and she’s not as strong of a character to play that role.  She does pull through and emote to the best that she can, but having seen the original, I can’t help but to compare just a little. However, if I do think about her as a standalone character, she does do a fairly outstanding job and commits to her role.  Its a difficult character to portray and she is very convincing.

937950-Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, The

Daniel Craig plays the journalist Mikael Blomkvist and he does a very great portrayal.  I enjoy Daniel Craig’s acting for the most part.  He’s never particularly disappointed me in any movie.  Maybe some smaller roles perhaps, but nothing I remember off the top of my head.  He has what Mikael Blomkvist’s character is all about down and every moment of his role dragged us deeper into the story itself.

the girl with the dragon tattoo daniel craig christopher plummer

In addition, we had the supporting actors of Christopher Plummer who plays the elderly Henrik Vanger who shows the pain and frustration he’s endured over the years of not only adapting with the loss of a loved one, but also the feeling of being mocked by whoever committed this crime.  His desperation to find the truth makes us question what really happens and want to learn more about the story itself.  The second supporting actor I’d like to mention is Stellan Skarsgaard who plays Martin Vanger.  He’s the successor of the Vanger Enterprises and doesn’t particularly show up a lot in the movie but he has a very complex role to play at the same time.

the girl with the dragon tattoo mara

Other than having a pretty awesome cast in this remake, what really worked was David Fincher as the director.  The setup, the scenery, how he shot it and the lighting really adds to this movie as a whole. It gives it a captivating touch but at the same time, in many instances, he also sets it up to fully experience the brutality behind the whole concept of what the story itself was portraying: the disrespect, the degrading and abuse towards women.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is probably one of the best remakes I’ve seen ever.  Its a mesmerizing movie that brings out the brutal situation that its set to have.  It also is filmed with the brilliant David Fincher plus it has an amazing cast that does a great job at bring alive the characters in the novel.  Its definitely worth a viewing, although if you do get the chance, the original should still be the first choice 😉 BUT, this is a worthy film to watch!

Valentine’s Marathon:Beginners (2010)

I think I had bought this movie based a review I read some time early last year and being intrigued by Ewan McGregor and Christopher Plummer.  I had no idea of what the plot was, and didn’t even watch the trailer, so after owning this for multiple months, my random draw had this in the rundown and leading me to finally see this…

BeginnersDirector: Mike Mills

Cast: Ewan McGregor, Christopher Plummer, Melanie Laurent

When Oliver’s  mother passes away 5 years ago, his father Hal tells him that he is gay and decides to come out of the closet and live and love to the fullest.  A few years later, Hal is diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer.  Oliver shares his last moments with his dad and understands and share more moments than any time before.  The story starts with Hal having passed away for a few months, Oliver has now sorted through everything and at a party, he unexpected meets a charming young woman called Anna (Melanie Laurent), an actress who moves around often.  They share a very strong connection and from there, start seeing each other.  As their relationship develops, it brings back his memories of his father in the last few years and also the memories of his childhood and his mother.  Anna also has a deep dark past which hinders her from truly connecting with anyone. Together, they learn that they are both beginners in the universe of love and that sometimes, it just takes courage and that sometimes you just need to be brave enough to love someone and make it work.

I’m going straight out to say that this movie is in the lines of dark and bittersweet love story.  This movie is classified as a romance/drama/comedy. Let me tell you, our comedy is with Christopher Plummer.  I’m a huge fan of Christopher Plummer. I mean, I’m a huge fan of The Sound of Music (haha).  I know I know, its not the same thing.  He was fantastic in his role as a father coming clean to his son and really diving into the whole dying gay man role.  His role really touched me and I’m sure it did to many others because he won the Oscar last year for best actor in a supporting role.

beginners oliver and hal

Its not just Christopher Plummer that was great.  Ewan McGregor also did a fantastic job being confused and lost in knowing and believing that love works out.  He did a great job at portraying happiness but just not having the courage to stay around to see things work out.  Or maybe just good at showing how Oliver is a beginner.  However, at the same time, the emotions and chemistry he had with Anna was incredibly authentic.  On to the actress who played Anna,  Melanie Laurent.  I’ve never seen her before in any other movies.  She was amazing.  That’s all I can say. She’s a charming actress and she brought  a lot of fun moments but at other times, she was convincing as to how deep her thoughts were. The praise goes not only to the these two talented actor and actress but also to the writer for making these interesting roles to play.

beginners oliver anna


If we step back and look at this whole movie, the setup of the movie is interesting and witty. Oliver is a graphic designer so a part of the movie is how his thoughts unravel as he connects events together with the people involved.  Pictures and slideshows that fill his mind as his memories come back and as his relationship moves forward.  I think the word to describe this movie would be imaginative, creative, fun and touching.

Its a different approach from what I had expected from this movie.  I had no idea what I was getting into and I did think it’d be a lot more funny than it really was. I’m not saying that as a bad thing, its just that I hadn’t thought it was a drama until it got into the deeper darker worlds of everyone learning how to love and being brave enough to hold on and see how things go.  Some part of the movie I have to admit that I can relate to which makes it just that much more dramatic.

Definitely a good movie and I’m for sure going to watch it again.  A second viewing would probably get a few more messages clearer because it does go into the deeper side of love.  However, whats refreshing is that its not simply a love story but rather a love story that is hindered but also encouraged by the main character Oliver’s past. Remember going into this movie that it is a drama above all, so its not completely light.  It’ll give you at least some levels of thinking as it aims to touch your heart. It connected with me because my past has affected the mindset of my past relationships, but even if you can’t connect to that, you will probably connect to how its never too late to love and/or learn to love.

I hadn’t even realized it had won an Oscar until I was researching the movie and the actors for this review.   Have you seen this? What did you think? What are some films you enjoyed of Christopher Plummer or Ewan McGregor?