Ultimate 70s Blogathon: Kramer vs. Kramer (1979) – Movie Reviews 101

Next up in the Ultimate 70’s Blogathon is Darren from Movie Reviews 101! If you don’t know Movie Reviews 101, well, you are definitely missing out some great stuff. Darren is the host of the monthly Opinion Battles which is now in the 4th year. At the same time his review blog reviews movies every single day with his own rating system. On top of that, Darren is also co-host of the Talking Stars Podcast.

Without further ado, let’s check out his selection, Kramer vs. Kramer!

Kramer vs. Kramer (1979)

kramer vs. kramer

Director: Robert Benton

Writer: Robert Benton (Screenplay) Avery Corman (Novel)

Starring: Dustin Hoffman, Meryl Streep, Jane Alexander, Justin Henry, Howard Duff, George Coe

Plot: Ted Kramer‘s wife leaves her husband, allowing for a lost bond to be rediscovered between Ted and his son, Billy. But a heated custody battle ensues over the divorced couple’s son, deepening the wounds left by the separation.

Tagline – There are three sides to this love story!

Runtime: 1 Hour 44 Minutes

There may be spoilers the rest of the review 

Verdict: Masterclass

StoryKramer vs Kramer starts as Joanna Kramer (Streep) walks out on her businessman husband Ted (Hoffman) leaving him to raise their child Billy (Henry). Ted must learn how to be a single parent while also keeping his career on path because he is on the verge of one of his biggest moments of his career.

15 months later Joanna reappears in the Ted’s life wanting custody which leads to a heated custody battle between the parents while Ted must deal with his own career problems.

Thoughts on Kramer vs. Kramer

Characters – Ted Kramer is a busy marketing man whose wife walks out on him leaving him to raise his child alone, the added responsibility of raising his son, his work starts to get comprised but it is when his wife returns, where Ted must fight for full custody of his own son. Joanna is the wife that walks out on the family, when she returns she wants to have custody of her son again, we don’t learn much else about her during the time which disappoints. Margaret is the neighbour that is there for Ted during his tough times. Billy is the child that finds himself in the middle of the custody battle after 15 months with just his father.

Performances – Dustin Hoffman gives us an acting masterclass here showing he can give us an Oscar worthy performance given the right material. Meryl Streep is fantastic in the supporting role showing us just how good her talent was going to be. Justin Henry gives on of the best child actors performances too in this film.

Story – The story follows one man needing to learn to be a better father once he is left alone with his son, before turning into a custody battle, which has become an all too often event in the modern world. Seeing how the custody battle unfolds brings us into the reality of how difficult a job being a single parent holding down the job on demanding success level can be. We learn how wrong the system appears to be in one of the most powerful films you will see.

Settings – The New York setting shows how busy the lives of the people involved would be.

Scene of the Movie – The aftermath of the case in the park.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – I feel we could have learnt a lot more about Joanna’s motivation during the 15-months too.

Award Wins: Won 5 Oscars

Final Thoughts – This is one of the most powerful, perfectly acted movies you will ever see, the emotions you will feel will leave you broken for what is one of the best films ever made.

Overall: Easily one of the greatest films of all time.

Rating

Netflix A-Z Double Feature: The Pill & Quartet

I know double features are a rarity in Netflix A-Z with the exception of Nymphomaniac Vol 1 & 2 ( review HERE). However, the season has been rather busy and I’ve been more obsessed with watching Gilmore Girls than actually watching movies. In fact, this one has a little cheating to it because the Q selection in general on Netflix is so tiny and I only wanted to watch something fun during the holiday season that I just decided to bring back the Q Selection.

Let’s start this.

The Pill (2011)

The Pill

Director and writer: J.C. Khoury

Cast: Noah Bean, Rachel Boston, Anna Chlumsky, Jean Brassard, Al Thompson, Dreama Walker

Worried that he has gotten the free-spirited Mindy pregnant after an unprotected one-night stand, Fred feigns romantic interest and sticks by her side for twelve hours to make sure she takes both doses of the morning-after pill. – IMDB

Its hard to pinpoint how I feel about The Pill. Its something I’ve been saying recently. Its more of an indifferent feeling that I have after watching it. While The Pill has a few rather nice moments, there is also something that lacks believability in it. Let’s break it down a little. For starters, Rachel Boston is fantastic as always as the free-spirited Mindy. Mindy is an intriguing character mostly because there’s a lot of color to her life as we learn about her during the day that she has to take her morning after pills in the company of Fred, played by Noah Bean. On the other hand, the issue I had more was that I didn’t think that Fred was a likable character. In fact, I wanted Mindy to see through his lies especially as he manipulated his way into staying with her during the day while the audience could easily see his intentions was only for his own protection to not have to deal with consequences. However, the story is more about him and his growth and recognition of what to do and what he wanted more than it was about Mindy. Perhaps this is where I think that the way it ended wasn’t necessary because it made the story feel much more generic than it may have been without that ending.

The Pill

There isn’t really much to talk about for The Pill. Its a rather straight forward story and somewhat predictable where its a boy meets girl, one night stand, a day together to get to know each other (probably more than expected from family party, etc.) and then he falls for her, she realizes what he’s been doing and he leaves and realizes how much of it was a mistake. A story like this can only be powered by charming characters and in reality, other than Mindy and at the start, the character felt a little off, Fred and especially his actual girlfriend Nelly was a little unbearable to watch. It helped as the movie went along that we saw Fred and his personality but it was hard to be sympathetic for him or feel like cheering him on. For me, The Pill just didn’t connect the way that it was intended.

Quartet (2012)

Quartet

Director: Dustin Hoffman

Cast: Maggie Smith, Tom Courtenay, Billy Connolly, Pauline Collins

At a home for retired musicians, the annual concert to celebrate Verdi’s birthday is disrupted by the arrival of Jean, an eternal diva and the former wife of one of the residents. – IMDB

[Excerpts from review that I wrote in 2015. Full review HERE]

Quartet is a feel good movie under its little bits of drama, its mostly a comedy with some romantic nuances in it as well.  The older cast and location gives this a lovely little twist.  The setting itself is pretty nice.  This retirement home is located in a big elegant house and its interior design is really nice.  Its outside is surrounded by large green fields and forests. All this is paired with some dashing pieces of upbeat opera segments and orchestral music.  Its done with so much heart and charm that its hard to no like this even a little. Sure, its a little predictable.  I mean, it is a romantic comedy sort of thing but its a different feeling from what it usually is.

Quartet

The main cast here is with some rather colorful characters.  We have the two men: Reggie (played by Tom Courtenay) who has this silent gentlemanly charm to him while Billy Connolly’s character Wilf, is more open and straightforward with his words and actions.  At the same time, we have a lovable and forgetful Cissy, played by Pauline Collins, who can’t help but just make us laugh a little.  While Jean, is played by the remarkable Maggie Smith.  I loved her  in the Harry Potter movies and in Downton Abbey.  She always has to lovely little sarcasm and then a little elegance and in the most unexpected way a sweet and funny way at times.  She’s absolutely fantastic.  Here is no different.  In the retirement home, she breaks out of her little world that she’s used to and she sees these old folks, like Cissy learning these salsa dances which to her is completely crazy.  At the same time, this movie reminds us that love really has no age limit.  She acts exactly like a first date or feeling nervous about meeting an old love that we’ve never let go of.  But its about putting the past behind us and sometimes, stepping up and being more proud of who we are and embracing the person we’ve become. I think that is the main message here.

Netflix A-Z: Quartet (2012)

We’re done Halloween and we’re in NaNoWriMo BUT it doesn’t mean I don’t get down time to relax. So, we might need to revamp the list because I need to stick with anything that doesn’t give me ideas for the story.  I like to keep anything too wildly creative during NaNoWriMo away just so I know that its my own original idea and plotline. Either way, first up is this one.  Its actually perfect for NaNoWriMo since its pretty much relaxing classical opera/music sort of thing. With its older and pretty talented cast, I’m looking forward to it!

Let’s check it out!

Quartet (2012)

Quartet

Director: Dustin Hoffman

Cast: Maggie Smith, Tom Courtenay, Billy Connolly, Pauline Collins, Michael Gambon, Sheridan Smith

At a home for retired musicians, the annual concert to celebrate Verdi’s birthday is disrupted by the arrival of Jean, an eternal diva and the former wife of one of the residents.-IMDB

There’s something really beautiful about Quartet that I can’t describe.  It might be the classical music and opera and all that sort of balance in the background that circles are the various cast members. While the story is about mending a damaged marriage and relationship that parted many years ago between Jean and Reggie, it was also about the energy of the retirement house and the passion for an art no matter how old you are.  There are some moments that are done so well and the script is done with such artful delicacy to give even the  supporting characters so much importance to push the story even more fun to watch.  Its even better when the credits roll and we get young performing pictures next to the supporting cast members that were actually part of real live showings in theatres for various pieces.

Quartet

The main cast here is with some rather colorful characters.  We have the two men: Reggie (played by Tom Courtenay) who has this silent gentlemanly charm to him while Billy Connolly’s character Wilf, is more open and straightforward with his words and actions.  At the same time, we have a lovable and forgetful Cissy, played by Pauline Collins, who can’t help but just make us laugh a little.  While Jean, is played by the remarkable Maggie Smith.  I loved her  in the Harry Potter movies and in Downton Abbey.  She always has to lovely little sarcasm and then a little elegance and in the most unexpected way a sweet and funny way at times.  She’s absolutely fantastic.  Here is no different.  In the retirement home, she breaks out of her little world that she’s used to and she sees these old folks, like Cissy learning these salsa dances which to her is completely crazy.  At the same time, this movie reminds us that love really has no age limit.  She acts exactly like a first date or feeling nervous about meeting an old love that we’ve never let go of.  But its about putting the past behind us and sometimes, stepping up and being more proud of who we are and embracing the person we’ve become. I think that is the main message here.

Quartet

Quartet is a feel good movie under its little bits of drama, its mostly a comedy with some romantic nuances in it as well.  The older cast and location gives this a lovely little twist.  The setting itself is pretty nice.  This retirement home is located in a big elegant house and its interior design is really nice.  Its outside is surrounded by large green fields and forests. All this is paired with some dashing pieces of upbeat opera segments and orchestral music.  Its done with so much heart and charm that its hard to no like this even a little. Sure, its a little predictable.  I mean, it is a romantic comedy sort of thing but its a different feeling from what it usually is.

Overall, I’d definitely give Quartet a regular viewing, if not for the cast but for the music itself.  I guess it might interest me more because I study classical pieces for my theory exams to wrap up my piano certificate.  I’ve never been a huge fan of opera but this one has some really lovely pieces that aren’t just opera but there is some really fun variety to it.  Its a fun time with a charming cast and its worth every minute of your time. I know its not perfect when it ended but then it doesn’t have to be because I left this one with a big smile on my face and that is what matters in movies, an enjoyable film experience.

Have you seen Quartet? Did you enjoy it? 

We’re back so you know what my question is next:
What do you think is the R choice? Hint: Romance/Drama

CK’s Not So Secret Santa Review Swap: The Holiday (2006)

ck not so secret santa

Earlier this year in July, I participated in Cinematic Katzenjammer’s Not So Secret Santa Review Swap Blogathon and my secret Santa gave me a fantastic movie, Dark Harbor.  Obviously, since the first time was so much fun, I decided to join for this December edition of it as well.  This time around, I didn’t get an unknown movie but one that I absolutely adore and just as I was wondering how to work it into my Christmas marathon this year since I already reviewed it last year, I received notice that my Secret Santa gave me THE HOLIDAY 🙂

Whoever you are, Secret Santa, YOU ARE AWESOME! Can I say I love you? Is that awkward? Because if not for that, I would never have thought of doing THIS to lead up to this very post.

the holiday

The last movie to make it a perfect top 10 in my must-see Christmas flicks is The Holiday.  I’m not going to review it again since I read through last year’s and its probably everything I was going to say and you can check it out HERE! 🙂

The Holiday is one of my absolute favorite movies EVER! I always watch it for Christmas, sometimes even more than once, and I usually sneak it in mid year once or twice.  Its not only a great holiday watch but its also one of the best feel good romantic comedies I’ve ever seen.  I literally have a huge smile on my face throughout the whole thing, even if I know whats going to happen and what they say and all that.

So, I figured I’d take a different path and show you my top moments that made me smile 🙂

6) IRIS IN LA

Being revealed to the unknown of a completely different lifestyle from the one you are used to is always amazing and I think Kate Winslet does a fantastic job in showing that.  Its a feel good scene and it emphasizes the lovable character of Iris as the down to earth modern day simple girl. Trust me, if I saw that, I’d react pretty much the same way 😉

5) VIDEO STORE GAME

This scene is simply good fun.  The charisma between Jack Black and Kate Winslet is awesome and with a cameo of Dustin Hoffman, its makes it even funnier.

4) TENT

Wouldn’t you want that tent? I’m seriously impressed. Plus, the little girls are adorable.  Its like a fantasy world at home and thats pretty incredible.

3) LEADING LADY VS. BEST FRIEND

The character of Arthur Abbott is one of my faves because even though he isn’t a main character, he helps Iris to grow and also put in perspective what this movie is all about.  You can’t help but agree with him, right?

2) KISSING A STRANGER

The whole scene is great but the part I’m referring to starts at 5m 10s of the video.  Funny, passionate and pretty awesome in my book. This was when I fell in love with Jude Law! And goodness, aren’t you thinking that she should shut up and enjoy the moment? 😉 The romantic in me is speaking, of course.

1) IRIS/ARTHUR’S THEME

This scene is my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE! Its romantic and cute! I think thats where I fell in love in Jack Black, something that I did not think would ever be possible.

I didn’t intend for this to be a countdown and I love the WHOLE ENTIRE movie so this was mega difficult to put together. Plus, there were some scenes that were fantastic. I did love Jude Law in so many other scenes.  Although, if given who was not so great, it would have to be Cameron Diaz.  I’m just not a huge fan of hers in general but she does a decent job :).

Not only that but her and Kate Winslet are fabulous together for example with their expressions.

holiday diaz winslet phone

That scene was seriously funny! I think I’ve admitted that I have a girl crush on Kate Winslet and think she is possibly one of the best actresses with elegance and charm.

Before I start spilling the whole movie because I would love to convince a few of you to actually give it a shot.  I think The Holiday is one of the most underrated movies ever!

Overall, great cast, hilarious, heartwarming and clever romantic comedy set during the holidays, The Holiday is a great watch! Thanks again to my Secret Santa because you allowed me to watch this three times in two days to be inspired as to how to approach this post.  AND, I was feeling really not in the holiday mood and I think this just made it all come back.  Also, HUGE THANKS to Nick for putting this together because once again, it was mega fun! 🙂

Have you seen The Holiday? What are your thoughts on the four leads here?

Remember to check out the other reviews for the blogathon either by clicking HERE or its linked to the blogathon banner on the top 🙂

Christmas Marathon: Christmas Classics Vol.1/Kung Fu Panda Holiday

What better way to start a Christmas Marathon than with Christmas Classics, right? Thats what I did at least! This is on Netflix and its 9 short Christmas animated films about 15-20 minutes each, I believe.  Some were even 10-12 minutes.

christmas classics vol1 posterChristmas Classics Vol. 1

1. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

2. Somewhere in Dreamland

3. Santa’s Surprise

4. Hector’s Hector Life

5. Snow Foolin’

6. Jack Frost

7. Christmas Comes But Once A Year

8. The Shanty Where Santa Lives

9. The Night Before Christmas

christmas classics 1

There’s the list of the movies.  The only one I’ve ever seen before was Rudolph and The Night Before Christmas however, the other ones are rather cute as well.  Plus,  its short and sweet.  Its a straight forward little story and it covers values.  There’s not much to actually review for this.  My favorite has to be Santa’s Surprise and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.  Those were really fun 🙂

christmas classics2

Since I don’t want to be cheap and short, I added on another one I saw this weekend:

KUNG FU PANDA HOLIDAY (2010)

kung fu panda holiday poster

Director: Tim Johnson

Cast: Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman, James Hong, Angelina Jolie, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu, David Cross

Po is given the task of hosting the annual winter feast by Shifu and he struggles to meet the expectations of his friends and make the choice between spending time with his father and dealing with his responsibilities to hosting the Masters of Kung Fu.

This is a little 20 minutes animated flick.  I love Kung Fu Panda so this was one that I jumped on in Netflix.  Plus, it was quick to watch. Its nothing special but there are a few laughs.  Po and Mr. Ping are always fun to watch.  Great for a short family viewing to bring in the holidays and to talk about the importance of family and the things that matter during the holidays.

Just like each of these flicks, I’m going to keep it short and sweet 🙂