The Magnificent Seven: Then and Now


The Magnificent Seven in 1960.


Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen lead the Seven in 1960

The Magnificent Seven in 2016.  There is more variety in the appearance of the men.  Their personalities are quite individual, too.


A refreshing mix of skin tone in 2016

I haven’t seen the original, or even the Japanese movie that started it all, Seven Samurai (1954).


All three movies are about seven diverse men who band together to save a town against bad guys.  A lot of bad guys.  So many that the men need to be creative in how they fight, and use all the different talents that each man brings.

The 2016 trailer summarizes the men’s abilities, and gives a glimpse of the action in the movie.

The movie is good at giving a back story to most of the seven men, and not just the main stars Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt.

The movie is bad at keeping leading lady Haley Bennett covered up.



At least her dialogue and actions are true to character, and she doesn’t become some passive love interest.

A lot of people end up dead for a PG-13 movie, but they mostly just fall down dead.  There isn’t a lot of drawn out blood and guts and screams of agony.

The Magnificent Seven reminds me of another old movie where a small group of strangers join together to defend a town from bad guys.  Maybe you’ve seen Silverado (1985 PG-13).

What other movies have the good guys outnumbered?



Filed under Movies

The Finest Hours: A Different Kind of Hero


The Finest Hours (2015 PG-13), directed by Craig Gillespie, tells the true story of a 1950’s Coast Guard rescue against all odds.

This movie is about heroes.  The people who sign up to serve their country in war and in peace, and risk their lives for others.  The women who wait.  The men who avoid panicking, and fight against the odds to keep their sinking ship intact until rescue.

The Finest Hours

 Holliday Grainger as Miriam and Beau Knapp as Mel Gouthro ©Disney Enterprises. CR: Claire Folger.

Yet the strongest person in the film is the fiance, the girl who barges in to tell the Coast Guard commander to bring her man back.  And also the Coast Guard widow, who packs her young kids in the car during a storm to take food to the community center for the survivors, if there are any.

The other heroes are unlikely heroes.

The Finest Hours

Ray Sybert (Casey Affleck) and Tchuda Southerland (Josh Stewart) struggle to keep their ship, the SS Pendleton, from sinking.

Casey Affleck plays chief engineer Ray Sybert, an introvert who would rather tinker with his dials and engines than lead a crew. Yet he must, and reluctantly rises to the challenge of confronting much stronger personalities to do what must be done to save the ship.


Chris Pine plays Bernie Webber of the Coast Guard, a shy man who lives in the shadow of his big brother’s heroics. He leads a crew of four to almost certain death, knowing he is the only chance the stranded men have.  He can barely make eye contact, he is so shy.

Chris Pine is known for playing larger than life characters, so it is really fun to see him act out such a submissive character.


Zachary Quinto, Spock, and Chris Pine, Captain James T Kirk in Star Trek


Anne Hathaway, Princess Mia, and Chris Pine, Prince Nicholas, in a scene from the motion picture “Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement.”  photo by Ron Batzdorff


Love that scene from Into the Woods!

Back to our movie….Watch “The Finest Hours.”  Enjoy the performances.  Marvel at the daring rescue. Envy the 1950’s dresses.  Root for the survivors as the ship sinks.

Bring a jacket to the theater…Watching that terrible blizzard and rough seas makes a person cold!

Leave a comment

Filed under Movies

Brooklyn: Life Lessons for Young Ladies


Brooklyn (2015 PG-13), directed by John Crowley, is a lovely romantic movie about an Irish girl in 1950’s New York City.  Enjoy the movie with your girlfriends or teenage daughters, and without realizing it, you will learn some life lessons.  Just close your eyes during the unnecessary sex scene.

Learn these four life lessons from this beautiful movie:

  • Homesickness is like most sicknesses.  It will pass.  Eilis (Saoirse Ronan) is young and without prospects for marriage or career in Ireland, so she heads to a new life in Brooklyn.  She feels alone and sad and doubts her decision.  The Catholic priest who facilitates her move has those wise words for her.  Feeling homesick will not last forever.

Even a bright green coat cannot hide Eilis’ nervousness upon arriving in New York.

  • When you are down, help someone else, and you will feel better.  The other girls at Eilis’ boarding house turn their noses up at serving the poor at the church Christmas dinner.  As Eilis serves lonely old Irish immigrant men, her own sorrow is blended with theirs.  When we help other people, we are momentarily distracted from our own problems, and we realize how blessed we truly are!

Eilis, second from right, is the only one from her boarding house who will help serve dinner to the poor at church.

  • There is more than one fish in the sea.  As you watch, notice all the young men who take the time to talk to Eilis.  Any of them could become her young man.  And then when she returns unexpectedly to Ireland, another man falls in love with her.  Do not despair – keep your eyes and your heart open!

The stranger next to you on the bus may be a rather nice young man (Emory Cohen).

  • If you need help, go to the church.  Father Blood (Jim Broadbent) finds Eilis a place to live and a place to work, and does even more when he realizes she needs more support.  The people around us who dedicate their lives to serving at churches are usually alert to help anyone in need, even today.

Look at how cheerful Eilis looks!  Is Brooklyn becoming her new home?

When she gets married and goes back to her boarding house, that is when you should go to get more popcorn.  When you get back to your seat, Eilis will be headed back to Ireland, and headed into the third part of the movie.

Life lessons for all of us, all in a lovely movie!

Leave a comment

Filed under Movies

The Bells of St. Mary’s: Christmas Story By Kids


The Bells of St. Mary’s (1945 NR) is not a Christmas movie.  Father O’Malley (Bing Crosby) is the new principal of the Catholic school in which Sister Mary Benedict (Ingrid Bergman) is a lead teacher.


They immediately clash on how to run a school and discipline students.  But watch how they clash.  This is 1945.  There is no back talk or angry words.  Both use their own ways to try to influence the other to see things their way.

Bing Crosby is made for this role, playing a persuasive and charming man of faith. Ingrid Bergman is luminous in her nun’s habit, loving the children and passionate about her faith.  Towards then end, when misunderstandings threaten their hard-earned friendship, she says so much just with her eyes.  Especially in the final scenes. Amazing actress!

This scene where the kids put on their own Christmas pageant is adorable!

Did you ever see a Christmas pageant like this at your church?

Leave a comment

Filed under Movies

Love Actually: Christmas Story for Adults


Love Actually (2003 R) is a great English comedy romance movie for Christmas.  Excellent movie!  But don’t watch with your kids!

Ten different stories of love take place together and separately over the month leading up to Christmas Eve.

***I started to list all the story lines, then deleted them.  The director (Richard Curtis) can tell the story better than I can write it here.  So, go watch the movie!***


I first saw the movie on an airplane.  Airplanes show movies that have been edited for offensive material.  One entire story line was missing because of nudity and implied sex.  There are some bad words, but with the British accent, most of them fly by me.    But for those two things I would hesitate watching with kids or teens.


It’s easy to get confused about the relationships, but that’s okay.  Don’t stress, and just sit back and enjoy.  If you must know, here is a good relationship recap.  But don’t read it until after you have watched the movie, because some of the relationship reveals are the kind that make you gasp, or grin.


As the stories unfold and you get involved with the characters, you will identify with someone.  Some characters you will think should just do something different or say something else.  But one or two characters will really touch your heart.


By the last 30 minutes I just can’t stop grinning!  I love how the problems and situations cascade and accelerate to the conclusion.  Not all stories have happy endings, but many do.

Fun movie!

Leave a comment

Filed under Movies

Star Wars is Everywhere

In theaters.


In costumes.


In lunch boxes.


In cookies.


In blog posts.


It is even referenced in other movies.  Here is a clip from Reign of Fire (2002 PG-13), in which Gerard Butler and Christian Bale entertain a group of kids in a future with no electricity.

Fun scene in a good movie!

Where are your favorite Star Wars references from TV and movies?


Leave a comment

Filed under Movies

Trading Places: Could Have Been A Family Christmas Tradition


Trading Places (1983 R) is a funny Christmas movie with a heartwarming message.  But it is not for kids.


Winthorpe (Dan Aykroyd) is a successful investor working for the brokerage firm of wealthy brothers Randolph and Mortimer Duke (Ralph Bellamy and Don Ameche).  Randolph and Mortimer have a “nature versus nurture” debate.  Is Winthorpe successful because he is naturally brilliant, or because he has always been given opportunities to nurture success?


To test “nature versus nurture”, Randolph and Mortimer randomly choose panhandler Billie Ray Valentine (Eddie Murphy) to trade places with Winthorpe.  They manipulate to get Winthorpe accused of a crime, locked out of his home, fired from work, and abandoned by his snobby friends and fiancee.

Valentine grows successful.


Winthorpe grows desperate.


All this is handled in a very comedic way.  Very funny!  But still not for kids.

Why not?

Boobs.  Too many jiggling naked boobs.  And the f-word, unnecessary to the dialogue.


Why did director John Landis add things to keep families from enjoying this Christmas movie together?


Leave a comment

Filed under Movies