MJ Monday-Movies: Bottle Shock

I hadn’t heard of this movie until the wonderful Alan Rickman died. Not only was Rickman in the movie, but also Bill Pullman (While You Were Sleeping) and Chris Pine (Star Trek reboot). Worth checking out for the cast alone.

The topic was another go-to for me: (from the IMDB):  the story of the early days of California wine making featuring the now infamous, blind Paris wine tasting of 1976 that has come to be known as “Judgment of Paris”.

For those who are unfamiliar with this, California wines weren’t considered much before the Judgment of Paris. The film is the story of how a California wine ended up winning the tasting and launching a whole new industry.

I wish I could say I loved the movie. I wish I could say I liked the movie. I wish I could take it out of the library again and watch it alone, hoping to improve my impression of it.

The main thing, for me, was the slow pacing. Maybe it was intentional, mimicking the wine aging process and the savoring of a glass of fine wine. But while time is needed in both of those instances, telling a story on film needs to move. Otherwise, it’s watching grapes grow.

Three stars (because of the cast).

MJ Monday-Movies: People Will Talk

Someone on Facebook recently mentioned People Will Talk was airing on TV. I mentioned it to my husband, who recorded it. Neither one of us was familiar with the film. A few weeks later, we sat down to watch and were more than pleasantly surprised.

It stars Cary Grant, Jeanne Crain, with Hume Cronyn and Walter Slezak along with and uncredited appearance by Margaret Hamilton in one of the early scenes. It’s billed as a romance/comedy/drama. All three categories are correct.

I didn’t realize the complexity of the movie until after I watched it. The plot lines are so finely woven together the stories make complete sense. One plotline involves a doctor (Hume Cronyn) trying to discredit another doctor (Cary Grant). Another is  the romance Cary Grant carries on with an unwed mother.

You read that correctly. This movie was released in 1951, after the Hayes Code was put in place. An unpunished heroine unwed mother?  Even the family of director Joseph Mankiewicz aren’t sure how he slipped that one past the review board.

There are several laugh-out-loud moments.  The romance is delightful. There is political intrigue and honor.

Five stars.


MJ Monday-Movies: We’re the Millers

My husband and I watched We’re the Millers one night, and I couldn’t stop laughing. I bought my own copy of the flick and took it with me on my next writing retreat. My crit partners couldn’t stop laughing. At least one of them borrowed the DVD from me so she could show it to her husband.

Four disparate people come together to form a fake family on holiday in Mexico in order to smuggle marijuana into the US.  Their misadventures are hilarious. In the end, we learn that blood doesn’t necessarily make family.

5 stars.

MJ Monday-Movies: Yesterday


I’m surprised the movie Yesterday isn’t better known than it is. I am unfamiliar with the male lead, but the female lead is Lily James of Downton Abbey and the Guernsey Potato Peel Pie and Literary Society fame. Ed Sheeran and Kate McKinnon are also in the movie.

The plot is simple: a struggling musician, Jack,  is hit by a bus; when he comes to, it’s in a world where the Beatles never existed. The movie is a romance. It’s quirky. There’s an interesting plot twist. And while the Beatles aren’t the only thing that never existed in Jack’s new world, but the movie doesn’t hit you over the head with it. Just one or two mentions. And a funny one at the end.

Five stars.

MJ Monday-Movies: The Big Sick

The first time I viewed The Big Sick I was with my husband. My critique partners and I watched it again on a recent retreat. It’s a good movie. It’s a true story that takes the larger issues we in the US are facing today and brings them down to the personal level.

It’s the story of an aspiring comedian/Uber driver whose family came to the US from Pakistan and an all-American girl who meet and fall in love. But his family and heritage create problems that hurt the heroine. The heroine becomes deathly ill and is hospitalized, bringing her parents into the story.

We see how prejudice often stems from not understanding and that with effort–sometime a lot of effort–we can overcome our preconceived notions. All of this is wrapped up in a romantic comedy with laugh-out-loud moments and a happy ending.

Five stars.