Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016)

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One of the promo posters for the film

This is the kind of indie comedy that you definitely don’t see every week (at the local multiplex), b/c that would be TOO delightful!  (FYI: I saw it 2 mos. back at Landmark E St. Cinemas.)  This story is NOT cloying or sugary, like SO MANY films centered on children, thanks to it’s tongue-in-cheek directorial style by Taika Waititi.  The director (who also has a cameo as a minister) is an up-and- comer from New Zealand (with a white mother and a Maori father).  His next project will be one of the Thor films (ugh, I guess that means success).

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Ricky gets a cake for his 13th birthday!

In this film, 12 y.o. juvenile delinquent, Ricky Baker (Julian Dennison), gets a cheery/sweet foster mom, Bella  (Rima Te Waita) and cranky/reluctant father figure, Hec (Australian veteran actor Sam Neill). 

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Andy and Paula

This is Ricky’s LAST chance, as his “nemesis” Paula (Rachel House) from Child Services warns him, supported by bumbling cop, Andy (Oscar Kighty).  These two characters provide GREAT laughs later in the films- just wait for it!

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Ricky (Julian Dennison) and Hec (Sam Neill) in the forest.

After a tragic turn of events, Ricky runs away to the forest, and Hec goes after him.  It turns out that Ricky, a self-proclaimed overweight book lover, has a natural affinity for the outdoors.  He wants to learn more and more, much to the shock and surprise of the hermit-like Hec (who refuses to be called “Uncle”).

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Rhys Darby (VERY famous Kiwi comedian w/ cameo in this film), Sam Neill (Hec), Julian Dennison (Ricky), & Taika Waititi (The Minister/Director)

The More the Merrier (1943) starring Jean Arthur

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Do you realize that practically most of the trouble in the world comes from people lying to people? Just take Hitler, for instance.  -Dingle on morals

This funny and VERY well-written romantic/screwball comedy, directed by George Stevens (A Place in the Sun, Giant) is a MUST-SEE for any fan of classic film!  I saw it for the first time (on TCM) last week, then wondered why I’d never heard of it before. 

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Damn the torpedoes – full steam ahead!  –Dingle on seizing the moment

In WWII era Washington, DC, there is a housing shortage and “8 women for every man,” BUT Connie Milligan (Jean Arthur) ends up w/ TWO unwanted roomies.  First, there is retired industrialist, Benjamin Dingle (James Coburn- Best Supporting Actor Oscar winner), then mechanic-turned-soldier, Joe Carter (Joel McCrea).  Mr. Dingle sublets half of his room to the younger man, considering him “a high type, clean cut, nice young fellow.” When Dingle plays (unlikely) matchmaker, hilarity and romance ensue!  

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There are two kinds of people – those who don’t do what they want to do, so they write down in a diary about what they haven’t done, and those who are too busy to write about it because they’re out doing it! -Dingle on life

 

 

Now Voyager (1942) starring Bette Davis, Paul Henreid & Claude Rains

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The untold want, by life and land ne’er granted,

Now, Voyager, sail thou forth, to seek and find.  

-From the poem The Untold Want by Walt Whitman

Claude Rains Now Voyager

This box office smash (the BIGGEST of Bette Davis’ career) is loved by MANY, maligned by a few (including film critic Pauline Kael, who referred to it as “schlock”).  The premise is nothing new- an ugly duckling (w/ extra pounds, thick eyebrows, dowdy clothes, and VERY low self-esteem) turning into a beautiful (and more importantly, confident) swan.  

The heroine- neurotic Charlotte Vale (Davis)- is helped by her sister-in-law Lisa, a pioneering psychotherapist named Dr. Jaquith (Claude Rains), and eventually- a friend who becomes more- Jerry Durrance (Paul Henreid). The villain in this film is Charlotte’s mother, Mrs. Vale (Gladys Cooper), a widow of considerable wealth in Boston.  She is a domineering woman, displeased by everyone, though her harshest criticism is for her youngest child- Charlotte.   

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If the psychological elements, glamorous clothes, or music don’t draw you in- there is also a BIG love story element.  But learning to love (and accept) oneself is a key theme in this tale.  As Charlotte tells the depressed preteen Tina: “You can have a kind of beauty… one that comes from within, because you are kind to people.”