Flashback Friday: The Blind Side (2009)

Education, as we all know, unlocks the key to our future. When we don’t have access to that education, that lack of access has the possibility of lifelong consequences.

The 2009 film, The Blind Side, is based on the true story of former NFL player Michael Oher. The narrative comes from the book, The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game, by Michael Lewis. In his teenage years, Oher (Quinton Aaron) was a young man who had almost nothing. Coming from a large African-American family that was dealing with poverty, homelessness, and addiction. Taken in by Leigh Anne Tuohy (Sandra Bullock) and her family, he is being given the opportunity that many of his peers will never receive.

When he shows a spark of interest and the ability to play football, this opens the door to a life path that he never expected.

Without knowing anything about the real people behind the story, it is a tale of seeing potential in a young person who does not believe that they have any. Bullock won an Oscar for the role and deserved it. Her role is that of a mama bear who loves and protects her young ones with a ferocity that never wavers.

There are two perspectives on the movie. The first is that it is at heart, a white savior narrative. From a certain point of view, it is extremely problematic. The other is that it humanizes the white evangelical Christian Republicans. These days, it’s easy to demonize this crowd. This story shows that they are just like the rest of us, even when we disagree on a litany of topics.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

Flashback Friday: Hope Floats (1998)

After heartbreak, the obvious thing would be to bury your head in the sand and pretend that nothing is wrong. But at a certain point, we have to make a decision as to whether we want to move on or let that heartbreak control us.

In the 1998 rom-com, Hope Floats, Birdie Pruitt (Sandra Bullock) is a former beauty queen whose husband has just revealed on national TV that he is cheating on her. Once the divorce papers are signed, Birdie moves back to her hometown with her daughter Bernice (Mae Whitman). Facing the gossip mongers and former classmates who are loving her public downfall, she runs into an old friend. Justin Matisse (Harry Connick Jr.) has had a thing for Birdie for years and has yet to verbalize his feelings.

As they spend more time together and Birdie starts to open up, she starts to see the possibility of where this relationship could go. But before they can go from platonic to romantic, she has Bernice to consider. Will Birdie be able to date again while being the mother her daughter needs or will she remain in the cocoon of what was?

I really like this movie. It’s a classic 1990’s Sandra Bullock romantic comedy. Though we know how the story will eventually end, I find this film to be charming, entertaining, and deeper than others within the genre.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

Throwback Thursday-Miss Congeniality 2: Armed & Fabulous (2005)

When it comes to movie sequels, there is an opportunity to expand both the narrative and the character arc. The question is, does this expansion succeed or fail?

Miss Congeniality 2: Armed & Fabulous, the sequel to Miss Congeniality, was released in 2005. Gracie Hart’s (Sandra Bullock) life has changed in ways she did not expect. Unable to do her job as an F.B.I agent because of the notoriety that she has gained, her new role is now in media relations. Watching Gracie’s back is Agent Sam Fuller (Regina King). The hitch is that Sam and Gracie don’t exactly get along.

When Gracie’s friends are kidnapped, she has to work with Sam to find who took them and where they are.

As rom-com sequels go, this film is decent. It’s not the best film (or the best sequel) ever released, but, it could have been a lot worse.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

Ocean’s 8 Movie Review

Heist films are nearly as old as Hollywood itself. The question, is, does the film standout within the genre or is it just too unbelievable?

Ocean’s 8 is the next chapter in the Ocean’s movie series.

Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock) is the sister of Danny Ocean (George Clooney), the protagonist of the previous Ocean’s films. When she gets out of jail, she gathers a crew together to steal a necklace worth millions of dollars at the Met Gala.

The crew includes Lou (Cate Blanchett), Amita (Mindy Kaling), Tammy (Sarah Paulson), Constance (Awkwafina), Nine Ball (Rihanna) and Rose Weil (Helena Bonham-Carter). The necklace is to be worn by Daphne Kluger (Anne Hathaway) at the Met Ball in New York City.

I loved this film. While it helps that the main cast is made up of a group of diverse female performers, it is the narrative that makes the film enjoyable. It is funny, well written, thrilling and worth a trip to the movie theater.

I recommend it.

Ocean’s 8 is presently in theaters. 

Flashback Friday-In Love And War (1996)

It has been said that for a writer to create memorable narratives and characters, he or she has to truly live.

Ernest Hemingway was an ambulance driver during World War I. Injured in the line of duty, he fell in love with nurse Agnes Von Kurowsky, and she with him. While their relationship did not last, their story was chronicled in the 1996 film, In Love And War.

The film starred Chris O’Donnell as Ernest Hemingway and Sandra Bullock as Agnes Von Kurowsky.

 

I haven’t seen this movie in a long time, but I remember that while the narrative did not rise to the level of an unforgettable romance, it was not entirely bad either. What I do remember is that it was the story of young love and how it stays with us, even when that love is not meant to last forever.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

Throwback Thursday-A Time To Kill (1996)

There are some stories that are so powerful, that they are like a literal punch to the gut. They are a reminder of the evils in this world and the work that needs to be done to right the wrongs that the evil has created.

In 1989, future writing megastar John Grisham published his first novel, A Time To Kill. In a small town in the American South in the 1980’s, a young African-American girl is raped by a group of white men. The girl’s father, Carl Lee Hailey kills two of the men in retaliation for his daughter’s sexual assault. Jake Brigance and Ellen Roark are the white lawyers who take on Carl’s case. While Jake and Ellen are doing everything they can to keep Carl out of jail, the KKK comes out of the shadows and adds their unique blend of chaos and turmoil to the mix.

In 1996, the book was made into a film. Samuel L. Jackson, Matthew McConaughey and Sandra Bullock took on the roles of Carl, Jake and Ellen.

This movie both powerful and uncomfortable. It forces the audience to take a good hard look at the dark side of American life and the issues that we must face head on.

I absolutely recommend this film.

Throwback Thursday-28 Days (2000)

Anyone who has grappled with an addiction to alcohol or drugs can tell you that breaking the addiction is not easy. It’s even harder on the ones who love them and only want the best for them, but are limited in their abilities to help.

In the movie 28 Days (2000), Gwen Cummings (Sandra Bullock) is at a major crossroads in her life. Gwen’s alcohol addiction has become so bad that she got drunk on the day of her sister’s wedding and gets into a car accident. She has two choices: go to jail or rehab. Gwen chooses rehab.

At first, Gwen is resistant to accept that she has a problem and use the tools at her disposal to deal with her problem. Then she begins to see the problems that her alcoholism has created and must work to not only make amends for her choices, but work to overcome her addiction.

Up to this point in her career, Sandra Bullock’s roles were mostly the heroine in predictable and bland romantic comedies. This film is much darker and her role much more complex. Alcoholism is a disease that millions of Americans grapple with every day. It is Gwen’s fight with herself that makes this movie seem less like fiction and more like the real struggle of those who are fighting within themselves daily to stay sober.

I recommend it.

Throwback Thursday-Speed (1994)

Public transportation is a great way to get around. Economical with multiple arms, it is the easiest way to get around for many people.

That is until a terrorist hijacks a bus. Then it becomes something much more.

That the premise of Speed (1994).

Howard Payne (Dennis Hopper) is a terrorist whose previous plot was foiled. In retaliation,  he plants a bomb on a Los Angeles City bus. Once the bomb is armed, it must keep going at fifty miles an hour. But Payne does not stop there. If there is an attempt by the police to rescue the passengers aboard, he will detonate the bomb. Now it is up to LA police officer Jack Traven (Keanu Reeves) and passenger turned driver, Annie (Sandra Bullock) to keep the passengers safe while complying with Payne’s demands.

This movie is one of the best action movies in the last twenty five years.  Directed by Jan de Bont and written by Graham Yost, it grabs the audience by the throat and does not let them go until the closing credits. Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock have a solid chemistry. Dennis Hopper is chilling as the villain.

I highly recommend this movie.

Throwback Thursday-The Net (1995)

20 years ago, the internet is not what it is today. But the dangers are still the same.

Premiering 20 years, The Net (1995) is the story of Angela Bennett (Sandra Bullock). Angela is a computer programmer whose social life barely exists outside of her computer. When she finally goes on a vacation, she has an encounter with Jack Devlin (Jeremy Northam), whose true face is soon revealed. Angela will quickly be pulled into computer espionage and must find a way out.

This movie was scary 20 years ago. It is even scarier today.  It is amazing how art can not only imitate life, but predict the future.

I recommend it.

Throwback Thursday- Sandra Bullock Triple Feature- Practical Magic (1998), Miss Congeniality (2000) & Two Weeks Notice (2002)

Every generation in Hollywood has the girl next door actress. She is actress who plays mostly rom coms and dramedy’s, but every once in a while, she will jump to a completely different genre that may surprise audiences.

In the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, that actress was Sandra Bullock.

In 1998, she starred with Nicole Kidman in Practical Magic.

Sally (Sandra Bullock) and Gillian (Nicole Kidman) are not average women. They come from a long line of witches. After the death of their parents, they were raised by their very eccentric aunts, Frances (Stockard Channing) and Jet (Dianne Wiest). But in their small town, where everyone knows that the Owens women are witches, their lives are not as easy as the other women in town.

A centuries old curse states that the men who love the Owens women are pre-destined to die young. Trouble really starts when Gillian is trying to escape from an abusive relationship and her boyfriend dies, forcing the sisters to use magic to keep their secret. But the secret backfires and the sisters must find a way to fix the problem.

I like this movie. I like the themes of acceptance, self love and being open about who you are. It also carries a nice pro-women message.

Two years later, Bullock walked into the law enforcement/Pygmalion comedy hybrid of Miss Congeniality. FBI agent Gracie Hart (Sandra Bullock) can be described as anything but lady like.  But when she is forced to go undercover as a contestant in the Miss United States pageant, she and her colleague Eric (Benjamin Bratt), turn to Victor Melling (Michael Caine) to ensure that Gracie’s cover will not be blown.

I like this movie. It’s funny, charming and overall, very enjoyable.

Finally, another two years after that, she starred in Two Weeks Notice. Lucy (Sandra Bullock) is a lawyer. She takes on the job of being legal counsel for playboy and sometimes business man George Wade (Hugh Grant).  George needs a babysitter more than he needs legal counsel. Lucy takes the job, receiving a promise from George that a local community center will not be torn down and replaced by a development. But when George becomes too needy, Lucy decides that it’s time to go.

Again, I like this movie. It is charming and just very well done.

I recommend all three.

 

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