Some favorites from Amazon

Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Other Side of the Mountain - Jill Kinmont's story

Rating: 8 arthritic fingers up.

Mom and I were sitting in the living room after being home just a week - Mom broke her hip 11/11/11 (said that was a lucky day?...) and we spent 5 subsequent weeks in rehab. While surfing through Apple TV, I wandered upon "The Other Side of the Mountain." What a great movie. Now, not 10 arthritic fingers up but a respectable story.

The Other Side of the Mountain is the true story of Jill Kinmont - a one time Olympic hopeful who had a skiing accident in 1955 when she was just 19 (and, coincidentally, the same week she was she was on the cover of Sports Illustrated). With paralysis from the neck down, Jill Kinmont's story is an inspiring tale of overcoming adversity and going on to lead a full and vital life.

After falling in love with Dick Buek, a fellow dare devil skiier, Jill's life looked back on track until Dick was killed in a plane crash on November 3, 1957 at the age of 27. But, ah, Jill goes on. And, goes on splendidly to gain her teaching certificate and, to this day, as a retired teacher she still paints.

With Mom's recovery being slow, and, with Mom being 95, this story hit home. Jill Kinmont was young and in way worse shape than dear Gert yet she persevered through a tough run at physical therapy and her subsequent healing. Mom and I had a nice talk afterwards when I was helping her walk to the kitchen. She's a survivor too...just like Jill Kinmont.

To read more about Jill Kinmont's true story (she's a painter these days), please click this link: Jill Kinmont's story

If you liked The Other Side of the Mountain, you might also like:

Jill Kinmont's tale of her life:

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Not without my daughter with Sally Field

Rating: 7 arthritic fingers up.

Not without my daughter is a true story about Betty Mamoody - an American woman married to an Iranian man. In 1986, she agreed to accompany her husband to his home in Iran for a 2 week vacation to visit his family. She, her daughter and her husband arrived in Iran to a tumultuous greeting and a war strewn country.

During their 2 weeks in Iran, Betty Mahmoody's husband rededicated himself to the Shiite Moslem faith and took on the role of a traditional Iranian man and expected Betty to become an Iranian woman. Swathed in traditional Iranian dress she was beaten frequently and, upon occasion, Moody beat his daughter too.

Considering herself and her daughter held hostage, she fought long and hard to escape over the border (mostly on foot and horseback) to Turkey where she went to the American Embassy. She was reunited with her family in the US in 1986.

Today, Betty Mahmoody fights for the freedom of others in the same predicament. More can be read about this fascinating woman here: Betty Mamoody.

As is Sally Field's wont, she played the part of Betty Mamoody with perfection. This movie was a great find for a rainy, cold day. Mom had no trouble following it and really liked it.

If you liked Not Without My Daughter, you might like some of Sally Field's other movies such as:

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Awakenings with Robin Williams and Robert De Niro

Rating: 6 arthritic fingers up

For those of you who have seen Awakenings, you might wonder why only 6 arthritic fingers up. I chose this rating as, in my own opinion, this movie is easily a 10 but, when viewing with a senior citizen, it's probably quite sad in the end.

Awakenings is based on a true story of British neurologist, Oliver Sacks, and his quest to bring back to life a group of people suffering the effects of an epidemic of encephalitis lethargica between 1917 and 1928. The disease left these people in a catatonic state with little ability to interact with others or their environment.

Robin Williams (playing Malcolm Sayer) is superb in his portrayal of Oliver Sacks. He breaks away from his rapid fire personality and plays this shy researcher with grace and great skill. But, the winning performance of the movie Awakenings, and perhaps of his career, goes to Robert De Niro who plays Leonard Lowe, a now 40 something man who has been in a catatonic state since he was a very young boy. Robert De Niro masters the mannerisms of one both awakening and then descending back into a deep sleep with such skill it's just amazing.

As heartwarming as it is heartbreaking, Awakenings should be on everyone's bookshelf. Just view it carefully before sharing it with you favorite senior citizen.

If you liked Awakenings, you might also like:

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Birdcage with Robin Williams and Nathan Lane

Rating: 10 arthritic fingers up! (for open minded senior citizens).

Ok, Birdcage the movie hits it out of the park. Enchanting, funny, and very easy to follow, this movie had my Mom laughing out loud. The one caveat I would put upon the rating is that the movies characters are homosexuals and, although Mom and I don't care, some seniors may be more sensitive. It's just how they were raised, folks.

Birdcage opens with a drag show in a club owned by Armand (Robin Williams) in Florida. Armand and his companion, Albert, the star of the drag show (Nathan Lane), live in a grand home above the club. Tended to by gay housekeeper Agador (Hank Azaria), Albert is quite the drama queen in more sense than one.

Armand's son, Val, the product of a one night stand some 20 years ago, is getting married to the daughter (Calista Flockhart) of a very conservative politician played by Gene Hackman and asks that "Auntie Albert" not be present during the meeting between Armand and his fiance's family. This is where the fun begins.

There's many laugh out loud parts of the movie Birdcage. Our favorites were:

  • "Sparticus" trying to walk in shoes. Hank Azaria is hilarious as a slapstick actor.
  • Watching Albert, in his pink striped suit glory try to walk like John Wayne

The movie is totally enchanting and has some great one liners in it that are easy to follow. Although Nathan Lane is truly the star of the show, Hank Azaria's housekeeper character takes the cake as far as Mom and I were concerned.

This is a GREAT movie for a senior citizen or anyone, imho.

If you liked Birdcage, you'll love:


Sunday, July 3, 2011

Moonstruck with Cher and Nicholas Cage

Rating: Four arthritic fingers up

I'll admit it - this review is mostly my take on Moonstruck as my Mom fell asleep right after it started, awoke briefly, decided it was boring and dozed right back off. I could have done the same if I hadn't been entertained by online writing while the movie was playing.

The premise of this movie is one of deception - and, everybody is cheating on everybody else during this particular phase of the moon - hence, Moonstruck.

Cher's character is engaged to an Italian mobster type man but sleeps, and falls in love with, his brother. Cher's mother (Olivia Dukakis) meets a younger college professor during dinner out one night and there she goes! Meanwhile, Cher's father is carrying on a display of affection with a tart.

Besides everyone doing everyone else, there was a scene when Cher's original boyfriend is at the bedside of his ill mother. I found that scene a bit uncomfortable given that I'm my elderly Mom's caregiver. I was glad she slept through it, although the mother does recover.

There's also a lot of Italian yelling and gesturing. I say skip this one. Instead, you might like:


Thursday, June 9, 2011


Rating: 3 Arthritic Fingers Up Rio, the newly released animated film featuring voice of Jesse Eisenberg (as Blu) and Anne Hathaway (as Jewel)            is a bit too much like Finding Nemo (without the funny character of Ellen Degeneres). The movie was cute, but in the opinion of one very senior citizen (94) and one approaching senior citizenship (none of your business...), and one 40 year old, it was sort of boring.

The story starts with the requisite capture of Blu, one of the last blue Amazon parrots on earth. In fact, Blu is only 1 of 2 known of his species. Unfortunately, Blu lives with his owner (and total devotee Linda). And, since he's lived a totally cushy life, he's never learned to fly.

Linda and Blu get talked into a trip to Rio so that Blu can, ostensibly, continue the species with Jewel (a kind of nasty bird at first). Through many trials and tribulation, including a kidnapping (bird-napping?) plot, Blu learns to fly and is....well, I won't spoil it for you if you haven't seen it.

Personally, I lost interest in about 30 minutes; Mom was sleeping by minute 10.

There are other animated flicks that I would recommend though for viewing with a senior citizen friend, including the below:

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The American President with Michael Douglas and Annette Bennings

Rating: 10 Arthritic Fingers Up!

 Talk about just the sweetest love story ever and super sexy too (gives the caregiver something to watch at the same time...), The American President is one of our favorite movies ever. What starts off as an adversarial relationship between a lobbyist on The Hill (Sydney Allen Wade played by Benning) turns into a true love story when The President (President Andrew Shepherd played by Douglas) develops feelings for this tough lady.

Recently widowed, the President is running the country with a group of great advisors (including Michael J. Fox) and trying to raise his teenage daughter, Lucy, at the same time. Douglas is a nice guy all around but no nicer than when he takes dating advice from his daughter.

As a mixture of humor and love, one of our favorite parts was when the President tries to buy the lobbyist flowers on his own. Yes, he does own a rose garden but has quite a hard time buying a bouquet of flowers.

This movie is fast enough paced to keep Mom's attention yet was still easy to follow. We both highly recommend it!

If you liked The American President, you might also like:


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Finding Nemo with Ellen Degeneres and Albert Brooks

Rating - 10 arthritic fingers up!

 "A boat? I saw a boat!"

Now, if you're a caregiver of the elderly, you might well identify your charge with Dory the fish (Ellen Degeneres) - a fish of very short term memory. This character about put me down for good with laughter! I just dropped and rolled. Mom was also amused - albeit, not nearly as much as I was.

Finding Nemo is clearly a winner when looking for a fun, light movie needed to entertain about anyone in the world, including a 94 year old.

The story starts with Nemo, a clownfish with a bum wing (um...fin) and an overprotective father starting off to school on his own. Little did he realize the perils of not listening to good old dad. Poor Nemo gets trapped in a net and ends up in a dentist's office in an aquarium in Sydney, Australia.

The story line is delightfully whimsical and easy to follow. Honestly: everyone will love this movie - if not, just press ESC-APE (pronounced Esc-CA-pe...) on your DVD and dial up something else!

If you liked Finding Nemo, you'll also like:


Sunday, May 15, 2011

Rainman with Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman

 Rating: 10 arthritic fingers up!

Rainman is a delightful story of a mentally-challenged man (Raymond Babbitt) played by Dustin Hoffman and his very selfish younger brother (Charlie Babbitt) played by Tom Cruise.

After their father dies, Charlie Babbitt discovers that his dad's vast fortune (3 million) was left to Raymond while Charlie was left only a rose bush and an antique car which Charlie had stolen from his father when he was young. As a result of the theft, his Dad had reported the car as stolen and Charlie spent a few days in jail which just burned him up and caused an estrangement between Charlie and his dad.

So, Charlie realizes that to get to the money, he has to get to his mentally-challenged brother, which he does. As the two impart upon a cross country journey, Charlie starts to see his brother in a new light.

Our favorite scene of all is when the two men are coming down the escalator in Las Vegas in beautiful suits. This scene alone is worth watching the movie!

There's the prerequisite love story also between Charlie and his girlfriend who takes a liking to Raymond. It's through her eyes that Charlie further sees his brother as a man - not just someone who is dependent upon others.

Rainman is a wonderful movie which held Mom's attention throughout. Have a few hankies around though - Mom wasn't the only one crying...

If you liked Rainman, you might also like:


Saturday, April 16, 2011

La Bamba with Lou Diamond Phillips

Rating: 7 arthritic fingers up.

La Bamba tells the story of Richie Valens, from the undiscovered youth all the way to the fated plane crash that took his life along with the Big Bopper and Buddy Holly on February 3, 1959. Lou Diamond Phillips does an admirable job portraying Richie although I felt like his lip syncing to the songs was a bit off.

La Bamba would have garnished a higher rating if it wasn't that I constantly had to readjust the volume to a comfortable roar. If I adjusted the movie speaking parts to a dull roar, when a song came on, if the volume was left alone, I would have had curled hair! For those who can't hear anyway, it was probably ok but it ground my teeth down! So I was always fiddling with the volume.

Mom and I loved the story though as it is heartwarming and inspiring. In Richie Valens short life, he only got a few songs out but they were all popular. "Come on, let's go" was his first published recording followed shortly by "Donna" and his most popular hit, "La Bamba." In his own way and in his short 17 years, Richie Valens left his mark on the music industry.

If you liked La Bamba, you might like:

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Living with a Stranger - Julia Roberts

 Rating: 6 arthritic fingers up.

This thriller movie held my interest (mostly) but not Mom's. The story line is a bit implausible. Julia Roberts plays a battered wife who fakes her own drowning to escape from her husband. After a night sail which turns bad in a storm, she slips overboard and manages to make her way to shore and a quick trip to her house to gather her runaway bag. In her wake, she leaves the most gorgeous house on Nantucket. I'm thinking that if I were her, I would have figured out a way to keep that house! But, that's besides the point. She also made a fatal error by putting her wedding ring in the toilet. Why she'd do that when she had the whole ocean in front of her was just too weird. And, the implausibility of the wedding ring still being there peaking out of the bottom of the toilet bowl after the funeral and after the house has been shut up just doesn't ring true (sorry). Didn't those people pee?

Anyway, Julia makes a run for it and tries to start a new life. That's as far as I'm going with this review. Don't want to be a spoiler for the tense ending!

As far as senior citizens liking this movie, maybe not so much. There's flashback scenes that sort of confused my Mom and the suspense was not her favorite thing.

If you or your senior citizen liked this movie, you might also like:

Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Sister Act with Whoopi Goldberg

Rating: 10 arthritic fingers up.

Could The Sister Act be any funnier?! Whoopi Goldberg stands out as a comedian  when she goes undercover as a nun (Deloris) to avoid being, shall we say, annihilated by an ex-boyfriend (of the married variety).

The Mother at the convent is not a fan of Delores' and resists her attempts to interact with the tough neighborhood residents or create a bit more of a social environment inside the convict. Lots of good music and feel good scenes occur as the nuns clean up the area around their convent and create their own type of hipness and the tough guys in the neighborhood crumble.

During The Sister Act, Sister Mary Clarence realizes that the nuns may be good at praying but they suck as a choir. This is one choir that needs HELP and Dolores, with her vast musical background (an ex-lounge singer in Remo), takes over whipping the other sisters into shape, musically.

The Sister Act is an easy movie to follow and Mom chuckled all the way through it. With no sex (there is, of course, a vow of chastity....) or drugs but a lot of rock and roll, there are some great songs from the 70s which are recognizable to almost everyone. A particularly nice musical number is My Guy (performed as My God by the nuns). The finale can't be missed - "I will follow him" takes on a whole new meaning when it's sung by a group of nuns and not a bunch of teenagers crying about lost love.

So, grab your favorite senior citizen, pop some popcorn, and belly up to the sofa for The Sister Act.

If you liked The Sister Act, you might also like:


Monday, March 28, 2011

The Odd Couple with Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon

Rating: 8 arthritic fingers up.

Dut dut dut dut dooo, dut dut doo dut dut doo doo....Anyone who is a fan of The Odd Couple will semi-recognize the opening music I semi-recreated above.

The Odd Couple is a very comical story of Felix Unger and Oscar Madison, a couple as odd as it gets. After his marriage breaksup, the uber-neatnik Felix moves in with his old pal (and slob) Oscar Madison - to the chagrin of both parties. Oscar, of cigar-smoking, sock-throwing, food-under-the-bed fame and Felix who is always gripping and cleaning up entertain poker games with a host of interesting cronies - Vinnie, Murray (the cop), Roy, and Speed.

Then there the Pigeon sisters, Cicely and Gwendolyn who are pretty much interchangeable. Mom rolled at this part of the movie.

The Odd Couple is a movie that is easy to watch and a fun movie for a slow night. Created in 1968, The Odd Couple is as funny today as it was then.

The spin-off TV show is also very very funny. That show features Tony Randall as Felix and Jack Klugman as Oscar. A great way to keep someone in stitches for hours at a time.


Monday, February 7, 2011

Driving Miss Daisy - Jessica Tandy, Morgan Freeman

Rating: 10 arthritic fingers up (but, with a caveat).

 Morgan Freeman and Jessica Tandy really bring this gem of a movie to life. As an old fashioned elderly white woman born and raised in the South, Miss Daisy (Jessica Tandy) is fully against the idea of having a chauffeur - enter Morgan Freeman as the wonderful character "Hoke."

Driving Miss Daisy follows these two central characters from the 1940's until the 1970's. The story encompasses some Civil Rights movement issues and handles them very well. Throughout the 30 years, we see Miss Daisy and Hoke become, not just boss and driver, but true friends of the heart.

Caveat: The ending of this wonderful movie might be difficult if your senior loved one is becoming 'memory challenged.'

If you liked Driving Miss Daisy, you might like:

Saturday, February 5, 2011

City Slickers - Billy Crystal

Rating: 9 arthritic fingers up

I'll admit it - I'm a Billy Crystal fan. To me, he's like a Robin Williams without the drugs. I love his ad libs in City Slickers - like when his horse starts walking backward and he calls it the 'moon walk.'

City Slickers is a very fun, very easy to follow movie about three friends who are each in their own throes of a mid-life crisis. So, for vacation, they decide to go to a dude ranch and drive cattle. The most powerful thing either of these men have driven is a car...

The movie follows them as they drive cattle across the New Mexico and their antics and conversation as they work through their individual women problems is just delightful.

The jokes come very fast but they're not very obscure which should help your favorite senior citizen follow the dialogue.

If you liked City Slickers, you might like:

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Doc Hollywood with Michael J. Fox

Rating: 10 arthritic fingers up!

Both Gert and I loved Doc Hollywood, but, then again, we're big Michael J. Fox fans!

Doc Hollywood starts off with a cross country trip to Hollywood, California for a young doctor, Dr. Benjamin Stone, played by Michael J. Fox. In his impatience (and arrogance) to avoid traffic, he ends up taking country roads in the race to his new plastic surgery job in LA. Along the way, he swerves to avoid some cows in the road and takes out a white picket fence in the small town of Grady. And the fun begins.

Sentenced to perform community service and awaiting parts for his fancy sports car, Dr. Stone works in the only hospital alongside the ambulance driver, a woman named 'Lou.' I won't divulge much more of the story but it involves love and a pig - not necessarily in that order and there is no bestiality involved!

Doc Hollywood is well deserved of its 10 arthritic fingers up and is great for any viewing audience.

If you liked Doc Hollywood, you might enjoy:


Monday, January 10, 2011

Big - Tom Hanks

10 arthritic fingers up!

The movie "Big" was the best of the bunch of good movies for senior citizens we've reviewed as of this point. Tom Hanks plays Josh, an 11 year old who awakens one day in his bunk bed at home but has been transformed overnight into a 20-something year old man's body after making a wish at a carnival (I knew there was a reason I've always been scared of those creepy fortune teller machines at traveling carnivals). He takes off in disbelief to try and find the carnival machine which has been packed up and ostensibly shipped off to terrorize another young boy somewhere.

He returns home but his mother understandably freaks out when he appears as a full grown man in the living room and chases him off.

Josh's friend who was with him at the carnival is the only person he can turn to who can possibly understand his situation and offer any solace. So he  heads off to find little Billy and eventually convinces him that he really is Josh.

Through many trials and tribulations, John gets a job and is wildly successful working for a toy developer. The requisite love affair (almost) starts when a woman falls in love with the child inside - little does she know he really is an 11 year old inside.

Our favorite scene in the movie "Big" by far was, of course, the piano scene when John sees his boss at a toy store and the two do a duet on the big piano mat. This scene is a classic in every sense of the word. And, Tom Hanks, the consummate actor that he is, has once again become a BIG winner by taking on this movie.

Mom and I both loved the movie "Big" and recommend it to any senior citizen (and their caregiver friends!).

If you like the movie BIG, you'll love:


Saturday, January 8, 2011

Father's Little Dividend - Spencer Tracy, Joan Bennett, Elizabeth Taylor

Rating: 6 arthritic fingers up - would have been higher if the sound quality was better and Gert didn't like Billie Burke's voice - it was 'squeaky.'

This movie is the sequel to The Father of the Bride (which we didn't see as it's not on Netflix....drats). But, Father's Little Dividend was fun anyway. The main character, Stanley Banks (played by Spencer Tracy), has finally gotten over his daughter's (played by a young and very beautiful Elizabeth Taylor) elaborate wedding the previous year and is settling in, dreaming of his retirement when he gets a little surprise; she's pregnant and he's going to be a Grandpa. He's feeling old and not at all happy but that's not it....

Stanley's wife, Ellie, however, is over the moon with the news of the baby and wants to be a hands on Grandma! She gets uber involved in the situation and offers to have younger happy couple move in with she and Stanley while their house is being built. Remodeling and other havoc ensues throughout the rest of the movie.

We did notice a problem with the quality of this movie produced in 1951. As with most old movies, the sound quality is not superb and mom had a hard time hearing some of the dialogue, even with the TV volume up to the max. So, if your elderly friend is hard of hearing, this one might be a little hard. (Note: other places in the movie were SO LOUD they scared us to death!). Well, not quite to death...thankfully.

But, alas, Mom couldn't stand Billie Burke's voice so we ditched the movie after just 20 minutes or so.

Steve Martin and Diane Keaton recreate the rolls of the elder Banks couple in the recreated Father of the Bride series which are also very funny. These newer movies might be a better bet for the elderly with hearing problems.

Monday, January 3, 2011

A League Of Their Own - Tom Hanks, Geena Davis, Madonna and Rosie O'Donnell

Rating: Ten arthritic fingers up.

A League Of Their Own contains a terrific all star cast which brings this movie to life. Loosely based on a true life story, A League Of Their Own follows one of the very first all-women's softball leagues which was created when all of the men went to war in the 1940's. Complete with all the elements of a great feel-good movie (including a sister rivalry and the obligatory husband returning from war scene), A League of their Own is a very heartwarming tale.

Tom Hands plays a has-been baseball player who is basically forced to coach and build a cohesive team of baseball players from a group of women who, although maybe not quite talented, have heart. Geena Davis, Madonna, and Rosie O'Donnell all give very enchanting, fun performances.

One of the best parts of the movie for mom and me was the famous Tom Hank's uttering the incredulous 'There's no crying in baseball!' Funny moment.

We think that any senior citizen would enjoy A League Of Their Own.

Of interesting note is that the actual softball teams were The Rockford Peaches and The All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, Many of the original players from The All-American Girls Professional Baseball Leauge appear in the last scene of the movie when they're reunited at the Baseball Hall of Fame and take their rightful places in history.

If you like A League of Their Own, you might like the below items:

Guess Who's Coming To Dinner - hint, it's Sidney Portier

Rating: 5 arthritic fingers up.

Well, Guess Who's Coming To Dinner was a hit with my Mom but a bit slow for me. It's a talk of an interracial couple when interracial wasn't cool - the movie was produced in 1967.

The action really focuses more on the parents of the woman half of the interracial couple (played by Katharine Houghton - her first role in movies) and Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy were hot even back in the day!

The movie was ok, but I'm just not sure it was fast enough to hold the fleeting attention span of the elderly (or me...). One thing is certain though: Sidney Portier sure was a good looking dude and even Gert thought so.

If you did happen to like this movie, you might also want to view:

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Yentl - Barbra Streisand

Rating: 8 arthritic fingers up (would have been 9 but the accents may be tough for some elderly people to follow)

Barbra Streisand is terrific as she plays Yentl, a young Jewish girl who only wants to study the Talmud (Jewish law) forbidden for study by women. Yentl is a beautiful movie which, although a bit slow in the very beginning, did manage to keep my Mom's attention through all 132 minutes.  Boyfriend John said it was like the 'Sound of Music for Jews' and went to read a book. Gert and I loved it.

Although the story is poignant as it traces the young girl through her journey to learn the torah, impersonating a boy in her travels and falling in love (with a man) along the way, my Mom thought the accents of the yiddish men and women were tough to follow at first. When I mentioned to her that they were the same yiddish accents I remembered from my Bubie and Zadie (her Mom and Dad), she agreed and then was fine with them.

This love story unfolds to music sung by Barbra herself. The songs are beautiful, as is the cinetography and story line.

If you like Yentl and/or Barbra Streisand, you might like: