Category Archives: Movies

AAR Goes to the Movies: Oblivion


The last super bowl was played in 2017. Then Earth was attacked by aliens. According to soldier Jack Harper, “We won the war but they destroyed half the planet. Everyone’s been evacuated, nothing human remains.” Jack and his communications officer/eye in the sky Victoria are an “effective team”, doing what Jack calls “mop up” work. Essentially, they guard ocean rigs that drain the world’s oceans and send the water to a massive tetrahedral space station called the Tet. The Tet then sends it on to humanity’s new home, Titan, a moon of Saturn. Much of the water from the planet is gone; what remains should be drained soon.

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AAR Goes to the Movies: Lincoln

[youtube][/youtube]Because Lincoln got rather mixed reviews in German papers and magazines, I didn’t go to watch the movie when it was first on here last autumn. After Daniel Day-Lewis had won the Oscar for best actor in February, it was put on at the local cinema again, and I went and watched it. And boy am I glad I didn’t miss it! Continue reading

AAR Goes to the Movies: Howl’s Moving Castle

[youtube][/youtube]Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones is among my top 10 favorite books, and may be the one I have reread most often over the years. It received the only A+ review I have written for AAR so far. Which is why I was both excited and worried to hear some years back that it was being made into an animated film by Studio Ghibli, directed by Hayao Miyazaki. Continue reading

Movies That Meet (or Exceed) the Book

breaking dawn

There is always controversy when movies are adaptations of beloved books or plays. Films such as The Hobbit, which use outside source material to extend a revered original, are dissected as fans determine which moments, if any, should have remained untouched. But I felt nothing but delight with the changes made to Breaking Dawn Part 2. Be warned, I am heading into spoiler territory here so if you haven’t seen the film, quit reading.

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Oscar Preparations

For a number of personal reasons I lost my love of the movies for a few years. Except for the Harry Potter flicks I didn’t even venture into a theater, and rarely watched a movie on my TV. For a lifelong movie lover this was pretty drastic.

But a few years ago my love of movies came back in a major way. Sure, I can still go for months — particularly the summer months — without watching a movie in a theater. But I’ll still watch a lot of older movies on my TV. But then November rolls around and the “good” movie season begins for me. Finally, we’re through with all the silly summer flicks and the “grown-up”/Oscar contender movies seem to hit town.

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Watching the oldies: Hush … Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964)

[youtube][/youtube]Last weekend, for the first time ever I watched Hush … Hush, Sweet Charlotte (German title, incidentally: Lullaby for a Corpse). It’s a Southern Gothic story with quite a few horror elements, starring a fantastic Bette Davis and Olivia de Havilland. There’s Joseph Cotton in it, too, but sorry, completely overshadowed by the ladies. Continue reading

AAR Goes to the Movies: Safe Haven

[youtube][/youtube]This weekend I went to see Safe Haven, the latest movie based on the Nicholas Sparks novel of the same name. I hadn’t planned to see this in the theater because, well, I have a fundamental problem contributing to the financial success of Nicholas Sparks in any way. Sorry to those who legitimately love his books, but I’m loath to give the guy my good opinion because he has far more than enough for himself. But I needed to get out of the house, and Safe Haven started at the right time at the movie theater near my home, so I sucked up my righteous indignation and bought a ticket. At least I only had to pay the matinee price.

Did I get my money’s worth? Well, the movie did offer close to two hours of escape. Otherwise, I’d say it hit all the predictable points to mark it as a Nicholas Sparks original. In fact, let us count the ways.

The movie begins with Katie, our heroine, fleeing the scene of a crime, her hands bloody, her belongings stuffed into a plastic grocery store bag. After receiving some aid from a neighbor, she boards a bus headed simply away, a relentless police detective so close on her heels she barely escapes. Since I don’t want to give away a major plot twist, I can only tell you that, after watching the whole movie, I see now that this scenario includes a plot hole large enough to drive a train through. But I digress.

Katie de-buses for a pit stop and decides to stick around what appears to be a sleepy, seaside town in North Carolina (Nicholas Sparks point 1 – story set on the Carolina coast). There she gets a job as a waitress, somehow manages to rent or purchase a literal log cabin in the woods (where’d she get the money?), and meets widower Alex. Alex’s wife died of cancer a few years back (Nick Sparks point 2 – cancer kills somebody) leaving him with two adorable kids to raise.

Their love story ensues until, as you would expect, Katie’s past catches up with her. I won’t spoil anymore, suffice it to say that there was one tiny plot twist that I didn’t suspect until right before it happened. That particular reveal did answer a huge question that nagged at me from the beginning, but it also contributed to that gaping plot hole I mention earlier.

Without spoiling the movie, I can say that Katie and Alex do take a boat ride together, get caught in a rainstorm, and share a sweet dance together (Nick Sparks points 3, 4 and 5).

In all, the movie was okay but not something I’ll think about much after writing this review. Of all of the Nicholas Sparks movies I’ve seen, the only one I regularly rewatch and truly do enjoy is A Walk to Remember. I will fully confess here that besides the famous kissing in the rain scene, I didn’t like The Notebook at all, making me perhaps one of the few that feels this way. Safe Haven falls solidly in between my two extremes. If big action movies are popcorn flicks, I’d consider this entry in the Nicholas Sparks filmography a cotton candy flick; sweet but ultimately insubstantial.

- Jenna Harper

AAR at the Movies: Les Miserables


I have been waiting, and waiting to see this, ever since I heard they were doing a movie of the musical. Les Mis is one of my favourite musicals of all time – I practically know it by heart. Then, of course, after I saw the killer trailer (above), I nearly wept with relief that they (probably) hadn’t screwed it up. What’s my verdict? Read on.

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