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The Book of Henry (2017)


The Book of Henry (2017)

With the popularity of the film Wonder (2017) and Room (2015), it seems like Jacob Tremblay is starting to pop up all over the place.  However, this time around in The Book of Henry, Tremblay is not the main young actor in the film.  It is Jaeden Lieberher in the starring role.  Lieberher got a lot more recognition in his boost to fame part in the movie It (2017).  Excluding the kids from the renowned Netflix Original TV Series, Stranger Things (2016), Tremblay and Lieberher are probably the most popular child actors right now.  With Naomi Watts playing their mother in The Book of Henry, this movie looked entertaining.

The Book of Henry is about a genius 11-year-old boy who works together with his mother to try to stop the child abuse of their next door neighbor girl.

The movie was directed by Colin Trevorrow and the noteworthy cast includes Jaeden Lieberher, Naomi Watts, Jacob Tremblay, Dean Norris, Sarah Silverman, Lee Pace, Maddie Ziegler, Bobby Moynihan, Geraldine Hughes, Joel Marsh Garland, and Wass Stevens.

After you get past the fact that the premise of this movie is super farfetched, it is enjoyable enough.  The story is all too convenient, but yet tastefully done.  Many complications in the storyline were solved all too easily and in a very formulaic fashion.

I fault the writing for everything that is wrong with The Book of Henry.  The filmmaking was good enough overall, but the story was just really lacking.

For their age, the young actors in this film are superb.  Lieberher is the standout in the movie.  I definitely expect to see these to young actors continuing to have successful careers.

I usually really like Watts as an actress, but did not care for her much in this film.  I am not sure if it was because I did not like her or her character.  She was dumbed-down so much for this movie that it almost seemed like she was miscast.

The irresponsibility and stupidity of Watt’s character is not believable when you see just how much of a mastermind her oldest son is supposed to be.  He is so beyond crazy smart at 11 years old that it seems impossible to fathom.  Get past that and The Book of Henry is average.  It is a drama with some unexpected twists and turns.  Some ideas about the story really worked, while others just did not.

I rate this movie a 5.5 on a scale of 1-10.

 

 

If you liked this film then you might also enjoy:

 

Wonder (2017)

Room (2015)

The Window (1949)

It (2017)

Stand By Me (1986)

St. Vincent (2014)

The Impossible (2012)

Stranger Things (2016)

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

The Goonies (1985)

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The Window (1949)


The Window (1949)

(I could not find a trailer for this film to post with my review, so here is a very short clip instead).

I saw this movie for the first time on a 16mm print when I was about 8 years old.  It was enough to spook me back then.  I love watching old movies like The Window and being transported back in time to a simpler time.  You can see what the big city was like back then and how it has vigorously transformed, over the years.

Recently, I got to attend a special showing of this film at The Heights Theater in Columbia Heights, MN as part of an RKO Film Noir Festival.  People often ask me, what “Film Noir” is.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary the definition of “Film Noir” is: “a type of crime film featuring cynical malevolent characters in a sleazy setting and an ominous atmosphere that is conveyed by shadowy photography and foreboding background music; also: a film of this type.”

I do not think that “Film Noir” could be defined any better.

The Window is about a 9-year-old boy who is notorious for crying wolf.  One night he looks through his neighbor’s window and witnesses a murder.  Of course, nobody believes him except for the killers and they want to silence him.

The movie was directed by Ted Tetzlaff and the noteworthy cast includes Bobby Driscoll, Barbara Hale, Arthur Kennedy, Paul Stewart, and Ruth Roman.

The premise of this movie has been duplicated many times (i.e. Rear Window (1954), Disturbia (2007)) because the subject matter itself, is pretty scary.  Could you imagine living next to a killer?

The film holds up today because of the tension that it is able to build up throughout the story.  The length of the movie was quite fitting in order to keep it more intense throughout without it having much of a chance to slow down.

Bobby Driscoll does an exceptional job for his age.  He holds his own throughout the whole movie.  He actually won a special Academy Award for his performance in The Window as the “outstanding juvenile actor” of 1949.

The villains of The Window are quite ruthless for the time that the movie was made.  In particular, Paul Stewart delivers a memorable performance.  Stewart made quite a career as a character actor.  He became typecast as the “bad guy” or gangster, mostly because he was awesome playing those parts.  Besides The Window, I really liked him in Mr. Lucky (1943).

You just cannot get the same shadow effects now as you could in black and white, back in the day.  The malevolent characters, sleazy setting, and foreboding background music all excellently portray an ominous atmosphere that is the classic “Film Noir”, The Window.

If you enjoy a good thriller, The Window still holds up today.  You could even watch it with your kids and help teach them never to “cry wolf.”

I rate this movie a 9 on a scale of 1-10.

 

If you liked this film then you might also enjoy:

 

Rear Window (1954)

Disturbia (2007)

Compulsion (1949)

Shadow of a Doubt (1943)

Murder, My Sweet (1944)

Non-Stop (2014)

Flightplan (2005)

Murder on the Orient Express (2017)

The Girl on the Train (2016)

Heights Theater Columbia Heights, MN


Heights Theater Columbia Heights, MN

The other night I ventured out to see an old classic inside of an older classic.  The beautifully maintained one-screen Heights Theater in Columbia Heights, MN was playing the film, The Window (1949) as part of a recent RKO “Film Noir” film festival that is still going on this month.

The Heights Theater is a nostalgic escape.  It is 92 years old!  It was built in 1926.  Originally, it was used for local stage plays and vaudeville acts, besides a simple movie house.

I was last at this theater a handful of years ago for a Thanksgiving showing of Bringing Up Baby (1938).  Before that, I attended part of a weekend movie marathon there when I was a teenager.

That movie marathon became part of “The Guinness Book of World Records.”  People had the unique opportunity to stay overnight all weekend in the theater (they brought blankets, pillows, toothbrush, etc.).  If they stayed the whole weekend and attended every movie that played each day, then they got their names into “The Guinness Book of World Records” (supposedly, but I never fully looked into that).

If my memory serves me correctly, I went to that movie marathon back then during two of the three days of that weekend.  I was there specifically to see Laurel & Hardy, and I think even The Three Stooges on the big screen.  I also stayed for a couple of feature films, but I cannot remember the titles.

Each time that I have been to the Heights Theater, it looks better than the time before.  The owner of the theater is Tom Letness.  He also owns the Dairy Queen next door.  Both businesses were featured during said movie marathon.  Letness has ensured painstaking restorations which have brought this little Historic Theater back to its former glory.

This little piece of history will transport you back to a simpler time.  There is a certain elegance and sentiment that wafts throughout the lobby.  It is a subtle hint of what to expect when you are actually in the theater, itself.

The theater is an antique and it has been maintained in the same way that you would treat an antique, with care and precision.  There are so many details that bring you back to the atmosphere of old, like the vintage twinkling chandeliers on the ceilings overhead, the flickering marquee above the sidewalk outside, the organ player playing with care before the showing of each film, the gorgeous art posters adorning the walls, the old-fashioned red curtains opening and closing across the small screen before and after the show, and the real butter on the reasonably priced popcorn.  These are among many other things that I have left out for you to see for yourself.

The preservation of this Historic Theater is impressive.  It’s a movie lover’s paradise.  It is definitely worth the visit, if you’ve never been before.

There is an upcoming Alfred Hitchcock Film Festival that I will likely attend.  The classics often make a very fitting return to this classic theater.