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James Quillinan, known primarily for his expertise in the areas of Estate Planning, Probate, Trusts, Conservatorships and related Litigation is also an avid movie-goer.  His reviews started in the Law Office around 1998 when associates and clients began asking him about the movies he had seen.  He began sending his reviews by email to a list of friends and movie fans which now has grown to include world-wide distribution.

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Monday, November 24, 2014  

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1. The saga lurches towards its conclusion with a bloated first part of the third book. Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss keeps our attention throughout as she vacillates between committed warrior and scared girl. After Katniss destroyed the games in the last installment, she goes to District 13 after her District 12 is destroyed and most of the inhabitants killed.  Katniss is eventually moved by the leader of the rebellion President Coin (Julianne Moore) to become the symbol of the rebellion - The Mockingjay. Katniss inspires the rebels while she seeks to free her beloved Peeta from the Capitol and the evil President Snow (a deliciously creepy Donald Sutherland). The film ends with more questions than answers as we must wait for Part 2 to resolve the ultimate conflict between good and evil – but remember propaganda is a tool for all. Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, some disturbing images and thematic material.  

Beyond The Lights  The film is a contemporary love story that goes off the rails with unnecessary high drama that is forced and out of character for the lead roles. But ultimately the film redeems itself with the sheer likeability of the two stars, Gugu Mbatha-Rawh as Noni and Nate Parker as Kaz. Noni is from a poor background in London, but has a magnificent singing voice and a mother (Minnie Driver) that engineers her daughter’s rise to the top. The pressures of her fame drive the now superstar Noni to the edge. Her bodyguard Kaz, who is also a LA cop, saves her. The two develop a thing. Kaz encourages Noni to find herself and her own voice and she does so after they run off together for a romantic interlude. After Noni breaks free of her managed persona, she rises to even greater heights as herself. The film explores modern pop culture and its dangers. Rated PG-13 for sexual content including suggestive gestures, partial nudity, language and thematic elements. 

Force MajeureA Swedish film filled with all kinds of conflicts, relationships, crises of the soul, fears and truths of all kinds.   Mother, father and two young children travel to the French Alps for five days of skiing.  The sun is shining; the resort and the slopes are stunning as the family enjoys skiing together. During lunch at the resort’s restaurant, a managed avalanche goes awry and the family is engulfed in a fog of snow. This event turns their lives upside down.  Diners flee helter-skelter. The mother protects the children while the husband flees to save his own skin. The avalanche actually causes no damage other than panic. The parents become obsessed with their reactions to the avalanche and it threatens their marriage. Their friends are drawn into the discussion. Their children feel the conflict.   The father has a meltdown as his role as patriarch is threatened. Against an idyllic backdrop serious issues are explored with avalanche cannons booming in the background. An interesting film experience. In English and Swedish with subtitles as needed.   Rated R for some language and brief nudity.   It is the Swedish entry for the Academy Awards.

Big Hero 6.   The film is an inventive new cartoon for the now generation of technological kids and the young at heart.   It is an action-packed adventure about Hiro, boy genius, and Baymax, his oversized inflatable robot.  When a mysterious threat endangers the City of San Fransokyo, Hiro upgrades Baymax and recruits his close friends Go Go Tomago, Wasabi, Honey Lemon and Fred to help.  Hiro enhances all of their traits and they become a team of six to save their beloved City. This band of high-tech heroes is called "Big Hero 6." The film is cleverly crafted, as San Fransokyo is an amazing amalgamation of the two cities. The kids use technology to do good and banish evil with loads of laughs and action. This is one to take the kids and grandkids to see. It will be the new standard for cartoons. Rated PG for action and peril, some rude humor, and thematic elements. It is a Peggy’s Pick.

The Homesman  Tommy Lee Jones and Hilary Swank star in this simple film about the hard life in the pioneer days of the West. The film is at its heart a lament of the fate of women in a society that did not appreciate women’s contributions. Three women have been driven mad by the tough frontier life and their husbands can’t or won’t care for them. Through a local church the three are to be transported back to Iowa in a special wagon. A local woman Mary Bee Cuddy (Hilary Swank) agrees to take the women home to Iowa. She is an independent, strong and successful woman; despite the fact she has no husband and no children. She enlists low-life vagrant George Briggs (Tommy Lee Jones) to assist her. Their weeks together on the trail take a toll on them both, but they have a mission to complete. The completion of that mission takes some amazing turns.   The performances are superb as are the bleak landscapes and eerie winds. Rated R for violence, sexual content, some disturbing behavior and nudity.

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