Mad Hot Ballroom

Mad Hot Ballroom is a wonderful full-length feature documentary about several teams of 11- year olds from New York City public schools who learn ballroom dancing and then compete in a city-wide contest.   Many reviewers and film critics say it reminds them of Spellbound, the documentary that follows five or six young people go from local spelling bees to nationals. I enjoyed Spellbound very much, but it had nowhere the magic of Mad Hot Ballroom, probably because ballroom dancing is a team … [Read more...]

Turn Beauty Inside Out Conference

On April 18, 2005 I had the privilege to participate in the 2nd annual “Turn Beauty Inside Out” Conference held at the Universal Hilton in Los Angeles.  The purpose of “Turn Beauty Inside Out” (www.tbio.org)  is to “Promote healthy body image and expand the definition of what makes people beautiful!"   “Turn Beauty Inside Out” is sponsored by “Mind on the Media: inspiring independent thinking and fostering critical analysis of media messages.” (For more information visit www.tbio.o … [Read more...]

Monster-in-Law

Charlie (Jennifer Lopez) lives in Santa Monica, CA and has a variety of jobs. She temps for a doctor, caters and walks dogs to support her dream to become a fashion designer. One day she sees a young man jogging on the beach; they make eye contact. Later she sees him at a coffee shop and they finally meet at a party. He is Dr. Kevin Fields (Michael Vartan) and they start to date.   Kevin’s mother, Viola (Jane Fonda) is a prominent television personality who has interviewed c … [Read more...]

Kicking and Screaming

Phil Weston (Will Ferrell) is very disappointed and then outraged to find out that his son Sam (Dillon McLaughlin) is warming the bench at the soccer game - and then is traded to another team by the coach, Sam’s grandfather and Phil’s dad, Buck (Robert Duvall). When the coach of Sam’s new team fails to show, Phil volunteers. Phil could never live up to his father’s expectations when it came to sports and they get into an argument at Buck’s house. Just then a neighbor starts blowing leaves in … [Read more...]

Crash

In Los Angeles, a detective Graham, (Don Cheadle) investigates the site where the body of a young man was found. He recognizes the young man and his mind flashes back to yesterday. Two young black men (Ludacris and Larenz Tate) cruise a mall in the very white San Fernando Valley. They discuss racism and cross the path of Rick (Brendan Fraser) and his wife Jean (Sandra Bullock.) When Jean sees the young men, she is afraid and instinctively draws closer to her husband. The two young black men … [Read more...]

Fever Pitch

Ben (Jimmy Fallon) has grown up “to be one of the most pathetic of creatures: a Boston Red Sox fan.” When his father died and his mom moved him to Boston, his Uncle Carl started taking him to Fenway Park. There Ben learned about the Big Green Monster and all the lore about the Sox, especially, the curse of the Bambino. His best friends were the other fans who held the same season tickets, year after year.   About a year before the Sox won the Series (2004), Ben, a teacher, meets Lindsey (Dr … [Read more...]

House of D

Tom Warshaw (David Duchovny) is an American artist living in Paris. He is married to a French woman (Magalie Amadei) and they have a son, Odell (Harold Cartier). But not all is well with Tom; he is unsettled and spends an entire night with his wife, sitting at a table in the garden of the apartment house (with all the neighbors listening in), telling her the story of his life. She tells him that he must go back to New York and find himself before he can be happy.   Flash back to 1977 when … [Read more...]

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

This very funny film is based on a series of very popular science fiction radio shows and books by the late Douglas Adams (1952-2001).   Just the other day, in rural England, Arthur Dent (Martin Freeman) wakes up to find that the highway commission is going to demolish his house so they can build a motorway (highway). They had posted their intent, but Arthur ignored it. Arthur is greatly upset and lies down in front of the bulldozer to stop them. Just then his friend, Ford Perfect (Mos … [Read more...]

Kingdom of Heaven

Kingdom of Heaven: Reality or Symbol   (This is an essay I wrote for The Tidings; for a sidebar on the Crusades go to the complete essay at http://www.daughtersofstpaul.com/mediastudies/reviews/filmkingdomofheaven.html)   Ridley Scott’s latest film, Kingdom of Heaven, is about one of the most obscure and complex periods of world history: the Crusades (1096 – c.1300; see end of this article for information about the Crusades). Orlando Bloom is in his first lead role here, tho … [Read more...]

The Interpreter

In a small African country named Matobo, two men are ambushed and killed when they seek out the dead bodies of citizens who have been killed by government forces. A photographer named Philippe manages to escape.   At the UN Headquarters in New York the Security Council demands that President Zuwani (Earl Cameron) of Matobo be tried at The Hague for the crimes he has committed against his people. The president’s men argue that he has the right to defend himself and his actions to the UN G … [Read more...]


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