Racing Stripes

When a baby zebra falls off the back of a circus truck in rural Kentucky, Nolan Walsh (Bruce Greenwood), a former horse trainer, picks him up from the road and takes him to his farm. His 16-year old daughter Channing (Hayden Panettiere) names him “Stripes” (voice of Frankie Muniz) and he joins the farm animal community as a little beast who is just a little different. His time in the pasture is spent well.  Everyday he races the mail truck down the lane to the delight of the mail carrier. St … [Read more...]

My Top 12 for 2004

Let me begin by saying that 2004 was not a great year for the movies – at least not like 2003. However, some of the 88 films I saw this year (out of 250 top earning movies released in the US) do rise to the top.   My criteria for the top 12 are   -         excellence in filmmaking -         how well the film tells a story -         t … [Read more...]

Hero/Ying xiong

I just watched Hero on DVD. Although it was first released in 2002, was in competition at the Berlin Film Festival in 2003 (I was on the ecumenical jury there, and this is the one film that I missed because of scheduling), Hero only made it to US theaters in 2004. The story is not difficult to follow. In ancient times, before China was united, an assassin, No Name (Jet Li) appears before the King of Qin (please check www.imdb.org for the names of the actors). We think at first that No Name is … [Read more...]

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

Bill Murray plays Steve Zissou with underwhelming relish. Zissou is supposed to be a kind of Jacques Cousteau, or a National Geographic oceanographer filmmaker or something, but he’s actually a grass-smoking aquatic fraud in the midst of a midlife crisis that may have begun at least thirty years previously. At least.   When his best friend and partner (? we never see him) is killed by the Jaguar shark (?), Steve pledges to go and find the shark and kill him. When he is asked why, he says, “ … [Read more...]

Hotel Rwanda

  Hotel Rwanda: Bearing Witness           On December 22, Hotel Rwanda, Golden Globe nominee for Best Motion Picture – Drama, will open in Los Angeles and New York. Directed by Terry George, Hotel Rwanda is the story of Paul Rusesabagina who can rightly be called Rwanda’s Oskar Schindler. With the support of his wife, his business acumen and humble humanity,  Paul Rusesabagina was responsible for saving the lives of more than 1,200 Rwandan people … [Read more...]

The Aviator

Director Martin Scorsese marches to his own music. He makes a lot of dark films that don’t net him a lot of money (Bringing Out the Dead, for example.) I disliked Gangs of New York very much because it didn’t look authentic, it was not emotionally convincing and it seemed a big unwieldy violent beast.   But with The Aviator, Scorsese got my attention. The Aviator is a very interesting movie, as clichéd as that sounds. It kept my attention for 169 minutes, and I do not like looonggg movies. W … [Read more...]

Spanglish

A woman at Princeton University’s admissions office opens an application and begins to read an essay. A girl’s voice over narrates the story of how she, Cristina, (Shelbie Bruce) and her mother, Flor (Paz Vega), came to the United States from Mexico, and their life once they arrived in Los Angeles.   Flor works two jobs to support Cristina. But when Flor realizes Cristina is growing up and needs her mother’s guidance regarding boys, she decides to search for a job that will pay enough to al … [Read more...]

The Sea Inside/Mar adentro

The Sea Inside/Mar adentro is based on the true story of Ramon Sampedro, a quadriplegic who struggled with the Spanish legal system for almost 30 years for the right to die, or the right to be put to death. The film is exquisitely directed by Alejandro Amenabar (The Others, writer for Vanilla Sky.)   The film opens with Ramon (Javier Bardem) being cared for in the house of his brother (Celso Bugallo) by his sister-in-law Manuela (Mabel Rivera). His father lives with them as well. Ramon has … [Read more...]

Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events

This is the tale of the Baudelaire children: Violet, aged 14, Klaus, aged 12 and Sunny, the baby, who liked to chew things. One day while they are at the sea shore, their parents are killed in a fire and their house burned down. Mr. Poe, the banker, brings them the bad news and takes them to stay with the nearest of only distant relatives, Count Olaf. The Count is an evil actor who only wants the children’s fortune.   The film (based on the first three of the wildly popular series of books … [Read more...]

Million Dollar Baby

-spoiler-   A male voice over tells the story of Frankie Dunn (Clint Eastwood) who owns a gym in Los Angeles where would-be boxing contenders train. Frankie is a hardened trainer who studies Gaelic in his free time. Eddie (Morgan Freeman) is a kind of assistant maintenance man, who was one of Frankie’s fighters until he was blinded in a fight. He lost. Frankie is a Catholic who goes to Mass everyday.  He has a kind of contentious relationship with the parish priest whom he is a … [Read more...]


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