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...]

The Phantom of the Opera

Phantom of the Opera   In Paris, a few years before World War I, there is an auction at the Paris Opera House. An old man and woman arrive separately to place their bids. When the auctioneer comes to the old chandelier, we are transported to another time, in the 1850’s, when the opera house was in its prime, and a masked ghost (Gerard Butler) was said to haunt the building. He was a musical genius and at night would sing to young Christine (Emmy Rosum), an orphan being raised by M … [Read more...]


Alfred Kinsey (1894 – 1956) was a zoologist at Indiana University. In the course of his teaching he realized that there was great ignorance among his students about human sexuality. He found that no one had ever studied the sexual behavior of the human animal, so he did. He began to research by conducting sex interviews. When he published his studies (a volume about men and another about women), it caused a great controversy because it challenged constructed social mores, cultural convention, r … [Read more...]

Ocean’s Twelve

  I’m confused. Is Tess (Julia Roberts) the new member of the gang - # 12, or is it Molly Star (Cherry Jones)? Is it the French crook, Francois (Vincent Cassel) or Matsui (Robbie Coltaine)?  Is it the mysterious La Marque (Albert Finney)? Nah. It must be Bruce Willis who just played Bruce Willis.   On their second third anniversary, Tess and Danny Ocean (George Clooney) are living quietly in East Haven, CT (why?). Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia), the owner/manager of the B … [Read more...]

A Very Long Engagement/Un long dimanche de fiançailles

Just watching A Very Long Engagement, by the same writer/director of Amelie, Jean-Pierre Jeunet, is indeed a very long engagement.   It is the story of two young children, Mathilde (Audrey Tautou, Dirty Pretty Things) and Menache (Gaspard Ulliel) who fall in love as teenagers and become engaged just before Menache is conscripted into the French Army in 1917 during World War I. He would write M M M everywhere =  Menache Marries Mathilde and Matilde Marries Menache.  … [Read more...]

The Incredibles

The Incredibles is the animated story of a family of superheroes that comes from enforced retirement (or something like the witness protection program) to once again save the day   PIXAR (Finding Nemo) did the animation, and it is superb.   Mr. Incredible or Bob Parr in real life (voice of Craig T. Nelson) and Elastigirl or Helen in real life (voice of Holly Hunter) get married after early careers saving the day in a big city. They and their colleague Frozone, or Lucius in real life … [Read more...]


I am still trying to work out how I feel about Closer, Mike Nichols’ film version of a 1997 play by Patrick Marber. It is described as a drama/romance. I think it is the drama of attempted romance and a smattering of rather cynical comedy emerges as a result   A young woman, played by Natalie Portman, is hit by a cab as she crosses a London street. She is aided by Dan (Jude Law), a would-be novelist who is employed as an obituary writer. As they walk along after she has been t … [Read more...]

Shall We Dance?

John Clark (Richard Gere) is a middle-aged estate lawyer in Chicago. As he rides the EL home every night he sees a beautiful young woman standing in the window of Madam Mitzi’s Dance Studio. He is in a kind of mid-life crisis and one evening gets off the train to check out the studio. The young woman, Paulina (Jennifer Lopez), convinces him to sign up for dance lessons that are starting that very night. Unfortunately for John, the teacher is the more senior Miss Mitzi herself (Anita Gilette) who … [Read more...]

I am David

After the Nazi horrors of World War II came the Communist oppression of Eastern European countries. People who disagreed with the regimes were sent to prison/labor camps: the Gulag. We know little about these years of the Cold War (1946 – 1989) and the situations that led to so much suffering and death. With I am David we are given insight into the results of fascism and totalitarianism, as well as the consequences of hope, courage, human dignity and love.   In Bulgaria a family is arrested … [Read more...]

Vera Drake

  -spoiler-   Vera Drake, a film by Mike Leigh, is not easy to write about for several reasons. But let this not diminish the fact that Vera Drake is an outstanding example of cinema-craft.   It is London in the early 1950’s. Vera (Imelda Staunton) is a working class wife who lives with her husband, George (Richard Graham), and two grown children. Vera goes about working and helping her house-bound mother and others; she is terminally cheerful, busy and kindly, without a hint of s … [Read more...]