Last Samurai

The Last Samurai is a fine film and arguably Tom Cruise's best acting so far. It takes place in 1876 when three US soliders go to Japan to turn the Japanese army "western." And in some ways, this is like a Kurosawa film turned into a western and then woven together. It's about culture clash, culture colonization through trade and economics. The most appealing thing about it is the integrity of the friendship between Cruise and the main Samurai warrior. Is this an allegory for today? Oh yes. It … [Read more...]

The Missing

The Missing is a somber work by director Ron Howard - a western with ideas. Excellent work by Cate Blanchette and the girl who plays her youngest daughter, Dot. Tommy Lee is good, but how Howard got such performances from these two ladies is a wonder. There is always something missing in this film, from the old woman's teeth at the beginning, to the older daughter who is kidnapped, to the father who deserted Maggie (Blanchette) and returns for his own sake as well as a kind of redemption. Takes … [Read more...]

Peter Pan

Peter Pan is really Wendy's movie. This new version, directed by Australian PJ Hogan is a delight. He and screenwriters based it on the original 1904 play by J M Barrie - not the Disney version (heaven forbid.) They did add one character, an aunt, played by the wonderful Lynn Redgrave. They also used the book PETER PAN as a reference, but the play's the thing.So, OK, the actor who plays Peter Pan is a male (for the first time instead of a middle-aged female in a live-action film) and American. … [Read more...]

Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

Last night I got to see this film at a press screening and I am on my way out the door for the press interviews, but I want to let you know that this is a great film. It is very long at 200 minutes, but if you want to experience the entire trilogy, this is a must. More later...I'm back. The Return of the King is really the heart of this cinematic masterpiece. I just learned yesterday that five of our sisters in Boston and three of our lay employees already have their tickets for a midnight … [Read more...]

My Life Without Me

I saw My Life Without Me at the Berlin Film Festival. It's the story of Ann (Sarah Polley), a young, struggling mother, who finds out she is dying. Her husband, Scott Speedman (Felicity) is a good person, but doesn't know what is happening to Ann so he cannot help her. Ann sets out to find out what life is like beyond her working class trailer life. This is a sad, though not despairing journey. Ann has an extra-marital affair just to see what it would be like, as if this … [Read more...]

Mostly Martha

If you are looking for a movie to rent for this weekend, check out the German film "Mostly Martha." It's a gem. Martha is ia chef who is a perfectionist. Her boss insists that she go to therapy because she is driving everyone in the restaurant kitchen crazy. She lives all alone and when she cooks for herself, she cannot eat. When her sister dies and her young niece comes to live with her, she begins to see that no one can make it alone. This is a touching and … [Read more...]

Plots with a View

Alfred Molina plays Mr. Plots, a mortician who has been sweet on Betty (Brenda Blethyn) since they were very young. Betty's husband Robert is a jerk. There is a rival funeral service in the Welsh town headed by Christopher Walken (!). This is a "comedy" of errors where Plots and Betty plot her death so she can go ballroom dancing into the sunset together with the insurance money. A bit contrived but if it's the last film selection on an international flight, you might as well.  … [Read more...]

To Kill a King

I saw To Kill a King on the plane coming back from South Africa. It's about the English Civil War, the rise of Oliver Cromwell (Tim Roth) and the temorary demise of the monarchy when Charles I (Rupert Everett) was beheaded. Not sure if or when it will be available on video or DVD in the US (if it got theatrical release here I missed it), but if you are into post-Henry VIII England, you will find this well acted, directed and probably interesting. Dougray Scott (Ever After) plays the general who … [Read more...]

Cat in the Hat

The Cat in the Hat has always been one of my favorite Dr Seuss books. I wish I could say the same for the film. I thought it was over long and over done and a little crass. As I have heard around, perhaps if you are 8 years old you'll like it. Dr. Seuss had a way of engaging children's imaginations but this movie answers all the questions before they are even asked. The Cat reminded me more of the Cowardly Lion. He ought to have figured out which feline species he was before the cameras rolled. … [Read more...]

Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World

Russell Crowe is brilliant as the captain of a British war ship in 1805 following orders to sink or capture a French vessel. Napoleon is in the midst of conquoring the world. The French ship engages the British off the coast of Brazil and a gory (very gory) and ferocious battle ensues. Then Captain Jack (Crowe) goes after the French ship and does a kind of "Crazy Ivan" (remember The Hunt for Red October?). More battle scenes and then three weeks of repairs and off around Cape Horn they go … [Read more...]


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