Osama ought to be a contender for the Academy Awards next year. This small movie about a young Afghan girl who is sent out by her mother and grandmother dressed as a boy so she can earn money and buy food, is hearbreaking, credible, well-constructed and raw. It happens during the time of the Taliban and its finale is desperately sad. I keep asking: how did the US ever support this regime? Middle-eastern filmmaking is brilliant.   … [Read more...]


Miracle is a satisfying sports movie but perhaps too locked into its historical period to have the emotional impact it might have had if it were produced before 1989 and the fall of the Berlin Wall. The film tries to make up for this lacuna by creating some emotional conflict between Coach Herb Brooks (Kurt Russell) and his wife Patty (Patricia Clarkson) and between the goalie and his father. It works well enough. I don't even like hockey but the game between the USA and the Russians is … [Read more...]

50 First Dates

50 First Dates is Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore taking up where they left off with The Wedding Singer. He forgets the women he dates and walks away from, she forgets because she has lost her short term memory in an accident. Like Groundhog Day, she begins every day like the one of the accident. Its cutsie, with the expected yuckie humor by Ron Schneider. At least it's not The Waterboy. … [Read more...]

The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency

The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency is the first in a series about a detective agency in Botswana founded by Precious Ramotswe. She is a woman of about forty of "traditional" size, widowed and alone. Her beloved father has died and with her inheritance has bought a new home an office and decided to be a private detective.She hires a secretary because you need one to be respectable.Mma. Ramotswe is fortunate because she has hired a woman who is intelligent and ambitious to be a good secretary. Soon … [Read more...]

Along Came Polly

What a bomb. The only growth the character Rueben (Ben Stiller) experiences is that he gives up being obsessive about taking risks in life to hang out with Polly, the unstructured one, and live through weeks of excruciating episodes of irritable bowel syndrome.It's also a kind of formulaic romance but with the characters only promising each other that they'll - hang out (live together). If one of the criteria for romantic genre is that the main characters sacrifice something for the other - … [Read more...]

Win a Date with Tad Hamilton

The industry is revving up for a big Valentine's Day celebration through several new films, one of them WIN A DATE WITH TAD HAMILTON.It's conventional with an innocent love triangle between West Virginians Rosalee, (Kate Boswell) and Pete (Topher Grace - That 70's Show) characters and Tad, played by Josh Duhamel. The actors play improbable people but this little fantasy works because the actors are willing and do sacrifice for the other. The actors are too beautiful to be real, but its a … [Read more...]

In America

In America by director Jim Sheridan, is wonderful. If I had seen it before today (Jan 4) it would have made my top three for last year. This tale of a husband and wife from Ireland and their two daughters (sublimely played by real life sisters) who have lost a son and brother, Frankie, and the wonderful gift of their neighbor, Mateo, will have you in tears.The family immigrates illegally from Ireland through Canada and settles in a NY tenament full of drug addicts - and an artist, Mateo who … [Read more...]

Favorite 2003 Movies

Here is my list of favorite films of 2003, in other words, my picks for best films - out of 77 that I saw.Bend It like Beckham  #7 pickBonhoefferBruce Almighty # 8 pickCold Mountain #6 pickDirty Pretty Things # 5 pickFinding NemoGoodbye Lenin (Germany)In this WorldLast SamuraiLord of the Rings: The Return of the King #3 pickMatrix: RevolutionsMystic RiverPirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl  #4 pickSeabiscuitStation Agent #2 pickThe MissingUnder the Tuscan SunVeronica … [Read more...]


Paycheck surprised me. It is a good watch. It's not tedious like Memento but more popular. It is classy sci-fi, testosterone thriller, blow 'em up, but asks questions about knowing the future, in particular Michael Jenning's (Ben Afleck) past, present and future, the role of technology, and greed. It does go where other sci-fi films have gone before, but it is entertaining. One problem is that there is much gun-shooting and killing and hardly any blood, so young viewers will need to be reminded … [Read more...]

Cold Mountain

I was prepared not to like Cold Mountain because I did not care for the book. It didn't engage me.However, the film far exceeded my expectations. It's got a haunting beauty, graphic battle scenes (not unlike other Civil War films we have seen), humor, great kindness and courage with much human weakness - and no cliche's. Food and "meal" is a stong motif, among many others, as well as faith and religion, without being obvious. There is so much to say. Rene Zellweger is amazing and provides … [Read more...]