Some guy’s looking for his missing girlfriend, so NJ housewife (Arquette) joins the search. The kooky Manhattan chick has no idea she’s being followed, nevertheless, like a sexy White Rabbit, Susan (Madonna) becomes Roberta’s guide on a magical voyage of self-discovery. Ground-breaking feminist comedy transformed Madonna from wannabe to “STAR.” More on DESPERATELY SEEKING SUSAN.
Superlative doc artfully combines archival footage with personal reminiscences, capturing specific time & place (post-Imperial Brittan) full of contemporary resonance. Seven sailors set out in 1967 to circumnavigate the globe single-handedly with no stops. See it on the big screen & you’ll feel surrounded yourself by waves & endless sky. More on DEEP WATER.
Mortimer’s wonderful as a guarded & severe woman with a young son who has to learn how to live in the world again after running for years from an abusive relationship. While the “mystery” of her predicament is a bit overplayed, Mortimer’s inner glow makes the film itself truly heart-warming. More on DEAR FRANKIE.
Splendid ensemble cast conveys shock waves emanating from horrific murder, deeply affecting women who never knew “Krista” (Collette discovers body, medical examiner Byrne processes it) as well as most intimate mourners (mother Harden & best friend Washington). Brittany Murphy’s heart-breaking as “Krista,” ditto Hurt as the wife of the perp. More on THE DEAD GIRL.
Intensely-compelling film follows a suicide bomber for 48 hours. She’s got no name, no backstory, & no explicit convictions. What seems clear to her as she plans for her mission becomes a chaotic jumble when she leaves her ideological bubble & re-enters the real world. Shocking, sobering, & completely heart-breaking. More on DAY NIGHT DAY… Continue reading Film Review: DAY NIGHT DAY NIGHT
Biopic about Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, author of one of America’s great classics: THE YEARLING. Marjorie is determined to be a writer, but she’s locked into derivative Gothic drivel until she leaves her comfortable Manhattan marriage & heads off alone to rural Florida… where everything she sees is new to her. More on CROSS CREEK.
Light & fun, especially for people like us who love Broadway musicals. We enjoyed the extravagant (albeit very silly) production numbers. OK, there’s nothing new here (with the plot basically stolen from Billy Wilder’s SOME LIKE IT HOT), but Vardalos, who also wrote the screenplay, has charmed us yet again. More on CONNIE & CARLA.
On first viewing, the rehearsal scenes in this film about Chicago’s Joffrey Ballet are fascinating & the actual performance scenes are breathtaking. But see it again to appreciate how screenwriter Barbara Turner has cued up one of Altman’s most evocative microworlds, an exquisite auditory/visual tableau comparable to McCABE & NASHVILLE. More on THE COMPANY.
Poetic doc about the role of laundry in women’s lives, with beautiful musical score by Alice Eve Cohen. The film presents a vivid account of how various women respond to the monotony of mundane tasks with creative determination, & use laundry as a means of communicating their values to their daughters. More on CLOTHESLINES.
Israeli girls, still in their teens, begin military service in the Jerusalem Border Patrol, where adolescent pranks play out in the most serious of contexts. Powerful story doesn’t quite come together & awards from ’06 Berlin FF may not be for the right reasons, but definitely thought-provoking on many levels. More on CLOSE TO HOME.
Sly, inventive dramedy about life in a corporate office tower told from the perspective of 4 clerical temps. The problem is that such close attention to boredom gets… well… a bit boring. But Collette’s very good as the main mouthpiece for the Sprecher sisters, who’ve clearly walked this talk personally. More on CLOCKWATCHERS.
Matlin enters the pantheon of stars who met Oscar on their debut. Hurt is a well-intentioned teacher at a school for the deaf shaken out of his personal & professional complacency by a ferocious young woman whose world of silence is both her prison & her palace. More on CHILDREN OF A LESSER GOD.
This is a dark, obsessive tale of loneliness/lust/love set in a British prison. Tim Roth is a surprisingly charismatic, albeit unconventional “leading man.” And Julia Ormond proves once again that she’s better at brooding than pretending to be winsome in sunny comedies like her ill-fated SABRINA remake. More on CAPTIVES.
Captured by Afghani mujahideen, Danish major is rescued after his family’s been told that he’s dead. Film masterfully counterpoints their grief with his fight for survival, then depicts the consequences of his return. Extraordinary acting ensemble: Nielsen = wife, Thomsen = major, Kaas = younger brother raised in major’s shadow. More on BROTHERS.
30something Manhattanite (Posey) surprises herself by chasing a young man home to Paris after a brief post-party fling. Maybe she’s ready for romance after all? Rich felt he understood “Nora” & empathized with her anxious reticence, but even though “Julien” (Poupaud) was adorable, Jan never fully bought into it. More on BROKEN ENGLISH.
Deliberately “cheeky” melding of Jane Austen & Bollywood moves briskly thru essential plot elements while lingering lovingly over riotously-colorful dance numbers. Rai’s the self-possessed Indian “Elizabeth Bennett” & Henderson’s the peevish American “Darcy.” Babbar’s hilarious as Mom & so’s Ganatra as “Mr. Collins.” Caution: Film’s not over till Harvey arrives!!! More on BRIDE & PREJUDICE.
The acting in this film is so compelling that you simply see the lead character the way she sees herself. The director creates such a complete world that the truth of this “true story” resonates deep in the heart. Brandon is every “misfit” who ever struggled for acceptance. More on BOYS DON’T CRY.
Award-winning documentary about the children of Calcutta’s neighborhood sex workers compellingly blurs the line between art & empathy. The 8 kids at the center of the film are all bright-eyed & engaging. While teaching them about photography, Briski also tries to convince their mothers to send them to school. More on BORN INTO BROTHELS.
Early effort from director Kathryn Bigelow. Jamie Lee Curtis stars as a rookie cop who becomes the object of obsession of a vicious killer played to chilling effect by Ron Silver. Dark, tense, & thoroughly frightening. More on BLUE STEEL.
Teenage girl slides inexorably into a sexual relationship with her teacher. An important story which deserves to be well told, but in this case everything is off. The actors all have so much integrity that you want to believe the story, but it’s burdened with excessive melodrama & manipulative “coincidences.” More on BLUE CAR.
Put LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN, BLUE CRUSH & MONSOON WEDDING into a blender & out comes this multi-cultural feminist fun. Jessmida’s brilliant at soccer but Mom thinks it’s time she learns how to make a “proper” Indian dinner: meat AND vegetarian! Note: It’s not over ’til Gurinder thanks her Dad… More on BEND IT LIKE BECKHAM.
After struggling to get herself & her children north, a runaway slave (Winfrey) takes drastic steps to prevent recapture. She succeeds, but the emotional burden is enormous. This film belongs to its actresses, with Newton particularly poignant in the title role. A painful film, but “attention must be paid.” More on BELOVED.
Two people with romantic memories of one another meet again after many years. But what could be more hackneyed? His wife no longer excites him sexually. Her boyfriends are never reliable. So they talk, talking themselves into a totally predictable climax. Jan says: “Feh!” Rich is a tad more forgiving. More on BEFORE SUNSET.
American soldier suddenly disappears, leaving his wife to eek out a living in Saigon. She sends their son back to the Vietnamese heartland where he’s raised by family members who despise him until he’s old enough to begin his long search for answers. Sabina Murray’s screenplay grounds an eloquent masterpiece. More on THE BEAUTIFUL COUNTRY.
Mona (Driver) is determined to win the Miss American Miss beauty pageant, devoting her considerable energies to clawing her way to the top. This is fluffy stuff, nevertheless Driver puts it over, ably assisted by Adams & Eisenberg. Despite the naysayers, we like Mona, we really do! More on BEAUTIFUL.
Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, folk-singing legend, is best known as “the link between Woody Guthrie & Bob Dylan,” but he’s also the father of 2 daughters & the ex-husband of 4 wives as well as the lover of countless women & the buddy of countless men. This is his story. More on THE BALLAD OF RAMBLIN’… Continue reading Review: THE BALLAD OF RAMBLIN’ JACK ELLIOTT
Imaginative retelling of a western footnote. Expelled from her Boston home after the birth of her illegitimate son, Josephine has to disguise herself to stay alive. Abused & penniless, she builds a new life for herself in a rough mining town, & her secret holds until her autopsy decades later. More on THE BALLAD OF… Continue reading Review: THE BALLAD OF LITTLE JO
Beautifully constructed mood piece walking the tightrope of father/daughter love. Jack’s a 60’s guy of independent means stubbornly clinging to life on an abandoned commune. Rose is his daughter, totally devoted but also aware that he’s sheltered her from the “real” world. Resonates well beyond the specifics of its plot. More on THE BALLAD OF… Continue reading Review: THE BALLAD OF JACK & ROSE
BLUE CRUSH Directed by John Stockwell/Screenplay by Stockwell & Lizzy Weiss Key Performances: Kate Bosworth with Matthew Davis & Michelle Rodriguez Set-Up: Anne Marie (Kate Bosworth), Eden (Michelle Rodriguez) and Lena (Sanoe Lake) live to surf. They share a small house on Oahu and work as housekeepers in one of the local luxury hotels so that… Continue reading BLUE CRUSH (2002): Review by Jan Lisa Huttner