News flash – houses don’t clean themselves! Although Sunshine Cleaning resembles 2007 Oscar-winner Little Miss Sunshine in several superficial ways, don’t let the coincidental “sunshine” reference blind you. Writer Megan Holley built her original screenplay around a story she heard eight years ago on National Public Radio—two women describing the trials and tribulations of running… Continue reading SUNSHINE CLEANING

SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE: Review by Jan Lisa Huttner

Slumdog Millionaire is the first great film of the new “flat world.” “Jamal” (Dev Patel), the hero of Slumdog Millionaire, is a Mumbai teenager who becomes a contestant on the Indian version of the TV game show “Who Wants to be a Millionaire”. The plot is as simple as can be: every time “Millionaire’s” host asks… Continue reading SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE: Review by Jan Lisa Huttner


Fortysomething years of frenetic activity come to a screeching halt one day when “Mary Haines” (Meg Ryan) inadvertently learns that her husband Stephen is having an affair.  Retreating from men, Mary reaches out to an already large and rapidly expanding support network.  Old friends offer advice, and new friends provide consolation, but in the end… Continue reading THE WOMEN


Éliane Weiss (Emmanuelle Devos) is the French-born daughter of Polish Holocaust survivors. She’s always been “a good girl,” stable, reliable, and dedicated to her family, but her father’s recent death has caused her to turn inward. One day she receives unexpected encouragement from a surprising source, and she proceeds to make big changes that upset… Continue reading TWO LIVES PLUS ONE

ELEGY (2008): Review by Jan Lisa Huttner

New adaptation of Philip Roth’s novel “The Dying Animal” (helmed by Isbale Coixet & scripted by Nicholas Meyer) succeeds in capturing the author’s humanity.  Excellent cast is headlined by Ben Kinsley as “David Kepesh” (a serial seducer who becomes obsessed with a beautiful young woman) and Penelope Cruz as “Consuela” (someone longing for safe harbor after… Continue reading ELEGY (2008): Review by Jan Lisa Huttner


New adaptation of Philip Roth’s novel The Dying Animal succeeds in capturing the author’s humanity.  Excellent cast is headlined by Ben Kingsley as “David Kepesh” (a serial seducer who becomes obsessed with a beautiful young woman) and Penelope Cruz as “Consuela” (someone longing for safe harbor after disappointments of her own).  Dennis Hopper is cast… Continue reading ELEGY


Two women, one white (Melissa Leo) and one Native American (Misty Upham), form an unlikely bond in perilous circumstances, smuggling illegal immigrants across the frozen St. Lawrence River in the dead of winter.  Filmmaker Courtney Hunt’s first feature won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival.  The Hot Pink Pen agrees: Frozen… Continue reading FROZEN RIVER

Chatting about BRICK LANE

Brick Lane is a beautiful film that could have been even better. Based on a well-regarded novel of the same name by Monica Ali, Sarah Gavron’s film is about a young Bangladeshi woman named “Nazneen,” who is sent to London as a teenager to marry a man she has never met… (JLH: 4/5) Click here… Continue reading Chatting about BRICK LANE


A haunting evocation of immigrant life, tenderly delineating the slow steps by which a Bangladeshi woman (Tannishtha Chatterjee) makes a home for her daughters in London so different in every way from the one she herself knew as a girl. The Hot Pink Pen applauds the filmmakers’ intentions, but one huge casting decision undermines their… Continue reading BRICK LANE


The Dixie Chicks run afoul of their country music fan base when lead singer Natalie Maines publicly mocks President Bush in the early days of the War in Iraq. Almost everyone & everything in this documentary was new to us, but the directors stitch together a highly compelling narrative for both novices & aficionados. (JLH: 4.5/5.) Click… Continue reading SHUT UP & SING


Fantasy and reality collide when Annie, a working class girl fresh out of college (Scarlett Johansson), starts working as a nanny for the upscale Mrs. X (Laura Linney). Many critics are comparing The Nanny Diaries to The Devil Wears Prada which featured another spirited young woman making her way in New York’s upper ranks. The Hot… Continue reading THE NANNY DIARIES


The Namesake is the rare case in which both book and film are equally strong and their differences actually complement each other. The voice of the novelist and the eye of the filmmaker are in perfect sync, and the casting is perfect. Whereas Lahiri’s novel focuses on American-born Gogol, Nair embeds Gogol’s story within a… Continue reading THE NAMESAKE


Australian drama Look Both Ways is a down-under version of American Oscar-winner Crash, but its polar opposite in every way–subtle where Crash is bombastic, true to the little moments of real people’s lives where Crash manufactures big moments of melodramatic overstatement. Yes, disease and death are the elements around which writer/director Sarah Watt builds her… Continue reading LOOK BOTH WAYS

BLUE CRUSH (2002): Review by Jan Lisa Huttner

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


Two Days in Paris follows a New York couple, French photographer Marion (Julie Delpy) and American interior designer, Jack (Adam Goldberg) as they try to reinfuse their relationship with romance on a European vacation.  Julie Delpy wrote, directed, and starred in this hilarious film which was nominated for Cesar, Independent Spirit and European Film Awards,… Continue reading TWO DAYS IN PARIS