My Two Cents

Movie Reviews

Howards End

Howards End

Howards End (1992)
This is a movie based on Forster’s novel of the same name which has been lauded for its description of social conventions in turn-of-the-century England. The story follows various members of several different families, who represent strikingly different social groups within English society. They are evidently fated to intermingle in ways that lead to unexpected and ponderous outcomes.

It doesn’t sound like the makings for a very dramatic movie and yet there is drama in it. But I was most attracted to the poetry that wound through it. I found here a tribute to the many of the most meaningful aspects of life. The way the story is told, the performances and the ideas are all building blocks of a classic.


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The Conspirator

The Conspirator (2010)
In the wake of President Lincoln’s assassination, the government is anxious to hang someone – anyone – for conspiracy. The more they can round up, the better they might quench the thirst for revenge.
The movie is well told, the cast is star studded and the performances are good, but I just couldn’t find much sympathy for the young lawyer or his client. It is an interesting story, but certainly not riveting.

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The Sentinel

The Sentinel (2006)
Michael Douglas plays a senior member of the First Lady’s security detail, whose credibility is damaged when it is discovered he is having an affair with the First Lady. When a fellow security officer is murdered, fear spreads that a plot to kill the president is afoot and a mole in the security detail is helping to advance the assassination. Michael Douglas is doubly motivated to uncover the plot because he fears suspicions focused on him will take the heat off the real traitor.
It was an okay movie. There were some things that didn’t make sense but it mostly worked. There were some good twists and turns. They did a good job of making me feel as if I was really looking behind the scenes at White House security detail.

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ChangelingChangeling (2008)
Based on real events that took place in LA in 1928, a single mother’s child is abducted while she is at work. After some weeks, the police report they have recovered her child and revel in some badly needed positive press while the boy is in transit back from Chicago. The mother’s elation is turned to horror when she sees the boy who greets her at the train station is not her progeny. The LAPD doesn’t want to hear that and instead of working with her further, discredits her and has her committed to an asylum.  The fate of her boy is never settled, however the case leads to discovery of psychopath who is responsible for the disappearance of more than a few young boys.

The story was so devilishly creepy, I wanted to be reassured it wasn’t a true story. After all, if you can’t trust the cops … ?! Director Clint Eastwood did a great job slowly turning up the heat to a nightmare climax. I read that the Wineville Chicken Coop Murders case (the basis for this movie) cast such a pall on the area, they changed the name of the town to Mira Loma.

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The Santa Claus

The Santa ClauseThe Santa Claus (1994)
When Santa Claus slips off Tim Allen’s roof and falls to his death, Tim Allen unwittingly becomes the new Santa Claus.

I watch this movie at least once a year. I think it does a great job portraying the magic we invest in the idea of Santa Claus. I cry every time I see those jaded adults revert to believers.

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Holiday Inn

Holiday InnHoliday Inn (1942)
An aging entertainer believes he has hit upon a winning combination when he makes plans to marry and move to the country. But then he loses the girl and the farm turns out to be more work than he expected. So he saves himself with a better plan – he turns his big house into a dinner club that is only open over holidays.

This is a classic so finely wrought, it bears playing every year – even if most talent back then acted a bit goofy.

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Out of Time

Out of TimeOut of Time (2003)
As clever as he is, the police chief falls for a swindle that could land him behind bars. As the feds close in on the damaging truth, the chief keeps working on a work around to save himself and put everything right. Just when you think he has run out of chips, he pulls off a monumental save.

This movie holds some good surprises and tense moments. Not exactly riveting, but certainly engaging and entertaining, with a nice variety of characters.

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Hyde Park on Hudson

Hyde Park on the HudsonHyde Park on Hudson (2012)
This is a story about FDR receiving and entertaining King George VI and Queen Elizabeth at his house in the country and the culture clashes that took place over the course of a weekend. It is based on diary notes of FDR’s cousin and paramour, Margaret Suckley.

Bill Murray does a credible job becoming FDR. All the leads give some great performances. It is mostly interesting because it true, not because it is a significant story.

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Good Night and Good Luck

Good Night and Good LuckGood Night and Good Luck (2005)
Depicts the historical conflict between the TV journalist Edward Murrow and Senator Joseph McCarthy.

Did a great job conveying the tension the reporters felt pitting themselves against the reigning powers of the day. Did a good job presenting the issues involved with doing investigative reporting; the pressure it places on the new agency itself. Did a great job communicating the zeitgeist of the ‘50s.

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