advise consent posterExtremely talky political melodrama at its most middling. I rather enjoyed some of the machinations exposed in this story (based on a Pulitzer prize-winning novel by Allan Drury, who was inspired by the suicide of Lester Hunt during the McCarthy era) of the Senate approval of a Secretary of State nominee during the Cold War, but Machiavellian power-dealing only took the movie so far before it slid into a gay blackmail story rather typical for the era, at least in terms of gay stories that explicitly appeared in mainstream film in the early sixties.

This one ends, quite predictably, in a suicide, a rather grisly one at that, signaling a finish to a movie that had already run its course. The gay twist did Read the rest of this entry »

along came polly poster“I thought Polly was the ferret!” cried out my friend in disappointment as this extremely slight romantic comedy unfolded. Ben Stiller is a funny physical comedian, but at this point in his career, he needed to vary his routine – the string of highly mannered neurotics had grown tired. Jennifer Aniston is characteristically bland in just a supporting role. In a classic romantic comedy, her character would have matched or balanced Stiller. Writer/director John Hamburg makes a halfhearted attempt at that here, but doesn’t give her the screen time or development needed; as a result, her flightiness, a weak counter to Stiller’s neuroticism, is Read the rest of this entry »

Ugh. This cutesy account of the fantastic, fame-mad Jacqueline Susann is a squandered opportunity for mixing tragedy, blind ambition, sex, and celebrity into an overheated yet still moving masterpiece about a polarizing figure from American literary pop culture.

How do I know the potential of this story? Because Michele Lee (the grounded and long-suffering Karen from Knots Landing) brought it to fruition with her 1998 TV-movie version about Susann, which delved far deeper into Read the rest of this entry »

strange love of martha ivers posterNoir prescient of Dynasty – complete with a repeatedly hazardous grand staircase.

Lewis Milestone’s 1946 film boasts a slightly puffy class-based soap opera middle bookended by some terrific noir set pieces at the outset and the finale.

The script by Robert Rossen suggests an innate corruption in inherited wealth and capitalistic ambition by contrasting its adolescent characters to their adult counterparts, primarily the titular Martha Ivers, who first appears as a willful runaway (a perfectly cast Janis Wilson, who matches Barbara Stanwyck in not only in appearance, but also captures her unyielding countenance and anxious interior). Stanwyck closes out the same character as a duplicitous, treacherous industrial magnate and adulteress with just a sad whisper (literally, in her dying breath) of the fresh, headstrong teenager we’d met in the opening. She has rotted, not quite to the core, and her corruption, which bleeds into Read the rest of this entry »


I feel oddly isolated in my lukewarm experience of Mad Max: Fury Road. I took it in second-run this week in a packed house with a quite enthusiastic audience, including my boyfriend, who, after the show, unprompted but conscious of both my predilections and peeves, asked with a resigned sigh, “Did you hate it?”

“No,” I answered, “but I didn’t like it.”

I have a sense that I was the only one streaming out of that theater feeling decidedly indifferent to Mad Max: Fury Road.

I’ll concede the film magnificently rolls out relentless action, badass characters, badder-ass vehicles, and breathtaking stunts throughout its two-hour car chase, yet through all the frenetic thrill, I, in my advancing middle age and tendency toward rumination, was left wondering, Is that all there is? Is that all there is to a post-apocalyptic blockbuster?” 

Part of my disillusionment stems from the glut of grim apocalypses set upon cinema since the millennia began. What sort of desperation at world’s end have I yet to see? Mad Max director George Miller must sense the fatigue Read the rest of this entry »

Bernadette Poster

I’m torn between two perspectives on this Henry King film. On the one hand, it’s visually beautiful – gorgeously lit by Arthur C. Miller from beginning to end – with an unhurried, ponderous pace matching the tone to its subject. The performances, especially Jennifer Jones’, are also calibrated to the slow, pensive mood. This all adds up to a wonderfully cohesive film that presents its legend with a measured reverence. On the other hand, it’s a heavy-handed indictment of the skeptic, personified in the character of Vincent Price, who notes that every time religious fanaticism takes hold, humanity takes a step backward. Read the rest of this entry »

Adam and his face that begs for caressing fingertips. Sam obliges.

Adam and his face that begs for caressing fingertips. Sam obliges.

It took several weeks in, but foxy Frankensteinian monster Adam has really grown on me – and on recovering alcoholic/blind painter Sam Evans!

Adam in doll form.

Adam in doll form.

Recently blinded by a curse from Angelique, Sam is feeling vulnerable but uncharacteristically empathetic – and inexorably drawn to the new character Adam, whom most of the other Collinsport residents simply refer to as “the monster.”

The barely verbal, hulking simpleton is portrayed by Robert Rodan, whose only credits include a single appearance on a 1963 courtroom re-enactment drama, Adam on DS and The Minx, an American/Swedish eurosleaze hidden camera film from 1969, which received the following curt review from an imdb viewer: Read the rest of this entry »


1 – State of Wonder/Ann Patchett
2 – Give Me Everything You Have/James Lasdun
3 – Run/Ann Patchett
4 – Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls/David Sedaris
5 – Case Histories/Kate Atkinson
6 – Life After Life/Kate Atkinson
7 – In the Pleasure Groove/John Taylor (Duran Duran)
8 – Frankenstein/Mary Shelley
9 – The Picture of Dorian Gray/Oscar Wilde
10 – The Importance of Being Earnest/Oscar Wilde
11 – Fodor’s China
12 – Frommer’s Ireland
13 – Rick Steves’ Ireland
14 – Picture This – This is How Pictures Work/Molly Bang
15 – Hyberbole and  a Half/Allie Brosh
16 – The Book of Life/Deborah Harkness
17 – Two Weeks in the Midday Sun/Roger Ebert
18 – Bel Canto/Ann Patchett
19 – The Pot and How to Use It/Roger Ebert
20 – Wicked/Gregory Maguire
21 – The Giver/Lois Lowry
22 – Cat Sense/John Bradshaw
23 – Gathering Blue/Lois Lowry
24 – Yes Please/Amy Poehler

my movies december 2014

108 – Playtime – first Tati, effervescent
109 – Die Hard with a Vengeance – familiar, stupid fun
110 – Sleepy Hollow – inner gothic teen
111 – Harry Potter and Goblet of Fire – it’s always on
112 – Cedar Rapids – great Wire joke
113 – The Book Thief – diluted, saccharine adaptation
114 – Pride and Prejudice – all things Austen
115 – Rush – surprisingly engaging, tense
116 – Mr. Dynamite – more a love letter
117 – Jodorowsky’s Dune – please watch it
118 – Crazy Love – seriously, crazy people
119 – Wild – expected, fine, unsurprising
120 – And Then There Were None – more enjoyable Christie
121 – Obvious Child – hard-to-like, juvenile lead
122 – Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? – campy classics continue
123 – Arsenic and Old Lace – a family favorite

my movies november 2014

99 – Gone Girl – a great gimmick
100- Birdman – weird, deep comedy
101 – Jonestown – I’d no idea
102 – Casablanca – family holiday favorite
103 – Whiplash – best of 2014 (decade?)
104 – Bad Words – excellent swearing technique
105 – Big Hero 6 – simply adorable
106 – Nebraska – Payne always delivers
107 – Hello Ladies – painfully, hilariously awkward