The movies selected for review are the choice of the reviewer. Depending on your source for DVDs, they may or may not be available that particular week, so you may want to clip the SOFA CINEMA column for future reference. Suggestions for DVD titles are welcome. Enjoy the movies.
"The Fall." If you see only one movie all year, see "The Fall." Except for Lee Pace (the actor in television's "Pushing Daisies"), it's doubtful that any one in the cast will be recognizable from past roles. It doesn't matter.
Brilliantly directed and co-written by Tarsem Singh, "The Fall" takes place in an orthopedic hospital in Los Angeles in the 1920s. Stuntman Roy Walker (Pace) is despondent from an accident that has left him paralyzed. Young Alexandria (Cantinca Untaru) also has fallen. She is on the mend from a severely broken arm that allows her to be mobile and her curiosity leads her into Roy's ward. What unfolds from that point teeters between reality and fantasy as director Singh weaves his magical tale.
Extraordinarily photographed by relative newcomer Colin Watkinson, "The Fall" filmed at 26 locations in 18 countries. Adding to the panoramic images are the exceptional costume designs of Eiko Ishioka.
In an era when most films rely on special effects, "The Fall" purportedly used none, which makes the surreal look of the film even more impressive.
The scenes between Roy and Alexandria were shot sequentially and the reactions of the young actress are of genuine curiosity as to "What happens next?" as Roy's fantasy with an ulterior motive unfolds.
So many movies are "cookie cutter" copies with little imagination or creativity. "The Fall" is one of a kind.
For whatever reason, "Heavens Fall" never made it to the big screen. However, it was released and is available on DVD. It's one of those period pieces, a "based on a true event" movie that can entice viewers into thinking they can skip history class.
Timothy Hutton plays Sam Leibowitz, a New York lawyer who travels to Alabama in 1933 to defend nine accused black men known as the "Scottsboro Boys." They were convicted and sentenced to death when the United States Supreme Court overturned the ruling on appeal and new trials were ordered.
Hutton does an excellent job presenting his case to the all-male, all Southern jury and David Strathairn delivers a solid, atypical performance as an Alabama judge. The outcome, as they say "is history," but the trial and the surrounding events actually do lend perspective to that time and place in America's deep South.
By no small coincidence, "Heavens Fall" does parallel Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mockingbird" courtroom scenes. The Scottsboro Boys trial did take place at a time and place that could have influenced a young Harper Lee.
Written and directed by relative newcomer Terry Green, "Heavens Fall" closely follows the actual events, which makes the "based on true events" picture even more troubling.
"Sex and the City"
If you loved the HBO series "Sex and the City," you'll love the DVD "Sex and the City." If you never watched the series, it is available on DVD as well, but rent the theatrical DVD. It accomplishes in about two hours what six years of the series did.
Gorgeous designer dresses, expensive purses and jewelry, and shoes to die for (literally, you'll die if you wear these high heels on the cement sidewalks of New York City).
The four women have all those "things" in common plus their preoccupation with relationships and, not too far behind in their lunch conversations, their preoccupation with sex.
Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker), Samantha (Kim Cattrall), Charlotte (Kristin Davis), and Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) reprise their small screen roles and still look fabulous, in spite of the four-year lapse since the series ended. Mr. Big (Chris Noth), who is finally given a name (John James Preston), is every woman's fantasy when it comes to picking out apartments. Cost is no object when he and Carrie search Manhattan for a place to live after they "tie the knot."
Reminiscent of the 1950s movies where Lana Turner strutted in designer gowns or the 1960s when Doris Day wore a different matching ensemble in every scene, "Sex and the City" offers a fashion show. Yes, there is a storyline, but not so deep as to get in the way of the material girls' sense of style.
If you loved the series, you'll love the movie.
Rebecca Redshaw worked in the film industry in Los Angeles for 25 years. A novelist and playwright, she has published in numerous magazines and newspapers in addition to teaching fiction. She is the Arts & Entertainment critic for the international entertainment Web site NotesFromHollywood.com. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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