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.
"Made of Honor"
There are two things worth mentioning about the movie "Made of Honor;" one, the vistas provided by the Scotland countryside and two, it is the last on-screen appearance of director and sometime actor Sydney Pollack. Other than those two things, I can't think of a reason to rent this clonal, boorish film.
Patrick Dempsey is Tom, a man about town who seems to relish his noncommittal sexual escapades while maintaining his platonic friendship with Hannah (Michelle Monaghan) over the years. Tom has the prerequisite group of manly chums he bonds with on a regular basis on the basketball court. They act as his advisor when Hannah breaks the news that she's getting married to Colin, a Scot of wealth and charm and anything a girl could want. But Hannah longs for Tom, although one has to wonder why. The predictability of the ending goes without saying.
"Made of Honor" falls short on so many fronts, but it all goes back to the script. A script, any script, should have a least one new thought.
If you're in the mood to watch a romantic tale that ends at the altar (or at least nearby), rent "My Best Friend's Wedding" or "The Graduate." Don't waste your time on "Made of Honor."
"Young @ Heart"
After a certain point in life, one hears the words "used to" more often than not. "I used to hike the mountains." "I used to dance all night." "I used to sing in the choir."
Well. Those words don't compute for the senior citizen members of the group, Young at Heart. In a documentary titled with the same name, these men and women rehearse and perform with great enthusiasm.
Led by Bob Cilman, a rather young director comparatively, the Massachusetts-based group averages 81 years of age. But their repertoire doesn't include patriotic World War II songs or melodic showtunes. Climan introduces songs like "I Got You" (better known as James Brown's "I Feel Good)," "Yes You Can" and "Schizophrenia."
The first day of rehearsal brings much skepticism, but along with a strong rock and roll back-up band, the singers give it their best shot.
"Young at Heart" is not really about the music. It is about the indomitable spirit of the group. Even in light of losing members, the men and women put a positive face on life and the joy they not only receive but give to others with their music.
"Taxi to the Dark Side"
"Taxi to the Dark Side" won the Academy Award for Best Documentary in 2008. It is a well-made film, but extremely difficult to watch. Using the capture, torture and ultimate death of a 22-year-old Afghan taxi driver as his subject, filmmaker Alex Gibney uncovers the role torture has played in the current wars.
If you follow current events at all, some of what Gibney exposes may seem like old news; however, the detail with which he reveals his documentation is overwhelming. Many films have been made in recent years regarding the United States' involvement in the war on terror and the effects on soldiers and citizens alike. (Tommy Lee Jones starred in one of the best - "In the Valley of Elah.") Because Americans are used to being the "good guys," many scenes in "Taxi to the Dark Side" don't sit well.
One of the primary benefits of viewing DVDs, particularly with documentaries, is the special feature tracks. Frank Gibney, the director's father, was an interrogator in World War II and the Korean War. His perspective on how information is obtained from prisoners is far more valuable than any political figure featured in the movie. By all means, watch and listen to Frank Gibney's contribution first.
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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