The movies selected for review are the choice of the reviewer. Suggestions for DVD titles are welcome. Enjoy the movies.
"The Reader," rated R
The joy of a movie well-made (or a story well-told) is the sum of its parts. Kate Winslet has garnered much attention for her portrayal of Hanna Schmitz in "The Reader," and all well-deserved. But the success of the film is not only her extraordinary work but that of her very young co-star David Kross as Michael Berg and Ralph Fiennes as Berg as an adult.
Director Stephen Daldry ("Billy Elliot" and "The Hours") has yet to shy away from difficult subject matter and the subject matter of "The Reader" is no exception.
Hanna (Winslet) is a fare collector on a trolley in Germany in the 1950s. Coming home from work one day, she encounters Michael, an ailing teenager (Kross) whom she comforts. Once well, Michael returns with flowers in appreciation and their affair blossoms immediately. Before each sexual tryst, Michael reads to Hanna. The summer infatuation ends abruptly when Hanna disappears from his life.
The twists and turns of this complicated tale are compassionately revealed in Daldry's direction. "The Reader" is rated R for nudity and subject matter; however, the film is more sensual than sexual and ultimately more revealing about the depth of emotional relationships.
"Ridicule," rated R. English sub-titles/
audio for the hearing impaired
Clearly, the French didn't accept the childhood taunt, "Stick and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me!" The 1996 release "Ridicule" is all about not only the power of words but their usage in a particular fashion.
Dinner parties and parlor games are challenges of wit, the equivalent and intent of dueling with words. Of course, since the film is set in the late 1800s, there actually is a duel in the film. There's also a clear distinction between peasants and nobility, or more succinctly put, the "haves and the have-nots."
Actor Charles Berling plays Grégoire Ponceludon, who is a nobleman with conscience who travels to Versailles to appeal to King Louis XVI for funding to rid his land of mosquitoes that are spreading disease and killing his subjects.
His facility with words draws the attention of Madame Blayac (Fanny Ardant) who toys with his emotions and causes friction between Ponceludon and his true love, Mathilde.
The movie is not really that complicated or that different than the shenanigans that are going on in this century but "Ridicule" does it with a better script and more ornate costumes than we're accustomed to hearing and seeing.
If you long for clever repartee, "Ridicule" will satisfy your verbal palate.
"Inside Moves," rated PG
In 1980, director Richard Donner assembled a very impressive cast and crew for "Inside Moves." Thank goodness for DVDs since so many people missed this hidden gem when it was released theatrically.
David Morse, in his first movie role, is Jerry, a young bartender with a bum knee that has foiled his hopes of be-coming a pro basketball player. Max's Bar is a neighborhood hangout filled with colorful clients who have one thing in common - they're looked upon as different by society.
Roary (John Savage) literally stumbles upon the bar and finds a home where he is comfortable, unlike the "outside" world.
Filmed on location in Oakland, Calif., "Inside Moves" is at once streetwise and sentimental, but mostly it's a good story well-told.
Rebecca Redshaw can be reached at
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