Archive for August, 2011

More Recommended Movies

For many of us movies are an important part of our entertainment. Consequently, from time-to-time, I like to review movies I’ve seen that I think other people might find worthwhile and entertaining. At this time I am reviewing and commenting on 11 movies for your consideration.

Some of these movies may have fallen below your radar screen, while others you may have already seen. If you’ve seen some of my recommended movies you might want to pass them along to your friends and family. I watch a lot more movies than I should, but the following movies I consider worth your time to watch:

My Name is Kahn


Secret of the Grain

Freud (Volume 1 and 2, BBC America)

Extraordinary Measures

The Pacific (TV Mini Series)

Knight and Day


Cowboys and Aliens

John Adams

The Way Back




My Name is Kahn is a great eye-opening movie. It reveals many truths American society has difficulty facing. We are the greatest country
on earth, but we seem to have a conservative “political blindness” that seems to mar and denigrate the dignity, honor, and integrity of American society.

The plot is as follows:  Rizwan Kahn is a Muslim man (Shahrukh Khan), with Asperger syndrome; He lives happily with his wife, Mandira (Kajol), in San Francisco until a tragedy drives her away after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. He then goes on a quest to recapture the heart of the woman he loves. Traveling across America, Rizwan faces prejudice because of his religion and unusual behavior, but he also inspires the people he meets with his unique outlook on life.

This was one of the most interesting movies on the paranoia that can follow tragic events in a society. In a larger context it reminded me of the total suspension of civil rights of Japanese Americans following the attack on Pearl Harbor. History does unfortunately seem to repeat itself, implying that institutions and people fail to put continuously into action the highest ideals of a freedom-loving democratic society.

This movie reflects just one more account of the many failures of the Bush Administration during both Katrina and the War on Terror. Similar parallels to the movie My Name is Kahn can be found in Dave Eggers book, zeitoun.One day there will be an accounting of the Crimes against Humanity committed during the Bush Administration and by the CIA going back nearly 65 years. Let’s all hope that the day of judgment and retribution for those involved in such crimes comes sooner rather than later.


Marmaduke (2010)

The animated character Marmaduke is based on a comic strip drawn by Brad Anderson (and creatively helped by Phil Leeming) going back to 1954. The plot goes something like this: When Phil and Debbie Winslow (Lee Pace and Judy Greer) relocate from their native Kansas to the sunny climes of Orange County, their big-hearted, havoc-wreaking Great Dane (voiced by Owen Wilson) gets a taste of the dog’s life, california-style.

Featuring the voices of Emma Stone, George Lopez and Steve Coogan, this family comedy blends live action and computer animation to bring the-beloved, if slobbery, comic-strip mutt to life. I really enjoyed this movie and, if you have small children, this makes for great

When my kids were young we’d all watch cartoons regularly on a Saturday morning, like Scooby-Doo. When my kids would leave the room I’d still sit there watching the cartoons. There is something very amusing about animated features and other make-believe movie creations that I enjoy. I can’t figure out what it is—-maybe unless it’s because I’m really a big kid at heart. That must be the reason. How do I know
this? After more than 60+ years—I still hum and sing musical tunes from “The Wizard of Oz.”




This was a very entertaining foreign movie. The plot goes something like this:After working in the shipyard for 35 years in the French port town of Sète, Tunisian immigrant Slimane (Habib Boufares) takes his severance pay and pursues his impossibly expensive dream of opening a couscous restaurant.

His only hope lies in his fractured family, including his mistress, Lilia (Leila D’Issernio), her entrepreneurial daughter, Rym (Hafsia Herzi), and his ex-wife and ace couscous cook, Souad (Bouraouïa Marzouk). in this César-winning drama.

From an American point of view it is rewarding to watch a movie that reveals just how similar people really are from one culture to
another. We all have our dreams, and we are all very human in our abilities and our frailties. I enjoyed this movie very much; I hope you will too.

Awards and nominations for
this movie:


César Award,

  • Best French Film
  • Best Director: Abdellatif Kechiche
  • Best Original Screenplay: Abdellatif Kechiche
  • Most Promising Actress: Hafsia Herzi

Antalya Golden
Orange Film Festival, 2007

  • Best Director (Eurasia Film Festival): Abdellatif Kechiche

Venice Film
Festival, 2007:

  • Special Jury Prize (ex-æquo / tie, with I’M Not There)
  • Marcello Mastroianni Prize (for actor or actress in a début role): Hafsia
  • SIGNIS Award – Honorable Mention: Abdellatif Kechiche
  • Nominated: Golden Lion

Louis Delluc
Prize, 2007


AMERICA (TV Series, 1984)

David Suchet (who is absolutely brilliant) offers up an award-winning performance with his portrayal of Dr. Sigmund Freud in this 1984
BBC miniseries tracing the life and career of the founder of psychoanalysis, from his early professional days until his death.

The production also features Michael Pennington as Freud’s nemesis, Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung; Helen Bourne as his wife, Martha
Bernays; Suzanne Bertish as his sister-in-law; and Alison Key as his daughter, Anna.

People with some knowledge of Sigmund Freud must be aware that Freud’s daughter, Anna, not only followed in her father’s footsteps, but
distinguished herself as a pioneer in her own right in the field of child psychiatry and psychology. People may disagree with this but Anna, like her father before her, created knowledge and insights into human behavior that have withstood the test of time.

For those less interested in the intellectual nature of Freud’s work will nevertheless be entertained by the complex personal life of
Freud the man. In addition, watching this movie once again helps people become aware of the sheer excitement that science and discovery itself generates. Whatever your movie watching expectations are, believe me when I say—there is something for everyone in this BBC miniseries.



After their two young children are diagnosed with a rare genetic disease for which conventional medicine has no cure, John (Brendan
Fraser) and Aileen (Keri Russell) pin their hopes on the work of unconventional scientist Dr. Robert Stonehill (Harrison Ford). Director Tom Vaughan’s heartfelt drama is based on the true story of the Crowley family, as chronicled by journalist Geeta Anand in her book The Cure.

I think anyone who has children can identify with the struggles people sometimes have to endure when their children are sick. This
movie is more than entertainment; it will make you feel deeply about what is going on emotionally in each of the characters. I’d say it’s best to keep a Kleenex box close by while watching this movie.


Series, 2010)


This companion piece to HBO’s hit Band of Brothers follows three World War II Marines — Eugene Sledge (Joseph Mazzello), Robert Leckie
(James Badge Dale) and John Basilone (Jon Seda) — through harrowing battles in the Pacific theater, including Guadalcanal, Iwo Jima and Okinawa. Based on memoirs by Sledge and Leckie and produced by Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman, the miniseries racked up eight Emmy Awards and a Golden Globe nod. This was one of the finest mini series I have ever seen whose equals might include Roots, Shogun, and The Winds of War.

The Pacific TV Mini Series was created in exacting detail, and gives a clear message to younger generations why it was Americans during
the Depression Era and World War II just might really be—The Greatest Generation.



Perpetually unlucky in love, June (Cameron Diaz) becomes intrigued by a mysterious man (Tom Cruise), who unexpectedly drags her into a
whirlwind adventure involving devious enemies, life-threatening confrontations and a major discovery that may alter the future of humankind. Directed by James Mangold, this exhilarating action-comedy also features Peter Sarsgaard, Paul Dano, Maggie Grace and Viola Davis.

A movie really needs to be evaluated for its cleverness of plot, how well actors “act,” impact on the audience, historical importance if
applicable, and that “X” factor that can’t be quantified. Whether you think an actor is a complete and total moron in his personal life (not you Cameron) shouldn’t cloud your judgment when evaluating movies. Therefore, I have to say that the acting was very good, action was fast-paced, and the chemistry between Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz really worked. This was a fun-to-watch escapist movie. Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz are really outstanding as actors. For several of these reasons I do recommend people see the movie.



When Penny Chenery (Diane Lane) agrees to take over her ailing father’s thoroughbred stable, she transforms from housewife to horse breeder — and owner of the colt that will take the 1973 Triple Crown — in this dramatic biopic. The film explores Chenery’s bond
with “Big Red” and depicts her rise to greatness as the “first lady of racing.” John Malkovich plays trainer Lucien Laurin, and Fred Dalton
Thompson co-stars as big-shot breeder Bull Hancock. People are often stumped when asked, “Who is the greatest athlete of all time?” They say things like Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Jim Brown, or Michael Jordon. Wrong! Wrong! The greatest athlete of all time was the four-legged racing horse—Secretariat. I watched that day in June 1973 when Secretariat won the Triple Crown. I couldn’t believe what I was witnessing.
This horse didn’t win by a nose or a much faster 1-2 lengths. Secretariat won by 31 lengths—a nearly impossible feat. I remember jumping up and down with excitement in my living room as this occurred. This would be the equivalent of an Olympic athlete running the 100 yard dash in 7 and a half seconds. Incredible, just incredible.

Even if you don’t like horse racing this movie is a triumph of the spirit. It is entertaining and is my pick as one of the very best entertaining
movies of 2010. 


Scott Mitchell Rosenberg’s graphic novel series leaps to the screen as amnesiac gunslinger Jake Lonergan (Daniel Craig) stumbles into the
Wild West town of Absolution, where he’s confronted by potent enemy Col. Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford) and a terrifying problem: invading aliens. Aided by the lovely Ella (Olivia Wilde), Jake rallies a posse of the townspeople, Dolarhyde’s minions and local Apache warriors to
fight off the extraterrestrial threat. Before watching this movie I thought “Cowboys and Aliens”—is this some sort of joke?  Well, far from it. I saw this on the large screen in a theater (which I recommend you do) and thought to myself this movie is again a graphic visual testimony to the genius of Steven Spielberg. Special effects were fantastic.



Paul Giamatti shines in the title role of this epic Emmy and Golden Globe winner that recounts the life of founding father John Adams
as revolutionary leader, America’s first ambassador to England, the first vice president and the second president. The iconic cast of
characters includes Abigail Adams (Laura Linney), George Washington (David Morse), Thomas Jefferson (Stephen Dillane) and Benjamin Franklin (Tom Wilkinson).

This is a mini-series that constantly reminds one just how incredibly lucky we are today to have had the kind of Founding Fathers who influenced our becoming the greatest democracy in the world. You don’t have to be a history buff to love this mini-series. Watch it; you’ll like it very much.


The Way Back (2010)


After narrowly escaping from a wretched World War II Siberian labor camp, a small band of multinational soldiers desperately
undertakes a harrowing journey to traverse Siberia, the Gobi Desert and the Himalayas  on foot. This movie has a great cast including Jim Sturgess, Ed Harris, Colin Farrell, Saoirse Ronan, Mark Strong, Dragos Bucur, Gustaf Shargard, Sebastian Urzendowsky, and Alexandru   Potocean.

The best way to watch this movie is from the comfort of your own home. Have food and drink nearby as you watch the horrendous conditions
people sometimes have to endure in life. I hate the extremes of cold or heat. This movie can make you feel uncomfortable to the extreme. Nevertheless, it is exciting, realistic, and is based on a true story from World War II. You might like to have a fan next to you as you
watch the characters cross the Gobi Desert and cover yourself with a blanket when they cross out of Siberia and later trek across the Himalayas. I never thought I could be so “suggestible” as an adult while watching a make-believe movie. Perhaps it is a real tribute to those who created The Way Back that I now have to reconsider my position on that.

Early in 2012, I’ll bring you again more movies to consider. In the meantime, enjoy your time at the movies.

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