This film from India is written and directed by Sujoy Ghosh (English captions).

We first see our (very pregnant) heroine Kahaani (played by Vidya Venkatesan-Bagchi) at the Kolkata airport where she catches a cab. The driver is surprised that she wants to go directly to the police station instead of a hotel. She wants the police to help find her husband, who left London and was never heard from again. One policeman (played by Parambrata Chatterjee) takes pity on her and helps whenever he is off duty.

After she rents a derelict room, we watch it improve: it becomes cleaner, tidier, more livable. She notes that the advertisement promised "hot water," so the landlord shouts for a cute little neighbor boy. He is instructed to bring hot water for the memsahib (she IS from London), which he promptly does. We see what a charmer Kahaani can be, any time someone is offended, she turns on the charm and immediately soothes hurt feelings, so that little boy falls under her spell.

As she and that policeman gather information, we get the sense that they are closing in on an answer, but we also realize that there is a larger mystery here: everyone they interview insists they have never seen the man. One of the men the police interview tells them that he himself did the training so he is positive that they will never find the mysterious villain who might be involved.

We have at least three people to root for: the policeman, the woman looking for her husband, and that little boy.

I love these colorful Bollywood pictures and this one does not disappoint. Although I saw this first on a DVD from the city library, I quickly bought a copy for my own collection.


The Other Woman

Chick Flick Alert! No one does them better than director Nick Cassevetes ("The Notebook") when he's in the mood. Working with writer Melissa Stack in her first full-length project (I'll keep an eye out for this talented gal), this pair knows how to deliver a punch straight to where we live. This guilty pleasure is a perfect showcase for the hilarious Leslie Mann and the fearless Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (in a wild departure from "Game of Thrones"), but the others are laugh-out-loud funny, too.

Being a successful lady killer can have its perils when the ladies involved are:
  • Cameron Diaz ("Bad Teacher") as Carly, as successful attorney betrayed by her lover...
  • Nikolaj Coster-Waldau ("Headhunters") Mark, who is the irresistibly handsome Lothario married to...
  • Leslie Mann ("This is 40") Kate. After an initial rough patch, the wife and the mistress quickly discover that he also is courting...
  • Kate Upton ("Tower Heist") Amber, who feels betrayed when a fourth woman is spotted being canoodled by this three-timer.
  • Nicki Minaj ("Ice Age" voice) is Lydia, the brassy secretary who tells Carly that "liars live longer."
  • Don Johnson ("Machete") is Carly's proud father, often married, rarely sorry.
It is clear that we are in good hands when the movie opens with a gorgeous aerial shot of New York City and Etta James singing "I Want a Sunday Kind of Love." ...sigh...

Rated PG-13, you will see no nudity and hear no profanity, but there are several segments where the women get drunk together. I have never seen such terrific physical comedy that features women! I'll have to buy the DVD because I know there were whole chunks of the witty dialogue that got by me.
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Here is some of the mayhem:
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The Railway Man

This R-rated movie, based on Eric Lomax's autobiography, depicts the treatment of British soldiers held by the Japanese after the surrender of Singapore in 1942. Despite the excellence of this cast, it was done better in "The Bridge on the River Kwai." We reluctantly witness the brutality and inhumane treatment of those prisoners and the long-term effects of that experience. Flashbacks span about 20 years.

When a former World War II POW who worked on the notorious Burma to Siam "Death Railway" during his imprisonment, discovered that his Japanese jailer was still alive, he reluctantly agreed to meet him.

We see:
  • Colin Firth ("The King's Speech") is Eric Lomax, a man troubled by what we now call PTSD, because of the horrific conditions and the torture to which he was subjected but about which he refused to talk.
  • Jeremy Irvine ("War Horse") is Eric of 1942, smart, resourceful and resilient. He can't convince his tormentors that a radio receiver doesn't transmit.
  • Stellan Skarsgård ("Romeo and Juliet") is Finlay, another veteran who understands his comrade's reluctance to talk about their experience.
  • Sam Reid ("Anonymous") is the wartime Finlay, also beaten and tortured. He too, will suffer from PTSD.
  • Tanroh Ishida ("47 Ronin") is Nagase, the young soldier who chose not to commit suicide when the Japanese lost the war, despite his vows to preserve his honor.
  • Hiroyuki Sanada ("The Twilight Samurai") is the older version. He became a guide for tourists who wanted to learn about that notorious railway.
  • Nicole Kidman ("The Paperboy") is Patti, the woman who was convinced that Eric must confront his tormentor in order to purge his lingering demons.
In my opinion, director Jonathan Teplitzky made the beatings too over the top. If those had been actual beatings, there would have been too many broken bones for the prisoners to survive, physically sound, into maturity.

The dialogue is murmured or whispered much of the time and the Japanese is not translated, so look for a theater with closed captions or wait for the DVD. We very much appreciated the postscripts and photos (of Eric, Patti and Nagase) which followed the feature.
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This will give you some idea of what to expect:
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The Armstrong Lie

Even though the Lance Armstrong cycling record: SEVEN Tour de France victories are the stuff of legend, many of these subsequent insights are not. Begun as a puff piece to tout the fame and exalt the integrity of his amazing life, this movie provides much of the missing pieces from his successes and shocking elements of his humiliating failures as the documentary makers realized Armstrong's secrets had been hidden in plain sight the whole time.

"Win at any cost." This is not only true in business, but also in today's cycling community. We can see how a newcomer evaluated the cycling world and realized he must compromise his beliefs. "Don't bring a knife to a gunfight" is his rationale. We see how Armstrong leveled the playing field because of a well-established tradition of heavy drug use in the sport. "Everyone was doing it."

"People want the beautiful lie more than they want the ugly truth." Even while accusations were flying, the officials, the public and most of all, the cancer survivors, denied the possibility that he used drugs. We have to remember the investment the cycling organizations had in Armstrong's fame plus his earning potential for bicycles, shoes, sports wear, sports drinks, etc., etc., etc. No cancer survivor wanted to believe the rumors. Millions wore the iconic yellow wristband. Did you have one?

We evaluate the good and the bad:
  • Greatest hoax perpetrated on the sporting public - vs - Hundreds of millions of dollars raised for cancer research.
  • Alpha dog dominates team and sports - vs - Loving father who tries to protect his children.
  • Cancer survivor with adoring public - vs - Accusers who speculate cancer was caused by performance-enhancing drugs.
  • Adamant denial of drug use - vs - Full disclosure and admission of guilt.
This is Alex Gibney's fascinating documentary and believe me, I have NOT told you everything. This is a complicated tale, one in which you will switch sides many times. Bad guys have good attributes and good guys can be really bad. Racing team maneuvers are carefully strategized in a way I didn't expect, and all drugs aside, I learned that this is a grueling sport!

I checked this DVD out of the city library, so it is already available.
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Take a look:
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Rio 2

What can I say? This colorful, tuneful, G-rated romp made the children in Saturday morning's screening audience happy; what more do we want? I enjoyed watching a flock of endangered blue macaws do "The Wave" to show their approval during a soccer match and their appreciation for a musical number. Their aerial ballet had echoes of both Esther Williams and Busby Berkeley: You know, those dazzling kaleidoscopic effects.

Our hero, Blu, lives with his lovely mate Jewel and their three offspring in Rio de Janeiro. She would like to visit her old jungle haunts and maybe reconnect with her family; on the other hand, he is city born and bred but adores her, so agrees to a little vacation trip ("A happy wife is a happy life"). Their adventure begins.

We follow:
  • Blu (Jesse Eisenberg) raised to be a "Companion" for environ- mentalist Linda, he has now mastered flight but finds he must contend with Jewel's macho father out in the wild. His fanny pack contains a GPS unit ("Recalculating...") and an electric toothbrush.
  • Jewel (Anne Hathaway) adores her little family but is concerned for The Flock as deforestation encroaches on their territory.
  • Linda (Leslie Mann) is as sweetly earnest as ever, this environ- mentalist is now very concerned about the deforestation of the Amazon rain forest.
  • Tulio (Rodrigo Santoro) is her clumsy ornithologist who goes on treks with her because he is still looking for a (possibly extinct) flock of blue macaws.
  • Roberto (Bruno Mars) seems to be a contender for Jewel's affections.
  • Big Boss (Miguel Ferrer) runs that evil logging operation with massive bulldozers, earth movers and tree-cutting equipment.
  • Nico (Jamie Foxx) provides the vocals for "Crazy Love."
  • Aunt Mimi (Rita Moreno) provides a bit of comic relief that the parents will appreciate.
  • Nigel (Jemaine Clement) is a down-on-his luck fellow forced to work as a fortune teller's assistant in a street show. He wears a Pagliacci-type costume to cover the bald spot from his male pattern feather loss.
  • Gabi (Kristen Chenoweth) is a poisonous-dart tree frog who sings everything from showtunes to opera. She is desperately in love with Nigel.
The villain this time would be the logging companies that are stripping the trees from the Amazon jungle. The movie makes it very clear that even though the birds have some natural enemies, their worst long-term problem is loss of habitat.

To me, the most impressive things are the editing and the artwork: The editing is to the beat of a Samba-flavored soundtrack; the artwork includes a bird's-eye view of Rio's favelas (shantytowns) which cling to the mountain sides. BTW, Sergio Mendez is the music producer working with Brazilian director Carlos Saldanha ("Ice Age" and "Rio"), so you know the music is good.
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Take a peek:
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Draft Day

The lives of young athletes in professional sports are forever changed on Draft Day. Will they or will they not make the cut? To me, this arcane modern-day gladiatorial frenzy emphasized (AGAIN!) that this is a slave auction: The bartering, the wheeling and dealing, the false leads, the rumors and the ridiculous behavior of the fan(atic)s, compounded by the utter helplessness of the players being shuffled around.

Director Ivan Reitman ("No Strings Attached") takes us inside the thought processes of a team manager whose decisions will dash many players' dreams, and rejuvenate others. This PG-13 script, written by first-timer Scott Rothman and Rajit Joseph (TV), makes it all too painfully clear that millions of dollars are spent promoting this mania. I realized later that they included many humorous bits because as I related the story to someone else, I often laughed.

We watch:
  • Kevin Costner ("Man of Steel") today it isn't just the athletes who are perched on the edge; General Manager Sonny Weaver Jr. has the chance to save football for Cleveland...and his own behind!
  • Ellen Burstyn ("Big Love") is his widowed mom (she's on Twitter), who tells him he has just traded a cow for a handful of magic beans. She picks the worst time to spread her husband's ashes.
  • Chadwick Boseman ("42") is one of those helpless hopefuls. He has the most unusual cell phone I've ever seen....
  • Jennifer Garner ("Dallas Buyers Club") lives and breathes football; her input is highly valued by our hero.
  • Dennis Leary ("The Amazing Spiderman") is the team coach. He is furious during the negotiations and has posted notice he's leaving Cleveland.
  • Many players from the world of professional football appear as themselves, so this is Nirvana for fans of pro football.
This is billed as a sports movie for people who are not fans of profes- sional sports. I enjoyed the aerial views of the cities with NFL teams, starting with an absolutely gorgeous one of Seattle, displaying the Space Needle and the Stadium District, with icy blue Puget Sound nestled alongside them.

BTW, I still don't understand The Draft in pro sports.... but it looks a lot like poker to me!
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This is a good sample:
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Cuban Fury

As I chortled my way through this enjoyably predictable, R-rated comedy (language and alcohol), my mind was awash with all my favorite old dance movies that had just received a cinematic tip of the hat: "Dirty Dancing," "Footloose," "Dance With Me," "Saturday Night Fever," "The Full Monty," "Shall We Dance?" "Strictly Ballroom," and "Fame" for starters. I"m sure you can add a few.

We follow a former teenage championship salsa dancer who had been waylaid by a gang of bullies on his way to the finals. He ended up burning his dance shoes and never looked back. Now, 22 years later, he's an adult who never seems to finish anything, but mentions maybe he might dance again. Our hero has a posse of friends who are under- standably skeptical, after all, he has NEVER danced in the twenty years they have known him.

Let's look at the cast:
  • Nick Frost ("The World's End") is our sadly out-of-shape hero. He still wants to dance, but now he has a new bully to make his life miserable.
  • Chris O'Dowd ("The Sapphires") is that bully. I expected to like him but his disgusting mouth and vile pranks certainly changed my mind.
  • Rashida Jones ("Parks and Recreation") is their new coworker. She IS an American and a bit awkward, but she does love to dance the Salsa!
  • Olivia Colman ("Hot Fuzz") is the world's BEST sister!
  • Ian McShane ("Jack the Giant Slayer") is the foul-mouthed dance instructor let down by our hero when he was a no-show years ago.
  • Kayvan Novak (Lots of TV) is the hilarious classmate who takes our hero in hand, upgrades his wardrobe and makes him shave his chest.
I must commend Jonathan Amos for his tight and seamless editing. He convinced ME that Frost did all that dancing!

BTW, keep a sharp lookout in the parking garage for a don't-blink-or-you'll-miss-him cameo by Nick Frost's chum Simon Pegg!
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You'll enjoy this preview:
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The Past

"Le Passé" (English captions) was nominated for numerous awards and honors throughout the world last year (2013). And, I hasten to add, they are all richly deserved!

Written and directed by Iranian Asghar Farhadi ("A Separation"), this contains his signature style: deliberate action, authentic production design, realistic dialogue and down-to-earth relationships, plus a complex plot that requires your full attention.

We watch:
  • Bérénice Bejo ("The Artist") is Marie, a remarried divorcée with two children who is filing for divorce again in order to marry a third man.
  • Ali Mosaffa ("The Last Step") is Ahmad, the fellow she is going to divorce this time. He has come from Tehran to sign the papers and to see her again. He also wants to see her two daughters because they had become fond of one another.
  • Tahar Rahim ("A Prophet") is Samir, the fellow she wants to marry.
  • Elyes Aguis in his first role, plays Fouad, the little boy who will join Marie's family when she marries his father. This child is stunningly well directed: his rage, defiance, grief and confusion are authentic in every way!
  • Pauline Burlet ("La Vie en Rose") is Marie's elder daughter Lucie, who has a shocking secret. And no, this secret is NOT a cliché.
As each subsequent layer of plot was peeled away, the movie became more involving. Anything I disclose would probably be a Spoiler, so just trust me when I say, "Check out this film!"
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This trailer has English captions:
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Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Marvel Comics produces mindless PG-13 fun: Captain America is my favorite anachronism. Because of a military experiment in the 40s, he is mistakenly placed in a future time where he does not belong, so his earnest view of that world is engaging and fun. Bottom line, he's just an all-around good guy, part of "The Greatest Generation!"

This time out, we enjoyed Large, Medium and Small visions of that world. For Large, we had humongous aircraft poised to start World War III; Medium offered truly astonishing vehicular mayhem and blowie uppie stuff; while Small brought endless fisticuffs and gun battles.

The parts I really liked were even smaller: the personal exchanges between our hero and his cohorts...AND his rousing, patriotic speech to the folks at S.H.I.E.L.D. Their new threat comes from old history, an awesome Soviet agent known as "Winter Soldier."

We watch:
  • Chris Evans ("The Nanny Diaries") This is Evans' fifth time out as Steve Rogers/Captain America. This guy is earnest, sincere, patriotic, a born leader, and alone: the woman he loved is in her 90s, you do the math. Okay, okay, I'll do it for you: he's 95.
  • Scarlett Johansson ("Don Jon") Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow seems to be the only person left that our hero can trust...and she's a little iffy. (I first saw Evans as The Harvard Hottie in "The Nanny Diaries"; Johansson was the Nanny.)
  • Anthony Mackie ("The Fifth Estate") Sam Wilson/Falcon seems to be a likely addition to The Avengers. He meets our hero during his morning run around the Tidal Basin.
  • Samuel L. Jackson ("RoboCop") is our perennial Nick Fury, the force behind S.H.I.E.L.D. It was hard for me to watch when his vehicle was targeted by the villainous Hydra forces.
  • Sebastian Stan (Lots of TV) is Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier, a fierce fellow with a bionic left arm; our hero thinks he knows him....
  • Robert Redford ("All is Lost") Elder statesman Alexander Pierce is determined to win peace at any price.
  • Stan Lee is a guard at the Smithsonian. He has the funniest line in the entire movie!
Screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeeley ("Pain and Gain") bring us many intimate moments leavened with humor (while I wished for closed captions); there is only a hinted flirtation, and mild profanity. The loss of trust between our hero and Nick Fury is a problem. He says,"It's trust that turns men with guns into an army."

Two things: Expect a LOT of Computer Generated Imaging and be sure to suspend disbelief! Our savvy screening audience stayed put for both of the teasers we have come to expect from Marvel during and after the final credits.
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Take a peek:
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This documentary submitted by the US to the 2013 Seattle International Film Festival was fairly interesting for the first 45 minutes or so (during the Senate confirmation hearings), then it became a self-congratulatory mishmash of seminars, celebrations in local libraries, family wedding videos, and testimonials from teary teenagers.

Directed by Frieda Mock, we revisit an event that happened over 20 years ago when a young law professor accused a Supreme Court nominee of sexual harassment. The country was agog at the time, watching with baited breath to hear previously forbidden words spoken on broadcast news.

Anita Hill comes off as an articulate, attractive and resilient young woman who worked for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). She accused her former boss, Clarence Thomas, as being one of the Old Boys Club, where "Boys will be boys." They played word games with reluctant underlings, all the while maintaining Plausible Deniability. ("You thought I meant THAT? That's all in your head! You must be a really frustrated young woman!")

The biggest laugh from our screening audience came during the Senate hearings when Ted Kennedy piped up, voicing his outrage at the very idea that an attractive young woman like Anita Hill would be subjected to such contemptible treatment.

We've all been sexually harassed in one guise or another and the memories aren't ones we relish. Anita Hill took the first step and an unexpectedly big one it was! I had just had enough after the first 45 minutes.

This was first reviewed in June, 2013.
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Please check out this preview:
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