Movies with elements of entertainment, education, food for thought, that inspire, explore human values, social issues, the environment, as well as light hearted fare and comedies are some of my favorites. My reviews include a few current movies as well as those on videos and DVDs. These reviews tend to inform whether the movies are dramas, comedies or other, without diminishing the viewer’s sense of wonder, excitement and anticipation of what is coming next.

For current movie listings, please click on the link below.


Your reviews on movies are always welcome. Reach me via, The Contact Form. You may also email me, Nirmala at, npather@gmail.com

The movies are rated by stars, with 5 stars being the very best and 1 star being poor. The review links are on the right hand side, categorized by the ratings.

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The Railway Man 5 stars

I cannot say enough about this excellent, great, wonderful, thoughtful, sad yet joyous movie. It is based on the memoir of Eric Lomax who was tortured as a prisoner of war by the Japanese in World War 11. Colin Firth gives an excellent performance as Eric Lomax, who, together with fellow soldiers suffer from PSTD, but choose not to talk about their painful experiences.

There are beautiful moments that capture the love that develops between Patti (Nicole Kidman) and Eric. When there is news of the whereabouts that the former tormentor, the responsibility is Eric’s to get revenge.

The movie has very vivid scenes of torture and it is portrayed very realistically. The latter scenes when Eric meets the tormentor takes on a different dimension and you have to see it to appreciate it.

It is a must see movie. Very highly recommended. Colin Firth is definitely one of my favorite actors.

The Lunchbox 4 stars

I really enjoyed this movie. The acting was excellent. The depiction of loneliness, rejection, poverty and the excitement and thrill of new possibilities were so very well portrayed. The movie is set in Mumbai, India.

The cramped trains and other modes of transportation for commuters sets the tone of the hustle and bustle of the city. A dhaba or lunch box that was meant to be for Ila’s husband is delivered in error, (by the dabbawalas/the delivery guys, to another person. The recipient returns the lunch box with a note. This begins a correspondence between Irrfan Khan, as Saajan Fernandez and Nimrat Kaur as Ila.

The nature of the correspondence opens up the thoughts and feelings about the lives of these 2 people, connecting you to them as you follow their story. Another lead star is Nawazuddin Siddiqui as Shaikh. I highly recommend this movie.

Dallas Buyers Club 4 stars

The movie is based on a true story. When drug addict and homophobic Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey), was diagnosed with HIV and given 30 days to live, he was horrified at the diagnosis and could not believe that he had contracted the disease.

The movie centers on his dissatisfaction with the drug of choice, AZT, at that time, and his attempts to explore other resources. He finds great relief from medications available in Mexico and Japan. However these are not approved by the FDA and are therefore not authorized. He imports these illegally and soon starts distributing these to others with HIV and AID’s.

One of his doctor’s Eve Saks (Jennifer Garner) is sympathetic to his situation as she too is not satisfied with the drugs presently used by the FDA. There are realistic scenes of the attempts to bring in the illegal drugs, the large number of people willing to buy the drugs, drug busts by the police, being ostracized by his friends and the emotional toll of all of these factors on Ron Woodroof, fellow partner, transgender, Rayon (Jared Leto), as well as others with the disease.

The acting is of a very high standard. Matthew McConaughey lost 50 pounds and Jared Leto lost 30 pounds for their roles. The movie has sexual content and swears words so I would not recommend this as a family movie but it is an excellent movie for adults.

12 Years A Slave5 stars-excellent

The following paragraph is from Wikipedia. The description was just what I was looking for, so thanks to Wikipedia

12 Years a Slave is a 2013 British-American historical drama film, an adaptation of the 1853 autobiography Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup, a free black man who was kidnapped in Washington, D.C. in 1841 and sold into slavery. He worked on plantations in the state of Louisiana for 12 years before his release. The first scholarly edition of Northup's memoir, co-edited by Sue Eakin and Joseph Logsdon in 1968, carefully retraced and validated his account, finding it to be remarkably accurate. The film is directed by Steve McQueen and written by John Ridley. Chiwetel Ejiofor stars as Solomon Northup.

Other actors include:Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Dano, Paul Giamatti, Lupita Nyong'o, Sarah Paulson, Brad Pitt, and Alfre Woodard, amongst others.

The movie is disturbing but the cruel treatment of slaves did exist and we all need to remember that. The acting is superb. Very moving. I urge everyone to see this important movie.

The Butler5 stars-excellent

The movie, The Butler, is based on the life of Eugene Allen, an African American, who worked at the White House as a butler during eight presidential administrations from 1952 to 1986, beginning with President Eisenhower and ending with President Reagan.

There are parts of the movie that are fictionalized, like the character of the son, Lewis. In reality, there was just one son and he did not die in Vietnam. As the butler moves through several administrations, the movie highlights historical events of that period, such as the struggle to break racial barriers and the plight of Blacks at the hands of white owners in cotton fields in the south, as well as the treatment of Blacks by society in general.

The struggle to end segregation, the assassinations of President Kennedy and Martin Luther King are also depicted. As a butler, Eugene Allen, depicted as Cecil Gaines, (Forest Whitaker), is often present at presidential discussions and is sometimes asked his opinion on matters. A Butlers role is stoic and unobtrusive, such, that his presence should not be noticed.

The movie, directed by Lee Daniel's, stars Oprah Winfrey as Cecil’s wife, Gloria. There are other notable stars such as Robin Williams, Lieve Schreiber, John Cusack, Alan Rickman, who play cameo roles as presidents. Jane Fonda plays a cameo role as Nancy Reagan.

The movie had me spellbound from the very beginning. The acting is excellent. The struggle for freedom and the unjust treatment of so many innocent people of color is very well depicted. An excellent, must see movie. Very Highly Recommended.

Jobs 4 stars

Ashton Kutcher stars as Steve Jobs, who started the Apple company, Apple Computers and of course the Ipads, Iphones and Ipods amongst so many creative and brilliant innovations. The movie begins with the launch of the Ipod and then goes back to Jobs' early days of creating software. Together with his friend, Steve Wozniak, they showcase their idea to an audience that is not entirely convinced by their demonstration.

It is interesting to see their humble beginnings in a garage and their struggle to sell their products. But Steve Jobs, is focused and dedicated to perfection to a fault. His obsession on wanting things done his way and demands on his colleagues estranges and hurts even his close friends.

The movie depicts this facet of his character very well, including his success, then being fired from his company and his comeback to make Apple great again. In spite of shortcomings of his character, I marveled at his brilliance and his ability to create something that people do not know that they need right now. It is sad that such a genius died so early in life. The movie is highly recommended.

Satyagraha 3 stars

Amitabh Bachan stars as a highly principled ex school teacher, Dwarka Anand, who looks down upon corruption and is disdainful about all those who promote such a culture. When his beloved son, Indraneil Sengupta, Akilesh, an engineer, is killed in an accident, he accepts the compensation that is offered to assist his daughter in law and provide tuition to his students.

But when nothing comes forth and his daughter in law is given the run around, he himself goes to the authorities to request the money that was promised. He is treated with insults and he reacts by slapping an official. He is imprisoned for this action.

The movie centers on the fight to overcome the corruption of city officials, who treat the villages with disrespect. Their applications for assistance are backed up and they have to pay the officials part of the money that they receive. Ajay Devgan, Manav, a close friend of Akilesh, supports Dwarka Anand in fighting corruption. A bitter standoff occurs. What was intended to be a peaceful protest turns violent and Dwarka Anand begins a fast which he will end when the officials pay the villagers for all that is owed to them.

What I liked about the movie is that it is realistic, in that, trying to overcome the corrupt officials is not easy, there are layers of corruption going right to the top. The acting was very good. The music was good.

What I did not like about the movie was that it was too long, almost 3 hours and this took away from the pace of the movie. If you have the time and are big fans of Amitabh Bachan and Ajay Devgan, then go and watch the movie. Recommended

Kahaani 4 stars

Kahaani means story in Hindi. It is a Hindi movie with English sub-titles. The movie is gripping from the very beginning catches your attention right away. It is a drama/mystery/thriller movie that is very well enacted by the lead actress, Vidyabalan who plays Vidya Bagchi, a pregnant woman searching for her missing husband in Kolkata during the festival of Durga Puja.

Other lead actors include Satyaki “Rana” Sinha (Parambrata Chatterjee) and Khan (Nawazuddin Siddiqui).

The search for Arnab Bagchi, the missing husband is the theme of the movie, but as the mystery unfolds you see how the first scene connects with the rest of the movie.

Another highlight for me was the poem/song, performed by Amitabh Bachan, Ekla Chole Re, which was written by the Bengali Poet, Rabindranath Tagore.

A highly recommended movie.

Kai Po Che 3½ stars

According to Wikipedia, the film title, Kai Po Chhe is originally a Gujarati phrase that means “I have cut the kite, ” which refers to a kite competition where one of the competitors uses his kite to cut off another competitors kite and yells “Kai Po Che!“

The movie is based on a book by Chetan Bhagat, The 3 Mistakes of My Life. It is set in Ahmedabad,India in a middle class community, which is described as “ the real India.#8221; The central theme of the story is friendship amongst three friends, Ishaan (Sushant Singh Rajput), Omi (Amit Sadh) and Govind (Raj Kumar Yadav), who plan to start a business.

The movies is directed by Abhishek Kapoor. The only female lead, Vidya is played by, Amrita Puri, as a sister of Ishaan and love interest of Govind.

All the characters are very likeable and despite, fights, arguments and temporary breakups they always get back and support each other. They have a great love of cricket. Ishaan was not able to pursue his career as a cricketer due to obstacles. Together they open a sports shop and an academy to train and promote budding cricketers.

They recognize the talent of a local boy and begin to tutor him. Amidst this friendship, there are financial struggles, family squabbles, political parties and conflicts and an earthquake that destroys a new store that they began.

There are also dramatic and realistic moments in the movie that steer journey of these friends and the boy that they tutor. If I say more, I will be giving away the story. I highly recommend the movie which is in Hindi with English sub titles

The Internship 3½ stars

Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson star as interns at Google. Having lost their jobs as salesmen, Billy and Nicky embark on a chance to intern at Google by enrolling in an online university. While in reality, getting an internship at Google is very difficult to achieve, Billy and Nick are accepted as interns

Their challenges with technology makes for some comedic scenes. But they also possess life skills and often help their team to win. There are also lessons that one should connect with other aspects of living and not just have a total one sided approach to life.

The movie was entertaining, funny with teachable moments as well. Highly recommended

A Royal Affair 4 stars

“ A Royal Affair, (Danish: En kongelig affære) is a 2012 historical drama film directed by Nikolaj Arcel, starring Mads Mikkelsen, Alicia Vikander and Mikkel Følsgaard. The story is set in the 18th century, at the court of the mentally ill King Christian VII of Denmark, and focuses on the romance between his wife, Caroline Matilda of Great Britain, and the royal physician Struensee. “ as aptly described in Wikipedia.

The acting was excellent by all. Mikkel Følsgaard, as the king, Christian VII of Denmark who is mentally ill, gave an outstanding performance as childish, other times demanding, someone with no backbone and is totally taken advantage of by the parliament. The country is really run by officials for their gain and exploitation of the poor. Alicia Vikander as Caroline Matilda only learns of his condition when she arrives in Denmark from Britain.

Mads Mikkelsen as Johann Friedrich Struensee, gives a great performance as a friend to the king, supporter of the downtrodden and as the lover of the queen. Despite his love for the queen, he supports the king who gains confidence in his role. With the influence of Struensee, and the support of Caroline Matilda, the country improves conditions for the common people

You have to see the movie to find out how things turn out. It is a gripping movie, that not only tells a story of these principal characters but you get a glimpse of history and life in 18th century Denmark.

Kon-Tiki 4 stars

This movie that is based on a true story of the Kon-Tiki expedition. It depicts the voyage of Thor Heyerdahl and 5 friends, in 1947, who set out to prove that it was possible that Polynesian Islands were inhabited by South Americans. He theorized that South American explorers could have sailed to the island on rafts. In pre-Columbian times a raft was the method of travel on the high seas.

When his theory, on which he based his Masters Thesis, was not accepted as being possible, he took the challenge to make the trip himself. You will find more more details about the events leading to the Kon-Tiki expedition, at websites like, Wikipedia.

Thor Heyerdhal was a Norwegian explorer and writer. He wrote a book about his successful expedition. This followed with a movie in 1951 directed by Thor Heyerdhal and a documentary. I saw the recent 2013 version and really enjoyed it.

It is amazing that these adventurers survived this trip. The acting was excellent and the movie has the benefit of teaching a new generation about the courage and real life adventures of true survivors. The cast include:

Pål Sverre Valheim Hagen as Thor Heyerdahl, Anders Baasmo Christiansen as Herman Watzinger, Tobias Santelmann as Knut Haugland, Gustaf Skarsgård as Bengt Danielsson, and Odd Magnus Williamson as Erik Hesselberg.

The move is highly recommended

The Great Gatsby 3½ stars

The recent version of the Great Gatsby, stars Leonardo DiCaprio, one of my favorite actors and, Joel Edgerton, Tobey Maguire, Carey Mulligan, amongst other stars. The movie is based on the book, The Great Gatsby," by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Gatsby is played by Leornardo Di Caprio. He is excellent in his role as the, wealthy, handsome, mysterious young man, besotted by Daisy, (Carey Mulligan). How his love for Daisy impacts his life is the theme of the movie.

It was interesting to see the glamorous lifestyles as well as people affected by poverty in the early 1920's. A highly recommended movie

Sparkle 3½ stars

The stars are Jordin Sparks and the late Whitney Houston. Ms. Houston takes the role of a single mother whose singing career was not a successful one. She is very protective of her 3 daughters, her manner bordering on demanding and authoritarian.

The movie depicts the young talented sisters supporting each other in making a living as singers, in spite of their mothers disapproval. The movie showcases the talent of the singers. It brings in relationship issues and struggles with drug addiction and domestic violence.

Scenes like the sisters struggle to get to the top, the domestic violence and addictions does lend a sense of the real world. This together with the excellent singers made this an interesting movie, which I recommend.

Beasts of the Southern Wild 4 stars

Beasts of the Southern Wild is a fantasy drama film directed by Benh Zeitlin and written by Zeitlin and Lucy Alibar from Alibar's one-act play Juicy and Delicious.The film is nominated for four Academy Awards at the 85th Academy Awards, in the categories Best Picture, Best Director (Benh Zeitlin), Best Adapted Screenplay (Lucy Alibar, Benh Zeitlin) and Best Actress (Quvenzhané Wallis). At the age of 9, Wallis is the youngest ever nominee of the Academy Award for Best Actress.

Quvenzhané Wallis stars as as Hushpuppy and Dwight Henry as Wink, her father, who is in very poor health. Little Hushpuppy is abandoned by her mother and raised by her dad. Hushpuppy is a child and is very close to her father, with some scenes of a stormy relationship between them as well. This bayou Louisiana community is isolated from the rest of the world by a levee.

There is a storm approaching and Wink takes steps to protect his daughter from the storm that threatens. The community rally together in finding a solution by breaking the levee. There is a message of hope, loss and revival. The quality of acting is superb. The lead actress, Quvenzhané Wallis was only 5-6 years old when making the movie. I was so impressed with her acting performance. This movie is highly recommended.

The Sessions 4 stars

The actors are Helen Hunt, who plays the role of Cheryl Cohen-Greene, a sex surrogate and John Hawkes who plays Mark O'Brien a poet who is paralyzed.

The movie is based on a true story about Mark O'Brien who was struck by polio at the age of six, and paralyzed from the neck down. He needed a lung machine to breathe and was confined on a gurney. O'Brien, a very intelligent young man, attended college and became a poet and writer.

Despite strong religious beliefs, Mark O' Brien's desire for intimacy led him to hire a sex surrogate, Cheryl Cohen-Greene, to lose his virginity. He had several discussions with his priest about this subject. The role of the priest, Father Brendan was enacted by another of my favorite actors, William H Macy.

This movie is based on an essay, "On Seeing a Sex Surrogate", written by O'Brien about his experiences with Greene. The essay appeared in The Sun magazine in 1990.

The movie was written and directed by Ben Lewin. The actors gave great performances and it invoked feelings of sympathy, admiration and a real respect for Mark O' Brien. I highly recommend this movie

The Life of PI 4 stars

This movie is reviewed by Shyam Sundar.

“Life of PI. Amazed me so much. A Tamizh lullaby (Bombay Jashree) opens the movie with title, how can you not love the movie. Top notch cinematography, dazzling CG, beautiful story telling, and Amazing philosophy.

After one point of time the protagonist and the predator exist in a labyrinth of a never ending game of chess, where the two lonely kings play their moves to either finish it or bail out. Ultimate surrender is the key to salvation.
It is both simple and complex in a way. Choose your story, is the tag line.”

Shyam also recommends that one see it on the Imax theater. Encouraged by Shyam's review, I went to see the movie and also enjoyed it greatly. I saw it in 3D. This heightened the experience of the scenes in the water, the ferocious tiger and various other scenes.

The character of PI is enacted by 3 actors at various stages of his life. They include, Gautam Belur, as 5 year old Pi, Ayush Tandon as an 11/12 year old PI, Suraj Sharma as PI in his teens, Irrfan Khan as the adult PI. Life of Pi is a fantasy adventure based on the novel by Yann Martel, published in 2001. The book has received awards as well. The director of the movie is Ang Lee

The movie is highly recommended

Lincoln 4 stars

Daniel Day Lewis, a 2 times Oscar winner, stars as President Lincoln, the 16th President. He is one of my favorite actors. The movie is directed by Steven Spielberg. Daniel Day Lewis' role in this movie is such a contrast to the mean, character in. There Will Be Blood.

He plays Lincoln as a good orator, calm and gentle, with sense of humor, a family man, yet steadfast in his will to pass legislation that will end slavery and the war in the south.

His wife is played by Sally Field, also a 2 times Oscar winning actress. She depicts the troubled and often times sad mother, in a very believable way. Another of my favorite actors, James Spader, plays a lobbyist, trying to get votes that will help to enact the 13th Amendment.

It was interesting to see the governmental process at work, the volatile, debates and differences between the 2 parties. This movie is highly recommended

Argo 3½ stars

Argo is based on a true story of the rescue of six U.S. Diplomats from Tehran, Iran during the 1979 Iran Hostage Crisis. It is directed by and stars Ben Affleck as Tony Mendez, a CIA operative who lead the rescue.

What I found so amazing was the plan that they used to rescue the diplomats. It was risky, but in the light of no other options, this plan is given the go ahead. The movie depicts tense situations, but well done and very realistic. A highly recommended movie, but may not be suitable for young kids as there is a lot of swear words.

The King’s Speech5 stars-excellent

I loved this movie.So great. The actors included, Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush & Helena Bonham Carter amongst others. I think Colin Firth totally deserved his Best Actor Awards for his performance as King Georg VI, who stammered. Ms. Carter made a very supportive and loving queen.

Geoffrey Rush as Lionel Logue, is the unconventional speech therapist to the King. His performance was amazing and I feel that he deserved some kind of an award. His performance was that good.

It is based on the true events surrounding the abdication of the throne by his brother, King Edward VIII. The movie portrays King George VI, (Colin Firth), as a caring family man, content in that role, & looking forward to his brother ruling the kingdom. He is terrified of having to become King after his brother abdicates.

It is the beginning of World War II and the country needs to hear the support of the King. Thus far his few public speeches have been marred by his stammering. He has tried various therapists and is frustrated by them

The movie centers around the relationship between the King and Lionel Logue, his new speech therapist. The movie is entertaining and brings forth so many emotions, sympathy, humor, empathy, perseverance, disappointment and of course triumph and joy.I would encourage everyone to see this outstanding movie. For those with speech impediments it will be a source of encouragement.

True Grit3½ stars

It was refreshing to see an American Western film after a long, long time. True Grit was written and directed by the Coen brothers. It is the second adaptation of Charles Portis' 1968 novel of the same name, which was previously adapted for film in 1969 starring John Wayne. The film stars Hailee Steinfeld as Mattie Ross, and Jeff Bridges as U.S. Marshal Reuben J. "Rooster" Cogburn along with Matt Damon, Josh Brolin, and Barry Pepper.

The actors do a tremendous job in their roles. I loved Jeff Bridges as the Marshall. The accents were very authentic. The movie received 10 academy nominations. I think 14 year old Hailie Steinfeld was amazing in her role as a young child, determined to seek justice for her father's murder.

It was interesting that despite attempts to get her to stay home, she is able to recruit and accompany the Marshall on the search for the murderer. They are accompanied by the Texas Ranger, (Matt Damon) who has his own agenda to find the killer. Along the way there is action, gunshots, rivalry between the 2 law officers and of course Mattie's attempts to get them to keep on the trail of the killer.

As the movie progresses, Mattie is able to see the True Grit of U.S. Marshal Reuben J. "Rooster" Cogburn. To find out what happens, do see this enjoyable & entertaining movie.

Unknown 3 stars

Liam Neeson is one of my favorite actors and I was looking forward to his movie. The stars include Diane Kruger, and January Jones amongst other stars. The movie has lots of action, car chases, murders, accidents, which all adds to the tension and suspense of this movie.

Liam Neeson's character is a complex one and once again this movie also has a twist in the tail. The bad guys want to destroy, the so called Dr. Martin Harris, but why? Why does his wife not recognize him? For the answers you will have to watch the movie.

It is well enacted and the events seem plausible. I would recommend this movie if you are in the mood for action and just some plain entertainment.

The Tourist 3 stars

The movie stars Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp as the lead characters. The movie is very well enacted and there is twist in the tail at the end. Ms. Jolie is attractive and does many of the stunts by herself. Johnny Depp makes a good partner, suave, handsome and independent.

There is a lot of action, a sense of mystery, humor, & romance, not glaring but in a subtle way. If you are looking for something light and entertaining I would highly recommend this movie.

Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price3½ stars

This 2005 documentary was directed by Robert Greenwald. The movie focusses on several Walmart practices that impact the community negatively. These include:
Long standing small businesses that are forced to close because of the competitive prices of Walmart. Low wages are paid to staff. There is no overtime pay & they do not hire adequate staff. Walmart also tends to hire part time employees so that they do not have to pay benefits. Employees work the long hours with no overtime pay, as they know that they can be replaced if they refuse.

The conditions in factories in China that manufacture products for Walmart, are largely deplorable. Desperately poor employees work long hours, in cramped hot factories for minimal wages. Many US Walmart employees cannot afford the premiums for health care and often opt out of a health care plan as they have to choose between buying food or paying for health care.

It is very disturbing that employees are encouraged to seek state aid like WIC. Instead of paying them a living wage, they are told to reap the benefits of their tax dollars.

Walmart employees are not allowed to join a union. Many large Walmart parking lots do not have surveillance cameras. Employees and customers have been the victims of muggings, kidnapping and even a death because of this failure to provide protection.

Walmart refutes these allegations, claiming good treatment of their employees and contributing to the communities & charities. Compared to their billion dollar income, their donations are minuscule. Everyone who shops at Walmart should view this documentary. You decide if the high cost of low prices is really worth it.

Mr. and Mrs. Iyer3½ stars

I am becoming a big fan of Konkona Sen Sharma. I have seen her in several movies recently and I am always impressed with her performances. She seems totally immersed in the character she portrays and so comes across as very natural and believable.

Konkona Sen Sharma takes the role of Mrs. Iyer and her traveling companion, Mr. Iyer is played by Rahul Bose. The movie is directed by Aparna Sen, Konkona's father. The movie has English dialogue with scatterings of Tamil. The story focuses on a bus journey during a time of inter-racial riots. With this background the movie explores the theme of prejudice, and cultural bias.

Mrs. Iyer has grown up with certain beliefs and views of her status as a Brahmin, (an elite class). Circumstances during that trip lead Mrs. Iyer to reflect on her values which are challenged by her companion.

Rahul Bose's character, a gentle, helpful gentleman, a Muslim wildlife photographer, is aghast & at times frustrated that education does little sometimes to shake off peoples prejudices. His portrayal of a man, widely traveled with broad minded views is very charming. It was heartwarming to see the closeness that develops between this couple during the tension, killings, terror and their own differences during this journey.

This movie is highly recommended

The Invention of Lying 3 stars

Written and directed by Ricky Gervais and Matthew Robinson, this movies was really funny. It is adult humor so it may not be suitable to watch with young kids. The stars include Rick Gervais, (Mark Bellison) Jennifer Garner,(Anna McDoogles), and Rob Lowe. It is set in an alternate reality where the concept of lying does not exist. Everyone speaks there mind, be it blunt or hurtful.

A situation arises when Ricky's character lies. The lies is believed and Mark soon sees the benefit of lying. The lies multiply, giving Mark a new confidence as he impresses folk with his knowledge. Anna is blunt about what she is seeking in a suitor and that Mark does not possess what it takes to produce children with good genes.

The acting is very good and the subtle and not so subtle humor is really funny. I am glad that my good friend Ania recommended this movie to me. Very well worth seeing if you are in the mood for good humor.

Date Night 2 stars

The movie stars Tina Fey and Steve Carell as Claire and Phil Foster, a middle class couple with the usual routine of rushed mornings, busy work days and taking care of the kids. They do take time to have weekly date nights. One such night becomes a nightmare, as they are mistaken for another couple. A series of comedic situations develop in an effort to thwart the bag guys. It was funny but not great humor, predictable. I would not recommend going to pay full price at the theater, wait for it to be on DVD.

Tsotsi4 stars

I had seen this movie several years ago and just realized (May 2009), that I had not written a review, although I have recommended it to countless people. It won the Oscar for Best Foreign movie of 2005. The film is an adaptation of the novel, Tsotsi, by Athol Fugard. It is directed by Gavin Hood, and is set in a South African slum, near Johannesburg in Soweto, South Africa. The word, Tsosti, means thug.

The stark contrast between the deplorable living conditions in the slums and the suburbs is interesting. South Africa is a mix of first world and third world conditions. The story centers around Tsotsi (Presley Chweneyagae), a leader of a gang including his friends Butcher (Zenzo Ngqobe), Aap (Kenneth Nkosi) and Boston (Mothusi Magano). Tsotsi has lived in poverty and squalor and finds shelter at night, in the large construction pipes in the fields. He makes his living by robbing people.

On one such event he drives off with the victims car only to discover that there is 3 month baby in the back seat. A baby is a new experience, but rather than abandon this child, he makes efforts to care for this child. He gets help from a friend who nurses this baby.

There is a good depiction of the hopelessness of these surroundings. Distrust among the gang members lead to further violence. Tsotsi is helped to come to the realization that he should return the baby. Yet he realizes the danger of such a move.

Living most times with no shelter of any sort, unemployment, violence and stealing seems to be the means to survival. It is a good movie to see life from the other side and wonder about the impact of such living on the value of life.

Traffic Signal 4 stars

Traffic Signal is an Indian movie, in Hindi with English sub-titles. The actors include, Kunal Khemu, Konkona Sen Sharma, Neetu Chandraamong others. The director is Madhur Bhandarkar who won the National Film Awards in 2007 as Best Director for this movie. Anil Moti Ram Palande, won the first National Film Award for Best Make-up Artist

It seems almost like a documentary as it focuses on the lives of street children and adults who beg for a living at a particular traffic signal in Mumbai, India. It was interesting to see the order in those that work at this traffic signal. They all have to pay a protection fee to the Manager, Silsila, (Kunal Khemu), who in turn reports to his manager. At the top of the ranks is a mafia don, with political ties.

Silsila regards those that ply their trade at this signal as his family. He himself grew up on the streets and this is how he learned to earn a livelihood. There is a great camaraderie amongst them, but there are rival traders too who are challenged if they attempt to encroach on Silsila's domain.

The acting is excellent and the plight of the beggar children, the prostitutes,& drug addicts are portrayed in a way that moves one for those actually living in such conditions. The future of the traffic signal, and therefore the livelihood of many, however, is in jeopardy due to the actions of the don and Silsila's unknown involvement in a sinister plot.

This movie is highly recommended. I recently learned that Traffic Signal is one of a Trilogy of movies by this director. I look forward to viewing, Page3 and Corporate as well, the rest of the trilogy.

Food Inc. 4 stars

This documentary was informative, disturbing, yet thought provoking. Many consumers do not question where their food originated and under what conditions. We basically accept that the packaged meat products, fruits and vegetables, attractively displayed in the stores are fresh and safe to consume.

Food Inc. addresses these issues. There are very disturbing scenes of the inhumane treatment of animals that are raised for the sole purpose of being slaughtered for their meat. People like the chicken breasts, so chickens are fed with hormones that make them grow large chests, in a short time span. The bones, still underdeveloped, cannot support the weight of the chickens. These adverse conditions often lead to the collapse and death of many chickens.

Most of these animals, with bodies caked in feces, do not have room to move. With muscles wasting, they stand in soil laden feces. At the time of slaughtering, the feces are still on their bodies, and it is a fact that feces do get mixed into the meat that is processed for consumption.

Farming methods and conditions giving rise to the contamination of products like spinach are also addressed. Families who have lost relatives or those who are severely disabled as a result of food poisoning discuss their experiences. Some of these families have tried to enact changes in the production of food to ensure better quality. It has been an uphill battle for them.

Since multinational companies are bent on fast pace production they set farming standards that suit them. Those not wishing to comply with rigid and most times inhumane treatment of animals, & their rules about planting seeds, face a bleak future. With nowhere else to market their produce, they often unwillingly comply with the monopolies that these companies hold.

In sharp contrast to these regimented ways to raise animals, one farmer who ventured on his own, breeds animals the old way, with the animals roaming free, eating the food intended for cows, grass, as opposed to corn, promoted by the multinationals.

The slaughtering and butchering of animals is heavy work, with employees using sharp cutting instruments. Many accidents occur as workers attempt to complete these risky tasks within tight schedules. Immigration authorities regularly crackdown on these workers, the majority of whom are illegal aliens, even though these meat packing industries actually recruit workers from Mexico.

It is well known that the immigration officials will arrest at least 15 people during their raids. This takes an emotional toll on the workers. It is the wheeling and dealing of these large companies, the poor wages paid to the staff, as well as the shabby treatment of its employees that are so unwholesome. In addition, those in authority often ignore regulations for safety and standards. The organizations that are meant to regulate how food is processed often hold management positions in the multinational food packing companies.

Here is a clip of A CBS Interview with Film Makers, Robert Kenner and Michael Pollan

This movie is very highly recommended. If you watch it on DVD, please also watch the extra scenes that were not included in the movie.

American Violet 4 stars

I saw this outstanding movie it was gripping from the beginning. It is based on the true life experiences of Dee Roberts (Nicole Beharie), a 24 year-old African-American single mother of four, living in the projects in a small Texas town.

The incident took place in 2000, around the Bush/Gore Presidential elections. The movie addresses the racial bias in the justice system of this town. The powerful, racist district attorney, played by Michael O'Keefe organized a task force with the express purpose of regularly raiding, military style, the homes of African Americans and arresting people.

The vast majority are innocent but witnesses are forced to testify against those arrested. The innocent victims, poor, with no resources & terrified, are cajoled to take the plea bargain and be set "free". This freedom prevents them from receiving any state benefits, leaves them with criminal records, making employment impossible and life in general, quite miserable.

It was very tempting to be free, but pleading guilty to a crime that she did not commit was unacceptable to Dee, despite other stress which included,
missing her children & leaving the responsibility for their care to her mother(Alfre Woodard).
The father of the 2 youngest children, who had no custody, begins taking the children to his home.
She faces imprisonment of 15 years based on false testimony, if she does not take the plea bargain.

Dee is arrested at the diner where she works and roughly pushed into the police vehicle. She is totally surprised and thinks that this is due to unpaid driving tickets, until she finds out that she is arrested for dealing in drugs. After 21 days in jail she is released on bail.

What I found so very disturbing was that the amount of funding for this city is increased if there is a high number of arrests and plea bargains. During this time lawyers from ACLU meet local church members and explain their intention of wanting to end this unjust system of arrests and plea bargains. They ask Dee if she would sue the District attorney as this is the only way that they could try and end this scenario. She agrees.

This decision is a very brave one, but not easy for Dee. The gathering of facts, the meetings with all parties and Dee's struggle to survive are very well portrayed. The actors performances were excellent. One feels empathy for the victims of such terrible treatment and outrage that this kind of behavior still exists.
A very highly recommended movie


Crazy Heart 2 stars

The movie received rave reviews and Jeff Bridges won an Oscar for Best Actor. His acting as an alcoholic, talented singer, now performing at small venues was really very good. His co-star, Maggie Gylenhaal as his love interest was also excellent in her role. The music was good.

But I found the movie dragging and the theme was so very much like The Wrestler, that I found the movie somewhat boring. If you really, really like country music you will like this movie, more for the songs, than the movie itself


Whip It 3 stars

Watching the sport of roller derby was a new experience for me. I was totally surprised with the ruthlessness involved and find it hard to understand why one has to have this pushing and shoving in a sport.

That being said, I really liked the movie as it was portrayed very well. The director is Drew Barrymore who also stars in the movie. Other notable actors are Ellen Page and Marcia Gay Harden who play mother and daughter, Bliss and Brooke Cavendar. The movie theme is the sport of roller derby, intertwined with the conflictual relationship of Bliss and her mother.

Ellen Page as the teenager who reluctantly goes along with her mother's passion for pageants comes across very realistically. On the other hand, Marcia Gay Harden's performance as a hardworking, ambitious mother who sees winning pageants as an opportunity for her daughter to make something of her life is also excellent. She believes that she is doing the best she can for her daughter. When Bliss finds her true passion, roller derby, there is a conflict of interest.

An interesting movie, with excellent performances overall, highly recommended


Julie & Julia 3½ stars

The stars are Meryl Streep as Julia Child and Amy Adams as Julie Powell. The movies centers around Julia Child's passion for French cooking and how this led to her becoming the icon that she still is. It is intertwined with Julie Powell trying out Julia Child's recipes and then blogging about her trials and tribulations.

I thought both actors were very good in their roles. It was interesting to see the relationships of these 2 women with their husbands as well. I enjoyed the movie and highly recommend it.


Avatar 3½ stars

In Hinduism, Avatar is the term used for an incarnation of God. It is said that God comes to earth for the protection of society at different times & in different forms. I presume it was based on this idea that the director, James Cameron called his movie Avatar. In the year 2154 in another galaxy, humans can be genetically engineered (create an Avatar) to take the form of the local Na'vi who live in Pandora, rich in a mineral that the humans want to access.

In the movie a group of scientists explore the land of Pandora and the best way they believe they can get access to information is the creation of Avatars who can mingle and learn from the natives. On the one hand the chief scientist, Sigourney Weaver, respects these people and wants to learn how they operate in that world. But the mining team is impatient and wants to get the resources of this rich land & do whatever it takes to subjugate and destroy the people whom they see as primitive.

Jake Sully is recruited as a bodyguard on a mission to explore Pandora. The team are attacked by animals and he is unable to get back to back with his colleagues. He spends the night on Pandora which is regarded as most dangerous. He is confronted with dangerous animals, but is rescued by Neytiri (Zoe Saldana), a female Na'vi.

I really enjoyed this meeting, the annoyance & animosity of Neytiri, the slow friendship and then later love between them. Of course conflicts arise and that is for you to find out when you watch the movie.

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The theme is not unlike what has been recorded in history when big powers take over countries that belonged to others. This is true of the experience of Native Americans in the United States and the natives of South Africa amongst many other countries.

I was very impressed that one man's imagination could give life to this interesting story with wonderful visual effects. We saw this in 3D and enjoyed it a lot. The other stars include: Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver, Michelle Rodriguez and Stephen Lang. A highly recommended movie

La Vie en Rose 3½ stars

This movie won several accolades, including the 2007, best actress Academy Award for Marion Cottilard for her performance as the legendary singer Edith Piaf. The movie is in French with English sub titles. The acting was excellent as Marion depicted the mostly troubled but extremely talented Edith Piaf.

> It also depicts the poverty and hard life of many during that period in the early 1900's. Edith's life was a roller coaster with very little stability or affection from her parents

Her talent superseded her humble beginnings and she was soon sought after. But her success was plagued with tragedy and sorrow and addictions. The movie depicts Edith Piaf's talent really well and it is very well worth watching such a good performance.

Precious3½ stars

This movie depicts sexual, verbal and physical abuse very, very well. It illustrates the power that the abusers wield on victims. The belittlement, sorrow and pain is that the victim experiences is extremely well depicted by newcomer, Gabourey Sidibe in the title role of Precious.

In the movie, one of the ways that Precious endures this horror is her imagination of being a successful performer. The movie tells a story of the sexual abuse of a young child, beginning at age 3 who has 2 children by the age of 17 by her rapist father. However there are folks who support Precious and encourage her to learn to read and write. Circumstances lead her to independence. The story is inspiring and uplifting in spite of the horror of abuse inflicted on a child.

Equally impressive is the performance of Mo’Nique, previously a comedy actress, as the mean, hateful, jealous, angry and abusive mother. Other actors include Paula Patton, Mariah Carey, Lenny Kravitz, Sherri Shepherd

The movie is based on the novel Push by Sapphire. It is directed by Lee Daniels. The movie is very well worth seeing. The performances of Gabourey and Sapphire are excellent.

Up In the Air 3 stars

The movie stars George Clooney, Vera Farmiga, Anna Kendrick, &Jason Bateman among other actors. The story is very relevant to the present day climate as it deals with the firing of workers. George Clooney's character, Ryan Bingham, is employed by companies who prefer an outsider to do the firing.

As a single man, he travels to many cities and seems to love the free life and is able to deliver the message of firing and not get emotionally involved in the employees reactions to the downsizing. These scenes were very realistic.

The movie also focuses on conflicts with his boss who is very impressed with his latest employee who has innovative ways to enact firings. Relationships with women have never been serious and his family ties have also been strained.

The movie ties in both plots of firing workers and the complications of personal relationships, loneliness and despair very well. The actors were very good and convincing in their roles.

We left the movie with a sense of despair. If you are feeling low, don't see this movie. However, it is a good movie, well enacted and it is a treat to see George Clooney. So go when you feel on top of the world.

The Wrestler 3½ stars

I watched this movie on DVD recently and thought that the lead actor, Mickey Roark, as the wrestler, Ram Robinson was superb in that role. The movie does a good job of depicting the life of this wrestler, no longer in his prime. His job is mundane, he lives in a shoddy area, divorced, with a daughter he has not seen in years. He wrestles in the weekend with various professional groups. He struggles with relationships, drugs, and his lifestyle leads him to a heart attack. Cassidy (Marisa Tomei) as a stripper in the bar that Ram Robinson frequents, is impressive in that role as well.

It shows the struggles to make changes and the disappointments along the way until his final moment of glory. I found the movie disturbing but only because such situations do exist and the movie reminds us of this. I think Mickey Roark really deserved the Golden Globe Award for Best Suporting Actor. It is a movie that should be seen.

Invictus5 stars-excellent

The movie Invictus, directed by Clint Eastwood, starring Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela, and Matt Damon as Francois Pienaar is OUTSTANDING. I encourage everyone to see it.

The story is inspiring and the acting is excellent. Based in 1995, soon after Nelson Mandela was elected President of South Africa, it tells a story of compassion, forgiveness and the insight of a man who used sports as a medium to help unite the country. He had the insight to know that despite great pressure to put an end to the Springboks, the South African Rugby team, viewed as a painful part of the apartheid regime by many blacks, such action would be one of revenge. Removing a piece of South African history, of great cultural value for many in the country would only antagonize and alienate the country.

The movie subtly incorporates the division of class, racism, bitterness and anger. Mandela's belief in overcoming the odds, working to heal rather than divide inspired the rugby captain who soon realized that winning the World Cup was much more than just winning a game. Francois Piennar was moved that this man, imprisoned for 27 years, could forgive his captors and be uplifted by the words of a poem, Invictus. See the movie to appreciate how the rugby team were inspired to perform the way they did.

Here is a clip with the real Francois Pienaar


This Is It 3½ stars

I really enjoyed this movie based on the rehearsals for Micheal Jackson's tour to London. I was very impressed with the talent and attention to detail that Micheal Jackson expected in his performance. The rehearsals illustrated clearly the hard work that performers do to give off a real professional show.

There were some knew songs & some old favorites. What also impressed me was Micheal's kind, soft nature. He was always polite & respectful when talking to the crew. There was a wonderful spirit of camaraderie & Michael encouraged them saying they were all family.

His comments and conversations with the director and other artists was again always most respectful. His performance was outstanding, even though this was just rehearsals. His songs, with themes of sadness, joy & awareness stimulated the audience to feel those emotions as well.

Micheal was also very much aware of the importance of taking care of the environment & created songs to make people aware of this. I would encourage others to see this movie. I could not help feeling regret that he died so young with so much of talent sadly wasted.

An Education 2 stars

The lead actress is Jenny (Carey Mulligan) an attractive bright girl who achieves good grades. She and her family expect her to go to Oxford. She meets a much older man David (Peter Sarsgaard) who changes her life.

The movie critics gave this a 4 star rating. Therefore I looked forward to a real interesting movie. The actors include Alfred Molina as Jenny's father & Emma Thompson as her school principal. I was very disappointed with the movie.

The scenes were beautiful but the story dragged and Ms. Thompson had a very small role. The story line was depressing and I left the theater in a solemn state of mind. I would not recommend paying full price at the theater for this movie.

The Proposal3 stars

I watched this movie at home & was pleasantly surprised that I really liked it. The storyline, immigration related marriage for convenience, was interesting, with humor & good scenery. The cast had many well know actors including Betty White, with Sandra Bullock as the star.

I like the fact that the movie has themes of the importance of family & honesty. If you are in the mood for a pleasant movie, just to relax, I would recommend The Proposal.

The Devil Wears Prada2½ stars

I just recently saw this movie. It stars Meryl Streep as a high powered, ambitious, cold, demanding & critical boss in the fashion world. Her assistant, Anne Hathaway is awed by all the power her boss wields. Everyone fears her & are at her beck & call. The standard of acting is high and both actors portrayed their roles convincingly

It addresses values & what are the issues that really matter in life. What is the meaning of success and what does one have to do to achieve that success. Can one be at ease to do what it takes? Interesting movie and worth watching

Capitalism: A Love Story 5 stars-excellent

I am a great fan of Michael Moore as you can see from my previous review of his movie, Sicko.Once again he brings to our attention the social ills affecting Americans. He addresses the economy, the loaning of money to corporate giants, the loss of jobs, the health care debate and the effects of all of this on the people.

In addressing these subjects, Mr. Moore demonstrates the degree to which officials in high places use their influence to manipulate the system to fatten their coffers. It upset me to see how greed by some individuals affected the lives & future of teenagers. He reminds us of the reality of the present situation and the way the system, Capitalism now works, benefits a small segment of society. Yet we are manipulated by this blantant inequality & rise to power as most of us strive to acheive this same status for ourselves.

It was also interesting to see the influence of corporate giants in congress and just how decicions are again influenced to benefit a certain segment. It is a thought provoking movie that should be seen by everyone in order to decide what can be done to change the present system to be fair to all citizens.

The Informant 3½ stars

The star of the movie is Matt Damon who depicts the real life story of Mark Whitacre, employed at Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) in the early 1990's. Influenced by his wife, he was the whistle blower of the company’s price-fixing tactics. However Mark Whitacre had his own agenda for blowing the whistle and the tactics he used to inform the FBI is questionable. This leads to a different end than he had envisaged.

While I was watching the movie I did not realize that it was really based on a true story and as such I found the movie to be dragging. My husband was sure it was true and of course it was. This made me change my perspective as I realized that the long drawn out scenes were based on the real character's idiosyncrasies and bi-polar behavior. The acting is excellent. I recommend this movie.

The Hurt Locker 4 stars

An excellent movie that tells the horrors of the Iraq War through the the Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal(EOD) unit who are assigned to diffuse a series of bombs, many improvised. Working in this team highlights relationships, the need for cooperation, & the rigors and stress of this demanding and always life threatening job. The camaraderie, the frustrations, resilience, tensions, differences, the feelings invoked by the death and maiming of team members, the anger and fear of the team are excellently portrayed. The daily fears and tension of not knowing who are Iraqi insurgents and innocent civilians are again well depicted. The effects on the soldiers physical and emotional well being and the impact of all of this on personal relationships is also vividly portrayed.

The movie is based on a book written by Mark Boal,a freelance writer who accompanied a real life (EOD) unit on their missions. It is directed by Kathryn Bigelow. The movie was filmed largely in Jordan and and a part in Canada. Some of the stars are Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie, Brian Geraghty, Guy Pearce, Ralph Fiennes, and Evangeline Lilly. Jeremy Renner who plays the leader of the bomb disposal squad, Staff Sergeant William James depicts a character almost obsessed to do the job in the face of extreme danger, taking risks, even endangering his unit, and finding some satisfaction in this line of work. The actor trained with a real life EOD unit. The acting is superb and the movie which has already won awards at the Venice Film Festival for Best Movie is really worth seeing even thought it is disturbing

Pink Panther 2 2½ stars

This movie was so funny. If you just want something light and a few laughs then this is the movie for you. Some big name stars like Alfred Molina, Jeremy Irons, Andy Garcia and Lily Tomlin were also a part of this movie. They mainly played bumbling characters with big ego's. Of course the main character, Inspector Jacques Clouseau is very endearing in his bumbling, determined and bungling style of investigating crimes. In this movie he is chosen to head the Dream Team find a thief who is stealing famous artifacts, including the diamond, The Pink Panther. I enjoyed watching Aishwairya Rai Bachan who stars as Sonia. Highly recommended if you just want some light entertainment.

The Taking of Pelham 1232½ stars

The movie is a remake of the 1974 version. The 2009 movie stars Denzil Washington and John Travolta as the lead actors. Both are good in their roles as the good guy and the bad guy respectively. Lots of action and violence but it does grip your attention. The movie centers around a hostage situation on board a train. If you like a lot of action you will enjoy this movie.

Ghajini 3 stars

We watched this movie on DVD. It is a Tamil movie with English subtitles. The characters are endearing and play their roles convincingly. In this case the course of true love did not go smoothly. It is a case of why do bad things happen to good people. The lead actors are Sanjay Ramaswami (Surya Sivakumar) and Kalpana (Asin Thottumkal).

The violent developments lead to tragedy and Sanjay's life changes drastically from a successful business man to one seeking revenge in a different identity. It was well worth watching as the performances were good. I look forward to watching the Hindi version of the same movie.

I love You Man 2 stars

This movie was funny and entertaining with a focus on subjects like honesty, friendship and relationships. It is a feel good movie but not family friendly because of language. The lead actors are Peter Klaven (Paul Rudd), who is engaged to Zooey Rice (Rashida Jones). Sydney Fife (Jason Segel) is Paul's friend. Recommended.

Bombay to Bangkok 3 stars

This is a Bollywood film starring Shreyas Talpade( Shankar)and Lena Christensen(Jasmine)in the lead roles. We were just scrolling thro' the lists of movies on our cable channel and my husband suggested we watch this. I reluctantly agreed but was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this movie. The actors are very believable and enact their roles very well. While it is a comedy, it addresses the complexities of communicating across language groups, values and cultural issues.

It also reflects on values such as honesty, respect and eventually love. I enjoyed some of the couples squabbles, which delightfully demonstrated different cultural values. Highly recommended if you are just looking for something light and funny.

Transamerica 3½ stars

I recently watched this movie on DVD. I was so impressed with the performance of Felicity Huffman who won the Golden Globe best actress (drama) award for her powerful performance of as a transexual woman. She was able to convey what a difficult situation that has to be not only for the individual but all those involved in the life of a transexual.

Kevin Zegers plays her 17 year son whom she is alleged to have fathered when she was "a man." The movie centers around the theme of identity struggle and the pain, confusion, isolation, shame, guilt and humor as well. I liked the performances of all the actors but Felicity and Kevin were outstanding. Really worth watching.

De-Lovely 2 stars

The stars of the movie which I watched on DVD recently are Kevin Kline and Ashely Judd. I like both these actors but I found this movie dragging on and just not very enjoyable. I watched on just because I wanted to learn about Cole Porter. I think the portrayal of the artist could have been done in a way that kept the viewer more interested.

The movie did portray the love between this couple in spite of Cole Porters dalliance with other men. His brilliance as an artist and his quirks did come through. The music was good but to me the movie lacked real sparkle.

Why Did I Get Married 2½ stars

An entertaining movie that addresses the complexities of relationships. The stars include Tyler Perry and Janet Jackson. What really happens in the lives of 8 couples are exposed when one of the couples is disrespectful to his wife and attends the annual reunion with a female companion.

True feelings come to the fore and the couples face issues of fidelity, honesty and loyalty. Well enacted and worth seeing

The Reader3½ stars

Kate Winslet won an Oscar for best actress for her performance in this movie. She plays Hanna Schmitz, a German woman in her thirties whose teenage lover is unaware of the dark secret in her past. Her co-stars are Ralph Fiennes and David Kross who both play Micheal Berg at different life stages. Both men gave excellent, realistic performances that had audiences feeling empathy and sadness.

The movie has sexual scenes that depict the relationship between Hanna and and the young Micheal and his growing deep love for her. Her sudden departure leaves him devastated and only years later he learns the reason for this and why he always read to her. Apart from hiding her past from Michael, she is ashamed to reveal another truth that may even help in her trial for Nazin war crimes.

His experience with Hanna impacted the young Micheal into adulthood and all of his relationships. It is sad and thought provoking but very well worth seeing. Highly recommended.

Last Chance Harvey 3 stars

The stars include Emma Thompson as Kate Walker and Dustin Hoffman as Harvey Shine. The acting was excellent. It is a love story with a very nice ending. But within that story of love and humor, the pain and devastating effects of broken marriages, prejudice, class, values, relationships and loss are very well encapasulated. I enjoyed the movie a lot and would highly recommend it as one can relate to the issues that the movie focusses on.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button 4 stars

The lead actors are Brad Pitt as Benjamin Button and Cate Blanchette as Daisy. The movie which has been nominated for The Oscar in several categories is based on the 1921 short story of the same name written by F. Scott Fitzgeral. The acting is excellent and the special effects are amazing. It is a love story but with a very different plot as the couple are at the midpoint of their lives about the same age with great love and for each other.

The relationship is a tangled one because of the circumstances surrounding Benjamin. As a newborn baby he is wrinkled and ugly and has ailments akin to an 86 year old man. Daisy is a normal child and their paths cross when she is about 7 years and he (in appearance) is his late 70's., when she visits her aunt in a nursing home where Benjamin also lives. As she grows older, Benjamin grows younger.

Not wanting to give away the whole story I just want to say that the movie depicts the fragility of life and relationships, the beauty of love and joy and the sadness of death and separation. It is very well depicted and I would highly recommend this movie.

The Incredible Hulk 3 stars

The movie stars one of my favorite actors, Ed Norton. I do not think it is one of his best movies, but nevertheless I enjoyed the movie as his performance as the tortured Dr. Bruce Banner was very good. It is based on the comic book character Hulk. Norton plays Dr. Bruce Banner/the Hulk, a scientist who is unwittingly used by the evil Dr. Ross to test the possiblity of creating super soldiers.

Norton does a good job of expressing his pain and sorrow at being responsible for the actions of his other character Hulk and works hard at finding an antidote for his condition. Liv Tyler is his love interest. Both their lives are fraught with dangers and challenges as he fights to rid himself as the Hulk charatcter. It is worth watching.

Baghban 3 stars

Baghban means caretaker. The stars are Amitabh Bachan and Hema Malini a couple in real life and in their role in this movie. They play an older married couple still very much in love but wanting to spend time with the 4 sons that they have raised with love and affection. They also have an adopted son who is very devoted to them.

They presume that their sons too want to care for their parents and it is upto them to inform their children that they are ready to live with them. They believe that the children will probably be fighting over each other to decide which child will host the parents first. The children are stunned by this news and are most reluctant to take them. They eventually make an arrangement that is very painful to the parents but they agree to accept this.

The movies focusses on family values, love, respect, fairness, kindness and embracing family. It is also a reminder to folks not to be dependent on anyone. It is also a reminder for children to acknowledge and be aware of the care that parents give their children. A well enacted movie and thought provoking. Recommended

Bunty aur Babli 3 stars

A very entertaining, funny and yet charming movie that is not meant to be serious. Abhishek Bachan and Rani Mukerjee are a couple from small towns, seeking something more than what what they can get if they live in their villages.

As strangers, they chance to meet each other. Circumstances lead them to a life as scam artists. Their performanc is enjoyable, in spite of knowing they are breaking the law. The redeeming features are that they do help the poor and Babli (Rani Mukerjee), still misses her family.

If you want a movie for pure entertainment, then I would recommend this. Of course the dance scene with Aishwaria Rai (as a guest artist), and both the Bachans is very delightful.

Slumdog Millionaire5 stars-excellent

I loved this movie. It held me spellbound from the first moment. The story is very different from any other I have seen. Within a TV show, the story of the lead character, Dev Patel as Jamal Malik unfolds. It is a story of survival admist the most challenging, filthy, devastating living conditions, bringing in its wake, thugs, danger, brutality, cruelty and yet hope and goodness.

The actors all do their part very convincingly, expressing emotions as it most likely will be experienced. A few of the stars are Frieda Pinto as Latika and Anil Kapoor as Prem Kumar. The young actors who played, the younger Latika, the younger Jamal and his brother Salim were outstanding. You can also view details at the link, Slumdog Millionaire

Giant 3 stars

I enjoyed watching the beautiful Elizabeth Tayor in her youth. Ironically she played the role of an older woman for most of the movie. I can see why this movie received so many accolades. It addresses the theme of racial prejudice, womens role in society, expectations we hold for our children and the authority a husband had over his wife.

It is interesting to note that not all the prejudice of that era is over. But there are vast changes in the acceptance of womens' role in society. James Dean was excellent in his role as well. It is sad that his life ended so early. A movie worth seeing.

Quantum of Solace 3 stars

Lots of action, beautiful women and an interesting story line. James Bond (Daniel Craig) is seeking the fiend, Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric), a member of the Quantum organisation posing as an environmentalist. He has his own selfish agenda prompted by greed. As my husband mentioned, the movie is keeping up with current trends and this time the bad guy is after the control of water. You will appreciate the relevance of water in the world today by checking out, FLOW

To see how he intends to do this, watch the movie. Bond also befriends Camille Montes (Olga Kurylenko), who has her own agenda. If you like lots of car chases, a bit of fantasy and action you will like the movie which I enjoyed as well.

Journey to the Center of the Earth 2 stars

I like Brendan Fraser and I had heard good things about this movie, so we decided to watch it on TV. It is not my favorite movie. Perhaps after seeing so many excellent thought provoking movies, the standard of this one was just very far from the others. There were some funny moments but overall I would not recommend it. It you are seeing it with kids then you will be more likely to enjoy it.

Changeling 4 stars

This movie touched me very deeply. The story was disturbing and sad but also uplifting. The movie is directed by Clint Eastwood and tells the true story of one woman's experience with loss and pain and her treatment by corrupt officials in the city.

Angelina Jolie as Christine Collins gives an outstanding performance that is very realistic. She did not look like she was acting. She seemed to be really experiencing the events. Other stars included John Malcovich as the preacher. Even the bad guys were excellent as their performances too were very realistic.

A highly recommended movie

Iraq for Sale 4 stars

The movie, made by Robert Greenwald and Brave New Films is a compelling, disturbing movie/documentary that exposes the extravagant waste of the Bush Administration's war management amongst other failed policies. Private companies have been hired to provide transportation, protection and many adminstrative tasks. These companies are being paid millions of dollars to provide these services and there is strong evidence that they are there just for the money.

There is wasteful spending, no regard for the safety of their employees and disregard for the Iraqi civilians. In addition it appears that their sub standard work endangers the lives of American soldiers and private citizens. These companies are composed of ex-military and ex-government workers who unethically help their companies get and keep enormous contracts which are ultimately paid for by the American taxpayers.

There are heart rending stories from families whose relatives joined these private companies in the belief that they were joining solid, wholesome companies that would take care of them. They believed that they would have the opportunity to contribute to their country as well as provide better for their families by the promise of excellent remimbursement.

What these families learned when their beloved family members died was that companies like Blackwater, K.B.R.-Halliburton, CACI and Titan were negligent and are accountable for the deaths of these men. The men were not warned about the dangers, had insufficient protection and were basically exposed as targets.

There are interviews with victims of torture who describe their inhumane treatment at the hands of Americans. Many Iraqi civilians were just rounded up and arrested for no reason, who had no terrorist associatons. These private companies had a role in torture as well.

The movie producers made several attempts to contact the CEO's of these companies, to no avail. It is shocking that a first world country engages in acts based on greed, selfishness and with no consideration of the people involved. As some soldiers in the movie mentioned, there is no regard for love of country or patriotism by these companies. For further details please click on the link below and then watch the video that appears.

Brave New Films

This is a must watch movie

Fast Food Nation 3 stars

I recently saw the movie, Fast Food Nation which is loosely based on the book by, Eric Schlosser. It was a 2001 non-fiction bestseller, Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal. Among the many stars are Greg Kinnear as Don Anderson, Wilmer Valderrama as Raul, Bruce Willis as Harry Rydell, Kris Kristofferson as Rudy Martin and Patricia Arquette as Cindy among other actors.

Greg Kinnears character learns of possible contamination of the meat patties being sold at the fst food chain, Mickey's. He visits the plant to check on the conditions of the slaughter house. He is shown excellent clean conditions but past employees tell another story.

He learns about the fast production line that makes it impossible to cleanse the meat completely from the feces. He also learns of the dangers of the working conditions of its employees. His concern about selling a product that is tainted with the e.coli bacteria is met with disdain by a superior, Harry Rydell who believes that consumers just need to cook the patties on a high temperature. Everything is contaminated he suggests.

In addition to drawing attention to the gross manner in which meat is extracted from the carcass of animals, the movie also addresses the plight of the illegal immigrants who staff these meat plants and their inhumane treatment at the hands of their employers.

A highly recommended movie

Body of Lies 3 stars

This movie has action, intrigue, cultural differences, violence, and scenes of torture that are credible and well enacted. Two excellent actors with lead roles are Leornado D'Caprio (one of my favorites) and Russell Crowe. This is a CIA operative with the lead characters working under cover. The movie is based on an attempt to get to the kingpin of the terrorists. A unique plot is devised which includes, deception, using an innocent man as a decoy to lure the real bad guy. When things go awry there is danger, death and more uncertainty.

The scenario is not too different in the real world of politics where deceit, spin, blurring of the truth, torture, greed and personal rewards are evident from 1st world to 3rd world countries. Those living in the regions where terrorism is open and rife must live very uncertain and chaotic lives. A movie worth watching especially to see the talent of the actors.

Stop-Loss 3½ stars

A powerful movie that brings home the reality and horrors of war. One sees the camaraderie of the young soldiers, & the excitement and eagerness to do something for their country. The movie portrays the disillusionment and fear when friends and loved one's are killed and maimed in attacks and bombings. The lead character, staff Sergeant Brandon King (Ryan Phillippe) who despite the difficulties he endures is true to his leaders and his duty as a soldier. When it is time to end his tour he is very happy to return home.

These soldiers who were buddies, have difficulties adjusting to life and the effects of post traumatic stress disorder are well portrayed. When staff Sergeant Brandon King is called back to serve in terms of Stop-Loss he refuses to go and decides to go AWOL.

The movie depicts the hopelessness and frustration of soldiers facing this policy. It also depicts the unfairness and disinterest of those in command to waiver in their enforcement of the Stop-Loss policy no matter the consequences. A thought provoking movie that should be seen

W. 3½ stars

The movie, directed by Oliver Stone describes incidents in the life of George Walker Bush focusing on his early years as a college student, leading to his present role as President. The stars are Josh Brolin as President George W. Bush, Elizabeth Banks as his wife, Laura; Thandie Newton as Condoleeza Rice; Richard Dreyfuss as the power-wielding Dick Cheney and Jeffrey Wright as Colin Powell among other actors.

The movie flits between the recent events and his life before coming to the White House. They include the Bush Administration's rationale for the Iraq war and their deliberations in this regard. Most of his life experiences before being president is weaved into family relationships especially between his father and himself.

It depicts a man displaying limited talent that concerns his father. How did he rise to any government office let alone President of the United States? One wonders what it takes to be president and how much family name & the pull of the purse strings help to get one to good schools and high positions.

Josh Brolin gives an excellent performance as W. and there is a degree of empathy that you feel for W. Towards the end of the movie, in particular, Josh Brolin captures the demeanor and style of the President very well.

A surpise for me was to see Thandie Newton as Condoleeza Rice. I admire this actress for her natural serenity and beauty. I think she bears no resemblance to Ms. Rice, yet she played her so beautifully. She dressed in the style of Ms. Rice including the hairstyle. Her voice was an excellent imitation and she even resembled Ms. Rice. Lots of credit is due to the make-up artists. They had all the details to perfection. This movie is enacted very well and leaves one with a lot of questions, shock and awe. Highly recommended.

Flash of Genius 3½ stars

The movie is based on the true story of the inventor of the intermittent windscreen wiper. Greg Kinnear takes the title role, portraying inventor Robert (Bob) Kerns and Lauren Graham portrays his wife, Phyllis.

A major car manufacturer has produced an intermittent wiper shortly after Robert Kearns has had preliminary negotiations with them in putting this product, his invention, on the market. At this discussion the company acknowledges his acheivement and that he has won the race to invent this product.

Unexpectedly, he is told that the company is no longer interested in the product. Shortly after this Mr. Kerns sees cars on the road with intermittent wiper blades. He is enraged and realizes that he has been duped.

The movie deals with how this affects Dr. Kearns, his family, his job and how he deals with the situation. I was very moved by this story as it seems that Robert Kearns was a very upright human being with high moral standards and a strong sense of justice. He also wanted to be a role model for his children. A must see movie, highly recommended

Sherrybaby 3½ stars

The lead actress is Maggie Gyllenhaal as Sherry, a young woman just out of prison. She is struggling with emotional issues as well as drug addiction. She loves her daughter who went to live with brother and his wife while she was in prison. Sherry wants to reunite with her child.

The movie portrays her struggles to overcome her addiction, to find a job, to comply with her probation, to live in a seedy apartment complex and cope with the fear of losing her daughter. The acting was excellent. She portrayed the struggles of Sherry in an absolute realistic manner. Family dynamics such as loyalty, jealousy, fear, envy and love were also well blended into the story. A must see movie although not for the kids. The language and sexually explicit scenes may not be suitable for a young audience. Highly recommended

Parineeta 2 stars

Parineeta means The Married Woman. It is a Hindi movie with English subtitles. I saw it on DVD as the movie was released in 2005. The stars are Sanjay Dutt as Girish, Saif Ali Khan as SHekar and Vidya Balan as Lolita. It is a love story with many twists and turns and very likeable characters.

The story deals with friendships, trust, deception, greed, anger, and financial woes. The music is very pleasant. On the whole this was a feel good movie with the actors performing their roles very well. I watched it right after watching The Ballad of Narayama, so that may color my view of this movie as well. I think I needed an antidote from the mostly serious and despondent situation of Narayama. So if you are looking for some escapism Parineetha is the movie for you.

The Ballad of Narayama 3 stars

This is a Japanese movie with English subtitles. The actors include Ken Ogata, Sumiko Sakamoto Tkejo Aki and Seiji Kurasaki amongst other actors. The movie was made in 1983 and is the winner of several awards including those for Best Actor, Best Sound, Best Film and Excellence in Cinematography.

It is a remake of the 1958 film of the same name. Both films are based on the book Men of Tohoku by Shichiro Fukuzawa. It depicts the life of folks in a rural village who struggle to survive. There are disturbing scenes of brutal punishment, talk of killing or selling a newborn as a matter of fact. They have to consider rationing daily meals as the family grows bigger. When a family has been found to be hoarding food, the villagers have no mercy on them.

The custom in the village is that anyone at the age of 70 has to leave the village and go to the mountain top to starve to death. The eldest son has to carry the parent on his back and leave the parent at the mountain. This is a very moving scene and very well enacted.

I thought the actors did an excellent job. It was very realistic and you could feel the burden and problems of the villagers. There are some light-hearted scenes but in the background of this struggle. It contains sexually explicit scenes, and language that will not be suitable for young audiences. If you are looking for a relaxing evening this movie is not for you. However if you are not feeling low and can take some serious and thought provoking drama you will appreciate this movie. Worth seeing for fine acting and wonderful photography.

Ghandi 5 stars-excellent

I saw this movie in 1982 when it was first released and later saw the DVD version. The movie won 8 academy awards that year, including Best Picture, Best Director for Richard Attenborough, and Ben Kingsley for Best male actor. It was a really good depiction of the life of Ghandi, beginning as a young lawyer and the life changing events of his trip to South Africa.

He was thrown off a train in South Africa, for refusing to move from the “ white compartment” to a compartment designated for people of color. Ghandi worked at improving the lot of Indian South Africans who were denied equal rights, treated with disrespect and great prejudice. His success in getting the staid South African government to make some changes were regarded as a victory.

Returning to India after 20 years he was asked to help in leading India to Independence from the British Empire. He was able to free India without the use of violence. He encouraged Civil Disobedience or Satyagraha meaning truth and firmness. These non-violent protests included marches, boycotting public transportation and refusing to purchase clothing from England. This caused severe economic problems for the English cotton mills.

He put into practice methods to encourage local trade and independence. This included spinning cotton and using local labor to make clothing. This scene is well depicted in the movie when Ghandi explains to the mill workers why he was taking such action, and gaining their understanding and an ovation for his actions.

Ghandi was imprisoned several times, but his persistence, faith, firm resolve and determination ended the British rule. However there was dissension at home resulting in the separation of India and the formation of Pakistan. Check this link for a fuller description on the life of Ghandi.

This is a must see movie for everyone. Ghandi was an amazing man who is regarded as saint by many.

Elegy 2 stars

One of the meanings of Elegy is, a poem of lament usually associated with death. The stars are Ben Kingsley as David Kepesh, a professor and Penélope Cruz as Consuela Castillo, his student. David is an older man, divorced and cynical about marriage. He is content with the relationships the he maintains and that he can control. Although he has many casual flings, he has one steady relationship for the last 20 years. He does not wish for commitment and has never felt the need for this.

His attraction to the beautiful Consuela is different and he is afraid of commitment as Consuela is about 30 years younger than him. She is not only beautiful but intelligent and seems to really love him. Not to give away the story line, I will refrain from further details. Events occur that affects both David and Consuela and they face an uncertain future.

It was delightful to see the beautiful Ms. Cruz. Both she and Ben Kingsley were very good in their roles. The movie is certainly not for children as it has unacceptable language, nudity and sexually explicit scenes. Maybe I am too cynical, but I found the story to be soppy and I did not feel moved in any way by the changing events.

FLOW 3½ stars

I will not do much reviewing of this movie. Instead I will give you the link where it is reviewed so very well that there is no need for anymore from me. I do want to add just a few things. The plight of many really impoverished South Africans living in rural areas are well depicted in this movie. It is really sad to see their struggle for simply clean water.

It is disturbing that so many lives are lost because of water contamination and privatization and corporate greed is once again hurting the poor people, not just in South Africa but in many countries. The issue of whether bottled water is any superior to tap water is described as very much a money making venture as there is minimal or no regulation about the quality of water that is bottled. In many cases it is tap water that is bottled.

Here is the link for more information on the movie, FLOW.

Bee Season 1 star

The actors include Richard Gere as (Saul), Juliette Binoche as (Miriam), the mother and Flora Cross as (Eliza Naumann). They live in a nice neighborhood of Oakland, California. The movie depicts a wholesome looking family with father and son practicing music together and the mother preparing dinner and doing motherly chores, in a very nice home.

Daughter, Eliza has a special talent in spelling and enters the Spelling Bee competition and excels. Her father, is excited about her success and encourages her and tutors her as well. He believes that studying certain texts will elevate her to a spiritual level. He is a scholar and professor.

Something is amiss, and this becomes more apparent when the father spends so much of time on one child, and neglects his son. But this is not all, something is going on with Miriam and one is left wondering what it is. There is hardly any joy expressed by this family and an air of mystery prevails.

Despite the good ratings, I found that the movie needed editing amongst other things. The story dragged without coming to some point. The end of the movie regarding the State Spelling Bee competition had an interesting end. But there were too many loose ends which were left hanging. At the end of the movie I still needed some entertainment. I would not recommend this movie

Righteous Kill 3 stars

The stars are Robert De Niro as(Turk) and Al Pacino as (Rooster), Carla Gugino as (Karen kleisner), John Leguizamo, Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson, Brian Dennehy and other actors. Turk and Rooster are detectives and partners investigating a possible serial killer. The movie has violence and swear words and may not be suitable as a family movie.

The acting was excellent, one gets quite carried away and feels the concern, anger and disappointments that are expressed. As the movie proceeds it seems very clear who the killer is and why that person was driven to kill. It therefore came as quite a suprise to find a twist in the tale.

If you like movies with a lot of action then you will enjoy this movie. The story is described well, the acting is very good and it keeps you interested.

Virasat 2 stars

Virasat means Dynasty. Shakti (Anil Kapoor) returns from England after completing his studies. His Indian girlfriend from England accompanies him home. Father and son have different visions of his future and the father is disappointed with his choice to leave the village and abandon his responsibilities and the dynasty.

However circumstances result in a a drastic change of plans for Shakti and his attitude to the village. The movie depicts clash of cultures, simple village life, beautiful scenery and the development of respect and love for his wife and her devotion and love for him.

I liked this and a few other parts of the movie a lot. The music is beautiful and the lead actors are excellent in their roles. However I think the movie ended on a sudden note. I wondered if it was meant for a sequel, but it is over 10 years since this movie was released so I guess there is no sequel. Although the movie won several awards, I am rating it as average. If you like beautiful music and scenery, then watch the movie, but the ending spoiled it for me. It just did not make sense. If anyone who has seen it has another view please let me know.

Burn after Reading 3 stars

A black comedy by the Coen Brothers, with a star studded cast including, Frances McDormand, Brad Pitt, George Clooney, John Malcovich and Tilda Swinton amongst other actors. There is an air of mystery created when a DVD is found in the ladies locker room of a gym. A trainer, Brad Pitt(Chad Feldheimer) presumes it is highly classified material and shares this information with his colleague Frances McDormand (Linda Lidsky).

John Malcovich gives a great performance as the frustrated, fired CIA employee who is highly irritated when he gets a call from Chad Feldheimer. This DVD leads to a chain of events and the movie takes on a black turn when John Malcovich (Osbourne Cox) believes that the bumbling, inept Chad is threatening him instead of just seeking a reward.

I enjoyed watching Brad Pitt as the gum chewing gym trainer. His performance is excellent. So is Frances McDormand as the woman who is determined to find a means to pay for her make over by a plastic surgeon. There are various extra - marital affairs and cover ups, annoyances, irritations and surprises along the way. I enjoyed the movie as the plot was so hilarious. Totally insignificant and harmless information gets so out of hand that it creates a whole web of mystery and fatalities. It is worth watching, but perhaps not with young kids as some of the language may not be suitable.

Aaja Nachle 3 stars

The title means, Come Let Us Dance. Madhuri Dixit as (Dia), a divorced mother returns to her hometown in India after having lived abroad for 11 years. There is a scandal around why she left and it is with some apprehension of ostracism that she returns to visit her dying guru.

He dies before she arrives but he has requested her to restore Ajanta Theatre , the center for arts which used to be a vibrant place, back to its former glory. She is determined to fulfil her mentor's wishes. This venture is not without its challenges as others do not wish the center to be restored. She faces many setbacks, corrupt businessmen, challenging and inexperienced local talent, disappointment, frustrations and finally victory. She restores the Ajanta Theatre, a center for the Arts and plans to reconcile with her parents.

The characters are very likable and the movie is colorful with many dance sequences and beautiful songs woven around the attempt to restore the arts center. It is a feel good movie which I highly recommend. I saw it in Hindi with English sub-tiles although a lot of English is spoken as well.

Black 3½ stars

This Director of this movie was inspired by the Helen Keller story and decided to do something quite different from the usual themes of Indian movies. The principal actors are Amitabh Bachan (Debraj Sahai ) who takes role of tutor based on Annie Sullivan, the tutor of Helen Keller. Rani Mukerji plays (Michelle McNally) the adult Helen Keller role. Ayesha Kapoor plays the younger Helen Keller role.

In this movie, Michelle loses her eyesight and hearing a few months into infancy. The family do not know how to care for their child with special needs. They tend to be over protective and allow her to have her way. As a result Michele is undisciplined. The family is often stressed out and Michelle's actions sometimes endanger her younger sibling.

The family have considered placing her in an asylum but decide to use the services of a teacher of deaf and blind children, Debraj Sahai. However they disapprove of the methods he uses to discipline their daughter and want him fired. He persists and demands total control and no family interference so that he can work to teach Michelle the relationship between words and objects

With time and patience and lots of frustration he succeeds in reaching this goal. Both actors are excellent in their roles as the younger and older Michelle. This movie also addresses the physical and emotional limitations and frustrations of Michelle as an adult studying for her degree.

The issues of sibling rivalry, the budding emotional needs of Michelle and later her attempts to be a support and teacher to Debraj Sahai when he suffers from dementia is given attention. The movie is highly recommended as the acting is of a very high standard

The Miracle Worker 4 stars

This movie is described as a vintage classic. The lead actors, Anne Bancroft (Annie Sullivan) and Patti Duke (Helen Keller), received the Oscar for best actress and best supporting actress respectively in 1962. The acting is superb. I was curious to see this as I had first seen Black and found that the director had been inspired by the Helen Keller story when he made that movie. Black is based on this story with some unique features as well.

The late Anne Bancroft plays the tutor, Annie Sullivan who helped Helen Keller learn to communicate and understand concepts and its relation to things. Being blind and deaf as a result of an illness in infancy, she has never experienced the beauty of her surroundings or heard or seen her family and is unable to communicate. Helen wanders around the home. With no discipline she poses a danger to her baby sister's safety. The family are so sympathetic to her plight that they are unable to discipline her and they are at their wits ends about how to cope with Helen. They have even considered placing her in an asylum.

When Annie Sullivan was hired to teach Helen, the family were shocked by her methods and objected strongly to her style. Annie was able to recognize that Helen was not retarded mentally and was in fact a very bright child. She also learned that Helen had become accustomed to have her own way and was stubborn about accepting any changes. In fact she was a spoiled child. With determination Annie was able to get the parents to cooperate with her for short periods of time, enabling her to teach Helen basics like taking care of herself and how to eat at a table. The movie portrays these challenges very vividly. Patty Duke in her role as Helen Keller does an excellent portrayal as a blind child who is very difficult to control.

With much patience and stoic perserverance Annie Sullivan was able to penetrate Helen's ability to connect words to objects. This was the break through in Helen's abilty to learn and be successful. She graduated from Radcliffe with Honors in 1904. This movie is based on the, The Story of My Life written by Helen Keller. Based on a real story this movie is very inspiring and educational

U Me Aur Hum 2½ stars

A movie with an interesting story that I really starting warming up to about half way through and then liked it a lot. However the first half is too slow and the humor is not the greatest. Editing would have helped the movie which was over 2 hours long.

It is a romance movie and the true meaning of commitment. Without giving away the story, the first half deals with the couple, Peeya (Kajol) and Ajay(Ajay Devgan), their meeting and attraction, falling in love, marriage and their commitment to always be together.

The second half deals with a test to this commitment when one of them becomes a victim to a debilitating disease. This half covers many of the issues concerning Alzheimers Disease, its effects on family life, the dangers it presents, frustrations and the test of relationships. A heartwarming movie that I would recommend

Straight from the Heart 3 stars

Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam is the Indian title of this movie. The stars are Aishwairya Rai, Ajay Devgan and Salman Khan. It is a love story with Aishwairya, (Nandini) in the title role. The costumes are beautiful and the music and lyrics are also very enjoyable. This is what swayed me to give this a 3 star and not 2½ stars.

Nandini is the much loved daughter of parents steeped in tradition and culture. Her father is a teacher of Indian classical music. One of his students is an Indian man from Italy. Nandini resents this foreigner as she has to give up her room for him. This relation has an interesting turn that affects Nandini's life.

Her marriage has been arranged with Vanraj(Ajay Devgan) and her father will not consider any other options. The latest developments have forced Sameer (Salman Khan) to return to Italy. Vanraj, her husband is very loving and patient with Nandini but she is very distant with him. When he finally learns of her love for another man he is at first very angry, but then puts his love for her above her feelings for him.

This part of the movie is very interesting and heartwarming. There is an interesting turn of events that you should watch for yourself. There are a few scenes that are over the top but it is still worth viewing.

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Dark Knight 3 stars

We went to see this movie because Batman was a much loved superhero of my sons when they were younger. My youngest son often went to pre-school dressed as Batman. I used to be proud of the costume he wore as I made it myself and it was unique and differed from everyone else's.

The actors are Christian Bale as Batman, Heath Ledger as the Joker, Aaron Eckhart as the district attorney Harvey Dent, and Maggie Gyllenhaal as assistant D.A. Rachel Dawes, the old friend and love interest of Batman.

The story was very predictable with Batman coming to the rescue of harrassed citizens and fighting the villian, the Joker. The role of the Joker played by Heath Ledger was outstanding. His portrayal of a disturbed person out to ruin the city, with no sense of remorse was played very realistically. I was sad that Heath Ledger had died and was not able to know what an impact his acting has had on the movie. I believe he should win the Oscar for Best Actor, sadly, posthumously.

I found Batman's attempt to hide his identity by talking in a muffled style very riduculous and giggled about that. If you like a lot of action you will enjoy this fantasy movie

Outsourced 3 stars

The main characters are Josh Hamilton(Todd) and Ayesha Dharkar (Asha). I watched this movie on TV and was suprised and delighted with this really well presented movie. It addressed outsourcing in a sensitive manner, how it affects the actual people involved, as well as the major companies who do this to save costs.

I thought the actors did an excellent job in expressing frustrations, learning about cultural differences and adapting to the particular social norm. It also explained certain customs and traditions, religious beliefs and celebrations in a casual manner. It flowed very well with the characters lack of knowledge about the country and yet it is valuable information in educating viewers.

There is a very pleasant humorous side and the movie really got our attention. It was interesting to view Asha and Todd's relationship which began with respect and curiosity and a slow attraction to each other. Highly recommended as it entertains, educates as well as addresses the sensitive yet relevant topic of outsourcing.

Ganja Queen 3 stars

While scrolling through a list of movies to view, the word Ganja or Marijuana caught our attention. We decided to watch this documentary as the brief description was intriguing. It tells the experience of a 27 year old Australian woman who went on vacation to Bali, Indonesia in 2004 with several other family members. Custom officials in Bali found Marijuana in her boogey board bag and arrested her on drug possession charges. As her plight became known to the locals, they referred to her as "ganja queen."

The young lady, Schapelle Corby, claims to be innocent and is unaware of how the marijuana came to be in her bag. The documentary covers the events after the arrest, leading up to the trial 7 months later. The case received a great deal of media attention especially in Australia where the prime minister also appealed to the Indonesian government to consider the evidence or lack thereof. In Bali the sentence for anyone caught with drugs is death by a firing squad.

The families frustration, the assistance of a fellow Australian, Ron Bakir, some damaging comments about the court officials, the media attention and Schapelle's fear, horror, disappointment and sadness is well documented. It is really worth watching especially if someone out there can find a way to free Schappele.

She was sentenced to 20 years in prison and 2 appeals after that have not changed the status quo. My impression is that she is innocent and I feel very sad that this vibrant young woman has to sit for 2 decades in an awful prison.

In my opinion, there was so much hearsay and lack of concrete evidence that it was not possible to convict her beyond a shadow of a doubt. On that basis I believe that she should have been released. I was very disappointed to learn of the outcome of the trial. For a fuller account of Schappele's experience and the handling of her case check, Schappele Corby

Brideshead Revisited 3 stars

I looked forward to the movie as I had seen a previous version on video several years ago. I had forgotten all the actors except for Jeremy Irons who had made a lasting impression on me. I enjoyed the movie version as well but as the story unfolded I found that I could hardly remember the details of the previous version, except for the grandeur of the movie, the wonderful house, Brideshead, and Sebastians role.

The movie is based on the novel, Brideshead Revisited, The Sacred & Profane Memories of Captain Charles Ryder, by the English writer Evelyn Waugh. The role of the matriarch, Lady Marchmain, a devout Catholic and a dominant mother, is played by Emma Thompson. Other actors include Mathew Goode as Charles Ryder, Hayley Atwell as Julia Flyte and Ben Whishaw as the troubled, Sebastian Flyte.

As I do not like to give away the story line, I will just describe the outline very briefly. It is set largely in pre-World War 2 England, with a brief reference to the war when Charles Ryder as an army officer returns to Brideshead in a different capacity. The movie centers around a wealthy aristocratic family, the Fyte's and Charles Ryder, a friend of their son, Sebastian. It illustrates very vividly, the impact parents have on their children's lives when they feed them with strong beliefs and scare them of dire consequences if they do not oblige. Later in life, when they question these ideologies, there are complexities in every aspect of their lives, especially when it is bound with loyalty, guilt and faith. The actors do a marvelous job. The movie is highly recommended.

Race 1 star

I am struggling to find the correct words to describe this mish-mash of a movie, with the plots changing several times. I was told that this was a movie of suspense. It was probably meant to be, but with so many plots and the characters coming back from the dead, good guys becoming bad and vice versa, it was anything but a suspense. Unfortunately for me I watched a DVD version and the English translations were extremely poor, with glaring spelling errors apart from the poor grammar. One expression that was used to describe breaking a promise, that we now use as a joke is. " you have broke your swear."

The cast includes Saif Ali Khan as Ranvir Singh and Akshaye Khanna as Rajeev Singh. They are siblings who always compete. Is is friendly, brotherly competition or something else? The movie revolves around this issue. Other stars include Bipasha Basu as Sonia Katrina Kaif as Sophia.

A large part of the movie was set in South Africa. I was hoping to get some good views of the beautiful country but I did not see much of that. Not recommended

Mama Mia 3 stars

A joyful, exuberant, vibrant movie. Meryl Streep, plays the role of single mother Donna Sheridan, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth and Stellan Skarsgård play the three potential fathers to Donna's daughter Sophie (Amanda Seyfried). The movie is based on the popular musical of the same name, and the music of the pop group ABBA. Many of the ABBA hits of the 70's, including the title, Mama Mia is sung by the cast. The story is set on a Greek Island. Sophie is getting married and is curious about the identity of her father. She has secretly learned about 3 men who could possibly be her dad. The movie centers around this theme. It is an entertaining movie, with a a beautiful ending even if Pierce Brosnan cannot sing. A highly recommended movie.

Mongol 3 stars

An interesting, absorbing and educational movie which is semi-historical. Beautiful scenery and a glimpse into the history of Mongolian life as it used to be is well depicted. The movie was filmed in Kazaksthan, Mongolia and Russia and directed by Sergei Bodrov, with Tadanobu Asano, Honglei Sun and Khulan Chuluun as the principal characters. It is in Mongolian with English subtitles.

We get a glimpse into the life of Temujin who is later known as the legendary, Genghis Khan. It begins with Temüjin as a 9 year old boy recounting events in his that lead him to become a great leader. There are many scenes of battles, between warring tribes, family life, faith, tradition and customs, Temujin's love and tenderness to his wife and children, his struggles with betrayal and his vision of having a just society are well depicted. This movie, the first in a trilogy is Very highly recommended.

Jab We Met 3 stars

The main characters are Shahid Kapoor and Kareena Kapoor. They are strangers who happen to bump into each other. Kareena plays a very charismatic, outgoing, jolly person in contrast to Shahid who is depressed and prefers silence. Circumstances lead them to spend the next few days together. In this time Shahid, despite his irritation with her is able to see her charm and simple philosophy in life. He gains insight into peoples motivations and begins to change the way he handles his daily life.

The movie is well balanced with humor, a good story line, pretty scenery, good music and believable actors. Recommended

Jodhaa Akbar 4 stars

The movie is about 3 hours long, in Hindi, with English sub-titles. It is set in the 16th century Mughal era and stars Hrithik Roshan as the Muslim Mughal Emperor, Akbar and Aishwarya Rai Bachan as Jodhaa, his Hindu wife. It is a marriage of convenience but develops into love. I think it is best to see the movie in a theater, rather than on DVD as there are many scenes, such as the battles, the village and the magnificent palaces that come across that much nicer on a large screen.

Although the movie centers around the love of Akbar and Jodhaa, there is a glimpse of village life in that period & the grandeur and splendor of life for the royal family. Akbar is introduced to battles at a young age and he is expected to continue the tradition of ruling by conquering, defeating, murdering and enslaving the prisoners. As a boy prince he has no option but to accept this style. As a young man he defies this system and as he believes that there is another way to rule. He dislikes violence and prefers the way of peace, much to the surprise and chagrin of his advisors.

Hrithik Roshan does a magnificent job of playing Akbar as an intelligent, brave, sensitive, caring, fair, just man, who reluctantly engaged in violence when he saw no other option. It is a good depiction of the Mughal Empire and this unique Emperor who was tolerant of all religions and was respectful of Jodhaa's Hindu style of worship. The story of Akbar is factual, but as related in the movie, not all of it is historically correct. There are questions as to whether Akbar really had a wife called Jodhaa.

Nevertheless, It was enjoyable to watch the love and respect that grows between Jodhaa and Akbar. The costumes are magnificent, the sword fighting & traditions of that time were very interesting. The emperor had many who envied him as well, so the plotting between people vying for power were also woven into the story. These plots impacted the relationship between Jodhaa & Akbar and showcased the Emperor's ruling style.

Ladies, you will enjoy the costumes and jewelry used in the movie. The embroidery was rich with zari work and included, saris, tunics, bridal lenghas in bright colors such as yellow, greens and reds. The materials used represented the actual look of the garments worn during the Akbar reign. The elaborate jewelry designed by Tanishq, (a leading jewelry brand), used 400 hundred kilograms of gold, emerald, pearls, ruby, tourmaline & jade stones, to recreate the jewelry of the Mughal age. Of course, Aishwairya's beauty and style complemented the remarkable clothing and jewelry.

This highly recommended movie was a joy to watch. The lyrics and music, composed by A. R. Rahman were wonderful. The movie is directed and produced by Ashutosh Gowariker, the director of the Academy Award-nominated Lagaan (2001).

Michael Clayton 3½ stars

The story deals with corporate America and corruption. Michael Clayton (George Clooney) works for a top firm of lawyers with corporate clients. The movie also features, Tom Wilkinson and Tilda Swinton amongst other stars. Tilda Swinton received the Oscar for best supporting actress for her performance as Karen Crowder, the attorney for U-North.

Michael Clayton is not a partner, he describes his role as a "caretaker." He is the guy who is called in to cover up for the transgressions of the companies top clients. The movie depicts that Michael Clayton is very good at this job , but he is getting dissatisfied with what he does. He is also unhappy and unsettled in his personal life and is facing major financial problems due to a bad investment.

He is called to sort out his good friend, Aurthur Edens ( Tom Wilkinson) who appears to have lost his mind. Arthur is the attorney working on the U-North case and discovers that the class-action suit against his client has merit and he believes that U/North should be held accountable. The law firm instructs Michael to get Eden, who is bi-polar back on his medications as this may be the reason for his conduct.

Tilda Swinton takes drastic steps to hush the true facts from being exposed for fear of losing the lawsuit for the company. The cover up is where the movie has all the elements of drama, suspense, intrigue, frustration and tension. The characters play their roles very well. I enjoyed this movie but was also disturbed by the fact that there must be such corruption in real life too.

Taare Zameen Par 4 stars

The English translation of Taare Zameen Par is, Stars on Earth. This is a Bollywood movie in Hindi, directed and produced by Aamir Khan about the struggles of a child suffering from dyslexia. The cast includes Darsheel Safary as the dyslexic child and Aamir Khan plays the role of the teacher who helps this child “ find his star.”

The standard of acting especially from Darsheel Safary is excellent. This little child gives a very realistic performance of a child struggling to cope with learning both at home and at school. The movie depicts the pain and suffering that results from a lack of understanding of Dyslexia, both on the part of the family and the child himself. Aamir Khan in the role of a perceptive, sensitive teacher is able to help this child reach his potential.

It is a very uplifting movie as it provides hope and education about dyslexia. It also highlights the sad situation when a condition is not diagnosed and the harm that arises when people in authority are ignorant and do not seek answers before labeling a child as badly behaved. Aamir Khan as the understanding teacher also gives an excellent performance. The film has music by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy with lyrics by Prasoon Joshi. A highly recommeneded movie

Lust,Caution 2 stars

The movie is based on a story by Chinese author, Eileen Chang. It is an intrigue drama set in WW2 China during the Japanese occupation. The movie is in the Mandarin language with English sub-titles. The stars include Tang Wei (Wong Chia Chi) a member of a patriotic Hong Kong theater group turned resistance cell. They hatch a plan to assassinate Mr. Yee (Tony Leung), head of the Chinese secret police and informer for the Japanese. Joan Chen plays a minor role as his beautiful, loyal, gossipy wife.

Wong Chia Chi is attractive and she is used to seduce Mr.Yee and spy for the resistance cell. Inevitably, Mr. Yee is indeed attracted to Wong Chia Chi. It is not easy for her to gain any information as he is always on his guard. The first sex scene is violent and the others are explicit and erotic, giving this movie an NC-17 rating.

I found the movie dragged on at times and lacked depth. Although (Tang Wei) Wong Chia Chi is supposed to portray a love-hate relationship with Mr. Lee, this did not come across with any credibility. The emotion of dislike was very clear, except for the last scene where she displays conflicting emotions and in that moment her loyalty to her friends in the cell ends. In my opinion Wong Chia Lee was unable to convincingly portray this conflicted relationship which was at the heart of the story. I would not recommend this movie if you have a choice of other movies.

Rendition 4 stars

Rendition is based on the CIA policy of "rendering" a suspect to another location, often overseas so that the truth can be extricated from the suspect by means that may not be used by the USA. Directed by South African, Gavin Hood the movie addresses the subject of torture with a very believable story.

The methods used by officials, with disregard for real facts, and the effect on the individual and his family are an eye opener. The helplessness of individuals to find answers is depicted very well by Reese Witherspoon in her role as the victims wife, Isabella Ibrahimi.

Meryl Streep also gives a wonderful performance as a cold CIA executive. Other notable performances are from Omar Metwally who plays Anwar El-Ibrahimi, the Egyptian-born terrorism suspect.

Jake Gyllenhaal is Douglas Freeman, a CIA analyst at a secret detention facility outside the United States who questions the methods used. Performances by Moa Khouas as Khalid and Zineb Oukach as Fatima Fawal bring home again that suicide bombers too, are people who can love, have strong emotional bonds and great loyalty to influences that unfortunately are usually negative. A very highly recommended movie

American History X 5 stars-excellent

This movie was released in 1998. I never paid attention to it as it seemed to be a movie with lots of violence. I did not see it until 2004 when one of my son's told me that I had to see it as it was a story that had relevance and the acting was phenomenal. After I watched it, I agreed that this is an amazing movie that depicts the horror of prejudice and ethnocentrism so very well. It does contain violent scenes but it is a history of the violence that existed and is still rooted in society.

Ed Norton was nominated for an Oscar for best actor for his performance as Derek Vinyard, a neo Nazi. I was so impressed with his acting that I believe he deserved to have won that award. I am a big fan of Ed Norton and I find his acting superb. You will get an excellent review of this movie by using this link. American History X Therefore I have not reviewed the movie personally, just my impression of it. I would urge everyone to see American History X.

The Painted Veil 3 stars

The Painted Veil stars well know actors, Naomi Watts, Edward Norton, and Liev Schreiber. It is based based on the novel of the same name by W. Somerset Maugham. Ed Norton as Dr. Walter Fane, a shy and socially awkward person is very convincing. Naomi Watts as Kitty Garstin is a pretty, immature young woman from a wealthy London family, under pressure from her parents to find a husband.

The movie has beautiful and interesting scenes of China where a large part of the movie was shot. The story revolves around the compatibility of this couple. It gives the viewer the opportunity to examine the qualities that really constitute love, respect & caring. What appears to be exciting and dashing may be very shallow and impermanent. The actors give a good performance and it is a heartwarming story.

Vanaja 3½ stars

Vanaja, the movie, is the brainchild & directorial debut of Rajnesh Dompalpalli. It began as a part of his first semester project at Columbia University. He completed it as his thesis for a Master of Fine Arts in Film. What is remarkable about the movie is that apart from one character, all the actors had no previous acting experience. They were just regular, simple local folk with low paid jobs. The lead actress Mamatha Bhukya, learned music as well as dance within a year of being selected to play the role. Her performance in the movie is charming, entertaining and of a high standard.

The basic story line is about Vanaja's interest in dance and the path of her life in this pursuit. With the help of her father she takes advantage of the need to supplement the family income by getting a job as a domestic servant in the home of her landlady who used to be a professional dancer in her youth. Vanaja hopes that the landlady will teach her to dance despite her low caste status.

Life changing events force her to make a difficult choice as she pursues her dreams. It is depicted against the background of peasants struggling to eke out a living, recurring debt, the prevalence of caste distinction and a reverence for those in power. It is set in a rural village in India where jobs are scarce, illiteracy prevails and livelihoods such as fishing are risky, the catch and subsequent income, unpredictable.

The landlady portrayed by Urmila Dammannagari (who used to work at a bottling plant) gives a realistic performance as a haughty, successful business woman who is in charge of the local folk. For a full description of all the cast and crew click on the link. Vanaja

The movie is heartwarming, realistic, inspiring & interesting with beautiful dance and music. Highly recommended

Provoked 3½ stars

Provoked is based on the true story of Kiranjit Ahluwalia (Aishwarya Rai) who is sentenced to life imprisonment for setting fire to her abusive husband and unintentionally killing him. Ms. Rai gives an excellent performance as an abused woman who is at the mercy of the moods of her philandering, abusive, alcoholic husband.

Flashbacks detail the relationship of the couple prior to the event that led to her husband, Deepak Ahluwalia's (Naveen Andrews) death. The experience of being bullied in prison and her pain at being separated from her children and extreme sadness is well depicted. In spite of these terrible experiences she says that she feels safe in prison. The friendship that develops between Kiranjit and her cell mate Veronica Scott (Miranda Richardson) is very heartwarming and sincere. It was via Veronica's influence and the local group of South Asian social workers in London, England, running an under funded agency, The Southall Black Sisters that brought this case for retrial.

Veronica's brother, Edward Foster (Robbie Coltrane), a highly respected Queen's Counsel, takes on Kiranjit's appeal. This case "Regina v Ahluwalia" redefined the word PROVOCATION in the case of battered woman. Her conviction was changed from murder to manslaughter but she did not spend any more jail time as the judge took into account the time she had already served. A highly recommended movie

Dhoka 3 stars

I saw Dhoka - Deceit or Betrayal(in Hindi) at home on DVD. It was so different from the usual Bollywood movies. The theme was serious and a subject that is all in the news today -terrorism. It was a refreshing change to see actors that I had not seen previously.

A terrorist attack unravels the life of police officer, Zaid Ahmed Khan (Muzammil Ibrahim) and his wife, Sarah (Tulip Joshi). Zaid is a loyal police officer who is accused of being a part of a terrorist plot. His young, loving, simple wife Sarah dies in the attack. His life is turned upside down when he faces the effects of Jihad in his own life.

He portrays emotions of disbelief, anger, injustice, sorrow, guilt and denial very well. In flashback scenes you see the warm, loving relationship of Zaid and Sarah, with no evidence of any turmoil. As Zaid sets out to prove Sarah's innocence he learns of the trauma and pain that Sarah and her family endured many years ago at the hands of ruthless men. His anguish at not knowing this part of Sarah's life leads him to feel guilty that he did not sense that Sarah may have needed his support all through their relationship. He believes that he too let her down as his support & love may have influenced Sarah differently. To make up for this lack of sensitivity on his part, he takes on the challenge of preventing another another member of Sarah's family becoming a suicide bomber & a pawn of radical Islamics plotting the next terrorist attack.

The movie depicts the brutal nature of man, racial tension, & radical terrorism, with suspense and drama. I enjoyed the lyrics in this movie as well.
A highly recommended movie.

Notes on a Scandal 3 stars

Sheba Hart (Cate Blanchett) and Barbara Covett ( Judi Dench) are teachers at a London Comprehensive School. Sheba is a new teacher and Barbara has been there for about 20 years. Both women give wonderful performances so that you can identify with their characters and feel the pain or disappointment or apprehension. Barbara is the central character who is single, lonely and does not have a relationship with anyone at school. Yet she is desperate for companionship. Circumstances lead her to come to Sheba's aid at school. Sheba responds with friendship and invites Barbara to her home. For a while the two women enjoy a good friendship. There are hints about Barbara's friendship with with another female teacher who subsequently rejected her

The movie focuses on Barbara's possessiveness, emotional blackmail & manipulations to retain Sheba as a friend when she learns about her illicit relationship that can jeopardize everything in her life that she holds dear. The relationship is one that has often been featured in real life. The results of such an illicit relationship and its toll on the family is well depicted. Judi Dench gives an excellent performance as well. It is a movie worth seeing.

Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna 2½ stars

This movie has a star studded cast. It centers around the relationships of 2 couples. They are Rishi (Abhishek Bachan) and his wife Maya (Rani Mukerji) and Dev (Shahrukh Khan) and his wife Rhea, (Preity Zinta). Amitabh Bachan takes the role of “Sexy Sam, ” Rishi's father, a widow who is a bit of a playboy with many girlfriends.

The movie delves into issues such as incompatibility, infertility, loyalty, family ties, infidelity and jealousy. It also addresses feelings of inadequacy, when Dev, a soccer player, unable to continue his career because of an injury, is envious and embarrassed by his wife's successful career in journalism.

The movie also embraces changes in society's attitudes. It is the first Indian movie that I have seen where infidelity is addressed, by a couple actually going off to a hotel room to sleep together. When Sam becomes aware of Maya's feelings for another man, he suggests to her to leave her husband, (who is Sam's son) as she should not stay in an unhappy marriage. There are some scenes of drama which eventually lead to a happy ending. I liked the movie especially for exploring forbidden subjects although the story line dragged.

I now pronounce you Chuck and Larry 3 stars

This was so much fun, the acting was good, fast paced, lots of puns and great humor. The characters ares good, hard working guys who are loyal and care a lot for each other in a heterosexual way. Circumstances force the character of Kevin James (Larry) to take some drastic steps to ensure that he does not lose his civil benefits.

Adam Sandler is cast in the role of his good friend, (Chuck) who has a difficult time adjusting to his new lifestyle and keeping up a pretense. Although the story is depicted as a comedy, it addresses serious issues such as prejudice, the hurt of derogatory language and the value of friendship and honesty. Jessica Biel as an attorney is very sweet and her character is the love interest of Chuck. A highly recommended movie.

Daddy's Little Girls 3 stars

The movie depicts the struggles of a single father, custody issues and the power a parent can wield for one's own selfish ends with no consideration of the childrens' needs. The main characters come from 2 different social levels, with Gabrielle Union as Julia, a haughty corporate attorney and Idris Elba as Monty who lives in the “hood ” with three young daughters. Julia represents him in his custody battle against his ex-wife who is abusive and dates a drug dealer. Monty and Julia fall in love, along a path that has some twists and turns. If you are in the mood for a feel good movie with happy ending, you should see this.

Nishabd 1 star

The opening scene is very solemn and intense as Amitabh Bachan eloquently expresses sorrow and regret as he reflects on recent incidents that have destroyed his family. This opening promises to be a movie of substance and that is why I was disappointed with the movie overall.

The story revolves around a young 18 year old girl falling in love with an older man. His attraction to her and then love destroys his relationship with his daughter and wife. Out of loyalty to his family he ends this relationship which has not really amounted to much except some flirtation especially on the part of the 18 year old Jiah Khan. She does play her role very well as an opinionated, selfish, coquettish, immature, sexy young woman. The love between the two appears very shallow as Jiah's character shows no depth and the only thing in common seems to be a mutual physical attraction between the two.

Amitabh Bachan's oration is excellent but the problem is Jiah just comes accross as a selfish, immature young girl and such depth of feeling is incongruous with what is depicted in the movie.

Hairspray 3 stars

I enjoyed this movie a lot as it is very bright and cheery, with vibrant music and a good message as well. It is based on the Broadway musical, Hairspray which was itself based on a movie. It features many well known actors including John Travolta, Queen Latifah, Michelle Pheiffer and Christopher Walken, one of my favorite stars. It also debuts Nicky Blonsky as Tracy Turnblad, the "plump teenager," who wants to perform on a television show. One can identify with the hopes and excitement of her character as her portrayal is very realistic. I am not sure why John Travolta had to perform the role he did and why not a woman.

The movie is set in Baltimore in 1962. It was interesting to see the fashion, lifestyle and cars of that time. In addition they addressed the subject of prejudice based on skin color and size. The lead character is a larger size and she has to "fight" the scheming Velma von Tussle (Michelle Pfeiffer) to showcase her talent. It is worth watching as it is very entertaining.

Swami 2 stars

The movie is based on the devotion to each other by central characters, Swami, Radha and their son Anand. It begins with them living a simple life in a village but move to Mumbai so that their son has a better chance of getting into a good school. Radha is aware of Swami's lifelong interest in a rocking chair, and in wanting to do something special for him she uses all their savings to purchase a rocking chair for Swami, rather than pay for medical expenses for a serious condition she has. Her last wish as she dies is that her son should go to America.

Father and son continue to be devoted to each other and Anand finally gets the chance to go to America. The movie depicts that sorrow and loss go hand in hand with success and it is not always possible to get everything we want. I found Radha and Swami's devotion to each other a little overdone and artificial and that is why I give it 2 stars. I enjoyed the music a lot.

Ratatouille 4 stars

This movie is such a delight and so cleverly made. The voices are beautifully matched with the animated characters. Peter O'Toole's voice has the right consistency of sarcasm, aloofness and disdain that blended so well with the haughty critic, Anton Ego.

Having always been horrified with the thought of a mouse in the house, let alone one cooking, took some getting used to, but the character was so appealing and likeable that it was okay. It is amazing that this came accross so well as the idea of a mouse cooking is gross to most of us.

Alongside the humorous side of a mouse being a master chef, the movie is about relationships, values, fairness sharing and truth. It is ofcourse blended well into the story line. It is very well worth viewing.

Vivah 2 stars

This movie had some very good moments and a good theme, but I am reluctantly giving it 2 stars because it needs some serious editing. The movie was much too long. Although the main characters were charming and delightful, most of the movie centered around just this, with a plot developing towards the last 30 minutes of the movie.

It does a good job in portraying arranged marriages and that a female can be loved by her family as well as that of her in-laws. They touched on the stress of families having to pay a dowry and the fate of some women who end up as victims of serious abuse as their main value in the in-laws home is the dowry they bring with them.

The music was very beautiful and all the characters good relationships with each other, except for one, while pleasant to watch on screen is not very realistic. If you depend on subtitles you may be disappointed. The DVD that I watched had the subtitles with very small font in white. One had to strain to read it and sometimes it was not possible to see the writing if the background was a light color.

Sicko 5 stars-excellent

As a fan of Micheal Moore's previous movies I looked forward to watching Sicko. Once again he has produced a thought provoking movie that addresses the quality of life via the health care system in America. He brings to the fore real families who have experienced death of loved one's and bankruptcy because their insurance companies denied them coverage. Alongside some real life sad stories, he intermingles humor in some situations.

For all the wealth, technology and talent of the US, the World Health Organization ranks it as one of the lowest in providing health care for its citizens. About 50 million Americans do not have insurance, 9 million of them children. Many who do, have other roadblocks such as pre-existing conditions.

Blue Cross, Humana and Aetna are some of the American health insurance companies that Michael Moore exposes. Their customer service employees talk about the tough situations they face when they know that sick people who need care are denied coverage. It is made clear that the aim of these insurance companies is to profit at the expense of providing the necessary medical care. When a former Humana medical reviewer Dr. Linda Peeno, denied care to a man who then died, she was rewarded by the health insurance company and elevated to a very responsible position with a 6 figure income. She had saved the company half a million dollars. To her credit, she was unhappy and unwilling to continue in such a job and voiced her need for the health care system to change.

It was informative to note Hillary Clinton's stance on health care. As the First Lady she, worked on a plan for universal coverage with great enthusiasm. Over the years she accepted the rejection of this plan and now disappointingly she appears to have let her ideals fall by the wayside in accepting money for her campaigns by these same insurance companies.

Michael Moore visits England, Canada and France to interview doctors, hospital patients as well as citizens to look at the health care system there and how we could apply such a system in the US. His portrayal of surprise at what is available in those countries had the desired effect of awe on the audience on how fortunate the citizens in those countries are. They also have generous time off of work for mothers with new babies and very low child care fees in very good creches. In France there is a government worker assigned to new mothers 2 time a week for 4 hours who come to help mothers with chores including putting on laundry and cooking a meal. After surgery another patient requesed 3 months off to recuperate before starting his job. During this time he received his full salary paid partially by his employer and susidized by the state.

I believe the system in those countries truly value the quality of life. Michael Moore also touches on the short work week in France, the compulsory 5 week vacation annually and in some private companies upto 8 weeks. In my blog on Vacations I also mention the quality of life is valued when employees get adequate time off of work. Instead of losing productivity, there may be a gain, as employees come back rested, ready to give off their best to a company that respects and values them and their families. I concluded that my colleagues did not question the status quo and found the idea of longer vacations incomprehensible.

Michael Moore suggests a similar conclusion about health care, why have we allowed this to happen. We have accepted the situation. “ This is not only a broken system, this is a sick system,” says Moore. It is a sad state of affairs when homeless, helpless patients from the hospitals are dropped off on the street close to shelters because they have no insurance.

Moore's visit to Guantanoma Bay and Cuba is interesting and very thought provoking. All of us need to do our part in getting health care for all. This is an excellent, must see movie.

Dor 4 stars

Dor, meaning thread in Hindi, has English subtitles. In the movie thread refers to relationships. The movie is set in North India, with beautiful scenery. It centers on two woman, Zeenat (Gul Panag) and Meera (Ayesha Takia). The movie is directed by Nagesh Kukunoor.

It begins with the parallel lives of these women and the loving relationships with their husbands. When circumstances change both women have to deal with loss and relationships. This loss is the thread that impacts both their lives. The movie explores friendship, faith, fear, joy, hope, anticipation, disappointment, sorrow and respect. It also addresses social issues such as widowhood and the quality of life for women in general.

It is very sensitively enacted with the women portraying a range of emotions that is very relevant to their characters story. Zeenat is the sensible, strong woman with high principles and a very positive attitude, who suggests that we have control over our lifestyles and we should question and stand upto unfairness. Meera is the lovely young woman who learns to accept her fate and her new role and a life of loneliness and subjugation.

Shreyas Talpade brings comic relief in a senstive manner, learning to care for and appreciate the struggles that women face. The music is beautiful and is very poetic. The movie is spell binding as the actors do a good job in conveying urgency and the possible harm that will result if Zeenat's mission is not successful. The womens friendship/ disappointment and reunion is very well and realistically portrayed. A very enjoyable experience

Namaste London 3 stars

This Hindi movie with subtitles in several languages is set in London, England and revolves around the lives of two Indian families who have settled in London and have reared their children there. The children, Jasmeet "Jazz" Malhotra (Katrina Kaif) and Imran (Upen Patel) are now young adults who have adopted the English lifestyle and look upon their parents request to maintain their tradition and marry people from their own culture, with disdain.

Some very pertinent issues relating to adjustments to a new culture and the difficulties of transition from a small village in India to the big city of London is addressed. Family tensions, marital arguments, loyalty, love and discipline issues are featured. Attempting to fit in with the larger white society, questioning one's own customs and traditions when it is looked down upon by others and being true to oneself in the face of pressure to conform are also given attention. At times some scenes are a bit over the top, but it is a good movie that is well enacted by all. Arjun Singh (Akshay Kumar) does a good job playing a simpleton and who is really a very intelligent, caring and patient young man. Most immigrants can relate to this movie, but issues such as loyalty, stereotyping, respect, prejudice and social class which is prevalent in most societies, is relevant to all.

Umar 3 stars

The title translates to age in English. This Indian movie is set in London, England and deals with issues such as the elderly, prejudice, rejection, respect, and the lack of it from family, and what makes a family. Three elderly Indian men Iqbal Khan (Kader Khan), Chanderkant Mehta (Prem Chopra) and Rajpal Singh (Satish Kaushik) from different faiths have become friends in London as they share the common pain of being devalued and rejected by their family in their old age.

They befriend a young Indian immigrant, Shashank (Jimmy Shergill) who has grown up in an orphanage in India and has never had a family. They are amazed at his kindness and respect for them which is absent from their own kin. The relationship they develop with Shashank brings them satisfaction, and leads them into new experiences as they rally to save this young man from a series of misadventures.

The love that develops between Shashank and Sapna (Shenaz Treasurywala) is pleasant to view and the music is very moving. Most of the songs address the pain of rejection and despondency. However the movie does have it's light moments and is very endearing.

Oceans 13 3 stars

The movie has many high profile actors including, George Clooney, Bernie Mac, Brad Pitt, Al Pacino, Matt Damon and Don Cheadle amongst others. The Oceans team are bent on getting even with the bad guy played by Al Pacino who has treated their friend very unfairly. They devise all sorts of plots to bring the bad guy to his knees. There is humor and action which is not over the top. The characters are very likable and give a very good performance.

Disturbia 3 stars

If you like movies that make you sit at the edge of your seat and wonder what's going to happen next, you will enjoy this move. It is a thriller starring Shia LaBeouf, Aaron Yoo and Sarah Roemer in the title roles. The opening scene has magnificent views where father and son are fishing on a scenic river. The atmosphere is jovial and calm and quite a contrast to the gripping events that follow. Shia's character's response to a life changing event leads to him watching his neighbors with binoculars out of sheer boredom. This leads to a chain of events that bring on tense and dramatic situations. Further details may spoil your enjoyment of this very entertaining movie.

The Lives of Others 5 stars-excellent

This is an extract from Wikipedia the free encyclopedia “The Lives of Others (original title in German: Das Leben der Anderen) is an Academy Award-winning German film, marking the feature film debut of writer and director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck. For it, Donnersmarck won the 2007 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. The film had earlier won seven Deutscher Filmpreis awards including best film, best director, best screenplay, best actor and best supporting actor, after having set a new record with 11 nominations. It was also nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the 64th Golden Globe Awards. This award went to Clint Eastwood instead of Donnersmarck. The thriller/drama is about the cultural scene of East Berlin, monitored by secret agents of the Stasi, the GDR's secret police. It stars Ulrich Muhe as Stasi agent Gerd Wiesler, Ulrich Tukur as his chief officer Anton Grubitz, Sebastian Koch as the playwright Georg Dreyman, and Martina Gedeck as a prominent actress and his lover, Christa-Maria Sieland.”

The standard of acting is superb. One could "feel" the atmosphere of that time, the oppression, hopelessness, fear and the bravery of so many working for change and taking risks that meant severe punishment and death. The performance of Ulrich Muhe as the Stasi agent monitoring Dreyman, was outstanding. He portrayed such depth of feeling, first for loyalty to his party and then disillusionment about the purpose of the investigation, leading him to empathize with the subject being monitored. Leading a lonely life with with very little joy, he learns to appreciate the lifestyle of Dreyman and his friends and subtlely helps them achieve their purpose by recording events that he knows will appeal to the Stasi.

Although the movie conveys an aura of oppresiveness, it is an excellent depiction of that time in German history. Ulrich Muhe's secret empathy and support of Dreyman at the risk of jeopardizing his own career is very heartwarming.

Blood Diamond 5 stars-excellent

Blood Diamond stars Leornado Di Caprio, Jennifer Connelly and Djimon Hounsou in this Academy Award-nominated 2006 film directed and produced by Edward Zwick. The title refers to blood diamonds, which are diamonds mined in war zones and sold to finance arms for political ends. It depicts the terrible and stringent conditions under which simple folk are forced to pan for diamonds. The brutality of the regime in Sierra Leone is disturbing but well depicted to show the horror of war. Simple huts are burned and villagers scramble for safety in an attempt to avoid capture by the rebels who take delight in brandishing their weapons and asserting their power. Families are separated, men and women captured, bodies mutilated, arms chopped off at random with great glee by the perpertrators who appear to lack any concern for their terified captives. Young boys are captured and forced into the rebels camp. As child soldiers they are brainwashed to follow the orders of their commanders.

In the story, Djimon's character Solomon Vandy is a loving father and a simple fisherman with high hopes for his son to get an education and live a better life than his. During one of the attacks by the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) Solomon is separated from his family and is enslaved to work in the diamond fields.

Leonardo DiCaprio plays Danny Archer a white mercenary from Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) who trades arms for diamonds with an RUF commander. Jennifer Connelly plays Maddy Bowen , an American journalist covering the war and investigating the illegal diamond trade. The lives of these 3 intersect as the story exposes the illicit diamond trafficing in exchange for arms to finance the rebels. The power of brainwashing child soldiers is well depicited when Dia, Solomon's son, does not acknowledge him and is ready to kill him. I thought Leornado Di Caprio's accent as a Zimbabwean/South African was excellent. He used phrases and words, native to that region, so comfortably as if he spoke that way everyday. There are beautiful scenes of the African regions as well as glimpses of Cape Town, South Africa.

As the film is based on the true situation of dealing with "conflict or blood diamonds", the ending is comforting when Solomon addresses the conference on blood diamonds in Kimberley, South Africa, describing his experiences. This refers to a real meeting that took place in Kimberley, South Africa in 2000 and led to the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, which seeks to certify the origin of diamonds in order to curb the trade in conflict diamonds. You should not miss this movie. Although the violence is disturbing, if young children are informed of what to expect and why, it can be an educational experience of what goes on in the world and why we should question the source of the sparkling jewelery that we all like to possess.

Lagaan 4 stars

This Hindi movie with English subtiles was nominated for Best Foreign Language Movie in 2002. The movie is set in a small farming village in Champaner, India in 1893 during a second season of drought. Lagaan is translated as land tax that Indian farmers paid the British who had occupied and controlled the land. As the farmers had paid a reduced amount the year before, the tax is now doubled.

The farmers are outraged and it is apparant that they will not be able to pay any Lagaan as they struggle to survive. They protest and a British captain offers them a proposition. He challenges the Indian villagers to a game of cricket. If they win they will not have to pay taxes for 3 years. If they lose the taxes will be tripled. The villages spokesperson is Bhuvan (Amrit Khan) who accepts the offer. The captain is a haughty man who offers this challenge as he is aware that the villages have never played cricket before and expects and looks forward to them losing the game. His delight will be the consequences and suffering that will follow when the villages have to pay even higher taxes.

However the captains sister is sympathetic and is attracted to Bhuvan. She secretly assists and advises him on how to meet this challenge. In putting this plan into action, Bhuvan and the villages overcome racial prejudice, class conciousness and the challenges of infighting and squabbles amongst the villagers. Exotic Indian dance and romance is also a part of this very likeable human drama.

It also focuses on the oppressive British rule in India, the caste system, and Hindu-Moslem relations. The movie is almost 4 hours long.

The Namesake 3 stars

The movie is based on the book by Jhumpa Lahiri and is directed by Mira Nair. It is about family and relationships, loss and adjustments. It centers around an Indian couple who have left the extended family behind in India and begin life together in New York. The move is a new experience for the wife and it is quite a culture shock for her. Her husband who had lived in the US for several years prior to the marriage is patient and loving and helps her adjust. It deals with having to cope with grief upon the death of close family in another land. It also addresses the issue of children born to immigrants who are caught between 2 cultures and the impact of these dynamics on the traditional lifestyle of the parents. It is a story that most immigrants can relate to.

Letters from Iwo Jima 5 stars-excellent

This movie won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language movie in 2006. It also received a host of awards and nominations from other venerable sources including th Golden Globes Award. The movie is mostly in Japanese with English subtitles. It is directed by Clint Eastwood via an interpreter and centers around the World War 11 battle of Iwo Jima as viewed from the Japanese perspective. Ken Watanabe has the lead role of the general, a man of honor and distinction. This general is portrayed as a very caring man who treated his soldiers with respect and dignity and disapproved of bullying and harsh methods to achieve discipline.

It tells the story of the personal lives and hopes and dreams and disappointments of the soldiers. It also depicts the struggle of the 45 day battle before surrendering to America. The movie was based on factual information of events that occured as well as records of letters written by General Tadamichi Kuribayashi(Ken Watanabe). The General was an artist as well and drew pictures of events when writing to his family.

The movie is informative and educational and delicately brings home to us that these soldiers were ordinary people with hopes, dreams and fears and who became soldiers for various reasons. Once again war is portrayed as bringing pain and sorrow and too much of loss and sadness.

The Last King of Scotland 4 stars

Forrest Whittaker won the Oscar for Best Actor for his performance as the dictator, Idi Amin. Amin was a pompous man and amongst other titles, he had given himself the title of King of Scotland. The movie is based on the book with the same title by Giles Foden. Although fact is interweaved with fiction, Idi Amin's reign from 1971 to 1979 as a brutal dictator is well illustrated. It describes Amin's rise to power as a well liked person, someone for the people and then the transition to corruption, and ruthless brutality. Amin expelled the Asians from Uganda in 1972 and was responsible for the murder thousands of people. There is also reference to the plane hijacking in 1976.

The relationship between Amin and the Scotsman, Nicholas Garrigan is a fictional one but is based loosely on Bob Asteles a British soldier who was favoured by Amin. He bore the brunt of this relationship as he was also know to have been tortured and spent several years in prison after the fall of Amin. The performance by Forrest Whitaker is excellent and one is able to get a good sense of the dictators terrible regime.

The Pursuit of Happyness 3 stars

Will Smith and his son Jaden star in this movie based on the real life of story of a single father struggling to take care of his son and doing a demanding internship as a stockbroker at Dean Witter. The performance of both actors are really good especially Jaden who at that young age gives a very realistic impression of what it must be to be homeless and hungry. The movie is set in San Francisco. The true story which is one man's perseverance to succeed against such odds is very uplifting and motivating.

Queen 4 stars

Helen Mirren's portrayal of Queen Elizabeth 11 won her the Oscar for Best Actress. It was interesting to see how closely she resembled Queen Elizabeth 11, adorned with hats, gloves, shoes and of course the staid hairstyle. The storyline is about the Monarchy's response to the public following the death of Princes Diana in 1997. It explores the conflict of the royal families personal feelings about Diana and the need to respond appropriately to the public who are in deep sorrow at the loss of their beloved Princess. Very good