Month: March 2016

“House of Cards”, Season 4: Still Stacks Up

Released on Netflix on March 4, “House of Cards: Season 4” grabs viewers yet again—primarily because of the spectacular rise of Claire Underwood (the incomparable Robin Wright). Equal to her husband Frank as a partner in crime (Kevin Spacey at his best), Claire’s rapid and ruthless ascension to power left this viewer breathless. For better or worse, this is a marriage like no other portrayed on television. Season 4 weaves in past stories, corpses, ex-lovers, and accomplices at lightning speed, to remind us that what Claire wants most in life is to be significant: to be recognized for the power...

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“Blindness” –Seeing is Believing

  Based on a popular novel by the Portuguese Nobel Prize-winning author Jose Saramago, Blindness (2008) is a dystopian tale of survival in the face of a pandemic.  Blindness opens with an affluent Japanese businessman suddenly blocking traffic during rush hour. Inexplicably blinded, he is unable to continue driving and a seemingly good Samaritan offers to help him. When they arrive at the Japanese man’s upscale apartment, however, the “good Samaritan” steals his car and escapes. Soon the entire city is overtaken by a pandemic of “white blindness”, like driving in a snow storm. The...

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“Truth”—And Nothing But

  “Truth” (2015) somehow stayed under the radar last year. A compelling newsroom docudrama , “Truth” reminds me of “All the President’s Men” and the Watergate scandal. Opening with the September 2004 “60 Minutes” episode, Dan Rather accuses President George W. Bush of receiving preferential treatment in the National Guard in the early 1970s (Vietnam War era) as a result of his father’s connections.  Photocopied memos provided by a confidential source were the main evidence for Rather’s accusations. But Mary Mapes is the true hero. Producer of “60 Minutes”, Mapes had just won...

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“Room”—No Haven or Home

  Based on the searing novel by Emma Donaghue, “Room” is a movie both disturbing and compelling. For five-year-old Jack (amazing Jacob Tremblay), Room is his home, a 11 x 11 foot shed where he was born, after his teenaged mom (Brie Larson, in her Academy Award winning role)—was kidnapped, imprisoned and sexually assaulted daily by Old Nick. Told from the little boy’s point-of-view, Jack seems unaware that Room is a prison. For Jack it is his home, a seemingly safe haven filled with all he knows and with the security of the only parent he knows. Jack’s world is exclusively his Ma and Room....

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“Brooklyn” — New World vs. Old

“Brooklyn”, nominated for a 2016 Academy Award for best picture in a list of much more intensely themed dramas, is an easy movie to fall in love with. A classic boy-meets-girl coming-of-age movie, set in the early 50s and reminiscent of movies of that era. Two young immigrants meet in Brooklyn and fall in love, yet the young woman still yearns for the country and home she left behind. Based on Colm Toibin’s novel of the same title, “Brooklyn” conveys a specific historical time and worldview but the wounds and dilemmas are universal. Saoirse Ronan plays Ellis, a young Irish woman who has few...

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