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Clever's Movie Reviews: D-G

The Hits!

Danish Girl ****
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes ****
The Debt ***
The Deep End ***
The Departed ****
The Descendants ***
Desperate Measures
***
The Devil Wears Prada ***
Earth to Echo ***
Eddie the Eagle ***
Django Unchained ***
An Education ***
Elizabeth ****
End of the Affair ****
English Patient ***
ET ****
The Fault in our Stars ***
Finding Forrester ***
Finding Nemo ****
Frida ****

Florence Foster Jenkins ***
The Gift
***
Girlfight ***
Gladiator
****
Gods & Generals ***
Good Night and Good Luck ***
Good Shepherd ***
Gosford Park ***
Gran Torino ***

Green Mile ****



The Duds!

The Dancer Upstairs
**
Day without a Mexican
**
Drive **
Enemy at the Gates
*
Eyes Wide Shut
o
Far From Heaven
**
Fun with Dick and Jane **
40 Year Old Virgin **
Girl Next Door
**
Gloria **
Gone Baby Gone **
The Great Gadsby **

 


The Danish Girl ****
reviewed by the Phantom
Subject: Transgender reassignment surgery. A beautifully expressive film, sensitively filmed. A very touching story. Actor Eddie Redmayne was astonishing in the lead role. It takes place in Denmark and Paris in 1926. The main characters are man and wife painters, so we are treated to the art scene of the early 20th century as the setting for this story. Every aspect of this film is such a treat. I cannot recommend it highly enough.


Dawn of the Planet of the Apes ****
reviewed by the Phantom
I'm not a fan of ape movies, let's start there. But this one is touted as your thinking person's ape movie. And I'm agreeing. There was an actual story that was presented in a serious manner, I did no eye-rolling. But still the viewer has to suspend a lot of disbelief to take this movie seriously. The apes are really smart, they talk, they have complicated feelings about right and wrong, they understand vague philosophical concepts, like the art of war, and the importance of family. The human survivors haven't changed much since some unnamed apocalypse occurred, even though there are very few of them left in this version of modern dystopia. The visual effects are wonderful, very creative, well imagined and constructed. The gun lobby will squirm through this movie's subtle subplot about guns not solving problems, and the Ku Klux Klan members will be howling with indignation that black apes could possibly rule planet earth. I do find the obligatory fight to the death scenes a little tedious. It would be lovely some fine day to solve problems without somebody having to get tossed off a cliff, unless it's done metaphorically. The movie is a visual feast, tends to run a little long and thoughtful at times, but maybe that adds to the overall experience. Well done.

The Debt ***
reviewed by the Phantom
This is a spy movie set in two time periods, the 1960s cold war era in Israel, and modern times. We go back and forth between these two eras, finally piecing together what really happened when an Israeli spy team captures a WWII Nazi holdout. With spy movies there are always "levels": there is always a surface plot, their actual assignment; and then underneath, there is some kind of cover up, trickery, or double-dealing that muddies up the water, a sort of morality play, that tarnishes everything. Helen Mirren is in this one, brilliant as always. It's a thriller, but as with many spy movies, it takes lots of time getting to the thrilling part. I really liked this movie though. Loved the look of the 1960s recreation, as well as the modern era. Well done. Good story. The spies seem real this time. I'm hoping to see some Oscar buzz about this movie.

The Deep End ***
reviewed by the Phantom
(Don’t confuse this movie with the Oprah book club weeper called The Deep End of the Ocean!) This movie reminded me of those old Hitchcock thrillers that we used to love. It’s a taut drama about a mother trying her damnedist to save her son’s future by covering up a murder. The plot unfolds neatly, and the actors do a terrific job of keeping us in suspense throughout. We don’t know where the plot will take us next, which gets harder and harder to do these days. My only quibble with this movie is a small one, but the whole plot turns on it. The film is set at Lake Tahoe, with its amazingly clear water. She dumps the body in very shallow water so it’s discovered immediately since you can see clear to the bottom of the lake at the point she chose. Why wouldn’t she row out to the deeper part and dump it there? She can’t because then there would be no movie!  

The Departed ****
reviewed by the Phantom
Scorsese finally wins a best director Oscar for this totally brutal, violent and complicated film about corruption in the Boston PD. It's a great cast with a terrific performance by Jack Nickelson, where everybody is double crossing everybody else and everybody dies in the end. All very Shakespearian. Beautifully told, filmed and acted but be prepared for the violence.


The Descendants ***
reviewed by the Phantom
I love Clooney, so when somebody asked me if I wanted to see this movie I jumped at the chance. For some odd reason I thought it was going to be a comedy. Far from it. The story is about a wife on life support surrounded by her dysfunctional family. Not really a set-up for laughs, right? Nope. Each family member represents one stereotypical family bad sheep -- from bickering teenagers to greedy in-laws -- we've all got them in our families, so we recognize them. But that's okay. Sometimes stereotypes are a good thing, it saves time because we don't need a lot of personal background information. The story is set in Hawaii, yummy. Love that too. George actually feels right in the part. (Maybe he lives there in real life. Who cares, right?) Hawaii is more complicated than most tourists realize, which sort of rings true in this movie. The backstory is about missionary lands coming out of those long enduring trusts (something I know about...loved that part.) I wouldn't actually put this movie up for an Oscar, but 2011 hasn't been all that great a year for movies, so chances are we're going to hear some buzz about this one.

Desperate Measures  ***
reviewed by Tom Beall
Even when Michael Keaton plays a really bad dude, like in this movie, I keep waiting for him to do something from Beetlejuice. It never happens, and I'm never disappointed in his acting. This movie is fairly violent, and Keaton is superb as Peter McCabe, a very bright and resourceful criminal who's bone marrow is the only match for Detective Andy Garcia's dying son. His agreement to donate his bone marrow is merely a ploy to enable him to escape, and despite all the police department does, he is successful. Andy now must recapture McCabe without killing him so that he can still donate the bone marrow, while the entire police department is trying to kill him. This is a clever movie that has a very interesting ending. I liked it. (10/99)

The Devil Wears Prada ***
reviewed by The Phantom
A summer movie for grown-ups -- woo-hoo! Meryl Streep is terrific, and nearly over the top, as the high-powered fashion magazine mogul. Anne Hathaway is stunning as her clueless but plucky assistant. We know this story -- it's about the worker who starts out knowing nothing about nothing but because of her charm, street smarts and friendliness, she rises to the occasion -- and we love it. The clothes and the scenery are yummy, the story is well written and well acted. It's a total charmer of a chick-flick.

Django Unchained ***
reviewed by the Phantom
I can't say I loved this movie, although it was well made and entertaining in places. Great story about the old South right after the end of the Civil War. A bounty hunter stalks the bad guys and brings them back dead. He hooks up with Django, an ex-slave. Slaves aren't supposed to ride horses or shoot straight. Django is different. Do I even have to say this: there is plenty of violence, the ending goes on far too long. I couldn't watch it. Waited in the lobby for my pal, who reported how it ended.

Earth to Echo ***
reviewed by the Phantom
This is a Disney movie, which Disney sold to another distributor, so it's Disney in disguise. And it's the ET plot recycled, only this time ET is an adorable-looking metal owl-like creature with blinking blue lights. Three eleven year olds are about to be evicted from their family homes, an eminent domain thing involving road work, or so they have been told. They spend their last night together on an adventure in the Nevada desert, and find the little owl, who they name Echo. Eerie stuff happens in Nevada deserts, we all know that. The adventure is supposedly being filmed by one of the eleven year olds, first with one of those cameras mounted on the handle bars of his bike, and then with google-like glasses, so the film jumps and skips around. That was fun. At one point I was hoping the bikes would start flying with the moon in the background. But no. The kids end up dodging the construction crew who are not really building a road, but looking for ET so they can kill him. Government workers always want to kill ETs before actually talking to them. ET phones home and all is well. I questioned my eight year old after we left the theater. He got the plot points, but he plays Minecraft so it was a piece of cake for him. Fun day at the movies.

Eddie the Eagle ***
reviewed by the Phantom

I thought this was an adorable movie from an old "true" story. Talk about overcoming adversity and being committed to a goal. Eddie wanted to be an Olympic ski jumper. Good thing he lived in England, where it's not a popular spot. He wasn't a very good ski jumper. It's the Jamaican bobsled team story, with skis this time. It won't put you to sleep and it's good fun for the whole family. It had a very short theater run. Rent it!

An Education ***
Reviewed by The Phantom
British actress, Carey Mulligan, stars in this Oscar-nominated memoir about Jenny Mellor, a sixteen year old school girl who falls for an older man -- much older, and so sophisticated that we have problems right off the bat. Really? You want us to believe this story actually happened this way, without Hollywood embellishments? The suspension of disbelief difficulties are palpable from the very beginning. What makes the film plausible is Carey's brilliant work. That and the fact that it's set in London in the '60s where people living quotidian lives sometimes do odd things.

Without giving away the plot points, it's safe to call this film a modern morality play, where ethics and morality issues come at us from the very beginning, and we begin to convince ourselves that things might turn out okay for Jenny, despite knowing full well that they won't. And of course, they don't. Jenny, with a broken heart, finally becomes that older and wiser woman, and her older boy friend moves on to the next unsuspecting teenager.

Elizabeth **** 
reviewed by the Phantom
Henry VIII's daughter, Elizabeth, inadvertently assumes the throne of England, and her conservative-thinking advisors believe in their heart of hearts that hers will be a very short reign, but Elizabeth has other ideas, which she eventually carries out, using a thoroughly calculated and resourceful sense of guile, to show them all, eventually becoming the longest reigning Queen of E, all the while remaining a virgin (well, maybe).

End of the Affair ****
reviewed by Karen Dale
Loved it.  Dark and complex and full of emotion.  Some odd things happened, but the movie makes you a believer.  What The English Patient could have been with some decent editing.  This film offers a different presentation of the themes we love.  Recommended for a rainy day.

English Patient ***
reviewed by the Phantom
Those who read this book first had a better idea about what was going on in this movie. It's World War II again, but we're on the fringes of it, first in Italy and then in Egypt, among characters who are ill, dying, in love or else in some other condition that renders them impossible to understand. The settings are lush, the costumes wonderful, the performances flawless, but the storyline is very difficult indeed.

ET****
reviewed by the Phantom
Following a trail of Reese's Pieces, the extra terrestrial finds his way to a suburban household full of children and a clueless mother, who doesn't notice him first hiding in a pile of stuffed animals and later wandering around the house dressed for Halloween, which disguise he then uses to scour the countryside looking for a telephone on which to phone home.

The Fault in our Stars ***
reviewed by the Phantom
From the novel, it's the YA giant best seller about young people with cancer. I didn't think I wanted to sit through this movie but my daughter promised me I would like it. Very good story about some truly unfortunate young people. Played for living in spite of having cancer, not intended to tug at our poor suffering heart stings. I liked that. Cancer just rips through our society landing here and there and showing no mercy. We are all cancer survivors one way or another. Shortly after I saw the movie I saw a young man walking around in Santana Row wearing a t-shirt that said: Fuck, Fuck, Fuck, Fuck, Fuck, Cancer!

Yes, I agree. Great movie. I promise you.

Finding Nemo ****
reviewed by the Phantom
 I thought this was going to be a “kid” movie. After all, it was an animated, feature-length cartoon about cute fish. But I was certainly surprised and impressed with the wit and beauty of this film. The premise is straightforward: a worried parent with a bratty run-away child who gets into serious trouble. Marlin, the nervous-wreck of a dad, a clown fish played by Albert Brooks, goes on a quest to find Nemo, who has accidentally gotten into real trouble. Marlin is accompanied by his pal Dorie, a fish with a short-term memory problem, played by Ellen de Generis. Dorie is the equivalent in every way to Dunkey in Shrek, and maybe even funnier.

It’s beautiful under the sea, even though they don’t realize it as they swim on and on, trying to figure out what might have happened to little Nemo. In the meantime, Nemo is stuck in a dentist office aquarium with a bunch of imprisoned reef fish who are determined to break out and regain their freedom. It all ends well, as it should, but I think adults will appreciate this remarkably funny movie even more than kids will. Ellen is brilliant and so are all the rest of the players. What fun!

Florence Foster Jenkins ***
reviewed by the Phantom
This movie isn't doing very well at the box office. I've read the reviews. Most folks say it's boring and long, with not enough of a story. Well, I disagree. I think it's great fun. And Meryl Streep, as always, has done her homework. She has become an opera singer with a very flawed voice. Not only is she singing below the right note at times (flat), she also has some vocal oddities that are downright breath-taking. She squawks, howls, chirps and shows off every imaginable singer no-no.

And get this: it's is a biography. Yes, Florence was a real person, and she was faithfully (more or less) depicted in this film. I simply cannot understand how this lovely person could be so deluded. She truly wanted to sing and she was rich, and gave lots of money to "the arts", so her friends and sycophants convinced her that she was indeed a wonderful singer. They didn't want the world to know that she really shouldn't be singing in public Florence might have suspected the truth, but she played along. The movie is as opulent as her life must have been, and Hugh Grant is there with her. We haven't see Hugh for a while. He's holding up well.

Frida ****
reviewed by The Phantom
Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera were larger-than-life artists, much revered throughout Mexico, so it took a star like Salma Hayek to do justice to Frida in this film biography. Every frame of this movie is luscious and a pleasure to watch. The sets, the clothing, Mexico itself, everything about this film was delivered with the same gusto that Frida lived. Frida's life was complicated, her art was risky and flamboyant, even for her time. She died when she was just 47, in 1954. She was in constant pain for most of her life, having been in a horrible trolley accident when she was very young. But the pain she tolerated was not readily apparent. She had a huge appetite for life and lived to the fullest. See this movie.

The Gift ***
reviewed by the Phantom
This video rental just squeaked by in my opinion to become worthy of renting. The story is about a southern woman with a sort of esp-like gift. She sometimes has premonitions, usually by way of card readings or eerie dreams. That storyline in itself is hard to swallow, and the premonition she has is melodramatic. But Kate Blanchette’s performance is what saves this film from sinking into a Southern swamp of melodrama. It’s a rather stereotypical southern character study and a murder mystery, but it kept my interest.

Girlfight ***
reviewed by Karen Dale
If there’s such thing as a clichéd teenage misfit girl-boxer love story, this film has all the elements. Granted, we could use a lot more "strong girl overcoming hardship and coming out on top, while not relying on her beauty" stories, so I am very hesitant to criticize this movie. I just found it a bit trite
and predictable in sentiment, if not in plot. Definitely worth checking out on video.

Gladiator ****
reviewed by Karen Dale
After seeing this movie, I realize how very little I knew about gladiators and the times in which they existed. I was obviously completely oblivious to the extreme violence which characterized that historical era and defined the gladiators' lives. I am known to eschew all gratuitously violent movies because I just don't need that kind of energy in my life. I almost passed on The Messenger because I read a review stating that it depicted the most graphically bloody battle scenes ever filmed. 

It certainly now has been surpassed. I would say I spent a good third of Gladiator with my eyes closed. The level of gore approached the ridiculous as new and horrific ways of medieval massacre were brought before us. I emphasize the stomach-turning qualities of the movie to this extent because, in spite of myself, I really, really enjoyed it. The depth of character and emotional richness of each of the figures portrayed highly surpassed my expectations for a big-ticket blockbuster marketed toward the enthusiasms of your average teenage boy. The acting was excellent and the plot took the story in a different direction than viewers have been trained to expect. The personal and thoughtful scenes between head-choppings and chest-slashings were profound and mesmerizing. Highly recommended to be viewed with a stomach of steel and a grain of salt.

Good Night and Good Luck ***
reviewed by the Phantom
George Clooney took a chance on this one filming this in black and white, the color of choice for TV and movies during Edward R. Murrow's time. This film bio actually focuses on the McCarthy era with some eerie parallels to what's happening in our country today. This film is for the elite squad, the pace is plodding, like a one note samba, intentionally, I'm sure. If you're looking for thrills and car bombs find a different movie.

The Good Shepherd ***
reviewed by the Phantom
This is another one of those dark CIA films, a nearly three hour tour de force that chronicles the birth of the CIA. You have to stay focused and tuned in to every word in order to keep your place as you watch Matt Damon move thru this film like a total zombie. Matt is a counter intelligence expert who suffers a Faustian fate. Somebody (maybe Robert DeNiro, who is involved in this film in many ways) once said that the best way to become truly knowledgeable about the CIA is to watch Hollywood movies about it, that they are usually spot on. As most movie goers know, dozens of films have been made about the CIA and they are usually very dark and sinister, sort of like The X-Files. There is also a book about the birth and development of the CIA called The Company which also attempts explain this strange and sinister organization. One does wonder what the real purpose of the CIA is because it seems like most of the time the CIA spins its wheels trying to figure out who is loyal to the US, who is loyal to the CIA,  who is double dealing with other spy agencies. At times it seems like they forget just what their purpose really is. As we have learned in real life, the CIA doesn't do a very good job of analyzing the information they do collect. After seeing films like this one, it's easy to question whether we would be a better country if we just disbanded the whole agency altogether. The world might be a better place without the CIA in my humble opinion. Nevertheless, this is a very good movie!

Gosford Park ***
reviewed by the Phantom

This film is getting lots of 2001 Oscar buzz, but I’m having a hard time figuring out exactly why. Yes, the “ensemble” cast is superb, and the scenery is lovely, and probably the directing of this large cast was technically and artistically challenging, but…

The bottom line is that this story is basically a British drawing room mystery, in the style of an old Agatha Christy, a sort of tattered and worn-out copy at that. We’ve seen it before, we’ve read it before, it’s been done on PBS a million times, maybe not quite as charmingly, but hello, were you all sleeping through the last one hundred episodes of Masterpiece Mystery Theatre?

It’s the British upper class again, gathered for a foxhunt, wonderfully filmed in all its ghastly glory. We meet the guests and their servants as they arrive at the typically sumptuous Georgian mansion. They all know the host who eventually becomes the victim of murder. In the truest sense, every guest and servant on the premises could become the Prime Suspect because nobody really likes the old guy, but this time, in a departure from most of the English drawing room mysteries, the detective in charge of solving the crime is an idiot. This, I guess, is the thing that makes this one different. There are other twists too. Ho hum. (2-02)

Gran Torino ***
reviewed by the Phantom
Who doesn't like Clint? Nobody. He's getting old though, and rumor has it that this might be his last film. This could have been a really bad movie with somebody else in the driver's seat, but not this one. I'm not going to lay out the plot because nearly everybody's seen the trailers. It's a slice of life movie about an old guy, a recent widower, not in good  health, crotchety, can't get along with the "ethnic" neighbors. We've all been there with somebody, right? Uh-huh. That's why this could have been one of those Fox TV cop deals, but it's way better than that. Rent it.

The Green Mile ****
reviewed by Tom Beall
This three-plus hour movie doesn’t need an intermission because you will be mesmerized by it to the point of not needing the bathroom!  This is a wonderful movie about good triumphing over evil in a Stephen King sorta way that requires about a half box of tissues.  A black man in 1935 is arrested and convicted for killing two little girls, and sentenced to the electric chair.  He is a magical man. He is sent to the death house, known as the Green Mile, which is supervised by Tom Hanks as a corporal of the guard.  Nearly the entire story takes place in the prison, and you experience some strange characters and occurrences that are poignant and thought-provoking.  Tom Hanks is good, particularly as he bonds with the black prisoner, but his supporting actors steal the show.  Michael Clarke Duncan (plays John Coffey) is awesome and should get an academy nomination.  This is a must-see movie.



The Duds!

A Day without a Mexican **
reviewed by the Phantom

Imagine what California would be like if all the Mexican laborers just disappeared? What an intriguing idea for a movie. Unfortunately, somewhere between the concept and the execution, things went terribly wrong. The movie relies on sight gags and one-liners to convey an important and disturbing idea. Somebody should do this movie again with a better script.

The Dancer Upstairs **
reviewed by the Phantom

This movie, directed by John Malkovich (the actor), has good intentions. It is based on a novel by Nicholas Shakespeare, who also collaborated on the screenplay, which is usually a good sign. The plot is familiar to us, it’s a thriller about terrorism, but it’s also a romance. And it takes place in Latin America somewhere, perhaps Peru, so there are peasants, and the corrupt police and the scary militia are involved too.

Javier Bardem stars as the world-weary, unappreciated, police detective on the trail of the terrorist Ezequiel. We don’t learn anything about what drives Ezequiel to do the horrible things he does, such as hanging dogs from lamp posts with cryptic messages on them, encouraging children to blow themselves up in public places, and randomly assassinating politicians. Apparently the acts of terrorism are supposed to speak for themselves, and for that reason we follow the detective as he meanders around trying to figure things out, and not too coincidentally or believably, dallies with his daughter’s dance teacher.

John most likely didn’t set out to make a critically acclaimed, box office dud, but that’s what happened. The plot is very convoluted, and although it’s in English (how come it’s in English? We can read subtitles), oftentimes it is very difficult to understand some of the English accents. It has all the ingredients for a darned good drama, but somehow it just misses the mark. However, it is imminently watchable, it’s just not as thought-provoking as it should be.

Drive **
reviewed by the Phantom

It's Ryan Gosling, doing an early Steve McQueen one-note samba through this entire film. It is billed as a mystery-thriller. Really? So slow moving that you have to pinch yourself to stay awake. Ryan is mutely working on his thousand yard stare through the whole thing. He's a driver, he does "get aways" for bad guys, as a living. There's not much of a story, so the film drags itself from scene to scene to the point where you can actually feel the director thinking, "now what should I do next?" The acting is painful, because the actors are given so little dialog to work with. Yet the story hangs together, sort of. It seems long, but it's only 100 minutes of painful plodding. It might have been a technical success, but as story, pul-eese. We've seen this plot hundreds of times on TV already.

Enemy at the Gates  *
reviewed by Karen Dale
Pretty forgettable tale of a WWII sniper who, supposedly, did a lot for the war effort in Stalingrad. The main focus is on sniper tactics, as we watch two guys stalk each other in relative silence for over two hours. The love triangle, secondary characters, and back-story are poorly developed and detached from the primary action. The film moves very slowly (in keeping with the sniper, theme, I suppose) and closes in a style strongly reminiscent of the Brothers Grimm. For someone who likes war stories, this film at least says something a little different about WWII. But, take comfort, they spared no expense at getting in the requisite number of exploding head shots. It’s a renter.

Eyes Wide Shut:  Who cares?
reviewed by Karen Dale

The film's title gives you a hint about how to watch it. Eyes shut.

Far From Heaven **
reviewed by the Phantom
I was frankly disappointed in this film that was supposed to be a true-to-the-genre 1950s film. Well, maybe, or "good try" but something was definitely lacking. I think a little more time could have been spent on plot development, and less time on trivial details. It looked pretty, but it wasn't "real" even as a genre film.

Finding Forrester **
reviewed by Karen Dale
Speaking of trite, I am compelled to file Finding Forrester in this category. Rather than fully explore any issues or themes, it takes a superficial look at racial expectations and the challenge of finding one’s voice. The result is the story we’ve seen a hundred times about the underdog overcoming tough circumstances to prevail in the end. Oh, and he’s got a wizened, quirky old mentor to guide him on his path. It’s a hero’s journey gone awry. Connery is too big for this one, and the supporting actors are too small. Rob Brown, the surprisingly adept extra-turned-lead, could just as well have been playing Goldilocks.

40 Year Old Virgin **
Running time: 1 hr, 56 min.  Feels like: a bit too long (K), 2 hrs. (P)
P— I loved it! I liked the character; at first I felt sorry for him, but throughout the movie I saw more strengths in him than weaknesses. And his weakness wasn’t that he hadn’t lost his virginity; it really wasn’t a big deal.
K—I thought it was good; about the quality of a standard romantic comedy. Steve Carell is really funny (like, shoot-milk-out-your-nose funny). I think I actually smelled pee from the guy next to me after one certain scene. I thought the supporting cast pretty much sucked, but they got better as the movie wore on (and on…). If you don’t catch it in the theater, it would be a good rental.  

Fun with Dick and Jane **
Reviewed by the Phantom
Jim Carey is sort of out of control (what else!) in this remake about the out-of-work business man with his back against the wall. Everybody over 40 (?) knows the story, but Carey is brilliant going to insane lengths to keep food on the table for his cute suburban family. It’s a no-brainer, but a fun rental after you’ve seen all the good movies.

The Girl Next Door  **
reviewed by Karen Dale
This one I saw purely for curiosity's sake. It is a documentary on the life of porn actress, Stacey Valentine. I guess she's pretty successful but [blink, blink… blush] how would I know? It is pretty fascinating to see how they film these things, the way the actors handle themselves between and during scenes, and the tricks they use to make it believable. The people involved in and surrounding that world seem really interesting, from a psychological standpoint, but the film doesn't go too deep in that direction. I would have liked to know more about Stacey's motivation and evaluation of her own life. Her explanation of why she got into the business was because sex was the only thing she ever found that she did really well, so says her. 

Through the lenses of my social-work-colored glasses, though, it seemed quite obvious that she has father/men/power issues and an undisclosed history of abuse. None of which she was willing to discuss with us. I thought it would have been interesting to look into the stories of a few other actors, male and female, to get a sense of what is truly typical for the field. The people we saw all claimed to really love their work and having sex all day long, but there's got to be a lot more going on than that. To be generous, though, there were some touching and thoughtful moments. Overall, The Girl Next Door is a somewhat interesting exposé for the curious.

Gloria **
reviewed by the Phantom
This is a subtitled Chilean film about an older woman's love life. Apparently the stars are famous icons in Chile because they absolutely loved this one. There are many rave reviews of it online. As for me, not so much. It's a slice of life movie, and I didn't need another slice of hers. I thought it was boring and tedious, with "ick" moments of total nudity of two stars who would know better at this point in their lives.

Gone Baby Gone **
reviewed by the Phantom
Dennis Lehane wrote Mystic River, which became a thriller movie. So now another book of his has become a movie. Lehane again focuses on children, a kidnap-murder plot, that has more twists and turns that you can imagine. It is billed as an edge-of-your-seat thriller, but you can make a popcorn run or pit stop whenever you like. It doesn't matter, it will be confusing one way or the other. The characters are all self-consciously quirky, but nobody is able to reprise Sean Penn in Mystic. I actually had to Goggle this movie in order to remember it, in order to write this review. That shows how much "staying power" it had. Put it at the very bottom of your Netflix list.

The Great Gatsby **
reviewed by the Phantom
One of the Great American Novels brought to life in an over blown, over the top, cinematic extravaganza. I'm still not sure whether I enjoyed it. Leonardo DiCaprio did an interesting version of Gatsby, but I wonder whether he really understood the character. Actually, I wonder if any of us do. The sets were glorious, and the dystopic front end scenery was nicely juxtaposed against the grandeur of the era. When the movie was over I couldn't help but feel like it was a movie that tried a little too hard.


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