Compliance – a movie that will disturb you

The other day, my wife and I were reading summaries of movies as we selected one to watch. We passed on a thriller where one critic said it was the most disturbing movie he ever watched. Ironically, we selected a Sundance award winning movie that was powerful, but may have been the most disturbing movie we ever watched. It is called “Compliance.”

NOTE: A small spoiler alert is needed, but I only touched on it a little more than the summary does for the movie.

The movie is based on a true story that happened in a Kentucky fast food restaurant in 2004. Sadly, it has happened in quite a few other places. In essence, a young female cashier was picked out to be accused on the phone by a man pretending to be a police officer. I am not giving too much away, as you learn shortly therein what you already have figured out.

The man uses the name of a regional manager who he says is on the other line to enlist the help of the female store manager. He says a female customer has accused the cashier of stealing from her purse and they have surveillance footage. Since the police is too busy, he enlists the manager to do a strip search to save the accused the trouble of coming down and being booked. The ruse gets much uglier for this gullible young woman and her naive boss. I will spare the details, but their compliance with the requests of this beyond-creepy man is very disturbing.

The red flags are many throughout the call, but they are missed by the accused, the manager, and the manager’s fiancé who she enlists to help as the store is busy. If you watch this movie, you will be talking at the TV pleading with someone to think about what is happening. And, sadly it is based on a true story which happened over seventy times elsewhere.

The movie is meant to be disturbing. The director is Craig Zobel and it stars Dreama Walker as the young woman, Ann Dowd as the store manager, Pat Healy as the pretend cop, Bill Camp as Dowd’s boyfriend, Ashlie Atkinson and Philip Ettinger as co-workers and Stephen Payne as the maintenance worker who plays a pivotal role. The lessons in the movie are many, which is its intent, so if you do watch it, be forewarned that you will be perturbed.

Endings and next chapters

Have you ever noticed how some movies, series, or books just end without tidying up the conclusion? As my more frequent readers know, I enjoy watching movies, and tend to watch those with a good plot and dialogue.

Yet, I have noticed of late, a non-inconsequential number of more recently made movies about life’s challenges, seem to end without real resolution. Maybe they are emulating life, where we keep on going, often without resolution. We may get back on a better path, but the problems still persist.

The screenwriters and directors are seemingly leaving it up to us to figure out what happens next. It is not uncommon for my wife and I to look at each other and say “is that the end?” when the credits start to run.

To me, a writer can leave it to our imagination and still add needed clarity. In “Casablanca,” the ending had clarity for the two new members of the resistance who walked off to the “beginning of a beautiful friendship,” but we will always speculate what happened to Ilsa, Laslo and Rick in the future. It had closure as well as letting us converse about what’s next?

I was watching a movie where the ending basically was the child of a young mother (who got in her own way) would not leave her even when she tried to bus him to relatives. The woman would still be getting in her own way and had problems she had not remedied, but the movie just ended with them walking down a road in the snow with no money and the clothes on their backs. The only takeaway is they were still together.

Another movie about a husband acting rashly with a young woman (who was staying at his and his wife’s guest house as the two worked together on a film project) just ended without clarity. The movie faded out with the guest riding away in a taxi, leaving us to decipher if the wife would give the husband another chance or kick him out. It afforded my wife and I good what-if conversation, but it would have been interesting to see the writer’s take on it. To me, the question could have been left open-ended, but the wife could have left or said he needed to leave to let her think about next steps.

In one of the more famous movie endings in “Gone with the Wind,” Rhett Butler provided the needed clarity as he walked out the door. But, we are left to discuss what may have happened as Scarlett noted “tomorrow is another day.” If you have not seen the movie, you will need to move past the sugar coated racism and make lots of popcorn due to its length.

Of course, some endings may be too cheesy and cliche. When a movie, series or book ends with a more unexpected or against the grain twist, that can be more intriguing. Too obvious an ending can be less fulfilling, so leaving it somewhat open ended or imperfect can be more entertaining. The famous movie “The way we were” ended in the way it should have, but not in the way a Hallmark movie would have.

What are your thoughts? Do you like endngs that leave a lot to your imagination? Or would you prefer some or a lot of clarity? I would note the answer may depend on whether you are watching the movie with someone. I would love to hear from some of our authors out there.

Let’s go to a concert – when it is safe again

This is a repeat of an older post dating back before the pandemic. When it is safe to go back, let’s take precautions and start returning to concerts. Again, I encourage all to have the three vaccine shots and wear a mask in any large gathering. We are contemplating returning to a Steely Dan/ Steve Winwood joint billing later this year.

Whether it is a local band or one who has sold millions of songs, attending a venue to hear live music is thrilling and makes you feel alive. My wife and I have stumbled into live music on vacation which was a treat and we have made special plans to attend artists of renown. We have even gone to see our friend play piano in one of his bands  on very short notice. This post is dedicated to him as he suffered a stoke yesterday and may not make it. We are thinking good thoughts for him and his family.

Let’s honor him together and take a trip down memory lane. Please feel free to offer some of your thoughts and experiences.Together, my wife and I have seen some fairly big name performers and with very few exceptions were worth trip. I have even taken my boys to see some artists that my wife has not cared for, but were excellent to us – I could not drag her to see ACDC, Styx or Rush, for example, but we enjoyed the heck out of them. Yet, I was able to get her to see the Allman Brothers, which was well worth the effort.

Some of the well-known artists we have been fortunate enough to see include: Bruce Springsteen, who will leave you worn out, but you could hear just one more; Paul McCartney, from which I had to text my Beatles fanatical brother to guess where we were, Elton John, where we saw three generations of fans singing word for word with Elton; Eric Clapton, who brought along Buddy Guy and Derek Trucks for kicks; Tina Turner, the best performer around; Heart, led by Ann Wilson, one of the greatest Rock and Roll singers around; Tom Petty, who was so very underrated even with his tremendous body of work; Steve Winwood, what a thrill; Rod Stewart, who my wife had to see, but I enjoyed as well; Bob Seger, one of my all time favorites where we got tickets in the nose bleed section; KD Lang (once with Tony Bennett),  who can sing almost anything and does the best version of “Hallelujah” you will ever hear; Bonnie Raitt, God she is great; Peter, Paul and Marya wonderful treat, Chicago, where it rained half the concert, and George Benson, a great guitarist and performer.

In some smaller venues, we saw Mary Chapin Carpenter, who is genuine, talented and funny; Elvis Costello, who my wife did not want to see, but enjoyed immensely; James Taylor, several times and always a treat; Jimmy Buffett, who is especially entertaining when seen with your drunk brother-in-law; Jackson Browne, who actually disappointed (avoid the first concert tour date), but whose music I love nonetheless and Flogging Molly, which was a wonderfully unique experience. We also saw: Arlo Guthrie (twice), John Sebastian, The Association, Delbert McClinton, Marcia Ball (go see her if you can), Marshall Tucker (a band with a tragic history), Altan, a neat Irish band, Blood, Sweat and Tears, Fourplay, Harry Connick, Jr. and I am sure I am leaving off several others. My wife has gone to several with my daughter that were interesting from Owl City to Emilie Autumn, who apparently throws muffins at her audience.

Yet, we have seen some nice local bands that were a thrill, from Jazz to Blues to Swing to Pop. We have bought their CDs to honor their performance and help them out. But, the CDs also provide some memories taking us back to Montreal, New Orleans, Killarney, San Francisco, Blowing Rock or even home in Charlotte or Winston-Salem when we lived there. There is a Cajun restaurant in my home city that has live music every day. A neat memory of ours is my oldest son being asked to sing along with an Irish family in a pub near Watertown, Ireland as he was the lone American who knew the words to “Molly Malone.”.

Music heard at home or in your car is a wonderful experience, but hearing live music makes it memorable. My wife won’t listen to Elvis Costello at home, but she enjoyed his concert, e.g. Yet, let me close with a tribute and memory of our friend Eddie, who had the stroke. Eddie plays in several groups, but the last time we heard him play was at his oldest daughter’s wedding a few months ago. It was also memorable as my wife played social director and got everyone up to dance, including Eddie’s mother. God be with you Eddie. You make us feel better about our lives with your music.

So, let me hear from all of you. What are some of your memorable experiences? Have you seen some of same folks? Do you have friends that play?

And, a few more movies

Here are a few more movies that caught our eye the past few weeks. Most of these are on Tubi, but some were on HBO and Showtime. We did see “House of Gucci” in the theatre.

“House of Gucci” starring Lady Gaga, Adam Driver, Al Pacino, Jeremy Irons and Jared Leto, Salma Hayek and Jack Huston about the intriguing story beneath the Gucci name. It is based on a true story which took place from the 1970s to the mid-1990s. It is a good movie with Driver and Lady Gaga in the leads as the son and wife of one of the 50% Gucci owners played by Irons. Pacino plays the other 50% owner, whose son, played by Leto is not the most capable of people to take over the business. Pacino and Irons are excellent, but Leto is hidden underneath a lot of prosthetics and his performance is a little over the top, which is unusual for such an acclaimed performer.

Body of Evidence” starring Willem Dafoe, Madonna, Julianne Moore, Joe Montegna, and Frank Langella is a steamy criminal trial story about a woman accused of killing her rich lover to gain a large portion of his inheritance. The challenge for Dafoe, who plays the defense attorney, is his client played Madonna, prefers a risque style of sex. Caution, do not watch this in front of younger pairs of eyes.

“The Company Men” starring Ben Afleck, Tommy Lee Jones, Chris Cooper, Maria Bello, Rosemarie Dewitt, Eamonn Walker, Craig T. Nelson and Kevin Costner is about people getting let go from a shipbuilding company after years of service. The focus is on the first three cast members above, but the other supporting cast play key roles. I feel Rosemarie Dewitt plays the supportive, but realistic wife of Afleck’s character perfectly. This may be the best of the movies noted here.

“Misconduct” starring Josh Duhamel, Al Pacino, Anthony Hopkins, Mailin Akerman, Alicia Eve and Julia Stiles is one of the lowest rated movies on Rotten Tomatoes that I ever liked. It has a great cast, with a somewhat predictable plot, but is entertaining. Hopkins perfectly plays a wealthy guy who is used to getting his way. The story is about an ambitious attorney played by Duhamel who brings a case against Hopkin’s pharmaceutical company and he gets involved with corruption and cover-up.

“A Perfect Murder” starring Michael Douglas, Gwyneth Paltrow and Viggo Mortenson is about a husband hiring his wife’s lover to kill her. There is more to it than that, but it is an intriguing movie about the reasons why the husband is so keen and why Mortenson is so agreeable.

“Solitary Man” starring Michael Douglas, Mary Louis Parker, Jenna Fischer, Jesse Eisenberg, Susan Sarandon, Danny DeVito and Imogene Poots is about a womanizing divorced man who ruined his business doing something corrupt and has now learned his health is poor. His answer is to go after every woman he comes across. For some reason, Douglas plays a cad better than many, as his role reminds me of the lecherous character he played in “Ghosts of Girlfriends Past” with Jennifer Garner and Mathew McConnaughey.

“The Good Shepherd” starring Christian Slater, Molly Parker, Stephen Rea, and Von Flores is about a priest who has second thoughts about his calling, so he volunteers to find out who killed a priest, the police have ruled a suicide. He continues the investigation against the wishes of the Bishop as he feels the church owes it to the priest to find out what happened. Parker plays a reporter who works with Slater to get to the truth, primarily because they had a previous relationship before he became a priest. This movie should not be confused with the Matt Damon story by the same title. I think in Canada, it was released under the name “The Confessor.”

“Charade” starring Audrey Hepburn, Cary Grant, Walter Matthau, George Kennedy and James Coburn is about a woman who loses her husband only to find out he sold all their possessions and owes $250,000 to the US government which is missing. At least three other men think the money belongs to them, so she is in danger. Hepburn remains one of the most beautiful and elegant actresses ever, so it is always a treat to watch her.

“The Choice” starring Teresa Palmer, Benjamin Walker, Tom Wilkinson, Maggie Grace, and Tom Welling is based on the Nicholas Sparks novel about a couple played by Walker and Palmer who have an attraction, but “bother” each other from the outset. She has a fiance, but no one affects her like Walker’s character Travis does. The story is more intriguing to us as it is set in Wilmington and Wrightsville Beach and my wife and I recognized the scenery and even ate at one of the restaurants featured.

As I review the above, a good cast can overcome a weak plot and poor dialogue to a certain extent. “Misconduct” is a little predictable which is why it is rated so poorly, but is still good. “Solitary Man” is well-played, but Douglas is not a very endearing character in this, which is the intent. “Body of Evidence” is good, but be prepared for some pretty racy scenes for a movie with such name actors. “House of Gucci” is good, but it is on the longer side of most movies and can run on at times. “The Choice” is a little cheesy at times, but the banter between the couple is different than most romantic movies and Palmer, who played in “Hacksaw Ridge,” is intriguing to watch.

Peter Bogdanovich in three movies (may he RIP)

The acclaimed movie director Peter Bogdanovich passed away yesterday at the age of 82. He directed several excellent films, but let me highlight three to give people a look into his work. Ironically, I watched two of his older films, “Paper Moon” and “The Last Picture Show” in the last few days, so I wonder if someone new the end was near and aired them..

Yet, the one I like the most he made in 1985 with Cher as a caring but tough mother in “Mask.” “Mask” starred Eric Stolz as a young teen whose facial bones grew in a distorted manner causing acute, tremendous pain and leaving him with a mask-like look. His mother would help him meditate through the pain to avoid giving him debilitating pain medicine. In my view, this movie was Cher’s best work, even better than in “Moonstruck,” where she won an Oscar.

The first scene in which you realize she is comforting her in-pain son is extremely poignant. Sam Elliot stars as Cher’s biker boyfriend. In spite of the pain and scary countenance, the teen was very smart and congenial, making fun of himself before others would. And, unless you saw the credits, you would never know the lead is played by Stolz, who is excellent, as well.

“The Last Picture Show” usually gets the most fanfare. Based on Larry McMurtry’s book and his co-written screen play with Bogdanovich, it is a black and white movie about small town life in Anarene, Texas in 1953. Cybil Shephard (in her first role), Jeff Bridges, Timothy Bottoms, Sam Bottoms and Randy Quaid are the high schoolers featured, but a great cast of adults play key roles with Cloris Leachman (who won an Oscar for Supporting Actress), Ellen Burstyn, Eileen Brennan, Ben Johnson and Clu Gulager.

Teen and adult angst are the key themes portrayed showing people will look for love even when they appear to have someone who fills the role. Interestingly, the only overtly protagonist is the silent role played by Sam Bottoms and maybe the sage like role of Ben Johnson, with all of the other characters being various shades of gray revealing our imperfections. Yet, you do feel for many of them at times, even though they do things you may not care for. Leachman’s Oscar is very deserving as she plays a dramatic role very different from her comedic future ones.

“Paper Moon” is another black and white film about a depression era con man played by Ryan O’Neal who travels Kansas and Missouri with his daughter. His actual daughter, Tatum O’Neal steals the show in the role and wins a deserved Oscar for her first performance. Madeline Kahn also plays a key role as the father’s new girlfriend and threat to the welfare of the younger O’Neal.

The lessons of making money through cons are passed down to the daughter, who he is traveling with to take her to stay with her aunt after her mother passes. She turns out to be an even savvier business-person than her father, knowing when to push on the accelerator or hit the brakes. She could also give an up-to-date accounting of the money her father owed her.

I wonder if the adult actor realized he was the straight man for this rising star. He does a great job in the role, but your eyes are on her facial expressions most of the time, as she is frustrated and bewildered by her father. Bogdanovich would later team with Ryan O’Neal in “What’s up Doc? with Barbra Streisand.

All three are excellent movies. “The Last Picture Show” though had an extra hurdle to overcome when it was given an X rating. It included a skinny dipping scene where some full frontal nudity is visible for a few females. To me, the scene was unneeded the way it was shot and much could have been accomplished with more subtlety. I forewarn you in case there are younger eyes in the room. Nonetheless, the story is good and worth the effort, as are the other two.

Dune – a remake that surpasses the original movie

“Dune” is a very good, complex movie about Frank Herbert’s complex novel. Yet, unlike the OK first movie, the remake did not take it on as one movie. So, there will be a sequel forthcoming.

Dune is a science fiction story around the politics and power of controlling production of a spice that aids in the navigation through the universe. The spice is found on the desert planet of Arrakis, where only the resilient can survive, primarily a vast tribe of people called the Fremen who value water and survival of the fittest.

The patriarch (the Duke Leto) of the Atreides family has been asked to oversee production on Arrakis by the emperor, but he is being set-up for failure. The story is more around his son Paul and his mother, the Lady Jessica who both have a capability that makes them each a powerful force. Paul is played by Timothee Challamet, Lady Jessica by Rebecca Ferguson, and the Duke by Oscar Isaac. Zendaya plays Chani who Paul dreams of and finally meets on the planet. 

Dune has a great ensemble cast to support the primary characters. Josh Brolin, Javier Bardem, Stellan Skarsgard, Jason Mamoa, Dave Bautista, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Sharon Duncan-Brewster, Charlotte Rampling, Babs Olusanmokun, et al, all add value to their roles. Skarsgard is quite good as major antagonist Baron Harkonnen, who used to oversee the spice production. Bardem and Zendaya will feature more in the sequel as Paul and the Lady Jessica have shown their worth to the Fremen toward the end of the movie.

The screenplay was written by the director Denis Villeneuve, Jon Spaihts and Eric Roth. They deserve a lot of credit for boiling the plot down from the book. While the movie includes violence, the underlying story of intrigue comes out. Plus, there is an allegiance to the unrelenting desert life in the filming. For example, Lady Jessica appears without make-up throughout which would not serve her well in the sandy heat. The Fremen debate whether an infiltrator is worthy of being kept alive versus the water his or death would result in for their benefit. The mechanical transport and machinery must withstand the deterioration of the sand.

I will leave out more detailed plot description. The movie is quite good, even for those who are not huge science fiction fans. Yet, I don’t want to undersell the plot intrigue and otherworldly context. It helped me to have seen the first movie. One of my sons has read the novel, so he said this version is more closely resembling the book the earlier one. So, he and my other son join me in giving it a thumbs up.

Trying to get to heaven before they close the door (a reprise tribute to Bob Dylan courtesy of Joan Osborne)

The following is a repeat of an earlier post from before the pandemic It was our last concert before the world changed.

Joan Osborne is an under-appreciated singer, songwriter, who is best known for her song “If God was one of us.” Bob Dylan, of course, is a Nobel Laureate who can also write compelling music to go with his beautifully scripted words.

My wife and I traveled to Atlanta to see Osborne sing a host of Dylan’s songs in tribute. She also has produced a CD of such songs. Osborne has a sensual and sensuous style in her singing that adds seasoning to Dylan’s music. She also hand-picked songs that resonated with her, selecting some deeper cuts, a few of which we did not know.

Here are some of the highlights:

“Buckets of Rain” – She said Dylan wrote several love songs that do not get acclaim.   We were unfamiliar with this one, but it is a  treat live and as a recording,

“Tangled up in Blue” – This is my favorite Dylan song and she did more than justice to it. Her pacing and style revealed the saga portrayed by Dylan’s words.

“Highway 61 Revisited” – This is a great song, but an even better one live. She makes it more human, beginning with the example of Abraham.

“Quinn the Eskimo” – Many people do not know Dylan wrote this classic. She opened her show with this one, so we, had to think for a second.

“Tryin’ to get to Heaven” – This was my favorite version of a Dylan song. She accentuated with a strategic pause each time “before they close the door.”

“Gotta Serve Somebody” – She excelled on this classic Dylan song. It was much more sensual and bluesy than Dylan could offer with his singing.

“Masters of War” – This was another Dylan song which was unfamiliar to us, but it is classic Dylan in protest chastising those who say you can win a war without costs.

“Don’t think twice, it’s alright” – When I think of this one, I think of Peter, Paul and Mary paying homage to Dylan. She covered it well.

She did not sing these songs during the concert, but she includes them in her CD.

“Dark Eyes”
“You’re gonna make me lonesome when you go”
“Rainy Day Women”

She probably dropped them as she sang a couple of songs she has yet to release along with her biggest hit. If you do not know Osborne, download or purchase her CDs. “Relish” is her second CD which won a Grammy. Our favorite is “Righteous Love,” which we saw her perform on Austin City Limits. Or, just buy her “Songs of Bob Dylan” CD.

Since it was a small venue, we got a chance to speak with her afterwards. She is very gracious and down-to-earth. And, definitely worth the listening.

What if you took that other path or were forced to walk down it?

I think we have all thought about choices we made in our past that sent us down a path where we experienced life events. It goes back to Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken.” What if we took the other road? There is a new TV show that I have not yet seen, but the concept follows this thought process. It is called “Ordinary Joe,” and per the show summary, here is what it entails.

“Ordinary Joe” stars James Wolk and centers on Joe Kimbreau as he makes a pivotal, life-changing decision at his college graduation and follows him on three parallel timelines: as a police officer, as a music star, and as a nurse.

I am fairly certain this show will make all watchers think about their own lives and choices. But, as we ponder these choices, we need to realize it means what happened to your actual life may not or will not happen like it has.

As with many lives, we have experienced good and bad things. We hopefully learned from the latter and were made stronger, but we have experienced those wonderful things as well. With that said, if the bad things severely outweigh the good, thinking of other choices is a far easier thing to do. To me, those are more clear cut rueful circumstances.

There is another interesting movie a blogging friend reminded me of a few months ago, that follows this what-if concept. It is called Sliding Doors and a summary of its plot from Wikipedia follows:

“Sliding Doors” is a 1998 romantic comedy-drama film written and directed by Peter Howitt and starring Gwyneth Paltrow while also featuring John HannahJohn Lynch, and Jeanne Tripplehorn. The film alternates between two storylines, showing two paths the central character’s life could take depending on whether or not she catches a train. It has drawn numerous comparisons to Polish director Krzysztof Kieślowski‘s 1987 film Blind Chance, the outcome of which also hinges on whether or not the protagonist catches a train.

“Sliding Doors” is an excellent movie, although it is hard to follow at first, as it flips back and forth as to what happens if Paltrow’s character misses or makes the train. But, once you get in the groove of the action, it is spellbinding. Hannah is her co-star – you may remember him best from “Four Weddings and a Funeral” and his memorable eulogy for his close friend.

The concept is fascinating to explore, but be prepared as you examine your own life choices. We all have made dumb mistakes and rued decisions, big and small. But, it is also true those decisions and mistakes are part of our fabric that hopefully helped us down the road. Maybe, by handling a few relationships poorly, we were better able to nurture the right one when he or she (or they) came along. Or, maybe we are able to make a different career move or understand its ramifications better..

I remember one life moment around changing my mind after accepting a job. The life altering moment came as I was packing my office up, so it was very late in the game. I called my wife and said “I can’t do this” and she replied “Pack?” and I said “No, leave.” Had i taken the job, it would have been fine, but by staying and gracefully backing out of the offer, I was able to go work for the same company in a much better job. Plus, I loved my old job and was not ready to leave, just yet.

Robert Frost was onto something. Sometimes that decision to walk down a the road less traveled does make all the difference. But, if you took the other one, you would have made the best of it. And, you may not have known what you missed,.

Four more movies worth a look

I decided to mention a couple of movies that are more mainstream. Some of these, you may have seen. So, here goes. I will not spoil the endings, but must caution you on reading the comments.

A Perfect Man – released in 2013, it stars Liev Schreiber and Jeanne Tripplehorn, with a co-starring role for Louise Fletcher. I have always liked Tripplehorn, as she brings a vulnerability to the role of the wife of a womanizing husband played by Schreiber. She continued to give multiple chances to her husband until she finally leaves him. After over-hearing him talk to a perfect stranger on the phone as he canceled airline tickets for them, she decided to call him as a wrong number and fake persona to hear him flirt and open up with her. She learns why he is the way he is and that he does, in fact, love her. The movie is directed by Kees van Oostrin and is written by Larry Brand and Peter Elkoff.

The Good Heart – released in 2009, it stars Paul Dano, Brian Cox and Isild Le Besco. Cox is a cantankerous bar owner who has a bad heart, which is not a surprise given how he lives. He befriends Dano in the hospital who is his roommate after Dano tried to commit suicide. Dano is a kind soul who is in need of a helping hand, so Cox’s character brings him into the bar to help him. They learn from each other, but their relationship is tested when Le Besco, a woman who has no place to go, is invited to stay with them over the bar owner’s objections. Cox plays irascible characters quite well and Dano has this innocent countenance about him. The movie is written and directed by Dagur Kari.

Tully – released in 2018, it stars Charlize Theron, Mackenzie Davis and Mark Duplass. Theron plays a mother who is suffering from post-partum depression while nursing her third child with her husband played by Duplass. Theron has never hesitated to play roles of women who are struggling. Davis plays Tully who is hired to be a night time nanny, so the mother can get some sleep and recover. Davis tells her she is only there to help her get over this period. The two women bond as Theron sees a lot of who she used to be in Davis. The movie is directed by Jason Reitman and written by Diablo Cody.

The Sixth Sense – released in 1999, it stars Bruce Willis, Hayley Joel Osment and Toni Collette. Osment and Collette were nominated for Oscars as was M. Night Shyamalan as director. and writer, and the movie itself. My wife was puzzled that I had not seen such an acclaimed movie. Willis plays a child psychologist who helps a tormented young boy who we know from many movie advertisements, “I see dead people.” Collette plays Osment mother and there is a reason she also gets an Oscar nomination. Olivia Williams plays Willis’ wife who we learn is suffering from depression. While the movie focuses on the boy and his doctor, the mother-son relationship is also key. And, Willis and his wife’s relationship is not unimportant as we see him struggle with his wife’s depression wanting him to do more to help her.

All four movies are good, but the latter two get more acclaim and rightfully so. Let me know what you think below. Also, I will repeat to those who have not seen the movies to be mindful of spoiler alerts below in the comments. Commenters, please edit your comments to not reveal too much of the plots. .

A few more movies worth a visit

We have seen a few more movies since I last gave an update. Some we rented from the local non-profit video store I have mentioned, others we saw on the television and one we just saw in the theater. Let me start with the more recent theater one and go back in time from there.

Dear Evan Hansen – This is a movie based on the highly successful musical play starring Ben Platt who played the first Evan Hansen on Broadway. The theme is complex and very sobering and the music is well done sung by a host of high school and parent singers. You will go through a range of emotions, so please bring some tissue. The story is advertised in the previews, so it won’t be telling too much to say Evan Hansen, a troubled teen, was asked by his therapist to write a letter to himself. Another troubled teen steals the letter from Evan and unfortunately commits suicide leading his parents to believe Evan was their son’s friend, when they thought he had none. The movie was directed by Stephen Chbosky and also stars Kaitlyn Dever, Amandla Stenberg, Nik Dodani and Julianne Moore.

16 Blocks – This one is surprisingly good, but I wondered why I did not remember it coming out a few years back. In essence, Bruce Willis plays a disgruntled, weather-beaten cop who was set up to fail in delivering Mos Def’s character in protective custody sixteen blocks to testify against a rogue cop. The relationship between the two men evolves especially when Willis’ character decided to do something unusual – the right thing. It is directed by Richard Donner and also stars David Morse, Jenna Stern, David Zayas.

Local Color – This movie is also surprisingly good. It is a coming age of movie based on a true story about an artistic (and observant) eighteen year-old who wants to learn from a renowned, but reclusive artist who lives near by. The teen is played by Trevor Morgan with Armin Mueller-Stahl playing the curmudgeonly artist who is far more complex. Samantha Mathis plays a nearby friend of the artist who reminds him of his long ago deceased wife. She is getting over the loss of her son due to a car accident, so she is also in need of some healing. Key small roles are played by Ray Liotta as Trevor’s father, Ron Perlman as a self-professed art expert and Charles Durning as an early mentor. The movie is directed by George Gallo.

Conflict – an old black and white film is an excellent movie as well. It stars Humphrey Bogart and Sidney Greenstreet, but this time in reversed roles. Bogart plays the antagonist in this one, with Greenstreet an observant doctor. The movie is advertised as Bogart’s character killing his wife because he is in love with her sister, which happens early on. From there I will leave it to your imagination. I was wondering why I had not heard of this movie before and it may be due to Bogart playing the heavy. The movie was directed by Curtis Bernhardt and also stars Rose Hobart as the fated wife and Alexis Smith as her sister.

A couple of other movies that are also good are “Trucker” with Michelle Monaghan and Nathan Fillion about a mother who has to take care of her son while being a trucker, as his father is dying and “Phone Booth” starring Colin Ferrell, Forrest Whitaker, Radha Mitchell, Katie Holmes and Kiefer Sutherland which is about a sniper forcing a selected man to stay in a phone booth until he gets satisfaction with the man confessing his sins to his wife and mistress. I would also give high marks to “Biutiful” with Javier Bardem, but this one is in Spanish with subtitles and “3:10 to Yuma” with Christian Bale and Russel Crowe.

Let me know what you think. If you have seen them, please share your feedback. Are there others you have seen that are worth letting others know?