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Highly recommended to those who like Coen Brothers movies
If you liked the Coen Brothers movie Fargo, I believe you will like this movie.

It's a movie that focuses primarily on the Lodge family who live in a planned community called Suburbicon where the residents are nearly 100% Caucasian, and want it to stay that way.

Matt Damon is Gardner Lodge and Julianne Moore plays two parts, his wife Rose and her sister Margaret. Noah Jupe is Gardner's and Rose's son Nicky (about 10 years old). A home invasion at the Lodge house leads to events that are the center of the plot that unfolds in the movie. A subplot concerns a black family that moves into the house behind the Lodge house. The subplot is not explored in any depth. The racism in our country was more overt back in the 1950s time frame of the movie.

Matt Damon and Noah Jupe do truly outstanding jobs in this movie, and Julianne Moore and the supporting cast, including Oscar Isaac, are also very good.

Don't go to this movie if you are not a fan of Coen Brothers' movies.

Miss Sloane

Excellent Movie - Greatly Surpasses the Bechdel Test
My wife Monica and I saw this movie yesterday and enjoyed it very, very much. Jessica Chasten gives a truly outstanding performance and an Oscar nomination for it should be in her future. The supporting cast is universally excellent.

Since the movie is about congressional legislation for background checks on gun purchases, many of the Second Amendment fanatics (some of whom had not seen the movie but voted) gave it a 1. Ignoring those votes (257 of the 788) the IMDb rating would have been 7.5 which is an appropriate average.

The movie is long, over two hours, which may be a detriment to some, but we certainly felt it was worth the time. I would like to commend supporting actors Mark Strong, Gugu Mbatha- Raw (of Belle fame), and Alison Pill for their performances.

I hope you will go to see this movie.

Little Men

The movie critics on Metacritic that gave this an overall 86 must have been paid off.
My wife and I go to all types of movies. For example, we recently saw Jason Bourne, Bad Moms, War Dogs, The Innocents, Indignation, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Captain Fantastic, Hell or High Water, and Florence Foster Jenkins. All of which were well done. That brings me to Little Men which we saw today.

Little Men is about two families, one that inherited a building with an apartment and a store below it, when the father's father dies. The other, a single mother who has rented a dress shop for a number of years from the deceased father. The family that inherited the building moves into the apartment above the dress shop. Both families have 13 year old sons who become fast friends. The new building owners are considering raising the rent on the dress shop.

In my opinion, there isn't enough story her to make a movie. At best this should have been a play. Although the acting is decent, neither the story nor the acting were good enough to develop any empathy for anyone in the movie. The bottom line is the movie was not enjoyable (unfortunately not something critics consider when rating a movie). And, by the way, the sound was at best only fair. The bottom line is the movie isn't any good. My best recommendation is to skip it. You won't have missed anything.

Everybody Wants Some!!

Many will not want some of this.
In my opinion, if you're over 25, there is a good chance you will not enjoy this movie. When we saw the previews in the theaters, my wife and I thought this movie would need a good review if we were ever going to see it. It looked like a complete loser, but how could it be that bad if it was made by Richard Linklater who made Boyhood that we loved.

When the critics' reviews came out, they were almost universally positive with a Metascore of 84, and the IMDb user score was around 8.0 The time was convenient, the theater (Arclight in Bethesda) was our favorite, the Washington Post critic Ann Hornaday (who has lost a lot of my trust) gave it three stars and a good writeup. How could it be that bad? Maybe I should have noticed that nearly 10% of the raters on IMDb gave it a 1.

The actors in the film, most of whom are unknowns, did a good job. The filming was very good. But the story, what little there was of one, was a real looser. It centered on the male bonding of a group of baseball scholarship athletes at a college in Texas. It took place during three days before the start of the fall semester in 1980. The first 75% of the film consisted primarily of partying, drinking, trying to hookup, more partying, more drinking, etc. The last 25%, where a real story began to develop, was good.

I rate movies on enjoyment. For instance, Horrible Bosses, which got mixed reviews, I gave a 9. It was very enjoyable and I got a lot of laughs from it. I hated Birdman, which had high ratings similar to Everybody Wants Some. I've come to the conclusion that you can't trust the professional critics, and you can't always trust users on IMDb. The question is, can you trust my wife and me who see about 100 movies a year in the theaters. You decide.

Miracles from Heaven

Heartwarming, feel good movie
My wife and I rate movies on enjoyment. We generally try to see critically acclaimed movies that we hope we will enjoy. Miracles from Heaven, while not critically acclaimed, is a movie that was described as heartwarming and feel good. We like both, so we went to see it, even though we are non-believers.

It's a very well done movie with good production values. The filming is outstanding. The two leads, Jennifer Garner and Kylie Rogers give very credible performances. While the movie didn't convert us, Kylie's discussion of her belief in Jesus to a girl suffering from cancer in the hospital brought tears to my eyes.

If you are a believer and like movies, this is the one to go see. That doesn't mean that all others should avoid it. We both were raised Christian and we have many devout Christians in our extended family. This may explained why we are open to movies like this. However, I did come out wondering when all the children suffering in Syria are going to get their miracle.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

Saw two excellent movies this week, but this was not one of them
As my daughter would say, that's two hours I'll never get back. Personally, I love Tina Fey and this may be better than some of the movies she has made in the past, but that's not saying much. The movie was created to give you feeling of what it was like to be a newspaper correspondent in Afghanistan during the war, and it does a pretty good job of that, but there is no good story to go with it.

Although the camera wasn't necessarily jumpy, I felt the movie was with a lot of chaos making up most of it. I told my wife after the first half hour there would probably be 20 minutes of an enjoyable move in here someplace. I didn't measure it exactly, but the last 15 minutes or so was pretty good. It's not worth the price of admission for that 15 minutes.

The two excellent movies we saw this week were Revenant and Race. I highly recommend Race as an enjoyable time to spend two hours, and would give it a 7.5. Revenant, my wife and I gave a 9, but it is not for all tastes. A lot of it is gruesome and not easy watching. However, if your stomach is up to it, you prefer a really well made movie, and you can deal with some gore, go see the Revenant. It should be seen in the theaters.

The Night Before

This movie is so bad it should be rated below zero
My wife and I go to all types of movies, from independent films like Far From the Madding Crowd (good) to films like Trainwreck (excellent), Spectre (only average), to low brow movies like Horrible Bosses (excellent) and We're The Millers (very good). They all look like masterpieces when compared to The Night Before.

There is no real plot here, just three guys trying to enjoy a night out (Christmas Eve) on the town. I like Seth Rogen but he is awful here. There are several gross out scenes for cheap laughs (I may have laughed twice in the whole movie), and a supporting cast that is completely wasted. Lizzy Caplan who is so fabulous in Masters of Sex is completely misused here (must have needed a new patio).

I assumed that with a Metecritic score of 58 and the Washington Post reviewer giving it 2.5 stars the movie wouldn't be horrible, and even if it had no redeeming value it would be good for a number of laughs. I was so wrong.

I'm temped to go see the other new Christmas movie, Love the Coopers, which has a Metacritic score of 29. Could it really be worse than this movie?

Don't waste your time on this movie (time you'll never get back). Go see Brooklyn (good) or Spotlight (very good) or The Intern (excellent). They are all time well spent.

Deux jours, une nuit

Good Acting, Weak Story, Little Entertainment Value
The acting was uniformly good. However, I don't think there are any Academy Award nominations here for movie or actress, even though Marion Cotillard is an excellent actress and was very deserving of her Oscar for La Vie en Rose in 2007. There just isn't enough of a story here to make this a satisfying movie. I expected the movie to be slow, which it was. But I didn't find it boring. It might have been good for a Lifetime TV movie.

I go to a lot of independent movies as well a mainstream ones. I often think the critics get it wrong. Maybe that's because I want to be entertained by a well done, well acted movie. I have the feeling that many critic's criteria for rating a movie doesn't place enough value on entertainment. Maybe "Entertainment Value" should be included with their rating.

Not Recommended.

Moms' Night Out

Somebody is not telling the truth in their reviews
The critics got it right. The movie is awful.

Having a popular star like Patricia Heaton in this movie is not enough to save it. The mothers and fathers depicted in this movie are mostly idiots and should never have had children. The script wouldn't have been approved for an ABC afternoon special because it's so poor.

My wife and I went to see the movie because the 17 user reviews available at the time on IMDb gave the movie an 8 or above with accolades like: "Love this movie," "Perfect Mother's Day Fun," "Funniest movie I have seen in a long time," and "Greatest Movie Ever Made." Don't believe any of these reviews. Having seen the movie, it's clear to me that the reviewers had an ulterior motive.

My history teacher in college, when announcing the next test date, would always preface his remarks with "I know a word to the wise is foolish." This was generally aimed at those who would put off studying for the test until the last minute. Well, being foolish, I would like to offer a word to the wise which I failed to follow when considering this movie. For movies you are unsure you would like, don't trust a very positive or very negative review on IMDb unless you at least scan all of that user's reviews. This will give you an idea where the user is coming from; if his/her tastes agree with yours; and whether there are any ulterior motives in posting the review.

If a film has been absolutely panned on Metacritic, like this one was, be careful about selecting to go to that movie in the theaters. IMDb is generally a good source of what the users say. The operative word is "generally." In this instance it was not.

My review was a warning that this movie is not worth seeing. The fact that only 2 of 13 users so far found this warning helpful offers another clue about how IMDb reviewers can have an agenda. Who were the 11 people who found that my warning was not helpful? Are they the same people who find stop signs annoying or could they possibly be the same people who wrote the overwhelming positive reviews of this movie.

Inside Llewyn Davis

If you are a professional critic, you will probably love it, if not, there is a good chance you will hate it
I love many of the Coen Brothers movies including Fargo, No Country for Old Men and A Serious Man. They all look like masterpieces compared to this movie.

I go to a movie to be entertained and this movie, except for the songs, had almost no entertainment value.

If a movie has both a bad story and bad acting, it generally gets bad reviews from the professional critics and nobody goes to see it.

If a movie has a bad story but good acting it might get good reviews for the acting, which for many professional reviewers overshadows the need for a good story and entertainment value.

To me there is almost no story, except to portray a person devoid of common sense who continues to pursue a dream of becoming a singer while his experiences say that dream is nothing more than a dream. Even when he appears to be heading for a real job as a seaman, his past mistakes in judgment make that very difficult to achieve. Thinking ahead is not part of his mentality.

I strongly recommend skipping this movie. Look on Metacritic.com for the user reviews. Currently they are 13 positive, 11 mixed, and 13 negative. But the critic's rating is 92 out of 100. In this case the users were much wiser than the critics.

If you want to see a good character study movie, with both a good story and excellent acting, go to see Nebraska. I am no fan of Bruce Dern, but he is outstanding in this movie and you will get your money's worth.

Museum Hours

Must have gone over my head because I hated it
My wife and I compared our dislike of this movie to that of a movie we saw the year we were married called Sparrows Can't Sing. In fact, I would like to see Sparrows again to see which is the worst, or if, with subtitles to understand the heavy English accents, Sparrows is much better than we thought. But, make no mistake, we found this movie a waste of two hours that we will never get back.

The movie takes place mostly in a museum and if you love museum art you may like this movie, but there's no guarantee. The very best part of the whole movie (or the least worse) is a tour of some of the art in the museum given in English to several tourist. During the movie, some time is spent in a hospital by the main actress talking and singing to her cousin who is in a prolonged coma. Again, completely missed the point of these parts of the movie.

When we got back home, I re-reviewed the critics ratings on Metacritic to see if I had misread them. I found that they hadn't change and the movie was still getting universal acclaim with the lowest rating being a 70. This is not the first time I have greatly disliked a movie that got universal acclaim (for example, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly comes to mind).

Unfortunately, I may some day feel compelled to waste another two hours and watch this movie when it comes out on DVD. Because my rating is so far out from the mainstream, I would want to double check if I missed something and my criticisms aren't justified.

The Lone Ranger

Thoroughly Enjoyable. The Critics Got It Wrong Again.
My wife and I go to see two movies a week, many independent films and some movie blockbusters. Most of the action blockbusters like The Man Of Steel and Iron Man 3 are complete disappointments. Some like World War Z are decent. Until yesterday, I hadn't seen an action blockbuster that was worth more than a 7 since the original Iron Man. (Well the Amazing Spiderman was pretty darn good, but the younger crowd claimed it didn't have enough action.)

Because of the overwhelming negative reviews by the critics, we were buying a ticket to The Lone Ranger with very low expectations, and were we wrong. To my wife and I, the movie is a western masterpiece, albeit with a lot of tongue in cheek humor. It has a good story that is easy to follow, and top quality action sequences (unlike Man of Steel where we were praying that the last 45 minutes of over the top, meaningless action would stop). We particularly enjoyed the last 15 minutes, with the William Tell Overture score by Hans Zimmer playing in the background.

The performance by Johnny Depp's with his goofy facial expressions was worth the price of admission. He was the star, but Armie Hammer did a really good job too. The rest of the supporting cast was generally very good.

My wife and I highly recommend that you go to see this movie. The critics, obviously in my opinion, don't always get it right; and most of them certainly didn't here. I whole heartily agree with critic Steven Rea of the Philadelphia Inquirer who wrote, "A wild, wacky, wide- screen reimagining of the vintage radio serial and TV series, the film - with Armie Hammer in the hat and mask, galloping across Texas righting wrongs, and Depp as his trusty Indian sidekick, Tonto - is an epic good time."

Dood van een Schaduw

Very Different, Very Good, but not my favorite
This is the first year that I ever saw the five Oscar nominated live action short films. Death of a Shadow is by far the most original. It's very strange but it's altruism makes it quite appealing.

All of the films were very well done, had a message, and were deserving of the Oscar.

My favorite was Curfew about a woman, her adorable, precocious daughter and her estranged brother who is suicidal. I hope the fact that it was the only one in English didn't influence my choice. The little girl in the movie is adorable and a very good actress. The message I received was, if you commit suicide you will never know the joys the future might bring.

Henry showed the difficulties of aging and loosing your memory. As one of the elderly myself, the movie had a sobering impact. The music was very good.

Buzkashi Boys takes place in Afghanistan and is about the dreams and aspirations of two young boys. It was very moving and your heart went out to the two boys and their likely bleak futures.

Asad is about a young boy in Somalia living in poverty who wants to be a pirate. He catches a very unusual "fish." He also makes the best of his situation in a county that has undergone many problems.

I highly recommend seeing the film that contains these five films.

Take This Waltz

You May Make a Mistake if You Walk Out Half Way Through
I saw this movie at the Avalon Theater in Washington DC, which shows many independent films. A couple sitting across the aisle left about half way thru the movie and I could understand why. The first half is very slow and I would have been with them, but my wife always has to see a movie to the end. During the first half I was thinking the movie would be, at best, a 3 out of 10.

Watching the movie to conclusion was worth all the effort. However, I was left with a certain sadness for Margot (Michelle Williams) who really didn't know what she wanted, but knew there was something missing in her life and her marriage to Lou (Seth Rogen). Unlike some other reviewers, I believe Seth did a very credible acting job.

Sarah Silverman has been given praise for her work here. I'm a fan of hers and she does do a good job. But the credit for her work must be shared with Sarah Polley who wrote her some of the best lines in the movie.

I didn't particularly like Daniel (Luke Kirby) who in my opinion was emotionless. As the neighbor who Margot develops a lust for, he has many smart lines and does only a credible job.

Margot and Lou have been married for five years and the bloom is definitely off the rose. Although they are playful with each to try to cover for what's missing, they do not work together to make the marriage last. In fact, Lou is very happy with the way things are. They definitely have a problem with the kind of communication necessary to identify their problems and possible solutions.

Margot needed to become involved with outside activities that interested her to make her life fuller. She had too much idle time to think about what she was possibly missing.

A survey years ago of people with second marriages showed that at least a third said they should have worked harder to make their first marriage work. Margot should develop the capability to bring more to their marriage.

There is a sex scene late in the movie that was way over the top and would have been better if it was reduced to a long passionate kiss.

This movie is for serious movie buffs. I would not recommend it to the casual movie goer.


Pathetic and Not Worth Wasting Your Time
Seeing over 100 movies in the theaters each year, I speak with some knowledge of the quality of the films offered. There are excellent films like the Hurt Locker, Midnight in Paris, and A Separation. There are some very good films like the first Hangover, Bridesmaids, X-Men First Class, the Fighter, Warrior, and the first Iron Man movie. There are even many good films rated from 5 to 7 on the IMDb scale. But there are also many tankers, like Jack and Jill or the current film I am reviewing, TED.

I went to see it Friday afternoon because I thought I would like it. It's hard to gross me out and I really like Mark Wahlberg. When the gross out and the use of the f-word are totally gratuitous and not funny, and the story stinks, there is absolutely nothing to recommend.

I see the movie did well at the box office. I hope word of mouth will keep you from wasting your time. The movie is a total looser and you who read this review have been for-warned.

También la lluvia

Good movie but difficult to understand everything because of some unreadable subtitles
I went to this move in the theaters because there was a dearth of good movies out that I hadn't seen. I generally rate a movie on entertainment value, quality of the production, and quality of the acting. All were good here and I might have enjoyed the movie even more if it wasn't for one major flaw. The subtitles were in white and blended with the background, especially for the outdoor shots.

I just saw a movie with subtitles that were white but with a black background behind them. That made them much more readable. The dialog, especially in the first third of Even the Rain comes very quickly and when you have to struggle with the subtitles you miss a lot while only being able to get the general gist. Any nuance is easily missed.

If the film comes out with better subtitles on the DVD version, I may rent it on Netflix to see what I missed. I think all professional movie critics should include in their rating of foreign language films an indication of the readability of the subtitles. I wonder how Ann Hornaday of the Washington Post was able to give this movie three and a half stars out of four if she had the same problem with the subtitles that my wife and I had. Maybe movie-making hasn't progressed as far as we thought.

The Descendants

Felt no sympathy for or connection with anyone in the movie
I am a big fan of talented movie actors like George Clooney and was anxiously anticipating the opening of The Descendants which received universal acclaim by the critics (on Metacritic). In fact I saw it on the first day out in the Washington area at the Landmark Bethesda Row independent theater in Bethesda, Maryland. As usual, the average age of a nearly full theater was 60 or higher. This is the age group of a lot of the moviegoers that appreciate independent films. Unlike many of them, my wife and I, who are in the demographic, also appreciate a lot of films that appeal to wider audiences.

The movie is very well acted and that is what received my generous vote. It is about a father and his two daughters who have to deal with a family tragedy and a not so secret family secret. The movie takes place in Hawaii where the scenery is a big plus.

However, don't believe the hype that this will bring tears to your eyes in one moment and make you laugh out loud in the next. There are a number of comical moments, but there was noting in the movie that brought me to tears. Not even close, and there have been a number of movies that have brought a tear to my eye. Actually, I didn't feel any real connection with or any sadness for anyone in the movie.

I can see that George Clooney may be nominated for an Oscar for his role in this movie, but that alone is not enough for me to recommend the movie to you. I understand this movie will be released everywhere on the day before Thanksgiving. It will be interesting to see if it is successful or will go the way of another recent George Clooney movie, The Men Who Stare at Goats. I will say the Decendants was much better that the goat movie.

Larry Crowne

The critics didn't like Rock Hudson and Doris Day either
I went to this movie with fairly low expectations because of the many negative reviews by the movie critics. However, I thought I'd like it, nonetheless. From my rating you can see that I enjoyed this movie way beyond my expectations.

Tom Hanks did a good job acting and directing and was very believable. The last time I saw Julia Roberts as a teacher was in Mona Lisa Smile. Her teaching here is more low keyed, but from her performance, I think acting as a teacher is her forte. Tom Hanks and her are perfect together.

Besides Hanks and Roberts, the supporting cast was very good. George Takei was very funny as the economics teacher, as was Cedric the Entertainer as the neighbor having the perpetual garage sale. The students at the college were all very good and believable.

Years ago, Rock Hudson and Doris Day made a number of movies together, like Lover Come Back, that were romantic comedies like Larry Crowne. They were panned by the critics and my wife and I generally loved them. If you're over 35 and like "under the top," humorous movies, go see this movie.

Everything Must Go

Rewards for the Serious Moviegoer
This is not a movie for the masses. Will Ferrell fans who liked Melinda and Melinda and Stranger Than Fiction will not be surprised by his performance as Nick Halsey in this movie. He does comedy so well, many of his devoted fans may not realize that he is a good dramatic actor as well.

Ferrell's supporting actors, especially Christopher Jordan Wallace, are also very good. The story moves at a slow and deliberate pace which will bore all but serious moviegoers. However, the acting is excellent along the way, and in the end, the movie has synergy and leaves you with a positive feeling about Nick's future.

If you like deliberately paced independent films, go see this movie. It won't be around long.


The most laughs of any film in recent memory
I can't say enough good things about this film. My wife and I were laughing out loud almost continuously throughout the entire film. I never realized from Saturday Night Live what an enormous talent Kristen Wiig is.

The supporting cast is also excellent, especially Maya Rudolph, Melissa McCarthy, Rose Byrne, and Chris O'Dowd. The supporting actress who really stole a lot of our attention was Melissa McCarthy (Molly from TV's Mike and Molly). Her performance was completely uninhibited and frequently, fall in the aisle, hilarious. However, the scene outside the bridal shop with Maya Rudolph will be the one you will long remember after the movie is over.

This is not a chick flick although it does star very talented women and the men, except of Chris O'Dowd, are mostly secondary. If this film is not an enormous hit, it will be because of men who refuse to see it. For those men who can enjoy a movie that doesn't include over the top action, you will be rewarded for seeing this film.

My wife and I enjoyed Hangover very much and this film will be compared to it. Some time has past since we saw it so it may be unfair to compare it with this film that is so clear in our minds. However, we both think this movie is even better than Hangover. If you're not a prude, we strongly recommend you seeing this movie.


One of the most important reviews I have added to IMDb
Run, don't walk, to see this movie. If you miss it while it is in the theaters, put it in your Netflix queue. My wife and I see a lot of movies, independent and mainstream and this is one of the best.

Yesterday we saw a mainstream movie, Hanna, which was a major disappointment, except for the excellent acting of Saoirse Ronan. I gave it a 5 because the story was so terrible and I didn't have any emotional involvement concerning what happened to Hanna.

We generally don't go to two movies, two days in a row, but I was so disappointed in Hanna and have been interested in possibly seeing Miral since I heard Rula Jebreal on NPR's Tell Me More. She wrote the novel and the screenplay the movie was based on. I was surprised that she received such a chilly reception on the show, so I remembered to check out the movie online.

On METACRITIC, which contains reviews by major critics, there were 17 reviews; 3 positive, 12 mixed and 2 negative. Overall it was given a 45 out of 100 which means generally mixed reviews and near the low end of that scale. Keep in mind that Hanna got a 64 which means generally favorable reviews. I read a number of the critic's reviews of Miral as I often do before seeing a movie

I also read all of the six reviews available at that time on IMDb. There were only five usable as one was written by a person who, in my opinion, had an agenda and, based on his review, had not seen the movie.

Having consulted METACRITIC and IMDb, I was convinced that my wife and I might like this movie, but would probably not rate it above a 6 or 7 out of ten after we saw it. I always keep in mind that there are movies with overwhelming favorable reviews that I have hated, including The Diving Bell and The Butterfly which had the same director, Julian Schnabel, as this movie. Lost in Translation is also in that category.

My wife and I came to this movie without prejudice for one side or the other. We were just looking for a well made movie that would entertain us. We were so pleasantly surprised. The acting was excellent, the story involving, and we were quite tense in the last third of the movie. Unlike Hanna, we really cared what happen to Miral.

I agree with Spencergo, this movie should be seen by a wider audience, but I know it won't. The reason that this review is so important to me is most people will skip this movie because of the mixed reviews, and they shouldn't. Unfortunately, many independent films, like Rabbit Hole last year, get missed. I sincerely hope you give this movie a try if you can find it at your local independent theater.

Rabbit Hole

One of the most satisfying movies of 2010
Initially, I avoided this movie because I read this sentence summary on IMDb: "Life for a happy couple is turned upside down after their young son dies in an accident." This sounded like a real downer. Yesterday, my wife and I had to decide between Another Year, The Company Men, and this movie.

I checked out some of the reviews on Metacritic and IMDb and found some that said Rabbit Hole was inspiring and the other two, although good, could be depressing. We decided to go to Rabbit Hole and I'm so glad we did.

I already knew the acting would be excellent and it was. I also found the cinematography to be very good and the story of coping with death of a child to be surprisingly up-lifting. I didn't find the film in any way to be difficult to watch.

Make no mistake about it, if you like independent films like the King's Speech, you're probably going to like this movie and you might love it as my wife and I do. Normally, I wouldn't give a move a 10, but this is definitely at least a 9 and I gave it a 10 so more people would possibly go and see it.

Black Swan

Low Entertainment Value
I was unlucky enough to take a chance on this movie. The good is that Natalie Portman gives an Oscar worthy performance. The bad is that this movie is so intense it is frequently painful to watch. I've even heard some who think it should be classified as a horror movie.

As independent film buffs, my wife and I see a lot of films that are not intended for a wide audience. Fortunately, many are excellent. Although this film was very well made and had excellent direction, it has very low entertainment value.

The one high point of the movie was near the end when Natalie performs as the Black Swan. But this is not worth the price of admission. As is sometimes the case, movies that don't entertain get very high critical reviews. What is surprising to me is that user's gave this movie such a high score. Sometimes, when this happens, I like to see the movie again when it comes out on DVD or cable to see if I was out in left field when I saw it in the theaters. I hated the final Bourne movie in the theaters but found it much more enjoyable on cable. Go figure.

The September Issue

A Different Take on the Movie
My fashionable daughter insisted that my wife and I watch this movie. I liked it very much even though I am not into fashion. I think the movie gave some interesting insights into Vogue magazine and the power it wields.

However, my reaction to Anna Wintour, the Editor in Chief, and Grace Coddington, Vogue's Creative Director is what reinforced in me a conclusion that I became aware of years before. Anna Wintour, who most would say is very good looking, came off as very cold and distant and not especially likable. Grace Coddington on the other hand, who is eight years older and does very little to enhance her looks, especially with her hair, came off as smart, honest, thoughtful and very likable. By the conclusion of the movie, I found Grace Coddington to be by far the better looking of the two. The reason is that she had an inner beauty that shined through while, in my opinion, Anna did not.

I learned at an early age that your conception of looks and beauty of a person can change greatly when you get to know that person.

Letting Go of God

Two Hours and Fifteen Minutes of Excellence
Letting Go of God is one of my favorite DVDs ever. I found Julia Sweeney to be extremely intelligent and well read. She obviously gave very careful consideration to her faith in God and found that even a good Catholic education and loving Catholic parents couldn't overcome the problems she uncovered with the Bible, her previous religions beliefs, and the beliefs of other religions in the world.

In a country where over 70% claim to believe in God, calling yourself an atheist can require real courage, especially when you come from a religious family. Ms. Sweeny has that courage.

For those of faith, it must be hard to give this DVD the rating it deserves since it describes a journey to becoming an infidel. I haven't seen any reviews that dispute Ms. Sweeney's claims about the bible. For most Christians who haven't read the bible, her claims about it should be a wake-up call.

For those without faith who love this DVD, I recommend the recently released movie Agora. For those who liked it even though they still have their faith, I recommend the documentary For the Bible Tells Me So. For those who have outstanding questions and want to read more, I recommend Bart Ehrman's Jesus Interrupted and Why We Suffer.

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