Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Brassed Off

(UK, 1996)

The finest experience of my high school life was being in the Nederland High School Band, the Golden Pride of the Golden Triangle …

… that would be Beaumont, Port Arthur, and Orange, Texas. Nederland is right in the middle of that triangle, and as I write this, the whole area is still mostly underwater from Hurricane Harvey. It’s not only Houston that is drowning, and in fact some ... Read more »

When the Bough Breaks

(1986)

I’ve been a fan of Jonathan Kellerman and his novels about Los Angeles child psychologist Alex Delaware ever since this first novel was published. I do have to admit, though, that after thirty-two of them they are getting a little stale, and I don’t think I’ve read the last two.

As for this movie, it’s a cheap made-for-TV production and doesn’t look all that great. And Ted Danson ... Read more »

Bank Shot

(1974)

There are no funnier books ever written than Donald E. Westlake’s stories of John Dortmunder and his hard-luck criminal gang. No less than seven of them have been filmed (including two I haven’t seen, one in Italy, starring Teo Teocoli, and a German one, with Herbert Knaup), and Dortmunder has been played by Robert Redford, George C. Scott, Paul Le Mat, Christopher Lambert, and Martin ... Read more »

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

(2017)

I think Oprah Winfrey really wanted to make a good film about this incredible story, but somehow she ended up making it mostly about herself. It’s far too complicated and technical for me to detail it all here, but the short version is that cancer cells taken from Ms. Lacks in 1951 and cultured in a lab are still in use today, and though various companies and institutes have made fortunes ... Read more »

The Zookeeper’s Wife

(UK. USA, 2017)

This was a major disappointment to me. The story of the Żabiński family, Antonina and Johan and their young children, Ryszard and Teresa (still alive today), should have been compelling. Instead, I kept wanting it to show a little movement. It is extremely ponderous, when it should have been electrifying.

The Żabińskis were the directors of the Warsaw Zoo, one of the best in the ... Read more »

McCabe and Mrs. Miller

(1971)

One of Robert Altman’s very best movies. It has to be in my Top Five, though I’ve made no such list. It’s classified as a “revisionist western,” of which there were many good ones in the ‘70s. They abandoned the standard tropes of the traditional western, and showed things in a much more believable manner. Here McCabe, when three bounty hunters come gunning for him, does Read more »

The Road to Perdition

(2002)

It was a little hard for me to believe Tom Hanks as a Mob hit man in the 1930s. I just always see him as a nice guy. Which isn’t to say he doesn’t do a good job, and in the end he really is a lot nicer than anyone around him. He gets caught between an Irish boss, Paul Newman, and his son, Daniel Craig. Newman knows his son is a worthless psycho who is stealing from him, but family is all. ... Read more »

Cocoon

(1985)

Here is a feel-good movie sort of in the mold of Close Encounters of the Third Kind. It asks the question, “If you were real old, soon to die, and found a magic pool that restored your youthful vigor, would you take off on an alien spaceship?” Well, duh. It’s all very well done by Ron Howard, and stars a galaxy of old pros like Don Ameche, Wilford Brimley, Hume ... Read more »

Captain Fantastic

(2016)

This one is bound to make you think. Viggo Mortensen and his wife are old hippies who have been raising six children out in the forest. They learn to kill a deer with a bow and arrow and butcher it. They learn other survival skills. It’s all sort of like a boot camp, and it looks brutal. But the kids seem to like it. And Viggo is not really a survivalist nut, though he sometimes looks like ... Read more »

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back

(2016)

Tom Cruise was always the wrong, wrong, wrong guy to play Lee Child’s popular character, Jack Reacher. He was wrong for it in the first one, and he’s wrong here. The first one had some good parts. This one has fewer of them. Don’t bother. And hope this is the last of the series.