Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Jayne Mansfield’s Car


Alabama, 1969. Robert Duvall is the patriarch of a fairly well-to-do family. He was once married to a woman, the mother of his four adult children, but she divorced him and married an Englishman and moved to London and had more kids. Now she has died, and the English arrive in Alabama for the funeral. Cultural clashes between the well-educated and upper class Brits and the almost-redneck ... Read more »

Jennifer’s Body


When you win an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay in your first time at bat, like Diablo Cody did with Juno, it’s no surprise that expectations will be high for your next film. And when you’re Diablo Cody and a whole lot of industry people really, really don’t like you because you aren’t what they want and expect from a screenwriter, you should probably be ... Read more »

Jersey Boys


There’s a lot of guys who can sing falsetto. (I’m not one of them.) But for most of them, when they hit those upper registers the tone becomes a little hollow, a little less powerful than their regular singing voice. Not Frankie Valli. His voice seemed to become even stronger when he reached for the stratosphere, which was most of the time. He was the person, his was the freakish voice ... Read more »

Jersey Girl


It’s funny to compare the careers of Ben Affleck and Matt Damon after their breakout co-production Good Will Hunting. Both have made some turkeys, but Damon seems to have been more astute at choosing his scripts. Affleck has spent entirely too much time making by-the-book schlock like this. Oddly, the movie did perk up a little when Will Smith showed up, and I ... Read more »

Jesus of Montreal

(Canada/France, 1989)

I’ve been interested in this film for years, and now it’s out on DVD. The interest comes because it was filmed at about the same time as Millennium was filming in Toronto. I was nominated for a Genie Award for best screenplay for a Canadian play, and Jesus of Montreal was my main competition. The voters wisely chose to give just about ... Read more »


(Australia, 2006)

… is a small town halfway between Sydney and Melbourne. It sits on a lake that didn’t used to be there, created by a dam. The chief industry seems to be sport fishing. There are trout the size of atomic submarines in the rivers feeding the lake.

Digression: The first thing you see in this movie is an announcement that says something like “Aboriginal and Torres Strait ... Read more »

Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey


In my opinion, most of the newer Christmas movie suck. They are either too damn sweet, or they go for irreverence and just come off as nasty. Here is an exception. It’s a Netflix production, an all-new musical that takes place in a cleaned-up Dickensian world where race doesn’t matter. The characters are mostly black, but the extras are mixed, with about a third of them being white people. ... Read more »



A very minor effort from Bette Midler. She is a singer in various Nevada locations, married to an abusive gambler (Rip Torn) who has a system. One of the problems with enjoying this movie is that you have to buy into the idea that a certain player can jinx a certain dealer, who turns out to be Ken Wahl. Whenever Torn shows up at Wahl’s blackjack table he wipes him out, causing Wahl to be ... Read more »

Jiro Dreams of Sushi


If I had to choose one food to eat for the rest of my life, it would be sushi. (Or fried chicken.) (No … sushi.) I guess that’s cheating, isn’t it? It’s like saying “I’d like French cuisine,” or Cajun, or Mexican, or Swedish smörgåsbord. So sushi would be the one type of food I could eat for the rest of my life. It is incredibly varied. It’s a hell of a lot more ... Read more »

Jodorowski’s Dune

(USA, France, 2013)

This is probably the most famous movie that never got made. Second place is probably Terry Gilliam’s The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, about which another film about not-making was made: Lost in La Mancha. This one didn’t get as far along as Gilliam’s film did (and he is currently still trying to get it made) but there was a great deal of ... Read more »