Sunday, December 5, 2010



RATING - PG-13 for a child's life threatening ordeal.  Some language. Very intense emotionally.

RATED - 57 Amazon (5/5), 189.877 Netflix (3.7/5), 7,755 IMDB (7/10).

STARRING - Susan Sarandon and Nick Nolte.

AWARDS - 1993 Academy Award Nominations for BEST ACTRESS (Sarandon) and BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY.

THEMES - Relationships, justice.

STORY - Based on the real life story of the Odones whose son Lorenze began to suffer from a number of neurological symptoms about age five. It was diagnosed as the rare disease ALD with the medical community giving him no hope of a cure and a limited life expectancy. The Odones would not accept the verdict. They were determined, at any cost and against extreme odds, to find a cure. They became self-educated about the disease and the science behind a potential cure. They mortgaged their home, took leave of their jobs and did everything humanly possible, racing against the clock, to save Lorenzo's life.  Part heart breaking drama and part medical mystery this is an extremely well written and well acted film.  Nolte and Sarandon are outstanding. It is also a fascinating look behind the scenes as to how medical research is done and how decisions are made as to which projects get priorities.  How would we react in a similar situation? Are there areas, perhaps not always life and death, where we have just accepted the 'professional' diagnosis and settled for something less than what could have been.  This is an inspiration not to take 'no' for an answer when our instincts tell us otherwise. This is an extremely well done film well worth watching.  Lu G. for Lu's Reviews. 12-05-2010,




RATED - R for a disturbing sequence of cruel and brutal violence, and brief strong language. The scene is very bloody and brutal.

RATINGS - 65 Amazon (4.5/5), 197,128 Netflix (4.2/5), 3,223 IMDB (8/10).

STARRING - Academy Award Nominee Shohreh Aghdashloo and Jim Caviezel.

AWARDS - 4 WINS & 4 NOMINATIONS including Los Angeles Film Festival AUDIENCE AWARD for BEST FEATURE.

STORY - Based on a true story in 1986 about a French-Iranian journalist (Caviezel) whose car broke down while passing through a remote Iranian village. At the risk of her own life, the aunt of Soraya M. made contact with the journalist to tell the story of her niece in hopes that it would make it to the outside world. It reveals a dark side of Islamic culture and the deep prejudice against women and the double standard they allow for men against women. As horrific as this story is, it is too easy to sit in judgment of these people for what they did. This is a difficult film to watch on the order of THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST for its brutality to an innocent person. We end up asking the same questions - how could, family, friends and neighbors allow this, let alone take part in this horrific act?  Yet, we look at our society and the racial discrimination that produced equally violent acts towards fellow Americans.  How is that societies end up dehumanizing certain segments of the human race, whether by gender, race or religious belief?  How do ordinary people end up being murderers and incredibly violent?  For sure, this is a story about Iran and Islam and their dark sides but if we don't go any further than that we have missed an opportunity to see where perhaps we have our ugly sides.  This is a powerful film with an incredible visual impact. 


Saturday, November 13, 2010


36 HOURS - 1965

RATED - PG for mild language, non-graphic violence and tense moments. No nudity or sex.

RATINGS - 17 Amazon (4/5), 13,076 Netflix (3.6/5), 1,311 IMDB (7.3/10).

STARRING - James Garner (Rockford Files, etc), Eva Marie Saint (Oscar winner in On The Waterfront), Rod Taylor.

STORY - The story is set during WWII right before D-Day.  Garner plays an Army intelligence agent who is assigned to make one more routine mission before the big invasion to keep the Germans thinking everything is still status quo. He has been in on the highest levels of planning and knows the Allied plans. In a surprise move, he is captured by the Germans who are aware of the knowledge he has and have come up with a most creative plan for getting it out of this well trained intelligence officer who can resist all the normal interrogation techniques. This is a psychological thriller with some very clever little twists.  It's a plausible story and will keep you involved. Garner is terrific.  While not in the category of a 'classic' it's worth watching if you like WWII and spy stories.  Enjoy. Lu G. for Lu's Reviews. 11-13-2010.


Sunday, November 7, 2010



RATED - R for language and violence and drug content. Certainly not the worst R rated movie by any means.  No sex or nudity. Some killing and skinning of animals. Take it seriously for under 15.

RATINGS - 38 Amazon (4.5/5), 34,556 Netflix (3.6/5), 4,954 IMDB (7.6/10).

AWARDS - THE GRAND JURY PRIZE for DRAMA at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival.

THEMES - Justice, relationships.

STORY - The story takes place deep in the Ozarks.  The people in the film would be commonly referred to as 'white trash'. Their homes are more like junk yards than homes and they live in a culture dominated by drugs and violence (or the threat of violence). Ree is a 17 year old young woman left with the responsibility of raising her 12 year old brother and 7 year old sister and taking care of her mother who suffers from depression and is there in body only.  The father has been in and out of trouble with the law for 'cooking crank' and spent time in prison. They live in a shack of a home with a 100 acres of woods behind.  One of the more poignant moments occurs early when Ree takes her brother & sister to school and as she's leaving she looks in the windows of the classrooms where her peers are learning to care for a baby or practicing ROTC drills or other things that a normal 17 year old girl would be doing in school. But Ree is no ordinary 17 year old no matter how you slice it. She's determined to make it (if only to survive) with the cards she's been dealt. When she finds out that her father used their property as collateral to post bail for his upcoming court appearance and they will lose the home in a week if he doesn't show, she becomes obsessed with finding him to protect the only material possession they have.  No one seems to know (or is willing to tell if they do) where her father is. Finding him is the plot of the story.  But it is also a social drama on this overlooked subculture in America. This is not a feel good, happy ending film. It's a very realistic and well done drama about people who seem to have very little hope in this world for a better life and spend their lives living on the fringe of society with drugs and their family feuds. The violence and the language are not overly graphic or gratuitous but caution in watching with anyone under 15-16.  Well done and well written film about this subculture. Hard to watch and riveting at the same time.  Jennifer Lawrence does a great job as Ree. Lu G. for Lu's Reviews. 11-07-2010,


Saturday, September 18, 2010



RATED - PG for mature themes. Closer to G. The violence at the center of the film is only implied.  Nothing is shown.

RATINGS -  5 Amazon (5/5),  211 Netflix (4.2/5), 143 IMDB (7.1/10).

STARRING - Kimberly Williams-Paisley (Father of the Bride 1 & 2)

AWARDS - Highest rated original movie shown on Lifetime.

THEMES - Relationships, spirituality, justice.

STORY - Based on the true story of the murder of five innocent Amish school girls in 2006 in Lancaster County Pennsylvania. The main family in the story is fictional, however. Great acting and screenplay.  Emotional without being manipulative. Violent without showing any violence. Inspirational without being preachy. I have always been critical of faith-based films that are basically 'sermons disguised as films'. Faith-based films should be great stories where the message is an integral part of the story. This is one of those. At the heart of the story is a horrific crime. A lone gunman backs his pickup to a one room Amish school, walks in and proceeds to kill five young Amish girls and wound five others.  What happens after that is almost as unbelievable. Three Amish men, including the father of one of the victims, visit the home of the killer to offer forgiveness and help to the gunman's widow. But not everyone finds it easy to forgive.  Ida Graber (Paisley) isn't buying it. 'I will not betray my daughter by forgiving her killer'.  What follows is for the most part the struggle between two women, both mothers & wives, struggling with forgiveness and their husbands from two totally different perspectives. While we may all have a tendency to see the Amish as stoic and and almost mechanical or robotic in their faith, this is not at all what comes thru in the film. While raising (but not answering) some inconsistencies in their practices, we see them as real humans struggling to deal with this horrific crime against their community. One of the most powerful scenes is at the funeral for the gunman. This is a movie that will haunt you and stick with you as you consider (at least I did) how to live out a live of forgiving with even just the most mundane grievances. What could this mean for communities, our nation and our world if forgiveness were truly practiced.  I highly recommend this film. Lu G. for Lu's Reviews. 09/18.2010.

LINKS - IMDB, NETFLIX, AMAZONThe Power of Forgiveness

Sunday, July 18, 2010



RATED - NR but PG/PG-13 for some violence although almost all is off screen.

RATINGS - 13 Amazon (5/5), 5,729 Netflix (3.7/5), 518 IMDB (7.4/10).

THEMES - Relationships, justice.

AWARDS - 15 wins and 3 nominations at various film festivals including winner of AUDIENCE AWARD at Sundance Film Festival.

STORY - This Jordanian film, nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Foreign Film division, is the story of an aging widower who is a janitor at the airport in Amman, Jordan.  Mistaken by neighborhood kids as an airline pilot, he begins to tell stories of travel and far away places that awe these poor children. The story develops as "Captain" Raed gets to the know the kids and the challenges they are facing at home. What I like about so many foreign films is that they are built on character development not fancy dialogue or non-stop action.  They actually make you think about the characters and what's going on in their lives and what the film is trying to say. At the end of the film, it leaves you wondering about some of the characters and what might have happened. Foreign films often do not have nice, neat, tidy endings like American films. There is some ambiguity. This is true of Captain Raed. If slick screenplay and unbelievable CGI's of action are your thing (nothing wrong with that) this will probably not interest you. If you enjoy realistic characters and a good story this is a worth watching.  It is also a slice of life and humanity and geography in a country many of us don't know much about - Jordan.  Highly recommend. Lu G. for Lu's Reviews.  07/18/2010.


Sunday, July 4, 2010


AMREEKA - 2009

RATED - PG-13 for brief scene of teenagers smoking marijuana and some language. A pretty mild PG-13.

RATINGS - 11 AMAZON (4.5/5),  57,102 NETFLIX (3.5/5), 1,105 IMDB (7/10).

THEMES - Relationships, justice.

AWARDS - Nominee for BEST FEMALE LEAD & BEST FEATURE in the 2010 Independent Spirit Awards. Winner at 2009 Cannes Film Festival.

STORY - What happens when your life is turned upside down by your husband divorcing you for a slimmer, younger woman and walls are built around where you live adding hours every day to your commute to work and you spend every penny to keep your son in a private school?  You take the first best opportunity that comes along to get out of that situation. Muna, a Palestinian single woman, does just that when she receives an offer to relocate free to America.  This begins the adventures and misadventures of someone immigrating to America with the hopes and promises of a better life. She lands in a small town in Illinois to live (temporarily is the plan) with her sister and physician husband and teenage children until she can establish herself and son. She has two degrees and has had professional experience in the work world so it shouldn't take long - wrong! Told with humor as well as heartbreak (it's just after 9/11and anyone from the Middle East is the enemy), this National Geographic film is a reminder of why people still come to AMREEKA and how easy it is to be misunderstood and to struggle to make a living no matter how hard you are willing to work.  It is worth watching by families whose children may be finding it difficult to accept those who don't talk or dress or act just like us. Changing schools as an American teenager can be very difficult.  Try coming from another country, especially one we see as an adversary.  Highly recommend. Lu G. for Lu's Reviews.  07/04/2010.