Category Archives: Movies

Clueless Character Review: Josh Lucas

*For the foreseeable future, some Character Review posts may not be published every Thursday as they have in the past.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the movie Clueless. Read at your own risk if you have not seen the movie. There is something to be said about a well-written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations. In every relationship, whether familial, platonic, or romantic, there has to be an emotional balance. One person can be the dreamer with out there ideas while the other is level headed and realistic.

In Clueless, Josh Lucas, (Paul Rudd) is the former step-brother of Cher Horowitz (Alicia Silverstone). Due to his being in college compared to Cher still being in high school, he tries to enlighten her about the ways of the world. Though Josh tries to get along with her, they tend to but heads. He thinks that she is a superficial ditz who only thinks about clothes and shopping. Her perception of him is that he is not cool, too serious for his own good, and a politically, a little too soft. His career ambition is to be a lawyer and is spending time with Cher and her father, Mel (Dan Hedaya) to gain some real world experience. But as the narrative rolls on, both Josh and Cher begin to see that perhaps they have more in common than they initially thought.

To sum it up: Though Josh can be the annoying older brother type, he is also not as quick to mansplain as his literary counterpart, Mr. Knightley. Like his step sister and future girlfriend, he has a good heart, but he sees the world in a different way. Which makes them compatible and will hopefully lead to long, healthy romantic partnership.

Which is why he is a memorable character.

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Flashback Friday: The Last Days (1998)

The only way to learn from our past is to not repeat it. Sometimes, that requires reliving it, as painful as it sounds.

The 1998 documentary, The Last Days, was released on Netflix back in May. The film follows five Hungarian Jewish survivors of the Holocaust. During the last year of World War II, the Jews of Hungary were the last intact Jewish community in Europe. That would quickly change. Within six weeks, hundreds of thousands were deported to Auschwitz. Only a handful would survive. Containing interviews with survivors, a SS doctor, and American soldiers who helped to liberate Dachau, it is powerful and haunting reminder of both the light and the darkness in humanity.

I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen. It was riveting, emotional, and a punch to the gut that is absolutely necessary. Hearing about this time in history from the people who lived through this nightmare reminds us all that the Holocaust is not a myth and not strictly relegated to the world of literature. It is an event that happened in the lifetimes of many people who are still alive. While we cannot bring back those who were murdered, we can honor their memory by remembering them, and open our eyes to the negative energy and destruction that hate drags behind it.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

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Throwback Thursday: Spotlight (2015)

The purpose of religious observance is to provide community and structure to the ins and outs of our daily lives. That does not mean, however, that some within the clergy will use their power for less than honorable means.

The 2015 film, Spotlight, tells the story of how a group of journalists at the Boston Globe discovered that the Catholic Archdiocese was covering up a decades long child molestation scandal. Led by Michael Keaton, the team includes Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, and Brian d’Arcy James. Taking place over the course of a year, the audience is taken on a journey to uncover the truth and the lengths that were taken to cover up what the church would have preferred to remain hidden.

When this movie originally came out six years ago, I tried to see it in the theater. There is a reason why it was sold out. It is gripping, intelligent, and a bare knuckle ride from start to finish. This is why we go to the movies. It is also a reminder of why journalism is so important and can never be overlooked.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

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Clueless Character Review: Tai Frasier

I apologize for not posting last week. I moved and writing temporarily went to the back burner.

*For the foreseeable future, some Character Review posts may not be published every Thursday as they have in the past.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the movie Clueless. Read at your own risk if you have not seen the movie. There is something to be said about a well-written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations. I remember being the new kid in school. It is one of the most awkward experiences of my life up to that point. You want to look like you belong, but the reality is that you stick out like a sore thumb.

In Clueless, Tai Frasier (the late Brittany Murphy) has just transferred high schools. Befriended by Cher Horowitz (Alicia Silverstone) and Dionne Davenport (Stacey Dash), they decide that Tai needs a makeover. Like her literary predecessor, Harriet Smith, Tai is an outsider who looks up her new pals. When she starts to become friendly with socially inappropriate skater boy Travis (Breckin Meyer), she is steered toward big man on campus Elton (Jeremy Sisto).

But Elton is first rate asshole. He is using Tai to get to Cher. After this revelation and nearly being killed, Tai becomes confident and is no longer the student to Cher’s teacher. This leads to a temporary crush on Josh Lucas (Paul Rudd) and eventually back to Travis and teenage happily ever after (at least for the time being).

To sum it up: Switching schools is an opportunity to start over. But if you were to ask the young person, they would likely say that wished that they were back in their old school. Instead of living in the past, Tai accepts her fate and has the social/love life that the high school experience is made of.

Which is why she is a memorable character.

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Period. End of Sentence.: A New Chapter in the Fight for Menstrual Justice Book Review

Menstruation is a normal and natural part of human existence. But in many parts of the world and many cultures, it is considered to be a taboo subject that is both misunderstood and vilified.

Period. End of Sentence.: A New Chapter in the Fight for Menstrual Justice, by Anita Diamant (author of The Red Tent), was published earlier this year. Inspired by the 2018 Netflix film Period. End of Sentence., Diamant explores how one’s monthly visitor is perceived. Throughout most of human history and even into our present day, it is considered to be dirty. There are traditions that state that when someone is menstruating, they must be separated from their families and every day lives. Due to this false and misleading mythology, many women and girls are denied the same educational and professional opportunities that their brothers, fathers, and husbands don’t think twice about. She also talks about how individual companies and governments are slowly starting to undo the menstrual injustice that have plagued humanity for millennia.

I really enjoyed this book. It delves into a topic that it is intrinsic to the experience of half of the human population, but it is not given the respect that it is due. One thing I was surprised about was that some men don’t even know what a period is. Others believe it to be related to sex and sexual activity, forcing young women into a life that does not exist beyond the borders of home and family.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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Throwback Thursday: Freaky Friday (1976 and 2003)

The only way we can truly understand someone else is to walk in their shoes.

In 1976, the movie Freaky Friday was released. In 2003, the reboot hit theaters. When a mother and her teenage daughter switch bodies (Barbara Harris and Jodie Foster in 1976 and Jamie Lee Curtis and Lindsay Lohan in 2003) for a day, the only way to return to normal is to see the world as the other sees it.

I like the unique appeal of both films. Besides the comedy of misunderstanding, the narrative comes from a genuine conflict that the mother has no idea what her daughter is going through and visa versa.

Do I recommend them? Yes.

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Throwback Thursday: Meet the Fockers (2004)

Meeting one’s potential or future in-laws can be a harrowing experience. You want to be yourself, but you also want to prove that you are the right person for their child.

The 2004 film, Meet the Fockers is the sequel to Meet the Parents (2000). Greg Focker (Ben Stiller) and Pam Byrnes (Teri Polo) are engaged. Now that they have cleared the hurdle of her parents, Jack (Robert De Niro) and Dina (Blythe Danner), the next step is his parents. Compared to the straight laced, middle of the road Byrnes, Bernie and Rozalin Focker (Dustin Hoffman and Barbra Streisand) are very out there. Can these two very different set of parents find a middle ground and ensure that their children become Mr. and Mrs.?

Like it’s predecessor, this film is a satire. The comedy comes from the fact that the Fockers are a complete 180 from the Byrnes. My problem is that while it is funny, it relies a little too heavily on Jewish stereotypes when it comes to Hoffman’s and Streisand’s characters. While the cast is top notch, the script does not match the on-screen talent.

Do I recommend it? Not really.

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Ophelia Movie Review

The good thing about adapting a Shakespeare play is the room to find a new narrative angle. The bad thing about adapting a Shakespeare play is how quickly it can go wrong.

The 2018 movie, Ophelia is a feminist re-write of Hamlet. The title character is not the mad prince, but his love interest, Ophelia (Daisy Ridley). Raised as an unofficial daughter of Queen Gertrude (Naomi Watts), she is one of the Queen’s ladies in waiting. As with the play, Ophelia and Hamlet (George McKay) fall in love while his uncle Claudius (Clive Owen) usurps his dead brother’s throne and marries his widow. As the political turmoil and and the danger grows tenfold, she must choose between the man she loves and finding a way to survive.

Ridley is fantastic in the role, proving she can play other characters besides Rey. As is Watts, who also expands her role beyond the confines of the source material. The problem is that the promise of the drama is just that. While I would give it an A for effort, I am glad that I saw it on Netflix rather than pay money to see it in the theaters.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

Ophelia is available for streaming on Netflix.

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Clueless Character Review: Dionne Davenport

*For the foreseeable future, some Character Review posts may not be published every Thursday as they have in the past.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the movie Clueless. Read at your own risk if you have not seen the movie. There is something to be said about a well-written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations. We all need a best friend. Someone who gets us completely, who loves us for who we are, and can call us out on our shit when need be. In Clueless, Dionne Davenport (Stacey Dash) is the best friend of the film heroine, Cher Horowitz (Alicia Silverstone).

Like Cher, Dionne is high on the social pyramid at their local high school. The difference between them is that while Cher is quick to use her popularity for the greater good, Dionne has to be convinced that it is a good idea. She is also known to be the quieter and more intelligent of the two, usually when Cher is starting to question certain things.

But there is one aspect of her life in which Dionne gets on the emotional roller herself: her relationship with boyfriend Murray Duvall (Donald Faison). Though they are in love, they are also known to get into public fights that draw a crowd. When the subject of her virginity comes up, it goes from maybe its there to maybe its not to finally completely gone after the incident on the highway.

To sum it up: What makes Dionne’s relationship with Cher believable is the genuine chemistry between the actors and innate understanding that the characters have of one another. It is just there, removing the logic that what we are watching is fiction and not real life.

Which is why she is a memorable character.

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Throwback Thursday: The Exception (2016)

Love has to power to change everything. Hate included.

The 2016 film, The Exception, takes place in Holland during World War II. Stefan Brandt (Jai Courtney) is a Nazi officer whose task is to ensure that spies have not found a way into the home of the former German Emperor, Kaiser Wilhelm (the late Christopher Plummer). Along the way, he falls for housemaid Mieke de Jong (Lily James), who is hiding her Jewish identity in hopes of surviving the war.

This movie would normally be celluloid catnip for me. While the cast is fantastic and at the top of their game, I could not get into it. There is no other explanation other than I was bored. Whatever narrative hook this film possesses, it was lost on me.

Do I recommend it? Not really.

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