Category: Uncategorized


Drive My Car

March 28th, 2022 — 9:40pm

Drive My Car-nf
****

This three-hour film may be difficult for you to handle. It is mostly in Japanese with a little English and some sign language and of course with English subtitles. The story unfolds as we meet a Japanese couple, he a theater director and she a playwright. They seemed to be very much in love although he has good reason to doubt her fidelity. Sadly, she dies of a stroke at a young age. The complicated emotions of grief and anger unfold as he is asked to put together and direct the classic theater production of Uncle Vanya. The automobile in which a good deal of the action and dialogue takes place is actually a Swedish Saab and not a Japanese brand. Most of the action takes place in the city of Hiroshima, Japan. Even more important is the relationship which the talented and grieving director develops with the young woman who was assigned to drive him around and essentially be his chauffer.

The film is written and directed by Ryusuke Hamaguchi based on a short story by Haruki Murakami. Although the names of this cast may not ring a bell with American audiences, they deserve credit. They are Tōko Miura, Reika Kirishima, Hidetoshi Nishijima, Sonia Yuan, and Masaki Okada.

This film has received four Oscar nominations and it won the Oscar for best International Film. It is the first Japanese film to be nominated for best film. Other Oscar nominations were for best director and best adapted screenplay.

Comment » | 4 Stars, Drama, Foreign, Uncategorized

West Side Story

March 1st, 2022 — 7:31am

West Side Story
****
One of our all time favored Broadway musicals as well as the subsequent motion picture was West Side Story. It first hit the Broadway stage in 1957, directed and choreographed by Jerome Robbins based on a book by Arthur Laurents and inspired by William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. The music is by Leonard Bernstein with lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. In 1961 there was the first film adaptation staring Natalie Wood, which we saw as a newly engaged couple.

There were numerous revivals on the Broadway stage as well as by many touring companies and now there is a new motion picture that had a $100,000,000 budget for this great musical production directed now by Steven Spielberg, starring Rachel Zegler as Maria and Ansel Elgort as Tony.

The storyline highlights the turf battle between the whites and the Puerto Ricans on the streets of Manhattan on the Upper West Side. It features interracial love, gang violence, and a lot more weaved into a fantastic memorable music and dance production. The film not only showed the disrespect that various ethnic groups had for each other but also showed the insensitivity of the police at that time.

While this was an excellent film, we do feel that some of the changes made did not serve to enhance the production. For example, the classic scene which took place in a gymnasium where the two groups were in conflict, which had lots of dancing seemed less ebullient than the original.The scene where the Puerto Rican girls were dancing and singing the praises of America with counterpoint by the Puerto Rican boys yearning for their former home was in memory from the original film, a perfect blend of choreography, color and longing contained on a rooftop setting. In this version, the whole number is opened up, taking place on the streets of Manhattan with a growing number of onlookers joining the dance. Somehow, it felt diluted in its new form and lost the punch of the original. Also, some of the emotional scenes were not as intense as we recall from the original. Nevertheless, we would strongly recommend this classic musical experience. The music, the lyrics, the dancing and the story can’t fail to grab you and keep you engaged. West Side Story continues to be magnificent, beautiful, painful and important.

Comment » | 4 Stars, Musical, Uncategorized

The Tender Bar

January 28th, 2022 — 1:41am

The Tender Bar
****

As this movie was unfolding, we could not help but think that it must be based on an autobiographical experience. We later learned that the story was written by journalist J. R. Moehringer who incidentally was recently chosen by prince Harry of England to co-write his autobiography.

We meet a young boy who was being raised by his mother with the help of his uncle. He knows little about his biological father who is a radio personality in a distant city. He is destined to live out the fantasies and expectations of his loving mother and this leads him to attend Yale University. He falls in love and becomes successful in his work. The details of this film are quite unique and intriguing and allowed the viewer to believe that it had come from real life. Special kudos to the actors who played the young man, Daniel Ranieri, who portrays him as a young boy and Tye Sheridan who has the role of him as a young man. Their acting and the overall cinematic experience reflects the outstanding work by the director George Clooney. Also, compliments to Ben Affleck as the uncle and Lily Rabe as the mother. Another familiar face in the film was Christopher Lloyd as the grandfather.

This is one of those films that is captivating, enlightening and even allows the audience to “feel good” at its conclusion!

Comment » | 4 Stars, Drama, Uncategorized

The Hand of God

January 11th, 2022 — 2:29am

The Hand of God-nf

***

This is an Italian film with subtitles. It focuses initially on a boy who appears to be in his late teens and is very engrossed in following his favorite football (soccer) team. We meet his various extended family members, all who seem to be quite distinctive characters although we really do not get to know anyone of them in great depth. His life is forever impacted by a tragic event. He seems as if he is now exploring the world on a mission, but we do not quite know what it is. His first sexual experience is clearly going to be unforgettable and meaningful as was the intention of the older woman who seduces him.

The film is written and directed and co-produced by Paolo Sorrentino. It appears to be autobiographical and in retrospect, we realize it is showing us the beginning of a journey where the filmmaker will ultimately bring his intense complicated life experiences to the movie screen. It stars Filippo Scotti, who already has received the Marcello Mastroianni Award for his acting. It is also not surprising that the film has been selected as the Italian entry for best international feature film for the upcoming 94th Academy Awards.

Comment » | 3 Stars, Drama, Foreign, Uncategorized

King Richard

January 8th, 2022 — 8:00am

King Richard
****

Will Smith not only produced this film but played Richard Williams, the ambitious father of tennis greats Serena and Venus Williams. We follow this family of five girls from their early days in Compton, California to the world stage where they became the number 1 and number 2 world tennis stars. It is hard to believe this was the plan of Richard, the father, who not only dreamed of their great career from their early ages but trained them and then made decisions and arrangements for their coaching that led to their amazing success.

Aunjanue Ellis plays the mother, Demi Singleton is Serena, and Saniyya Sidney is Venus. The film is very skillfully directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green. There are wonderful tennis action scenes intergrated into the interpersonal dialogue. This cinematic magic is seen throughout the film from their early days of learning to play tennis to the dramatic world championship action. The skillful editing of tennis action involved throughout the film certainly will be considered for film awards as well the entire movie.

This is a heartwarming drama which provides insight into the marriage as well as the upbringing of five girls two of whom achieved worldwide acclaim.

It is interesting to learn that the two real tennis greats did not see the film until it was completed and previewed for them. They approved wholeheartedly of the final result. We think you will also provide thumbs up for the movie and the 2 hours and 18 minutes will zip by as a lightning fast tennis match.

Comment » | 4 Stars, Biography, Drama, Family / Kids, Sport, Uncategorized

Being The Ricardos

December 25th, 2021 — 12:19am

Being the Ricardos
****

If you grew up in 1950s as did we and were fortunate enough to have a TV set, you certainly watched “I Love Lucy” every week. Lucille Ball played a flakey red haired woman who was married to Ricky Ricardo, a Cuban bandleader. Their neighbors were Fred and Ethel Mertz, and in every episode there was something interesting happening in their lives and with their relationships. It was probably one of the all-time most popular television programs and certainly at the time there was very little competition.

Aaron Sorkin, best known for creating West Wing, wrote and directed this biopic and cast Nicole Kidman as Lucille Ball and Javier Bardem as Ricky, with J. K. Simmons taking on William Frawley who played Fred Mertz in the TV series while Nina Arianda covered Vivian Vance who was the actress playing Ethel Mertz.

The filmmakers condense their story into a one-week period during which time, some seminal events actually occurred and had great meaning in Lucille Ball’s life. She was falsely accused by Walter Winchell, the famed newspaper columnist, of being a communist (which was a big deal in the 1950s). Also, Lucille Ball became pregnant and wanted this worked into the storyline whereas pregnant women were never shown on TV at that time. Also, there were rumors of infidelity on the part of Ricardo. There was also an attempt to explore the relationship between Ricky and Lucy. This was all done supposedly showing one week in the life of this couple.

If you have any memory of being captivated by the most famous couple on TV, you will most likely be completely engaged in this film. You will also be blown away by the concluding words on the screen about what happened to the relationship of this couple one week after the TV series completed its final show.

Comment » | 4 Stars, Documentary, Uncategorized

SHRINKTALK- A new book by Michael Blumenfield

September 14th, 2021 — 7:26am

I am very pleased to bring to the attention of the loyal viewers of this blog, that I have just published a new book titled SHRINKTALK. It is based on my experience over many years in the field of psychiatry. It covers a wide variety of subjects such as ethical dilemmas that psychiatrists can face, dealing with anxiety, panic, depression, suicidal thoughts, sexuality, autism, post traumatic stress, psychological issues in regard to the Coronavirus epidemic as well as various medical conditions, my interactions with two U.S. Presidents and many other subjects. Also included in the book are answers to questions that I have provided for a popular website. I should add that I also discuss various movies that illustrate different psychological areas. For example I mention several movies that deal with the subject of finding one’s biological idenity

You can order the book in printed or Kindle version on Amazon. ( Click here )
YOUr comments about the book are welcome here and any are especially welcome on Amazon

Comment » | Uncategorized

NOMINATE YOUR 5 FAVORITE QUARANTINE FILMS

June 15th, 2020 — 7:39am

NOMINATE YOUR 5 FAVORITE QUARATINE FILMS
Now that so many of us are quarantined because of the pandemic, many of us are finding our all time favorite films to revisit as well as recommending to our friends and relatives. We thought it might be interesting to ask the readers of this blog to list their all time favorite five movies and if you wish add a a few sentences about why it made your all time list. Please do so in the comments section immediately below and we will be sure they are posted here in a short time. Thank you and stay safe !

Comment » | Uncategorized

Trial By Fire

November 6th, 2018 — 9:12pm

****

Trial by Fire -sp

We see the theme of this movie played out on television all the time on shows such as Dateline or 20/20 and others. A person is accused or convicted of a murder but in many cases he or she did not do it. We recall at least two outstanding books which dealt with this subject, Just Mercy and The Ghost of the Innocent Man. We also recall an excellent film we saw several years ago on this subject titled Conviction. We know about the innocence project and the work of Barry Scheck in many states throughout the country and how scientific advances such as DNA testing have made an important impact on criminal prosecution. So, when director Edward Zwick and screenwriter Jeffrey Fletcher decided to take a prize-winning article in New Yorker Magazine by David Grann to the screen, they were not the first to put a searchlight on this important defect in our criminal justice system. Despite the fact also that we usually find any film over two hours a tad too long, they did an outstanding job which riveted us to our seats and allowed us to explore the characters involved and the message of the movie.

Jack O’Connell deserves Oscar consideration for his depiction of the nasty husband who frequently abused his wife and was home alone with his three children when a fire broke out and the kids were all killed. He claims he did not start the fire but the police, neighbors, fire inspector, a snitch who was briefly his cellmate, the district attorney, eventually his wife and the jury all say that he did it.

What follows is his nine years in jail and an insight into life in prison with much of it being in solitary confinement and then his time on death row. We also get an insight into this man’s character and how his understanding of life evolved. Another very important character is a woman played magnificently by Laura Dern who was recruited to write a letter to a prisoner in jail but ultimately meets him and becomes an advocate for him. We also get an eye-opening view of the criminal justice system in this particular state. In fact, we see that the checks and balances that are supposed to be in place are quite questionable all the way up to the office of the Governor. Did we mention that this took place in Texas? However, the injustices here are found throughout the country

When we saw this film and met the director, Edward Zwick, the film makers were having some difficulty in setting up distribution and a release date. You may have to catch this movie on TV. However, it should be seen and the message and the illumination it provides are incredibly important. (2018)

1 comment » | 4 Stars, Crime, Drama, Uncategorized

Boy Erased

October 19th, 2018 — 5:21am

*****

Boy Erased – sp

Conversion Therapy is a pseudoscientific practice of trying to change an individual’s sexual orientation from homosexuality or bisexuality to heterosexuality using psychological or spiritual interventions. There are 14 states and the district of Columbia that have banned Conversion Therapy for minors. There are also scattered counties and communities throughout the country where there is no state ban which have made laws against this practice (see map). This essentially means that in most of the United States, parents can mandate their children to stay in such a program. Since the medical and psychiatric communities have clearly established that sexual identity and orientation (straight, gay or bisexual) is determined at birth, any attempts at re-orientation are doomed to fail and have the potential to create more conflict and emotional turmoil.

This movie is based on a memoir by Garrard Conley which told his story of being the son of a Baptist pastor who is outed by his parents and then forced to attend a church conversion program with the purpose of “curing his homosexuality”. The experience that he goes through in this program is quite gripping and heart wrenching. The audience not only suffers through seeing things through his eyes but also sees the torment that some of the other attendees are going through which includes one young woman.

The three lead actors are outstanding. Lucas Hedges plays the young man. Nicole Kidman is his mother and Russell Crowe (who appears to have put on considerable weight for this role) does an excellent job as the minister who is the boy’s father. The film is directed by Joel Edgerton, who was also the screenwriter and played the role of Victor Sykes, the harsh and heavy-handed leader of the oppressive conversion program. The conflicts, psychological pain, turmoil and anger of the young man were very clear. At the same time, we saw the loving feelings, misguided but good intentions, that the father had for his son. The father-son love for each other despite their major life conflicts was depicted quite well as was the mother’s love and ultimate insight into the situation.

At the conclusion of the film, we had the opportunity to meet with Kerry Roberts, one of the producers of the film who brought the book to her production company and who told us about how the real-life family followed the story of it being brought to life. It should be very interesting to see how this film plays in most of the Unites States and the reaction and places where such so called “treatment” is allowed and can impact the lives of many young people. (2018)

Comment » | 5 Stars, Drama, Uncategorized

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