Sofa Cinema

The movies selected for review are the choice of the reviewer. Depending on your source for DVDs, they may or may not be available that particular week, so you may want to clip the SOFA CINEMA column for future reference. Suggestions for DVD titles are welcome. Enjoy the movies.


"Iron Man"

Rated PG-13

"Who was that masked man?" "Is it a bird or a plane?" "Do you want to know who I am?" Whether your hero rides a white horse (Lone Ranger), leaps tall buildings (Superman) or weaves an unbelievable web (Spider-Man), he's no match for Iron Man, who is so confident his tagline is a simple statement, not a question: "Fully charged."

Robert Downey Jr.'s career has taken many turns, but two facts are undeniable; he is a very talented actor and "Iron Man," as improbable as this may be, was a perfect fit to boost his career.

Jon Favreau has been kicking around as an actor for more than 20 years but hit the big time when he directed "Elf" with Will Ferrell. How does a director go from silly to exciting? Given the success of "Iron Man," apparently with great ease.

Take a grown-up script that youths can enjoy, a love interest (Gwyneth Paltrow) for Downey who's not young enough to be his daughter, an almost unrecognizable Jeff Bridges as the evil nemesis and awesome, appropriate special effects, and add them all together - you get a rare treat from a big studio picture - a quality action/adventure film that's fun for the whole family.

Clallam County Reads goes to the movies!

The North Olympic Library System has chosen Harper Lee's novel "To Kill a Mockingbird" as the selection for Clallam County Reads - October 2008. So often film interpretations of the written word are feeble attempts at capturing in 90 minutes the essence of a novel that may have taken years to write and certainly longer than an afternoon to ingest. Not so the case with the 1962 version of "To Kill a Mockingbird." Whether you use the tired analogy of comparing "apples to oranges" or the more accurate verbiage of the difference in art forms of "prose to film," the reality is it's not fair to compare the two versions; that being stated, both the novel and the film are worthy of your time.

My personal preference (and thus my recommendation to you) is to read the book first. That way the characters take on physical characteristics your imagination dictates. Since the reading of "To Kill a Mockingbird" may well be a family and/or friends affair, why not set a date to watch the movie together? Compare notes on the book and movie. Fry up some chicken and bake some corn bread and pour tall glasses of iced tea. Tuck this review of the film in the back of the book for future reference and enjoy the evening.


"To Kill a Mockingbird"


Harper Lee wrote one novel and as luck would have it "To Kill a Mockingbird" landed in the right hands to adapt it to the screen. So much of good filmmaking depends on the collaborative effort of those involved and Lee's characters and her story based in a small Southern town were treated with respect and affection.

Produced by Alan J. Pakula (director of "All the President's Men"), adapted by Horton Foote ("Tender Mercies") and directed by Robert Mulligan ("Summer of '42), the events of one summer during the Depression era unfold. Gregory Peck as attorney Atticus Finch is a widower with two small children, Jem and Scout. The story opens with the voice-over of an adult Scout (Kim Stanley) reflecting back.

Mary Badham and Phillip Alford made their film debuts as the Finch children who enjoy the freedom of playing in the neighborhood yards with their friend, Dill, visiting for the summer. Fears, real or imagined, regarding the Radleys (particularly the elusive Boo - Robert Duvall's film debut) occupy the children's lazy summer days.

But "To Kill a Mockingbird" does take place in the South long before the civil rights movement and when Atticus defends Tom Robinson (Brock Peters), a black man accused of rape, the town's tolerance is tested.

Filmed in black and white by cinematographer Russell Harlan ("Witness for the Prosecution") and with a musical score by Elmer Bernstein ("The Magnificent Seven"), "To Kill a Mockingbird" has an "old" feel to it that is appropriate. The time and setting are definitely of days long past. The story is possibly more timely today than in 1962.

Enjoy the book and the movie.

Rebecca Redshaw worked in the film industry in Los Angeles for 25 years. A novelist and playwright, she has published in numerous magazines and newspapers in addition to teaching fiction. She is the Arts & Entertainment critic for the international entertainment Web site She can be reached at

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