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"Frozen River," rated R
Hard times lead to desperate measures.
In "Frozen River," Ray Eddy (Melissa Leo) is the mother of two boys who struggles with making ends meet. Her husband is long gone by the time the opening credits roll, taking the cash she had saved to buy a new doublewide trailer.
Eddy confronts Lila, a young girl driving his car. Lila (Misty Upham) is equally desperate for cash and this odd couple joins forces to make some not-so-easy money.
The unlikely pairing creates an atmosphere of isolation and loneliness as the two women fight for their families' survival.
Driving into Canada on reservation land in the bitter winter across the frozen river to smuggle illegals is dangerous business, but the deals pay off in cash.
Written and directed by Courtney Hunt, "Frozen River" garnered Oscar nominations for Leo (Best Actress) and Hunt (Best Original Screenplay). "Frozen River" does not paint a pretty picture but it does raise awareness of desperate measures in desperate times.
"The Conversation," not rated
Today's technology changes before you can program your new cell phone or DVR. Watching the Francis Ford Coppola film, "The Conversation," you may feel like you've uncovered a century-long buried time capsule even though the picture was released in 1974.
Gene Hackman is Harry Caul, a surveillance expert who takes his work home with him. There are careful human beings and then there are paranoid people and Harry definitely falls into the latter category.
He's leery of the motives of his landlady who enters his apartment, he's distrustful of colleagues who peruse his sound equipment and he's obsessed about the motives of his current client, represented by a very young Harrison Ford.
Coppola replays footage from various angles with varied sound generations that may confuse rather than clarify the situation. It doesn't matter. The reason to rent "The Conversation" is to watch Gene Hackman morph into Harry Caul.
"The Parent Trap," rated PG
Summer camp can be a wonderful experience. Campers learn to swim, canoe, make potholders out of strong thread and sing around campfires. In "The Parent Trap," two young girls even discover they're sisters!
Lest one think that the plot has been spoiled, take a breath. The familial discovery is only the beginning of the antics identical twins Hallie (Lindsay Lohan) and Annie (Lindsay Lohan) muster as they try to reunite their parents.
Nick Parker (Dennis Quaid) and Elizabeth James (Natasha Richardson) married 12 years prior and, for whatever reason, parted shortly thereafter, each taking a baby daughter with them. When the girls meet at camp 12 years later, they plot a reunion replete with a happy ending.
This remake of the 1961 Disney classic employs far more sophisticated technology than the original and Lindsay Lohan gives a hint of her considerable acting talent at the age of 12.
Until The Disney Studios makes the original available on DVD, this 1998 version of "The Parent Trap" will do quite nicely.
Rebecca Redshaw can be reached at