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The movies selected for review are the choice of the reviewer Suggestions for DVD titles are welcome. Enjoy the movies.
"State of Play," rated PG-13
It seems every decade has featured at least one terrific film based in the newsroom, "The Front Page" - "Teacher's Pet" - "All the President's Men" to name a few. But if blogging and twittering are going to be the demise of newspapers in the future, "State of Play" someday might be viewed as a historical film.
Based on the British television series of the same name, "State of Play" stars Russell Crowe as Cal McAffrey, an old-school reporter who works at a cluttered desk and writes important notes on scraps of paper. Rachel McAdams is Della Frye and the only thing old-fashioned about her is her name. She is what used to be referred to as a cub reporter, but now she's hip to the Internet and all things high-tech.
The other stalwart fixture at the paper is its foul-mouthed editor. Helen Mirren is said editor and she takes no guff from anyone but gives Crowe all kinds of latitude in his pursuit of "the story."
There are lots of questions raised in "State of Play." Who murdered whom? Why? Who's sleeping with whom? Why? Who decided Russell Crowe looked good with stringy long hair? Why?
"State of Play" leaves a lot to be desired, but if you don't raise your expectations too high, it's OK as a $3 rental.
"The English Patient," rated R
The name Anthony Minghella might not ring a bell immediately, but this Englishman has numerous "big" pictures in his directorial portfolio; "The Amazing Mr. Ripley," "Cold Mountain" and the 1996 Academy Award winner for Best Picture, "The English Patient."
Set in northern Africa during World War II, the "patient" is Count Laszlo de Almásy (Ralph Fiennes), who has been burned beyond recognition and would have been left for dead but for the dedication of Hana (Juliette Binoche), a nurse. She tends to him in a deserted villa while the troops move on.
Told in a series of flashbacks, Almásy's adventures and affairs are painstakingly unraveled. His romance with Katherine Clifton (Kristin Scott Thomas), a married woman, becomes a driving force during his stay in Africa, with duty to his work ranking a distant second.
Hana is wary of involvements since a dark cloud seems to hover over those she loves. In spite of her efforts, she falls in love with Kip (Naveen Andrews), who disarms live bombs.
These two couples dominate a very complicated plot, so it's best to pay close attention. At more than two and a half hours in the blazing heat of the African desert, one can become disoriented and confused watching "The English Patient."
"In a Lonely Place" unrated - 1950
Humphrey Bogart stars as the moody, volatile screenwriter Dixon Steele in "In a Lonely Place."
Nary a smile cracks his face as he deals with the ups and downs of Hollywood's expectations for success. He's definitely feeling the stress of not having written a hit when he spots Laurel Gray in a neighboring apartment. Laurel (Gloria Grahame) becomes equally infatuated with Dix and, in addition to falling in love, happily types his inspired pages.
There is one nasty problem with their blossoming affair. The young hat-check girl Dix had invited over one evening to tell him the plot of his assigned script has been murdered and Dix is a suspect.
Directed by Nicholas Ray in 1950, "In a Lonely Place" has all the elements of classic film noir. It's a mystery with romance and a thriller with violence (although nothing close to what is filmed today). The only thing missing is a fedora worn by the persistent police lieutenant who is sure Dix had a hand in the murder.
Bogart plays brooding very well and Grahame looks stunning as the femme fatale. "In a Lonely Place" is a fairly uncomplicated treatment of a very troubled man.
Rebecca Redshaw can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.