Sofa Cinema

The movies selected for review are the choice of the reviewer Suggestions for DVD titles are welcome. Enjoy the movies.


"Sunshine Cleaning," rated R

Norah and Rose are sisters. Other than that, they have little in common. Rose (Amy Adams) is the single mother of a precocious 8-year-old boy and she cleans houses to get by. Norah (Emily Blunt) is arguably the world's worst waitress and in short order loses her job. When the two women realize how much money can be made cleaning up biohazardous sites, they team up and start a new business.

"Sunshine Cleaning" offers excellent insight into how hard it is to eek out a living, but the girls tough it out encountering a few bizarre situations and a few tender moments along the way.

Adams and Blunt are two of the most promising actors of their generation and their portrayed filial frustrations come across believably. For a little generational diversion, add veteran Alan Arkin to the mix as their eccentric father and Jason Spevack as Rose's son.

Subtlety is a word not often used in filmmaking, yet the multilayered character relationships in Megan Holley's script and the taut direction by Christine Jeffs make "Sunshine Cleaning" a fun viewing experience.


"Goodbye, Mr. Chips," unrated

Sam Wood is not a household name as a director and yet his body of work contains a number of brilliantly contrasting films: the Marx Brothers' comedies "A Night at the Opera" and "A Day at the Races" and the dramatic sagas "The Pride of the Yankees" and "For Whom the Bell Tolls." With his 1939 adaptation of James Hilton's "Goodbye, Mr. Chips," Wood manages to portray a touching story of a dearly loved professor without becoming overly sentimental.

Professor Chipping (Robert Donat) stumbles onto the Brookfield Boarding School campus in England in 1870, naïve and inept. The disappointment of not being named headmaster after years of service is lessened considerably upon the chance meeting on a mountaintop with Katherine (Greer Garson). She calls him "Mr. Chips" and with her encouragement when they married and returned to campus, he welcomes the boys to their home for tea and allows himself to bring humor into the classroom.

"Goodbye, Mr. Chips" hardly falls into the multitude of teacher/student classroom dramas that have been produced over the years. The early 20th century was a more genteel time in some ways and situations were handled far more, for lack of a better word, politely.

Donat is endearing in his portrayal of Mr. Chips, who ages from a new faculty appointee to well into his 80s.

If a young actress wants to model her career path on that of a former screen legend, she could do no better than Greer Garson. With only a handful of television appearances to her credit, she accepted the role of Katherine in "Goodbye, Mr. Chips" and received her first Academy Award nomination for her efforts. In the next six years, Garson was nominated an equal number of times, winning for her performance in "Mrs. Miniver."


"Arranged," rated PG

Rochel and Nasira are new teachers at an inner-city school in New York City. The young women have been raised in very traditional, religious homes and both know that the possibility of a pre-arranged marriage is in their future. But there is one major difference in their lives: Rochel is an orthodox Jew and Nasira is a devout Muslim.

The young students at school question the women (as does the principal) about their clothes, their beliefs and their "supposed" hatred of one another's beliefs.

The two women become friends acknowledging their

similar plight - a marriage arranged by their parents. The movie titled "Arranged" is not a period piece set in biblical times or even at the turn of the 19th or 20th century. The women are not naïve as to e-mail or cell phones or maneuvering the subway system. Evidently, arranged marriages still occur to this day.

"Arranged" is a small independent production that benefits from charming performances by the two young women. The entire cast, from the matchmaker to the frustrated parents to the brazen principal to the self-conscious suitors, is believable in this eye-opening look at a different approach to life.

The ending is as close to a "pretty ribbon wrapped around a package" as you could imagine but don't allow the final scene to detract from the message of this charming film.

Rebecca Redshaw can be reached at

Rebecca Redshaw's "SOFA CINEMA: An Easy Guide to DVDs Volume 1" may be purchased at your local bookstore, at, or at

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