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.
"Since You Went Away"
In the past 100 years, there was seldom a time when the United States wasn't at war and movies always have tried to reflect on the goings on. "Since You Went Away" was released early in America's involvement in World War II and instead of focusing on battles on foreign shores, it tells the story of those on the home front.
As Anne Hilton, Claudette Colbert, epitomized the perfect wife. She maintains their home, writes her husband, Tim, religiously and raises their two daughters (Jennifer Jones and Shirley Temple) without ever raising her voice.
Producer of the epic "Gone with the Wind," David O. Selznick also produced "Since You Went Away" and is credited with authoring the screenplay. Maybe another writer might have had a more realistic approach to human behavior, but remembering the time and place and the need for a positive outlook to World War II, it is no wonder the movie was well received in its day.
At almost three hours, the DVD may be too much for one sitting, but the excellent cast of actors from the glory days of Hollywood can be fun. In addition to Colbert, Jones and Temple, "Since You Went Away" features Joseph Cotton, Hattie McDaniel, Agnes Moorehead, Monty Whoolley and Robert Taylor.
"Chak De! India"
Not that long ago, the United States women's soccer team took the country by storm winning in a shootout against China. "Chak De! India" is a fictional competition with similarities to that real-life drama and then some.
Kabir Khan has left the competitive world of men's field hockey in disgrace after missing the game-winning goal in the world championships. Seven years later, the handsome athlete takes on the challenge of coaching the women's national team of India, but there are many obstacles in his path.
First, Indians do not value the role of women in sports. Second, the government is merely going through the motions of fairness and has no real interest in the women's team succeeding and last, the players, who are all stars on their own regional teams, have no concept of team play.
Kabir is determined to prove he not only can coach this team, he can teach them to believe in themselves and win.
"Chak De! India" is many things - good drama (even though the outcome may be predictable), engaging (even with a large cast, the viewer gets to know the players and their struggles) and inspiring (as in many sports movies, the play is secondary to the growth of the athletes).
The young actors trained for almost four months so their field hockey skills would be believable, thus eliminating the need for fancy editing. The time was well spent.
Renting "Chaka De! India" also will be time well-spent. At almost two and a half hours, you'll welcome the intermission banner that allows time for making microwave popcorn before getting back to the movie.
"Hidden Gem" may be a misnomer for "Boiler Room." "Timely Gem," on the other hand, is definitely apropos.
Seth (Giovanni Ribisi) is a scammer. He pretends to be attending college and instead runs a very profitable backroom casino out of his apartment. An old friend admires Seth's business acumen and brings him on board as a trainee at a cutting edge brokerage.
If there was any doubt the financial market is a "man's world," it quickly is dismissed when executive Jim Young (Ben Affleck) interviews the new recruits.
"Boiler Room" may not be as slick as Oliver Stone's "Wall Street" or as damning as David Mamet's "Glengarry Glen Ross," but it does entertain. Nia Long is the overpaid receptionist at the firm and doubles as a love interest. Vin Diesel, as a high pressure agent, gets to act beyond flexing his muscles and Ron Rifkin, as Seth's beleaguered father, portrays a believably troubled parent.
If you've ever thought about dabbling in the stock market or received a cold call offering inside info, "Boiler Room" may give you pause. Given the tenor of the times, that's no small contribution under the guise of entertainment.
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 can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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