Unprotected (book review)

A book review by The Movie Snob

Unprotected: A Campus Psychiatrist Reveals How Political Correctness in Her Profession Endangers Every Student, by Anonymous, M.D. (Penguin 2006). The lengthy subtitle just about says it all, as this small volume clocks in at only 151 pages. The main argument of the book is twofold: (1) that the sexual mores now prevalent on college campuses carry some bad side effects that affect more women than men (both psychological and physical), and (2) that there is a very strong pressure on those who work in campus counseling centers to treat the side effects without encouraging any behavioral changes that are inconsistent with the new sexual ethic. Although they are encouraged to hound students about smoking, they are discouraged from suggesting that STDs are health risks that ought to be prevented. When treating young women with depression, counselors feel pressured not even to ask questions about abortions or STDs. The anonymous author, who was outed shortly after this book was published, also remarks on psychology’s prejudice against people who have strong religious beliefs. An interesting and worthy little book, but I doubt it has reached a very wide audience.

Night Watch

DVD review from Nick at Nite

Night Watch

Watched this Russian horror film last week. It was horrible. I was expecting it to be subtitled. Instead it was dubbed like a bad Godzilla movie. Something about people who live in the dark and people who live in the light and the eternal battle they have had for the last five hundred years. Apparently, they started a truce so that they could coexist on the planet during a battle five hundred years ago (the flashback sequence was the only good part of the film). Ultimately, I think the good guys won. I found myself rooting for either side to get killed off so the movie would just be over. Honestly, I got so bored that I started reading a book during the movie – not a very good book at that. Sad. Very sad. So, don’t believe the hype. I think the critics proclaimed this to be the best Russian movie last year because it was the only Russian movie made last year. I give it an “N.” For Nyet. Isn’t that a Russian word?

The Holiday

DVD review from The Movie Snob

The Holiday (B). In my opinion, romantic comedy is very difficult to pull off, so The Holiday‘s “B” is a very good grade coming from me. Cameron Diaz (The Other Woman) plays Amanda, a hard-charging entrepreneur living in L.A. who is so emotionally repressed that she hasn’t cried since she was 15. Kate Winslet (All the King’s Men) is Iris, a British newspaper writer who is emotionally destroyed when the man she loves gets engaged to another woman. On the spur of the moment, the two find each other through a home-exchange website and decide to swap houses for the Christmas holiday. Diaz meets Graham (Jude Law, Sherlock Holmes); Winslet meets Miles (Jack Black, Bernie). Romantic-comedy hijinks ensue. I would pick some nits — at 2 hours and 18 minutes, it is way too long, and there are some draggy scenes that should have been trimmed. Although I believe that Jack Black is one of the comedic geniuses of our time, he is a fish out of water in this picture. Still, on the whole, I quite enjoyed it.

After the Wedding

From The Movie Snob

After the Wedding (B+). This Danish movie (Efter Brylluppet in its native tongue) was an Oscar nominee for Best Foreign Film, and it really was quite good. Mads Mikkelsen, who played the villainous Le Chiffre in Casino Royale, stars as Jacob Petersen, a passionate do-gooder trying to run an orphanage for boys in India. The orphanage is desperate for funds, and out of the blue a Danish tycoon named Jorgen contacts him and offers to make a generous grant, but the catch is that Jacob has to travel to Denmark and meet Jorgen in person. At their initial meeting, Jorgen refuses to commit to the grant but invites Jacob to his daughter’s wedding the next day. There, Jacob meets Jorgen’s beautiful wife Helene–and it is obvious that they have met before. A shocking revelation soon follows, and the rest of the movie we watch the characters work their way through the emotional fallout from it. Melodramatic for sure, but well and convincingly acted. I enjoyed it a lot.

2 views of Blades of Glory

From Nick at Nite

Blades of Glory. Funny, but not brilliant. When you combine the intentionally funny, Will Ferrell, with something that is unintentionally funny, male figure skating, hilarity is sure to ensue. It is a fine formula that has worked well in the past. Will Ferrell + News Anchor = Ron Burgundy. Will Ferrell + College = Old School. Will Ferrell + Funerals/Weddings = Wedding Crashers. Will Ferrell + Soccer = Kicking and Screaming. Will Ferrell + Christmas = Elf. All, funny and proof that if a formula is successful it should not be changed. This film is no exception. Will Ferrell, Jon Heder (Napoleon Dynamite), Will Arnett (TV’s Arrested Development), and Amy Poehler (Sisters) are all over the top as figure skaters in search of gold medals. They play prima donnas and self-important like they might be prima donnas and self-important in real life. I give it a “B+.” Check it out.

A second opinion from The Movie Snob.

Blades of Glory (B). Who says The Movie Snob doesn’t do mainstream? Without vouching for the entirety of Will Ferrell’s oeuvre, I concur in the judgment and opinion of my esteemed colleague. The humor is pretty lowbrow, but I still laughed a lot. I have to give a special mention to Jenna Fischer (Pam on TV’s The Office), who has a small but important role and is as cute as a button, in my humble opinion. Worth matinee price.

Into Great Silence

Movie review from The Movie Snob

Into Great Silence (B). This is a very unusual documentary. A German film-maker went to the Grande Chartreuse monastery in the French Alps, and for six months he simply filmed the monks who live there. This monastery is considered one of the most ascetic in the world, and it certainly shows in this film. The monks’ lives are extremely simple, consisting of virtually nothing except prayer and work (of the agricultural variety). Their cells are small, bare rooms, and they own virtually no possessions. Although they apparently do not take vows of silence, silence looks like their normal condition, except one day a week when they go out on nature walks and relax a little bit. The movie is over 2 1/2 hours long, and most of it is silent footage of the monks going about their business, so it is not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. But for a glimpse of a world most people have never seen (it took 16 years for the monks to grant the director permission to film), it is quite an interesting accomplishment.

Amazing Grace

Movie review from The Movie Snob

Amazing Grace (A-). Maybe it’s a little sentimental, but I still loved this movie about British parliamentarian William Wilberforce and his crusade to abolish the British slave trade. Interestingly, the movie’s perspective is limited to that of Wilberforce and his fellow MPs; the horrors of slavery are much talked about but never actually shown, and the MPs’ lack of firsthand familiarity with the trade may help explain why Parliament was so slow to rally to Wilberforce’s cause. The complexities of parliamentary politics are well-captured, as is the way seemingly unrelated political issues can affect each other. Wilberforce is well-played by Ioan Gruffudd (previously unknown to me despite starring roles in Fantastic Four and King Arthur, his appearance reminded me of Bob Geldof in The Wall). Romola Garai, who was so good in I Capture the Castle, is unfortunately rather wasted in the role of Wilberforce’s devoted wife. Highly recommended.