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.

Mr. Deeds Goes to Town

DVD review from The Movie Snob

Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (C+). This is my second sampling from the Frank Capra Collection. Gary Cooper (High Noon) stars as Longfellow Deeds, a small-town New Englander who writes verses for greeting cards for a living and plays a tuba in the town band. He unexpectedly inherits $20 million and moves to New York City, where his newfound wealth and small-town ways (like punching people who offend him) attract the attention of the press. Jean Arthur (Shane) plays a newspaper reporter who pretends to be a down-on-her-luck stenographer to get close to Deeds and feed his antics to the papers. Naturally, they fall for each other, causing complications. Not a bad story, and I liked the way the Capra makes Deeds out to be a simple fellow but not a simpleton. But it’s a little long, and there’s a courtroom scene at the end that goes on way too long.

Babel

DVD review from Nick at Nite

Babel 

“Babel” – Latin for slow, tedious, and sometimes boring. I ignored the recommendation of a movie buff friend and made the mistake of watching Babel last night. Babel is an odd cross between a Robert Altman film, Memento, and Not Without My Children. Anyone who has seen the Sally Field masterpiece Not Without My Children sees the weak link in the thread. Babel is four separate stories that are interrelated in some fashion. Standing alone some of the stories are not interesting at all. Other parts of the stories are not developed in a sufficient way to make me care about what is happening to the characters. Basically, some sheepherders in Morocco accidentally shoot Brad Pitt’s wife, Brad Pitt’s kids go missing in the Mexican desert, a deaf Japanese girl has mommy issues and possibly bipolar disorder, and there are no real terrorists in Morocco. These stories are all told on top of one another and in some cases out of order. I was really more focused by the end of the movie on just figuring out what happened and how it ended rather than just enjoying the show. Might have had more of an impact if more of the stories had ended in terrible, sad ways. I give it an “F” and wonder why it was nominated for an Oscar.

The Departed

DVD review from Nick at Nite

The Departed

Stunning. A masterpiece. This is the type of storytelling that justifies going to the movies. Warning. It has some violence. Some would say it is quite graphic. It is not too over the top, especially in comparison to other films from the genre and Mr. Scorsese, e.g., no baseball bat beatings and no dumping of bodies in random cornfields. Nicholson (Anger Management) is fantastic as an Irish mob boss, Damon (Interstellar) is superb as the Irish mob boss’ conflicted crooked cop, and DiCaprio makes me forgive him for Titanic in his portrayal of the undercover cop. The movie is stolen by Alec Baldwin (The Cooler), who as a the head of the state task force on organized crime is playing a part that he was born to play. Mark Wahlberg (The Fighter) has a small, but integral part. It is no surprise he was nominated for an Oscar. I am not going to discuss the plot. Don’t want to give away any of the movie. I will say that the movie doesn’t seem to me to romanticize the real life Irish mob boss that Nicholson’s character is based on. I heard someone say during a radio critique of the movie that the movie somehow made us empathize with this crook. It doesn’t. Incidentally, in real life the Irish mob boss in on the FBI’s ten most wanted list. I give it an “A.” Check it out.