Movies to watch

Yes. We’ve all heard about Sex & the City 2 and The Prince of Persia,but how about a little known gem like Agora? This independent film, featuring an excellent performance by Rachel Weisz as Hypatia, is indeed a thinking person’s movie. The film succeeds at portraying Hypatia’s passion for teaching and learning, but fails to explain exactly why the nascent Christianity is genuinely appealing. The early Christians in the film are depicted as menacing, stone-throwing thugs who will attack anyone who does not swear allegiance to Christ. The pagans and Jews who oppose them are not painted in a much better light, it must be said, but a more convincing argument about why Christianity was appealing to so many in the late 4th and early 5th Century  A.D. in Alexandria would have been appreciated. Oscar Isaacs and Max Minghella are standouts as Orestes and Davus, whose love for Hypatia is palpable, but whose  respective political and religious needs are equally potent.

It would be easy to dismiss this film as anti-Christian if it weren’t for the fact that intolerance and arrogance is shown by all quarters.More important are the questions raised about how far one is willing to go to pursue knowledge or freedom, the equality of the sexes (indeed it shows  simply how difficult it was for a woman to stand up for herself without a man to protect her), the true nature of tolerance and spirituality. Another point related to gender quality brought out by this film .

Madamoiselle Chambon is another film I recommend, although I’ve yet to see it. Aside from being generally partial to French cinema, it has good reviews and well-known French actor Vincent Lindon.

He and his real life former wife, Sandrine Kiberlain, shine as two shy people who find love. I look forward to seeing this one since I haven’t seen Mr. Lindon’s work since L’etudiante . One commentator from the NY Times said “This remarkable movie is everything Sex and the City is not. Intelligent, delicate, understated and yes, deeply sensual.”

Mademoiselle Chambon Trailer

Check or for showtimes, or try to watch online at sites like or

See also:

Good Wife -A Finale to a New Beginning?

Each woman on the show had her own relationship issues this week; Diane with Kurt, Alicia with Peter and Will, and Kalinda with Tony and Lana. By episode’s end it seemed that Diane and Kalinda fared better than Alicia, who still has conflicted loyalties. Her “Show me the plan” speech to Will was great, and showed not only her realism, but her yearning to be free.

This week’s case dealt with apparently crooked cops and one amongst them who wanted to enter a witness protection program.  It turned out that the one who wanted to enter witness protection wasn’t as clean as he claimed to be and neither was his wife, who stood to benefit from his demise.  The distaste for the conclusion of this case was very apparent from Alicia’s demeanor and facial expression. This dovetails nicely with Will asking Diane whether or not they made the right decision by keeping Alicia instead of snake-in-the-grass Cary earlier in the episode when Cary was questioning the wife’s expenses. Season two’s caseload should touch upon whether Lockhart & Gardner is really the right place for Alicia.

Kalinda stated last week that she’s private, and now we more clearly know why. She’s a bisexual who doesn’t want to be pegged as either this or that. She wants to be able to move freely between the gay/straight continuum without having to constantly defend and/or define herself. (I don’t buy her bit about being “confused” one bit – she’s as clear as crystal about her wants and needs).

It must also be said that Kalinda genuinely cares about each of her prospective partners. She didn’t want Tony to be guilty of corruption,  nor did  she did want him to go down for it. Her feelings for Lana are probably more complicated since the two are likely to have had a past relationship – remember the hand massaging Lana gave Kalinda when this FBI agent first appeared and asked Kalinda to work for her? Kalinda is probably claiming to be confused to keep both lovers in her life.  Tony’s discovery of Kalinda’s bisexuality should be interesting – surely Lana’s not the only one who can take pictures? He’ll probably want to take a few of himself joining in…

Mary Beth Peil has been a bit underutilized this season and it was wonderful to see her mettle when she had her tete-a-tete with Alan Cumming’s Eli Gold and then with Gbenga Akinnagbe’s pastor Isaiah Easton.  Why isn’t SHE running for office??

Season two will have to focus on the changes in Alicia’s feelings about Peter, his career, as well as her own. Other writers have speculated that Alicia is likely to go up to that podium in season two, and I’m inclined to agree, but not without fallout from Peter after the conference. It’s not like he won’t want to know why she was distracted,who was calling her, or why it was more important to her than showing him her support. So we’re going to wonder whether or not Alicia will wind up with Will in the end, or at least end things with Peter. In addition to the sorting out of these issues,we’ll hopefully  get to see more of the inner workings of Kalinda, Will, Diane, Cary, Kurt, Giada, Eli, and the whole incredible family of fabulous characters.

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V-the series 2009-?

I’m a late convert to this series, which has worked out well since I didn’t experience any lag time between broadcasts. (Courtesy of

First, let me say that I hope the lovely Morena Baccarin gets more starring roles and doesn’t fade away like predecessor Jane Badler . This character, named Diana in the old 1983/84 series is Anna here, and she’s everything you’d expect in a reptile dressed in top-model  synthetic skin & clothing. She could teach Machiavelli a few things. Want public sympathy & that of a specific person? Beat your daughter and have her legs broken, then have her taken to an FBI station and place her bruised face on television worldwide. Oh, and did I forget to add that you have to pressure said daughter into naming your political enemies as her attackers in order to get the public to help do your dirty work?  It almost seems like overkill that Anna has some kind of psychic power over nearly ever member of her species to make them feel “bliss”.

It’s interesting that this extraterrestrial, reptilian species is unable to feel “human emotions” with the exception of this quasi-religious rapture.  I guess we’re to assume that it’s a kind of psychic drug that helps Anna manage the emotions of other members of her species and adds to her already considerable powers of persuasion, not to mention duplicity.

The way she looked forward to her encounter with Ryan (a fine Morris Chestnut), whom she saw as merely a challenge to her duplicitous and psychic powers. “You killed her. Didn’t you?” Ryan accuses,  (referring to his lover, Valerie, who birthed his child) as he begins to choke her, she calmly removes his hand and replies that she and the medical staff have done everything to save her and would have succeeded had Ryan gotten to her ship sooner. She then cradles his face in her hands and emits the bliss inducing psychic state-symbolized by a burst of blinding white light-before introducing Ryan to his child. (Yes. Anna had in fact murdered Val, the baby’s mother.)

Casting a white female as the principal villainess and an African-American male as one of the heroes made me wonder whether  this was an oblique  way of tapping into Obama-Clinton-Palin tensions.

Other standouts in this series are Scott Wolf, channeling Michael J. Fox’s Alex P. Keaton as an ambitious television journalist, and Elizabeth Mitchell, whose adroit shifts of mood and persona would be even scarier if she were a reptile…

The resurrection of Joshua, played by Mark Hildreth was an interesting twist at the end, not to mention a brilliant set up for season 2. Will he be tortured for information or will Marcus, (a sinister Christopher Shyer )turn against Anna as her daughter Lisa is slowly doing. Marcus & Lisa were both seemingly pleased with Anna’s show of human emotion after learning that virtually all of her eggs were destroyed.

One of the underlying philosophical questions posed by this show is :How long can you pretend to be something that you’re not before it changes who you are? (Whether you’re an FBI agent pretending to be tolerant of the Visitors, or a Visitor pretending to be human).

V’s midseason return

Finale recap 1

Finale recap 2

Finale recap 3

The Good Wife-Getting to the Finale

The end of the last episode had Peter released from house arrest and seemingly free to run for office again. Interesting was the way Peter introduced Alicia to some businessmen he knew, by complimenting her as “the lawyer” and a valuable asset to Stern, Lockhart, and Gardner.  Her discomfort was clear by Watching her expression. Alicia definitely wants to further her career, but doesn’t want to use her husband’s connections to do it; this was conveyed by her dismay at seeing Cary pathetically attempt to collect his meager belongings and listening to his somewhat valid complaint about how he knew no one in town and only got as far as he did by dint of sheer hard work. This hit a nerve with Alicia, who had to go out for drinks with Kalinda to celebrate in order to snap out of it.  (By the way, I’m not sure why Alicia thinks Kalinda might be gay -it’s not like Kalinda has made a pass at her or another woman at the firm – or has she? Are there rumors at the firm or something yet to be revealed?).

When will Alicia truly be appreciated for who she is and not for the connections  resulting from her marriage?  When will forces stop conspiring to push Alicia back to Peter every time she tries to break away?  These are some of the questions we may get inkling to, if not definitive answers in the finale.

Bringing back the Colin Sweeney character was a fun move on the part of GW writers. Dylan Baker plays him with almost hammy relish, but those eyes toward the end of the episode were just so chilling. Just shows that lawyers really do have to put up with some serious poop in their day-to-day lives.

Carrie Preston was also a joy to watch -although I’m not sure how the Kozko character managed to fool the law enforcement establishment of his suicide so easily…

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Season 2 Spoilers

The Good Wife – random thoughts & observations.

Unplugged -Kalinda! – She and detective Burton just about changed the rating of this show last night. If you thought the moment Will & Alicia had in Will’s office was hot – the animal lust that radiates from Burton (played with incredible menace by James Carpinello) will just about blow out your TV set. I’m amazed I haven’t seen this dude’s picture hanging up in the Post Office.   I’m glad to see they’re giving Kalinda a private life, though. When Burton finds out she’s bisexual, he’ll be panting even more heavily, asking to join in…

As far as Kalinda’s role in the firm, I have to agree with a co-worker of mine who pointed out that the firm is overly reliant upon her to find the Achilles heel of the opposing side, instead of proving themselves to be skillful lawyers. I liked it when Alicia figured out how a crime was committed when the sprinkler system went on at a certain time of the day, and the episode that had her son Zach help discover that a security guard’s story about doing rounds was bunk after reviewing the surveillance video. The writers should vary the solver of problems from episode to episode and show Kalinda doing other things/working on other cases. Introducing another investigator might be another interesting direction to go in, since the firm must have at least a dozen lawyers working there, each with impressive case loads.

Getting back to the titular character- was there really any doubt that she’d be chosen to stay on at the firm? It will be interesting to see how Will & Diane resolve the issue of third partner vacancy. (Vernon Jordan’s cameo as a potential buyer of the firm is a pleasure). I always felt they’d have to offer it to Alicia, and maybe Will & Diane would end up competing to see who can get the most out of Alicia in exchange for the partnership. Cary’s defection to Glenn Childs is no surprise since they had to keep him in the show somehow – every show needs a bad penny/villain…

This week’s case features some nice work by Paige Turco as Caroline Wilder who played a soon to be divorced wife of a rocker Max Wilder (played by Michael Laurence). I loved how quickly  judge Stanek (Peter  Gerety) saw through the arguments of both sides and took temporary guardianship of suddenly comatose Wilder.

I love this show, but have questions about it as well. As another poster asked – where are Alicia’s friends and family. Didn’t she go to school with anyone else at Georgetown besides Will ? And how about showing Peter talking to the kids for a change since he’s the one who’s now at home all day, he should be shown talking to/parenting this kids at least every once in a while.

Alicia doesn’t seem to be thinking of the implications of Grace and Zach knowing that she thought about having an affair with a man other than their father. Does Alicia really want them to think that marriage doesn’t mean anything and/or that they can go sleeping around with anyone they want to? Isn’t there enough damage to repair after Peter’s infidelity on this score??

Why exactly does Alicia need to work at SLG? She’s an excellent attorney – her husband has connections – I’m sure someone else out there would hire her.

Summary 1 -Good general summary with nice insights. Points out Alicia’s tendency to blow people off sometimes instead of listening.

Summary2 – Another fine summary by Ken Tucker.

Summary 3– Insightful commentary from Meredith Blake.

What do YOU think should happen next???

The Good Wife-Season 1, Episode -“Mock”

Clearly, the Will-Alicia romantic tug of war – needs to come to an end,or at least be back-burnered.  Diane wants a decision regarding the junior associate position. Alicia wants to look good in the eyes of her children and has backpedaled on her feeling towards Will accordingly.

Grace and Zach have the makings of lawyers/detectives themselves – they’ll cover up the truth and do just about anything to help out mom and dad and keep the family together.  They are ultimately successful, given support for their fabrications  and distractions by Anil, son of the building manager, and Elspeth Mann, another attorney in Peter’s employ. Does Alicia really think she can outsmart these two for long while working long hours?  (Notice how quickly she stopped playing the “tell the whole truth” game when quizzed about her relationship with Will).

This week’s episode introduced us to Giada Cabrini – aptly described by Susan Toepfer as “Becca, ten years older.” She’s  a she-devil and probably another love interest for Will. Ably played by Karen Olivo, she’ll figure into the season finale.

As for the resident detective, Kalinda’s background was slightly revealed today since her parents immigrated to the United States (legally, as she edgily points out) from India, we’re led to believe, as she becomes involved in Alicia’s “good deed” to save Simran, the manager of Alicia’s building, from deportation.  For some reason ( and I don’t see one other than sheer hormonal attraction) Cary tags along with Kalinda on her quest to track down the ringleaders of an identity theft ring, which involves Simran’s children, who are the true targets of the government agents’ attention.  Cary learns that Kalinda doesn’t speak Hindi -“where’s your cultural identity?” he asks smarmily.  Can we find him a steady girlfriend please? Maybe Giada can wreck his life so that Alicia can keep working at the firm…

Not seen thus far:  the rest Alicia’s family & friends. Where’s HER mother and father? Doesn’t Alicia have siblings? No friends from her past besides Will Gardner and that weak-willed ex-neighbor from her pre-scandal days? It seems odd for a show that focuses on the titular Good Wife, that it’s mainly her husband who has been shown to have a number of friends and family – we’ve seen his mother, Alicia has phoned Peter’s sister; when do we get to see her people??

Peter’s case continues to heat up slowly as one of his key witnesses, Gerald Kozko, has apparently committed suicide. I definitely think Alicia felt some guilt about this suicide, since she shifted her position from not wanting to know anything about Peter’s dirty dealing with Kozko to wanting to know everything, and since she’d just stuck her neck out to save her building manager from being deported. She’s not the kind of person be completely immune from guilt in the face of someone’s suicide. She knows the last thing she said to Kozko and that his last words to her were “help me”- and she didn’t. I’m not saying she’ll be paralyzed by guilt forever, but she’s likely to feel some for a while – especially as Peter’s case moves closer to a resolution.

Summary 1 -Wall Street Journal’s view.

Summary 2 – Great explanation of why I love this show.

Summary 3 – L.A. Times’ view.

Can’t wait for The Good Wife Season 1 Episode “Unplugged” next week. What do YOU think should happen next?

Any predictions for the season finale on May 25th???

Nurse Jackie-Season 2, Episode 7

Just when you thought the writing on this show couldn’t get any better, this episode dovetailed the infidelity of Dr. Eleanor O’hara’s current love interest, Sarah Khouri (played by fellow Brit Julia Ormond) with Jackie’s own feelings of guilt/uncertainty regarding her own affair with Eddie. It was great to watch Jackie sympathize with Sarah in the ladies room as she injected her with antitoxins to cure Sarah’s spider bite.  Jackie showed her loyalty to Dr. O’hara by simply stating “Hey, she’s my friend.”  when Sarah pointed out that Eleanor had affairs with boys “half her age.” Jackie also told Eleanor about the slightly steamy phone call she overheard Sarah having with a stranger.

An unstated assumption by Sarah is that it’s OK to cheat, especially if your lover is bisexual, places an interesting perspective on bisexuality and how it’s perceived and dealt with by others.  This subtle adding of layers from one episode to the next is what makes this and outstanding series.

The guilt of secrets seemed to be weighing slightly on Jackie’s mind when she spoke with Eddie on the phone and confessed that she didn’t know whether he was the love of her life or a pathological liar. I suspect it’s the latter quality which play a part in her attraction to him.  He’s a partner in crime and fellow manipulator/liar, and she gets the high of pulling one over on people’s eyes as well as the possibility of scoring drugs from him.

I had mixed feelings about Kevin’s take-down of Jackie. She had it coming, but the timing? It felt like a bit of a sucker punch after the cozy set up – he waited up for her, letting her think he had romance in mind initially. I’m sure it’s the only way he felt he could talk to her or get her attention, but it still felt like a sucker punch. I was glad she only went to a diner for comfort food instead of resorting to sex or drugs.

Zoey inched slightly closer towards a relationship with Lenny, and I’m very glad.

Dr. Cooper? Peter Facinelli is a better actor than some might think. How many actors can verbally attack an elderly woman one moment,  grab her breast the next, then try to save her life, and show moral angst in the ace of ghoulish office politics?  [Gloria Akalitus’s badgering those within earshot about Mrs. Sussman’s (Barbara Barrie, in a fabulous guest appearance) last wishes].

All this in 30 minutes!

Can’t wait until Jackie reacts to Eddie’s new girlfriend…

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All things Nurse Jackie