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To see a simple English version of reviews about some of the movies, click on the  ESL section of Midnight Oil.

Malcolm X (1992)

In Malcolm X” (1992) IMDb, Denzel Washington plays the title role of the black civil rights and religious leader also known as El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz. This bio-pic directed by Spike Lee reveals much about the public and private life of this important modern-day figure of American history as based on the autobiography written by Alex Haley. Denzel Washington does an admirable job of capturing the complexity of a man in search of himself as he searches for a meaningful ethnic and religious identity. Although the politics of the times loom large in this film, it is the personal journey of growth and the fascinating interplay of religious and cultural influences that are of particular interest to me.

Don’t miss the informative TVO SNAM Interviews segment devoted to the subject of the making of “Malcom X” as well as the producer’s blog entry about the “re-discovery” of the man behind the film. The SNAM mini-doc is entitled “By Any Means Necessary”.

"The Dandies-Shorty& Malcolm" courtesy of Movie Screenshots

>>More to see: Looking for more out of life?

>> Real Life StoryKen Hutcherson grew up as a black kid in America who knew what it was to be driven by hate. Eventually Hutcherson, a former NFL linebacker, was hit square in the face with another reality that changed his life.

See the video trailer for “Malcolm X” (1992)

Posted on Friday, February 26, 2010 at 12:59PM by Registered CommenterCatherine Savard | CommentsPost a Comment

In and Out (1997)

“In and Out” (1997) starring Kevin Kline, Tom Selleck and Joan Cusack is all about the influence of Hollywood on the lives of everyday people living in ordinary places. But isn’t it about a gay high school teacher coming out of the closet? But I thought it was about an unassuming English teacher “being outed” by his former pupil who happened to make a chance remark about his former teacher’s sexual orientation while receiving an Academy Award. It is all rather confusing. Some people, like Tom Selleck’s character, bigwig reporter Peter Malloy, seem to have perfect clarity about these things. But as for Mr. Howard Brackett himself (Kevin Kline), his fiancée (Joan Cusack), his parents, his friends and pretty much the rest of the world, it all comes as a big surprise.


Naturally enough, neither Mr. Brackett nor his fiancée of quite some time were at all suspicious as they carried on with their extraordinarily commonplace lives. And quite naturally, everything and everyone is thrown into a tizzy once the big “revelation” has been announced on national television. From there on in, everything gets re-examined, re-decided and recast simply on the say-so of the newly minted Hollywood star (played by Matt Dillon). The aftershock comes with quite hilarious results, naturally enough. But naturally I wonder who has the bigger problem – Howard Brackett with his questions about his sexual orientation or the rest of us who appear to be so disposed as to believe anything we hear (as long as it is salacious and announced on national television). Fortunately for all concerned, “In and Out”  is a comedy and the  explorations of the vagaries of human nature remain  lighthearted and are often treated in a quite funny manner.


 >> Real Life Story: DJ was a young man who was confused about a lot of things in life. Eventually he banged into some hard realities that led to deep life change.


>>More to see: Looking for more out of life?

Don't miss the entire dance sequence in Howard's "Real Men Don't Dance" routine. Catch the trailer for "In and Out" (1997).


Posted on Friday, February 19, 2010 at 06:41AM by Registered CommenterCatherine Savard | CommentsPost a Comment

Local Hero (1983)

Local Hero” (1983) is an offbeat film about an offbeat oil magnate (Burt Lancaster) who sends his lackey boy (Peter Riegert) to buy a sleepy little fishing village on the coast of Scotland in order to accommodate some of his latest industrial projects. What with the aurora borealis, a pretty biologist named Marina, a canny lawyer slash innkeeper, a roving Russian songster and an odd assortment of townspeople, things get quite off track in short order. Amongst my favourites from the cast of local characters was the right Reverend MacPherson, a pillar of the community who happens to be a black man from Africa. Equally unexpected is the colourful character of Ben Knox, the eccentric beachcomber whose wise words and unflappable tenacity get the whole show moving in a completely different direction. Thanks to old Ben, it turns out that we see that there might just be something more important in life than money after all.

>> Real Life Story: Blake, a young man from a privileged background, steps off a plane in the Sudan and a small village in Africa changes forever.

>>More to see: Looking for more out of life?

See the video trailer for "Local Hero" (1983)

Posted on Saturday, February 6, 2010 at 09:27AM by Registered CommenterCatherine Savard | CommentsPost a Comment

Monsoon Wedding (2001)

“Monsoon Wedding (2001) gives a glimpse of  a wedding day in modern-day India that has lots to say about the institution of marriage, families and India as it is today. Director Mira Nair lovingly constructs a multi-layered picture of an extended middle class family as it goes through the Hindu ritual. The gathering of the clan and the awkward introduction of two strangers who are soon to be husband and wife present the perfect opportunity for both flamboyant display and clandestine concealment. moviescreenshots.blogspot.comMultiple revelations take place during the course of the film. Some are funny and fun and some stumble upon the great tragedies and imperfections of life as it really is. Nair’s film is enjoyable because it captures “the way things really are” today in a specific state in India. The movie reaches beyond the frivolous and the cliché because it simultaneously reveals “the way things have always been” on a universal level. Who’s to say that the torrential downpour of a monsoon would not be the perfect ending of a grand celebration of a very imperfect life? It’s a different way of looking at things. It might just be a very lucky thing.

Be sure that you don’t miss the SNAM Interview dedicated to examining the intricacies of “Monsoon Wedding”.

Also along the wedding theme as shown on SNAM was Father of the Bride” (1950) , and The Philadelphia Story (1940). These movies were previously reviewed on Midnight Oil.

 >>More to see: Looking for more out of life?

>>Real Life Story: Shawna went from the fairytale wedding to disappointment in her marriage to real happiness.

 See the official trailer for “Monsoon Wedding” (2001). I decided some words of explanation (in English) were necessary to tell the story even though this video clip does an great job of capturing the visual story of the film through colour, texture, song and dance.

Posted on Saturday, January 30, 2010 at 08:49AM by Registered CommenterCatherine Savard in , , , | CommentsPost a Comment

The Anderson Tapes (1971)

The Anderson Tapes” (1971) starring Sean Connery  is a bit of a retro trip with a great twist in conclusion that almost makes it worth staying up for the ending. Sean Connery’s character, Duke Anderson, is all about proving that he is still at the top of his larceny game after he gets out of the slammer. He engineers a complicated heist involving several luxury apartments made more complicated by multi-layered surveillance systems.

I don’t know how things will turn out in the remake of the movie scheduled for release later in 2010. They will surely have updated surveillance equipment to replace the old reel to reel tapes that were “state of the art” in 1971. Connery, while playing Duke Anderson, doesn’t get to play with all of the super spy toys that were a part of the James Bond franchise of the same era. These days you can go down to the local electronics super store and buy yourself some of the gadgets that only Bond and the boys could have way back when. I don’t know that I’ll be paying money to go and see the remake of “The Anderson Tapes” in the theatre, but at least I can say that I’ve seen the original and, yes, I do know what happens at the end of that version! 


>>More to see: Looking for more out of life?


>>Real Life Story: David found he had to stay on top in a world of petty crimes fueled by a drug addiction. It had to end somewhere. And then things got better.


See the original trailer for "The Anderson Tapes" (1971). View also three film clips with co-stars Dyan Cannon, Christopher Walken and Alan King.