An excellent thriller — my first read from Fielding. It was a true page-turner. I could hardly put it down — even for sleep! About a journalist who gets suckered in to write the memoirs of a sadistic child killer, Fielding really has a way of increasing the suspense as the story progresses. Strong characters and a good, trick ending make it a must read for any thriller fan. Not exactly the most intellectual read ever, but for thriller fans, I would say it’s a must! I’m going to try another Fielding soon and see if she’s always this good!

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I was not expecting to like this movie. Halle Berry is good but Benicio Del Toro is excellent in this film about love, loss, friendship and grief. Playing a man fraught with agony over the death of his best childhood friend and dealing with a debilitating drug addition, Del Toro’s performance makes this so-so movie a very strong film. The death of his friend, who was Berry’s husband, is the focal point of the film…most everyone’s struggles and problems stem from that event. Except Del Toro’s…the death of his friend is just one of many things that have snowballed downhill in his life. If you are not enticed by the plot, watch it for Del Toro’s performance. I’m sure you will not be disappointed.

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I liked Mostly Martha, so it’s always hard when a film that was good to begin with gets the remake once-over. It happens quite a bit with older films…many black and white. I guess Hollywood feels the attention span of movie-goers is about 30 years or less. But, what’s usually really frustrating is when a RECENT foreign film is remade into an English film. Um, excuse me, we CAN read subtitles, you know! So, here we go with another contemporary film…this time a very well-received German film…that is getting the Hollywood touch so Americans can go to the movies and not have to spend two hours READING. The horror, the horror! And, I’m not even that big of a fan of foreign films! Imagine how insulted staunch devotees of international cinema are!!!!! All that aside (is that possible after my rant?), Catherine Zeta-Jones plays a tough, temperamental chef who runs her NYC restaurant kitchen like clockwork until her sister dies and she’s left with the responsibility of raising her niece. Enter Aaron Eckhart as a replacement chef and more than just cooking fires begin to heat up. This is a sweet, touching film…more than just your average romantic comedy. It has edge and some truly poignant moments between the Zeta-Jones character and the young girl. Is it better than Mostly Martha? Well, no. But, I honestly didn’t expect it to be. It is a remake after all.

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One of the funnier films I’ve seen in a long while. Set during their father’s funeral, two brothers (one MUCH more successful than the other) run the gamut of problems and family issues during the should-be-sorrowful gathering. From the wrong corpse in the casket to an alleged gay love affair, this movie really does have it all. It’s original and well acted…and most of the humor is above board (there were only a few times I wish the filmmakers hadn’t “gone” there). If you like British comedies, you MUST watch this one. And, even if you don’t normally like the humor of the Brits, try it anyway. It’s a hoot!

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First of all, I never thought I would be writing a review on a Wes Anderson movie. Or even an Owen Wilson film. So, it’s fair to say that The Darjeeling Limited is another film I didn’t think I would like…at all. But, unlike Wes Anderson’s other films, this one relies more on its plot and characters rather than on its inane quirkiness. A story about three brothers, all of whom have been estranged from each other for a time, who buried their father and are now on a quest to find their long-lost mother. Their quest takes them on a train trip through India, where their mother is believed to be in hiding. Yes, it’s quirky, but it’s a good, easy-going sort of quirky that I don’t mind. The Royal Tenenbaums and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou were seeping with quirkiness, and not an innocent, harmless kind either. The quirks here are not part of the plot — they are just little blips in the characters’ personas. It is a colorful, fun movie…a great road-trip film!

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Berg’s latest is a great, strong piece on not only loss, but on coming to terms with oneself. We meet the main character, Helen, months after she has lost her husband of many years from a sudden heart attack. Her daughter Tessa is on her own and Helen has to find a way to come to terms with being alone. I found the way Berg constructed Helen to be very believable of what a recent widow might go through. I didn’t think Helen’s reactions were too over the top or corny. This is a good summer beach read…it’s short, well-written and uncomplicated.
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Incendiary examines how a London terrorist attack forever destroys the life of a working-class mom. Michelle Williams, who was nominated for an Oscar for her supporting role in 2005’s Brokeback Mountain, plays a London mother and wife…the opening scenes capture her closeness with her 4-year-old son and the distance with her husband. She meets Jasper Black, played by Ewan McGregor and sees her chance to escape some of the dullness of her marriage. When her son and husband head to a local soccer match, she sees her chance to get together with Black. While she’s with him, a terrorist bomb explodes at the soccer stadium and her son and husband are among the dead. She runs through the gambit of emotions…sadness, of course…relief, that her mundane marriage is over?…guilt, that she was betraying her husband at the very moment of his death?…hatred, for the terrorists responsible for the loss of her beloved son? She tries to find some understanding by befriending the suspected bomber’s son, but this just leaves her more disillusioned. Yes, Incendiary sounds like a bleak movie with little hope, and though at times it is, some optimism does manage to sneak in. Williams does a superb job of conveying all sorts of emotions. Her performance raises this movie from just another post-911 tale to a deeper, more powerful film on loss and redemption.

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I am not a big fan of recent war movies…especially those about the Iraqi War. The ones I have seen have had a distorted message that messes up the story so much that it ruins the movie. But, the cast was so good here…I thought I would try it. And, it turned out to be a good, strong movie that is more about what war does to the people and less about why we are over there. The story revolves around three lost souls…who are on month leave from the Army and from the Middle East. Two of them want out of the Army…one is just confused with her life in general. But, in the end, they all find that the Army not only provides them with common ground, it is the stability they all need. Wonderful!

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