Not the best WWII movie ever, but a strong film with good performances. Directed by Basic Instinct director Paul Verhoeven, I expected this one to be less serious than it turned out to be. Some of Verhoeven’s American films have been so outrageously bad (think Showgirls) that I wasn’t expecting a good film here. But, I turned out to be pleasantly surprised at the strength of this one. Basically, it is about a Jewish woman in Holland who not only has to hide from the Nazis but has to run from them as well. Also, she finds out throughout the course of the film, that she literally cannot trust anyone…even people she believed were close allies of hers and her family. If you like films set during WWII, this is a must see. Don’t expect anything as strong as The Pianist or Life is Beautiful but don’t expect Showgirls either.

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Once in a while a movie comes out that takes you totally by surprise. That’s what The Barbarian Invasions did for me. I’m not that big into foreign films. So, when I put the DVD in, it was mostly reluctantly. For 99 minutes, I was entranced with the story and the characters. I fell in love with the seemingly unlikable father who, even in the hospital, surrounds himself by his former mistresses. The friends that come to gather around him are a group of vibrant, quirky souls that have small enough roles not to interrupt the main story but who add color while they are on screen. The relationship between the father and his son is the heart of the film and what a believable, realistic relationship it is. There is no canned, Hollywood dialogue here…just two people who have been estranged for a while and are forced together by difficult circumstance. A good film for anyone who is a son, daughter, or even a parent because the film is filled with so much realism that situations like this could occur in anyone’s life.

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An excellent thriller based on a Harlan Coben novel of the same title. A husband and wife are vacationing at their wooded cabin when the wife is mysteriously taken and murdered. The film begins years after the wife’s murder, showing the husband as a man who has not been able to let go. This obsession with his wife’s murder is increased considerably after he receives some video suggesting his wife might be alive. This is a strong film, but the ending really cinches this one as a excellent thriller. Most thrillers really do not know what to do with the ending. The ending of Coben’s book was good. But, the filmmakers decided to try something different. And the ending surpasses the one Coben wrote for the book. So, they succeeded in accomplishing two coups…changing the ending of a novel for the better and writing a strong, definitive ending for a thriller.

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This is a warm, touching film that will warm the hearts of anyone. A VERY small Egyptian band heads to Israel for a concert and, on arrival, they discover no one is there to meet them. While looking for a bus to take, they meet a charming shopkeeper who offers to take them in for the night…since the bus won’t run until the next morning. Perfectly acted in just the right tone, this film shows how friendships and platonic love can be therapeutic for ailing loss. A sweet type of film not made often enough these days, sadly.

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