Why, oh why, did I keep watching this? Maybe because I had no choice – it’s addicting…in a “bad girl” kind of way. What do I mean? Well, the main character, Jackie, is UNLIKEABLE in a rebellious, mean-spirited, devious sort of way. She is a compulsive liar when it suits her, is a drug addict, and almost has two complete different personalities…NURSE Jackie who is nice ONLY when she has to be and MOM/WIFE Jackie who is A LITTLE softer. And its hard to like either of the two Jackies. She has this close-to-idyllic family life…a loyal, hardworking husband and sweet kids…but she has a steady boyfriend and sex partner at the hospital where her NURSE alter-ego works. She pops pills on a regular basis…right before or after scolding others for even thinking of doing the same. She’s a warped, unholy mess of a woman, but somehow, she’s highly watchable. Maybe because you want to see her get caught (which she “kind-of” does at the end of season one (her hospital boyfriend (who did not even know she had kids must less was married) catches her with her husband). Maybe because the SOFT side she shows all too infrequently (a good mom, a compassionate (at times) nurse) is likeable and we cheer for GOOD Jackie to come out more often. All I know is that I really couldn’t stop watching. I think much of this has to do with Edie Falco, who, has in the past, taken unlikeable characters and made them tolerable. Even when Jackie is being bad, there always is a little humor behind her demeanor, which Falco allows the audience to glimpse. And, because of Falco, Jackie and all of her flaws becomes a watchable, interesting character that we need to keep tabs on. Considering how unlikeable Jackie is, that’s a very impressive mountain to climb.

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Dustin Hoffman might like to “drive slow on the driveway,” but his brother prefers to take the classic 1957 Buick Roadmaster out on the highways for a spin. Since Hoffman’s character is autistic, this film often gets misjudged as a story about him and his illness. Where, at its heart, it is the tale of two brothers on the road together, getting to know each other for the first time. A little on the sappy side but not enough to keep you away from this film which won a well-deserved Best Picture Oscar.

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Based on the novel by Ken Kesey, this movie, set in a mental hospital, focuses on the relationships between Randle P. McMurphy, the other patients on the ward, and the subtly cruel Nurse Ratched. Early on, it is established that McMurphy (Jack Nicholson) faked insanity in order to avoid a prison sentence, believing that a mental institution would be easy time. Nurse Ratched (Louise Fletcher), the head nurse in McMurphy’s ward, makes it her mission that McMurphy’s time will not be easy. The chemistry between McMurphy and Ratched is perfect, with McMurphy trying his best to play the role of a crazy person and Ratched trying her best to keep him in line. Ratched becomes more of a villain as the film progresses, not because of any outwardly despicable things she does, but because of the little, subtle undertones that color her behavior. Nicholson’s portrayal of McMurphy is not over-the-top, but rather perfectly within the boundaries between insanity and boyish fun. At times he taunts the other patients and other times he helps them reach for life beyond the walls of the hospital. At times he teases Nurse Ratched and other times his anger surfaces when he cannot understand her manipulation. The winner of all five of the top Academy Award prizes (picture, director, writing, actor, and actress), this is an excellent film, complemented with two terrific, on-target performances.

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Ingrid Bergman and Gregory Peck? In the same movie? I should be in heaven, right? Well, almost. Spellbound is a tough film for me. I love it. It’s great. It’s one of Hitchcock’s masterpieces. But, there’s just something about it that rubs me the wrong way. Maybe it’s too technical. Since Bergman plays a psychoanalyst, there is a lot of medical talk and psychiatric terminology. Or, maybe it’s too rooted in the world of psychology, and sadly, since that is something I know little about, I’m just not interested. Well, whatever, watch it and let me know. Bergman plays a female (obviously) psychoanalyst in a mental facility where the old director is retiring. Enter Peck as the new director…but there is something odd about Peck that Bergman can’t quite put her finger on (kind of like my problems with this movie…!). Once Peck’s idiosyncrasy reveals itself to Bergman, she makes it her mission to find a solution. I definitely still recommend Spellbound. And maybe the more people who watch it will clue me in on what it is that bothers me about this film. Don’t worry – it’s an excellent movie with a wonderful cast. I just need to lay on a couch and tell Ingrid Bergman my troubles…

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