This is my guilty pleasure of 2004. I really liked this one, even though I probably shouldn’t. First of all, it’s supposed to be based on a much better Japanese film from 1997, which I have not seen yet – though I want to now. After I finished watching this film, I just felt all good inside…like I could dance and sing around my house, all by myself. And, I think that’s what the attraction is for everyone: this is a feel good film and who doesn’t want to feel good? The story revolves around a married man (Richard Gere) who is set in his ways of working late and coming home to his wife and older children. Through no dialogue, but just through the expressions on Gere’s face, we can tell he’s frustrated with the path his life has taken. This all changes when he discovers a dance studio and begins to take lessons…begrudgingly at first. Soon, the desire and need to dance consumes…he HAS to dance. It’s a compulsion, like something he cannot control in himself. Dance is just what he needs to bring some spice and excitement back into his life. I enjoyed this one from beginning to end. Just when you think you know what’s going to happen, something else comes along and surprises you. It’s not a fabulously directed film that makes any strides in the area of filmmaking…it’s just a sweet, endearing film that leaves you with a good sense of humanity and optimism about life.

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I think right off the bat this film gets a bad rap since it’s unfortunately grouped with the recent films about the Iraq War. That’s unfair, in my opinion, since this is a strong, edgy thriller that deserves to be seen as a THRILLER and not necessarily as an anti-war statement. Tommy Lee Jones plays a father who, at the start of the film, finds out his son, recently back from the war in the Middle East, is missing. Yes, much of the film does deal with the war, since Jones has to find out what happened to his son while he was over there and if it is at all connected to his disappearance. But, most of the story just has Jones searching for the truth and finding bits and pieces of facts and fictions and putting them together to get some answers. Yes, the story has holes, but based how badly this film was received, it was MUCH better than I thought it would be. So, ignore the propaganda – and just enjoy the movie.

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A minor league veteran (Kevin Costner) trains an undisciplined, cocky pitcher (Tim Robbins) whose goal is to get to “the show” (the major leagues). Susan Sarandon as the team’s groupie convincingly plays a women who feels she must train one player per season in ways that have little to do with their performance on the field. This film features great comic dialogue about baseball and relationships between men and woman, as well as star-making performances for Costner, Robbins, and director Ron Shelton. Her role as Annie also put Sarandon back on the map as a sexy leading lady.

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