About Double Feature

Double Feature is the title of a column that I write for the newsletter of Lehigh Pocono Mensa, the local group to which I belong. It gets published monthly in "Magniloquence." I used to belong to Central PA Mensa, so I offer the column to the editor of "Penn Central" and it shows up there pretty regularly.

As the title implies, each Double Feature column features brief reviews of two movies that I have seen. I try to find a connection between the two films - subject matter, stars, awards, etc. - but, since it's my column, I reserve the right to occasionally choose two films that have no connection to each other at all.

The reviews found in the Movies section of this Web site serve as the basis for Double Feature. I try to keep each column somewhere around 500 words (which fills about one page in the newsletter), so I usually have to edit the original reviews to fit into the space allotted.

If you'd like to read the individual reviews for the films mentioned in Double Feature, you can do so here.

The rating scales are a little different. The conversion chart is as follows:

  • **** = Loved it
  • *** = Liked it
  • ** = Ehhh, it was OK
  • * = Hated it

Current Column

November 2018 - Notting Hill is one of those movies that I watch whenever I come across it. I recently watched it for what is probably the eighth or ninth time. You've probably done the same, so here are my thoughts about two other movies starring Julia Roberts.

Nearly 10 years after Pretty Woman, Roberts and Richard Gere again teamed with director Garry Marshall for Runaway Bride, a fluffy, PG-rated romcom from 1999. The supporting cast includes Hector Elizando, Joan Cusack, Rita Wilson, Donal Logue and Christopher Meloni.

Gere plays Ike, a newspaper columnist who waits until the last minute to write and submit his column. Seeking inspiration, he walks into a bar in NYC. That's where a fellow drinker tells him the story of Maggie, the runaway bride. Ike frantically writes the column and it is duly published for all to read, including Maggie. Maggie responds with a letter to the editor, pointing out all the fact errors and half-truths in Ike's column. Ike is duly fired. But, soon enough, he's hired by a magazine to go to Maggie's hometown in Maryland and find out just what makes the runaway bride run away.

Overall review: Liked It. I know, I know. But the cast is likeable! Gere and Roberts have chemistry, and Joan Cusak is amusing. It's a pleasant enough way to spend a couple of hours.

Julia Roberts looks and acts like anything but a pretty woman in 2015's Secret in Their Eyes. This PG-13 mystery thriller is based on an Oscar-winning 2009 Argentinian film of the same name. The cast includes Nicole Kidman, Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave), Dean Norris and Alfred Molina. Daniel Moder (a.k.a. Mr. Julia Roberts) handles the cinematography.

Roberts plays Jess Cobb, a detective with the Los Angeles District Attorney's office. In 2002, she's assigned to the Counterterrorism unit, which includes another detective nicknamed Bumpy (Norris) and an FBI liaison named Ray (Ejiofor). The team is keeping their eyes on a mosque which they suspect may be a front for a terror cell.

One day, the body of a young woman is found in a dumpster near the mosque. The Counterterrorism team is called in case there's a connection to the mosque. When Ray looks at the body, he realizes it's Jess's daughter, Carolyn. Not long after, he realizes that the killer may be a confidential informant who's been giving another detective inside info about the goings on at the mosque.

In the post-9/11 DA's office, terrorism trumps murder and the investigation into Carolyn's death is stonewalled. But 13 years later, Ray thinks he has new information that can finally help them arrest the CI and close the case. He returns to Los Angeles, only to find answers that he really did not expect.

Overall review: Liked it. Roberts gives Jess a haunted look – baggy clothes, no makeup, hair that looks as though she cuts it herself. She shows little emotion and speaks mostly in a monotone. The emotional spark is provided by Ray. Like Jess, he never got over Carolyn’s murder, and eventually we find out why.

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"No good movie is too long and no bad movie is short enough." »» Roger Ebert