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

April 2024 - I got sucked into another Netflix mini-series based on a novel by Harlan Coben. This one was called Fool Me Once and told the story of a widowed mom and former military pilot whose dead husband suddenly appears on the nanny cam. I've seen several of these series now, and they're fine while you're watching them, but afterwards, you wonder why you wasted your time.

You could say the same about Wicker Park. Josh Hartnett carries this PG-13 drama from 2004 which effectively combines the star-crossed lover aspect of Made in Heaven, the stalker aspect of Single White Female and the if-the-shoe-fits aspect of Cinderella. Matthew Lillard of Scream fame also stars.

Hartnett plays Matthew, a young advertising executive in Chicago who's about to make his first big business trip to China. He's also thinking about popping the question to his girlfriend, who happens to be his boss's sister.

But just hours before his scheduled departure, Matthew meets his old friend, Luke (Lillard), who runs a distinctive shoe store. He also has an almost encounter with Lisa, a former lover who he hasn't seen for two years.

Instead of going to China, Matthew spends the next several days trying to track down Lisa. He thinks he's found her, only to discover another woman who dresses like Lisa, calls herself Lisa, but doesn't look like Lisa.

Overall review: Liked it. I liked this movie a lot, thanks in part to a great modern rock soundtrack featuring the likes of Coldplay and the White Stripes. The photography and editing are also interesting. And, the movie also does a good job of building suspense. I got sucked in despite the fact that the film is derivative in so many ways.

Also providing empty cinematic calories is X-Men: The Last Stand, a PG-13 film from 2006. You should probably watch or re-watch the first two X-Men movies before seeing this one, but it's not totally necessary.

The movie is set, as it states, in the not too distant future. The mutants have come a long way, baby. But, while some mutants are comfortable with their powers, others are not. In an opening vignette, we see a young mutant trying to cut off his wings. Now, years later, a corporation headed by the boy's father has discovered a cure of sorts, which can make mutants fully human. The key is another boy, and he's under lock and key at the company's lab on Alcatraz Island.

Mutants are offered the chance to voluntarily submit to the cure. Magneto (Ian McKellan) thinks this is the worst idea he's ever heard, and he gathers an army of mutants to take Alcatraz and get the boy. At the center of it all is Phoenix, a.k.a. Dr. Jean Grey (Famke Janssen), who is the most powerful mutant ever.

Overall review: Liked it. The plot seems to have a lot of holes in it, and not everything makes sense. But, there's plenty of action, good special effects, a little bit of humor, and the good guys win. What more do you want from a comic book movie?

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