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

October 2020 - Tis the season for political intrigue. Here are two movies that try to fit the bill and succeed with varying degrees of success.

First up is Murder at 1600, an R-rated drama from 1997. When a young woman is found murdered in a White House bathroom, Wesley Snipes and Diane Lane must uncover the cover-up that threatens the presidency.

Snipes plays Washington, DC police detective Harlan Regis. Dennis Miller is his partner. When the body turns up in the bathroom, they're asked to investigate by Alan Alda, the National Security Advisor. Lane plays Nina Chance, the sharpshooting Secret Service agent assigned as the liaison.

Early on, it appears that the president's playboy son may be the killer. Then, suspicion falls on the president himself. But Regis and Chance figure out that they are the ones being framed and that the murder was just part of a much bigger plan.

Overall review: Ehhh, it was OK. Admittedly, I watched the movie on TV while doing laundry. So, I missed a couple minutes here and there to fold clothes, etc. And, quite honestly, that was OK. The plot was more convoluted than it needed to be, and the action wasn't very exciting. In fact, I'd call this so-called thriller pretty darn boring.

A slightly better film is The Sentinel, which I did see in a theater. Michael Douglas (Streets of San Francisco), Kiefer Sutherland (24) and Eva Longoria (Desperate Housewives) star in this PG-13 2006 thriller directed by Clark Johnson (E.N.G., Homicide: Life on the Street). Johnson also has a small role, but his character gets killed early on so he can focus on directing.

Michael Douglas plays Pete Garrison, a Secret Service agent who took a bullet during the Reagan assassination attempt. 25 years later, he's still on the job, protecting President Ballentine and having an affair with the first lady (Kim Basinger).

Sutherland plays Jack Bauer, except that, in this movie, his name is David Breckenridge and, instead of working for CTU, he's a top investigator at some federal agency that's like the FBI except it's not. Longoria plays his new trainee, who also knows Garrison because he taught some courses at the academy.

When word gets out of a possible plot to assassinate the president, Garrison falls under suspicion. He goes on the run to hunt down the bad guys while Kiefer hunts down Garrison. There's extra tension because Kiefer and Garrison used to be best buds, but then Kiefer got mad because he thought Garrison slept with his wife.

Anyway, everyone eventually ends up in Toronto and the bad guys all get killed.

Overall review: Ehhh, it was OK. Basically, people with a fair amount of TV experience got a fair amount of money to make a fair-enough movie. It's about 90-minutes long, though it seemed longer. Some of the dialogue goes by pretty quickly and you're not sure what it all means. But, that's OK because, soon enough, someone's going to shoot someone and make it all better. Eva Longoria doesn't have a lot to do in this movie, but she does get to shoot a fire extinguisher.

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