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

July 2020 - I've taken advantage of my stay-at-home time to watch a couple of movies I missed back in the good old days when we could actually go to the movies. This month, I'll review one of those films and recap a film that I did see in the theater when it came out a few years ago. Both movies are based on actual events.

First up is Hustlers, an R-rated drama that came out last year. Constance Wu gets top billing, but Jennifer Lopez provides the sizzle for this flick set in the world of New York City strip clubs. Cardi B and Lizzo have cameos, and Julia Stiles plays the journalist who writes an after-the-fact expose for New York Magazine.

The movie revolves around Destiny (Wu) as she tells her story to Stiles. Destiny recalls how she was a new employee at a strip club when she met Ramona (Lopez), a veteran dancer who took her under her wing. Ramona showed Destiny all the right moves. Everything was great until the stock market collapsed in 2008 and the boys from Wall Street stopped coming around.

It's hard out there for a stripper, so Ramona came up with a plan to make some easy cash. All they had to do was mix up a batch of something akin to a date-rape drug, slip it into the drink of a sugar daddy, and then rack up the charges on his platinum credit card. Ramona, Destiny and their crew made it work right up until they picked the wrong guy to scam.

Overall review: Liked it. Not as much exotic dancing as you might think. But, plenty of skimpy clothes and a good soundtrack make up for it. Wu and J-Lo carry the action, and their chemistry elevates what would otherwise be just an average movie.

A better film is American Hustle, which hit theaters just before Christmas in 2013. Writer/Director David O. Russell followed up his Oscar-winning Silver Linings Playbook with this R-rated, Oscar-nominated film. He brought back Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper and added Amy Adams and Christian Bale. The story, set in the late Seventies, is loosely based on Abscam, the FBI sting operation that took down several politicians.

Bale and Adams play a pair of con artists in New York City. He's Irving Rosenfeld, who takes fees from desperate people for loans that will never be given. Adams is Sydney Prosser. She invents a British persona named Lady Edith to add class and cred to Rosenfeld's growing scam operation. When ambitious FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Cooper) gets the better of them, he promises freedom if they help him catch fish that get increasingly bigger and more dangerous. Lawrence plays Rosenfeld's wife, whose recklessness threatens to blow the whole thing.

Overall review: Liked it. The plot is a little convoluted and the movie, which runs 2:18, felt a little long. But, there's a lot of energy here and the acting is terrific. All four leads got Oscar nominations, and Jennifer Lawrence and Amy Adams each won a Golden Globe.

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