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

January 2018 - Happy New Year! Consider this month's column the equivalent of cleaning out my inbox. Here are two films that I watched years ago but haven't managed to review in this column – until now!

Get out the tissues! You're gonna need them for The Notebook, a PG-13 tear-jerker from 2004. James Garner, Gena Rowlands, Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams star.

Garner and Rowlands play Noah and Allie, a long-married couple. Problem is, Allie is losing her memory. It's a degenerative disease, and the periods when she can remember last just minutes at best. But it is those minutes that Noah lives for, and that's why, every day, he reads from a book that chronicles the story of their life together. He reads with the hope that the story will bring her back for just a few precious moments.

Gosling and McAdams play the young versions of Noah and Allie in extended flashbacks.

Overall review: Liked it. This is one heck of a love story. Noah and Allie overcome a lot to be together, but they can't imagine being apart. You won't need tissues for most of the movie, but you'll want a box beside you for the end.

In The Lake House, a magical mailbox plays matchmaker for Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock as they fall in love over the space-time continuum. Christopher Plummer also appears at his crotchety best in this PG film from 2006.

Bullock plays Kate, a doctor who recently got a job at a hospital in her hometown of Chicago. Reeves is Alex, an architect who lives and works in Chicago. As the movie opens, Kate is moving out of a glass house by a lake and Alex is moving in. The thing is that Kate is moving out in 2006 and Alex is moving in in 2004. They fall in love through letters that they leave each other in the mailbox. But, it will take one final letter for Kate and Alex to have a real chance at happily ever after.

Overall review: Ehhh, it was OK. Reeves and Bullock make it possible to watch the whole movie. But, even for a story that requires the suspension of disbelief, this one has some logical flaws that make it impossible to recommend.

!!!!SPOILER ALERT!!!! Throughout the movie, it's clear that Alex and Kate are not living in alternate universes. They are on the same timeline, just at different points. My main problem with the film is that in 2004, Alex meets Kate at a party. They share a dance and a passionate kiss. In 2006, Kate tries to save a man who gets hit by a bus. It turns out to be Alex, but Kate has no idea! She writes to Alex about the man who "died in her arms," yet she did not realize that it's the same guy she kissed passionately at a party. Sorry, I'll buy a magic mailbox, but I won't buy that.

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