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 2019 - Happy New Year! My resolution for 2019 is to see more movies than I saw in 2018. Here's my review of one that I did see last year plus some thoughts about a film that I feel got overlooked in 2017.

That film from 2017 is the R-rated Wind River, in which Jeremy Renner tracks the killer of a Native American teenager in a remote part of Wyoming. Elizabeth Olsen is the ill-prepared FBI agent in charge of the investigation. Taylor Sheridan, who wrote Sicario and starred in Sons of Anarchy, wrote and directed this thriller.

Renner plays Cory Lambert, who works as a hunter for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. He's often called upon to kill wolves and other animals that prey on the livestock on an Indian reservation. One day, he finds the body of a girl lying in the snow. Rookie FBI agent Jane Banner is called in to investigate. She determines that the victim had been raped and died while running for her life.

Cory and Jane seek help with their investigation from the Tribal police chief (Graham Greene). Information leads them to the men who handle security at an oil drilling site. What they find there brings the situation to a violent and terrifying conclusion.

Overall review: Liked it. The pace is steady, interrupted by occasional and sudden bursts of violence. Strong emotions underlie the stoicism that seems to inhabit just about every character. The performances are good, and the photography makes you feel the cold. There's really not a lot to complain about here.

There's also not much to complain about in Molly's Game, an R-rated drama that arrived in theaters at the start of 2018. Jessica Chastain has the title role, Kevin Costner is her demanding dad, and Idris Elba is her attorney. Aaron Sorkin directs and co-wrote the script based on Molly Bloom's book.

The movie opens with Molly's career as a freestyle skier coming to a crashing end. She wipes out on a run and suffers severe injuries. About a year later, she's recovered and looking for a new start. She moves to Los Angeles because it's sunny and warm. She gets a job with a developer who also runs a secret high-stakes poker game. Before long, Molly is running the game. And soon after that, she takes the biggest players, including a big-name actor she refers to as "Player X" (Michael Cera), and sets up her own game.

Everything is great for a while. But, eventually, she crosses Player X and he essentially shuts down the game. Molly is persona non grata in LA, so she moves her game to NYC. When one or two of her clients lose so much money that it puts the game at risk, Molly starts skimming from the pot, and that's when the feds come calling.

Overall review: Liked it. Chastain is solid, and Sorkin's script keeps things moving along nicely. Through narration, Molly explains the ins and outs of poker. Most of it went over my head, but you still get the gist of what's going on. Molly definitely has a story to tell and this film tells it well.

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