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 2019 - It's summer and anything goes. So, here are my thoughts about two movies that have nothing in common except that I haven't reviewed them. Until now.

Think The Fast and the Furious but with Mini Coopers and that's a lot of what you get in The Italian Job. This action-packed, PG-13 crime caper from 2003 is based on the original 1969 film starring Michael Caine. The all-star cast includes Mark Wahlberg, Charlize Theron, Edward Norton, Donald Sutherland, Mos Def, Seth Green and Jason Statham along with a colorful fleet of Mini Coopers.

The movie opens in Venice, where master thief Charlie (Wahlberg) and his crew are carrying out an intricately planned heist of gold bars. Of course, all that gold is no good if you can't get it out of the safe. That's where John (Sutherland) comes in. But, another member of the crew, Steve (Norton), has his own plan to steal the stolen gold and keep it for himself. John gets killed and Charlie and the rest of the crew are pissed.

A year later, Charlie has finally gotten a lead on Steve and the gold. But, in order to get it back, his crew needs a safecracker. Who better than John's daughter? Stella (Theron) is beautiful and brilliant and uses her safecracking talents for good. But, she's willing to break the law if it means avenging daddy's murder.

Overall review: Liked it. Fairly predictable, but the scenery is good and the manner in which the heists are carried out is inventive. The stunts are also impressive and help to elevate a film that would otherwise be just so-so.

In Elysium, Matt Damon allows himself to be transformed into a cyborg so that he can try to give his fellow 22nd century Earthlings a better life. Jodie Foster and her hired hitmen try to stop him in this R-rated sci-fi thriller from 2013.

The year is 2154 and planet Earth is in a shambles. Anyone with money and power lives far above it, on a pristine space station called Elysium. There, the grass is green, the houses are large, and anyone who's ill need only lie in a special bed called a Med Bay for a few moments to be diagnosed and cured. With perks like that, it's no wonder that the citizens of Elysium have set up strong defenses to keep out any riff raff from Earth.

That riff-raff includes Max (Matt Damon), a parolee who works at a factory where robots are made. It also includes Spider, who does his best to help the infirm get to Elysium for a shot at a cure. An unfortunate incident at the factory leaves Max with only days to live, so he turns to Spider for help. Spider is willing, but first Max must meet certain conditions – conditions that could end up costing him his life.

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