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

June 2021 - Everything has to start somewhere and that includes film franchises. Here are two movies that each serve as successful first chapters.

In The Bourne Identity from 2002, Matt Damon gets fished out of the ocean and thrown into a world where he doesn't know who he is – but someone sure does. And that someone sure wants him dead. Chris Cooper, Julia Stiles and Franke Potente co-star in this PG-13 film that brought Robert Ludlum's amnesiac assassin from books to the big screen.

Damon plays Jason Bourne, who only knows that name because it's on one of the many passports he finds stashed in a safety deposit box in Zurich. His trip to the bank prompts a call to the CIA, and the chase is on. Bourne manages to sweet talk a young woman named Marie (Potente) into giving him a ride to Paris, where assassins lurk around every corner. Eventually, Bourne convinces Marie to take some money and run while he stays behind to face down the powerful forces who want Bourne to go bye-bye for good.

Overall review: Liked it. Aside from some out-of-date cell phones, the film holds up well. The action sequences are good, and the movie answered a question about why Bourne never completed the mission that led to his amnesia. A promising start to what turned out to be a very successful franchise.

A few years later, 2008 saw the dawn of the equally successful Twilight franchise, based on a series of books by Stephenie Meyer and starring Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson. The accomplished supporting cast includes Peter Facinelli, Elizabeth Reaser, and Sarah Clarke.

Stewart is Isabella Swan, a child of divorce. She's been living with her mother in Phoenix, but when Mom remarries, Bella (for reasons that aren't exactly clear) moves to a small town in the Pacific Northwest called Forks. Her dad is the police chief there. In school, Bella meets Edward Cullen (Pattinson). He's a vampire who's 17 going on 100. Edward belongs to a family of vampires who have sworn off human blood and, instead, survive on the blood of animals. But, Bella seems so inviting that Edward is not sure he can keep himself from sucking the life right out of her.

While Edward and his family show restraint, there are other vampires roaming around Forks who aren't so nice. They've killed twice and, when one of them gets a whiff of Bella, the chase is on. It's up to the family Cullen to protect Bella from those other vampires who would do her harm.

Overall review: Liked it. I know, I know. It's a cheesy teen vampire romance flick. But, if you'll pardon the pun, I got sucked in and didn't mind one bit. I haven't read any of the novels, so I didn't have any preconceptions about the characters or the plot. Maybe that allowed me to like the movie more than I would have otherwise. In any case, I was pleasantly surprised and looking forward to seeing the sequels.

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