Wag the Dog (1997)

Who’s leading whom– isn’t the dog supposed to wag the tail? Of greatest importance is at whatever a politician is trying to distract you from looking. Incidentally, one time several major Hollywood stars (2 of whom– Oscars winners, no less– received no money up front) shot a feature length film in under a month with […]

Thank You for Smoking (2005)

Handsome, Nick Naylor is a lobbyist, i.e. Sultan of Spin for Big Tobacco. He may be charming but his only friends are the self- proclaimed, “MOD Squad” because he, VP of the Academy of Tobacco Studies along with the head of the Moderation Counsel (alcohol) and chairman of SAFETY– Society for the Advancement of Firearms […]

Mystery Men (1999)

The ensemble’s inability to reach consensus– both on and off screen– works for their chemistry, or scripted lack thereof. The final product ultimately fell flat for a large portion of its audience because it’s an awkward meld of spoof, satire and homage. But isn’t that– like it or not– the essence of superhero status? Comic […]

Cake (2014)

It’s rare for a film to realistically portray chronic illness it without being melodramatic. The acting is superb—I actually found myself tensing up and cringing as if I was feeling the main character’s pain. In fact, lead actress, Jennifer Anniston was inspired by her friend a colleague, whose addiction to painkillers following an accident nearly ended her career but has since resumed her job as a stuntwoman. This stunning depiction allows the humanity of the character to shine through; her willfulness makes her both fractured and resilient. Ultimately, it’s a movie about healing through personal growth rather than a mere pity party.

Benny & Joon (1993)

Benny closed himself off to relationships since he became a caregiver to his mentally ill sister, Joon when their parents died. He hires an endless string of caregivers but none seem to be a good fit for her. During a weekly poker game, in which each losing hand gets an undesirable prize, e.g. “salad shooter” or “regrout my shower tiles,” Joon acquires an opponent’s shy illiterate cousin, Sam, who patterns himself after legendary silent film star, Buster Keaton.

Initially, Benny is angry about the obligation but soon accepts all the quirks that come along with Sam’s cleaning, cooking and entertainment. Best of all, Sam’s playfulness placates Joon and encourages Sam to open up a bit. A romance between Sam and Joon begins to blossom, facilitated by a local diner waitress, for who Sam starts to develop feelings. Slowly but surely, everything seems to be progressing, which makes Benny feel like he’s losing control. He reacts by micromanaging everyone around him, which starts a chain reaction that sends Joon to the hospital. There’s more than enough blame to go around but only person with enough love and compassion to bring them all back together.