REVIEW: IT’S COMPLICATED

CAST

Meryl Streep (The iron Lady)
Steve Martin (Cheaper By The Dozen)
Alec Baldwin (The Departed)
John Krasinki (The Office)
Lake Bell (No Strings Attached)
Mary kay Place (Being John Malkovich)
Rita Wilson (Jingle All The Way)
Hunter Parrish (Weeds)
Nora Dunn (Bruce Almighty)
Emily Kinney (Conviction)
Andrew Stewart-Jones (Gotham)
Jessica St. Clair (Bridesmaids)
Alan Cumming (Tin man)
Anne Lockhart (Buried)

Jane (Meryl Streep), who owns a successful bakery in Santa Barbara, California, and Jake Adler (Alec Baldwin), a successful attorney, divorced ten years earlier. They had three children together, two girls and a boy, who are grown. Jake, who was cheating on Jane, married the much younger Agness (Lake Bell).Jane and Jake attend their son Luke’s graduation from college in New York City. After a dinner together, the two begin an affair, which continues in Santa Barbara. Jane is torn about the affair; Jake is not. While Agness has Jake scheduled for regular sessions at a fertility clinic, Jake is secretly taking medication to increase sperm count for fertility, a side effect of which can cause dizziness. After one of his sessions he has a lunchtime rendezvous with Jane at a hotel. Jake collapses in the hotel room and a doctor is called. The doctor speculates that the reason for Jake’s distress may be the medication and says he should stop taking it. Jake and Jane’s children know nothing of the affair, but Harley (John Krasinski), who is engaged to their daughter Lauren, spots the pair and the doctor in the hotel, but keeps silent.Adam (Steve Martin) is an architect hired to remodel Jane’s home. Still healing from a divorce of his own, he begins to fall in love with Jane. On the night of Luke’s graduation party in Santa Barbara, Jane invites Adam to the party. She is stoned when he picks her up because she has smoked a marijuana joint that Jake had given her earlier. Before going into the party, Adam smokes some of the joint with Jane. Once inside, they are laughing and happily high, Jake becomes jealous observing them, and after pressing Jane, smokes some with her also.Agness then observes Jake and Jane dancing together and realizes they are having an affair. When they leave the party, Adam asks Jane if they could have something to eat. Jane takes him to her bakery and they make chocolate croissants together. Jake and Agness separate, although it is not clear who leaves whom. Eventually by a webcam in Jane’s bedroom, Adam sees Jake naked and realizes that the two have been having an affair. Adam tells Jane he cannot continue seeing her because it will only lead to heartbreak. Jane’s kids also find out, and they are not happy about Mom and Dad getting together again because they are still recovering from the divorce. Jane tells them she is not getting back with Jake. Jane and Jake talk and end their affair on amicable terms. The film ends with Adam at Jane’s house ready to commence the remodeling. Before the credits roll, Jane and Adam are seen laughing about the chocolate croissants while walking into her house.It’s Complicated couldn’t have succeeded without Nancy Meyers finally showing what good writing can do with the right people, time, and effort put into place. It’s the work of her career and she remains a dark horse for an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay. Though the film will definitely appeal to an older generation, the younger can appreciate the zeal and comical dialogue shared between the players. The film does run a bit long and loses some of it’s spark in the finale act, but it’s pure entertainment.

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REVIEW: THE SIMPSONS – SEASON 4-6

CAST

Dan Castellaneta (Super 8)
Julie Kavner  (Dr. Dolittle)
Yeardley Smith (Dead Like Me)
Nancy Cartwright (Kim Possible)
Hank Azaria (The Smurfs)
Harry Shearer (This Is Spinal Tap)
Pamela Hayden (Recess)
Tress MacNeille (Futurama)
Maggie Roswell (Pretty In Pink)
Russi Taylor (Babe)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Marica Wallace (Full House)
Phil Hartman (Small Soldiers)
Jon Lovitz (Happiness)
Bob Hope (The Muppet Movie)
Tom Jones (Mars Attacks)
Sara Gilbert (The Big Bang Theory)
Pamela Reed (Kindergarten Cop)
Adam West (Batman)
Linda Ronstadt (The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles)
Elizabeth Taylor (Cleopatra)
Leonard Nimoy (Star Trek)
Joyce Brothers (Spy Hard)
Brooke Shields (The Blue Lagoon)
Barry White (Coonskin)
David Crosby (Hook)
Johnny Carson (The Tonight Show)
Hugh Hefner (The Girls Next Door)
Bette Midler (Hocus Pocus)
Luke Perry (Riverdale)
George Harrison (Help!)
Kelsey Grammer (Frasier)
Frank Welker (Transformers)
George Fenneman (Ocean’s 11)
Albert Brooks (Drive)
James Brown (Undercover Brother)
Ernest Borgnine (From Here To Eternity)
Michelle Pfeiffer (Batman Returns)
Werner Klemperer (Hogan’s Heroes)
Robert Goulet (Two Guys and a Girl)
Sam Neill (Jurassic Park)
Conan O’Brien (The Lego Batman Movie)
James Woods (Another Day In Paradise)
Kathleen Turner (Serial Mom)
Buzz Aldrin (The Big Bang Theory)
Winona Ryder (Black Swan)
Larry King (The Larry King Show)
Henry Corden (Fred Flinstone and Friends)
James Earl Jones (Star Wars)
Meryl Streep (Into The Woods)
Dennis Franz (Scarface)
Anne Bancroft (The Miracle Worker)
Ted Danson (The Good Place)
Woody Harrelson (The Hunger Games)
Rhea Perlman (Sing)
John Ratzenberger (Toy Story)
George Wendt (Sabrina: TTW)
Patrick Stewart (X-Men)
Dick Cavett (Apollo 13)
Joe Mantegna (Criminal Minds)
Mel Brooks (Spaceballs)
Susan Sarandon (Tammy)
Mandy Patinkin (The Princess Bride)
Ron Taylor (Rush Hour 2)

By its fourth series, The Simpsons had come far enough for Lisa to make a self-referential joke about Dustin Hoffman’s and Michael Jackson’s pseudonymous guest voice appearances in series 2 and 3, respectively. In this series, no less than Elizabeth Taylor (in two episodes), Bette Midler and even the reclusive Johnny Carson blessed The Simpsons with their iconic presences. Awhile back, US magazine Entertainment Weekly ranked the top 25 Simpsons episodes. Five gems from series 4 cracked the top 12, including the (debatable) choice for No. 1, “Last Exit to Springfield”

SEASON 4 HIGHLIGHTS INCLUDE:

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4.1) KAMP KRUSTY

Bart and Lisa go to Kamp Krusty for the summer in order to have a break from their parents and meet Krusty the Clown. However, their promises of a fun summer at Kamp Krusty are broken when the director of the camp, Mr. Black, is revealed to be a ferocious accountant and that the camp counselors are the three teenage bullies from school. Meanwhile, Homer is rejuvenated with the kids gone and even begins to regain his hair and lose weight. All of the kids at the camp are treated horribly and Bart survives by clinging to the promise that Krusty himself will soon arrive. However, when this does not happen, Bart leads the campers into a rebellion and they eventually take over the camp. Homer sees a news report about this and immediately loses his hair and regains his lost weight. The real Krusty arrives at the camp and decides to make it up to the kids by taking them to Tijuana, Mexico.A_Streetcar_Named_Marge4.2) A STREETCAR NAMED MARGE

Marge is cast in a musical production of A Streetcar Named Desire as Blanche DuBois after the play director sees Marge’s deep-seated depression when dealing with an uncaring Homer. She struggles with a scene where she has to shove a glass bottle into the brutish Stanley Kowalski (who is played by Ned Flanders), but manages to get over it by imagining Homer as Stanley. Marge begins to become extremely angry with Homer as she sees parallels between him and Stanley. At the end of the musical, Marge believes Homer does not pay attention to her and confronts him with hostility. However, Homer explains that he was genuinely moved by Blanche’s situation. Marge realizes that Homer really did watch the musical, and the two happily leave the theater with Stan’s saddened expression left behind. Meanwhile, Maggie is sent to the Ayn Rand School for Tots where she attempts to retrieve her pacifier from a strict daycare attendant.4.3) HOMER THE HERETIC

While skipping Sunday’s church services, Homer discovers the joy of staying home and having the house all to himself while Marge and the kids experience a rambling sermon from Reverend Lovejoy. Homer decides to start his very own religion customized for himself, despite Marge’s continuing objections for giving up his faith. Marge, Reverend Lovejoy and Ned Flanders all try to convert Homer back to his Christianity religion but fail. The next Sunday morning, Homer once again stays at home, but accidentally sets the house on fire and is rescued by Flanders. After the blaze is extinguished, Reverend Lovejoy suggests that God was working in the hearts of Homer’s friends, despite their different faiths and this convinces Homer to give church another try.12537854.6) ITCHY & SCRATCHY: THE MOVIE

At Springfield Elementary’s Parent Teacher night, Mrs. Krabappel tells Homer and Marge about Bart’s behavior. Wanting Bart to one day become Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Homer decides to punish Bart. However, he never makes his punishments stick and Bart continues on his destructive path. Marge confronts Homer and he agrees that next time he will make his punishment stick. Meanwhile, Bart finds out that Itchy & Scratchy: The Movie is about to hit theaters and immediately buys a ticket. However, when Bart one day forgets to watch Maggie, Homer bans Bart from ever seeing the movie. Bart tries everything to see the movie, but Homer refuses to budge and after the movie closes, Homer declares that one day Bart will thank him. In a flashforward forty years into the future, Homer and Bart, now Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, decide to watch the movie together

4.7) MARGE GETS A JOB

The Simpsons’ house begins sinking into the ground. Marge decides to earn extra money to repair the foundation by working at the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant and Homer is dismayed about having to work alongside his wife. However, Mr. Burns falls deeply in love with her and begins to seduce her. However, Marge resists and Burns fires her after discovering she is married. Homer stands up for Marge and an impressed Mr. Burns treats them to a free Tom Jones concert. Meanwhile, Bart continually fakes sick to get out of taking a test.

4.8) NEW KID ON THE BLOCK

The Simpsons’ next door neighbors move and are replaced by a single mother, Ruth Powers and her daughter Laura. Laura becomes the object of Bart’s affection but Bart becomes heart broken after learning that her boyfriend is Jimbo Jones. Meanwhile, Homer wages war against the Sea Captain’s seafood restaurant The Frying Dutchman, for falsely advertising their “all-you-can-eat” buffet.Mr-Plow4.9) MR. PLOW

After demolishing both his and Marge’s family cars during a snowstorm, Homer buys a snowplow and starts a business plowing driveways. He calls his business “Mr. Plow” and becomes a huge success. Barney Gumble, inspired by Homer decides to start his own rival company and becomes Springfield’s new favorite snow plower. Homer tricks Barney into plowing the dangerous Widow’s Peak. Barney does so, but gets trapped in an avalanche and after seeing a news report about it, Homer rushes to save him and the two decide to work together, but God melts all of the snow.4.10) LISA’S FIRST WORD

While attempting to get Maggie to say her first word, Marge tells the story of Lisa’s first word. In 1983, Marge, Homer and Bart are living in the Lower East Springfield district and Marge announces that she is pregnant. She and Homer decide to move into a house to support their bigger family and move into their present day home. Lisa is born during the 1984 Summer Olympics and Bart immediately becomes jealous of her. He tries several things mean things to her, but only manages to get himself in trouble. Bart decides to run away, but Lisa says her first word: “Bart”. Bart discovers that Lisa loves him and embraces her as his sister. In the present day, Homer puts Maggie to bed, saying he wishes that she will never talk. Once he leaves, Maggie utters her first word: “daddy”.4.12) MARGE VS. THE MONORAIL

After Mr. Burns is caught storing his excess nuclear waste inside Springfield Park’s trees, he is ordered to pay the town $3 million. The town is originally set to agree to fix Main Street, but the charismatic Lyle Lanley interrupts and convinces the town to use the money to buy one of his monorails. The town embraces the suggestion and Homer is hired as the conductor, but the only person remaining not so pleased about the whole situation is Marge. She discovers suspicious evidence and visits a town that had previously purchased one of Lanley’s monorails. She discovers that Lanley is indeed a con man and rushes back to town. However, she arrives too late and the monorail has begun to operate, but Homer is convinced to use an anchor to stop the train, thus saving the passengers.4.13) SELMA’S CHOICE

Marge’s Great Aunt Gladys Bouvier dies and the Simpsons, Patty, and Selma attend her funeral. During the reading of her video will, Gladys tells Patty and Selma not to die lonely and miserable like she did. Though Patty does not care, Selma decides that she wants a baby. Meanwhile, Homer eats a spoiled hoagie, and becomes dreadfully ill. As a result, he can not fulfil his promise of taking Bart and Lisa to Duff Gardens and Selma agrees to take them instead. However, Selma struggles with parenting and decides she is happier taking care of her pet Iguana Jub Jub.Brother_from_the_Same_Planet_224.14) BROTHER FROM THE SAME PLANET

After leaving Bart alone at soccer practice, Homer’s inept parenting prompts Bart to get a “Bigger Brother” named Tom. Homer finds out about this and decides to get revenge by taking part in the “Bigger Brother” program and taking charge of a young boy names Pepi. Pepi and Homer begin to bond and Bart starts to regret taking advantage of the program. At an aquarium, Homer and Tom meet and begin to brawl and Homer is injured. Tom becomes Pepi’s new Bigger Brother and Bart bonds with Homer by asking him to share his knowledge of fighting. Meanwhile, Lisa becomes addicted to calling a 1-900 number featuring a pretty-boy celebrity named Corey.I_Love_Lisa_774.15) I LOVE LISA

On Valentine’s Day, everyone in Lisa’s class receives a card, except Ralph Wiggum. Out of pity, Lisa quickly writes one up and gives it to him, much to Ralph’s delight. Ralph begins to develop an interest in Lisa, but Lisa is not interested. However, she does not know how to get rid of him. Ralph invites her to go to Krusty’s 29th Anniversary Special and she reluctantly accepts. During a televised talk session with Krusty, Ralph declares that he loves her and Lisa explodes and declares that she never liked Ralph. Ralph becomes heartbroken. For the President’s Day play, Lisa is cast in a role as Martha Washington and to her horror, Ralph gets the role of George Washington. She becomes afraid that Ralph will embarrass her again, but Ralph gives a rousing performance. After the play, Lisa and Ralph decide to just be friends7670484.16) DUFFLESS

After taking the Duff Brewery tour, Homer is caught driving drunk and is arrested. His license is revoked and he must attend traffic school and Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. After much reluctance, Homer agrees to Marge’s suggestion of giving up drinking beer for an entire month. He struggles to make it, but eventually does and decides to forgo a reward of a beer by taking Marge for a bicycle ride. Meanwhile, Bart demolishes Lisa’s science project of a steroid-pumped tomato, prompting Lisa to make a science project pitting Bart against a Hamster.4.17) LAST EXIT TO SPRINGFIELD

After learning that Mr. Burns’ decision to revoke their dental plan has coincided with Lisa needing braces, Homer convinces his coworkers not to give up their dental plan and becomes the new head of the workers union at the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant. He holds talks with Mr. Burns, but these go badly because Homer is not intelligent enough to understand Burns’ sly innuendos. The plant goes on strike and Mr. Burns decides to take away the electricity for the entire town. However, this just encourages the workers union and Burns decides to reach a deal with Homer.4.19) THE FRONT

After watching a terribly lackluster episode of The Itchy & Scratchy Show, Bart and Lisa decide to start writing their own episodes and sending it to the studio. Roger Meyers, the CEO, immediately rejects their script due to their age. They put Grampa’s name on the script and send it back, and Meyers loves it and hires Grampa. Bart and Lisa’s cartoons are hugely successful and are nominated for an award. At the ceremony, Grampa finally sees an Itchy & Scratchy cartoon for the first time and is horrified. Meanwhile, Homer and Marge revisit a High School reunion, which prompts Homer to admit that he never officially graduated because he failed a science class. At the reunion, Homer wins several awards but these are revoked, causing Homer to go to night school to make up the lost credits on the class he never passed — remedial science.untitled4.20) WHACKING DAY

Bart is expelled from Springfield Elementary School, so Marge decides to home school him. Springfield’s annual holiday arrives: Whacking Day, a day specifically designed to drive snakes into the town’s square and club them to death. When most Springfielders celebrate the local holiday, Lisa is appalled at the upcoming celebration, but her protests fall on deaf ears. Lisa and Bart manage to convince the town about the nightmare of Whacking Day and Principal Skinner decides to allow Bart to return to school.4.21) MARGE IN CHAINS

Springfield is hit with the dreaded Osaka Flu, causing many of the town to fall ill. Due to the exhaustion from having to look after the rest of her ill family, Marge accidentally forgets to pay for Grampa’s bottle of bourbon when shopping at the Kwik-E-Mart. Marge is soon arrested for shoplifting and is sentenced to 30 days at Springfield’s Woman Prison. Marge’s absence is felt everywhere and she is welcomed back with open arms when she is released.S04E22_104.22) KRUSTY GETS KANCELLED

A new show about a ventriloquist dummy named Gabbo becomes the hottest show in Springfield and Krusty’s show is cancelled due to low ratings. Krusty is at first crestfallen at the cancellation of his show, but Bart and Lisa manage to convince him to stage a comeback special and invite his celebrity friends to take part. The special is a huge success and Krusty’s show goes back on the air.
The season where everything is bang-on; the writing, the animation, the voices, it`s all sublime. Its another season from the golden age of the show. There are some really great episodes In this collection.

SEASON 5 HIGHLIGHTS INCLUDE

9605.1) HOMER’S BARBERSHOP QUARTET

In a flashback, Homer recounts his time with a barbershop quartet called The Be Sharps that also featured Principal Skinner, Apu and Chief Wiggum who was later replaced with Barney. The group became music stars with their hit song “Baby on Board” and won a Grammy. Eventually, Homer started missing his family and the group began to lose its popularity, so it broke up.5.2) CAPE FEARE

Bart starts receiving threatening letters in the mail and it is soon revealed that they were sent to him by Sideshow Bob. Bob is released from prison, so Bart is placed in the Witness Relocation Program and the Simpson family is moved to Terror Lake. However, Bob follows the Simpsons there and sneaks onto the family’s houseboat and tries to kill Bart. Cornered, Bart asks Bob to sing the entire score of H.M.S. Pinafore as a last request. Bob does so, and during his performance the boat drifts through Springfield and Bob is caught.5.3) HOMER GOES TO COLLEGE

After failing a test at the nuclear plant, Homer’s lack of a college degree is revealed and he is sent back to pass a nuclear physics class. Homer, having seen too many bad National Lampoon’s Animal House knock-off movies, goofs off, so he is sent to a group of boys for tutoring. The boys, who are stereotypical nerds, try to help Homer, but he instead tries to help them party and decides to pull a prank on another college. They steal Springfield A&M’s mascot, but his friends are caught and expelled. Homer invites them to live with him, but his family soon become angered by their new housemates, so Homer decides to try to help them get back into college. Consequentially, he fails his final exam and is convinced by Marge to return to college for another year.5.4) ROSEBUD

After a disastrous birthday party, Mr. Burns pines for his long-lost childhood toy, a teddy bear named Bobo. The bear ends up in the hands of Maggie and when Homer discovers this, he tries to use the bear to get a large reward from Burns. When Burns agrees, Homer tries to hand the bear over, but is stopped by Maggie. Homer, seeing that Maggie has become attached to the bear, decides not to give it back to Mr. Burns, who promises that Homer will regret the decision. Mr. Burns later returns and talks to Maggie and she eventually gives it back to him.5.6) MARGE ON THE LAMB

Marge and neighbor Ruth Powers have a girls’ night. Meanwhile, Homer tries to have fun without Marge and Lionel Hutz is hired as Bart, Lisa, and Maggie’s babysitter. Homer hitches a ride home with Chief Wiggum, who is following behind Marge and Ruth and decides to pull them over. However, Ruth speeds her car up and reveals to Marge that she stole it from her ex-husband. Marge decides to stay with Ruth, but eventually the police catch up with them and the charges are dismissed.5.8) BOY-SCOUTZ ‘N THE HOOD

Bart and Milhouse find $20.00 on the street and buy a Squishee made entirely of syrup. After a night of bingeing and carousing, Bart wakes up to discover that he has joined a Boy Scouts-esque troupe called “The Junior Campers”. Bart initially hates the group, then enjoys it, until Homer agrees to participate in their river-rafting trip. In a boat with Ned and Rod Flanders, Homer loses their map and the boat gets lost in the ocean. After being stuck out at sea for several days, they discover an oil rig with a Krusty Burger and are saved. At the end of the episode the rest of the campers including Ernest are attacked by an unknown monster at an abandoned campsite.5.9) THE LAST TEMPTATION OF HOMER

Mr. Burns hires a female worker named Mindy Simmons in accordance with government policy and Homer is worried that his crush on her will ruin his marriage with Marge. Both Mindy and Homer have feelings for each other, but in the end Homer decides not to cheat on Marge. Meanwhile, Bart becomes a nerd after doctors find several things physically wrong with him and apply treatments that make him look like a nerd.Simpsons_05_105.10) $PRINGFIELD (OR, HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LOVE LEGALIZED GAMBLING)

After the local economy stalls, everyone in town votes for gambling to be legalized, prompting Mr. Burns to open a casino. Homer becomes a blackjack dealer, and Marge becomes so addicted to gambling that she forgets about her family life. Meanwhile, Bart opens up his own casino after being kicked out of Mr. Burns’s and Lisa struggles to have her costume done for a school pageant. Homer agrees to help her, but does a terrible job, so he decides to go to the casino to get Marge back.5.11) HOMER THE VIGILANTE

A crime wave hits Springfield, caused by the elusive cat burglar and Lisa’s saxophone is stolen, so Homer agrees to try to get it back. The police are ineffective, so Flanders creates a neighborhood watch group, which Homer takes charge of. However, Homer’s incompetence causes the vigilante group to commit more crimes than it prevents, and they are unsuccessful in catching the cat burglar. With the help of Grampa, Homer discovers that the burglar is a charming senior named Malloy. Malloy is arrested, but he tricks the citizens of Springfield into thinking he has hidden millions of dollars and escapes during the ensuing rush to find the money.untitled5.12) BART GETS FAMOUS

After sneaking away from a school trip to a box factory, Bart sneaks onto the set of the Krusty the Clown show. He gets a job as Krusty’s production assistant and soon becomes sick of the job. One day, he is close to quitting, but Krusty runs up and says he needs to use Bart in a sketch. Bart becomes an accidental star when he says, “I didn’t do it” during the botched sketch. He becomes famous but soon becomes tired of being known for one line. Marge convinces him that the main thing is to make people happy, so Bart decides to continue, but the audience soon becomes tired of Bart’s act and forget about him.5.13) HOMER AND APU

After twice getting food poisoning from expired food sold at the Kwik-E-Mart, Homer teams up with Kent Brockman to report Apu. Apu is fired from his job and comes to stay with the Simpsons, and he is replaced by actor James Woods. Homer resolves to help Apu get his old job back, and the two travel to India to talk to the owner of the Kwik-E-Mart, but are unsuccessful. Apu decides to visit his old Kwik-E-Mart and saves James Woods’ life. Woods is so grateful that he helps Apu get re-hired.Simpsons_05_105.14) LISA VS. MALUB STACY

Lisa protests against the phrases on her new Talking Malibu Stacy doll, which she finds demeaning to women. She tracks down the reclusive creator Stacy to make a more politically correct doll. Meanwhile, Grampa is worried that he is getting old, so he takes a job at Krusty Burger. Lisa and Stacy create “Lisa Lionheart” which gets a lot of positive buzz, but is a flop when the Malibu Stacy executives release a new doll that comes with a hat.5.15) DEEP SPACE HOMER

NASA decides that they need to hire average joes in order to get higher television ratings. They recruit Homer and Barney to train to be the first average American in space. Homer, who wants to be respected, is the winner by default, and goes into space with Buzz Aldrin. While there, he causes a lot of havoc and eventually breaks the handle on the space shuttle’s hatch. Homer inadvertently seals the door shut with an inanimate carbon rod, and the shuttle returns to Earth. The rod is hailed as a hero, but Homer gains the respect of Aldrin and his family.5.16) HOMER LOVES FLANDERS

Homer begins to like Flanders after being invited to a football game. However, Homer’s constant presence around Flanders and his family causes Ned to feel hate for Homer. One day while trying to drive away from Homer, Flanders is arrested and charged with drunk driving. Flanders begins to lose the respect of the church congregation until Homer sticks up for him. Flanders thanks Homer and the two remain friends.5.18) BURNS’ HEIR

Mr. Burns has a near-death experience which prompts him to find an heir to inherit his wealth after he dies. Bart is rejected, but Burns soon decides to choose him after seeing that Bart is “a creature of pure malevolence”. Marge convinces Bart to go spend some time with Burns, and soon becomes more disruptive than normal to his own family and decides to go live with Mr. Burns. Bart eventually starts to miss his family, but Burns manipulates him into staying. Burns tries to have Bart prove his loyalty by firing Homer, but Bart instead decides to go back to living with his family.5.19) SWEET SEYMOUR SKINNER’S BAADASSSSS SONG

Bart accidentally gets Principal Skinner fired after he brings Santa’s Little Helper to school for show and tell. Bart feels guilty for what he did, and befriends Skinner. Meanwhile, Ned Flanders is hired as principal and the school goes to pot. Bart decides that while he enjoys having Skinner as a friend, he needs him as an enemy, but discovers that he returned to the Army to be a sergeant. Bart convinces Skinner to return and they get Flanders fired so that Skinner can get his old job back.5.20) THE BOY WHO KNEW TOO MUCH

Bart plays hooky from school and ends up at the birthday party of Freddy Quimby, the Mayor’s nephew, where Freddy is accused of assaulting a waiter. Bart knows the truth, but would have to admit that he was playing hooky if he testifies. Meanwhile, Homer is chosen for jury duty in the assault case against Freddy Quimby and takes advantage of being sequestered in a hotel.5.21) LADY BOUVIER’S LOVER

While attending Maggie’s first birthday party, Grampa falls for Marge’s mother Jackie. Grampa and Jackie start dating, but he is soon pushed aside in favor of Mr. Burns. Burns and Jackie are soon engaged to be married, much to the chagrin of Marge and Smithers. Grampa crashes the wedding and tries to get Jackie back, but she decides that she does not want to be married. Meanwhile, Bart steals Homer’s credit card to buy a piece of Itchy and Scratchy memorabilia that turns out to be a rip-off.5.22) SECRETS OF A SUCCESSFUL MARRIAGE

Tired of being called “slow,” Homer signs up to teach a class on keeping a successful marriage at a learning annex. He is an unsuccessful teacher and finds that the only way he can keep the class interested is to tell racy secrets about Marge and their bedroom antics. Marge soon gets fed up with Homer telling their secrets and kicks him out. Homer starts living in Bart’s treehouse and becomes so lost without Marge that he begs her to take him back, and she eventually agrees.

Another series of everyone’s favourite family, another collection of cracking episodes, and with 25 episodes to choose from, including some of the very best ever, you’re a little spoiled for choice. First aired back in the mid-nineties, the show had really hit its stride following a massively successful fifth series and this series marks a particularly popular period in the show’s history, with celebrity interest bringing a gamut of guest appearances. So, we see Winona Rider in ‘Lisa’s Rival’, Kelsey Grammar in ‘Sideshow Bob Roberts’ Meryl Streep in ‘Bart’s Girlfriend’ and Mel Brooks and Susan Sarandan in ‘Homer vs. Patty and Selma’. But perhaps the most notable, certainly the most amusing, guest vocal is offered by Patrick Stewart in the funny ‘Homer The Great’, which also features one of the funniest Simpsons’ songs ever–‘The Stonecutters Song’. This is The Simpsons on top form.

SEASON 6 HIGHLIGHTS INCLUDE

Simpsons_05_106.1) BART OF DARKNESS

A heat wave is gripping Springfield and the townspeople attempt to cool down. Bart and Lisa persuade Homer to buy them a swimming pool, which proves popular with the town’s other children. Bart ends up breaking his leg when he dives off his treehouse and is forced to spend the rest of the summer in his room. Realizing that he has become isolated, Lisa gives Bart her telescope to cheer him up. Using it, he witnesses Ned Flanders digging a grave and through his ramblings, becomes convinced that Ned has killed his wife Maude. He sends Lisa over to the Flanders’ house to look for proof of the “crime”, only for Ned to return, holding an axe. However, he is merely putting it away; and it is revealed that Maude is still alive and well, and all that Ned killed was her favorite plant.6.2) LISA’S RIVAL

A new student named Allison Taylor arrives at Springfield Elementary School and proves to be more than a match for Lisa in both educational and musical feats. After Allison wins first chair saxophone in the school orchestra ahead of her, Lisa vows to defeat Allison at something: by winning the school diorama contest. Meanwhile, Homer steals 500 pounds of sugar from an overturned truck and decides to sell it to the town. However, despite his best efforts to guard his sugar mound, a rainstorm dissolves it. At the contest, Bart switches Allison’s diorama of The Tell-Tale Heart with a cow’s heart to help Lisa win. Lisa’s guilt at the plan forces her to give Allison’s real model back. The pair set aside their differences and become friends. Principal Skinner decides that neither Allison nor Lisa’s entry deserves to win, awarding victory to Ralph Wiggum.Simpsons_05_106.4) ITCHY & SCRATCHY LAND

Bart and Lisa convince their parents to take their family vacation at the newly opened Itchy & Scratchy Land. After experiencing several of the violent attractions, Homer and Marge go to “Parents Island”, while Bart and Lisa continue to explore the park. The vacation seems to be going well, until Bart and Homer are both apprehended by the park security for assaulting a staff member dressed in an Itchy suit. Professor Frink realizes that all of the park’s Itchy & Scratchy robots will turn on their masters; an event which proves true as a horde of Itchy and Scratchy robots advance on the Simpsons. Homer throws everything he can at them, before discovering that a camera’s flash destroys the robots. The family take more cameras from a gift shop and defeat the Itchy & Scratchy army. Roger Meyers, Jr. thanks them, and the Simpsons agree that it was actually their best vacation ever6.5) SIDESHOW BOB ROBERTS

After pleading his case on air to right-wing talk show host Birch Barlow, Sideshow Bob is released from prison. Soon, Bob is announced as the Republican candidate for mayor of Springfield. Bart and Lisa help campaign for Mayor Quimby but despite their efforts, Bob wins the election with a landslide majority. Within days, the Simpsons awake to find that their house will soon be demolished to make way for the planned Matlock Expressway. Bart and Lisa begin to suspect that Bob somehow rigged the election. While searching through the voter records, Lisa is left a message by someone who claims to know what actually happened. The whistleblower turns out to be Waylon Smithers, who dislikes some of Bob’s policies. He gives Bart and Lisa the name of a man who voted for Bob, but had really been long dead. The pair discover that virtually every single person who supposedly voted for Bob is actually dead. At the trial, Bart and Lisa trick Bob into confessing his crime, and he is put back in prison.Bart's_Girlfriend_1146.7) BART’S GIRLFRIEND

Bart becomes attracted to Reverend Lovejoy’s daughter Jessica, but finds his attempts to impress her repeatedly ignored. After pulling a prank on Groundskeeper Willie, and offending Jessica’s parents at dinner, she becomes interested in him. As they begin a relationship, Bart believes that Jessica is a bad influence on him and decides against seeing her anymore. However, at church Bart has to sit next to Jessica, who steals the money from the church collection plate and frames him for the crime. Next week, Lisa tells the congregation that Jessica was the real perpetrator, and suggests they search Jessica’s room. The money is found hidden under Jessica’s bed, and she admits to the crime.

6.8) LISA ON ICE

Lisa discovers that she is failing gym class. In order to pass, she joins a local ice hockey team as their goalie. This creates an intense sibling rivalry between her and Bart, who is jealous of Lisa’s abilities because he had always been the family’s star hockey player. Marge tries to resolve their conflicts by reminding them that they are not in competition with each other, but this backfires as the next fixture is between Bart and Lisa’s teams. During the match, Bart prepares to take a penalty against Lisa, but remembering past events in which they helped each other, the pair throw aside their equipment and embrace, tying the game.6.9) HOMER BADMAN

Homer and Marge attend a candy convention, where Homer successfully steals a gummy Venus de Milo. Later, after Homer takes the children’s babysitter Ashley Grant home, he notices that the gummy Venus has become stuck to her pants and grabs it, an action that Ashley misinterprets as a sexual advance. A mob of protesters soon appear at the Simpsons’ house, claiming that Homer sexually harassed Ashley. All of Homer’s attempts to prove himself innocent go wrong, until he tells his side of the story on a Public-access television. Groundskeeper Willie sees Homer’s speech and gives him a secretly recorded video tape that shows Homer was innocent after all.6.10) GRAMPA VS. SEXUAL INADEQUACY

Homer and Marge’s marriage is beginning to sour due to their fading sex lives. Grampa concocts a tonic that successfully cures their problems. The effectiveness of the tonic results in he and Homer going into business together, selling “Simpson and Son’s Tonic” to the public. When they visit the farmhouse where Homer grew up, the two get into an argument, resulting in Grampa calling Homer an “accident”. Homer refuses to speak to Grampa ever again, and vows to be a better father to his own children. Later, he goes back to the farmhouse, coincidentally at the same time as Grampa. Both of them accidentally set fire to the building, and reconcile.14621132751636.11) FEAR OF FLYING

After being banned from Moe’s for life, Homer goes to a pilots’ bar. There, he is mistaken as a real pilot and destroys a plane. As payment for the mistake, the Simpsons are given free tickets to anywhere in America. Marge becomes uneasy on the plane and admits that she has a fear of flying, putting the vacation on hold. Marge undergoes treatment with therapist Dr. Zweig, who uncovers the roots of Marge’s fear. The problem she has is that her father was a male flight attendant. Zweig assures her that male flight attendants are now very common, and Marge is ostensibly cured.6.12) HOMER THE GREAT

Homer discovers that Lenny and Carl are members of the ancient secret society known as the Stonecutters. Gaining membership through Grampa, Homer takes great pleasure in the society’s many privileges and events. Unfortunately, during a celebratory dinner he unwittingly destroys the Stonecutter’s “Sacred Parchment”. Homer is stripped of his membership, until it is discovered that he is “The Chosen One” who will lead the Stonecutters to glory. Homer’s reign eventually angers his fellow members, who break off and form a new society known as “The Ancient Mystic Society of No Homers”, banning Homer from joining.6.13) AND MAGGIE MAKES THREE

Homer regales the long story of Maggie’s birth. Back in 1993, Homer dreams of working at the bowling alley, even though it pays less than his job at the Power Plant. Homer works out a way that means the family will have enough to live on, as long as everything stays exactly the way it is. However, Marge becomes pregnant once again, but tries to keep the news from Homer. He eventually finds out and, because of the impending financial problems, is forced to go back to the Power Plant. As much as he dreads the idea of having another child, when Maggie is born Homer immediately falls in love with her.6.14) BART’S COMET

During detention, Bart accidentally discovers a comet. It is then discovered that the comet is heading straight for Springfield, and a rocket is launched to destroy it. However, it misses and blows up the only bridge out of town, dooming everyone in Springfield. The Simpsons and the Flanders share the bomb shelter that Ned had built, to hopefully protect themselves from the comet. Soon, everyone in town joins them in the shelter, but the door cannot be closed unless somebody leaves. Homer decides that the only useless person there is Ned, and forces him to go. Homer then feels guilty about his decision and leaves, with the rest of the town following him. However the danger is averted when the comet enters the atmosphere and burns up in the thick layer of pollution.maxresdefault6.16) BART VS AUSTRALIA

In order to prove Lisa wrong about the coriolis effect, Bart calls several locations in the southern hemisphere. He collect calls Australia, but the call lasts six hours and costs $900.00. After the call’s recipient complains, Australia indicts Bart for fraud. The United States State Department negotiates a settlement, with Bart having to publicly apologize in Australia. There, after Bart apologizes, the parliament wishes to give him the additional punishment of a booting. Bart and Homer flee, but Bart later agrees to accept the booting anyway. Before he can be punished, he moons the Australians and the family leave in a helicopter.6.17) HOMER VS PATTY AND SELMA

After a bad investment, Homer is forced to borrow money from Patty and Selma. In return the pair make Homer’s life miserable. After Marge finds out, Homer decides to become a chauffeur, but is pulled over when he does not have a chauffeur’s license. When he goes to apply for one, Patty and Selma (the DMV examiners) mercilessly fail him on all counts. The pair begin to smoke, but are told by their supervisor such an action could cost them their promotions. Homer acts quickly and claims the cigarettes are his own, saving Patty and Selma, in exchange for clearing his debt to them. Meanwhile, Bart is forced to take ballet but finds that he enjoys it.6.19) LISA’S WEDDING

At a renaissance fair, a fortune teller predicts the story of Lisa’s first true love. She explains that Lisa will fall madly in love with British student Hugh Parkfield. The pair’s relationship grows, with Hugh eventually proposing to Lisa. The wedding will take place in Springfield, but Lisa becomes embarrassed with her family’s behavior, particularly Homer’s. Hugh begins to bond with them, until Homer presents him with a pair of tacky cuff links, which he grudgingly agrees to wear at the wedding. He does not actually wear them, and when questioned by Lisa he states that after the wedding they will return to England and avoid all but minimal contact with her family. Disgusted, she calls off the wedding.6.23) THE SPRINGFIELD CONNECTION

After he cons Homer, Marge chases down Snake, and gets him arrested. Finding the experience exhilarating, Marge enrolls in the police force. After passing the training course, Marge begins fighting crime. Initially Homer finds that being a “cop-husband” is good, but changes his mind when Marge arrests him for illegal parking and stealing her police hat. After he is released, Homer finds a jean-counterfeiting operation in his garage, led by Herman. As the group prepares to kill Homer, Marge saves him. Herman escapes and takes Homer hostage in Bart’s treehouse. Marge rescues him again, and Herman falls to the ground and is apprehended. After finding that the rest of the force is corrupt, Marge resigns.2.25) WHO SHOT MR. BURNS? – PART ONE

Springfield Elementary School strikes oil, and plans to spend elaborately. Mr. Burns finds out about the oil and establishes a slant drilling operation to take it for himself. As a result Moe’s Tavern is closed, the Springfield Retirement Home collapses, Bart’s treehouse is destroyed and Santa’s Little Helper is injured, and the school loses all of its money. Burns next decides to build a machine capable of blocking out the sun over Springfield. He fires a recalcitrant Smithers, and Homer vows revenge after Burns repeatedly fails to remember his name. After an emergency town meeting, Burns sets up the sun blocker, believing himself invincible. However, he is shot by an unidentified assailant, and collapses on the town’s sundial Everyone realizes that since Burns angered several people recently, just anyone could have been the assailant.

 

 

REVIEW: STUCK ON YOU

 

CAST

Matt Damon (Jason Bourne)
Greg Kinnear (Movie 43)
Eva Mendes (2 Fast 2 Furious)
Cher (Mask)
Wen Yann Shih (Timecop 2)
Pat Crawford Brown (Tom)
Seymour Cassel (Dick Tracy)
Dane Cook (Good Luck Chuck)
Lin Shaye (Ouija)
Bella Thorne (Amityville: The Awakening)
Tracy Ashton (My Name Is Earl)
Griffin Dunne (After Hours)
Frankie Muniz (Agent Cody Banks)
Meryl Streep (Into The Woods)
Luke Wilson (That 70s Show)
Jesse Ventura (The Running Man)
Jessica Cauffiel (Legally Blonde)
Doug Jones (Hellboy)
Kiele Sanchez (Lost)
Rhona Mitra (Nip/Tuck)

Conjoined twins Bob and Walt Tenor try to live as normally as possible. Outgoing and sociable Walt aspires to be a Hollywood actor, however, whereas shy, introverted Bob prefers the quiet life. They run Quikee Burger, a diner in Oak Bluffs on Martha’s Vineyard, that guarantees free meals to customers whose orders are not completed in three minutes, a testament to how skilled and in sync Bob and Walt are with each other. Though Walt is comfortable socializing with women, Bob is the shyer of the two, and carries on a long-distance relationship with a pen pal named May Fong whom he has never met in person, and who is unaware that they are conjoined twins.Walt gets a role in a local play. Bob stays as much as possible in the background, as he has a tendency to get stage fright. Following the play’s success, Walt decides to follow his dream to Hollywood and persuades his hesitant brother to go along for the ride. They rent an apartment in California and become friends with fellow aspiring actress April Mercedes. When she expresses curiosity about their conjoinment, Walt explains that they share a liver that is mostly Bob’s, and that because surgical separation entails a higher risk to Walt, Bob would not consent to the surgery, even though Walt favored it. It is also the reason why Walt appears somewhat older than Bob. (Greg Kinnear is seven years older than Matt Damon in real life.)Walt’s efforts to find acting work in Hollywood are fraught with difficulty, and his agent, Morty O’Reilly, is little help, offering at one point to get him a job in a pornographic film. Cher is upset that she has ended up starring in a prime-time TV show called Honey and the Beaze. She wants out of the deal, so she decides to hire Walt as her co-star (since her contract states she can choose anyone she wants), certain the show will get cancelled. The producers, realizing Cher’s scheme, foil it by going forward with the production, compensating for Bob’s presence by keeping him out of the camera frame and employing bluescreen effects. The show is a surprise hit and Walt becomes famous.Walt arranges for May Fong to come to California. Although he did this without Bob’s consent, Bob and May Fong develop a romantic relationship, though the twins’ attempt to keep their conjoined nature a secret proves challenging, especially since Walt must accompany the new couple everywhere, sometimes using creative solutions like disguising himself as a giant teddy bear. Eventually however, when May discovers the twins in bed, she concludes that they are a homosexual couple rather than brothers. Although Bob shows May that they are indeed conjoined twins, May is nonetheless in even greater shock at the deception, and flees.Morty informs the twins that word has leaked about Walt and Bob being conjoined. Rather than hide this, the twins decide to embrace it, and they both become huge celebrities, making commercials and appearing on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. While Walt enjoys this success, he knows that Bob is unhappy because he misses May. Resolving that Bob needs to be independent from him in order to be happy, Walt demands they be surgically separated. When Bob refuses, Walt, determined to convince him, begins acting wild and crazy until Bob can no longer take it. Walt starts to make a fool of himself by getting drunk and accidentally snatching a woman’s purse. They eventually end up spending the night in jail for drunk driving; even though Walt was drinking, Bob is the one who suffers the hangover since their shared liver is mostly his. When they are released the following morning, they get into a fight and Bob decides to go with the operation.On the night before the surgery, May shows up and apologizes to Bob for running out the way she did. Bob informs her that they’re getting separated; although she does not want them to, he knows that it’s best for them. At the hospital, May and April keep a vigil until learning from Ben Carson, a real-life neurosurgeon playing a cameo role, that the surgery was successful.[1] Bob and May, both being small-town people, decide to move back to Oak Bluffs, but Bob finds the separation from Walt difficult, both practically and emotionally, and is unable to do the things by himself that the twins used to do together, such as maintain Quikee Burger’s three-minute challenge or play hockey. Walt, for his part, loses his job when Honey and the Beaze is canceled due to low ratings, and finds it difficult to find subsequent work. He is also emotionally devastated by Bob’s absence. After having a brief talk with Cher about what’s best for him, he decides to move back to Oak Bluffs.One year later, Walt and Bob are back in Oak Bluffs running the restaurant together, Bob and May have married and May is pregnant. The twins simulate their former conjoinment with Velcro clothing that attaches them to one another. Walt finds creative fulfillment continuing in local plays, including a musical in which he and Meryl Streep play Bonnie and Clyde.It is amazing how Farrelly brothers and their capable filmmaking friends and collaborators realized this genuinely caring human drama-comedy. It’s guaranteed enjoyable movie experience for everyone

REVIEW: RENDITION

CAST

Jake Gyllenhaal (Donnie Darko)
Reese Witherspoon (Legally Blonde)
Peter Sarsgaard (K-19)
Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady)
Omar Metwally (Munich)
J.K Simmons (Whiplash)
Alan Arkin (The Rocketeer)
Aramis Knight (Ender’s Game)
Rosie Malek-Yonan (Up Close & Personal)

CIA analyst Douglas Freeman (Jake Gyllenhaal) is briefing a newly arrived CIA agent in a square in an unnamed country in North Africa (filmed in Marrakech), when a suicide attack kills the CIA agent and 18 other people. The target was a high-ranking police official, Abbas-i “Abasi” Fawal (Yigal Naor), who acts as a liaison for the United States and whose tasks include conducting interrogations and overseeing the application of techniques amounting to torture. Fawal escapes unscathed. Egyptian-born Anwar El-Ibrahimi (Omar Metwally), a chemical engineer who lives in Chicago with his mother, his pregnant wife Isabella (Reese Witherspoon) and their young son, is linked to a violent organization by telephone records indicating that known terrorist Rashid placed several calls to Anwar’s cellphone. Returning to the United States from a conference in South Africa, he is detained by American officials and sent to a secret detention facility near the location of the suicide attack depicted earlier, where he is interrogated and tortured. Isabella is not informed and all records of his being on the flight from South Africa are erased, although records remain of his boarding the plane at Cape Town International Airport. For lack of more experienced staff, Freeman is assigned to observe the interrogation of Anwar, whose interrogator is Fawal himself. After Freeman briefly questions Anwar, he is doubtful of Anwar’s guilt, but his boss, Corrine Whitman (Meryl Streep), insists that the detention continue, justifying such treatments as necessary to save thousands from becoming victims of terrorism.Growing worried, Isabella travels to Washington, D.C. to see old friend Alan Smith (Peter Sarsgaard), who now works as an aide to Senator Hawkins (Alan Arkin), and plead with him to find out what has happened to her husband. She is first informed that there was a mix-up in Cape Town and Anwar had failed to board his plane, but she shows him her husband’s credit card record, which shows that he made a purchase at the in-flight duty-free shop; this confirms that he was on the flight. Smith slowly pieces together details of Anwar’s detention. He is unable to convince either the senator or Corrine Whitman, who had ordered the rendition, to release him, or to openly acknowledge that the rendition had taken place. After the senator advises Smith to let it go on the basis that it’s not the right time to start debating an extraordinary rendition because he’s fighting to have a bill passed in Congress, he gives Isabella a phone number for an excellent lawyer he knows and advises her to call it, but she refuses. Upon hearing the confrontation from her office, his sympathetic secretary quietly tips Isabella off that Whitman will be visiting the following day. Isabella confronts Whitman and creates a scene, before storming out, only to go into labor in the hallway.Eventually, Anwar confesses that he advised Rashid how to make more powerful bombs and was promised $40,000 in return. Suspicious that it’s a false confession, Freeman asks where the money is and Anwar replies that it should have been delivered to him in South Africa but the courier never arrived. Freeman’s suspicions are confirmed when he has the names Anwar gives traced by Interpol and draws a blank. A quick Google search reveals that the names are of the Egyptian soccer team from the year Anwar left Egypt. Without the consent of his superiors, Freeman approaches the Minister of the Interior of the country, and presents him with this finding, and also questions whether $40,000 would really be enough to persuade a man whose annual salary is $200,000 to risk his entire life, and that of his family. He quotes Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice while making a point on the value of intelligence gathered through torture. Eventually, Freeman persuades the minister to authorise Anwar’s release, and sends him back to America via a clandestine ship to Spain, hanging up on his superior when he gets a call to cease and desist. Angered by the injustice Anwar has suffered, Freeman leaks the details of Anwar’s detention to the American press, creating a scandal that humiliates Whitman and Hawkins. The film ends with Anwar arriving home and reuniting with his family.In a parallel storyline, Abasi’s daughter Fatima (Zineb Oukach) has run away from home with her boyfriend Khalid (Moa Khouas). Fatima sees a picture of Khalid’s brother, but he does not tell her what has happened to him. Abasi is told that Khalid’s brother was an inmate at his prison and later died. Fatima is unaware that Khalid is a member of a terrorist group until his friends are arrested at a planned march and he leads her to the terrorist group’s base. Near the end of the movie, Fatima discovers a notebook that contains pictures of Khalid and his brother together, showing that they were extremely close, as well as a picture of the two brandishing AK-47s, then some pictures of a grief-stricken Khalid standing over his brother’s corpse, some pictures of her father, and finally a statement saying that Khalid is doing a deed to avenge his brother’s death. Realizing that Khalid’s brother met his death at the hands of her father and that Khalid is about to assassinate him, she runs off. It is then revealed that this second story took place before the suicide attack. (From the briefing with the CIA agent in the beginning we know that the first story took place after the suicide attack.) At the town square Fatima begs him not to do it, arguing that the target is her father. After removing the pin of his detonator he hesitates, and is therefore killed by the organizers of the attack. As a result, he releases the handle of the detonator and the bomb explodes, killing Fatima. In the present, Abasi rushes to Khalid’s apartment and discovers Khalid’s grandmother grief-stricken over the loss of both her grandsons and Fatima. Abasi then realizes that his daughter died trying to protect him and is filled with grief himself.The record of a phone call supposedly made by Rashid to Anwar is not explained in the film. However, earlier it was mentioned that phones are sometimes passed on from one person to another in order to avoid phone tracing (the DVD extras explain that there was a subplot dropped from the film that elaborated on this concept). The film’s director, Gavin Hood, stated in an interview that the lack of explanation on the call was deliberate, so as to create ambiguity about whether Anwar was guilty or innocent, and to let the viewer decide whether the possibility of his guilt was enough to justify kidnapping and torturing him.Love-Bite-imageGood performances – particularly strong from those beneath the line playing the North African characters. Don’t expect lots of action but it does leave you thinking – not so much about the practice of rendition itself but about the cycle of violence that we all are caught up in.

REVIEW: HOPE SPRINGS

CAST

Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady)
Tommy Lee Jones (BAtman Forever)
Steve Carell (Get Smart)
Elisabeth SHue (Hollow Man_
Jean SMart (Legion)
Ben Rappaport (Mr. Robot)
Marin Ireland (Side Effects)
Mimi Rogers (Ginger Snaps)
Becky Ann Baker (A Simple Plan)

Although a devoted couple, empty nesters Kay and Arnold Soames (Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones) are in need of (in Kay’s opinion) help to reignite the spark in their marriage. They have slept in separate rooms for years since their youngest child went off to college, and forgo any physical affection. One day Kay (who works as a Coldwater Creek employee) tells Arnold (a partner in an Omaha accounting firm) she has paid for them to undergo a week of intense marriage counseling with Dr. Bernie Feld (Steve Carell) in a coastal resort town in Maine. Arnold, a creature of plodding, unimaginative routine, denies their marriage is in trouble.In sessions with Dr. Feld they (mainly Kay) try to articulate their feelings, revitalize their relationship, and find the spark that caused them to fall in love in the first place. Dr. Feld counsels them, asking increasingly frank questions about their sex life and feelings. Arnold is angry and defensive, unwilling to see the depth of his wife’s disappointment. Angry and crying, Kay goes alone to a bar where she has several glasses of wine, confides in the bartendress and learns that few others are having any sex, either. Arnold visits a nautical museum. Back together, they spend the night in the same bed for the first time in years, and Kay awakes to find Arnold’s arm around her. At this sign of progress, Dr. Feld urges new measures. They make halting attempts at intimacy on the bed of their budget motel and again in a movie theater, but this time with disastrous results.In a one-on-one session, Dr. Feld explains to Arnold that couples seeking marriage counseling are doing so for a reason, and asks Arnold frankly, “Is this the best you can do?” Arnold finally takes the initiative to arrange a romantic dinner and a night at a luxury inn, where they attempt to make love in front of a fireplace, but the grand design fails. At their final session, Dr. Feld tells them they’ve made much progress and should take up couples therapy back home. Back in Omaha, old habits resume. Kay offers to pet-sit for a fellow employee and packs a bag to stay there, as a first step in a permanent break with Arnold. That night, both are shown in bed trying to sleep. Arnold enters his wife’s bedroom and they tenderly embrace. The lovemaking that follows is warm, natural, and quietly passionate. The next morning it’s clear that the marriage is in a whole new place. Later that year, as Kay said she fantasized, they renew their wedding vows on a beach with Dr. Feld and their grown children present, making promises to be more understanding and considerate of each other.It makes you laugh, cry and think, which I find rare in comedies about relationships and sex. The movie does a wonderful job of showing how difficult it can be to relate to each other emotionally and physically, but it does so in a lovely, enjoyable, touching and non-depressed way. Not to mention the acting, which is brilliant and seriously funny. One of my favourite movies of the last few years.

REVIEW: AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY

CAST

Meryl Streep (Into The Woods)
Julia Roberts (Mirror Mirror)
Chris Cooper (The Bourne Identity)
Ewan McGregor (Big Fish)
Margo Martindale (Orphan)
Sam Shepard (Swordfish)
Dermot Mulroney (The Grey)
Julianne Nicholson (Kinsey)
Juliette Lewlis (Natural Born Killers)
Abigail Breslin (Scream Queens)
Benedict Cumberbatch (Doctor Strange)
Newell Alexander (Sordid Lives)

The title designates time and location: an unusually hot August in a rural area outside Pawhuska, Oklahoma. Beverly Weston (Sam Shepard), an alcoholic, once-noted poet, interviews and hires a young native American woman Johnna (Misty Upham) as a live-in cook and caregiver for his strong-willed and contentious wife Violet (Meryl Streep), who is suffering from oral cancer and addiction to narcotics. Shortly after this, he disappears from the house, and Violet calls her sister and daughters for support. Her sister Mattie Fae (Margo Martindale) arrives with husband Charles Aiken (Chris Cooper). Violet’s middle daughter Ivy (Julianne Nicholson) is single and the only one living locally; Barbara (Julia Roberts), her oldest, who has inherited her mother’s mean streak, arrives from Colorado with her husband Bill (Ewan McGregor) and 14-year-old daughter Jean (Abigail Breslin). Barbara and Bill are separated, but they put up a united front for Violet.After five days, the sheriff arrives with the news that Beverly took his boat out on the lake and has drowned. Youngest daughter Karen (Juliette Lewis) arrives with the latest in a string of boyfriends, Steve Huberbrecht (Dermot Mulroney), a sleazy Florida businessman whom she introduces as her fiancé. Mattie Fae and Charles’s shy, awkward son “Little Charles” (Benedict Cumberbatch) misses the funeral because he overslept and is met at the bus station by his father. Charles loves his son, whereas Mattie constantly belittles him. Ivy confides to Barbara that she is in love with her cousin, “Little Charles”, who plans to move to New York, and she cannot have children because she had a hysterectomy. She feels this is her only chance to finally marry.The family sits down to dinner after the funeral, fueled by Violet’s brutal “truth telling”, which results in Barbara pouncing on her mother. She decides she has had enough of her mother’s drug addiction and confiscates all her several kinds of pills. Later, after Violet has had a chance to sober up, she has a tender moment with her daughters and shares a story that demonstrates how cruel her own mother was when she longed for a new pair of cowgirl boots when she was in her early teens.As “Little Charles” sings Ivy a song he has written for her, Mattie Fae walks in and berates him. This exhausts Charles’s patience with his wife’s lack of love and compassion for her son, and he threatens to leave her if she keeps it up. Mattie subsequently reveals to Barbara, who unintentionally listened in, that she had a long-ago affair with Beverly, and Charles is in fact their younger half-brother and that is the true reason why Ivy and “Little Charles” cannot be together. That evening, Steve and Jean are playfully sharing a joint of marijuana. Johnna sees this and, sensing that he intends on molesting her, goes after him with a shovel. Barbara confronts Jean and slaps her. This impels Bill to take Jean back to Colorado, leaving Barbara. Karen also leaves with Steve.Later, Ivy tries to tell her mother about her love for “Little Charles”. Barbara tries to deflect the admission. Violet tells Ivy Charles is actually her brother, something she knew all along. Ivy leaves and promises to never come back. In the last confrontation between Violet and Barbara, Violet admits she was contacted by Beverly from his motel the week after he had left home, but did nothing to help him until after she removed money from the couple’s joint safe deposit box. By this time he had already drowned. This revelation leads Barbara to depart, realizing that her mother has slipped beyond help. Violet is left with only Johnna. Barbara is driving through the plains, stops, gets out of the car, cries then gets back in the car and follows signage showing highways and number of miles to Wichita, Salina and Denver.Fantastic film – see it if you enjoy witty, clever writing, a strong storyline and a first rate cast.

REVIEW: DOUBT

CAST

Meryl Streep (Into The Woods)
Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master)
Amy Adams (Batman V Superman)
Viola Davis (Suicide Squad)
Alice Drummond (Ghostbusters)
Audrie J. Neenan (Funny Farm)
Carrie Preston (Duplicity)
John Costelloe (Die Hard 2)
Helen Stenborg (Another World)

Set in 1964 at a Catholic church in The Bronx, New York, the film opens with the jovial Father Flynn (Philip Seymour Hoffman) giving a sermon on the nature of doubt, noting that like faith, doubt can be a unifying force. The next evening, Sister Aloysius Beauvier (Meryl Streep), the strict principal of the parish school, discusses the sermon with her fellow nuns, the Sisters of Charity of New York. She asks if anyone has observed unusual behavior that would inspire Father Flynn to preach about doubt, and instructs them to keep their eyes open should any such behavior occur in the future. Sister James (Amy Adams), a young and naive teacher, observes the closeness between Father Flynn and Donald Miller, an altar boy and the school’s only black student. One day during class, Sister James receives a call asking for Donald Miller to meet Father Flynn in the rectory. When he returns, Donald is distraught and Sister James notices the smell of alcohol on his breath. Later, while her students are learning a dance in the gymnasium, she sees Father Flynn placing a white shirt in Donald’s locker. She decides to report her suspicions to Sister Aloysius.Under the pretext of discussing the upcoming school Christmas pageant, Sisters Aloysius and (to a lesser extent) James voice their suspicions that Father Flynn’s relationship with Donald may be inappropriate. Several times, Father Flynn asks them to leave the matter alone as a private issue between the boy and himself, but Sister Aloysius persists. Finally, he is pressured into admitting that Donald had been caught drinking altar wine, and he had promised Donald not to tell anyone about the incident. Having now been forced to break that promise and reveal the truth, he will need to dismiss Donald as an altar boy, which he had been trying to avoid. Before leaving, Father Flynn tells Sister Aloysius he is displeased with her handling of the situation. His next sermon regards gossip and how it is easily spread. Initially, Sister James is relieved and convinced of Father Flynn’s innocence, but Sister Aloysius’ belief that Flynn has behaved inappropriately with Donald is unshakable. Later, Sister James asks Father Flynn about the shirt he put in Donald’s locker, an observation she had hidden from Sister Aloysius. Flynn explains that the boy had left the shirt in the sacristy, and that he had put it back in the locker himself, instead of giving it back to him directly, to spare the boy additional embarrassment. Flynn goes on to explain that it is he, not Sister Aloysius, that really cares about the boy, and that Sister James shouldn’t let others tell her that the light in her is wrong. Flynn reminds Sister James that their savior taught love, and Sister James who has just received a letter from her sick brother appears to interpret Flynn’s love for Donald as fraternal. Sister James tells Flynn that she doesn’t believe the allegations.Sister Aloysius meets with Donald Miller’s mother regarding her suspicions. Mrs. Miller (Viola Davis) shocks Sister Aloysius with her lack of interest in the alleged misconduct on Father Flynn’s part. As far as she is concerned, Donald need only last to the end of the school year, as graduation from a prestigious church school would increase his chances of going to a decent high school. It is hinted that Donald is homosexual and revealed that his father is abusive, with the dialogue between them indicating that the father’s anger is fueled by his son’s effeminacy. Mrs. Miller begs that Sister Aloysius drop the matter, feeling that Father Flynn is a source of inspiration to Donald and a shield from the abuse he receives at home. She becomes angry when Sister Aloysius refuses to compromise and threatens to throw Donald out of the school. Mrs. Miller believes that Donald would be punished for a thing of which he was not the cause.

Despite having no evidence and no support from anyone, Sister Aloysius again confronts Father Flynn and demands that he tell her the truth. Otherwise, she will go to the Bishop. Father Flynn is adamant that there is no illicit relationship, but Sister Aloysius claims that she has learned that he has a history of problems, having moved to three different parishes in the last five years. She tells him that she has contacted a nun from one of his prior churches (she refuses to say whom), who corroborated her suspicions. Father Flynn is furious that she has contacted a nun rather than the church pastor, which is proper church protocol. Sister Aloysius tells him he doesn’t deserve to wear the collar, and asks for his resignation. Unable to stand up to her, he succumbs to her demands.

Following his final sermon, Father Flynn steps down from the pulpit and shakes hands with the members of the congregation. Some time later, Sisters Aloysius and James are sitting together in the church garden. Sister Aloysius tells Sister James that although Father Flynn resigned, the bishop has appointed him to pastor at a larger church with a parochial school, in essence promoting him to a more prestigious position and perpetuating the same issue with Father Flynn. She then admits she lied about speaking to a nun at Father Flynn’s former church, and thus drove him out with no more than her suspicions. Her justification is that if Father Flynn truly were innocent of wrongdoing, he would not have resigned. Repeating a line from earlier in the film, Sister Aloysius says that “in the pursuit of wrongdoing, one steps away from God.” Sister Aloysius concludes that she has paid a price in pursuing the wrongdoing of Father Flynn. While discussing her inability to fully expose Father Flynn and have him dismissed from the diocese as a whole, she reflects upon her larger faith in the Church as she breaks down in tears and says to Sister James: “I have doubts…I have such doubts.” The film ends with Sister James comforting Sister Aloysius as the church plays The First Noel.1024x1024The story is ostensibly a sort of ‘whodunnit’? (or rather ‘did-he-do-it’?) in regards to allegations of innappropriate relations with children but on a deeper level probes further into the nature of faith in an ever-changing and increasingly secularised world. Is Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s character a sexual predator or merely a misunderstood victim? is Meryl Streep’s character an overzealous gossip or true believer? there is indeed doubt. The film does not underestimate the intelligence of the audience and allows for several interpretations. Thought-provoking, engrossing and well-acted by a strong cast. A film that is well worth a watch.