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Movie Reviews

Days Of Wine And Roses (1962)

DwrOverworked adman and wife turn to alcohol in this gritty, pathos-ridden, downbeat drama that's still fresh today. Critically acclaimed film was praised for its performances. A must-see for drama lovers.

Our Take: This is a powerful tale about middle-class alcoholism. Very realistic imagery and totally relatable. Realistic direction and uncompromising writing combine for excellent results plus a poignant score by one of my favorite composers, Henry Mancini. Definately worth watching.

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Wednesday, February 02, 2005 - 14:16:00

The Man With The Golden Arm (1955)

MwgaFrank Sinatra stars with Kim Novak and Eleanor Parker in this riveting film classic, as a skilled card dealer and a former heroin addict. When he returns home from jail, he struggles to find a new livelihood as a jazz musician, and to avoid slipping back into addiction.

Sinatra considered this his best performance, in the role that earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Actor in 1955. The music score legend, Elmer Bernstein provides the memorable jazz score, and earned an Oscar nomination for Best Music Score, as well.

The Man With The Golden Arm is a thrilling, unforgettable drama with exceptional performances, and is as timeless today, as it was then.

Our Take: This movie has a lot of powerful imagery in it. Watching Frankie detox will cut close to the bone for many of us. The 'cure' being brought about by 'the love of a good woman' is a little forced, but understandable considering what was known about treatment during this era. The co-dependancy of his wife was never explored either. Nonetheless, a movie worth seeing.

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Wednesday, February 02, 2005 - 14:08:00

Less Than Zero (1987)

LtzThis story, loosely adapted from a book of the same name, is about three high school friends, who after graduation, see their lives change greatly. One goes off to be successful while the other two turn to drugs, denial and co-dependancy. The most powerful performances here come from Robert Downey Jr and James Spader as the user and dealer, respectively. Made during the Reagan years, the "Just Say No" message is prevalent.

Our Take:The story is about three individuals, Clay, Blair and Julian. They are high school friends who graduate together at the start of the film. Life looks great and they are on to bigger and better things. Julian (Robert Downey,Jr) has been messing up, but his father is confidant that now he is out of school, he will be a different man. Several months later, Blair (Jamie Gertz) calls Clay (Andrew McCarthy) to come back for Christmas. He returns, thinking that they will rekindle their romance, but instead finds that she is involved in a codependant relationship with Julian.After much debate, the two friends go about trying to save Julian from himself.

The movie does an amicable job showing how each of the characters deals with Julian. His friend Clay becomes the classic enabler - victim - persecuter. Blair is the co-dependant, getting in the way of Julian feeling the pain that is rightfully his. Only his father shows any real sense having cut him off until he shows any serious signs of getting sober. It would appear that he learned this after many mistakes. Even though Julians friends become a regular rescue brigade, pulling him out of one scrape after another, it make for good watching and learning. Julian eventually has to sell himself as a prostitute in an attempt to repay his dealer.

James Spaders portrayal of the white collar dealer was almost a personification of the drugs themselves. A slick manipulator who would give you enough rope to hang yourself then draw it back in. If you couldn't pay him back, hey, don't worry, he could always come up with some solution. Drugs have a way of bringing us to our knees, one way or another.

This is a good movie to watch for group. Have a Q&A session afterwards to see how many different messages you can spot in the film.

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Wednesday, February 02, 2005 - 14:03:00

When A Man Loves A Woman (1994)

WmlwTwo of Hollywood's hottest stars, Meg Ryan (YOU'VE GOT MAIL, CITY OF ANGELS) and Andy Garcia (DESPERATE MEASURES, THE GODFATHER, PART III), deliver critically acclaimed performances in this inspiring motion picture hit. As Alice and Michael, Ryan and Garcia are a passionate couple whose once-stable marriage is rocked by her increasing dependence on alcohol. As they strive to overcome this challenge, they discover a renewed sense of love and commitment. Sparked by hope and ignited by riveting star performances, WHEN A MAN LOVES A WOMAN is the must-see hit of the year -- a story of fiery passion -- and the enduring power of love. 

Our Take: This is no comedy. It is, in fact, painful realizations that come when a couple begin to see clearly how much of a role alcohol played in their marriage and in bringing them together in the first place. The issues and experiences confronted in this movie go far beyond the stuff you see on daytime TV.

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Wednesday, February 02, 2005 - 11:25:00

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