2 Movie Reviews – “Last Chance Harvey” and “Doubt”

I went into Cary on Saturday to see a couple movies I wanted to see that haven’t come to Sanford, yet!  I decided to see “Last Chance Harvey” with Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson and “Doubt” with Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Amy Adams.  Overall, it was a nice day and an enjoyable time at the movies.  Here are my reviews:

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The first movie I saw was “Last Chance Harvey”.  This is the story of New Yorker Harvey Shine, a commercial jingle writer who is on his last chance to nab a big account and save the job he has grown to hate.   The weekend before an important meeting, he travels to London to attend his daughter’s wedding, but promises to be back Monday for the meeting and assures big results.  His estranged wife is remarried and it quickly becomes obvious that he hasn’t had a particularly close relationship with his daughter over recent years.  When he is treated as an outsider at the rehearsal dinner, he tells his daughter that he will need to leave right after the wedding to make an important meeting.  She takes the opportunity to tell him that she has decided to ask her step-father to give her away at the ceremony instead of him!  In an attempt to hide his devastation, he sits at the rear of the church and skips the reception so that he can make an earlier flight home.  Unfortunately, traffic causes him to miss the flight and he can’t get another one until the next day, which will cause him to miss his meeting.  He calls his boss to explain and is fired over the phone!  While drowning his sorrows at the airport bar, he strikes up a conversation with Kate, portrayed by Emma Thompson.  The conversation takes them through a day of sharing, friendship, reconciliations, and a new chance at a happy life for both Harvey and Kate.  The film tells a warm story of someone who comes to a point in his life where he has lost everything and finds his way back to the parts that are important to him.  ALL the characters – even the ancillary ones that include Kate’s overbearing mother and the step-father, portrayed by James Brolin – were genuine and believable.  Harvey and his daughter are successful in showing every emotion they are feeling, regardless of what they are outwardly saying based on what they think is expected for the situation.  I enjoyed the movie – the only negative is that it was a little slow.  I give it a very strong B+

The second movie I saw was “Doubt” – before I get into that review, I have a funny story to tell…I found the screen that “Doubt” was playing on – it had the name above the door.  I sat there waiting for the movie to start and the theater filled in with a fairly large number of people.  The previews came on and I was thinking that they didn’t match the movie – usually, the previews are for other movies that the anticipated audience for the main feature will likely also be interested in.  The previews were for kids movies and comedies targeted to the teenage audiences.  I made a mental note of it, but didn’t really think about it much.  Then, the main feature started and one of the producers listed was Adam Sandler – I started to really think something was wrong here!  Then, it was clear — the movie that was playing was “Paul Blart, Mall Cop” — not “Doubt”!!!  ha-ha-ha  I immediately figured I went into the wrong theater, so I got up and left to find the right one – but, I confirmed that I WAS in the right theater…..then, others were coming out, too!  So, we ALL were expecting “Doubt”!!  We told one of the employees and they brought the manager – he explained that they had the wrong movie queued up and it would be about 5 minutes before they could get the right one going.  He told us he would be outside after the movie to give us all a free pass to another movie as we leave the show.  COOL……

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So, on with the review….  “Doubt” is set in a Bronx, NY Catholic School in 1964.  The head principal is Sister Aloysius, played by Meryl Streep, who rules the school with fear and strict discipline.  Sister James, played by Amy Adams, teaches history with a softer approach.  Father Flynn, Philip Seymour Hoffman, feels the church and school needs to be brought out of the dark ages and attempts to have a more personal approach with the parishioners and students.  When Sister James confides in Sister Aloysius that she feels Father Flynn has been paying a little too much personal attention to the only black student in the school, the two nuns confront Father Flynn with their suspicions.  The story goes on to tell how Sister Aloysius makes it her mission to unearth the truth and expose Father Flynn – regardless of the fact that she has no physical evidence and is only going on her “moral certainty”.  She will do anything to ensure Father Flynn is removed from her parish, including things that are not very nun-like – in her words “to fix a wrong, you sometimes need to go further from God”.  The story is compelling and emotional.  The acting and characters are superb.  I thought it fell a little short by not going into some more detail – it danced around some of the parts that I thought might have added complexity that was lacking.  I also felt like the movie was left “undone” — it wrapped it up and didn’t leave me hanging, but it still just didn’t feel “finished” — it still left “doubt”, which I realize was the whole point to the movie, but I left with questions that I thought could have been addressed better – not necessarily answered, but…..I don’t know – it just didn’t feel finished!  So, I rate this one a solid B and recommend that maybe DVD or cable is a better way to go with this one – definitely worth watching, but maybe not worth the theater prices!

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