Fargo Frances McDormandFargo

Alfred Hitchcock would have liked this 1996 Joel Coen and Ethan Coen quirky thriller that contains so much comedy it transcends genres.  It borrows a number of techniques from the master of thriller movies, including a clever McGuffin, a villain with empathy, horrific incidents that are hilarious, and a tremendous environmental atmosphere.


There are just a handful of good boxing movies, but The Fighter must be ranked among them.  This 2010 film written by Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy, and Eric Johnson is based on the true story of two brothers who each attained some degree of success in the world of boxing.  There is some stretching of the truth in order to make a good movie—and that is just what director David O. Russell gives us.

First TimeThe First Time

The very sweet teen romance written and directed by Jon Kasdan is disarmingly honest, with characters that feel so real there isn’t the hint of artifice.  Centered around two teens who meet by accident, become friends, and each decide to give up their virginity to the other, this film will leave you with a warm, gooey feeling that makes it a worthwhile viewing experience.

Fly Away PictureFly Away

Written and directed by Emmy Award winner Janet Grillo, this 2011 low-budget independent film, shot in a mere 14 days is full of emotional punch and great characters brought to life by a bright and talented cast.

French ConnectionThe French Connection

If you are looking for the meaning of life, this movie is not for you.  Indeed, if you are looking for any meaning at all, this is not your movie.  Rather, it is a completely kinetic film.  Directed by William Friedkin, it echoes the French cinema of the 1950’s, which itself echoes the American gangster films of the 1930’s.  It is all movement and action, with practically no dialogue, moving in a steady arc of energy toward a violent ending.

french kissFrench Kiss

Sometimes the charm of two charismatic actors with great chemistry, combined with a smart, talented director, can make even the most banal of screenplays work to perfection.  Such is the case with Lawrence Kasdan’s 1995 romantic comedy, French Kiss.

Friends with KidsFriends with Kids

This 2011 movie, written, produced and directed by Jennifer Westfeldt, is about a group of shallow, sex-obsessed Manhattan Yuppies who start having children. It stars Adam Scott, Westfeldt, Chris O’Dowd, Kristen Wiig, Jon Hamm and Maya Rudolph.

frozen-river-pic-melissa-leoFrozen River

There are a lot of great movies that somehow never make it into the public eye and Frozen River is one of those films.  It deserves to be seen–and probably deserved a lot more national attention than what it actually got.

Fly Away

Fly Away PictureWritten and directed by Emmy Award winner Janet Grillo, this 2011 low-budget independent film, shot in a mere 14 days is full of emotional punch and great characters brought to life by a bright and talented cast. 

The film opens with a close-up of hands winding a circular music box and placing two wooden ladybug figures on top. As the music plays, the two figures move in circles around the top and this works as a perfect metaphor for the relationship that drives this movie. Jeanne (Beth Broderick) is a single mother raising an autistic daughter Mandy (Ashley Rickards) who is 15 years old and having great difficulty coping with her special school. The girl has anxiety attacks in the middle of the night and is prone to violence in her classes. Jeanne is trying to make a living by doing business consulting from her home. Mandy’s father, Peter (J. R. Bourne), tries to take some of the pressure off of Jeanne by taking Mandy for an afternoon, but he is unable to cope with the daughter he so obviously loves.

As these problems develop, Jeanne meets a very nice guy, Tom (Greg Germann), a neighbor who walks his dog in the same park where Jeanne and Mandy walk their dog. He makes an effort to get close to Jeanne, who accuses him of getting close to her from pity. When Jeanne and her partner lose a very important client, the situation with Mandy becomes increasingly difficult and Jeanne must make a difficult decision to either try to continue their life or to enroll Mandy in a residential therapeutic clinic.

Broderick and Rickards both give amazing performances, so real and down-to-earth that they are completely believable in the roles. All of the supporting actors are also terrific. The script is 100% organic and on point throughout the film, developing the themes to a finely honed story. The ending is perfect for both mother and daughter.

I admit that I am an easy target for this kind of script, easily sucked in, and emotionally involved. However, I truly believe that this movie really hits absolutely every note spot-on, so well written, developed, and edited that you cannot fail to be impressed by it on almost any level. There should have been multiple Academy Award nominations and once again the Academy missed the boat.

At a mere 80 minutes, it is perfect in terms of time and development. I highly recommend this movie!