Prisoners starts out as a tense and gripping story of every parent’s worst nightmare after two young girls disappear on Thanksgiving Day.

Hugh Jackman is Keller Dover, a husband and father with a survivalist bent whose motto is “hope for the best, prepare for the worst. ” Dover with his wife Grace (Maria Bello) and kids, Anna and Ralph join neighbors Franklin (Terrence Howard) and Nancy (Viola Davis) and their daughters Joy and Eliza for the occasion.

The day suddenly takes a turn from ordinary to nightmarish when the two families realize the girls, who’ve gone off to play, are missing. The main suspect becomes Alex Jones, a young man with the mind of a 10 year-old who is parked in a camper at a nearby house right before the girls go missing.

Jake Gyllenhaal is Loki, the loner detective assigned to the investigation who has solved every case he’s ever worked. Gyllenhaal who early in his career wasn’t very interesting to watch has morphed into a versatile, three-dimensional actor and he’s intense and convincing as the dogged, determined Loki who is always watching and connecting the dots. Continue reading »

I haven’t read the best selling book the movie The Help is based on. Nor have I paid much attention to the controversy about a White central character telling the story of black maids in Jackson, Mississippi. I can only judge the movie by what appears on screen.

You get the sense the audience is being manipulated. This is where you’re supposed to laugh; this is where you should cry. It feels like a paint by numbers movie lesson about the ills of racism that comes across as a bit shallow and sunny despite the subject matter. There is a moment in the film where you see a newspaper headline about the Freedom Riders who were pioneers in the civil rights movement. If you’ve seen the powerful and unforgettable PBS documentary about these real life heroes, The Help will come across as a flimsy and pale attempt at depicting a complex and disturbing issue that still reverberates today. Continue reading »

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