1. In the Electric Mist, starring Tommy Lee Jones.
Tommy Lee Jones is one of my favorite actors. He seems so Southern and down to earth, a man's man, courageous and confident. Well, he usually does, anyway. I didn't like him in that awful flick "No Country for Old Men," where he seemed senile and incompetent. I didn't like him much in "The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada" either, because of the unspoken premise: border guards are the bad guys and illegal aliens are the good guys.
However, in "Electric Mist" he returns to form as detective Dave Robicheaux; he plays a good guy battling a mobster in the bayous of Louisiana. He goes to a party and someone laces his drink with LSD; he then begins to see the apparition of Confederate General John Bell Hood, who sits with him on the porch or in church and talks about life and war, and advises Robicheaux on the troubles that he faces. Levon Helm plays John Bell Hood and does a remarkable job; he even looks like John Bell Hood. Hell, I'd love to have the ghost of a Confederate General advising me what to do; Nathan Bedford Forrest would be my pick. He kicked some serious Yankee ass.
I loved the rainy, green, mossy, swampy views of Louisiana, a place of mosquitos and big weird bugs and alligators and crawfish and lightning and Southern lore; what's not to like? I'd love to live there. The film is exciting but doesn't have much of a plot; nevertheless, for a story with no real plot it was quite entertaining. I recommend it.
2. The Reader, starring Kate Winslet.
In post-war Germany, Kate Winslett is Hannah Schmitz, a single woman and former Nazi prison guard. She has an affair with a 16 year old student, Michael Berg, played by David Kross. There are a lot of realistic sex scenes and Kate Winslet is nude for much of them. Since Hannah Schmitz is illiterate, she likes to have Michael read to her, since she can't read herself. He reads; then then they copulate with wild abandon. In truth, this is another plotless film; its subject is sex and the story built around it is simply to give the sex a thin veneer of plausibility.
Later, after Hannah breaks off the affair, she is arrested and put on trial for war crimes, for nasty things she did as a Nazi guard. A report is produced that witnesses say she wrote; and if she wrote the report, it would prove she was the leader of the women Nazi guards. If she were the leader, she would therefore be most culpable in allowing a group of Jewish women to die during a bombing raid. However, Hannah couldn't have written the report because she was illiterate; however, she is too embarrassed to admit this to the court so opts for life in prison instead. One must retain one's dignity, after all. Priorities, ya know.
There's more but it's pretty boring and irrelevant to the non-existent plot, so this will have to suffice. If you like exciting and realistic sex scenes, rent it, but don't rent it expecting a real story line. Quite a bit of the dialogue consists of "OOOH! AAAH! MMMM!"
3. Revolutionary Road, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet.
DiCaprio and Winslet are a young couple, Frank and April Wheeler, living in Connecticut in the early 1950's with their two young children. Frank works in an office job he hates, but it pays the bills, while April stays home with the kids. The poor Wheelers enjoy a nice family lifestyle in a nice home in a nice neighborhood, but as Hollyweird knows so well, this is the worst form of human oppression. Imagine, having to work for a living. What's the world coming to. Frank is shown riding the train to work, surrounded by legions of men in similar suits and fedora hats, all of them interchangeable in one great moving mass of boring human conformity. The message here is obvious and heavy-handed; there isn't a modicum of subtlety.
Then one day, April has a bright idea: let's sell the house, take our savings and move to Paris. She will work as a stenographer while Frank sits on his butt all day and figures out what he really needs to do to achieve Nirvana. So they go about packing and putting the house on the market, but then two terrible things happen to stifle their flight to paradise: Frank is offered a lucrative promotion at his place of work, and April gets pregnant. How terrible; a baby will spoil their dreams. April ponders an abortion and even buys some rubber-tubing contraption to carry out her own abortion; but Frank objects. They fight; she tells him he isn't a man and she doesn't love him. Finally, she attempts her own abortion and bleeds to death. End of story.
The moral of the story is obvious: in the bad old days, abortion was illegal; abortion is an enlightened method by which modern women free themselves from responsibility so they can move to Paris and become Beatniks. April died because she lived in a less enlightened time.
It was crappy movie. Don't waste your time.