Happy 2011 everyone!  I hope you all had a safe New Year’s celebration.  While I was waiting for festivities to begin, I happened upon a film about New Year’s Eve that I had never seen before on television called “200 Cigarettes.”  This 1999 movie could probably best be described as a “Dazed and Confused” that takes place in the 1980s.  Coincidentally it also features Ben Affleck. 

The story follows a group of twenty-somethings in New York City trying to find the perfect New Year’s Eve celebration, while also coping with love, loneliness, and desire.  This is definitely one of those films where the cast trumps actual script and writing. 

Since it tries to tell too many mini stories, and some of its dialogue is annoying, “200 Cigarettes” is more about the colorful characters than telling a coherent narrative.  Among the actors present are Ben Affleck, Casey Affleck, Jay Mohr, Kate Hudson, Christina Ricci, Dave Chappelle, Courtney Love, Janeane Garofalo, and Paul Rudd.  If you are interested to see some of these people before they became really famous, it’s definitely a fun watch.  My Grade: B                 

Our first week of 2011 is quiet at the theaters with just two films premiering.  You’ll have the chance to see the Nicolas Cage fantasy “Season of the Witch,” and the folk music documentary “Phil Ochs: There But for Fortune.”       


A 14th century soldier (Nicolas Cage) returns from The Crusades to his homeland, which has been ravaged by the Black Plague.  To pacify members of the church, he and his companion (Ron Perlman) are tasked with transporting an accused witch (Claire Foy) to a remote abbey, where monks hope they can end the epidemic. 

Dominic Sena, the man who reenergized Nicolas Cage’s career with 2000’s “Gone in Sixty Seconds,” directs the actor for a second time in this adventure film.  Bragi Schut, the creator of the sci-fi television series “Threshold,” pens the screenplay for the movie.          

WHO SHOULD SEE IT:  Followers of Nicolas Cage and Ron Perlman should be the first ones to check out this fantasy.  If you appreciate medieval adventure films about soldiers on a linear quest then you should see “Season of the Witch.”         


Through the political and social upheaval of the 1960s and 70s, protest singer Phil Ochs wrote songs that engaged his audiences in the popular issues of the time.  This documentary shows how Phil’s life and music were intertwined with the history making events of the generation.     

Documentarian Kenneth Bowser writes and directs this chronicle of Phil Ochs.  Bowser is best known for his three documentaries he has helmed about the popular sketch comedy show “Saturday Night Live.”   

WHO SHOULD SEE IT:  Folk music lovers that appreciate the work of Phil Ochs should definitely see this film.  If you have a particular fascination with United States history during the 1960s and 70s, then you should watch “Phil Ochs: There But for Fortune.”