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"Tradition?? The only good traditions are food traditions. The rest are repressive."

"There are two ways to think. The first is to trust to your ancestors, your religious leaders, or your charismatic professors. The second is to question, to challenge, to explore history for meanings, and to analyze issues. This latter is called Critical Thinking, and it is this that is the mission of my web site. "

Dr. Laina Farhat-Holzman  

May 2016

Laina with April Movies

Laina At the Movies
By Laina Farhat-Holzman
April 2016

Eye in the Sky

This important movie focuses on the dilemma of fighting a kind of war never faced before. In the past, countries (recognized nation-states) fought wars with each other, culminating in World War II, in which two opposing groups (Allies: Britain, America, and Russia vs Axis: Germany, Italy, and Japan), fought to an unconditional surrender of the Axis. This war was so catastrophic that more...


Laina with February Movies

Hail, Caesar!

Joel and Ethan Coen never fail to produce, write, and direct original and very entertaining movies. My first exposure to their work was the film Fargo, which is always a delight to re-watch. You betcha! Where else can you find a pregnant police chief whose much adored husband designs postage stamp art, or a murderer who is just an ordinary, stupid man who is over his head in debt (and failure). Who else would have made Moonrise Kingdom, a summer camp film in which t more...


December 2015

Laina at the Movies

December 31, 2015


It is amazing that a bio-pic about a screen writer persecuted by the communist witch-hunting UnAmerican Activities Committee in the 1940s to 1950s could be both informative and entertaining. This film was both, and funny in a wry way to boot.

Dalton Trumbo, played wonderfully by Bryan Cranston, was one of the best of Hollywood?s screenwriters was blacklisted along with ten others in 1947 when they refused to name names more...


July 2015

Laina with July Movies

A Little Chaos

If there was ever a monarch who detested chaos, it was King Louis XIV! He controlled everything, fearing anarchy so much that even nature had to be under his control. Louis, ruled France with an iron hand between 1638 and 1715.

In this story, Sabine, a talented landscape designer wins a competition to help design and build a water-garden ballroom at Versailles, under the guidance of the royal court's famous garden master, Le Notre. What makes more...


August 2014

Laina with August Movies

Laina At the Movies
By Laina Farhat-Holzman
August 2014

The Hundred-Foot Journey

Another foodie movie has cheered us all, in sheer contrast with the catastrophe films that mark every summer. Perhaps life is not coming to an end after all.

Oprah Winfrey and Steven Speilberg cooked this one up for us, and it was delicious. The story takes place in a French town near the Swiss border, breathtakingly beautiful. A restaurant rated wi more...


March 2012

Movie Reviews for February 2012: The Separation

The Separation

This Iranian film received an Oscar this year, and quite rightly. I have been watching Persian cinema for years now, and wonder at how these excellent film makers get around the religious government censors. In this particular movie, the only indication of deference to the censors was that all the female characters wore head scarves (upper class) or chadors (lower class) indoors. I have heard that the moment that women step indoors, they pull off the hated more...


November 2011

Laina with October Movies

Laina At the Movies
By Laina Farhat-Holzman
October 2011


This film is based on a book about the Oakland A’s general manager, Billy Beane, who put together a baseball club on a budget by employing computer-generated analysis to draft his players. You might think that this is a film about baseball, but it is much more than that; it is even more about “gaming,” doing the unexpected with numbers that nobody had used before that. (Perhaps more...


Laina with September Movies


This lovely documentary was absolutely engrossing, and left me thinking about its message long after leaving the theater. I am not a pet owner (never had a dog, cat, or horse), but I have always marveled at the variety and special character of these domesticated animals. I love watching how cats walk, and how dogs try to put up with the behavior of their owners (including the brutes among them). As for horses, I was in love with them as was every other 10-year-old girl.


May 2011

Laina with May 2011 Movies

Water for Elephants.

In this entertaining movie, we are taken back to 1931 when a young man, Jacob Jankowski (Robert Pattinson), about to graduate from Cornell with his veterinary degree, has a major reversal. His parents die in a car crash and he winds up without money and no way to finish his studies.

He hops a freight train and is taken in by a group of hoboes who are roustabouts for a circus. He begins shoveling muck out of the animal cages—but event more...


Laina with April 2011 movies

Of Gods and Men.

This was a difficult movie to watch because it was a contemplation—a contemplation of French monks living in an Algerian mountain village who must contemplate their inevitable murder. This film was based on the true story of a small group of monks who remained in Algeria, despite warnings to leave, because they believed that this was their duty to the poor villagers who depended on them, and their duty to God.

We meet this band of brothers—many more...