Movie Reviews

Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me

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Diana Abbott is just one of those naturally talented 21-year-olds … OK, so she has a bachelor’s degree in mass communications from UNCA, and, well, true, she wrote for the Blue Banner while in college. But in addition to her scholastic background, Diana just has a flair for the spirit of film critique. As a […]

Apt Pupil

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Terrified to sit through another movie exposing gory, WWII atrocities, I coerced David Clayton (one of Asheville’s pithiest film buffs) into reviewing Bryan Singer’s Apt Pupil. And while I got a good night’s sleep, it seems that David was underwhelmed by the film’s alleged nightmarish content. But we thank David, anyway, for his chivalrous intentions, […]

Analyze That

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If the best thing you can say about Analyze That is that it’s painless and harmless, it’s also the worst thing you can say about it. Yes, it suffers from sequelitis and that nagging sense of too carefully trying to replicate a previous success. Even the film’s title is so desperate to conjure memories of […]

Zoolander

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Any movie in which the male lead decides he’s possibly in love with the leading lady after seeing her in an orgy “sandwiched in between those two Finnish dwarves and that Maori tribesman” is OK by me. Actually, just about everything in Ben Stiller’s Zoolander is OK by me. Like the recent Jay and Silent […]

Y Tu Mama Tambien

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Following two English-language films — Great Expectations and A Little Princess — director Alfonso Cuaron returned to Mexico to make this brilliant, challenging and unorthodox film. That’s obviously in part because Y Tu Mama Tambien (And Your Mother, Too) is the sort of movie that wouldn’t and couldn’t be made in Hollywood. It’s too bold […]

XXX

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Let me put this in perspective with a perfect “break-out” quote that the studio is more than welcome to attach to its advertising : Made me wish I was watching The Country Bears again! It’s loud, stupid and tedious. And if director Rob Cohen had his way, it would have been even louder. The film […]

With A Friend Like Harry

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With a Friend Like Harry has lined itself up for no less than nine nominations for France’s Cesar Awards and is a contender for Britain’s BAFTA award for Best Foreign film. The film and writer-director Dominik Moll are being likened to Hitchcock. The advertising heralds it as “the thriller that electrified Europe.” But is With […]

Windtalkers

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Someone needs to break it to Nicolas Cage that World War II is over. First it was Captain Corelli’s Mandolin and now it’s Windtalkers. And while Windtalkers has several things going for it that Captain Corelli didn’t — mostly in the dynamic directorial panache of John Woo — it’s ultimately just another war picture tarted-up […]

Willard

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I was once awakened from a sound sleep, told there was a mouse in the kitchen and asked what should be done. “Name it Julius,” I helpfully suggested and went back to sleep. I relate this anecdote solely to illustrate that in general, I am not alarmed by rodentia. Over the years, I have even […]

White Oleander

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Oleander is a pretty flowering shrub seen everywhere around Los Angeles. It’ s also deadly poisonous. Imagine white oleander, magnificent in its seeming purity, placed in a sunshine-lit glass brimming with white milk. The metaphor is abundantly clear-it is mother’s milk itself that is a deadly poison. A child weaned on this milk is born […]

What’s The Worst That Could Happen?

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It’s a shame that the big-bucks marketing guys for What’s the Worst That Could Happen? didn’t decide on a different title. Though based on the wonderful Donald E. Westlake novel of the same name, a movie with such an unwieldy title is the kiss of death at the box office. A real pity because, except […]

What Lies Beneath

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What Lies Beneath is a ghost story for adults. It stars Michelle Pfeiffer and Harrison Ford. It is Robert Zemeckis’ latest big-budget blockbuster. It is summer, and you have two hours worth of free time burning a hole in your pocket. This is as good a way as any to spend those hours. Now, I’m […]

What A Girl Wants

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They ought to have merely called it What a Princess Diaries Girl Wants and been done with it. No, it’s not unwatchably awful. And if you’re a girl — or a dreadfully romantic boy — between the ages of 11 and 15, it’s probably even pretty good, and you’re less likely to be distracted by […]

We Were Soldiers

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Dealing from an incredibly stacked deck, writer/director Randall Wallace brings us what is, in essence, the first pro-Vietnam War movie since the days of The Green Berets — only he doesn’t. Well, not exactly. By setting the film in the earlier days of the conflict — before anyone had had much chance to question things […]

Waking Up In Reno

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First off, I have to say that this movie is unregenerately bad, while still being occasionally pretty funny — and very occasionally very funny. The screenplay is by a couple of fellows calling themselves Brent Briscoe and Mark Fauser (hopefully they were wise enough not to give their right names), previously the authors of something […]

Waking Life

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I have a personal litmus test for movies. Basically, it consists of this concept: Any movie that makes me wish I was sitting through the entire original three-hour-and-50 minute cut of Bob Dylan’s Renaldo and Clara is in the direst of trouble. Rare is the film that achieves this dubious accolade, but Richard Linklater’s generally […]

View From The Top

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A classic example of When Bad Movies Happen to Good People. Don’t get me wrong, this is not just a bad movie, it’s a dreadful one. It seems only reasonable to expect that an assemblage of talent that includes Gwyneth Paltrow, Christina Applegate, Mike Myers, Candice Bergen and Rob Lowe might produce something that’s at […]

Vertical Limit

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It offers great special effects. It’s graced by exceptional cinematography. It features a pleasant and capable cast. It delivers more than a modicum of suspense — indeed, it boasts one brilliantly cross-cut sequence of two different suspense scenes. Vertical Limit also, unfortunately, contains about five-cents-worth of plot and maybe twelve-cents-worth of dialogue. Anyone who has […]

Vanilla Sky

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“If you think this about vanity, you’re wrong,” says a disfigured Tom Cruise to a team of plastic surgeons in one of the more ironic moments in Cameron Crowe’s Vanilla Sky. Oh, yeah? This, I suppose, is why the actor’s face looms out 40 inches high from the movie’s poster. Co-producer Cruise can’t even manage […]

Van Wilder

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Here we go again — yet another in the seemingly endless procession of stupid teen flicks. I’m firmly convinced that no one actually makes these movies. They must breed like some peculiarly virulent strain of cockroach. This one scales the heights of inadequacy to reach the pinnacle of mediocrity. Van Wilder — or to give […]

Valentine

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Quite the most frightening thing about Valentine is the fact it took no less than four screenwriters to concoct this by-the-numbers slasher epic. Into this mix, factor the additional information that the film is based on a novel and that the director presumably had some input, so the total rises to no less than six […]