Movie Reviews



I knew better than to think this was in any way related to the 1930 Nancy Carroll musical of the same name, even if the prospect of a hip-hop version of “Sing You Sinners” was an amusing fantasy (almost up there with Barbra Streisand’s cover of David Bowie’s “Life on Mars” as mind-boggling entertainment). Yet […]



While Timeline is one of the more dismal offerings this holiday season, it does manage to raise enough questions that help make it possible to sit through the film’s seemingly interminable 116 minutes. You may find yourself asking, for starters, “Who in their right mind would make a film like this in a post-Monty Python […]

The Missing


Armed with his A Beautiful Mind Oscar, Ron Howard stretches his wings with this attempt at a dark, wholly adult Western. And it is a brave attempt — I just wish I could say that I thought it was also a successful one. The best I can say is that The Missing doesn’t fail the […]

The Haunted Mansion


No, it’s no Pirates of the Caribbean (who thought it would be?). But neither is it The Country Bears. The worst that can be said about The Haunted Mansion is that it’s remarkably tepid. The best that can be said is that it’s reasonably harmless and nicely designed. Also, Eddie Murphy isn’t appalling here like […]

Bad Santa


Let me make this clear: I didn’t dislike Terry Zwigoff’s Bad Santa. That said, I easily could have, since I was one of maybe six people on Earth who was underwhelmed by Zwigoff’s previous film, Ghost World, a movie so smugly hip, it made my head hurt. And Bad Santa is somewhat in this same […]

The Station Agent


Is actor-turned-writer/director Thomas McCarthy’s debut work, The Station Agent, really as good as has been said? Probably not, though it is a good-hearted film that makes some keen — and pertinent — comments on the human condition. It’s also remarkably well-made, turning its obvious paucity of budget into a plus. I’ve heard a lot of […]

The Human Stain


Having seen the previews of this movie, I was eager to see the full film, which promised a tragic May-December romance between Nicole Kidman and Anthony Hopkins, direction by Robert Benton (Kramer vs. Kramer) and writing by Nicholas Meyer (Fatal Attraction). Plus, it’s all based on the celebrated Philip Roth novel — how could it […]

Shattered Glass


I started watching Shattered Glass, the directorial debut from writer Billy Ray (Hart’s War), knowing the basic story: that New Republic writer Stephen Glass had been caught with his sources down, and was then fired in disgrace for either wholly fabricating (or at least mildly cooking) many of his articles for the magazine. I finished […]



While Gothika isn’t nearly as scary as The Cat in the Hat, it’s considerably funnier. (If only these two movies could just swap places!) Being funny is not, of course, the typical goal in a horror thriller — though that doesn’t mean the results can’t be entertaining. Such is the case with Gothika, as silly […]

Dr. Seuss’ The Cat In The Hat


Not long ago, in a West wood called HollyLived a producer named Grazer, whose taste was sheer folly.He took a short children’s tale about a creature, the Grinch,Then enlarged much upon it, mindless of stench.It mattered to him not, if all charm were shorn ‘way,Since all Grazer wanted were audiences who’d pay.And pay, yes, they […]

Tupac: Resurrection


I know it will come as a great shock to many (especially those who grew up on the mean streets of Fairview), but I’m not an unreserved admirer of rap. And ownership of Sean (then “Puff Daddy”) Combs’ “Come With Me” CD single “featuring Jimmy Page” doesn’t quite buy me an encyclopedic knowledge of hip-hop, […]



Any survivor of Freshmen English has encountered the Sylvia Plath poems “Daddy” (dealing with the late poet’s legendary Electra complex) and “Lady Lazarus” (about Plath’s first serious suicide attempt at age 20, a decade before she finally made her death wish come true). Fierce as these poems are, they were dismissed by the poet herself, […]

Master And Commander: The Far Side Of The World


It takes a brave soul to make a straight-faced movie in 2003 with old-fashioned, seafaring-adventure dialogue, where the commanding officers are always starting sentences with, “Come on, lads!” or some such bewhiskered variant. It helps, in the case of Master and Commander, that such nautical camaraderie is channeled through Russell Crowe as Capt. Jack Aubrey […]

Looney Tunes: Back In Action


As an escapee from Hollywood, I found the movie-biz in-jokes throughout Looney Tunes: Back in Action pretty hilarious. But as my husband’s glower cued me, I was actually the only one in the audience doing any laughing. In fact, the only reaction I could hear around me was the snoring from the woman down the […]

The Matrix Revolutions


I know I’m in the minority in giving The Matrix Revolutions a good review, but then I gave its immediate predecessor a good one, too — and not always for the reasons I think the Brothers Wachowski intended (and, in part, because I didn’t find The Matrix Reloaded all that much different from its much-praised […]

Just An American Boy


Just an American Boy came about in part when Artemis Records’ president Danny Goldberg asked writer/filmmaker Amos Poe if he’d like to do “a Don’t Look Back on Steve Earle” (referring to D.A. Pennebaker’s classic cinema verite documentary on Bob Dylan). Poe immediately loved the idea of a black-and-white documentary/concert film on the firebrand troubadour […]



Slogging through a Will Ferrell comedy in which he plays a human being who’s been raised as an elf at the North Pole was not high on the list of things I wanted for myself for Christmas. Imagine my surprise when I found that Elf was generally charming, often very funny and almost completely entertaining! […]

Love Actually


Christmas comes early this year with this completely captivating, wholly successful, unabashedly romantic (in every sense of the word) first-time directorial effort from writer Richard Curtis. Curtis’ name may initially mean little or nothing to you (writers, you know, rarely get the respect they deserve), but a quick scan of his credits tells all: from […]

In The Cut


Let’s face it, In the Cut — publicity-wise — is really about the utterly perky, utterly cute, utterly clean Meg Ryan popping her top. So let me assure you straight off that, yes indeed, this does occur. And, yes, Ryan actually does have breasts — which, I’m sure, has been a very troubling concern for […]

Brother Bear


The mere fact that Brother Bear is a cartoon, and streets ahead of Disney’s last attempt at a kiddie flick involving bruin antics (The Country Bears), is itself a cause for minor celebration (emphasis on the word “minor,” however). Brother Bear is not only a return to the corporate-filmmaking mentality the studio blessedly eschewed with […]

The Magdalene Sisters


Here’s a movie for people who thought Mystic River was too cheerful. Actually, that’s not entirely fair, since Peter Mullan’s The Magdalene Sisters does crack the occasional smile (if a crooked one), and does offer the viewer at least a few moments of personal satisfaction within its grim confines. (And classic-movie fans are excused a […]