Movie Reviews

The Others

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An elegant, supremely old-fashioned, methodically paced, unbelievably creepy horror movie, writer/director/composer (yes, composer) Alejandro Amenabar’s The Others — while not a film for every taste — arrives on the scene to join the ranks of the best of the surprisingly few bonafide ghost stories the movies have given us. Not since Peter Medak’s The Changeling […]

The Other Side Of Heaven

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The Other Side of Heaven is a charming, sweet movie about a young missionary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the 1950s. John Groberg (Christopher Gorman, TV’s Felicity), eldest of seven boys from Idaho Falls, Idaho, is sent to do his required three-year missionary service to one of the islands in […]

The One

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The One has a little of everything – two Jet Lis for the price of one, at least three Carlo Guginos, a couple Delroy Lindos, a laborious home-grown mythology, lots of CGI effects, bodies hurtling through space, explosions, car crashes, famine, flood, pestilence…Oh, alright, they left out the last three, but it was probably an […]

The Omega Code 2

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This is what is known as a “four-waller” — a movie without a movie studio to distribute it that its makers handle by renting theatres in which to have their movies shown. For years, this was the exclusive province of exploitation pictures. Now it appears to be the favored method for presenting “morally uplifting” films […]

The New Guy

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The latest cinematic Thanksgiving dinner from the Revolution Studios poultry farm is far from being the worst of its breed. And it deserves some sort of cockeyed praise for casting Lyle Lovett as the father of comic lead DJ Qualls (Big Trouble), since Qualls is sufficiently odd looking to make the ancestry believable. It gets […]

The Mystic Masseur

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Although highly regarded in many circles — especially those that consider Masterpiece Theatre the ne plus ultra of culture — I can’t say that I number the films of Merchant-Ivory among my more cherished moviegoing memories. Even during the films of theirs that I admire, I never quite escape the sense of being dosed with […]

The Musketeer

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“As you’ve never seen it before,” claims the advertising for Peter Hyams’ new version of The Three Musketeers, and that’s not entirely untrue. Having seen the story in just about every manner imaginable — including a musical-comedy version with Don Ameche and the Ritz Brothers — I have never seen a version this incredibly dull. […]

The Mummy Returns

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It’s big and it’s loud and it’s colorful. The widescreen cinematography of Adrian Biddle is breathtakingly gorgeous. The production design by Allan Cameron is stunning and seems effortlessly in period (something the script threatens to scuttle with easy laugh anachronisms such as having an 8-year-old mutter, “Get a room,” upon seeing his parents osculate). The […]

The Mothman Prophecies

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A tepid horror film that looks for all the world like a badly padded episode of The X Files, The Mothman Prophecies can be given some credit for creating an eerie atmosphere, achieving a nice — if somewhat too clever — look, and containing an entertaining supporting turn by Alan Bates. For that matter, the […]

The Mexican

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The Mexican isn’t really a bad movie, but it isn’t really a good one, either. It’s one of those films where you’re mildly entertained, but can’t keep from wondering, “Who thought this was a really good idea?” And why on earth did anyone opt to co-star the potentially sexually explosive Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts […]

The Master Of Disguise

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See the preview for The Master of Disguise, and you’ll catch all the funny scenes — no need to watch the movie itself. Running at just a little over an hour, The Master of Disguise is about 60 minutes too long, and if you pay full price expecting to see a full movie, the only […]

The Man Who Wasn’t There

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The Coen Brothers have never been all that far from film noir, with works like Blood Simple, Miller’s Crossing (an almost plagiaristic rethinking of Dashiell Hammett’s novel, The Glass Key), Barton Fink and Fargo. Even The Big Lebowski turns briefly into an exercise in classic noir for part of its length. But with The Man […]

The Majestic

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It ain’t fer nuthin’ that there’s a poster from Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life festooning a wall of the crumbling Majestic Theatre in Frank Darabont’s The Majestic, a movie that tries its damnedest to bring the kind of movie Capra used to make back to theaters. Therein lies the intent and therein lies the […]

The Luzhin Defence

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“How long have you been playing chess?” Natalia (Emily Watson, Breaking the Waves) asks chess genius Alexander Luzhin (John Turturro) during one of their early meetings in Marleen Gorris’ film of Vladimir Nabokov’s novel, The Luzhin Defence. “Nine thousand, two hundred and sixty-three days, four hours and five minutes,” he answers matter-of-factly before she can […]

The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers

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The immediate question, of course, is whether The Two Towers lives up to The Fellowship of the Ring, and the answer is … not quite. But that’s not a complete answer, since The Two Towers is, in many respects, a very different film than its predecessor in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. It’s much […]

The Life Of David Gale

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I’m going to be swimming upstream with this one. Most of my critical comrades-in-arms are four-square against Alan Parker’s latest offering, The Life of David Gale, and while I understand where they’re coming from, I have to admit I don’t share their antipathy for the film. It may be that I am more in tune […]

The Last Castle

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Castles were built to keep people out. Prisons are meant to keep them in. So says General Irwin (Robert Redford, The Horse Whisperer ) to his fellow inmates in the U.S. military prison known as “The Castle” (shot in Nashville, Tennessee’s magnificent old former State Prison). But rebellions that occur in both structures are similar, […]

The Ladies Man

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Tim Meadows, who was always underutilized on Saturday Night Live, finally gets his due with an SNL Studio movie of his own. The film stretches his sketch as smooth-talking womanizer Leon Phelps, better known as The Ladies Man, into 87 minutes that will give Meadows’ fans plenty of laughs. As the host of a radio […]

The Kid Stays In The Picture

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Robert Evans was the one-time Wonder Kid of Hollywood. “Discovered” in the mid-1950s by Norma Shearer as the perfect person to portray her late husband, Irving Thalberg, in the James Cagney biopic on Lon Chaney Sr., The Man of a Thousand Faces, Evans started his Hollywood career as an actor. Landing a plum role in […]

The Jungle Book 2

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The only possible reason that this 72-minute abomination didn’t go to its proper direct-to-video home is the one quantity for which Disney is better known than family entertainment: greed. The original 1967 Jungle Book wasn’t one of the studio’s more shining moments to begin with, but next to first-time director Steven Trenbirth’s sequel, the original […]

The Importance Of Being Earnest

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Oscar Wilde’s “trivial comedy for serious people” was last filmed in 1952 by Anthony Asquith, a somewhat overlooked British director who specialized in intelligent transfers of respected theatrical works (Pygmalion, The Browning Version). That version — brilliantly cast with Michael Redgrave, Dorothy Tutin, Edith Evans and Margaret Rutherford — remains the perfect encapsulation of Wilde’s […]