Movie Reviews

The Good Girl

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With The Good Girl it’s safe to say that Jennifer Anniston has arrived (ironically, in the same week that ought to send Friends co-star Matthew Perry back to the small screen). Anniston has come a long way from that TV stint, her early days as the star of Leprechaun, and her thankless role in the […]

The Golden Bowl

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If the idea of a Merchant-Ivory film based on a novel by Henry James automatically makes your eyes glaze over, The Golden Bowl may come as a pleasant surprise. No, it’s not what you’d call action-packed (the Pearl Harbor set will be chagrined to learn that nothing explodes), but it is more briskly paced than […]

The Glass House

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You know a movie’s in trouble when the soundtrack is drowned out by the sound of theatre seats flipping up with the staccato rhythm of a burst of machine-gun fire before the final fade-out has faded to black. Any audience that hell-bent on getting out of the theatre — especially with a film where all […]

The Gift

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If you’re expecting the teaming of Sam Raimi (director) and Billy Bob Thornton (co-screenwriter) to result in The Evil Dead Meets Sling Blade, you both will and won’t be disappointed. The Gift does indeed blend the in-depth characterizations of Sling Blade with the stylish filmmaking of Raimi’s Evil Dead movies, but Raimi seems uncharacteristically subdued […]

The Four Feathers

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I’m no scholar of the film versions of A.E.W. Mason’s 1901 novel, The Four Feathers — first filmed when it was a scant 14 years old and still being filmed at the ripe old age of 100. The 1915, 1921, 1955 and 1977 renderings have escaped my gaze. I will say that Shekhar Kapur’s version […]

The Forsaken

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Something old, something new, something borrowed … and something blood red. Despite claims by writer-director J.S. Cardone and producer Scott Einbinder in press releases about originality, The Forsaken isn’t quite the absolutely fresh “re-imagining” of the vampire film it thinks it is. Cardone claims, “There are no fangs, no bullets, no garlic” — yet the […]

The Fast And The Furious

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The Fast and the Furious is aptly titled. It careens, it screeches, it smokes. It delivers what the previews promised: a no-brakes, pulse-pounding, ear-splitting, sex-charged car-racing flick. Director Rob Cohen (The Skulls) has helmed a technical gem. Furious is vividly shot and edited; the computer-designed wizardry is awesome; costumes, sets, locations –everything technical is top-notch. […]

The Exorcist (2000)

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The Exorcist, William Friedkin’s film treatment of William Peter Blatty’s best-selling novel about a young girl possessed by a demon, was more an “event” than a great movie. Its popularity had less to do with any intrinsic merit than with the fact that it contained the most overt depictions of horror ever seen in a […]

The Emperor’s New Groove

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The Emperor’s New Groove is a spectacular, goofy, manic, roller-coaster ride of a film. I loved it. While it doesn’t offer the emotional grandeur and sheer memorability of Disney classics such Bambi and The Lion King , I can guarantee you there will be no seat-fidgeting while this wild ride is on the screen. New […]

The Emperor’s New Clothes

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Sure, it’s not much more than a souffle of a movie, but what a grand, graceful, gorgeous souffle it is. It’s a classic historical romp of the sort that briefly flourished in the early 1930s with movies like The Affairs of Cellini and Madame DuBarry and has occasionally been visited since, mostly in British films […]

The Emperor’s Club

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It’s Shameless Oscar Bid Time at the movies, and Kevin Kline, having lost the equally shameless bid with last year’s Life As a House, is back again with The Emperor’s Club. This time it might just pan out for him. Whether or not he deserves it is another matter. One thing is certain: This movie […]

The Deep End

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Yes, The Deep End is almost as stylish as it’s been built up to be, and it does have an unreservedly brilliant central performance from Tilda Swinton (Edward II), but rather than being a truly great film, it’s instead just a very good one. It’s easily the best neo-noir since Memento, but I wouldn’t put […]

The Dangerous Lives Of Altar Boys

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Rich, strange and riddled with imperfections, The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys runs the distinct risk of having its sins overlooked a little too easily in what more and more seems a particularly grim summer of movie going. It’s so much better than most everything out there right now, that its virtues seem exaggerated and […]

The Curse Of The Jade Scorpion

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It’s lightweight Woody Allen, but even lightweight Woody Allen is better than most filmmakers’ best efforts. In tone, it’s probably closest to Manhattan Murder Mystery; in look it’s nearer Radio Days. It has a fairly complex quasi-mystery plot and also works as a nifty parody of 1940s-style film noir, but at heart it’s a romantic […]

The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course

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Crikey, mates! The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course is so bad you’ll leave the theater feeling really grumpy. It’s bargain-matinee fare only. If you have kids, wait until it comes out in video, because all the hype around this movie is a big set-up for disappointment. There wasn’t one laugh in the crowded Saturday afternoon audience, […]

The Country Bears

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Disney World opened somewhere around 1971. That means that I spent more than 30 years strenuously avoiding being subjected to The Country Bear Jamboree. Well, the damned bruins have finally caught up with me with a vengeance, thanks to their cinematic incarnation as The Country Bears. The movie left me feeling that I never wanted […]

The Count Of Monte Cristo

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Kevin Reynolds’ The Count of Monte Cristo is such a gloriously old-fashioned, swashbuckling adventure movie that it makes one wonder if we’ve been blaming the wrong Kevin for the cinematic atrocities that are Waterworld and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. The combination of Reynolds and the memory of the dreary attempt at putting Dumas pere […]

The Core

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I wish I knew whether anyone involved in making The Core was being serious. I’m tempted to believe that at least director Jon Amiel and most of the cast were kidding. Top-billed screenwriter Cooper Layne has no other writing credits (though an executive-producer credit on The Emperors’ Club bodes ill), so it’s hard to gauge […]

The Contender

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Some of the very best political speeches in recent years have been delivered by film actors playing courageous, progressive-thinking politicians. In The Contender, Rod Lurie’s skillfully scripted exploration of politics and principles, one of the most stirring speeches comes during the confirmation hearing of a female senator nominated to serve out the term of a […]

The Closet (La Placard)

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Writer/director Francis Veber, who gained international recognition in 1978 with La Cage aux Folles, has cooked up another engaging comedy with its heart in the right place and something on its mind. The Closet details the story of a drab latex-factory accountant, Francois Pignon (Daniel Auteuil, The Widow of Saint Pierre), who’s about to be […]

The Climb

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A clumsy — if sincere — attempt to transfer the goals of the Billy Graham Evangelical Crusade to the movies, The Climb comes across as a mishmash of awkward symbolism, simplistic theology, lukewarm acting and pat situation on top of pat situation that ultimately plays like a movie of the week. The concept of mountain […]