Movie Reviews

Slither

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Troma Films veteran James Gunn comes calling with his first feature as a director (he penned the above-average Dawn of the Dead remake). The amusingly gooey horror flick Slither is actually a work of some note, if only because it makes for a welcome respite from the trend that increasingly mistakes torture and sadism for […]

Night Watch

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I’m still not clear on what I think about this Russian vampire opus that works on its own particular mythology, and yet I saw it a full two days ago. After filmmaker Timur Bekmambetov’s Escape From Afghanistan in 1994 and a couple of movies under the auspices of exploitation master Roger Corman, Bekmambetov came into […]

Ice Age: The Meltdown

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Adults should not judge a movie made for kids unless they see it with kids. Ice Age: Meltdown is a case in point. It’s received a tepid response from many movie reviewers. Don’t believe them — the movie is terrific. If you’re an unaccompanied adult, you might assume that, because the movie doesn’t move you, […]

Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ

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I first saw Fred Niblo’s silent version of Ben-Hur 34 years ago — a battered 16mm bootleg print courtesy of a film professor at the University of South Florida. The film was projected at silent speed (an error that made the film take what seemed like three days), looking very scratchy, with obviously missing footage, […]

Basic Instinct 2: Risk Addiction

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Since it’s the question that seems to be central to this film, let me state from the outset that, no, unlike its predecessor, there is nothing of gynecological import in Basic Instinct 2: Risk Addiction. Perhaps that’s the “Risk” of the title, because certainly nothing else about this fantastically botched attempt to revive Sharon Stone’s […]

ATL

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There’s a lot to like about ATL — the debuting young actors are pleasant, the cursing is minimal, the violence is tempered, and best of all, the misogyny level is the lowest I’ve seen in this type of movie in ages (add a full point to the rating). But ultimately, ATL is a cliche-filled fairy […]

Walkabout

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Prior to Walkabout, Nicolas Roeg had co-directed (with Donald Cammell) only one film, the astonishing Performance, so a good deal was riding on the cinematographer-turned-filmmaker’s second outing. Could Roeg pull off a solo film? Indeed he could — and in so doing he established himself as a filmmaker with a unique, if not always completely […]

Stay Alive

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There’s something almost charming — certainly brave and a little bit loopy — about trying to craft a film for the video-game set — even more so when you up the stakes with a trailer that tells them that one in four of them is addicted to playing. (Having seen this trailer seated in a […]

Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector

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The very existence of Larry the Cable Guy would seem like a pretty good argument against the concept of Intelligent Design. For that matter, I’d say it seriously calls into question whether the Piltdown skull really was a hoax. The fact that Larry can find himself in a feature film is undeniably a testament to […]

Inside Man

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Spike Lee’s new one may not be the incendiary filmmaker’s best, but it just might be his most purely enjoyable and sophisticated. Make no mistake, Lee is still in his typically outspoken form, he’s still using film in the manner I described when reviewing 25th Hour — “like a wild-eyed protestor dousing himself with gasoline […]

Abouna (Our Father)

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Gorgeously photographed, thematically complex and nothing if not ambitious, but strangely lacking in emotional punch, Mahamat-Saleh Haroun’s Abouna merits an A for effort, even if it finally qualifies as a worthy set of ideas and symbols that doesn’t quite come off as drama. The central problem is that Haroun seems to have tried to do […]

V for Vendetta

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This may not be the first great film of 2006, but it’s bound to be one of the most controversial — and that’s not only in its favor, but, I suspect, of greater concern to the filmmakers than is achieving greatness. Based on the anti-Margaret Thatcher graphic novel of the same name by Alan Moore, […]

She’s the Man

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Oh ho and oh hum, this teen comedy is, to put it bluntly, kind of a drag. Someone somewhere thought it would be a hoot to borrow a little Shakespeare — a very little, and in this case, Twelfth Night — and a lot more Just One of the Guys and have Amanda Bynes (What […]

Italian For Beginners

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Reviewed Mar 22, 2006 Having had several years to accustom myself to the idea of the “Dogme” school of filmmaking, I have concluded that it strikes me as one of the dumbest ideas ever to come down the pike. I suppose that I ought to use a fancier word than “dumb,” but that just seems […]

Hiroshima, Mon Amour

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To appreciate the fuss and fury that greeted Alain Resnais’ Hiroshima, Mon Amour on its first appearance, it’s necessary to get into a kind of 1959 mindset. In particular, the 1959 mindset of the Cahiers du Cinema group, who were looking for new type of film. They found it with Resnais’ movie, which virtually defined […]

The World’s Fastest Indian

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It was only a matter of time, I suppose, before the uplifting sports flick left the realm of the pop-culture marketplace and crossed over into the more rarefied venue of the art-house film. And that’s essentially what this oddly engaging — sometimes just downright odd — little movie is: a feel-good sports movie for the […]

The Shaggy Dog

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Any movie that still thinks it’s funny to include on its soundtrack the Baha Men singing (and I use the term loosely) “Who Let the Dogs Out?” — whether in reference to literal or figurative canines — is so creatively and comedically bankrupt that it’s beneath any kind of serious discussion. But this is only […]

The Hills Have Eyes

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About halfway through Alexandre Aja’s remake of Wes Craven’s The Hills Have Eyes, I was convinced that the film’s tag line, “The lucky ones die first,” must be referring to the viewers of this entrails-festooned entry in the Inbred Hillbilly Cannibal sub-sub-genre. True enough, this remake is less repellent and more coherent than Aja’s previous […]

The Captain’s Paradise

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Made in 1953 in the midst of Alec Guinness’ famous series of films for Ealing Studios, The Captain’s Paradise is often erroneously referred to as one of that number (it’s actually a British Lion and London Films co-production). The film is, however, made in clear imitation of the Ealing product, both in style and content, […]

Kismet

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A 1950s musical from the Arthur Freed unit at MGM directed by Vincente Minnelli (with an uncredited assist from Stanley Donen) ought by all conventional wisdom be enshrined. But something went a little bit wrong with this most opulent version of the hoary old Edward Knoblock play. Maybe it was the source material. Or maybe […]

Failure to Launch

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Here’s the pitch: Thirty-five-year-old Trip (Matthew McConaughey) is still living at home with his parents (Kathy Bates and former pro-football player Terry Bradshaw), who are supposedly good and tired of his presence (presumably this is why they wait on him hand and foot). So when they hear about a professional motivator, Paula (Sarah Jessica Parker), […]