Movie Reviews

Taking Sides

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With considerable intelligence and discernment, Istvan Szabo’s film of Ronald Harwood’s (The Pianist) play, Taking Sides, tackles the thorny subject of the “de-Nazification” of high-profile artists who had remained in Germany during the war. However, the film deals from a stacked deck and only touches on the questions of who was “certified” as OK, who […]

Love Me Tonight

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I first saw this 1932 film at the age of 15, when my father took me to see it at a Rouben Mamoulian retrospective at the University of South Florida in Tampa. I don’t know when I had ever been less interested in seeing a movie. I wanted to see Mamoulian’s legendary Dr. Jekyll and […]

Be Cool

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I spent the bulk of Be Cool thinking that I’d never seen a more badly structured film, nor one so completely — and with so little reason — convinced of its own coolness. All the while, I knew that I shouldn’t enjoy what I was watching — but still I did, partly because of the […]

The Phantom of the Opera

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In many ways, the 1925 Phantom of the Opera is the granddaddy of the American horror film, though it’s perhaps edged out of that position by the Goldwyn production A Blind Bargain (a seemingly lost 1922 work that also starred Lon Chaney). Phantom certainly marks the starting point of Universal Pictures being the “home of […]

Man of the House

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The first scene in Man of the House involves wild man Cedric the Entertainer and some very gross interaction with cow poop. I’m stupefied to report that my husband and every other man in the audience found this bit of dramatic conflict to be uproarious. At least I was immediately prepared for the possibility that […]

Diary of a Mad Black Woman

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This is no mere bad movie. Instead it’s at least three bad movies very loosely tied up in one jaw-droppingly peculiar package. On the one hand, this film is a made-for-Lifetime style soap opera (actually, several of them). On the other, it’s a lowbrow comedy involving drag acts and really bad character make-ups, with a […]

Cursed

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In Kevin Smith’s Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, there’s an amusing aside where Wes Craven directs Shannen Doherty in a cheesy horror movie. When the script calls for her to be attacked by an orangutan dressed in a Scream costume, she upbraids the director: “Jesus, Wes, you guys aren’t even trying anymore!” Who would […]

Son of the Mask

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It’s not that I especially object to sitting through bad movies. After all, that’s something I do with alarming frequency. However, this is a special case, since this week finds me writing reviews from Florida, which I’m visiting because of a family emergency. Why bring this up? Well, simply because the perks of being a […]

Head in the Clouds

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Despite the film’s terribly generic title, it would be possible to give John Duigan’s Head in the Clouds a free pass based on eye-candy alone. Any movie populated by the glamorous movie-star looks of Charlize Theron, Stuart Townsend, Penelope Cruz (1930s clothes benefit her to no end) and Thomas Kretschmann is certain to be easy […]

Fantasia

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Time has been kind to Disney’s ultra-ambitious Fantasia — time and the 1960s, that is. When it was released in 1940, old Walt’s huge vision of popularizing classical music was a huge disaster, and it only came to be embraced as a “classic” much later — not least in part because it fit the psychedelic […]

Constantine

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If you’re a comic-book geek, as a lot of my friends are, then this apparent travesty of the DC/Vertigo comic will probably annoy you. I say apparent travesty because I haven’t read a comic book since they cost 12 cents. Then again, even if I was familiar with the comic, I doubt I’d be bothered […]

Because of Winn-Dixie

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Back in the late ’50s and early ’60s, when I was subjected to movies aimed at my age group that were supposed to somehow be “good” for me, this film would have been high on the list of M.S.U.D. — Movies Seen Under Duress. In all honesty, however, I would have vastly preferred this movie […]

Pooh’s Heffalump Movie

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Sure, it’s a bit much for the Disney folks to expect people to shake loose $7.75 for a scant 63 minutes of movie, and there’s nothing in Pooh’s Heffalump Movie you haven’t seen in Pooh’s previous screen outings. Still, there’s nothing really wrong with his new one. The movie has a good message about tolerance […]

Kitchen Stories

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If you’ve never heard of the improbably named filmmaker Bent Hamer, don’t feel so all alone. Until this odd little comedy came my way, neither had I. A little research brings up Hamer’s small filmography, none of which seems to have made the crossing to the United States in any significant capacity, even on the […]

Hitch

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No, this movie is not a great work of art, but it doesn’t pretend to be one. Yes, it follows a pretty set recipe, but there’s a huge difference between a recipe for creamed chip beef on toast (or “SOS,” as it is often so rightly called) and canard a l’orange. If Hitch isn’t quite […]

Wedding Date

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If you saw the previews, you’ve already seen every cute moment in Wedding Date, a lackluster attempt to gender twist the fairy tale, Pretty Woman. This clunker is about as charming as a bride and groom smashing one another in the kisser with wedding cake — it’s not romantic, and the act is so blatantly […]

La Ronde

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I believe it was Rex Harrison (though it may have been James Mason) who penned the words, “A shot that doesn’t call for tracks is agony for poor dear Max.” And it won’t take many minutes of Max Ophuls La Ronde to make this clear to even the most casual observer. Nearly every scene in […]

Boogeyman

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Horror fans take note (the rest of you can sit this one out): Boogeyman is much better than you probably think it is, and certainly better than I thought it would be. Yes, in plot terms, the movie’s similar to the egregious Darkness Falls; but that’s like saying The Ring is similar to FearDotCom. And […]

Hotel Rwanda

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Northern Ireland-born Terry George, who was once interned for being a suspected IRA member, has an understandable tendency toward working on what used to be called “problem pictures” — the sort of movies that address social injustice. He co-authored the screenplay for Jim Sheridan’s In the Name of the Father, co-wrote (again with Sheridan) and […]

Hide and Seek

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Potential viewers should keep three things in mind before deciding to see Hide and Seek: 1) The movie’s not nearly as funny as director John Polson’s last film, Swimfan; 2) It does have several “Boo!” moments that effectively make the audience jump; and 3) Compared to the week’s other horrific offering, Alone in the Dark, […]

Eulogy

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This little movie from first-time writer/director Michael Clancy would like to be a black comedy, but it lacks the courage of those convictions and never quite gets beyond a kind of dark gray. Clancy’s desire to make a viewer-friendly film — meaning one that could be as weird and nasty as it liked, as long […]