Movie Reviews

The Battle of Algiers

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There’s more than a little irony that Gillo Pontecorvo’s critically acclaimed and undeniably powerful 1965 film, The Battle of Algiers, was screened at the Pentagon in the early days of the war on Iraq. Sure, it ably demonstrates what any occupying army is getting itself into, but did no one notice that the film clearly […]

Me and You and Everyone We Know

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Let’s get it out of the way right up front: Me and You and Everyone We Know has offended some people, primarily because it deals in part with adolescent sexuality — and it features a subplot involving an 8-year-old in an online chatroom. Frankly, I found these things handled rather tastefully and, yes, realistically, but […]

Hairspray

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Always delighting in shocking audiences, Baltimore filmmaker John Waters — the self-proclaimed “Prince of Puke” — perhaps threw the movie-going world his biggest shock of all by suddenly coming up with the sweet-tempered, PG-rated Hairspray. After years of unrated and X-rated (later reclassified as NC-17) deliberate outrages like Pink Flamingos and Female Trouble, no one […]

Undiscovered

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Undiscovered should have remained that way — and judging by the fact that there were only two other people in the theater besides my hapless viewing companion and myself, I’m guessing it pretty well will. I’d say this is a disaster on a par with Glitter. Also, I personally resent having finally actually seen and […]

The Cave

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Bruce Hunt’s The Cave makes great inroads into standing genre cliches on their heads. To understand this, you’ll have to be subjected to spoilers. So if you’d rather not know, skip the next paragraph. The great departure for The Cave is that it doesn’t kill off “the black guy” (in this case, Morris Chestnut, who […]

The Brothers Grimm

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I feel a little absurd “defending” Terry Gilliam’s The Brothers Grimm, simply because I don’t feel it should need defending. But apparently it does — from its flat-out detractors, yes, but just as much from Gilliamites who want to “blame” Ehren Kruger’s screenplay for the movie’s perceived faults (ignoring the fact that said screenplay was […]

The Assassination of Richard Nixon

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From its doom-laden screenplay to its shaky-cam film-school look to its ersatz Philip Glass score, the fact-based drama The Assassination of Richard Nixon just screams out how important it is. And it really could have been. The film certainly flirts with importance, and there’s an undeniable creepy relevance about an assassination attempt that involves hijacking […]

Chrystal

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Ray McKinnon’s debut feature film is a sometimes audacious, occasionally downright brilliant, always watchable work that somehow just misses being wholly successful — and I’m not even sure why. It’s very much of a piece with McKinnon’s Oscar-winning short, The Accountant, in that it presents a unique — and refreshing — view of the South. […]

A Song to Remember

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Indefensible as either art or history, Charles Vidor’s 1945 Chopin biopic A Song to Remember is the absolute textbook definition of kitsch — and perhaps the ultimate example of why the biopic is the most disdained of all film genres. As a movie, Song is a bizarre outgrowth of the slightly more cerebral biopics made […]

Valiant

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Valiant is the story of a small pigeon who becomes a big hero in England’s World War II-era Royal Air Force Homing Pigeon Service, proving to all that the key to courage is “not the size of your wingspan, but your spirit.” The computer animation in this British import is lovely, the action is clever, […]

Valentino

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When Valentino first appeared in 1977, it pleased almost no one. Ken Russell fans greeted it somewhat tepidly, because it was much less experimental than his last three films — Mahler, Tommy, Lisztomania. The rest of the world found it too experimental and over-the-top, especially since the ad campaign stressed that it was from “the […]

The 40-Year-Old Virgin

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Since comedy, more than any other genre, is a wholly subjective thing, I want to note straight off that a lot of people are finding Steve Carell’s starring film debut as the bee’s knees of comedy. There was a lot of laughter (not my own) at the screening I attended, and my cohort in reviewing/crime, […]

Supercross: The Movie

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Well, all good things come to an end. Such is the case with the winning streak of perfectly dreadful movies getting progressively shorter — from Stealth to The Dukes of Hazzard to Deuce Bigalow. Admittedly, Supercross: The Movie (as opposed to what? Supercross: The Lobotomy?) is shorter than Deuce Bigalow, but only by three minutes. […]

Red-Eye

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The praise being heaped on both The 40-Year-Old Virgin and this preposterous right-wing terrorist fantasy is more a comment on what a lousy year for movies 2005 has been than on any actual quality of these two movies themselves. At its absolute best, horror-meister Wes Craven’s shot at a straight thriller is a competent B-movie […]

They Live

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Conceptually, They Live is probably John Carpenter’s best film. Unfortunately, as is often the case with Carpenter, the concept is better than the execution. Of the “modern” horrormeisters, Carpenter has always been the lightweight. The closest he got to a theme seemed to be in Halloween, with its implicit message that girls who “fooled around” […]

The Skeleton Key

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I think I would feel less cheated by Iain Softley’s The Skeleton Key if it was just bad, but it isn’t. It’s actually pretty good, but it’s so obvious it could have been great that it becomes a truly maddening experience — and one that further indicates that Ehren Kruger’s script for The Ring was […]

The Great Raid

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Sixty years ago, Japan surrendered to the United States, ending World War II. A week ago, following worldwide remembrances of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan’s prime minister marked the anniversary with an apology for Japan’s acts of aggression from 1931 to 1945, which killed an estimated 15 million people, two-thirds of them civilians. […]

Marlene

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It’s strangely apt that this film by Maximilian Schell on the legendary Marlene Dietrich should be the cinematic equivalent of the autobiography of her great mentor, Josef von Sternberg. The latter work, Fun in a Chinese Laundry, is at once enigmatic, deliberately obfuscating in nature and extremely revealing. I’m immediately reminded of a lyric by […]

Four Brothers

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The most casually preposterous movie to open this weekend is also the most wholly satisfying entertainment. Get over the fact the movie is set in a Detroit where rampant, open lawlessness — including, but not limited to, shootings, high-speed car chases, gangs with machine guns blasting away an entire house in broad daylight, and people […]

Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo

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I had a fair idea of the level of humor we were in for when the press kit for Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo arrived — packaged like a condom. Little did I know that this was obviously pandering to the sophistication of us movie reviewers, since the wit involved in the press-kit presentation is on […]

The Dukes of Hazzard

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With the five or six functioning brain cells remaining to me after watching The Dukes of Hazzard (I know people who’ve come off two-week benders with less brain damage than I feel I suffered from 105 minutes of this movie), I’ve been trying to think of anything vaguely positive to say about it. All I […]