Movie Reviews

My Date With Drew


I cannot convey how much I did not want to see this movie. I tried to palm it off on my Xpress reviewer-pal Marci Miller. No soap. She claimed she was swamped. My thought at the time was that she merely had better sense than to want to hie herself all the way to Hendersonville […]

Into the Blue


Into the Blue isn’t a movie so much as it’s a lame excuse to show Jessica Alba in a variety of skimpy swimming attire. Even before the film gets to the point of “personalizing” its leering approach, the camera leaves little doubt of its primary focus: lingering on scantily clad ladies shown mostly south of […]

Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride


Disabuse yourself of the notion that Tim Burton’s latest is going to be on as grand a scale as his earlier animated feature, Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, and you’ll have a better time with this more intimate, sweetly macabre film. Burtonians will understand when I say Corpse Bride perhaps has more in common […]

The Greatest Game Ever Played


When 20-year-old American amateur Francis Ouimet (Shia LaBoef, Constantine) won the U.S. Open golf tournament in 1913 against the greatest professional player in the world, Englishman Harry Vardon (Stephen Dillane, King Arthur), journalists on both sides of the Atlantic called it “the greatest game ever played.” The Disney movie about the famous competition — a […]

The Gold Rush


The Gold Rush marked Chaplin’s first Charlie Chaplin film to be released by his own company, United Artists, and was his most ambitious project to date (1925). And it remained one of his personal favorites. He went so far as to recut, score and narrate a reissue version in 1942. Today, it battles City Lights […]

The Aristocrats


“No Nudity, No Violence, Unspeakable Obscenity,” claims the tag line for this most unusual documentary, and they ain’t just playing “Annie Laurie” on kazoos when they say that. The movie is unrated — but would have gotten an NC-17 if it had been submitted to the MPAA — for a very good reason: It speaks […]

Roll Bounce


Despite a few phrases and terms (“in the hood,” “that’s jacked,” “I was trippin’”) that I’m pretty sure were not common coin in 1978, Malcolm D. Lee’s Roll Bounce feels more like a movie from 1978 than one about 1978. It simply lets it be 1978 without bludgeoning the viewer over the head with quaint […]



The First-Grader Vanishes … I mean Flightplan would like to be a Hitchcock movie when it grows up. Unfortunately, it never gets closer than swiping the premise of The Lady Vanishes, and instead ends up being perhaps the most absurd airborne melodrama since Doris Day landed an airliner in Andrew L. Stone’s Julie way back […]

Down and Derby


The Pinewood Derby is a miniature version of the Soapbox Derby that millions of kids under age 12 have enjoyed. Created by a California Boy Scout Cubmaster in 1953, the derbies take place indoors using cars handmade out of 5-by-7-inch pinewood rectangles and raced on polished wooden tracks. (If you hurry, you can see a […]

Berkeley in the Sixties


This is more than a mere documentary of the history of political activism at the University of California at Berkeley; it’s an oral history of a struggle (the good and the bad and the downright foolish) that has never gone away, but has merely metamorphosed over time into different forms. It’s as relevant today as […]



I’m baffled by both the critics who’ve hated this movie and the few who’ve defended it. OK, perhaps not so much by the former, who, by and large, seem to feel that an overall distaste for horror pictures is a badge of cultural superiority. But the defenders of Venom are another matter. They seem to […]

The Music Lovers


Here’s a chance to get your feet wet in the realm of Ken Russell movies prior to the Asheville Film Festival, where he’ll be this year’s guest of honor and recipient of the festival’s Lifetime Achievement Award. The Music Lovers — or to give the movie its full onscreen title,Ken Russell’s Film on Tchaikovsky and […]

Lord of War


Lord of War trades in irony. So it’s particularly apt that its greatest irony is that it starts out the work of a filmmaker well aware that he’s dealing with a visual medium and ends up as the work of a filmmaker who’s retreated into preachy speechifying. Writer-director Andrew Niccol opens Lord of War with […]

Just Like Heaven


Just Like Heaven is a romantic comedy that will please everyone, especially those who walked out of The 40-Year-Old Virgin because of its foul language. The only four-letter word in Heaven is “cute.” Everything about this modern-day Sleeping Beauty tale works: immensely likeable stars, a terrific script that actually allows those stars to create believable […]



Local interest in Junebug is high, owing to its North Carolina setting and pedigree — and for the most part, that interest is justified. This modest little movie captures something of life in this state in ways that few previous films have. There’s not a lot of plot. Madeleine (Embeth Davidtz, The Emperor’s Club), who […]



I don’t care that Cry_Wolf expects me to buy 22-year-old Julian Morris (Whirlygirl) and 26-year-old Lindy Booth (Dawn of the Dead) as high school students. I don’t mind that it expects me to accept Jon Bon Jovi as a tweedy teacher (a concept giving new meaning to “Living on a Prayer”). I’m not even particularly […]

An Unfinished Life


Yes, An Unfinished Life is slow and predictable, and its symbolism is so heavy-handed that it may well give the unwary a concussion. And no, nobody actually talks like these characters do — but because everyone in this determinedly old-fashioned movie speaks in the same improbable manner, it never seems false. And there’s also a […]

Wag the Dog


Back in 1967 in his How I Won the War, Richard Lester included a fantasticated scene involving WW II-era British officers trading bubblegum cards of famous battles and war atrocities (“I’ve got ‘Alamein.’ I want ‘School Bombing’”). By the time of Desert Storm, the real world had caught up with Lester’s satirical notion — there […]

The Man


No, The Man is not the worst movie ever made — what an accomplishment that would be in 2005! But it ranks high on the list of most predictable and useless. If there’s any truth to the old saw that 100 monkeys left alone with typewriters would eventually write Hamlet, then this film feels like […]

The Exorcism of Emily Rose


This peculiar attempt to cross-breed the horror film with a courtroom drama — sort of Perry Mason and the Case of the Howling Teen or Inherit the Demon — has gotten high marks (for a horror picture) from some critics just for its trying to be different. But really, it isn’t even a case of […]



Every now and then I’m convinced that I see a totally different movie than every other film reviewer. Such is the case with Heights, the final movie produced by Ismael Merchant (Remains of the Day), which is directed by 28-year-old newcomer Chris Terrio and based on a short play by another unknown, Amy Fox. I […]