Movie Reviews

Time Bandits

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You can tell spring is officially here because outdoor movies — courtesy of Walk-in Theatre — are back. And the first up has time travel, a band of roguish dwarves bent of thievery, the Supreme Being (Ralph Richardson) at war with the Evil Genius (David Warner), some Monty Python-like humor, big name guest stars. What’s […]

The Second Chance

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Fans of Christian-music star Michael W. White might welcome The Second Chance because it lets White stretch his creative wings and try acting. But don’t count on seeing much of his gold-record singing. If the filmmakers had actually made a vanity piece for White and allowed him to do what he does best, the movie […]

The Benchwarmers

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Even as a Happy Madison Production tossed together by Adam Sandler for about a buck and a quarter to showcase his otherwise unemployable buddy, Rob Schneider, The Benchwarmers plumbs new depths. This is less a movie than a catalog of bodily excretions and secretions. Aside from the obligatory assortment of flatulence “gags” (fla]tulence having become […]

Thank You for Smoking

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I’m not at all sure what the few detractors of this unusually sophisticated — and frequently hilarious — satire on spin-doctoring wanted it to be, though I get the sense that they wanted it more squarely aimed at Big Tobacco. I suppose that’s understandable, but the tobacco lobby is such an easy target that an […]

Take the Lead

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It would be an easy thing to take apart Liz Friedlander’s Take the Lead. Yes, it’s the umpteenth retelling of one of those “teacher who made a difference” stories, designed to morally uplift viewers and leave them with a smile, a tear, a song in their hearts and, in this case, rhythm in their feet. […]

Phat Girlz

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Here’s the skinny on Phat Girlz — it’s a whole lot better than you’d expect, especially coming from a first-time director (Nnegest Likke). It delivers a worthwhile message about the joy of loving yourself for who you are. At times, it’s funny, even sweet, and the most gorgeous male creature on the planet is the […]

Lucky Number Slevin

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I’ve spent two days trying to figure out why I don’t like this cheerfully amoral cinematic con job as much as I feel I should. I don’t mind its lack of much in the way of a moral center, though making the solution hinge on a singularly cold-blooded act is not the best way to […]

Amarcord

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Like the wondrous peacock that arrives late in the film in an unexpected manner, Fellini’s Amarcord is a thing of breathtaking beauty — and, along with 8 1/2, represents the filmmaker at his very best. For all his genius, Fellini was an artist who often seemed not to know when he’d gotten the good out […]

The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie

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If you’ve never seen a Luis Bunuel film, it’s high time you did, and this 1972 Oscar winner is a good place to start. The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie is more accessible than some of Bunuel’s work and might just change your mind about the whole concept of “art films” and surrealism as something […]

Spin

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This clever short film kicks off April’s selection of Twin Rivers Media Festival award-winning films. A story is little more than a simple conceit, told without dialogue — thereby (consciously or not) following the dictates of Roman Polanski that short films should have no dialogue — and made with an attitude obviously picked up from […]

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 […]