Movie Reviews

Catwoman

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Catwoman is pretty bad, all right, though I don’t think it’s as unrelentingly awful as it’s being portrayed in the popular press — unless, of course, you’re a hardcore comic-book fan. In that case, it’s probably way beyond awful. Not being a comic-book aficionado, I wasn’t offended by this rather peculiar mutation of the titular […]

The Clearing

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The Clearing, partly shot in Asheville, is a pre-sold local offering — though I fear that Asheville watchers may be a little surprised that there’s nothing very specifically Ashevillian about it. Not that that’s so surprising, since the movie is supposed to be taking place in Pennsylvania, and most of the North Carolina footage appears […]

I, Robot

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Ah, the merits of low expectations! And what I anticipated with I, Robot could not possibly have been any less. As I walked into the screening, I was asked if I was looking forward to the film. Unfortunately, the dictates of good taste prevent me from repeating my answer here, though I can say it […]

A Cinderella Story

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Cinderella is a fairy tale with no fairies and not much of a tale. It’s cute — starring the poster girl of cuteness, Hilary Duff (The Lizzie McGuire Movie), and a new teen heartthrob (Chad Michael Murray, Freaky Friday). But cuteness can’t cure this film’s also being insipid, predictable, boring and not very funny. To […]

Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy

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I keep hearing Will Ferrell being likened to such classic comedians as the Marx Brothers — and I can’t help but wonder if the people who are saying such things aren’t seeing different movies than I am. However, when people wax ecstatic that his latest offering, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, is like “watching […]

King Arthur

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This film boasts the world’s first working-class Arthur (Clive Owen, The Croupier), who kept reminding me of Michael Caine as Alfie — or better yet, Caine as Austin Powers’ father in Goldmember. (David Franzoni’s screenplay even scarfs a description from that film, of someone’s endowment resembling “a baby’s arm holding an apple.”) Guinevere (Keira Knightley, […]

Spider-Man 2

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I probably shouldn’t have listened to the friend who saw this film before I did. His assertion that Spider-Man 2 marked the same kind of improvement over Spider-Man that X2 did over X-Men may have raised my expectations too high. It’s not that I didn’t like Spider-Man 2; I did. I don’t even disagree that […]

Sleepover

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I watched Joe Nussbaum’s debut feature with a true sense of wonderment — over who actually green-lighted this project. It’s not that Sleepover is a bad film on its own terms. It’s generally sweet in tone and moves nicely, and production values are solid, if not exactly lavish. The cast, too, is appealing, and Alexa […]

Monty Python and the Holy Grail

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It wasn’t that long ago that I wrote about this very film being re-issued and playing the Fine Arts. Yet while it’s tempting just to revisit that earlier review, I was recently reminded that Monty Python is not, perhaps, to everyone’s taste (a reader recently wrote and complained that he couldn’t sit through the Pythons’ […]

I’m Not Scared

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Stripped of whatever socio-political material may have been inherent in Niccolo Ammaniti source novel, the film adaptation of I’m Not Scaredwouldn’t be much more than a generic thriller. That is, were it not for director Gabrielle Salavatores’ uncanny ability to evoke an almost tangible sense of a childhood summer and the mystery and confusion that […]

White Chicks

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I would have gladly walked out of this unfunny — and, frankly, creepy — excuse for a movie, but I became fascinated by trying to figure out just who White Chicks was aimed at. Apparently, it was made for whatever that target audience is that thinks the ne plus ultra of humor is rampant flatulence. […]

Two Brothers

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Because this film is directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud, who brought us The Bear in 1988, audiences might assume that Two Brothers is merely a variation on that earlier film, shot entirely on location in the wilderness. It’s not. And if that’s what you’re expecting going into it, you’ll end up, like some of the film’s […]

Fahrenheit 9/11

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You’ve really got to hand it to Michael Moore’s most vocal detractors: They’ve given him the kind of publicity most filmmakers couldn’t buy. And in so doing, they’ve caused his Fahrenheit 9/11 to do something that no other documentary film has ever done: take the No. 1 slot for its opening weekend. According to projected […]

The Terminal

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There’s a story — quite possibly apocryphal — that Abraham Lincoln once agreed to do a product endorsement. “For people who like this sort of thing,” he is reported to have said, “this is the sort of thing they will like.” And regardless of whether old honest Abe ever said any such thing, it’s the […]

The Notebook

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There was a time when Hollywood snatched up nearly every popular (or even moderately popular) novel and turned it into a movie. Occasionally, these films actually had some connection to their literary sources. These were known as the “good old days.” And it is in this spirit that director Nick Cassavetes and screenwriter Jeremy Leven […]

Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story

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Your first reaction to Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story is probably to think it’s funny, even hilarious. Desperate for a laugh these days, you dismiss hints of something unsavory lurking beneath the surface. Only later might you remember the homophobia, vulgarity and mean-spiritedness that dot Dodgeball like pockmarks. If you’re one of the rare people […]

Around the World in 80 Days

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This is a long ways from the 1956 Oscar-winning Mike Todd film — and frankly, that suits me just fine. And, no, this film is most certainly not closely tied to the same-named Jules Verne novel — and I can’t say that bothers me a whole lot either. I also can’t say that Around the […]

The Stepford Wives

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No, The Stepford Wives is not a great film — but in all honesty, neither was Bryan Forbes’ 1975 version of the Ira Levin novel. And, despite the fact that this adaptation is one of the most obviously flawed movies to be given a major release in living memory, I honestly think I prefer director […]

The Chronicles of Riddick

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Apparently I’m supposed to dislike this aggressively pompous and unrelentingly silly movie a lot more than I did. And, come to think of it, maybe I really should. But I’m perhaps cutting The Chronicles of Riddick some slack because I liked it so much more than I did the last three Vin Diesel offerings foisted […]

Monty Python’s Life of Brian

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Back in 1979, a fellow by the name of George Harrison — a genuine seeker of spiritual enlightenment and a former member of a not-wholly-obscure Brit music group — created Handmade Films specifically for the purpose of releasing the Monty Python opus Life of Brian. This was after the company originally slated to release the […]

Garfield: The Movie

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If you’ve got kids — especially young ones — you might want to bump this film up a star on that basis. Garfield: The Movie is scrupulously clean (even both of Jennifer Love Hewitt’s primary talents are kept in check, though her skirts are still perilously short). Likewise, it has one of those typically safe, […]