Movie Reviews

Failure to Launch



Here’s the pitch: Thirty-five-year-old Trip (Matthew McConaughey) is still living at home with his parents (Kathy Bates and former pro-football player Terry Bradshaw), who are supposedly good and tired of his presence (presumably this is why they wait on him hand and foot). So when they hear about a professional motivator, Paula (Sarah Jessica Parker), […]

Aquamarine



The fact that I showed up at the Beaucatcher Cinema to review Aquamarine seemed to cause the staff some amusement and even disbelief. I should explain, however, that a friend of mine wanted to see it. He apparently has a more romantic notion of mermaids than those that adorn some cans of tuna (I confess […]

We Want the Light



This extraordinary — and frequently moving — film from musical documentarian Christopher Nupen tackles the complex and daunting subject of music and musicians in the context of their impact on society at large, specifically dealing with the issue of Judaism and anti-Semitism in music. To do this, the film has to set the stage for […]

Ultraviolet



I’m giving this thing two-and-a-half stars — about one-and-a-half more than anyone else has given it — based entirely on the fact that I had a good time watching it … probably for all the wrong reasons. I do not think that writer-director Kurt Wimmer meant for the audience response to Ultraviolet to consist of […]

The Libertine



“Allow me to be frank at the commencement — you will not like me. The gentlemen will be envious and the ladies will be repelled. You will not like me now, and you will like me a good deal less as we go on. Ladies, an announcement: I am up for it. All the time.” […]

Swimming Pool



Reviewed Mar 8, 2006 I was blown away by this incredible film when I first saw it in 2003 – and was no less blown away seeing it again for this return performance. Director Francois Ozon’s work deserves to be better known in this country (the fact that this work is largely in English increased […]

Straw Dogs



Was there something in the air in Great Britain in 1971? Consider: That year brought us Ken Russell’s The Devils, Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange and Sam Peckinpah’s Straw Dogs. Three films that have little in common — apart from being made in Britain. Yet they are a remarkable trinity of controversy. Moreover, time has […]

Block Party



In September 2004, comic Dave Chappelle put on a free concert in Brooklyn’s Bed-Stuy neighborhood. Thousands of people came — most of them black, some white — and even though it rained, a fantastic time was apparently had by all. It was an example of how happy people can be with one another when music […]

16 Blocks



A tired-looking Bruce Willis plods his way through this tired-looking rag-bag of cliches churned out by the apparently also-tired director Richard Donner from a screenplay by Richard Wenk (Vamp), who probably isn’t tired because he hasn’t had a screenplay produced in seven years (it’s easy to see why). Donner’s reputation rests uneasily on having made […]

Transamerica



I’ll come right to the point: See this movie. Yes, Transamerica is the debut feature from writer-director Duncan Tucker. And yes, that means that this film tries very hard to impress you and get you to like it, and has a couple of missteps along the way as a result. But that doesn’t keep it […]

The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada



A great many of my critical brethren have praised this theatrical-feature directorial debut by Tommy Lee Jones for its gritty realism. Such acclaim may well be apt, but I suspect that what they really mean is that Jones’ film looks like what they’ve come to accept as gritty realism by way of John Ford, Howard […]

Running Scared



Warning: Wayne Kramer’s new film, Running Scared, is every bit as over-the-top and violent as you may have heard, and if such things bother you, then this is not the movie for you. For that matter, you might be well advised to look for entertainment elsewhere if you’re in the market for anything approaching a […]

Pather Panchali



Watching director Satyajit Ray’s 1955 debut, Pather Panchali (Song of the Little Road), seems less like viewing a film than like spending two hours in another life in another world — unless, of course, you grew up in a poor village in Bengal in the 1920s, which probably precludes most readers. At the same time, […]

Madea’s Family Reunion



Walking out of the Martin Lawrence atrocity Big Momma’s House 2 a few weeks ago, I was interested to hear a number of people not discussing the film at hand, but talking excitedly about the looming prospect of Madea’s Family Reunion. It appears that movies featuring black men in fat-suit drag, dispensing a combination of […]

Ellektra



This film festival award-winner from first-time feature filmmaker Rudolf Mestdagh is quite a remarkable work. Despite its title, it has no relation to the similarly named comic book, nor to Mr. Strauss’ opera (though the film does reference Sophocles at one point). Rather, it’s a multi-storied tale done in an audaciously fragmented style that will […]

Doogal



It’s a little faux-ingenuous to blast Doogal for taking a British picture called The Magic Roundabout and replacing its soundtrack with a thoroughly Americanized one, since the popular Brit TV show on which this film is based was a French opus that was bought up by the BBC and dubbed into English. However, it’s not […]

Cavalcade



Seeing Cavalcade for the first time since I was in high school, I was immediately struck that this best-picture Oscar winner from 1933 is a testament to the unkindness of time. Almost no one remembers the film today. Its director, Frank Lloyd (who also won the Oscar), was a big noise in his day, his […]

The White Countess



The White Countess is the final film from the partnership, both professional and personal, of director James Ivory and producer Ismail Merchant (who died last year). The new film marks something of a return to form after their disastrous Le Divorce and tepid The Golden Bowl. In fact, this is probably the most satisfyingly realized […]

The Serpent’s Egg



The most critically damned of all Ingmar Bergman films, the legendary director’s only English-language work is by now ripe for rediscovery and reappraisal as an intensely personal work unlike anything else in his filmography. The background of The Serpent’s Egg helps put it into perspective. Claiming he was being persecuted by Swedish income-tax authorities, Bergman […]

Killowatt Ours



At first glance, first-time filmmaker Jeff Barrie’s documentary Killowatt Ours looks like more of the same. You know, more of the same well-meaning, conservation-conscious, finger-wagging stuff that you’ve been seeing for years. The sort of film that likes to lecture you about how you are the problem and how you aren’t doing your bit. That […]