Movie Reviews

The Core

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I wish I knew whether anyone involved in making The Core was being serious. I’m tempted to believe that at least director Jon Amiel and most of the cast were kidding. Top-billed screenwriter Cooper Layne has no other writing credits (though an executive-producer credit on The Emperors’ Club bodes ill), so it’s hard to gauge […]

The Contender

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Some of the very best political speeches in recent years have been delivered by film actors playing courageous, progressive-thinking politicians. In The Contender, Rod Lurie’s skillfully scripted exploration of politics and principles, one of the most stirring speeches comes during the confirmation hearing of a female senator nominated to serve out the term of a […]

The Closet (La Placard)

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Writer/director Francis Veber, who gained international recognition in 1978 with La Cage aux Folles, has cooked up another engaging comedy with its heart in the right place and something on its mind. The Closet details the story of a drab latex-factory accountant, Francois Pignon (Daniel Auteuil, The Widow of Saint Pierre), who’s about to be […]

The Climb

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A clumsy — if sincere — attempt to transfer the goals of the Billy Graham Evangelical Crusade to the movies, The Climb comes across as a mishmash of awkward symbolism, simplistic theology, lukewarm acting and pat situation on top of pat situation that ultimately plays like a movie of the week. The concept of mountain […]

The Center Of The World

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I’ve followed — though not morbidly — Wayne Wang’s career ever since he broke onto the international film scene with his $20,000 indie, Chan Is Missing, in 1982. In that time, Wang has made some good films (The Joy Luck Club) and some near great ones (Smoke), but he’s never quite crossed the line into […]

The Cat’s Meow

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There was a time when director Peter Bogdanovich was himself “the cat’s meow,” boasting a string of successful films that started with Targets in 1968 and carried on with The Last Picture Show, What’s Up, Doc? and Paper Moon, only to falter with Daisy Miller in 1974. Then his career truly came tumbling down with […]

The Brothers

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The Brothers is a feel-good, Saturday-night-date movie that should also have a successful home video run for privacy-deprived parents on those rare when-the-kids-are finally-asleep nights. The story: Four good-looking, upscale “(“We are the cream of the crop!”) young African-American friends in Los Angeles — the “brothers” — use one another to gain wisdom on how […]

The Bourne Identity

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The Bourne Identity, based on Robert Ludlum’s 1980 espionage page-turner, is perfect summertime fare. It roller coasts up and down death-defying escapes (literally), sizzles a little with two attractive stars, keeps your knuckles white with one of the best car chases ever (throughout Paris in a tiny Austin Mini, yet), creates unremitting visceral suspense — […]

The Basket

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Nice to look at, terribly high-minded (albeit with an elementary-school-level view of the world), decently acted — and just about the dullest thing you can imagine — The Basket is first-time director Rich Cowan’s attempt to revive the “inspirational family film.” The problem with such attempts stems from the basically dubious concept of “they don’t […]

The Banger Sisters

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The critical response to The Banger Sisters is almost more interesting than the film itself. While not receiving quite the male-dominated critical drubbing as that meted out to The Sweetest Thing, there’s an undeniable similarity in tone — a kind of nervous negativism about the depiction of sexually forward females behaving in a raunchy “locker […]

The Anniversary Party

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This is clearly the new film in town to catch! It could so easily have been a self-indulgent disaster of the worst kind — an overblown “home movie” by first-time writer/directors Alan Cumming and Jennifer Jason Leigh, riddled with cryptic autobiography, shot on digital video and starring themselves and their Hollywood friends. Happily, it turns […]

The Animal

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There comes a time in the affairs of film critics when critical acumen completely breaks down, when one reaches one’s cinematic Waterloo, when all the carefully turned phrases that might otherwise occur flee the room and one is forced to merely say, “God, this movie is just plain dumb.” And — apart from some curiosity […]

The Adventures Of Pluto Nash

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I’m calling this film a “sci-fi comedy.” It’s certainly marketed as a comedy, so I suppose that’s what it’s supposed to be. But unless we’re using the word “comedy” in the classically strict sense — meaning “not a tragedy” — then the label is a misnomer. Actually, even in the classic sense, tragedy might be […]

The 6th Day

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A not wholly successful blend of the requisite aspects of a Schwarzenegger action picture and a reasonably thoughtful take on the gradual erosion of humanity through technology, The 6th Day manages to be constantly entertaining, if never distinguished. Director Roger Spottiswoode (possibly chosen to lend a certain moral weightiness to the picture, based on his […]

That Darn Cat

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You can’t just send anybody to a film like That Darn Cat. It takes a certain “impur-r-r-tinence” to get the scoop on a cat who sleuths. And we’ve got just the snoops: Amanda Levesque and Claire McLendon — our teen movie reviewers who went out to bring back the dirt on Patti, Deke and Elvis. […]

Texas Rangers

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There’s a certain advantage to diminished expectations, as was aptly demonstrated when I approached the screening of Texas Rangers with the same degree of anticipation usually reserved having my tires rotated. Looking at the cast — with the eyebrow-raising exception of Alfred Molina (Chocolat) as a character improbably named King Fisher (can the Amos ‘n’ […]

Tears Of The Sun

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Hollywood movies can be so very instructive, as director Antoine Fuqua’s Tears of the Sun is a perfect example. Within the confines of its stacked-deck propaganda-laden plot (the last time I saw anything this blatant was John Wayne’s The Green Berets in 1969) involving A.K. Waters (played by Bruce Willis) and his band of generic […]

Tadpole

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Sure, it won awards and caused a stir at Sundance, but is this a great movie? No, just a passable one (albeit threaded with superb performances) that manages to take a potentially tasteless, even explosive, topic — a 15 year old boy in love with his 40-something step-mother (Sigourney Weaver), who finds himself embroiled, accidentally, […]

Swordfish

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Swordfish has already achieved a degree of notoriety as the movie where they paid Halle Berry half a million dollars to take off her shirt — and in the end that may be the most notable thing about it. For the record, I can now safely attest to the fact that Ms. Berry has breasts. […]

Swimfan

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Connoiseurs of Bad Cinema will want to beat a path to this incredible high school knock-off of Fatal Attraction, a movie so awful that it’s little short of mesmerizing. It should be noted, though, that the trailer’s most notoriously funny line — “She’s not good enough for you, Ben!” — must have garnered too many […]

Sweet November

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It’s remake week at the movies with Sweet November and Down to Earth winning no awards in the originality sweepstakes. Sweet November is at least better than Down to Earth, but that’s mostly because it merely retreads a so-so flop (the 1968 Anthony Newley/Sandy Dennis film of the same name). Probably the worst thing that […]