Movie Reviews

The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou


Thank God for Wes Anderson. Without his occasional outbursts of cinematic quirkiness, the movie world would be a much less colorful place. If his new film, The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou just misses the sublime strangeness of The Royal Tenenbaums, it perhaps makes up for it by being Anderson’s most visually adventurous film to […]



Warning: Before reading any further, readers should take note that Kinsey is not for everyone. The film’s discussions of human sexuality mince no words and are apt to offend some viewers. In fact, some conservative and religious groups have lambasted Kinsey, equating its subject, Alfred Kinsey, with Josef Mengele, the infamous Nazi doctor. Some of […]

Flight of the Phoenix


“If you believe in God,” the co-pilot tells the terrified passengers, “now’s the time to call in the favor!” Indeed, it will take a galactic boon to save this crew, because the opening sequence of Flight of the Phoenix is the most gut-grabbing airplane crash you’ve ever seen on film. From the very beginning of […]

Beyond the Sea


First of all, the most interesting thing about Kevin Spacey’s Bobby Darin biopic, Beyond the Sea, is its weird similarities with Irwin Winkler’s De-Lovely. I suppose it’s instructive that where it once took three men — director Winkler, screenwriter Jay Cocks and star Kevin Kline — to bring Cole Porter to the screen — Spacey […]

Being Julia


There’s a certain irony in the fact that the first English-language film version of Somerset Maugham’s novella Theatre should come complete with a Hungarian director, Hungarian financing and an American star. Perhaps this says more about the sorry state of filmmaking in Britain today than anything else, though it’s actually a minor miracle that the […]



“Hola, hombre, let’s go see Spanglish.” “I hear it’s fantastico!” “Hurry up, dude, tiempo is money!” I’ll bet you understood most of the dialogue above. Congratulations, amigo, and welcome to Spanglish. Spanglish is the language that combines (some say “deteriorates”) Spanish with English and is now spoken, to one degree or another, by just about […]

Ocean’s Twelve


In 2001, I wrote: “At the very end, Ocean’s Eleven nearly transcends its purely pleasurable qualities in a stunning and strangely emotionally resonant sequence set to Debussy’s ‘Claire de Lune’ that is unfortunately undercut by a largely unnecessary tag scene.” Well, that tag scene was necessary in one sense: It set us up for a […]

Blade: Trinity


I’ll give Blade: Trinity the benefit of the doubt and assume the movie is meant to be high camp of the lowest order. It’s difficult to imagine that anyone involved with making this third Blade flick took any of it seriously, since the film almost never makes a lick of sense and doesn’t seem to […]

Once Upon a Time in the Midlands


Here’s a nice little film from 2003 that hasn’t played in this area until now. Advertised as “a tinned-spaghetti western,” the movie is a clever and generally successful attempt to present a British domestic drama with comedic overtones, all in the style of a Sergio Leone western. Now, that idea probably sounds just a little […]



Elegant, spare, flawlessly acted, and directed with great style by a masterful filmmaker, Closer is much easier to admire than actually like. To begin with, I can’t help but question the wisdom of releasing this film at this time of year. Last week’s top five movies at the box-office have one thing in common: They […]



I haven’t felt this out of the loop since people were falling all over themselves about Lost in Translation. With apologies to Andrew Sarris, Richard Corliss and all the other critics who are joined in a chorus of unstinting praise of this film, Sideways fell far short of blowing me away. It’s not that I […]

Christmas with the Kranks


On the whole, this movie’s as bad as you might expect, and in some ways worse. Still, on very rare occasions, it’s better — or at least funnier — than I thought it would be. I haven’t read Skipping Christmas, the John Grisham novel this movie is based on, but it’s easy to see that […]

A Closer Walk


The quality of the filmmaking may seem beside the point when dealing with a movie like this, since there’s a tendency to evaluate this kind of documentary more by its intentions than its actual content. However, good intentions only carry a film so far, and the whole raison d’etre for an activist documentary carries the […]

The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie


You don’t have to be the elementary-class cutup to love SpongeBob — adults are also perfectly capable of being goofy, manic, subversive and slightly demented, you know. SpongeBob (voiced by Tom Kenny) is an optimistic, proudly absorbent square sponge who lives under the sea in the top half of a pineapple and wears a pair […]

The Motorcycle Diaries


By the time I was old enough to have anything resembling a political conscience, Che Guevara was already murdered and reduced to an iconic image festooning posters in college dorm rooms (and, less famously, a reference in the David Bowie song, “Panic in Detroit”). So I came to The Motorcycle Diaries knowing only the most […]

National Treasure


It’s impossible to feel very strongly one way or the other about National Treasure. It’s not great. It’s not terrible. It’s just sort of there. Watching this film, I never felt like I was wasting my time, but it’s doubtful I will remember much about it a year from now. Nicolas Cage stars as Benjamin […]



Even at those moments when I didn’t like Alexander or thought it was unintentionally funny (which occurred several times in the course of the movie’s 173 minutes), I was still aware that this is a serious work by a forceful and important filmmaker who has a distinctive tone of voice. By way of comparison, I […]

The Polar Express


Right off the bat, I need to say that: I’ve yet to meet a Robert Zemeckis film I like; I think Tom Hanks is the most overrated actor of our time; and I’d never even heard of the children’s book that The Polar Express is based on. Beyond that, from the moment I first saw […]

Seed of Chucky


If you’re a horror fan, you might want to knock the rating on this one up to four stars, because Seed of Chucky really is an A-1 horror-comedy. We haven’t had one this good since Stuart Gordon’s Re-Animator or Ken Russell’s Lair of the White Worm. No, this film is not in quite the same […]



Since 1989 there have been four films — this being the fourth — entitled Malevolence. I have no idea why. It’s not like the title struck pay-dirt for any of them, and judging by what I’ve heard, a large percentage of the admittedly small public for this film can’t pronounce it. (Asheville movie-goers have been […]