Movie Reviews

Friday Night Lights


I can’t imagine anyone not enjoying this bone-crunching true story of dreams in a dusty land. And you’ll love it if you’ve ever lived in a small town where kids count the days until they can leave, and adults wallow in regret that they didn’t. Or if you ever wanted to win so bad, your […]

Bright Young Things


It’s curious and yet apt that the day before I saw Bright Young Things, I’d spent an hour talking with a group of very bright and savvy home-schooled teenagers at a “career day” program (apparently, some of them would like to be movie critics). The topic somehow turned to literary adaptations, specifically the Harry Potter […]

The Red Violin


The so-called portmanteau film — a collection of stories in a single vessel — is by its very nature a tricky proposition. Even the best of them — Julien Duvivier’s Tales of Manhattan, the multi-director Dead of Night — rises and falls on the quality of the individual episodes. Duvivier’s film, for example, soars in […]

Shark Tale


Shark Tale comes from at least some of the people responsible for Shrek, and there may even be a few moments that will remind you of the latter film, and also of Shrek 2 (Shark Tale‘s shrimp, in fact, almost seem lifted directly from the Shrek flicks). However, there’s a gap about 20,000 leagues wide […]

Maria Full of Grace


With only one short film to his credit, writer-director Joshua Marston appears on the movie scene with a credible, well-intentioned and largely successful debut feature — thanks in no small part to another newcomer, Catalina Sandino Moreno, in the title role. Moreno hits just the right note as Maria. This is essential to the film, […]

Ladder 49


I don’t know when I’ve seen a movie so completely smug in its belief that its audience is on a par with Pavlov’s dogs. Ladder 49 wants to be the ultimate tribute to firefighters — or at least its makers want us to think that’s what they set out to make. I’m not convinced their […]

Woman, Thou Art Loosed


Even while ruminating over the idea that Woman, Thou Art Loosed would likely sell a lot more tickets if it lost that final “d” in its title, I still held some hopes for the film before seeing it. After all, it boasted a generally recognizable cast and director, an actual (albeit small) releasing company and […]

The Forgotten


The Forgotten is very aptly named: I’d forgotten a lot of it by the time I hit the lobby (I think I was trying to block its pervasive preposterousness and rampaging ridiculousness from my mind). Not that I didn’t enjoy the film in bits and pieces — mostly for its unintended hilarity (there are far […]

La Chevre


Francis Veber is probably better known for his writing than for his direction — and best known for having penned La Cage aux Folles, which spawned the U.S. remake The Birdcage. (Hollywood seems to like remaking Veber’s scripts and films, having annexed The Tall Blonde Man With One Black Shoe, The Toy, Les Comperes and […]

First Daughter


Oh, Forest Whitaker, you big, brilliant actor. You who exploded on the screen in Platoon (1986), made yourself a young legend as jazz great Charlie Parker in Bird, engraved yourself forever in my memory as the doomed black British soldier in Crying Game (1992), and then proved you were just as good behind the camera […]

Control Room


There’s a certain unschooled line of thought running through many of the things being said about Jehain Noujaim’s documentary Control Room. Time and again, her “objectivity” is trotted out as something apparently surprising in the wake of Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11. I’m not sure what’s surprising. Noujaim’s previous work as co-director on and as […]



Let’s just get this out of the way: Zatoichi does indeed include a big tap-dancing production-number finale complete with overhead Busby Berkeley shots, as reviewers have made much of. And, yep, the splashy ending actually works within the confines of this original and unique film. What I’ve not seen really addressed, though, is why it […]



I spent a good deal of time during Richard Loncraine’s Wimbledon thinking: You know, Resident Evil: Apocalypse is really loud (since it was playing in the next auditorium, and could be heard through the wall). I spent some more time mulling over the fact that Kirsten Dunst has rather odd teeth. And I then I […]

The Beloved Rogue


The Beloved Rogue (1927) is probably John Barrymore’s greatest silent film, with the possible exception of the previous year’s Don Juan. It’s as worthy a representation of the Great Profile in the silent era as Svengali and Twentieth Century are in the age of sound pictures. Likewise, it’s a reminder that the great Barrymore was […]

National Lampoon’s Golddiggers


If ever a movie deserved the half-star rating, it’s this one. But this …thing is just so incredibly bad and astoundingly wrong-headed that it gets at least a one-star rating for its uncanny ability to make the viewer stare at the screen in glassy-eyed, open-mouthed wonderment. First-time director Gary Preisler has a few writing and […]

Mr. 3000


Mr. 3000 is peculiar. The film stars comic Bernie Mac, but it’s not very funny — in fact, Mac turns in a solid, yet sedate dramatic performance in his starring debut. Likewise, Mr. 3000 is about how an egocentric smart-mouth develops team spirit, but only a few team players are portrayed. The movie celebrates an […]

Mon Oncle


Five years after M. Hulot’s Holiday Tatit came out with Mon Oncle. The latter film makes up for the fact that it lacks some of its predecessor’s charm by instead actually having something to say. Again, the plot is minimal: M. Hulot wanders through the modern world (1958), casually and accidentally disrupting the lives of […]

M. Hulot’s Holiday


As a mere boy, I bumped into Jacques Tati’s Mon Oncle on television — and didn’t like it. Many years later, I saw part of his Traffic — and didn’t like it. With that, I wrote off Tati’s work as something just not for me. And it was with that in mind that I faced […]

The Mysterious Lady


Greta Garbo makes her Cinema in the Park debut — and on her birthday, aptly enough — in Fred Niblo’s 1928 romantic spy thriller The Mysterious Lady. Garbo’s greatest work was arguably in the talkies (though it’s a wonder her career survived the first few of those!), with movies like Grand Hotel, Queen Christina and […]