Movie Reviews

Wolf Creek


Far more terrifying than anything in the ludicrously overrated Wolf Creek are the words “based on a true story” — and that’s exactly how this nasty, amateurish crapfest from Down Under starts. It’s downhill from there. At least once a year, some bottom-of-the-entrail-pail horror flick comes along that gets tagged as new, daring, groundbreaking and […]

The Ringer


It’s tempting to write a free pass for a movie like The Ringer, because it’s so obviously well-intentioned — at least insofar as any movie starring Johnny Knoxville can be so construed. The problem is that the movie itself is so blandly predictable, so shamelessly manipulative, so flatly directed and so unfunny that it’s impossible […]

The Producers


Like an entertaining guest who doesn’t know when it’s time to go home, The Producers overstays its welcome — a feeling exacerbated for anyone familiar with the compact 88-minute 1968 film. When Mel Brooks turned that film into a Broadway musical, he didn’t remove much of the original script, mostly just adding songs and reworking […]

Rumor Has It …


Rumor has it that Rumor Has It … was one of those beleaguered projects plagued with infighting and a change in director less than two weeks into production — and onscreen evidence suggests that the rumor is far from unfounded. The admittedly clever notion at the heart of the movie — that The Graduate was […]



2005 will be remembered for a quartet of fine films about international connectedness: The Constant Gardener, Lord of War, Syriana, and now Munich, Steven Spielberg’s long-awaited, controversial look at Mideast terrorism. Munich’s basic structure as adventure tale/psychological thriller comes from Vengeance, a book by Canadian journalist George Jonas which, although disputed by some, purports convincingly […]

Memoirs of a Geisha


Upon seeing Memoirs of a Geisha, screenwriter Barry Sandler commented that it was “insufferable, interminable, excruciating and unendurable — and those were its good qualities.” His assessment pretty much mirrors the bulk of the film’s reviews. Maybe it was all that negative hype — and the lowered expectations that went with along with it — […]



Loggerheads is very probably the best film I’ve ever seen that was made in and is about North Carolina. It also offers, at least from my perspective, a far truer picture of the state than is presented by the usual “red state” stereotype. It’s little wonder that writer/director Tim Kirkman refers to North Carolina as […]

Fun With Dick and Jane


Like a piece of rancid gorgonzola cheese, Fun With Dick and Jane has oozed its way into theaters as part of the holiday festivities (I guess Columbia Pictures was out of lumps of coal for our stockings). This film may not be the worst of the week’s bevy of releases, but it’s clearly in the […]

Dear Jesse


Filmmaker Tim Kirkman’s first film, the autobiographical Dear Jesse, is both very different from Loggerheads and yet not all that much so. Both films deal with being gay and reactions to gay people. Both deal with issues of family. Both are essentially and inescapably products of North Carolina. Of course, Dear Jesse is a documentary, […]

Cheaper by the Dozen 2


Cheaper by the Dozen 2 is full of good messages: Families are wonderful and bigger families are more wonderful. Families should do lots of things together because kids grow up before you know it. And the hardest thing all parents have to do is let their kids go. The nature of movie messages is that […]

The Family Stone


Logic tells me that any film where I can predict exactly what’s going to happen long before it does — right down to pegging what the final shot will be — ought to smell from herring. Yet there’s a time and a place for everything. The Family Stone is one of those films that succeeds […]

King Kong


A movie that proves the old adage, “a fool and his monkey are soon parted,” King Kong is every bit as big as you’ve heard — and filled in with something like equal parts inspiration and cinematic hot air. Its 187-minute running time is undeniably too much and really does seem born more of Peter […]

The Squid and the Whale


This was the opening-night film at the 2005 Asheville Film Festival; in all honesty, it didn’t seem like much of a coup at the time. That is, until we actually got to see this remarkable little movie — which, incidentally, has since picked up Independent Spirit Award nominations for Best Film, Best Director, Best Screenplay, […]

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe


It’s 1941 London. Hideous German planes drop death on the city, forcing thousands of youngsters to seek refuge in the countryside. Among them are the four Pevensie children. There’s Peter, about 15 (William Moseley), Susan, 14 (Anna Popplewell), and Edmund, 9 (Skandar Keynes). At 7, little Lucy (Georgie Henley) is the youngest, but she’s also […]



Rich, complex, multilayered and by turns maddening and depressing, Syriana not only makes up for Stephen Gaghan’s Abandon, but it emerges as one of the best films of the year. That said, it’s best to approach it with the understanding that it’s not the most user-friendly offering now in the multiplex. The film’s structure, though […]



Leon Ichaso’s 2001 film on Puerto Rican poet-writer Miguel Pinero is one of those movies that missed playing locally. Despite the best efforts of the Fine Arts Theatre, it’s inevitable that a few smaller, more experimental films are going to slip past us — and this is one of those. So it’s nice to see […]

Paradise Now


That this Palestinian-Dutch-French-German co-production from Palestinian filmmaker Hany Abu-Assad should be playing the same week as Syriana is interesting. Both films deal with the topic of suicide bombers, and both have a good deal in common on the topic. In one instance — the actual moment of detonation — both are virtually (even creepily) identical. […]

First Descent


In my view, there’s a time and a place for watching people propel themselves down a mountainside on skis or snowboards or whatever makeshift thingie happens to be available — that time involves James Bond being pursued by S.M.E.R.S.H. operatives and at least one person (not Bond) needs to perish over a precipice, while another […]

Aeon Flux


In the year 2415, what’s left of mankind — most everyone was offed 400 years earlier by something called “the industrial virus” (which would make a good name for an acid house band) — lives in a walled matte painting that’s supposed to be a city called Bregna. When seen in three-dimensional bits and pieces, […]

Yours, Mine and Ours


Little kids are like puppies. They make a lot of mistakes before learning how to behave properly, and they know that being in a group is a lot more fun than facing the scary world alone. That’s why little kids like movies about little kids acting like puppies. Adults who grew up in large families […]

The Ice Harvest


As a black comedy, The Ice Harvest has its heart in the right place — off on vacation in some other movie. Unlike the hedged-bet cynicism found in Just Friends (for people who want to feel cool without the guilt), this is one nasty little film. I happened to be in the position of seeing […]