Movie Reviews

Rent

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There were moments in Rent where I was convinced that “525,600 minutes” wasn’t a lyric, but the actual running time of the film. And yet there were also moments — even sequences — that I found myself liking. However, I fear the latter have fled my brain in the intervening days, so that my lasting […]

Pride and Prejudice

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My only qualm with Joe Wright’s version of Pride and Prejudice is almost identical to the one I had with Roman Polanski’s Oliver Twist. At the end of the day, no matter how good this film is, it’s still another version of something I remain unconvinced needed another version. Oh, it’s not that there’s no […]

Just Friends

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Ryan Reynolds, the honeymoon is definitely over. I forgave you for Van Wilder when you made Blade Trinity, and I was ready to add points after Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle. But then it was a downhill slide with The Amityville Horror and Waiting. While Just Friends may be no worse than Waiting […]

In the Mix

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Heavy-hitting R&B star Usher apparently has a following, but they don’t seem to be lining up for this lame vanity project that’s being palmed off as a real movie. The fact that In the Mix was directed by the fellow who gave us The Adventures of Pluto Nash enters into the equation, though I doubt […]

Bee Season

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Despite having liked the previous directorial collaboration of Scott McGehee and David Siegel, The Deep End, I did not hold out much hope for Bee Season. Nothing that I’d read about the film really connected with me. In fact, the most encouraging thing about it lay in the number of bad reviews it had garnered […]

Walk the Line

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I’m probably not the best audience for this, since the persuasive charms of country music have yet to persuade or charm me. Thus I can’t say how well the film will play to a viewership made up of Johnny Cash fans — though I suspect they will be in more immediate sympathy with Walk the […]

The Thing About My Folks

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Anyone who has ever been involved with a film festival knows full well that movies that pick up “audience awards” are rarely the most adventurous of entries and often have a very high sentimentality quotient. So upon seeing that The Thing About My Folks had snagged such awards and garnered almost endless Internet Movie Database […]

The Blue Bird

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When the Hendersonville Film Society’s Chip Kaufman told me that they were showing George Cukor’s The Blue Bird as their Thanksgiving turkey, I didn’t fully appreciate the enormity of that statement; I’d never seen this legendarily disastrous film. Having now seen it, I can only say, “Wow!” This isn’t just a bad movie, it’s mesmerizingly […]

Meet John Doe

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The great Frank Capra’s most ambitious and disturbing film, Meet John Doe is possibly more relevant today than when it first appeared in 1941. The idea of a completely media-fabricated celebrity — raised almost to the level of deity and used as a tool for political gain — probably seemed pretty fantastic then. It doesn’t […]

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

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As with Alfonso Cuaron’s Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Mike Newell’s Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is not afraid of frightening the horses. It will be interesting to see whether more objections will be raised over the film’s dark and even violent tone, or its decidedly upped quotient of sexuality. Both […]

Zathura

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As I settled in and found myself subjected to an ersatz Tim Burton opening-credit sequence (albeit a pretty neat one) backed by an ersatz Danny Elfman score (not so neat, but not disgraceful), it was impossible not to believe that there were some pretty rough seas ahead. Thankfully, director Jon Favreau almost immediately dropped the […]

The Shanghai Cobra

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When 20th Century Fox decided that their long-running Charlie Chan series was no longer a viable commodity after 11 years, their Charlie Chan, Sidney Toler, bought the rights to the character and proceeded to shop the property around. What looked like small potatoes to Fox looked pretty appealing to little Monogram Pictures, which was just […]

The Scarlet Empress

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Josef von Sternberg belongs in the very top ranks of any list of the greatest filmmakers of all time — and nowhere is this more apparent than in his self-described “relentless excursion into style,” The Scarlet Empress. Bearing the improbable credit that the film is “based on a diary of Catherine II” that was “arranged […]

Grizzly Man

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Truth may be stranger than fiction, but it’s not stranger than Werner Herzog, whose documentary on grizzly bear expert Timothy Treadwell is both real and strange — and far more central to Herzog’s overall work than might at first be assumed. Grizzly Man, a look at self-styled expert Treadwell, is as quirky and ironic as […]

Get Rich or Die Tryin’

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Get Rich or Die Tryin’ was better than I thought it would be, but don’t mistake that for a ringing endorsement. I was firmly convinced it was going to be just plain awful, and it’s not — at least as filmmaking, thanks to director Jim Sheridan. Parts of it are pretty bad — and at […]

Derailed

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There seems to be a tendency to want blame the ultimate failure of this would-be thriller and cautionary tale (the wages of adultery are hell — even if you don’t have a pet rabbit) on the screenplay and the miscasting of Jennifer Aniston as a femme fatale — while letting Swedish director Mikael Hafstrom off […]

Capote

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Chilly, downbeat, thought-provoking, flawed and anchored to a wholly remarkable performance by Philip Seymour Hoffman, Capote is a hard movie to like — and an even harder one to ignore. It’s also possibly too ambitious for its own good. While the film simplifies matters by limiting itself to a specific six-year period in writer Truman […]

Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price

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Just as he did with Outfoxed, documentarian Robert Greenwald takes aim in his latest effort at a corporate giant — this time, Wal-Mart. And as before, his approach presents more facts than opinions, a tactic that separates Greenwald from Michael Moore, whose documentaries, built around the filmmaker as star, might better be called “essay films.” […]

The Avengers

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Having finally been forced to watch Jeremiah Chechik’s much detested big screen version of the classic ’60s British TV series, I have to confess that I thought it was a lot of well-intended fun. That sentence will get me branded a traitor by Avengers fans — and, yes, I’m a major fan of the show. […]

Shopgirl

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I doubt it’s necessary by this time to point out that this isn’t your average Steve Martin movie. It isn’t aimed at the same audience who can’t wait for Cheaper by the Dozen 2. It’s not even aimed at the five or six people who actually went to see the agreeably quirky Novocaine. And it […]

Separate Lies

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Walking out of the Fine Arts on Friday night after seeing Julian Fellowes’ Separate Lies, I overheard a woman tell a friend, who was on her way in, that the film was “very dry, but marvelously acted.” Once on the sidewalk, I turned to my companion and said, “I think ‘dry’ is about the last […]