Movie Reviews

See No Evil

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I suppose a case could be made that See No Evil more or less accomplishes what it sets out to do: hole up its no-name cast in a decrepit hotel and have them offed one by one by a 6-foot-9-inch pro-wrestler in various excessively anti-social ways. The goal, as you can see, is not terribly […]

Over the Hedge

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As a gleeful Dad said to me after a Saturday afternoon screening of Over the Hedge, “That was one cute movie! ” Very cute. Lovable characters, wildly original slapstick routines, tearful heart tuggings, and most surprisingly, life-or-death dilemmas and environmental messages that will withstand repeated at-home viewings. While it doesn’t attain the mythic appeal of […]

Agatha

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Michael Apted’s 1979 film — his conjecture as to what might have happened during the 11-day disappearance in 1926 of mystery novelist Agatha Christie — is one of the overlooked gems of ’70s filmmaking. It may not be Apted’s best film, but it is almost certainly his most visually sumptuous — thanks in no small […]

Trapped in the Closet: Chapters 1-12

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What is this? Is it the world’s first R & B opera? Is singer R. Kelly the Fellini of music videos? I have no idea. Until I saw this 43-minute film, I’d never heard of R. Kelly (though both he and his 2005 film were parodied in the South Park episode on Scientology where a […]

Seven Samurai

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Before screening it for this review, I hadn’t seen Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai since I was 17, at which time it bored me out of my mind — and that was the 160-minute version. This was the restored 206-minute print. Well, either the film got better in the intervening years, or my tastes have changed. […]

Poseidon

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There’s a Web site, www.shipshake.com, that has been created to advertise this film, where you can use the arrow keys on your keyboard to rock an S.S. Poseidon in a bottle till it capsizes. It’s a tremendous waste of time, yes, but less so than Wolfgang Petersen’s Poseidon, and considerably more entertaining. Petersen’s remake of […]

Just My Luck

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The majority of my fellow critics have jumped on this largely inoffensive little movie with undue vigor. Perhaps they used up all of their superlatives with their mystifying praise of Mission: Impossible III — a film they applauded for being the lobotomized actioner it set out to be. Strange then that they’re quick to fault […]

Goal!

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I know a lot about sports movies because Ken Hanke always makes me review them. I know every cliche in the genre and can predict to the minute the arrivals of plot twists that will challenge the heroic underdog. I can recite word-for-word the dialogue of the no-nonsense coach, the critical parent, the bad-player-who-turns-out-to-be-good, and […]

Cat People

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It probably seems pretty tame today, but in 1942 when Cat People first appeared it was a pretty striking departure from the established horror genre. Producer Val Lewton, writer DeWitt Bodeen and director Jacques Tourneur didn’t exactly reinvent the genre, but they definitely rethought it. At the time horror had become largely associated with what […]

Art School Confidential

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Having utterly detested Terry Zwigoff’s last film, Bad Santa, and found his previous collaboration with writer Daniel Clowes, Ghost World, incredibly overrated, I approached this new Zwigoff-Clowes effort with no small degree of trepidation. And while the film won me over with its witty observations about art and art schools and its fascinating — and […]

Seance

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Kiyoshi Kurosawa has gained a considerable reputation in recent years as one of the most interesting Japanese filmmakers specializing in horror films. Yet he has not attained quite the celebrity status in the U.S. as his fellow Japanese horrormeister Hideo Nakata (Ringu). Perhaps when his 2001 film Kairo sees new life in the Americanized Pulse […]

An American Haunting

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Oh, dear, another “based on a true story” horror opus — and this one claims extra legitimacy because it’s based on “the only case in U.S. history where a spirit caused the death of a man.” Well, fair enough, but it’s equally worth noting that the case was tried in a rural Tennessee court in […]

Un Grand Amour de Beethoven

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By turns clunky, corny and downright brilliant, Abel Gance’s 1936 biopic on Ludwig Van Beethoven is never less than fascinating — and it marks an attempt to break through to something more substantial than the typical Hollywood portrait of a historical great. Of course, Gance had already broken the biopic mould with a vengeance in […]

Neil Young: Heart of Gold

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Neil Young is no longer young. He’s 60 years old and plagued by the effects of both illnesses from childhood and decades of drugs, alcohol and general hard living. He’s jowly, and what hair he has left is wispy and sticks out from underneath his cowboy hat like unruly cow tails. Yes, he’s as gorgeous […]

Mission Impossible III

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In the first scene of this third installment of the big screen Cruiseified version of the 1960s TV series, we find ourselves in a grubby torture room that looks like something out of Hostel or Saw. We also find that sadistic arch-villain Owen Davian (Philip Seymour Hoffman) has implanted an explosive in arch-agent Ethan Hunt’s […]

Hoot

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In Hoot, three likable, sun-kissed Florida teenagers — who don’t swear, take drugs, have sex or drive gasoline-powered automobiles — become budding eco-terrorists in order to save fluffy little owls who live in burrows in the ground. These creatures aren’t endangered as a species, but the individual birds sure will be endangered by plans to […]

Deadly Passion ? Tragedy in Katmai

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Though nowhere near being in the same league as Werner Herzog’s brilliant Grizzly Man, David Kaplan’s 35-minute documentary on the killing by bears of self-styled wildlife activist Timothy Treadwell and his girlfriend, Amie Huguenard, in 2003 makes for an interesting companion piece. This third-place winner of the Twin Rivers Media Festival is an admirably straightforward […]

United 93

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There are things that trouble me about Paul Greengrass’ United 93, but those things have nothing to do with whether it was “too soon” to make the film, or if it indeed should have been made at all. After seeing the film, however, I’m less sure that it wasn’t too soon for Greengrass. Greengrass is […]

Three Men and a Cradle

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A little over 20 years ago, Three Men and a Cradle was one of those rare things — a foreign-language film that managed to attract a sizable American audience. In fact, it was popular enough to spawn an Americanized remake, Leonard Nimoy’s Three Men and a Baby, a couple years later. (The less said about […]

Stick It

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As a shameless medley of Flashdance, Rocky, Busby Berkeley routines and hip-hop videos, Stick It is a glorious, over-the-top girl-power fantasy. It’s also a thrilling insider look at the obsessive world of elite gymnastics, where the training is so grueling it makes the Navy Seal regimen look like a workout for wusses. Haley Graham is […]

R.V.

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I’m trying to think of a reason to give Barry Sonnenfeld’s most recent misfire anything beyond a half-star rating, and I’m not getting anywhere. Having laughed once — at Jeff Daniels as a good-natured rube saying, “I am filled with chagrin” — hardly seems a good enough reason. I will however note that there was […]