Movie Reviews

Malena

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The new film from the director of the highly acclaimed and immensely popular Cinema Paradiso has been described by some as Cinema Paradiso meets Summer of ’42, and while there is some justification for that glib assessment, Malena is a good bit more intelligent than that suggests. True, Tornatore (whose best film is probably the […]

Maid In Manhattan

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Offbeat filmmaker Wayne Wang’s films (Chan Is Missing, Smoke, The Center of the World, et al) have always tended to be somewhat outside the mainstream. When Wang is paired with teen-comedy Brat Pack maestro John Hughes (The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, Home Alone), the pair make for even stranger bedfellows than the rich Republican senatorial […]

Made

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Fast, fresh, funny and brash, writer-director-actor Jon Favreau’s (who wrote and starred in Swingers, with co-star/co-producer Vince Vaughn) Made is the rough-edged winner of the last gasp of summer movies. In tone and somewhat in plot, Made is a kind of simplified and Americanized Snatch — the sort of movie that Sexy Beast wanted to […]

Lucky Numbers

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Wanna feel lucky? Go see any other movie in town. Lucky Numbers is a lame story about three greedy people who try to scam the Pennsylvania state lottery. Two of the greedy people are guys, one’s a gal. But don’t think this is an equal three-way split. Perhaps because Lucky Numbers starts so well, its […]

Lovely And Amazing

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I can’t help but pity the timing of Nicole Holofcener’s Lovely and Amazing, arriving on the heels of such other populous character studies as Thirteen Conversations About One Thing and Full Frontal. It’s easily as good as the former, better than the latter, and more quirkily honest than both. Unlike Thirteen Conversations, Lovely and Amazing […]

Love And Sex

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According to the press kit, Love and Sex (which debuted at the Sundance Film Festival) is writer/director Valerie Breiman’s first “official” feature film — an understandable claim when one’s last directorial credit is called Bikini Squad. And despite the generally negative reviews Love and Sex has received, it’s a lot better than anyone has a […]

Lost Souls

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First-time director Janusz Kaminski (a former cinematographer best known for being married to Holly Hunter, who was smart enough to stay out of this movie) makes his bid for the Son o’ Satan Sweepstakes with Lost Souls. The results are so derivative that the film should have been titled Satanism by the Number — a […]

Lilo And Stitch

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It plays and feels like an old Warner Bros.’ Merrie Melody or Looney Toons offering to such a degree that it’s hard not to suspect that something like Invasion of the Body Snatchers must have taken place at the Disney studio. Despite the fact that co-writer, co-director Chris Sanders (who also gives voice to Stitch) […]

Like Mike

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Like Mike is supposed to be funny and sentimental, and make you want to see NBA basketball games ‘cuz the players are big, bad and sexy. It is and it does. It’s also predictable, shallow and so misogynist it should have a warning to parents. I suggest an addition to the MPAA rating code: PGG […]

Life Or Something Like It

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Since Life or Something Like It was directed by Stephen Herek, who gave us such gems as Rock Star and The Mighty Ducks, and written by John Scott Shepherd, whose only prior offense was the Tim Allen “feel-good” comedy Joe Somebody, saying that the film represents the best of either man’s work is hardly an […]

Life As A House

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It’s an unabashed — and not wholly successful — full-scale assault on the tear-ducts. It aims for the three-handkerchief realm (you didn’t really think I was going to say “three hankie,” did you?), but never gets much beyond one and a half — two if you’re charitable. And what emotional resonance it has is mostly […]

Liam

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Stephen Frears hasn’t made a film this good in ages — maybe not since 1987’s Sammy and Rosie Get Laid and certainly not since 1993’s The Snapper. In fact, in recent years it’s seemed as if much that was so good about Frears’ mid-80s work was his fortuitous teaming with writer Hanif Kureishi on My […]

Legally Blonde

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Well, what do you expect from a director whose only other credential is a short film bearing the title Titsiana Booberini? (Like I could make that up if I tried?) Here’s yet another drop down the mineshaft of modern film comedy. The title says it all and then some, but the filmmakers seemed to think […]

Last Orders

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If we exempt him stepping in to finish Fierce Creatures, Fred Schepisi hasn’t made a movie since 1994’s I.Q., and hasn’t made one nearly as good as Last Orders since 1993’s Six Degrees of Separation. Schepisi’s an uneven filmmaker: For every Six Degrees of Separation, or even a classy spy thriller like The Russia House, […]

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider

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Lara Croft: Tomb Raider seems to be a movie designed first and foremost to prove to the skeptical that there are far worse things awaiting the summer moviegoer than The Mummy Returns. The Mummy Returns was no great shakes, I grant you, but it emerges as the Citizen Kane of summer blockbusters by comparison. It […]

Lantana

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Admirers of Ray Lawrence’s Bliss (and I confess to being a major admirer) may be somewhat startled by his second film, Lantana (named for the pesky, invasive shrub), which arrives a mere 16 years after his debut work. (Prolific the man isn’t.) Less stylish, less playful and certainly a lot less fantasticated, Lantana seems at […]

Kung Pow: Enter The Fist

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Apparently jealous over the fact that Paramount’s Pootie Tang beat out their Freddy Got Fingered as the worst comedy of 2001, 20th Century Fox makes an early bid for that honor in 2002 with Kung Pow: Enter the Fist — and they have done themselves proud. This may not only be 2002’s worst comedy, but […]

Knockaround Guys

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Five minutes into the deplorable Knockaround Guys you know why it sat on the shelf for a couple of years. The movie opens with mobster Teddy Deserve (an embarrassing John Malkovich) trying to force 12-year-old Matty Demeret (Andrew Francis) to shoot the man who — according to Deserve — betrayed the boy’s father. When the […]

Kissing Jessica Stein

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It’s not a perfect movie. It’s not even as good as much of what has been said about it. It can’t seem to decide exactly what it wants to be. It trades too heavily on certain conventions of its genre. And it has an ending that it’s hard not to feel is a cop-out. But […]

Kiss Of The Dragon

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“Martial arts and cinema action superstar Jet Li and visionary filmmaker Luc Besson (The Professional, The Fifth Element) join forces on Kiss of the Dragon,” trumpets the press kit for Kiss of the Dragon — and in a sense, that’s true. Besson did co-produce and co-write the screenplay. However, the direction of the film was […]