Arts + Life

Movie Reviews
1:12 pm
Fri September 12, 2003

Thirteen

A Taste of Thirteen

Be prepared for an unusual, unsettling, and unforgettable movie.

If you are planning to have children, don't see this film. It is so depressingly effective you might decide against children rather than attempt to deal with a 13-year-old daughter. So difficult is Tracy (Evan Rachel Wood), who is a former good girl under the influence of a worldly slut Evie (Nikki Reed, also co-writer), that she is painful to watch as she descends into the pit of drugs, sex, and adult bashing.

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Movie Reviews
12:32 pm
Fri September 12, 2003

Once upon a Time in Mexico

Depp doesn't cry; he just bleeds talent.

Rodriguez has fashioned a romance without compromising his satire.

Two Westerns this year have me in revisionist heaven: Kevin Costner's "Open Range" is a faithful rendition of the old formula with modern sensibilities; Robert Rodriguez's "Once Upon a Time in Mexico" is a surrealistic Sergio-Leone turn on revolution, heroes, violence, revenge, and redemption.

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Movie Reviews
12:58 pm
Sat September 6, 2003

American Splendor

An odd couple.

This is the right movie for anyone who loves comic books, eccentrics, and the splendor of American diversity.

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Movie Reviews
4:28 pm
Thu September 4, 2003

Magdalene Sisters

\"I'm just flirting. Is that bad, Sister?\"

I rank writer/director Peter Mullan's "Magdalene Sisters" the most violent film of 2003.

I rank writer/director Peter Mullan's "Magdalene Sisters" the most violent film of 2003. Is it my Catholic upbringing that makes me so sure? You bet! Not since seeing "Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys" have I lost this much sleep about my tumultuous affair with the Pope's world.

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Movie Reviews
2:33 pm
Mon August 18, 2003

Dirty Pretty Things

\"I know there's a heart here somewhere.\"

"Dirty Pretty Things" is an example of excellent filmmaking art without artifice.


"Dirty Pretty Things" is a thriller interrupted by a love story. The immigrant Brit working class is sometimes depicted by this film's director Stephen Frears ("My Beautiful Laundrette"); the native Brits are often championed by Mike Leigh ("Secrets and Lies"). In both cases, the kitchen sink realism does not fail to wake up middle-class Anglophiles like me.

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Movie Reviews
2:16 pm
Fri August 15, 2003

Camp

\"You go for it, Girls\"

The off-stage drama has the feel of a high-school play while on-stage performance is professional and delightful.

In this "Camp" the summertime learning is supposedly about performing in musicals. A regimen of one show every 2 weeks ("Follies," "Dreamgirls," and "Promises, Promises," for example) should have schooled even the best slacker, but the shenanigans outside of rehearsal unfortunately are the more important learning focus for most of the film.

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Movie Reviews
9:42 am
Fri August 15, 2003

Le Divorce

\"Let's party for infidelity!\"

Merchant and Ivory have done much better before.

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Movie Reviews
3:11 pm
Mon August 11, 2003

Open Range

Three able actors home on the range.

Costner evokes the visual images and conventions of the genre so perfectly it seems I saw a half dozen classics at that screening.

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Movie Reviews
11:50 am
Thu August 7, 2003

Lucia, Lucia

\"How old do you think I am?\"

The men may lose her, but she finds herself.

Writers are driving me crazy: In "Adaptation" Nicolas Cage was barely sane struggling with his inspiration and incendiary companions, true or otherwise; in "Swimming Pool," Charlotte Rampling created a plausible fiction of a dangerous female border and Rampling's desire to make real the murders she wrote.

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Movie Reviews
10:46 am
Fri August 1, 2003

Jet Lag

\"This conversation is not nearly as good as the food.\"

It's second-rate romantic comedy drivel.

Light and airy, director/co-writer Daniele Thompson's "Jet Lag" tells of a famous beautician (Juliette Binoche, "English Patient") meeting a renowned chef (Jean Reno, "La Femme Nikita") at Charles de Gaulle International Airport when all flights except this fanciful film have been canceled.

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Movie Reviews
11:18 am
Mon July 28, 2003

Northfork

\"Let's pray I'm not typecast for this role.\"

It sure is fun to see how David-Lynch wanabees actually give the weirdmeister a run for his blue velvet.

There may be weird movies out there recently, but I can't think of any weirder than Mark Polish's "Northfork." A small Montana town in 1955 will be obliterated by a new dam. James Woods (an executive producer of the film), Peter Coyote, and some other dark-suited corporate types are responsible for moving the residents out before the deluge.

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Movie Reviews
12:31 pm
Wed July 23, 2003

Seabiscuit

A winners' circle of actors

See "Seabiscuit" if you want to see the best American movie this summer.

Jockey Red Pollard (Tobey Maguire) quotes Shakespeare to describe his 1938 "Horse of the Year": "Though she be but little, she is fierce." Such is also the quality of a relatively "little" film, released in mid summer after larger disappointing films like "Hulk".

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Movie Reviews
10:20 am
Wed July 23, 2003

Swimming Pool

\" A little drag before the swim?\"

Rampling is proof that still waters run deep.

Not since "The Graduate" has a swimming pool carried as much motif heft as it does Francois Ozon's "Swimming Pool."

Not since the recent "Adaptation" has the art and craft of writing been so carefully and dramatically depicted as in Ozon's film.

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Movie Reviews
4:43 pm
Wed July 16, 2003

Johnny English

Do you really think I was miscast?

A true brownout of comedic crap.

On the dung heap of comedy, we should throw another corpse called "Johnny English," starring Mr. Bean, Rowan Atkinson.

I use the coprific metaphor because more than once some inept spy has to climb through a dunny to emerge covered with sewage. Such is the level of writing and the depth of imagery--a true brownout of comedic crap.

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Movie Reviews
11:52 am
Wed July 16, 2003

Winged Migration

Frequent Flyers

You thought you knew about migratory birds and the limits of photography.

Winged Migration


If you thought you knew about migratory birds and the limits of photography, then listen up because Jacques Perrin's ("Microcosmos") "Winged Migration" lets you into a world of flight no museum or even on-sight observation could match.

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Movie Reviews
1:23 pm
Tue July 8, 2003

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Jade

Look familiar?

Matey, we have the coolest pirate film of the summer!

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Jade"


"Shiver me timbers!"

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Movie Reviews
1:22 pm
Tue July 8, 2003

League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

A league apart.

"League" is a mess.


When Moriarity, Sherlock Holmes's elusive enemy, shows up in director Stephen Norrington's "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen," I remember why I like that 19th century detective Holmes so much--he uses his brain. In this film, blow-em-up, not brains, is the operative idea, even if it is a rude but emerging munitions world in 1899.

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Movie Reviews
11:30 am
Tue July 1, 2003

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines

\"That's not what I meant at all!\"

"T3" outpaces the narrow genetics of "Hulk," the impersonality of "Xmen," and the inscrutable plot of "The Matrix."

Jonathan Mostow's ("U-571") "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines" effectively predicts the near-decimation of the human race by machines through their invincible weapon, computer software.

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Movie Reviews
9:06 am
Wed June 25, 2003

Capturing the Friedmans

They look happy!

Andrew Jarecki's "Capturing the Friedmans" is as real as hidden family dysfunction could be on film.

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Movie Reviews
12:50 pm
Mon June 23, 2003

Whale Rider

Born to captain this ship.

It is a gold standard for audience choices at film festivals.

What is a most popular film at both Sundance and Toronto like? It will always be like 2002's "Whale Rider," a New Zealand tale of a 12-year-old Pai's struggle to become chief of her Maori people in the face of daunting sexism and tradition, largely upheld by her grandfather. It is a gold standard for audience choices at festivals.

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