Joan Ellis Movie Reviews
"Joan Ellis: The Pauline Kael of the Internet" ---Newsweek
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Titles are alphabetized.
A blood-soaked, spineless story that takes more
than two hours to crawl through its own pretensions.
We suffer through every second of Aron Ralston's
Given that even the best of actors cannot make
magic with a terrible script, it is surely the writer of this movie who
must take a tomato in the face.
Who made this documentary?
8 WOMEN & SWEET HOME
If you missed these five small triumphs that
passed too quickly through your neighborhood theater on the weakened wings
of small advertising budgets, you can rent yourself some real pleasure at
the video store.
He disarms us.
Clint Eastwood wants to tell us a few things about
presidential morals, campaign financing, and the general state of Beltway
politics, and he does it through the person of Luther Whitney, master
Two good young
actors refuse to trivialize their story.
What else can be around this dark corner but
Chris Cooper, toothless, ragged, and passionate,
and Meryl Streep, with a big wink in her eye, decide to embrace the crazy
Given just one deft comic, the flat visual jokes
fail to cover the real mistake of trying to build a romantic comedy on a
A character study without compelling characters is
Spending night after night watching her old
B-movies in a pedestrian flat, Phyllis thinks she is getting exactly what
Those who broke the code weren't snubbed, one
character said, they were eradicated.
The movie offers two hours of uninterrupted
Albert is shy, deferential, precise.
I was hard pressed to figure out exactly why Alex
is such a dim bulb.
Mr. Almovodar's marvelous film announces simply
that, in today's mad world, the kindness of strangers-civility-is life's
Pour an iced tea, pick up your remote, and order up some of these.
Just know you will
be well served by not asking why, when, who, or where.
Either you're somebody, or you're nobody...
As for Hollywood, self-congratulation on splashing
the screen with bathroom humor is its own form of awkward adolescence.
This movie is a first-rate romantic comedy in
which everything works.
He has created a consistently creepy portrait of
...a lazy script
Her hunger for
life has been too quickly
In a great opening scene, a huge black and white
cow observes the procession of black Mafia cars winding up his hillside
while a terrific 1950s voice-over sets the stage.
As secrets go, this film has a big one.
The movie is massive, sentimental overkill, but
it's also a no-lose deal for everyone between three and ten as well for
big people who want to believe that an angel is waiting at their shoulders
to offer an assist in a tough situation.
Filmed without embellishment, the film cries out
the haunted thoughts of survivors fifty years after they bore witness to
organized annihilation at a time when the world considered itself
"Why do I always get it wrong, Gerri?"
Denzel Washington puts himself on line for both
the credit and the blame
They have covered the lack of a good story with
almost three hours of the clanking of colliding fiberglass, while the sky
overhead is filled with visions of dollar bills.
This tale becomes a real white-knuckler that
manages also to capture the best of our national essence without waving
This is a man of wild passions, a sermonizer ready
to use his fists to defend his beliefs, or a baseball bat to erase the man
who has won his wife and children away from him.
The film alternates between heavy-handed irony and
a plunge into the grotesque.
...a pervasive layer of narcissistic smarm
Go early, stay late
The movie does offer a haunting question: Is this
paranoia, or is this the new reality?
The plan, of
course, goes wrong in every imaginable way
It is an absorbing evening spent in the
So that's what it was like !
The sad thing about this fiasco is that Whoopi
Goldberg, with her abundant wit and intelligence, could easily have made
great fun with the fertile field of gender resentment in the business
The movie opens with a sublime standoff between
Melvin (Jack Nicholson) and a small dog so well trained that he easily
handles a starring role in this zany ballet.
Most of the cast breathe heavily and in high
volume from some degree of desire or fear or guilt.
Writer/director/producer James Cameron must take all the blame for this.
The sight of the patient and caregiver losing
their shared life is unbearably sad.
I think I don't want to know
anybody who doesn't like it.
The witty and sophisticated animals of Babe have
been dropped into a violent script that strips them of their delicacy.
The emotional exhaustion of watching this film is
a measure of its expert director, writer, and cast.
That bit of bad taste is strike two.
They spring full-blown from the kitchens and beds
of the men they served, hang holsters on their hips and make their way as
ex-hookers bent on a new life.
The undeniably dim jokes fall flat
The universal language, it seems, is not music.
daughters and a husband with the human potential
of a snail
We're not bank robbers, Martine.
It will be an insider's laser vision of a narrow
slice of privilege, and it will make our skins crawl. (Barcelona) They set
a table in the desert with cloth, fruit loops and hormone pills. (The
Adventures of Priscilla...)
"Barney is paunchy, balding, bearded, and rude."
A two hour dose of computerized images is
intolerably insulting to an audience waiting to be invited into the fun.
Planet Earth vs. Planet G
Staying alive is the challenge
How did this happen?
The connected strangers stroll the night away on
the streets of the unfamiliar city in a marvelous conversational courtship
that is free of competition and full of trust.
It will be a snap. No violence, no problems.
The human condition is just not easily parsed.
It's very hard to film a popular American movie
star as a cave man without making him look silly.
In an utterly restrained performance, [Oprah]
Winfrey sets the slow, mournful tone of the reluctant survivor, while
director Johnathan Demme tells Morrison's story slowly, through images and
Counselor to the Bereaved
Superb British cast at work.
I wish I could tell you how the story of this nice
family turns out, but just when Mick was being pounded to a pulp by a
giant wielding an iron chair, just as his little girl threw her face into
her mother's protective shoulder and his son's eyes grew wide in horror, I
was seized with an overwhelming desire not to see a second more of their
find the process a bit like trying to separate Boardwalk taffy.
Forget the guys and watch the birds
This modernized, brittle version of "La Cage" is
very funny, it is also without heart.
It leaves us punch drunk in thought.
On the wedding day that is the result of much
family plotting, flower bedecked white linens blow in the breeze while the
brother of the bride celebrates by shooting up the sky with his pistol and
a gangster juggles hand grenades.
It's a gorgeous road trip set to a rousing
truckers' score with a running commentary about "frying the brakes" and
the technicalities of jackknifing.
Perfect is easy; it's passion that trips her.
Even fiction, especially when it is disguised as
documentary, is a direct route to people's emotions when it holds the
promise of possibility.
Wacky from start to finish and wildly uneven, the
movie is funny far more often than it is dull.
“All is lost.”
This is an ugly, mean-spirited movie.
Nature covers the warriors' tracks with beauty as
their stories become history..
His trip into greed and excess is all his own
The movie is a virtual catalogue of the inanities
of such topics as the politics of lensless eyeglasses, the temperature of
Belgian Waffles, and the need for a "bag snagger" to retrieve the plastic
bags that get caught in the trees that grow in Brooklyn. -- (Blue in the
Face) In good hands, there is something very moving about a small slice of
the lives of people who never leave home, and this movie is in good hands.
(The Run of the Country)
Forty years ago, institutionalized erasure was
In good times and bad, their emotions are raw and
"...studded with newsreel footage that is
immediate and raw."
Didn't they shoot
that fellow a few frames back?
These are gamblers without souls, salesmen without
On this night he spots Eddie the nightclub busboy,
pulls him into the family, and turns him into Dirk Diggler, porn star
A cast of strong
actors needs dialogue with punch
One good, one terrible
"...death by guns - Japan 39, America 11127."
Daniel Day-Lewis, carrying Danny's transformation
in his eyes, can convey more without speaking than most actors can in a
She gets to the core of a girl brimming with cocky
self-confidence who is murdered for her dream.
It is a road movie with a love affair, an illness,
and relationship problems, but this time around the disease is AIDS, and
the love affair is between two women.
Let the grumps get lost.
The emotional isolation of intelligence work
exacts an awful price on marriage.
It is extremely difficult to live for a few hours
in a world of depravity brought on by men in the name of God.
The movie is laugh out loud funny at times.
That bad book has come a long way.
Whenever Bridget ends up at home, wrapped in a
bathrobe and mired in the sloppiness of her despair, we love the sight
because we know this woman will triumph.
"We must not run
from our fate; it must be borne."
This grisly movie is an insult to the scale and
the magic of the 30-foot screen.
We can allow
ourselves to be enveloped by the hypnotic spell that Pedro Almodovar casts
over and audience.
impatience at the door and slip into a peaceful mood
There is not one false note in Palminteri's
performance, and if a hood can have grace, this hood has it.
Raised in a Catholic Church that still clings with
bloody fingernails to dictates that contradict human nature, the brothers
ponder the forbidden sins of premarital sex, birth control, abortion, and
masturbation--and then get right on with it.
"You can't hold it against him for what his life
...an absolutely glorious landfill of random
information, some of it substantive, much of it useless.
The simplest equations in life are usually
complicated only by the tortured egos of the players, and these players
twist themselves into pretzels trying to make life work.
Is hate learned or is it human nature?
Best of all, he has done it not with a lecture,
but with an incoherent, nearly delirious humor.
The meltdowns are more fun than the tensions.
Strachey and Carrington were known for wit and
substance, but you'd never guess it from this film. (Carrington) If the
movie is sluggish, the travelogue is terrific. (A Month by the Lake)
One caretaker in particular spreads her arms and
her love as widely as she can.
Ace sums it up: "Keep them playing; keep them
coming back; in the end we get everything."
Is he ready to be granted the double O rating that is a license to kill?
This 85-minute visit to the Kerrigans just might
put you in a good mood for a week.
Laughter punctuates the path of the imposter.
Terrific comic performances in a movie that will
never be known for its subtlety.
Under the relentless force of Thomas Vinterberg's
hand-held camera, we watch the celebrants dance to the music of
Good lines and innovative acting make the movie
worth seeing, but neither can erase the empty nastiness of table talk at
Watching Hollywood dancing around the Hays Office
is grand sport.
Central Station is the reward that puts a smile on
the face of movielovers who search diligently, and so often in vain, for
This is a conventional story driven by suspense
and images instead of bodies and blood.
If you decide to
go, just know that this is a very sad movie.
Nothing happens in this movie to refute the
accusation hurled out by Gavin’s wife Cynthia Banek (Amanda Peet), “Law is
based on finding ways to cheat.Lawyers know how the world works.”
"Thuds, tears, and cracks assault the audience."
Without a trace of self-congratulation, Mr. Smith
becomes the first person to portray gay women as something other than a
subculture toying with a lesser alternative.
Their collective achievement is herculean
considering the risks they took
It would be inconceivable to think of this movie
as anything but Australian.
In their restraint, the actors convey strength
It's a wonder the audience didn't let out a
collective shriek, "Surprise me, please!"
Pro-choice and pro-life extremists take a pounding
in this good movie about a grizzly subject.
There is an awful sadness in a place that nobody
Although I wince
at insulting such masters of beauty as Ivory and Jhabvala......
It's warm and
The first film charmed the audience into rooting
for each man to discover his core in the comic ups and downs of an alien
adventure, but now the lines and chemistry among the players are
After stumbling, they continue-anonymous power
players in the new culture of life as a movie where a stumble is merely a
short new scene.
Diversity robs the teacher of his power to insist.
Democrats, it seems, are into sex, while
Republicans hyperventilate on power.
A guy who says, "That's what high school is about:
algebra, bad lunch and infidelity," is not likely to be touched by the
pressures of duty, drive, or goals.
It has Tommy Lee Jones and Susan Sarandon; a bad
plot couldn't get a better break
The British and Irish film industries, studded
with huge talents that have entranced us in the past, need to take a deep
breath and realize they have slipped into the habit of gentle comedies
filled with cliches.
She is a 16-year-old ray of light offering
momentary reprieve from the current deluge of movies devoted to the dark
side of adolescence, in a self-punishing diet of crime, drugs, sex, and
"You're just a
Except for the lagging as the film introduces us
to the inhabitants and the rhythms of Cold Comfort Farm, the whole thing
builds nicely to the final wedding breakfast, where a dozen or so
Starkadders and assorted peripherals gather, dressed to the nines with all
their eccentricities spilling out the seams.
The harshness and isolation have produced an
Icelandic Jimmy Stewart to guide the determined young foreigner on the
perilous last leg of his journey.
are fighting, stop fighting; if you are marching, stop marching.
Come back to me.”
The therapy group of four men and one woman is a
ludicrous gathering of overacted wackos who should be in solitary therapy
if not solitary confinement.
The movie is the story of Bobby's passage from
furious entitlement to grateful humility.
Faced with a cauldron of zany possibilities, we
can only surrender to the laughs in this wildly unpredictable film of
"I want these people dead and buried!"....Edwin
Ignore the parts of this movie that deal with
earthly silliness, and sink into the visual fantasy that is grand enough
to encourage us to explore the universe and to debate the questions that
will challenge us.
You may think differently now about subway poles
In a maelstrom of exploding vehicles, nothing is
as affecting as Larkin manning an abandoned snowplow to protect his troops
in a desert sandstorm that covers up the flaws in both script and
When the acting is this good, nothing is more fun
than watching full-blown Southern characters behave outrageously in
defense of their version of a higher moral value.
James Mangold has written and directed a good but
complicated movie that requires too little time from each of his very good
actors, and a great deal of effort from his audience.
I have a real reservation about a movie that
celebrates the cleverness of real life psychopathic killers.
The abrupt shift to meanness of spirit is out of
place at the end of a movie that for most of its length plays a gentle
It was this kind of skill set that was required
The house and gardens that make up "Canterbury"
were brought to full colonial flower by the founding father, only to fall
into slow decay in the hands of his widow and son Jack.
A juvenile stew of
one line potshots and sight gags
Fine cast, troubling issues, searing sights--tough
These guys carry their bullets in their pockets.
"I knew what the
risks were with you, and I took them....."
You'll be glad you made the effort on a hot summer
Beyond chill, it's a standard thriller that rivets
attention by the best of all devices--casting.
Stella strolls slowly around the circle, touching
a foot here, reading a dial there, tugging at her own ear, cocking her
head, until we know surely that this movie intends to skewer the medical
profession just as "Network" riddled television.
The movie is a mad, marvelous verbal war, an
uninterrupted battle of comic insults, and it starts with a grandiloquent
The plot has the feel of an opera.
In a season as bad
as this one, frustration can turn to resentment.
This is a movie you must see, not to believe it,
which cannot be done, but to feel it, which cannot be avoided.
There's fun to be had if you aren't demanding.
The friendship between Freud and Jung ends in
We watch not a story, but a series of unrelated
Not good, but fun.
The good news and bad news
My favorite sight, if that isn't too much of a
It is a measure of their accomplishment that we
also leave in a state of thoroughly grim but provocative confusion.
Facing this monster nearly destroys all of them
Grow up, Woody; all the world may love a clown,
but it hates a whiner.
Her gentle approach gives us plenty of time to
ponder the details of what happened to the proud dinosaurs who once owned
the earth, and to wonder whether the human race has been just an
evolutionary stage between impacts.
The shadow that falls on Margaret’s daily routine
still doesn’t erase her obligations to family and community.
"Sweet Land" wins the race over "The Departed," going away.
Matt reaches for grace and finds it.
Because the emotion behind the imagery seems real,
the movie narrowly avoids becoming a horror show.
Daily headlines tell us the movie isn't far off
I know it's film noir made with great skill, but
it's hard to care about anyone in this self-conscious period piece.
The running exchange of wisecracks and
affectionate insults sets the tone for violence so far-fetched that it
lifts itself quickly and comfortably to the level of high camp spoof.
The rhythm of their verbal dance allows us to
dissolve in waves of welcome laughter.
...wickedly funny as she spews forth perfectly
articulated insults that pierce the customers’ pretensions.
We are treated this time not to death, explosions,
and car chases, but to that good old-fashioned device: a rousing story.
It is funny and full of the quirky Australian
humor that is a national trademark.
District 9 becomes
a concentration camp
I never want to see his face again.
As we get to know Josef and Marie gradually, frame
by frame, the film becomes their love story.
Too many people, too much confusion.
Anyone who doesn't see the reverent sensibility
behind the cardinal's new image of a thumbs-up Christ with a wink in his
eye is doomed, if not to Wisconsin, at least to dreary acceptance of
If you are a Kathy Bates fan, that may be enough
to keep you in your seat during the various shades of bedpans, bedsores
and murderous impulses.
Why, when the acting is so good, does the violence
have to be so graphic?
Don Juan's delusion has become Jack's romance, and
for a light and lovely evening, it becomes ours.
...an acting master class.
The real belly laugh comes with Zellweger’s
will endure enough loud surprises to bring on arrhythmia
...a grand show of the glitter and glitz that can
One of this year's
most intriguing movies.
Admit it, you
don't trust me either.
"With scenery as fine as Hollywood
money can buy, how can anything go wrong?"
She is the guardian of the culture of her house.
Whoopi Goldberg is probably the only woman around
who can hold her own in a huddle of seven-foot-tall men.
With David Mamet's terse dialogue and Lee
Tamahori's superior direction, it's easy to ignore the flaws and be
happily riveted by a good man determined to triumph over the adversity
thrown at him by man and nature.
Looking for plot
threads, I found none
Oh, the wearisomeness of watching a mediocre
This is a world where a woman is judged by the
aura of the man whose arm holds hers, and while they maneuver, they
"The Emperor's Club" is a peculiar movie
Playing both roles in an actor’s field day, Ian
Holm switches deftly from the kindly peasant who acquires arrogance to the
emperor who learns humility.
Americans love to obsess, and they do it about
racing cars, surfing, skiing, hang gliding, flying vintage planes--an
endless array of off-center sports that become the focus for both the
enthusiast and the obsessed who are blinded to any other dimension of
The atmosphere and language are captivating.
Director Anthony Minghella has evoked the awful
romance of war.
In good hands again at long last, the cerebral
action thriller has never looked better.
Of our hero, one thug observes, "Who's the tree
So atrocious is the reputation of L.A. that most
of the unfortunates choose the proffered option of electrocution in the
mainland deportation center over life in the dreaded island city.
Charlie Kaufman must have a direct line to the
You have only to listen to Robbins' words on the
soundtrack to know that what is unfolding on the screen can't catch what
We might be forgiven for wondering just how long
Woody Allen can go on playing the anguished lover caught in the rhythmic
whining that is his perpetual beat.
What, after all, can be said about a film this
On a symbolic level this movie might have worked,
but Mr. Kubrick's unflinching look at fidelity, fantasy, and marriage is
too often undermined by silliness.
Bravura acting and an astonishing
plot are rare commodities that could have made this a major film.
It's a lonely
...the suburban culture of 1957 in the bright
colors of exaggerated perfection
The realization that brutality is the accepted
norm washes over a westerner who waits and hopes in vain for some
restraining force that never comes.
We are invited to ponder the reasons why humans
have never been able to adapt to the planet in the way animals have, to
consider a future that requires suspension of universal assumptions about
Some movies are just bad ideas, some are good
efforts that fail, and some, like this one, are cynical insults to the
Nothing captures the failure of this movie better
than the suburban seduction scene where Kathy tries to ignite her husband,
who lies on the floor, dreaming in mathematical theorems.
A movie this ugly either sinks like a stone or,
rarely, hits a nerve and becomes a cult film for some vulnerable group in
the cultural landscape.
We watch Micky
navigate the family from hell.
"Have you ever
seen a one minute movie?"
The writers, producers, and director who allowed
this to happen share blame for assaulting the audience with their
They take all the terrible thoughts we suppress in
the name of being charitable, stoic, brave, and enduring, dip them in
acid, and hurl them into the audience.
It's grim and it's good.
The cartoon's irreverent take on modern values
through the prism of an imaginary Stone Age is a comic howl that things
The movie is a sharp suggestion that we take
ourselves far too seriously, that we reason the love right out of our
This lovely movie makes you realize that a
poignancy of our time is that few adults would take the time to attend to
an unessential miracle.
He builds his case with a chilling persuasiveness
What better situation for the man with the soulful
eyes and wounded psyche to find himself in than the city of romance with a
Apatow's work is
proudly dumb while Coward's is proudly smart.
Public figures fall to bullets while Forrest moves
through life just a couple of inches off the ground in a cloud of truth.
Farce is an English specialty that Americans may
love, but the making of it eludes us.
Curtis and Lohan, playing four roles between them,
manage to keep everything straight – and funny.
Hilary Swank risks being a cliche here and wins
Looking for plot
threads, I found none
The small group of citizens we come to know
responds to the seriousness of the unemployment dilemma with a heavy dose
of denial, humor, and resourcefulness that brings the house down both on
the screen and in the theater.
The crowds grow.
Scorsese is after an epic,
settling for nothing less than a majestic view of a city being born.
that protect them will imprison them.
This spooky, imaginative movie hangs disturbing
questions on a mediocre story line.
A new and absolutely unnecessary standard for
It's a downer, but it doesn't get much better than
rhythm develops among the three men.
awkward insensibility works here.
Maxwell's achievement is that he conveys the
immensity of the battle as it unfolds as well as the tortured decisions of
the officers who direct it.
The fierce reality of the opening newsclips dwarfs
the Hollywood courtroom drama that follows.
If this glove
fits, tell your friends to go see "The Ghost Writer."
His callers count their fantasies in minutes, but
he smothers us for almost two hours with his own.
Larsson's brutal scenes are of a
piece with his theme and his heroine.
Those of us whose ignorance of the French language
makes us ill-equipped to fill in the blanks feel gypped.
The deliberate and exacting pace of “Girl With a
Pearl Earring” is a gift.
Rooney Mara makes
Salander her own.
Now to the good
news, and there's lots of it.
Mr. McKellen conveys this so vividly that he is
likely to send older people out into the night with new resolve to embrace
change and design new worlds for themselves.
It's bodies, bullets, and blood--carnage, American
They want us to understand fully the meaning of
life with no horizon.
He is a computer
geek, a dork, in other words - a decent guy.
Don't undermine your enjoyment of this one by
picking on flaws and improbabilities: this is a fable, and we need not
mess with fables.
Director Goldbacher assembled good actors, great
locations, and a genuinely interesting twist with the photography, but the
movie fails because the momentum slipped through her fingers.
Get off my lawn!
....the random, brutal humiliation of the everyday
life of southern blacks
Playing a WASP is beyond the grasp of most
The fine photography of beach, water, restaurant
and town gives a rich texture to the film.
In this anemic movie, a toxic family gathers for
the 80th birthday of the patriarch to check out the state of his health
and their inheritance.
At last a movie has wrestled with the bare bones
of this puzzle.
It is true, I think, that the Holocaust is best
written about, not filmed.
Because the immensely likable John Cusack
understands the subtleties of understatement, he gives this movie the
essential ingredient of absurdist comedy: style.
It's painful to watch all this talent trying so
hard to make something of nothing.
The frozen Minnesota landscape is a great setting
for the shenanigans, and the premise is funny: two old men obsessed with
ice fishing and Ann-Margaret.
Don Cheadle plays straight man to Brendan
Gleeson's Irish Bigot.
The movie is a merry skirmish with great
As grotesque as it is, the film is
an announcement that computer power is passing from nerds to cool guys,
that juvenile hackers are taking over white-collar crime as surely as
street gangs stole neighborhoods.
There is great fun in the sight of Hamlet’s fax
rolling off the machine, of Horatio and Hamlet driving in from the
airport, of Hamlet’s apartment wall of family pictures.
Adapt or Die
Only the subject matter makes it intolerable.
Todd Solondz asks us to consider the humor and
sadness of people grappling with their problems alone, and he makes sure
we understand that each is truly alone even when surrounded by family.
With flair and compassion, the film shows us the
buoyant pre-war spirit that had begun to unravel as people began to
understand what was happening around them.
.....an unparalled accomplishment
"In 42 seconds."
This movie is so bad that it's an insult to the
This absorbing film is a harrowing look at the
tortures of adolescence.
Davis, Spencer, and Stone make this movie sing.
May this filmmaker remain eccentric and original
in his success.
In one of the
sharpest openings in movie memory, Director Eastwood starts with a
prolonged view of a devastating tsunami.
If you’re doubtful, invite your favorite child or
two and share their pleasure.
...a compulsive liar whose very core is a
This is a whale of a tall tale that unfurls
The inevitable custody battle pits mother and
abuser against gay father, with the scales weighted toward the
...a film whose signature scene shows Harvey
Keitel dancing in the desert wearing a bright red dress and one black
Jodie Foster has taken a lighthearted look at the
imperfections in all of us and, with a great big wink of her eye, reminds
us that we can get through it if only we will laugh. --
It is a measure of the film's power that we find
ourselves rooting for the boys to succeed within the corrupt system
instead of loathing the hypocrisy that makes the stakes of the game so
Laughter and Despair
When performances and photography are this good,
there's no need to poke holes in the story.
If the choice is between Richmond and death, I
And the reason it all works so well lies in the
performances of Shohreh Aghdashloo and Ben Kingsley.
Either of these films is likely to make its
intended audience happy.
Resonating with universal experience, these tales
convey the certainty that innocence is the beauty of youth, and passion
the preserve of the experienced.
For those of us of simple sensibilities, this is a
very silly, very noisy movie.
...a dream of a
movie just when we need it most.
A savage spectacle
...in our seats in
a state of compelled fascination
For a short while, this family's life seems just
slightly on the wrong side of normal; then the movie plunges headlong into
Stay for the credits
saved by two things."
Be warned that by the end of this clever film, you
will want to bolt from your seat and run outside for air.
A false note anywhere could have derailed this
Beautifully filmed, it provides the crackling edge
needed as the wife-swapping key party comes to full boil and then sinks
into its own damage.
It's a good evening, but Oscar Wilde would not be
This is nasty stuff.
Did you miss these?
This family has a touch of the grace that allows
them to appreciate their new life in spite of their surroundings.
How did this happen?
Forget that this is Ernest Hemingway, and you'll
If the murder of their son erased their lives, it
is the prospect of leniency for the murderer that erodes their souls.
Widely discussed as a provocative shot in the war
between men and women, it is instead a sharply etched study of male rage
that clings long after it's over, a tenacious barnacle attached to our
What's more fun than stepping into a darkened
theater to soak up the feel of a country through its culture, landscapes,
and lifestyles as depicted in a foreign film?
The power of this story is its truth, and it jumps
to life with superb acting.
chaos becomes intolerable.
This is a perfectly awful movie on all but two big
counts: absolutely riveting visual images and a zestful new concept of the
"The movie opens
unquietly with a desert car chase and a nuclear explosion."
He can't pass a
leaf without deconstructing it.
bullies need supervision.
The shield between concentrated power and the
public has become thinner by one.
The cocky hunter, suddenly scared of his prey,
becomes haggard, unable to sleep in the midnight sun.
We are invited to think grandly about the powerful
notions of death by lust and the horror of immortality, and are submerged
instead in a one-note movie: bites and necks.
When mother, daughter, and lodger end up in the
same bed, the absurdity of the 13-year-old accomplice is a comic, if
A dazzling white horse races from the ocean, down
a beautiful beach and into the lives of two of the most beguiling little
Irish boys ever to enchant an audience.
They surprise us.
“What I lacked,” he says, “was extravagance.”
"We have to
surprise them with compassion and generosity."
We believe all of
it on that marvelous level that transcends our pedestrian reality.
“Islander” rises to that state where lovers of good movies like to dwell.
A cop who helps blind people cross the street and
won't buy coffee without leaving a tip could never, ever have fallen for
Muriel, so their parting is neither funny nor sad, just overdue.
These fine actors
erase the distance between us and the screen.
Speedboats roar through the narrow canals,
disturbing both the peace and the architecture, chased by waterborne
competitors and police.
The darkness needs no added
The sight of James bravely flying
his giant peach to New York is enough excitement for any little mind to
absorb; and surely "Flipper" could have sustained itself with its comic
scenes of an uncle who blowtorches his toast and washes dishes in the
shower with his feet.
Though the story is predictable, it never goes to
Merchant Ivory has fallen under its own carriage
Crowe, holdingback his ending, tantalizes and
teases the audience, now thoroughly hooked on his story of five good guys
against the evil sports establishment.
Mark Rappaport wrote, directed, and edited this
clever film, using Seberg to deliver a whole string of bitter, sharp
observations on her own life and the politics of her day.
Secrets, lies, and revelations light the fires on
The whole production outshines its story, making
it look like the first-class thriller it isn't.
Think of Sean Connery, Laurence Fishburne, Ed
Harris, Ruby Dee, Hope Lange, Chris Sarandon, and then imagine them
twisting in the wind, left there to die by the director and the
A landscape of bright ice slit by the black
conning tower and peppered with small figures cavorting is breathtaking.
It is unsettling to root for a good guy who is
obsessed by the grisly details of serial killings and a gal who is trying
to make her fortune with photographs of erotica and S&M.
Forget the plot and the people; just soak up the
feel of Robert Altman's Depression-era Kansas City.
These miserable adolescents cannot be said to be
outside of prevailing standards because no standards exist.
This genie is not
going back in the bottle.
The sound of breaking bones will stay with you –
and then there’s that swinging door.
The two men work together in fractious
It is a grizzly, tense, unpleasant film that is
unredeemed by anything that smacks of fun or, to be unpardonably earnest,
By pandering to whatever public appetite exists
for tabloid gore, it insults the audience while emptying their pockets.
the grace of the kite flyers and runners.....their
kites spinning and feinting over the ancient city below.
Affection fairly flows from the audience to the
In this movie, the L.A.P.D. is
involved in both causing and correcting the cesspool that swirls around
"Where is she going? What does she want? We'll never know."
Just sink into the romantic
illusion, and ask no questions.
You will not forget David or Blanca or any of
their comrades and you will be grateful for a film so strong that it pulls
you to its center.
The whole thing has the pleasant feel of a family
These people are aging, moving into the next phase
of their lives that will provide Whit Stillman with his next movie and us
with a good deal of uncomfortable pleasure.
Amin is crazed
With never a hint that some inner complexity or
outer circumstance might explain Bridget's behavior, she's plays her as
cruel and opportunistic, with the brain to know just how to capitalize on
that gruesome gumbo.
It is an artful
We are reminded that the student who says, "We're
liberals; we do the right thing," usually grows up to be a conservative,
while the student who consistently tries to do the right thing grows up to
be the conscience of democracy.
"A psychopath has
brought the city to its knees."
Sandrine Bonnaire and Isabelle Huppert are so
effective in this chilling cautionary tale that this viewer hopes never to
lay eyes on either of them again.
It’s a measure of real talent when the older
generation steals the show from the young.
"Why isn't this more fun?"
Abandon ye any
desire for sophistication and subtlety.
With fine support from their colleagues, Daniel
Auteuil and Catherine Deneuve perform with a riveting honesty that holds
sentimentality at bay throughout this tough-minded movie.
This is a movie often at odds with itself-standup
comedy and lost lives.
Anything that lightens the tragedy is risky
business, even in the hands of these devoted filmmakers.
Limbo is a lousy place to leave an audience.
This story inflicts an additional affront: it's a
pure patriarchy in which Simba's mom was merely a pregnant vessel.
"...his smile jumps straight from a toothpaste
All this is grim, but not pedestrian.
Everyone pretend to be normal.
For one thing, all these fine actors crank up
their performance volumes one notch too high, creating a pitch of
It is beautifully boring.
The Stasi cast a shadow over all the citizens
This movie is a startling oasis in a summer of the
action cartoons Hollywood feeds the public in the belief that the entire
nation goes brain-dead for three months.
With his documentary, Writer/director Mark
Jonathan Harris has made an invaluable contribution to our understanding
of the ugly reality of the immediate post-war years that were justly
celebrated by the victorious Allies while the Jews, without justice,
continued to suffer and die.
The diagram of a 90s adoption dilemma is sketched:
a black single mother, white adoptive parents, lawyers and social workers
dedicated to their causes.
Even if it were good, and it isn't, the movie is
too long by half.
Murray, whose face is somewhat like a rumpled bed sheet that needs one
more tug... "
So genuine is their feeling that we feel we have
intruded, that we need to step back quietly and close the door on their
The emotional wallop of this movie unfolds after
Giles has installed himself in a seedy motel in Chesterton, Long Island.
This is a family, a real one, and each character
belongs in it.
"...a road trip of three unlikely
If history's strongest constant is
the struggle for power, this movie is another reminder of the fragile
nature of power.
What may linger the longest, though, is Costa-Gavras's
angry portrayal of the ugly politics of the media, the police, and a
citizenry hungry for ten seconds of nationally televised tragedy. He has
cut to the rancid core of the nightly news.
Lethal weapons wielded by a sick high school
senior are a singularly unappetizing subject at a time when real life is
rife with such tragedies.
Just plain dull
Danny Aiello seems to become appropriately
embarrassed as the film goes on.
The zinger in this movie is a scene between Bill
Pullman and Ann Bancroft that is surely the best mother-in-law/son-in-law
confrontation on record.
A love story wrapped in indolence and the language
of the mall might not be your choice, but it's all around us, and Smith
has caught it sharply.
Haven't you ever
wanted to sing your way up a hill of Greek steps?
The ugly details unfold at warp speed.
The watch pot bubbles with resentment and verbal
Better luck next time, Harry.
Every actor in this movie leaves his/her own
personality at the door to become the character.
Masterpiece or insult?
At the top of this pyramid stands Russell Crowe’s
This is an irreverent, zestful romp for three
stars who team up to poke fun at every imaginable Western cliche.
Kind, if befuddled, the parents, grandmother,
teacher, a therapist struggle to understand, to redirect the boy who
maintains that when God distributed chromosomes, the one that would have
made him female fell by mistake into the garbage.
This man would never dribble ketchup on his shirt.
The story is slow and full of cardboard
characters, but Anthony Hopkins's lusty performance makes this one a safe
bet for a rainy day.
This director needs an editor.
Even when she offers him the simple pleasures of
time in the country, he manages to ruin the day.
Hollywood has tried to make a weeper without
understanding that audiences don't like to be told when to cry.
Though focusing specifically on the fiery Collins,
the film delivers an impressionistic overview of a period of violence
among countrymen that is infused with the same awful waste as our own
With guns that fall out of pant legs, a
lap-dancing moment, a caricature of a gay FBI man, and giggling
bridesmaids, the film simply disappears into its own quicksand.
The camera, in the hands of a lover, sweeps Paris
The world at last has figured out how to get cars
from a high-rise park garage onto the thruway.
We live in a time of broken promise and frenzied
lifestyle, not the best of times to contemplate the meaning of Santa
Vanessa Redgrave, sporting a dowdy wig and a
wicked gleam in her eye, steals the show whenever she's in it, which is
far too seldom.
The scriptwriters got it all wrong
It's an unfair game. We're organ donors for the
There is no
possible reason to endure the ordeal except for the inspired performance
of Charlize Theron
First love prevails
Matty and Johnny plunge into a flood of
What should be light and funny becomes labored.
It works in the
best sense of ensemble acting
Now back to that fatal flaw......
Errol Morris has painted a portrait of the
banality of evil.
A passionate teacher is a welcome hero.
There are no redeeming features.
The British, who seem uniquely able to enliven
their history for our pleasure, are at it again.
There are certain roles in this world that should
be played only by Vanessa Redgrave, and Clarissa Dalloway is one of them.
If the movie creates a mood of the time, it fails,
with the exception of Parker herself, to flesh out any of these colorful
It's an odd movie with great style.
The writer has deposited these two gentle men in
our crazy chaos to remind us that we live now in a world where no one
listens, everyone has a secret life, and we all need second chances.
In violation of the federal guidelines that
mandate 19-day maximums for solitary confinement, Glenn orders three years
of physical torture and isolation in a black dungeon five feet high -- no
light, no water.
The special fun of this movie is watching a
teacher pull children into that beautiful world when they are young and
The landscape sparkles with food and fountains and
a supporting cast of imbeciles.
He, the only son of two zipped up WASPs and she,
the daughter of a hundred perfect Greeks.
This is a story of people who cannot be understood
by the people they left behind, and cannot themselves understand their new
....a tossed salad of Monroe's collapses,
tantrums, and edicts.
"The filmmakers have spent their energy on their
The boys grow into men through the cracks in the
It's hard to go wrong with a cast
that includes Jill Clayburgh, Tony Curtis, Quentin Crisp, Kathleen Turner,
Whoopi Goldberg and Timothy Dalton, but wrong it goes, and all the way.
It is a story rife with loneliness and identity
concerns. It is often profound.
...an invitation to surrender to Emma Thompson's
While commentators and politicians argue about
health care and a band-aid crime bill, children are shooting each other
and, quite often, their parents.
There's nothing like a cerebral touch when the
bullets are flying.
She is luminous in the title role of this
beautifully filmed story of a child of the wild slipping into
civilization; but the movie cannot recover after its premise is undermined
by production errors.
It's just a recycled chase film with Cyberspace
It's hard to root for a guy who is stuck in the
dead center of his own despair.
It is a very silly movie.
At the end of his tortured farewell speech, he
stands naked before the nation, fake to the end, riveting in his
...an unfolding of rage, betrayal, discovery, and
Charm has become synonymous with unctuousness in
our culture, but in the best sense of it, charming is the only way to
describe the teaming of Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts.
You will laugh and think, as well as squirm, and
you may leave the theater in a profound state of restlessness.
The comedy and the pathos of the
movie lie in the old truth that, whether the setting is gay or hetero,
little time passes before the players try to control the plans and dreams
of each other.
Brandi has been shaken to the core by the full
frontal sight of the passing flasher.
It's time to pull the plug.
....deliberate, beautiful, and deeply disturbing
Carting crates of beer from the neighborhood bar
to parties in his house, he drinks until he explodes in the most barbarous
and realistic wife beating even seen on a movie screen.
You will wish that on the way in, the multiplex
had offered you valium along with their popcorn.
“No one ever takes a photograph of something they
want to forget.”
In those days, it was reward enough for mothers to
send their families out to meet the world, prepared.
When the marvelous Marisa Tomei is made to say, "I
was born to kiss you," you know producer/director Norman Jewison hired the
The film is a Woolfian exercise in wit and reach,
but is curiously flat.
This year's Oscar nominations are the innovative,
often bold work of some extraordinarily talented filmmakers.
In a very thin year for movies, the Motion Picture
Academy has managed to choose five very good ones for its Oscar
If their choices show a new generosity of spirit,
they also reflect the weakness of the American film pool in 1995.
With Oscar talk flooding the media, it's easy to
forget that some of this year's best movies flew by too fast.
The 1997 Oscar nominations are a riotous
celebration of independent films.
In a troubling trend, most of the best films came
out in a cluster toward the end of the year, leaving movie lovers stranded
from January to September.
Three of this year's nominations for Best Picture
take place during World War II, two are set in Renaissance England, and
each of the five is worth an evening of your time.
five worthy contenders have bubbled to the top...
no strike, one of these films will win the award for Best Picture
Of these, six will probably carry home the
majority of the golden men.
My choices and the will wins.
The sight of the glass church floating on a river
barge ranks high on any list of memorable metaphors.
Call it leaden, call it lackluster; things don't
get much flatter than this.
The American solution: incinerate the town with a
single nuclear bomb.
Impossibly, the coolest girl on campus falls for
him, and they enjoy the most unsupervised prep school romance on record.
Impossibly, the coolest girl on campus falls for him, and they enjoy the
most unsupervised prep school romance on record.
They could make risktakers of us all if only they
didn't have to navigate so much dead space between laughs.
In an otherwise lackluster year, five films made
magic with the complexities of acting, directing, writing, and visual art.
Theirs is as fine an acting duet
as any this year
Unable to articulate what it is they want to say
about young graduates in the 90s, the filmmakers have made a kind of Gen X
superprobe into the nothingness of being young instead of capturing a real
piece of today's culture.
A muddle from start to finish, it traps its actors
in a terrible script and reduces them to sputtering.
It's a just-in-case escape with concrete walls,
steel doors, and a bank of monitors that follows the movements of
Encumber a newsman with husbandly duties and he is
Don't waste a second being annoyed that you are
mainlining sugar syrup: that's the point.
Torture has made its way into the national fabric.
Fonda as grandmother?
This $135 million movie is a bewildering mishmash
of bad and almost good.
It deserves whatever terrible things might be said
about its makers
Grisham lets us down again by denying us the fun
of trying to fit the pieces together by tossing in a confusion of
villains, until at long suffering last, we give up and wait for his
This blazing film carries a serious, endangered
message: "Congress shall make no law abridging freedom of speech."
Big questions, hearty laughter
Only the intended victim wins our loyalty, and
that leaves us adrift in our seats, uninvolved and watching the plot
The movie simply pulls us in and holds us there,
in one degree of horror or another, for more than two hours.
Teaching family values with a twist on the
cross-Texas road trip, Butch tells Phillip he has "all-American rights" to
carnivals, trick or treat, cotton candy and roller coasters.
John Travolta, with fine support across the board,
makes George Malley an invitation to think about compassion and humanity.
This is a movie more for those of us who watch
from a distance than for those who have AIDS and know better.
A German who has the power to kill him, doesn’t.
This is an extraordinary exploration of passion
and betrayal as it explodes in the remote bush, removed from the eyes of
conventional society, but judged with brutal intensity by the players
The jokes, the
surgeries and the age are not the problem.
For them, tying a
shoelace is akin to solving a Rubik's cube.
With part of the town "colored" as their newly
impassioned selves, those who resent change remain colorless, mired in
"...a laser eye
for the special state that is Manhattan misery."
In an ugly insight, we realize Jerry will use the
little girl as bait.
In trying to do a good thing, Disney has tried to
atone for fifty years of negative movie images of Native American life by
making all Native Americans beautiful, heroic, and wise.
This is a town where work pays the bills and life
begins after five o'clock.
Considering Pollock's drinking, womanizing, and
marital battles, it is astounding that he produced the paintings that
changed the course of modern art.
Jane Campion has crafted a darkly elegant film
without an ounce of heart.
We also know that researchers, once on the scent,
sink into a kind of glorious private passion for their work that is both
comic in its scale and enviable in its excitement.
The friendship of the unlikely pair speaks the sad
truth that we can rarely tell our friends about the inner forces that
drive us through life.
Throwing cold water on "The Preacher's Wife" is a
little like criticizing a children's Christmas pageant.
How did this
extraordinary movie come to be?
We expect to see Jimmy Cagney and Edward G.
Robinson burst through the door with tommy guns.
If the movie is a polemic, it is an attack not
just on the Catholic Church but also on the hypocrisy that infects
It's a good story with a grand villain and a fine
portrait by Richard Gere of the loneliness of the long-distance defense
They sketch a flabby electorate that accepts
managed news from spin doctors and mannequin anchors; and then, with
clear-eyed compassion, they explore the nature of the master seducer who
is both their protagonist and our president.
Anyone who is public enemy #1 for the
fundamentalists can't be all bad.
What erupts is so original, so funny, obscene,
violent, outrageous and clever that the film will be remembered as one
that added a new dimension to the already zany world of movie making.
a veritable trove
of images, questions and answers about the "golden age of bank robbery."
Perhaps we can be forgiven for wanting gods, not
monsters, to deliver us from air to ground.
A worthy new villain makes his
Helen Mirren’s regal Queen Elizabeth roll over you.
As good-natured burlesque, it is a rib-tickling
look at the cliches that pepper every Western we have ever loved.
The defining core of the sorry mess was the
extraordinary spectacle of a father who represented an incorruptible side
of our national tradition and the son who betrayed his legacy, his family,
and profession to become the symbol of America's descent into cynicism.
You will remember their faces for
a long time
If you aren't excessively troubled by watching the
ordeal of a kidnapped child, and if you accept a great deal of spilled
blood as a contemporary given, then you will be amply rewarded by the
considerable pluses of this movie.
She brings him in, cleans him up, and seduces him.
The closest statement of the film's viewpoint is
voiced by one character: "Women make clothes for women; men make clothes
for the women they want to be with, or in most cases, for the women they
want to be."
The giant size Big Gulp from the Seven Eleven is
the spark plug of their diet, and TV talk shows are their drug of choice.
If you look for neither the plausible nor the
possible, you may have as much fun as I did.
You are forgiven if you sense a certain 2011
resonance in these scenes.
The simple fact of its survival is a credible
miracle considering that other superb violins have survived war, climate,
and general neglect in the chain of ownership.
"Jesus.......fiddling with his cell phone."
Alien to our experience but part of our heritage,
the profession of the perfect English butler is a complicated business
that is entrusted here to very talented hands that turn it into a
profoundly sad movie.
Because the community must work as a team to live,
each person’s life is interwoven with the others.
What a pleasure it is to watch actors create
multilayered characters who surprise us repeatedly with their candor.
This is April's dream, not Frank's
No mysteries here, no good lines or characters,
none of the layers of revelation so essential to mystery.
A flashy entertainment with a good cast headed by
a mighty river that never loses its power to scare the absolute devil out
This is, after all, a movie about hit men,
vengeance, and betrayal, but it is more about men than gore.
The movie shows in excruciating detail the
symbolic and actual devastation wrought by a small bag of money.
Everyone over 60 is hooked
Too much blood, too long by a third, too violent
in a violent world--but Connery, Cage, and Harris dodging the special
effects are irresistible.
Helping your sixteen year old nephew cast off his
virginity in the seamy side of the Manhattan night isn’t a spectacular
The saving grace of this dreary film is the
friendship between Romeo and Gavin.
Serious movie makers should make poker movies only
when they can make the game an intriguing element of their film.
Samuel L. Jackson and Tommy Lee Jones are
incendiary actors who can make even standard stuff look good.
Don't look for credibility; this is a fairy tale
that correctly insists on sprinkling fairy dust on a large number of
Filmed in brilliant colors dominated by reds and
yellows, and set to a restless, rhythmic musical beat, the movie rushes as
desperately as the time frame within it.
It is mesmerizing to watch someone so caught up in
his obsessions that he has not a whit of an idea that he is driving
everyone around him crazy.
Instead of a wan remake, this
movie is an affectionate tribute to the staying power of its predecessor.
In a time of crisis, the predictability of the
parents' behavior and their sons' knowing ways of handling it are drawn at
once with subtlety and exaggeration--a neat trick.
Things can't get much worse than this.
"Primary or double
agent, that is that is the question."
Once the writers came up with the idea of having
Tim Allen drafted as a reluctant Santa Claus, they were so pleased with
themselves that they put their pencils down.
"all the actors work with elegant restraint."
Steven Spielberg has made it his mission to make
sure that when we live with the sounds of peace, we never forget the men
who made it possible.
The backstory was in his belly.
May the world not think from now on of Hester
Prynne as Demi Moore in a candle cap.
To deny the implicit acceptance by the general
populace would be to say that Ford produced 6,000,000 cars without the
knowledge and cooperation of Detroit.
The film builds to the match between the unlikely
challenger from upstart California and the star of the Eastern
Where did this man go?
This flawless ensemble cast has enabled Mike Leigh
to take the risk of using a small story to tell a large truth.
The big questions
of obsession, vengeance, love, and loyalty
Emma Thompson and Jane Austen are quite a team.
...a top level
cast, director, and writer.
She simply says yes or no without discussion.
Have you thought
about getting a lawyer?
...as good as it gets
It seems Americans are doomed to envy the English
for their dignity and to mock them for their repression.
The parallels drawn so gleefully between
Elizabethan London and our own time fly through the air like merry
This is a sweet, sad, innocent tale with a big
message, and it is absolutely charming.
The scenes in this extraordinary place unfold
slowly, building a powerful and abiding picture of the ugliness that man
can visit on nature.
Lane began the extraordinary process of unraveling
his employee’s fantasies and fabrications.
Just as you begin to long for a fast-forward
button for this masterful creation of the terrible tedium of prison life,
Director Frank Darabont turns his story into a fine fairy tale.
Holmes' conclusions stream forth from disorderly,
chaotic mental clutter
one so Irish-American, one so French, are each a
sound rebuke to the long, dry summer of Hollywood's failed efforts.
The unexplained whys and wherefores and the too
facile assumptions of the film evaporate under the light and joyous
performance of Geoffrey Rush.
...a terrific hero performance by Mark Wahlberg
A feisty troublemaker sooner or later sticks his
But that’s O.K.; we can fill in the blanks.
Of this, Viktor takes a little of Audrey Hepburn
here, a little Grace Kelly there, and creates the virtual movie star
We supply both the arms and the market to an unstable country.
"The service is just for family."
Absent all pressure and societal rules, human
touch is on the same level as the softness of the breeze, the warmth of
the water and the beauty of the landscape.
We have been manipulated with great care.
They swim in money even as they reach for more,
and they couldn't hold on to a friendship for the slime on their backs.
This movie consists
of the musings of two old friends.
Three rapists, a vengeful surgeon, two victims and
a web of grotesque relationships
Oh, what freedom filmmakers have when they know
nothing about their subject.
As Helen descends the subway staircase, she hears
the approaching train, runs, and misses it-or in the second scenario,
There is no one to trust.
The cast manages to make the whole thing sweet,
funny, and raunchy without striking sour notes.
This movie would blow away in a light breeze, but
you'll leave with a grin.
As a bleeding Richard Harris sinks slowly into
39-degree water, we wish we could go back to the beginning when the
riveting beauty of Greenland promised so much.
Augie's real life, it turns out, lies in the 4000
pictures he has taken over the years at precisely 8:00 a.m. at the corner
of 3rd Street and 7th Avenue.
Fire and water and home are very different
concepts in the imaginings of the white men whose forbears took it all
away from them.
The house wins; the audience has nothing.
Looming in the commotion is the powerful disgrace
of the American internment of the Japanese-Americans, who are herded,
nametags hanging from their buttonholes, into buses for delivery to the
"The only people
on earth who understand the brilliant simplicity of the idea are under 21
Mr. Douglas creates a narcissistic cad
Nothing softens hardship in this valley, and
nothing is ever more unnecessary or heart wrenching than watching weak m-n
brutalizing helpless people in the name of God.
Jack Nicholson seems to understand the older
single woman pickle is a national phenomenon, and he gracefully restrains
his scene stealing muggery.
Without any sign of the Roman candles she sent
aloft in her first film, this one fizzles in spite of an occasional burst
of bubbles from its stars.
The writers focus on two women, Annie Higgins (Fionnula
Flanagan) and Kathleen Quigley (Helen Mirren), whose sons enter the war
with youthful rage that grows into deep adult commitment.
McTeer is an earthy, intelligent actress, always
holding an explosion in reserve.
You need a doctorate in metaphysics to make any
sense of it at all.
The film is riveting while Mamet spins his plot
with the crisp twists of a cerebral adventure.
More damage is done, more lives are lost in the
attempt to keep that bus running at 50 than could possibly be worth the 12
or so on board, but the strength of this movie is that questions like
that, which lie at every turn, never enter your head.
It's their intelligence as actors that allows us
to smile throughout the ludicrous finale.
One groans, “I might have known it (Banns) if I
were Catholic; I feel sorry for the boy from Texas who got Yenta.”
This movie is a sleeper--as in "a little nap will
help you through it."
The filmmakers destroy the fun implied by the
sight of a shy young urban idealist suddenly endowed with the magical
power of climbing, crawling, and swinging around the city in the webs he
If you see this movie without being touched on
some level, if you feel sharp by shooting it down for its flaws, then we
might not do well eating dinner together.
What started with lightness and charm ends in a
sadness so incompatible with the original mood of the film that we can
think only that, after winning us so thoroughly in the beginning,
Tornatore just didn't know where to go.
Everyone makes love in this villa, in bed or in
the olive grove, and even their pleasure is lifeless.
Once it becomes clear that this is a movie of
unrelated episodes, we can relax and enjoy the pointless tale unfolding on
"Your voice is
like a combination of Fergie and Jesus."
break dancing erupted and evolved on New York
street corners in front of fascinated passers-by
If filmmakers want us to journey into the occult,
they should give us the pieces of their puzzle so that at least we can be
part of the game.
Bruce Willis, wearing a series of the world's
ugliest shirts, does a fine job as the beleaguered husband.
Two movies: one
rooted in fear, one in narcissism.
Will she kill him off, or won't she?
...The brightest spot in this summer of
"Summer Hours is
A few good movies, along with many bad ones, will
open and overstay their welcomes because studios know that summer releases
will be forgotten by Oscar time.
With a lesbian mother and a gay son, he still
smiles and says, "life without women would be like a barbecue without
There is no sentimentality to this movie, a real
feat considering the subject.
Land" wins the race over "The Departed," going away.
The unexpected confection of an ending may be
ambivalent, but it brings a big smile.
Kassie sets up a fertility party.
Clouds gather, wind roars, rain
Love and infidelity
Why am I still so scared?
violence with a warm streak
We needed just a
little more time in Max's field.
Civilized manners, thin veneers, and the life
money can buy-a perfect framework for surprise and horror that would make
Alfred Hitchcock proud.
Every now and then a great movie moment sneaks up
and wrings spontaneous laughter from the audience.
The English ladies have been living for years in
eccentric contentment amidst the paintings, frescoes, and sculptures of
It is irresistibly
please bring this capable actress a milkshake?
If you are tempted to skip movies about terminal
illness, don't skip this one.
Their movie is twice too long, but they have found
an explosive, if intermittent, way to tickle the sophomore that lurks in
most of us.
"But that’s the stuff of chemistry, isn’t it?"
Director Roger Donaldson and screenwriter David
Self stay true to the details.
It's been a long time since anyone handed a story
of aesthetics and escapism to two actors sophisticated enough to make the
most of it.
The Cook sisters themselves are supposed to carry
the movie, and they give it their best, but Jessica Lange, Michelle
Pfeiffer, and Jennifer Jason Leigh stretch credibility as Iowa farm women.
We are subjected to graphic brutality, forced to
watch humans tortured and a cow blown into shreds that splatter everyone
Is deception the only way to be free?
Matthew McConaughey has an easy, thoughtful
chemistry with Sandra Bullock and Ashley Judd, who play the two women in
his life, and if he can keep his head on straight, he will remain the
major player he has become with this good movie.
Who is the enemy?
Whenever the movie shifts from history to romance,
it snatches away the genuine emotion of the scenes on the bottom of the
We are programmed
not to die, but to live.
The Vatican? I know it well.
This plotless, lifeless look at some legendary
figures who deserve better is so bad that it earns only reluctant
If the movie is long, it needs to be in order to
create the feel of the life of a Gilbert and Sullivan production.
The one thing the filmmakers did right was to set
their movie in Venice
Boys grow up to be
cops or robbers and rarely set foot out of Boston.
The greatest testimony for Mr. Soderbergh's movie
comes from Americans addicted to hard drugs who say he got everything
The fact that "Pulp Fiction" grabbed America's
funnybone while "Trainspotting" leaves Americans dazed in their seats is
another reminder that a particular humor gene from the mother country
didn't travel well to the colonies.
suspense, cinematic history has few more wonderful settings than a train.
The story is based on the historical truth of an
Irish subculture of con artists in the rural American South. -- TRAVELLER
The eight heads in Pesci's bag are his proof to the Mob that he has met
his extermination quota. -- 8 HEADS IN A DUFFEL BAG
It is undeniably brilliant in important ways.
Stiller has set out to skewer a slew of cultural icons.
A sentimental warm water wash
He has directed, starred in, and partially scored
this movie that can't for a second be separated from his personality.
Mattie is a force that will take the measure of
every man who crosses her path.
When he then reminds us that most of us accept the
world with which we are presented, we may well feel like banging our heads
on the metaphorical wall that separates us from other choices, just as
Truman does in his desperate attempt to break out from the choices forced
This is a featherweight comedy tossed so lightly
among its leading players that it generates real charm.
The truth is that neither of them knows how to
build a life for herself and her teenaged daughter.
There's a nice underlying ripple of humor in the
senior citizenship of this movie.
It's enough, by golly, to make you run home to
build a storm cellar.
Life turns around quite suddenly and floods him
Lacking both the star power of
"Crimson Tide," and the underlying lightness of the Die Hards, this leaden
terrorist film sinks under its own weight.
“Under the Tuscan Sun” throws its arms around us
and invites us on an impossible journey.
Nick Cassavetes turns the syrup spigot on and
never turns it off, a real shame since his mother, Gena Rowlands, is ready
and able to convey the sometimes terrifying void that opens when a woman
looks around at 60-something and realizes that no one is there. UNHOOK THE
STARS The movie plays at the snail's pace of a small southern town, which
is just a little too simple when it comes to either the South or Truman
Capote. THE GRASS HARP
One startling truth jumps from the screen: for
Mizrahi, women are merely creatures on which to hang his designs,
showpieces for his personal aesthetic. They can make his cloth flow and
his cuts swing.
Dated as it is, the story teeters between tale and
Have we all become too cynical to enjoy a stylish,
romantic story that turns on the intelligence and sparkle of two very
My knapsack is empty
From beginning to end, the story is overwhelmed by
style. This is a time to forget the plot for once and concentrate on
enjoying an actors' field day with a good script.
This old fashioned melodrama will
A martyr is one thing, a Superwoman another.
Woody Allen is
Tarek disappears behind the steel doors and security cameras of our new national fear.
The bigger the lie, the
greater the laughter.
Once again, a very important independent film has
brought to us truth and reality that scar the soul and stun an audience to
We have been seduced by a howlingly funny satire
of today's politics that, on quick second thought, is also a stinging
preview of what lies ahead in a profession unhindered by integrity.
He collapses into a puddle of contrition at the
feet of his wife.
Don Pedro, the patriarch of this Mexican-American
clan, propels himself on a diet of cigars, chocolate, and bread, and
watches over the Only Daughter, the Angry Son, the Harvest, the Fire, and
The cleverness of this movie lies in its true take
on the familiar. The Catskills camp, the one-liners, the culture, the
comedy-we've seen it all before, but somehow the bungalows have never been
quite as identical, the cars so shabby, the loudspeaker so calmly
Wall Street is the modern version of
the competitions between Greece and Rome.
Don't be late, as
I was, to this party.
on male nudity
Why go? I wouldn't
if I were you.
....a visceral look and war and death and random
One good, one terrible
The Smokers and the survivors, in spite of living
in an ocean that could clean them, are comically and inexplicably filthy.
... a lovely ending where friendship is clear but
emotions are left unspoken
When the black smoke turns to white...
As strain turns to discord, the wives chop and
slice with increasing intensity.
Legend and leader meet, and there the screen
should go dark. But it doesn’t.
This movie is about love and responsibility and
staying sane without hope.
The film world has beaten adolescent boredom to
"The world is
terrible, people are terrible, but I am going to be happy."
And just think,
everyone means well.
Writer "B" tries frantically to wring laughs from
small silly jokes and contrived situations that quickly become labored--a
sure death rattle in a romantic comedy.
Taking on a subject of massive consequence,
Nakano, with his wise choice of John Travolta, shows the reality of a
culture ruled by one race, in which the oppressed minority, lacking
opportunity, must choose between rebellion and submission.
For one thing, the
village is a rigid patriarchy.
During this long movie, an insidious feeling
bubbles up that perhaps New Englanders thrive just a mite much on
discomfort and risk.
With a grand cast working in close harmony, the
film's collapse must be laid at the door of writer Hugh Leonard, who
dawdles forever while counting on the flimsy final plot twist.
three people who are hard to describe and easy to
You might get annoyed at a hypochondriac, a
claustrophobic, or an egotistical neurotic whose security lies in the
anonymity of New York, but how can anyone stay mad at a man who loves a
There is just one man-made wonder here, but it’s a
big one – the filming.
The dead tree in his front yard is a metaphor for
how much he can't afford to fix.
And thank you, Henry James.
Somewhere in the hierarchy of this movie, someone
believes that to be homeless is to be thoughtful, that to be without is to
be noble, that stripping away life's pretensions guarantees wisdom.
"If you don't get
it, don't make it."
The problem lies, of course, in the fact that by
1944 she still believed in him, still professed innocence of the death
The movie plays to the real passions of its very
A grand surprise
Stone shows Manhattan stretching itself awake in
the early hours of September 11th
If you must visit a video store this year, avoid
absolutely the following terrible movies of 1997.
It is delivered by a cast of pros who remind us
that friendship is the bedrock material of any age.
Allen is the
master of emotional complications
Mistaken identities, misunderstandings, and happy
endings are the stuff of romantic comedies-then and now.
The audience comes
to life with the first beats of the unexpected.
What this says about the women who share their
beds is the baffling question that hangs in the putrid air of this movie.
The chemistry between Sammy and Terry is so strong
that we repeatedly remember the two stunned young children sitting in the
front pew at their parents' funeral.
The mutants: we even care about
Wouldn't your first thought in
such a desperate financial situation be to make a porn movie for You Tube?