I only finally got around to seeing this film right before it went to video. Fine. Rent it. Because The Dish is a delight, a laid-back look at the four mellow scientists (led by Sam Neill) who ran the enormous satellite dish in Parkes, Australia and were responsible for transmitting the first live images from the Apollo 11 moon landing… read more!
Movie Titles: D
Thoroughly original science fiction/action picture which purports that sometime in the 1980s - perhaps not coincidentally during the final days of Apartheid - a gigantic alien mothership appeared in the skies above Johannesburg, South Africa, and hasn't budged ever since. Investigators discovered over a million starving alien drones on board, then promptly evacuated them to filthy shanty towns on the… read more!
Tarantino's latest revenge fantasy seems, at first blush, to one-up the audacity of its predecessor Inglourious Basterds. Instead of Jews taking on the Nazis and winning, here we have an escaped slave (Jamie Foxx) taking on Southern slave owners and winning. But let's talk about audacity for a second. The plot of Basterds literally rewrote history. In comparison, Django Unchained… read more!
As the Marvel Cinematic Universe catches up with the old Marvel comic books in terms of an expansive breadth of superheroes, we now get a movie about one of the comics' more exotic outliers, the mystical Stephen Strange. In my late '70s/early '80s childhood – the so-called "Bronze Age" of comics – I saw the good doctor as one of Marvel's few "older" protagonists, with his gray temples and fatherly mustache. He… read more!
Kevin Smith is full of himself. I came to this conclusion after seeing Chasing Amy a couple years ago. I had avoided his first two films and caught Amy shortly before filming Foreign Correspondents in order to see what other filmmakers were doing with budgets similar to mine. I walked out of Amy thinking, "I just watched some so-so actors… read more!
Bleakly funny surrealist satire about a well-to-do Greek couple who, for reasons unknown, keep their three grown children - two daughters, one son, all in their early twenties - prisoner in their pretty if isolated house. The "children" have spent their entire lives never having left the property, and the parents see to it that they have no knowledge of… read more!
You've gotta hand it to Lars von Trier: possibly the only contemporary filmmaker who can actually raise a ruckus among cineastes, he championed digital filmmaking, revitalized Scandinavian cinema, made stars out of Emily Watson and Björk, and spearheaded the sole new film movement of the last 30 years (Dogme). And even so, he manages to take major artistic risks with… read more!
Shot before Kitano's most recently released feature (his lively Zatoichi remake), Dolls is an extremely slow, quiet drama that weaves together three tragic tales of love and loss. The central story is about a young man who abandons his girlfriend in order to marry his boss's daughter. Upon hearing that his girlfriend has attempted suicide, he leaves his bride at… read more!
I suppose some people will find this film very meaningful. Set for some reason in October 1988, the story tracks four weeks in the life of its eponymous hero (played by Jake Gyllenhaal), an alienated teenager living in the ubiquitous Posh American Suburb we see in movies but never in real life, and struggling with the normal issues teenage boys… read more!
Intermittently imaginative comedy kept afloat by star power, Don't Tempt Me (the direct translation of the original Spanish title, No News from God, is much better) is about an angel (Victoria Abril) and a demon (Penélope Cruz) both sent to Earth to fight over the soul of a loser boxer (Demián Bichir) who is on the verge of being killed… read more!
Although Dot the i debuted at Sundance in January 2003, it took two years before its producers finally wrangled a US theatrical release for it (after it played in dozens of other countries first). One must blame some bad distribution deal for that, especially since its star, Gael García Bernal, was already white-hot art house box office material by then.… read more!
Odd little thriller about a half-Italian, half-Slovenian hotel maid (Kseniya Rappoport) who, shortly after witnessing the suicide of a guest, meets a kindly security guard (Filippo Timi) at a "speed dating" session and starts going out with him. What follows first hints at a romance, then becomes a crime movie, then takes a sharp turn into the supernatural, then... becomes… read more!
Writer-director Shanley's adaptation of his own Broadway play is a brisk, witty, and perhaps too short account of a Catholic school in 1964, whose newish priest (Philip Seymour Hoffman) has some ideas about being friendlier with the parish than the brittle old nun principal (Meryl Streep) would like. When younger nun Amy Adams sees something to make her suspicious of… read more!
I suspect that, to fully understand the significance of Downfall, you have to be German. Not only because Germans continue to deal with the Nazi legacy, but because for decades, it's been essentially verboten to not only feature Hitler as a central character in a German film, but to depict him as a sympathetic character. Downfall, which chronicles the last… read more!
When I first heard about Drag Me to Hell, Sam Raimi's long-awaited return to his horror roots after years of adequate studio pictures and of course Spider-Man, it was from my friend William Lebeda, who directed the movie's (very fine) title sequence. Bill had sort of sighed back then, claiming that Drag Me to Hell was - because of its… read more!
Dull "erotique" drama about a young American named Matthew (Leonardo DiCaprio lookalike Michael Pitt) who goes to Paris in 1968 to study French and avoid Vietnam. He befriends Theo and Isabelle (Louis Garrel and Eva Green), two French-English siblings who share his passion for the movies, and when their bohemian parents leave town for a few weeks, they invite him… read more!
The first ten minutes or so of Dreamgirls explode with energy: Set during a talent show in early '60s Detroit, it showcases one powerful African American performer after another, belting out strong, intense, and unapologetically Black music. A trio of teenage girls calling themselves The Dreamettes squeak onstage at the last minute and wind up bringing the house down. In… read more!
Having seen Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn's previous two features, Bronson and Valhalla Rising, the idea of this very weird stylist tackling a "Hollywood" movie made me wonder: Would he sell out? Or would his blend of artful lighting, postmodernist deconstructions of tough guy antiheroes, and scenes of sudden, horrifically grisly violence survive his transition into mainstream American cinema? The… read more!
I don't know how to not make this sound creepy, but I have a "director's crush" on Mae Whitman. Though I don't exactly find her sexy, I do think she has tremendous on-screen appeal. She's a strong actress with expert comic timing, a unique charisma, and a face that, simply put, is watchable. In short, she's the kind of actor I'd love to… read more!
Clever comic thriller takes the old concept of spies in love and gives it a novel twist by having its characters - ex-MI6 agent Clive Owen and ex-CIA agent Julia Roberts - dealing not with international intrigue but with corporate espionage, the new frontier. This setup isn't a big surprise coming from writer-director Tony Gilroy, since his last film, the… read more!