Sprawling, fascinating documentary about that all-powerful contemporary institution, the multinational corporation, charting its growth from its origins in post-Civil War America to its status today as the driving force behind global politics, greed, pollution, and human suffering. Mixing footage from campy old educational films, protest events, glimpses of first world boardrooms and third world factories, and (mostly) intelligent talking heads… read more!
Movie Titles: C
(Technically the title is Tim Burton's Corpse Bride, but I hate it when movies do that. So I'm filing it under C for "Corpse".) A visually astonishing stop-motion animated feature with a formulaic but amusing script, Corpse Bride is the story of a nervous young Victorian man (voiced by Johnny Depp) who, on the eve of his arranged wedding, practices… read more!
This most recent Best Foreign Film Oscar winner is, yes, yet another Holocaust movie, but it stands out for uncovering a strange bit of Nazi history little-known to the outside world: as Germany was losing the war, the country actually began counterfeiting English and American money in order to stay afloat financially, and they employed Jewish concentration camp prisoners who… read more!
This excellent documentary about the secret killing of thousands of dolphins in Taiji, Japan, and the brave activists (led by the onetime dolphin trainer for the 1960s TV show Flipper) who strive to put a stop to the slaughter, hits all the right notes. On the one hand it is a gripping thriller, following the team of do-gooders as they… read more!
The only reason I went to see this film is because it features Foreign Correspondents star Melanie Lynskey, and I wanted to support the lady. For her fans, all I can suggest is that you watch the first 10 minutes of this film, then come back an hour later to glimpse her intermittently during the final 20 minutes. She's actually… read more!
Every few years, some high-minded writer/director decides to make a "tapestry" movie about troubled Los Angeles, documenting the preternaturally intersecting lives of its fictional citizens. This year it's Crash, the stoic effort of Paul Haggis (best known for his screenplay for Million Dollar Baby) to explain What It's All About. Crash - and Haggis should've chosen a title that wouldn't… read more!
Flashy documentary about a nerdy but successful Bronx lawyer named Burt Pugach who, in the late 1950s, started dating a local beauty named Linda Riss, nine years his junior and initially unaware that he was already married. Finally weary of Pugach's increasingly obsessive behavior and his refusal to leave his wife, Riss dumped him and took up with another man.… read more!
Crimson Gold has the usual elements of contemporary Iranian cinema: nonprofessional actors, deliberate pacing, little dialogue, and a small scope. What differs is that, rather than focusing on children or women, Crimson Gold is more or less a crime story. During the 4-minute-long opening shot, we watch as an obese man breaks into a jewelry store, kills the jeweler, then… read more!
[Note: I wrote this review while employed at Paramount Pictures.] When I first saw the poster for this movie at work, with '80s icon Paul Hogan smiling in front of a smudge of fluorescent paint smears and a palm tree, I wondered, what decade are we in? Then I just felt bad. Bad for the aging Hogan, who after 13… read more!
[Note: I wrote this review while employed at Paramount Pictures.] Britney Spears! In a return of the free Paramount screenings for employees after the post-9/11 moratorium (everybody's afraid the terrorists will bomb a movie studio, don't you know), I sat through this junk, hoping that it would at least be trashy enough to be a guilty pleasure. No such luck.… read more!
I suppose I was predisposed to liking this film, being a longtime fan of its stars Chow Yun-Fat and Michelle Yeoh, as well as its director Lee. I've also long enjoyed the Hong Kong-based fantasy martial arts genre, though I admit that part of its charm has been in its low-budget cheesiness: synth score, low comedy, stock characters, and often… read more!
Ultra-cool pseudo thriller about Jack (Clive Owen), a failed South African writer who accepts a job as a card dealer in a London casino in order to make a bit of money and soon finds himself becoming addicted - not to gambling, but to dealing. This highly original film bypasses all the cliches you might think you see coming. Though… read more!
Highly imaginative mockumentary, done in the style of a Ken Burns PBS special, about the last 140 years of American history... if the South had won the Civil War. Writer-director Kevin Willmott goes all out and includes imaginary slavery-themed TV commercials interrupting the "broadcast" of the documentary, which is ostensibly produced in the UK and being shown - with restrictions… read more!
Mild-mannered anti-war fable that takes place in my ancestors' stomping ground, Lapland, the northernmost part of Scandinavia, at the end of World War II. A Finnish soldier and a Russian soldier - enemies by design, but both shunned and threatened with death by their own armies for speaking out against the war - each find themselves at the home of… read more!
Sweet, if slight, little film about a Tibetan monastery in exile in India, focusing on a mischievous, headstrong young monk named Orgyen, whose obsession with soccer spreads to several of his fellow monks as he attempts to catch the World Cup live on TV. That's it, that's the story. Aside from that, there is lovely cinematography, a cook's tour of… read more!
Cure was released in its native Japan in 1997, yet took four years to make it to American art theatres. Out of Kurosawa's many films, it is the only one to even be released here (even though he's already made half a dozen since), and while the director is perplexed as to why this film was chosen as his "breakout",… read more!
It sounds like an oxymoron, but this is a modest epic, an intimate character drama that unfolds across decades and continents with top-notch movie stars and top-notch special effects. Benjamin Button is the tale of a man born elderly, who then goes through his life aging in reverse. With a screenplay based mostly on just the central gimmick of F.… read more!
Zhang Yimou has long been one of my very favorite directors, a expert at delivering both visual splendor and heart-rending tragedy. And even while recently adding action movies to his repertoire (Hero, House of Flying Daggers), he still showed a propensity for making great films. But Curse of the Golden Flower left me cold. Set in a corrupt imperial court… read more!