I caught this Norwegian costume drama at a Scandinavian Film Festival in Los Angeles, where I was trying to get back to my roots and looking forward to hearing some Norwegian for a couple of hours. To my surprise, the film is entirely in English. Presumably the producers believed it would be easier to sell the film internationally if it… read more!
Movie Titles: I
The fall of 2004 is notable for bringing the American public the fourth releases from three quirky writer-directors who all arrived on the independent scene at the same time: Wes Anderson (Bottle Rocket, Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, and now The Life Aquatic), Alexander Payne (Citizen Ruth, Election, About Schmidt, and now Sideways), and David O. Russell, who last made the… read more!
This isn't the sort of movie I would have rushed out to catch, but I was in Flagstaff and there was nothing else I wanted to see. That's my official excuse. That said, I Love You, Man is a cute date movie, another in the recent string of foul-mouthed "sensitive male" comedies to come out of the Judd Apatow workshop… read more!
Stuck in distribution limbo for over two years, Adam Goldberg's sophomore feature finally squeaks into American theatres, one at a time, before heading straight to video. I Love Your Work is about Hollywood actor Gray Evans (Goldberg pal Giovanni Ribisi), whose private life is crumbling. Regretting his lifeless marriage to a famous actress (Run Lola Run's Franka Potente), Evans is… read more!
On a frozen Christmas Eve in Wichita, Kansas, two amateur crooks - Charlie (John Cusack), a lawyer with mob connections, and Vic (Billy Bob Thornton), the owner of a strip club - conspire to sneak off with two million in mob cash and get out of town as quickly as they can. Innumerable obstacles, of course, make such an easy… read more!
Adequately compelling little film noir about former London mobster Will Graham (Clive Owen, whose big break came in Hodges' previous film Croupier) who, after retiring from crime and spending three years bearded and anonymous, living in his trailer in the forest, returns to his old haunts when he suspects that something has happened to his arrogant little brother Davey -… read more!
Fine old-fashioned drama about a mysterious magician (Edward Norton) in turn-of-the-century Vienna who must outwit the cruel crown prince of the Austro-Hungarian empire (a snarling Rufus Sewell, who looks like a brunette Jude Law in this picture) for the hand of his long-lost love Sophie (Jessica Biel, slightly miscast but forgiven). Some foul play occurs, and it is up to… read more!
Writer/director Todd Haynes's abstract portrait of Bob Dylan in the '60s and '70s has garnered a little attention for its gimmicky casting of six different actors - Christian Bale, Richard Gere, Cate Blanchett, Heath Ledger, and relative unknowns Marcus Carl Franklin and Ben Whishaw - as six different incarnations of the legendary singer/songwriter. But the casting simply reflects the fragmentation… read more!
Gilliam's latest madhouse adventure has already suffered nearly two years of infamy because of star Heath Ledger's sudden death halfway through production. Gilliam, who's had more than his fair share of challenges getting his films made and released over the years, creatively salvaged his project by casting Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Farrell as alter egos for Ledger in… read more!
Denmark's dark comedy In China They Eat Dogs owes much more to Quentin Tarantino than to Lars von Trier. Which ordinarily wouldn't be a good thing, but here it works - however slightly - and the film was a big hit with the Danes when it was released there over a year ago. For the most part, though, it's just… read more!
In the Bedroom is a film broken into three distinctive acts: the first is a family drama about a college-bound Maine boy (Nick Stahl) who falls in love with a much-older married local (Marisa Tomei), against the cautious tut-tutting of his cozy parents (Sissy Spacek, Tom Wilkinson); the second act focuses on the trials the parents must endure when their… read more!
Bar none, this is the most romantic motion picture I've ever seen. No big surprise, considering it's the latest from writer/director/producer Wong Kar Wai, who has proven adept at capturing the essence of heartbreak in his previous films (especially Chungking Express and Fallen Angels). But this film shines as the culmination of his work, as sophisticated and moody as -… read more!
Henry Darger was a Chicago janitor who had no friends or family and barely even spoke to his neighbors, preferring to spend his evenings holed up in his one-bedroom apartment. It wasn't until 1973, as the 81-year-old Darger was dying, when his landlords discovered that he had written a sprawling, 15,000-page novel, complete with hundreds of illustrations - some over… read more!
After directing Apollo 13 in 1995, Ron Howard sure has been getting a lot of mileage out of his Hollywood relationship with the space program. And once again he lends his name to yet another Apollo-themed piece of entertainment, a stately documentary about the 24 men who actually flew to the moon as part of the United States Space Program… read more!
Nolan's latest outing, his first solo screenwriting credit since his debut feature Following, is heavy duty science fiction, densely plotted and filled with fresh, exciting ideas. That's the good part. I'll get to the not-so-good part in a minute. Inception follows a team of "extractors" - criminals who use technology to infiltrate corporate executives' actual dreams, then steal their ideas… read more!
Disappointing comedy that follows German filmmaker Werner Herzog on his latest project, a documentary on the Loch Ness Monster. From the get-go, there's something fishy about the way the "documentary" surrounding Herzog himself is played out. Within minutes, you realize that Incident at Loch Ness is that old, dying beast, the mockumentary. Writer/director Penn, who plays Herzog's producer on the… read more!
What makes The Incredibles stand out from Pixar's other computer animated features is that it's the first to be written and directed by an "outsider". Brad Bird, who also made the fine 1999 animated film The Iron Giant and was one of the core team of The Simpsons, has an approach that, while hewing to Pixar's taut, twisty story aesthetics… read more!
For 1981's Raiders of the Lost Ark, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas were famously inspired by the cheesy action serials from the 1930s. Had the Indiana Jones films followed the format of those serials, and come out with a new installment once or twice a year, Crystal Skull might have been a fairly decent entry in the series. But after… read more!
Strange but not totally unsuccessful comedy-drama, based on a true story, about Mark Whitacre (a paunchy and mustachioed Matt Damon), a chipper executive at agricultural corporation Archer Daniels Midland, who somewhat inexplicably goes to the FBI to report on the company's illegal price fixing for their corn products. Although the story mostly takes place between 1992 and 1997, Soderbergh shoots… read more!
Seventeen years into Quentin Tarantino's career, you should know what to expect from one of his films: it will be long. It will be talky. It will have sporadic moments of sudden, gruesome violence. It will be loaded with pop culture references. It will feature a retro soundtrack that is hipper than hip. And so it continues with Inglourious Basterds,… read more!