This was in theaters for a full two months before I got off my ass to go see it. I had written it off as yet another unfunny "slacker" comedy and thought it would whimper away quickly. But the thing just kept sticking around, making more and more money (around $44 million when all is said and done - not… read more!
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A stylish film that often drowns in its own style, Narc - with its Rashomon by way of Training Day plot - nevertheless offers two really interesting characters at its core: Detroit cops Ray Liotta and Jason Patric, who are paired up to find out who murdered Liotta's former partner, a much-loved officer with a wife and kids. The rest… read more!
Bruce Dern plays Woody, a stubborn old man from Billings, Montana who actually believes a Publisher's Clearing House-like notice that says he's won a million dollars. He then vows to trek 900 miles to Lincoln, Nebraska, over the protestations of his cranky wife (June Squib) and put-upon sons (Will Forte and Bob Odenkirk), in order to claim his sham prize.… read more!
Never Let Me Go opens with a title card that tells about a "great breakthrough" in 1952 which, by 1967, causes average life expectancy to surpass 100. Without rushing towards an explanation, the film soon makes it clear that this "breakthrough" has something to do with students being raised in a "special" boarding school in 1970s Britain. This quiet sci… read more!
This, Terrence Malick's fourth feature in more than thirty years, was not released with the same fanfare that his 1998 The Thin Red Line received. But then, a mere seven years passed between that film and The New World, whereas Thin Red Line was his first work in two decades. It's too bad, because while I liked Thin Red Line,… read more!
Another one of those omnibus movies, where a bunch of different directors helm short films that share a theme or location - in this case, the Big Apple - New York, I Love You is a sequel of sorts to 2006's Paris, je t'aime, organized by the same French producers who envision a whole series of movies dedicated to romance… read more!
Madonna and Rupert Everett play best friends. He's gay, she's not, both are lonely. One night they get drunk and sleep together. The next thing you know, she's pregnant. Rupert decides to move in with Madonna and raise the baby together. Cut to six years later: the baby has grown into a sensitive young boy and everybody's happy. (How can… read more!
Recently I saw a hugely entertaining documentary called The Bandit, about the making of Smokey and the Bandit. With much of its footage from 1976 and 1977, it practically reeks of the '70s, all stale cigarettes and Aqua Velva. It's a perfect depiction of what people looked like back then, how they spoke, what they wore, and where they lived. Even aside from The… read more!
The day before I saw Nightcrawler, I watched Los Angeles Plays Itself, Thom Andersen's lengthy film essay about how LA is depicted in the movies. (Andersen teaches at CalArts; I never had him as an instructor, but I remember his wild hair and spectral presence earning him the nickname "Beetlejuice".) That film, buried for years because of rights issues, has… read more!
The second Federico Fellini film to become a Broadway show and then a Hollywood musical - the first was Nights of Cabiria, which became Sweet Charity just a few years later - Nine is based on the legendary Italian director's self-referential 1963 masterpiece 8½, which dramatized his own experiences as a filmmaker dealing with a creative slump and haunted by… read more!
Roman Polanski is back and in very fine form with his dark, witty, suspenseful thriller about amoral New York book expert Dean Corso (Johnny Depp), who is hired by sinister book collector Boris Balkan (Frank Langella) to do some field research: Balkan owns an incredibly rare old book that is rumored to have the power to raise Satan from the… read more!
Thoroughly engaging drama that retells Chile's great 1988 political saga, when right-wing dictator Augosto Pinochet - 15 years after overtaking the country in a military coup - bowed to international pressure to make his regime appear "democratic" and thus allowed the public to cast their votes on a simple yes/no ballot: "Yes" meant 8 more years of Pinochet rule. "No"… read more!
After two disastrously-received studio comedies (Intolerable Cruelty and the Ladykillers remake), cult filmmakers Joel & Ethan Coen return to the West Texas badlands that put them on the map over 20 years ago, when they unleashed Blood Simple on an unsuspecting public. Like their auspicious debut, No Country for Old Men opens with a montage of bleak but beautiful Texas… read more!
Kore-eda's second dramatic feature After Life (released in the US in 1999) is one of my all-time favorite films. I urge everybody reading this now to seek it out. I think it's amazing. So you can imagine I was quite excited to see Nobody Knows, especially since Kore-eda's 2001 film Distance was never distributed in the States. Inspired by true… read more!
If you're put off by the thought of obese naked women dancing around in slow motion, you'd best skip the opening credits of Nocturnal Animals. Beats me, though, if this sequence has anything to do with the film's themes; the women are merely part of an art installation overseen by Los Angeles gallery owner Susan (Amy Adams), filthy rich but stuck in a loveless marriage.… read more!
Silly but spirited comedy (released in Japan in 1996 and arriving in the US a full four years later) about an unemployed loser whose hopes to rob a bank go awry when he bumps into an angry convenience store clerk, who takes his gun and chases him on foot around Tokyo. When the two bump into a guilt-laden yakuza (who… read more!
What does my having gone to CalArts at the same time as Michael Polish have to do with this review? Nothing. Nevertheless, I wanted to support a classmate's efforts, even if I never knew the guy, and I did like the first film put out by Michael and his twin brother Mark, Twin Falls Idaho, a quirky but touching look… read more!
It's always a pleasure to catch a new film by Zhang Yimou. I consider him one of the very best filmmakers working today. If you don't know what I'm talking about, see his masterpieces Raise the Red Lantern, Shanghai Triad or Ju Dou, among others. They all made a star out of Zhang's then-girlfriend, the amazing actress Gong Li, but… read more!
Meandering, inoffensive biopic about 1950s pin-up queen Bettie Page, the sweet Christian gal from Nashville who went to New York to pursue acting and wound up the unwitting star of a legendary series of bondage photos for the brother-sister team of Irving and Paula Klaw. Harron and cowriter Guinevere Turner don't have much of a story to tell, but it's… read more!
A concert film starring comedian Margaret Cho, recorded live in Seattle in December 2001. I don't usually see these films (most of them only play on cable) but I was curious about Cho's act, having heard so much about her over the past few years. Well, after watching Notorious C.H.O., I walked away remembering something: I don't really find stand-up… read more!