Peter Gabriel provides the score for Rabbit-Proof Fence, and although it is atmospheric, it's also strangely indistinctive. Which is an appropriate observation when discussing this film. Rabbit-Proof Fence is based on a true story about three half-white, half-Aboriginal girls who, in 1931, escaped from what could best be called a concentration camp for half-caste children. They traveled on foot for… read more!
Movie Titles: R
Though the title and theme may remind one of 2007's Margot at the Wedding, Jonathan Demme's feel-good/feel-bad drama about a dysfunctional family - whose most troubled member, nine-months sober junkie daughter Kym (Anne Hathaway in an award-worthy performance), shows up at her sister's wedding only to open up all kinds of old wounds - is thankfully nowhere as chilly as… read more!
Completely crazy-violent action thriller about an elite police squad tasked to raid a 15-story building filled with killers and thieves and overseen by a powerful crime lord. The body count on both sides quickly rises, and once everybody runs out of bullets, it's time to break out the machetes and the hyperactive martial arts fights. Imagine the revolutionary Hong Kong… read more!
Oren Moverman quickly follows up his impressive 2009 directorial debut The Messenger with a gritty but inscrutable drama about a tough LAPD officer (Woody Harrelson, whose costarring role in The Messenger earned him an Oscar nod) who, in the middle of the notorious 1999 Rampart division scandal - in which several cops in the anti-gang unit were busted for misconduct… read more!
I actually got a headache from watching this movie. Which isn't to say that it's all that bad. Just very loud. And all the characters scream a lot. A lot. Actually, come to think of it, it's not that good. Rat Race is about a bunch of idiots (played by a sort-of all-star cast) who are picked at random by… read more!
After the listless, maudlin Cars derailed Pixar's track record for damn-near perfect cinematic storytelling, it's wonderful to see that they're back at the top of their game with Ratatouille, a wholly original entry in the computer animated movie field that seems destined to be the studio's least financially successful film primarily because it's their most sophisticated and mature. Not many… read more!
Haunting drama about a dirt-poor Glasgow family, suffering through the city's infamous garbage strike in the late '70s. Ratcatcher focuses on the only son in the family, an 11-year-old who accidentally(?) drowns a friend in the muddy Glaswegian canals, then suffers from the guilt surrounding his act as his world literally decays around him. With its sparse dialogue (which is… read more!
This film held its world premiere at the Temecula Valley Film Festival, opposite my own film Foreign Correspondents, and because of its trendy subject matter it had a sizably larger (and younger) audience than my screening did. However, I won't let sour grapes sway my review. In any event, Rave is about - you guessed it - a rave. Well,… read more!
Tepid adaptation of the Bernhard Schlink bestseller about a German teenager (David Kross) who has an affair with an older woman (Kate Winslet, naked as usual) in 1958 Berlin, then discovers, years later, after her sudden disappearance, that she has been name-checked as an Auschwitz guard in a concentration camp survivor's memoir. The story jumps around in time as the… read more!
One of my pet peeves is with movies that are marketed with all these quotes from critics calling it "White-knuckle suspense in the grand tradition of Hitchcock!" "A terrific Hitchcockian thriller!" "The Master would be proud!" Aside from the fact that nothing can truly be called Hitchcockian, because no filmmaker is Hitchcock, distributors almost always attach these quotes to quiet,… read more!
Borat director Larry Charles goes on the road again with another flippant provocateur, TV talk show host Bill Maher. This pseudo-documentary's premise is as simplistic as its targets: atheist Maher confronts an array of religious hucksters around the world to underscore his belief that all religion is a sham. Speaking as an atheist myself, I found the film too obviously… read more!
This drama about two young novelists in Oslo has been marketed as some sort of slick, fast-paced European hipster movie, ala Run Lola Run, which is a bit disingenuous. There is the occasional stylistic flourish, but mostly it's a solid, no-nonsense story about - well, I can only say it's about growing up, but it makes the film sound sappy,… read more!
Director Darren Aronofsky and his cowriter Hubert Selby, Jr. (on whose book this film is based) appear to be after one goal with Requiem for a Dream: to provide audiences with a thoroughly unpleasant filmgoing experience. On this front, they have succeeded. A near-psychedelic, delirium-paced non-story about drug addiction, Requiem follows young heroin addict Harry Goldfarb (Jared Leto) around a… read more!
In 1823, a fur trapper named Hugh Glass was mauled by a bear in South Dakota, left to die by his colleagues Thomas Fitzpatrick and Jim Bridger, and crawled some 200 miles back to what then passed for civilization. That basic premise, along with a few morbidly fascinating details about how the severely injured Glass made it through the bitter Dakota winter, provide the factual basis… read more!
Believe it or not, I was excited when Titanic came out in 1997. Having worked on a documentary about the ship a few years earlier, I was among the first to catch it when it was released. At the time I also was a fan of both its young leads; I was as impressed by Leonardo DiCaprio in This Boy's… read more!
Spooky, Twilight Zone-ish disaster movie about a young couple (Rory Cochrane and Mary McCormack) dealing with a devastating chemical bomb attack outside their Los Angeles home. The catch is that Brad (Cochrane), a stay-at-home husband and failed rock musician, is "lucky" enough to be inside when the bombs go off, while the careerist Lexi (McCormack) is caught right in the… read more!
Hollywood has been feeding upon itself so much lately, I don't know quite how to categorize Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Is it a reboot of a prequel? A prequel of a remake? Perhaps it's best to say that it's just the missing chapter in pop culture's fictional history of Earth's primate rebellion, now that computer graphics have… read more!
Elegant documentary about Scottish environmental artist Andy Goldsworthy, whose sculptures are produced entirely from - and using - materials he finds in the natural surroundings of wherever he decides to work, be it a riverbank, a grassy field, or a seashore. Watching Goldsworthy at work is a little like watching somebody build a house of cards - only with leaves,… read more!
All aesthetics and personality traits aside, I see Zhang Yimou in the same light as Woody Allen, in that the films he made with his former lover, Gong Li, all contained intense waves of tragedy, usually resulting from the selfish actions of Li's characters (Raise the Red Lantern, Ju Dou, Shanghai Triad, et al). Similarly, Woody Allen's films with his… read more!
A college student accidentally mails his long-distance girlfriend a videotape of himself having sex with another girl, so he enlists the help of three friends as he drives from Ithaca, New York to Austin, Texas in order to apprehend the incriminating video before the girlfriend does. That's it for plot. The bulk of Road Trip consists of gags, gags, gags… read more!