This film's been getting a lot of praise for its interesting use of animation - taking the age-old technique of rotoscoping (in which live action film is traced over, frame by frame, to create animation that is either cheating or a new art form; Ralph Bakshi made much use of this in the 1970s) and using computers to both update… read more!
Movie Titles: W
Entertaining documentary about Walt Disney animation between 1984 and 1994 - from its nadir after the Black Cauldron debacle to its zenith with The Lion King - packed with information, colorful characters, and a really startling amount of rare footage. As one might guess, the only way a documentary like this could license all those priceless clips of Disney films… read more!
In 1974, a French tightrope artist named Philippe Petit illegally strung a wire between the newly-completed twin towers of the World Trade Center, then walked across it. I never even heard of this story until years after September 11, 2001, when Petit became the subject of the 2008 documentary Man on Wire. Presumably, that film's makers figured that 2008 was long enough after 9/11 so that their fun little doc wouldn't bum… read more!
It's a bit weird that, in the midst of all these major studio films coming out at the same time, vying for Oscars (Sweeney Todd, The Kite Runner, Charlie Wilson's War, et al), I'd choose to see the wacky comedy Walk Hard instead. Here's my excuse: My wife works for singer/songwriter Dan Bern, who contributed several of the funnier songs… read more!
Eyal (Lior Ashkenazi), a crack agent for Mossad, Israel's secret service, comes home from a successful assassination attempt on a Hamas leader only to find that his wife has committed suicide. His supervisor, fearing that the stoic Eyal may be secretly suffering from the trauma, keeps him off the tough jobs and assigns him a "simple" assignment: word has it… read more!
I've long been a champion of Pixar's animated output, and I know I'm not alone. Usually a Pixar film will make it into my top 10 for the year. But forgive me if I don't jump on the bandwagon and claim that WALL-E is among Pixar's best. It's hard to badmouth it, because it's a cute little movie with a… read more!
Walt Disney was having a tough year in 1941. He had fumbled badly with 1940's Pinocchio and Fantasia (hard to believe now, but at the time they were financial and critical disasters), and then many of the employees of his studio, demanding better wages and more fair labor practices, went on strike, an act which deeply hurt "Uncle Walt", who… read more!
After several years of comparatively challenging filmmaking - the misfire of the last Indiana Jones movie notwithstanding - Steven Spielberg is back in the gee-whiz populist mode that marked his '80s output. That's not necessarily a bad thing. In his epic World War I fable War Horse, the director finds a canny balance between the golden-hued schmaltz of The Color… read more!
Are we all in agreement that the best thing about these "aliens invade the earth" flicks are the scenes of death and destruction on a massive scale? That's why audiences will always flock to a good disaster movie: because people dig watching things go boom. (Don't tell me that Titanic is the highest-grossing film of all time just because of… read more!
I'm one of a decreasing number of serious fans of Larry Clark's film work. With disturbing, violent, sexually graphic stories about troubled teenagers (Kids, Bully, the still-unseen-in-America Ken Park), Clark endears himself to few people. I'd like to think a part of this is the discomfort that his leering camera brings out in audiences: perhaps there's a sense of, "If… read more!
Poor Zack Snyder. He strikes me as an amiable sort of fellow, maybe a bit of a hack, but a hard-working guy with a great fondness for detail. But he could never win against the legions of fans devoted to Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons's landmark graphic novel Watchmen. They're up in arms over the few changes to the story… read more!
I'm one of the few who didn't care for The Usual Suspects, the popular thriller that made stars out of Kevin Spacey, director Bryan Singer, and writer Christopher McQuarrie. The film's famous "twist" ending felt like a rip-off to me because it negated the entire two hours leading up to it. One thing I will say about McQuarrie's directorial debut… read more!
I hate to sound reactionary, but I am so happy to see Swedish director Lukas Moodysson return to his upbeat beginnings, after several years making important-seeming but hard-to-sit-through movies (Lilya 4-Ever, A Hole in My Heart, and Mammoth are all major downers; I missed the experimental Container). We Are the Best!, based on Moodysson's wife Coco's comic book, concerns three… read more!
Scottish filmmaker Ramsay has become something of a darling with cineastes because of her first two features, Ratcatcher and Morvern Callar. I've seen both films and found them intriguing in sort of a hazy way, though I did not share fans' enthusiasm. Ramsay's long-awaited third feature, We Need to Talk About Kevin, set in the US and starring a mostly… read more!
Wendy (a grubbed-up Michelle Williams in fine form) is a poor, friendless drifter who has stopped in an anonymous Oregon town, having driven from Indiana on her way to the vague hope of a job in Alaska. One minor calamity after another befalls her: her car won't start, she is arrested after shoplifting some dog food, and her dog Lucy… read more!
Gentle modern-day fable about Pai (Keisha Castle-Hughes), an 11-year-old girl living in a small Maori village on New Zealand's coast, who starts to believe she is the reincarnation of her tribe's fabled savior - much to the chagrin of her tradition-minded grandfather (Rawiri Paratene), who believes the Chosen One can only be a male. In this case, that male was… read more!
When I was in Hong Kong in 1998, I got to sit down with Tsai Ming-Liang and, through an interpreter, talk with him about film. I mentioned my own first film and how it was divided into two stories in two different cities. Whaddaya know - the film he made three years later, What Time Is It There?, follows two… read more!
Mel Gibson is a womanizing ad exec who, as a friend puts it to him, can get into a woman's pants but not her head. (Considering all the girls who wind up in bed with him, many men would say this guy already has a head-start on knowing what women want.) After a freak accident, however, he is suddenly given… read more!
Oliver Stone's 1991 biopic of Jim Morrison, The Doors, was a silly affair, one of those Hollywood movies you watch and then wish you had just seen an actual documentary starring the real people portrayed in the film. Almost two decades later, Tom DiCillo answers the call with a doc that is a must for fans of The Doors, entertaining… read more!
The long-awaited adaptation of Maurice Sendak's 1963 children's book oozes hipness: writer/director Spike Jonze, cowriter Dave Eggers, a soundtrack co-composed by the Yeah Yeah Yeah's Karen O, a commendable name cast led by child actor Max Records, and of course the beloved source material. And the film is inarguably incredible to look at. Costumes, locations, production design, cinematography, puppetry, and… read more!