This Depression-era comedy opens with a statement that this tale of an escaped convict (George Clooney) who treks across the South with his simple-minded buddies (John Turturro, Tim Blake Nelson) to get home to his wife is an adaptation of Homer's The Odyssey. But the Coens, ever the tricksters, are pulling your leg. Their "adaptation" is only a goofy pastiche… read more!
Movie Titles: O
As I wrote in an earlier review, there are almost strictly two kinds of heist movies: those where everything goes right and the thieves walk away with a fortune, and those where everything goes wrong and the thieves wind up dead or in jail. The distinction between these two very different subgenres hinges on one element: whether or not the… read more!
Intermittently funny comedy that takes place in an anonymous suburb where several rank and file employees of a soul-sucking software company watch their lives tick away. Eventually a story emerges: our protagonist Peter (Ron Livingston), fed up with his worthless existence, bonds with two coworkers (played with dry wit by David Herman and Ajay Naidu) and they start quietly laying… read more!
This drily absurd Spanish comedy opens with 80-year-old industrialist Humberto Suárez (José Luis Gómez) deciding to sink a little of his fortune into producing an "important" movie. After securing the costly rights to a Nobel Prize-winning novel called Rivalry, he hires esteemed director Lola Cuevas (Penélope Cruz in a fright wig) to helm the project. She insists upon casting two… read more!
Sweet little comedy, dry as a bone, about a train engineer named Odd Horten (Baard Owe) – and for the record, "Odd" is not an odd name in Norway, where this film was made – and the mild trouble he gets into after he retires from his job. Hamer gave us the similarly gentle Kitchen Stories and seems to have… read more!
Harmless though uninspired comedy about three guys in their thirties (Luke Wilson, Vince Vaughn, Will Ferrell) who start a college fraternity as a way of recapturing the wild spirit of their younger days. Sort of. This is just a lame "high concept" plot, actually; a mere clothesline on which to hang a bunch of rather ordinary gags and slack Animal… read more!
Fantastically insane revenge melodrama about a man in his forties (Choi Min-sik in a delirious performance) who, after being held captive in a cell-like room for fifteen years, is suddenly and mysteriously released. His goal: to find out who had incarcerated him for so long, and why. To reveal anything further would be cruel, for one of Oldboy's joys is… read more!
Simple, sweet-natured movie about a poor Dublin singer-songwriter (Glen Hansard) who has a chance encounter with a Czech piano player (Marketa Irglova) and winds up playing music with her, writing songs with her – and maybe falling a little in love with her. Shot digitally on a shoestring budget, Once has already become one of the sleeper hits of 2007.… read more!
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
I haven't been excited about a new movie in years – that is, until a year or two ago, when I first heard about the making of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. I wouldn't call myself a big Quentin Tarantino fan, but the thought of the writer/director taking on the Manson Family murders – while painstakingly restoring Hollywood to… read more!
Nearly three years after its debut at Sundance, One has finally been allowed to briefly grace a few US movie screens, and if it comes to your town, I urge you to see it. It's a shining example of what American independent cinema is supposed to be about. Artful, original, and unsentimental, One might be more appropriately titled Two, focusing… read more!
One Hour Photo
Much-hyped change of pace for Robin Williams, who plays Sy Parrish, a pathologically lonely man who works for the local SavMart (think Target) at the one-hour photo counter and who has developed (sorry) an obsession with the picture-perfect (sorry again) family: the Yorkins (Michael Vartan, Connie Nielsen, and Dylan Smith as their 9-year-old son). The Yorkins have been bringing in… read more!
Only Lovers Left Alive
Cult indie director Jim Jarmusch takes on the vampire genre. On the surface, this seems like a no-brainer: the spooky Jarmusch could almost pass for a vampire himself, and as so many of his films take place at night (or in daylight so bleak and cold that it might as well be night), their tone infused with a dispassionate coolness,… read more!
I saw Onward on VOD three months after its truncated theatrical run, and I'm reviewing it a full month later. Such is life under lockdown, where there is no longer any rush to catch a film or to talk about it. For the record, I had planned to see Onward in a theater around St. Patrick's Day, but a pandemic… read more!
Well-meaning tragedy that ultimately feels like propaganda, Osama is notable for being the first film made in "post-Taliban" Afghanistan. Marina Golbahari stars as a nameless 12-year-old girl who, in order to make money to feed her widowed mother and grandmother, must shear her long locks and pose as a boy to get work. It's a dangerous task that winds up… read more!
Perhaps I was predisposed not to love this film. Its premise – a repressed woman (Nicole Kidman) watching after two spooky kids in an English mansion that she believes may be haunted – is awfully reminiscent of one of my all-time favorite films, 1961's The Innocents. A hard act to follow, to be sure. But the similarities end there. Set on Jersey… read more!
Oz the Great and Powerful
It all sounded so promising: Sam Raimi directing a story that takes place in Oz? A prequel idea that actually seems to make sense - telling the story of how a Kansas carnival magician (James Franco) wound up becoming the Wonderful Wizard? And even though it's a 3-D Disney movie, I would have thought that if anybody could make 3-D… read more!