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 mixed race children. They traveled on foot… read more!
Movie Titles: R
Rachel Getting Married
This 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 old wounds – might be confused with the vaguely similar Margot at the Wedding, Demme's picture is nowhere as chilly as Noah Baumbach's. In fact, with its handheld approach… read more!
The Raid: Redemption
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. As you might guess, Rave is about a rave. Well, sort of a rave.… 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!
Ready or Not
A foul-mouthed young bride (Samara Weaving, niece of Hugo) learns that her groom's relatives, millionaires who have made their fortune in board games (really?), play a randomly-selected game with every new son- or daughter-in-law on their wedding night. It's an old tradition that the family laughs off – unless, of course, "hide and seek" is selected, in which case they… read more!
Ready Player One
The year is 2045, and Columbus, Ohio has inexplicably become the largest city in the US. In its poorest neighborhood lives 18-year-old orphan Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan). Like nearly everyone else, Wade spends all day in a virtual reality platform called OASIS, which provides an escape from this bleak future world. Five years earlier, OASIS's geeky creator James Halliday (Mark… read more!
There's nothing about Alfred Hitchcock's Rebecca, 1940's Best Picture Oscar winner, that cried out for a remake – unless, of course, a filmmaker could do something new and radical with Daphne du Maurier's gothic novel. When I learned that British enfant terrible Ben Wheatley was hired to direct said remake, I figured that he, if anyone, would take that new… 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!
Although marketed as a taut suspense thriller, Red Sparrow is in reality a disturbing drama about the moral compromises inherent to spycraft and the enduring trauma of sexual assault. No, it isn't fun. But it is an interesting film, one not worthy of the dismissive reviews it's been receiving. Jennifer Lawrence leads a mostly non-Russian cast as a Bolshoi ballerina… 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, a la 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… read more!
Requiem for a Dream
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 nearly psychedelic, delirium-paced non-story about drug addiction, Requiem follows young heroin addict Harry Goldfarb (Jared Leto) around… 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 impressed by Leonardo DiCaprio in This Boy's Life… read more!
Beautifully shot documentary/fiction hybrid about a young cowboy named Brady (played by Brady Jandreau) who, after receiving a severe head injury during a rodeo, must decide whether to build a new life for himself or risk it all and continue riding horses. What's fascinating about The Rider is that Jandreau is playing a fictionalized version of himself – he really… read more!