Latest Film Reviews
La Finestra di fronte (Facing Windows) (2004)
However well-intentioned Facing Windows may be, Ferzan Özpetek's romantic drama sweats for stirring profundity but comes off as obvious, listless, and thoroughly cliched. Don't let the subtitles...
Two Brothers (2004)
With Two Brothers, Jean-Jacques Annaud (The Bear) ignores the old chestnut about never working with children or animals. The two brothers in question are Koumal and Sangha, two tigers who we see grow...
Around the World in 80 Days (2004)
A strange hybrid of Verne's story, goofy Disney fare like
The Absent-Minded Professor
, and cheerily anachronistic Jackie Chan buddy comedies like
Around the World in Eighty Days (1956)
The Oscar-winning Best Picture of 1956 may not have aged especially well, but remains a stalwart family film which, for all its Hollywood pageantry and epic bloat, tells Jules Verne's 1873 story with...
Garfield: The Movie (2004)
In my wanton youth, I read Jim Davis's Garfield comics with delight, chuckling over the fat cat's pithy punchlines, like "I hate Mondays." Soon, when I was old enough to understand why someone would...
Die Geschichte vom weinenden Kamel (The Story of the Weeping Camel) (2004)
The unusual semi-documentary The Story of the Weeping Camel employs the technique of Nanook of the North filmmaker Robert Flaherty to capture natural drama as it happens and accurately recreate or ar...
Control Room (2004)
Ruefully, Al Jazeera senior producer Samir Khader rounds off the documentary Control Room by reminding us of the world's short attention span: "History is written by the victors." With Control Room,...
A Day Without a Mexican (2004)
Though I haven't seen Sergio Arau's half-hour long 1998 short subject "A Day Without a Mexican," I expect it delivers more wicked snap than the watered down, 97-minute version now in theatres. Largel...
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001)
To movie lovers everywhere, "Mr. Potter" always meant the crotchety villain of It's a Wonderful Life. But now, Dame Maggie's stern intonations of "Mr. Potter" herald the arrival of the hottest liter...
In the early '70s, writer-director Melvin Van Peebles tired of being racist Hollywood's "niggerologist," threw caution to the wind, and set out to make an independent film. The result was Sweet Sweet...
Jeux d'enfants (Love Me If You Dare) (2004)
Love Me if You Dare, Yann Samuell's restless debut feature, begins beguilingly, develops into an intriguing but muddled midsection, and finally arrives at a frustrating split resolution which breaks...
Coffee and Cigarettes (2004)
In 1986, Jim Jarmusch sat down slow-talker Steven Wright and whirling dervish Roberto Benigni with a mess of coffee and cigarettes and encouraged them to riff a meet-weird scene. Ever since, Jarmusch...
Gojira (Godzilla) (1954)
Radioactive energy, thunderous footfalls, terror in the streets? These ominous signs can only mean one thing: the thrilla named Godzilla is back! Everyone's favorite 200-foot apocalyptic prehistoric...
Shrek 2 (2004)
The perfect sort of movie to pay attention to in the back of a minivan.
So is Wolfgang Petersen's Troy--inspired by Homer's 15,000-line epic poem The Iliad--true to its tony literary source, or just a post-Gladiator sword-and-sandal movie "epic"? Surprisingly, Troy is mo...
A Night in Casablanca (1946)
In the greater Marx Brothers canon, A Night in Casablanca is a relatively minor effort, but after a slow, expository start, the film slowly, steadily makes a case for itself as a fine comic adventure...
Room Service (1938)
This oft-dismissed exception in the Marx Brothers canon includes no musical numbers and only a few bits specifically tailored to the brothers...underrated.
At the Circus (1939)
Like the travelling circus it follows, the 1939 Marx Brothers effort At the Circus is all over the map. Though it's ultimately less than the sum of its parts, some of the parts are quite good and, ev...
A Night at the Opera (1935)
In the mid-1930s, the Marx Brothers flopped hard with their Paramount comedy Duck Soup (later named by the American Film Institute the fifth-funniest film ever made). Licking their wounds and watchin...
A Day at the Races (1937)
The inimitable Marx Brothers followed up their magnum opus A Night at the Opera with the light-footed A Day at the Races, repository for another handful of elaborate and indelible comedy scenarios. F...
Laws of Attraction (2004)
After striking a superficial resemblance to a classic romantic comedy like Adam's Rib--in which legal lovebirds Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn made a fairly even match--the newfangled romantic c...
Man On Fire (2004)
Too preposterous to be edgy, Tony Scott's Man on Fire is a slick and dreary penny dreadful (adjusted for inflation) that's only marginally more sophisticated than Walking Tall. At least the Rock's re...
Io non ho paura (I'm Not Scared) (2004)
With I'm Not Scared, Gabriele Salvatores contrasts the stereotypical images of Italian cinema--sun-dappled wheat-fields, breezy abandon, and tanned olive skin--with shadowy places both literal--like...
Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter...and Spring (2004)
With an appealing and exotic formal structure, South Korean director Kim Ki-Duk (The Isle) achieves the elegant simplicity of fable in Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter...and Spring. In a recurring motif,...
Lars von Trier, the mad scientist of modern cinema, has outdone himself with Dogville. After similar experiments in the allegorical degradation and suffering of a female protagonist (Breaking the Wav...
Ella Enchanted (2004)
Ella Enchanted was obviously greenlit with the directive "Bring me a live-action Shrek for preteen girls!" (The Princess Bride and Ever After also leap to mind). At first, the movie is a bit dazzling...
Ron Perlman--the Lon Chaney of our time--plays Hellboy with grit, humor, and a depth of feeling which, barely, grounds the movie.
Conte d'automne (Autumn Tale) (1998)
Autumn Tale, from respected French auteur Eric Rohmer, is the last chapter of Rohmer's thematic Tales of the Four Seasons series, but it requires absolutely no foreknowledge. Rohmer is known for film...
Shiqi sui de dan che (Beijing Bicycle) (2002)
Someone figured out a long time ago that people on bikes are cinematic. Both on and off its central totem, Wang Xiaoshuai's Beijing Bicycle is beautiful to behold, to a point. The gorgeous cinematogr...
Tmavomodrý svet (Dark Blue World) (2001)
Pearl Harbor spent a lot of money in an attempt to dazzle and sweep an audience into breathtaking WWII action and romance. But director Michael Bay threw a wrench in his own war machine by drowning...
Hua yang nian hua (In the Mood For Love) (2001)
The romantic drama In The Mood For Love marks the return of director Wong Kar-Wai, who was introduced to American audiences when Quentin Tarantino selected Chungking Express for distribution in 1995....
Italiensk for begyndere (Italian for Beginners) (2002)
Though the release of Italian for Beginners may represent a move toward humbler releases for Miramax, it also represents the Weinsteins' ongoing savvy for pegging indies with broad appeal. Though Ita...
Safar e Ghandehar (Kandahar) (2001)
Sometimes felicitous timing can make the difference between unimagined success and obscurity. Kandahar, by Iranian filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf has reaped the dubious distinction of success made possi...
Hatuna Meuheret (Late Marriage) (2002)
Late Marriage relies on the element of surprise, so it's rather difficult to describe its effect (in fact, if you'd rather have no idea what you're in for, stop reading now and get to the theater). T...
Siu lam juk kau (Shaolin Soccer) (2004)
Miramax's over-the-top import Shaolin Soccer gleefully runs on the mock import of applying a fifteen-century old martial art to soccer. With the bold comic style of a lunatic cartoon, writer-director...
Walking Tall (2004)
If you watch the latest version of Walking Tall--and I recommend that you don't--just keep telling yourself, "It's 'inspired by a true story.'" Thusly, you can convert the Rock's latest vehicle from...
Ned Kelly (2004)
This appropriately dour, stolid biopic of Irish-Australian folk anti-hero Edward "Ned" Kelly supplants the ridiculed Mick Jagger version--also titled Ned Kelly--by adapting Robert Drewe's historical...
Scooby Doo (2002)
Though I'm a bit loathe to admit it, I grew up as a fan of Scooby Doo, so I warily carried my misguided affection for the titular mutt, the colorful Mystery Machine van, the haunted houses, and the c...
Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed (2004)
Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed is, like the first film, not to my taste, but it does represent a hair's breadth of improvement and kiddies will giggle, so do as you will. The sequel reunites the Sc...
Crimson Gold (2004)
Employing mesmerizing understatement, director Jafar Panahi spins Crimson Gold from a yarn scripted by Abbas Kiarostami. The film details the absurdity of the class gap in modern Tehran ("...a city o...
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