Latest Film Reviews
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...
Jersey Girl (2004)
Kevin Smith's Jersey Girl is only half as adorable as it is bad. Beladen with pop rock designed to goose emotions and blandly predictable in the extreme, this View Askew Film doesn't live up to Smith...
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
Why don't we take off alone, Take a trip far, far away, We'll be together on our own again, Like we used to in the early days... It's like we both are falling in love again, It'll be just like s...
Secret Window (2004)
Across the cineplex from David Mamet's better mousetrap Spartan (admittedly built from old parts), writer-director David Koepp has the ignominious chore of reassembling Stephen King's dusty old contr...
Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London (2004)
The classic TV spy series Get Smart replaced logic with comic absurdity. Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London has no virtues to fill its yawning gaps of logic. Though the movie stars Frankie Muniz...
Starsky & Hutch (2004)
I can't exactly recommend Starsky & Hutch, a big-screen remake of the '70s TV-cop show, but I can't claim not to have laughed from time to time, either. Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson bring their we...
Writer-director Siddiq Barmak's Osama--the first all-Afghan film to emerge since the fall of the Taliban--paints a visually striking and decidedly haunting mural of the Taliban's reign of terror. As...
Critics hate little more than when bad movies happen to good people. But unless the moguls at Paramount Pictures had incriminating photos of Philip Kaufman--director of The Right Stuff and The Unbear...
Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights (2004)
If you want a good chuckle, sneak into a theatre showing the new Dirty Dancing movie in time to catch the opening credit. After a teaser which establishes (through dingbatted narration) the middle-cl...
Good Bye, Lenin! (2004)
In Wolfgang Becker's Good Bye, Lenin!, a bit of background propaganda proclaims, "PEOPLE ARE AT THE CENTER OF SOCIALIST SOCIETY," and indeed this farce driven by historic global change makes more tha...
Right from its animated title sequence, Eurotrip announces itself as a party movie chock full of sex, booze, and rock and roll. It's R-rated, but sure to be the latest coolest movie amongst the high...
Against the Ropes (2004)
If you're ready for Meg Ryan to wrap a gum-cracking accent around lines like "That was off the hook!" and "He's the bomb!" strap in for Against the Ropes, a modern melodrama audacious enough to claim...
Welcome to Mooseport (2004)
Despite the presence of Oscar-winning actors Gene Hackman and Marcia Gay Harden, TV funnyman Ray Romano, and an ensemble of well-liked former stars of stage and (mostly small) screen, Welcome to Moos...
50 First Dates (2004)
I'll admit it up front: 50 First Dates, like all Adam Sandler movies, is essentially critic-proof. What can I say? Sandler fans will love this carefully constructed Sander-formula flick (including a...
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