Monthly Archives: March 2008

STOP-LOSS

Kimberly Peirce’s “Stop-Loss” is a bit of a disappointment coming 9 years after the director’s brilliant debut feature, “Boys Don’t Cry.” That was a relevant, effective and poignant story of tolerance (or lack thereof) in America’s heartland. This new film is a tale of military abuse of its soldiers and the problems that coming home from Iraq can cause. Well-acted, well-made, but a bit melodramatic and strains too hard.

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CHAPTER 27

Chapter 27 Movie Review 

R, 84 min, 2007

Director: J.P. Schaefer

Writers: J.P. Schaefer, Jack Jones (book Let Me Take You Down)
Stars: Chuck Cooper, Lindsay Lohan, Victor Verhaeghe

J.P. Schaefer’s Chapter 27 is a would-be fascinating take on the demented mind of a murderer, which ultimately fails to shed a scintilla of light on its subject. Continue reading

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SHOTGUN STORIES

Shotgun Stories Movie Review

PG_13, 92 min, 2007

Director: Jeff Nichols
Writer: Jeff Nichols
Stars: Michael Shannon, Douglas Ligon, Barlow Jacobs

Jeff Nichols’ Shotgun Stories is a Southern Gothic melodrama revolving around a blood feud which has its roots in the past and spirals down through time, infecting the lives and minds of an entire family, soiling the present and almost claiming the future. Continue reading

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SHUTTER

PG_13, 85 min, 2008

Director: Masayuki Ochiai
Writer: Luke Dawson (screenplay) (as Luke Dawson)
Stars: Joshua Jackson, Rachael Taylor, James Kyson

Shutter is (yet another) Asian horror film  remade for the American audiences, cast with English-speaking would-be stars, and dumbed down from an already dumb premise until any scintilla of wit is drained out of it. Continue reading

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NEVER BACK DOWN

PG_13, 110 min, 2008

Director: Jeff Wadlow
Writer: Chris Hauty (written by)
Stars: Sean Faris, Djimon Hounsou, Amber Heard

The definition of “guilty pleasure” is something that you enjoy despite knowing better. Some part of your inner defenses break down and you actually like something that you know you shouldn’t. Keep this in mind when I tell you that Never Back Down is a teen action-movie retread that somehow is more entertaining and better-made than we expect – or deserve. Continue reading

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FUNNY GAMES

Michael Haneke’s “Funny Games” (U.S.) is an unsettling stylistic exercise, a darkly funny social commentary, an existentialist nightmare (of sorts), and a bleak, nihilistic vision of the encroachment of evil on ordinary, everyday affluence. In short, a frightening and wickedly pointed tale of voyeurism designed to shock and sicken, implicate and accuse, and ultimately alienate whilst causing serious debate and discussion.

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<br/><br />This gorgeously pretentious morsel comes from writer-director Haneke via English-speaking actors such as Michael Pitt (brilliant as Paul, or was it Jerry?), Tim Roth as the assaulted and ineffectual husband George Sr., and Naomi Watts as Ann, the traumatized housewife who first invites pure evil into the home (as personified here by Pitt and Mysterious Skin’s Brady Corbet).

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<br/><br />Haneke has created basically a shot by shot remake of the original 1997 German version, this time in English and with better actors, yet I’m surprised to find this one with a slightly more obvious (if sick) sense of humor (though you’ll be hard-pressed to utter a chuckle too often here), and also more of a clear perspective on what violence as entertainment really is like (and how we as audience members drink it up without thinking of the consequences). Some pointed dialogue toward the end of the film seems to have been added in (I think) about one of the psychotics’ heroes, a fictional character whose family was in “reality” and who himself ended up in a fictional alternate universe. The suggestion is made that… well — see for yourselves!

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CJ7

CJ7 Movie Review

PG, 86 min, 2008

Director: Stephen Chow
Writers: Stephen Chow (written by) & Vincent Kok (written by) & Kan-Cheung Tsang (written by) (as Tsang Kan Cheong) & Sandy Shaw (written by) (as Sandy Shaw Lai King) & Chi Keung Fung (written by) (as Fung Chih Chiang) & Fung Lam (written by) (as Lam Fung)

Stars: Stephen Chow, Kitty Zhang Yuqi, Jiao Xu

Obnoxious, frenetic, dull, long (at a mere 86 minutes!), and stupefying are all words which occurred to me while watching CJ7, the latest export from Stephen Chow – not to mention painful and idiotic. Chow should’ve kept it to himself. Continue reading

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10,000 BC



PG_13, 109 min, 2008

Director: Roland Emmerich
Writers: Roland Emmerich & Harald Kloser (written by)
Stars: Camilla Belle, Steven Strait, Marco Khan

Roland Emmerich’s 10,000 B.C. is a moronic, unconvincing, unegaging, would-be epic of astonishing ineptitude. Continue reading

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SNOW ANGELS

David Gordon Green’s “Snow Angels” is a mosaical slice of life in a small town (filmed in Nova Scotia). It concerns the converging lives of everyone from a young dishwasher in a Chinese restaurant (Michael Angarano) to his sexy coworker (Kate Beckinsale), a mom in the midst of a separation from her deadbeat, suicidal husband (Sam Rockwell), the dishwasher’s classmate (Olivia Thirlby), and the co-worker (Amy Sedaris) and her unfaithful husband (Nicky Katt).<br /><br />Green’s fourth feature (after the superb “George Washington,” “All the Real Girls” and “Undertow”; he has Judd Apatow’s production “The Pineapple Express” coming in August!) is a powerful little movie based on the Stuart O’Nan novel. <br /><br />The only confusing thing is that it seems to be set in the 70s or 80s, yet Beckinsale has a very new looking cellphone at one point. Anachronism?<br /><br />Very good work on all accounts.

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THE BANK JOB

The Bank Job Movie Review

R, 111 min, 2008

Director: Roger Donaldson
Writers: Dick Clement & Ian La Frenais (written by)
Stars: Jason Statham, Saffron Burrows, Stephen Campbell Moore

The Bank Job is a crackerjack heist film, apparently based on a true story. In 1971 London, a group of down on their luck small-time hoodlums were given a proposition – tunnel into a bank vault on Baker Street and they’d get all of the loot. If only it were actually that simple. Continue reading

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MISS PETTIGREW LIVES FOR A DAY

PG_13, 92 min, 2008

Director: Bharat Nalluri
Writers: David Magee (screenplay) and Simon Beaufoy (screenplay), Winifred Watson (novel)
Stars: Frances McDormand, Amy Adams, Ciarán Hinds

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day is essentially one hyperkinetic trailer squeezed out of a slow, never laugh-out-loud funny, but all-around likable 92-minute farce. Continue reading

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PARANOID PARK

Paranoid Park Movie Review

R, 85 min, 2007

Director: Gus Van Sant
Writers: Gus Van Sant (screenplay), Blake Nelson (novel)
Stars: Gabe Nevins, Daniel Liu, Taylor Momsen

Gus Van Sant’s Paranoid Park, a tone poem of a film, is an elliptical, poetically hypnotic portrait of a young life interrupted by sudden death. Continue reading

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MARRIED LIFE

Married Life Movie Review

PG_13, 91 m., 2007

Director: Ira Sachs
Writers: Ira Sachs (screenplay) & Oren Moverman (screenplay), John Bingham (book Five Roundabouts to Heaven)
Stars: Chris Cooper, Patricia Clarkson, Rachel McAdams

Ira Sachs’ Married Life is a darkly comedic, murder and passion-drenched domestic drama that’s never quite as funny, as disturbing or as involving as we hope. Continue reading

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