Monthly Archives: May 2008

SEX AND THE CITY

Sex and the City Movie Review

R, 145 min, 2008

Director: Michael Patrick King
Writers: Michael Patrick King (written by), Candace Bushnell (book), Darren Star (television series creator)
Stars: Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Cynthia Nixon

Michael Patrick King’s translation of the successful, long-running HBO series Sex and the City to feature film is, unfortunately, like watching five fairly boring, uninsightful, unfunny episodes – the series’ worst, if you will – strung together back-to-back-to-back. Granted, the five episodes must be said to interconnect in a clearly and thoroughly-plotted way; a mini-arc, you could say. Still, this 145 minute film manages to be about as unamusing, dramatically inert and stale as this series could’ve ever been. I am not now, nor have I ever been, a particularly big fan of the series but it had flashes of humor and wasn’t ever as depressing as this. Continue reading

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THE STRANGERS

The Strangers Movie Review

R, 86 min, 2008

Director: Bryan Bertino
Writer: Bryan Bertino
Stars: Scott Speedman, Liv Tyler, Gemma Ward

The Strangers is a creepy, somewhat scary (at times), but ultimately none-too-effective horror chiller, “inspired by true events” (which could’ve been the same as anything from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre to the Manson Family). Continue reading

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SAVAGE GRACE

Tom Kalin’s small-scale period epic is the unnerving, unsavory tale of a mother and son racing each other into madness; the results are occasionally intriguing but ultimately underwhelming. Julianne Moore is Barbara Daly, who married Brooks Baekeland (Stephen Dillane), heir to the fortune his grandfather made by creating the Bakelite. The couple was a society fixture throughout the 1940s, 50s and 60s in both New York and Paris. Barbara, as portrayed here, was a rather pretentious young woman who glittered in the limelight of high society, feeling superior to everyone – including her husband. The film opens with the trouble marriage between Brooks and Barbara and introduces their infant son Tony. As Tony grows up, he is an avid French student and an obvious homosexual with an increasingly, unhealthily close relationship to his mother. As a young adult, Tony (Eddie Redmayne) explores all that life has to offer, ultimately settling on a boyfriend – with whom he shares a sexual relationship with his own mother. I can’t decide where it was that this film lost me – was it the scene where Barbara’s husband practically rapes her from behind, the scene where Tony, Barbara and their boyfriend have the beginnings of a threesome, or the penultimate scenes where Tony and Barbara have sex? In all honesty, nothing about this is offensive particularly – it’s just not handled in a way that engages throughout. You wouldn’t think such material could be a bit boring, but it can and is here. Finally, in a London flat on November 17, 1972, Tony stabbed Barbara in the gut with a kitchen knife after some sort of insane misunderstanding. He killed her, went into a mental institution, and was released a few years later. A subtitle at the film’s end tells the rest. The film is the first feature directed in 15 years by Tom Kalin, who made “Swoon” (1992), about the Leopold and Loeb murder case. Here, we have the materials of an interesting movie without the payoff. It’s all sort of creepy and unnerving in theory, but not in practice. In fact, it’s pretty bland. It must be said that Moore, one of our greatest actresses, does what she can with the performance as Barbara, and that’s about the best element of the film, which is also handsome enough to look at. Other than that, it’s much ado about nothing.

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RECOUNT

Recount Movie Review

UNRATED, 116 min, 2008

Director: Jay Roach
Writer: Danny Strong (written by)
Stars: Kevin Spacey, Bob Balaban, Denis Leary

Recount is angering, sometimes very funny, and utterly absorbing in its recounting of the terrible travesty of justice that occurred during the 2000 Presidential Election and the furor over the outcome (or lack thereof) in the aftermath. Continue reading

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INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull Movie Review

PG_13, 122 min, 2008

Director: Steven Spielberg
Writers: David Koepp (screenplay), George Lucas (story) and Jeff Nathanson (story), George Lucas (characters) and Philip Kaufman (characters)

Stars: Harrison Ford, Cate Blanchett, Shia LaBeouf

Steven Spielberg’s Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is the (count ‘em) fourth (!) installment of his classic action franchise. This is yet another kitchen-sink-utilizing extravaganza, this time with an even bigger sojurn into science fiction. Continue reading

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REDBELT

Redbelt Movie Review

R, 99 min, 2008

Director: David Mamet
Writer: David Mamet
Stars: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Tim Allen, Emily Mortimer

Writer-director David Mamet is known for three things: profane tough-guy dialogue, labyrinthine plots involving cons within cons, and off-beat casting. All three converge in perhaps the least likely of any milieu he’s yet explored withRedbelt, an absorbing take on the world of pay-per-view television and mixed martial arts. Continue reading

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THE FALL

The Fall Movie Review

R, 117 m., 2006

Director: Tarsem Singh (as Tarsem)
Writers: Dan Gilroy (screenplay) and Nico Soultanakis (screenplay) & Tarsem Singh (screenplay) (as Tarsem), Valeri Petrov (as Valery Petrov) (1981 screenplay Yo Ho Ho)

Stars: Lee Pace, Catinca Untaru, Justine Waddell

Tarsem Singh’s The Fall, a mad folly of a cinematic extravaganza, is like the most lucid yet surreal dream translated into an audacious cinematic experiment, somewhat akin to the pioneering work of Werner Herzog or David Lynch crossed with Guillermo Del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth). It’s also a celebration of the innocence of childhood, and the fertility of the imagination. Continue reading

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WHAT HAPPENS IN VEGAS…

PG_13, 99 min, 2008

Director: Tom Vaughan
Writer: Dana Fox
Stars: Cameron Diaz, Ashton Kutcher, Rob Corddry

What Happens in Vegas is a “romantic comedy” where I can actually imagine the “comedic potential” in the premise. Too bad it is squandered so shamelessly on a long, dumb, headache-inducing, ugly, mean-spirited (PG-13-style) tale in which the outcome is predetermined long before the opening credits roll.

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