Saw (2004)
Why? That is my question. Why did they have to take a perfectly good horror film and tack on an arbitrary twist at the end that negates everything that went before it. Why? Saw had so much promise all throughout, and, if done right, the ending could have tied it all together and really...
review posted: May 24, 2005
Talk to Her (2002)
Here is a film about women in comas and the men who love them. However, as the story unfolds, we learn that each man has a radically different perspective on love, yet they are able to bond with one another, maintain a friendship, and offer forgiveness. Talk to Her is a rare and...
Full Approvalreview posted: May 18, 2005
Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)
The other day I was discussing salespeople with a friend and we determined that nobody likes being sold anything. Coincidental, then, that I saw Glengarry Glen Ross that night, as the film seems to support our hypothesis, but it adds another dimension to it: the salespeople themselves may...
Recommendedreview posted: May 17, 2005
In Good Company (2004)
Corporations in America are growing ever stronger, and, conversely, the individuals who make up the workforce of the corporations are losing their identities and growing weaker. In Good Company, a film that I was expecting to be lighter and more of a romantic comedy, takes a look inside a...
review posted: May 17, 2005
The Jerk (1979)
The Jerk, a comedy that marked the big screen debut of Steve Martin, is a pretty funny film because of its complete absurdity. It doesn't seek to do anything beyond providing laughs by way of slapstick, and most of the time the jokes are funny, but for a film of this nature to completely...
review posted: May 8, 2005
The Killing (1956)
Stanley Kubrick's first hit film, The Killing, is a superior heist movie filled with all of what are now the standard elements. What sets it apart is Kubrick's inventive time-rearranging storytelling and excellent visual sense, along with some twists and turns that you really can't see...
Recommendedreview posted: May 4, 2005
McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971)
The Old West as depicted in most movies consisted of heroes and villains, cowboys fighting indians and outlaws to protect a tiny rural town. Well, needless to say, the Western genre does not generally provide an accurate portrayal of the Old West. McCabe & Mrs. Miller turns the Western...
Recommendedreview posted: May 4, 2005
Mississippi Burning (1988)
Mississippi Burning captures the American South of the 1960s and its turbulent race relations by telling a story that, while technically fictional, is inspired by actual events that took place. It succeeds by all at once being gripping, emotional, and contemplative. Despite being made in...
Recommendedreview posted: May 1, 2005
The Last Seduction (1994)
The femme fatale was a staple of 1940s film noir: an unusually attractive and downright coldhearted woman who knows how to get what she wants by using her own femininity and sexuality to lure unsuspecting men into her trap. She's often the smartest character in the film, able to play...
review posted: April 27, 2005
In America (2002)
In America is a brilliant film about an Irish family who moves to New York in search of better opportunities for themselves. While this sounds like a cliche, the story and characters are anything but, and because of this, they resonate deeply with the viewer. Instead of a hackneyed...
Full Approvalreview posted: April 18, 2005
High Sierra (1941)
Humphrey Bogart became a legend as a tough guy: he talked fast, asked few questions, and stuck his neck out for nobody. His characters were usually only interested in selfish pursuits, but they usually had a soft spot for a beautiful woman. Bogart's character in High Sierra, an aging...
review posted: April 15, 2005
The Gift (2000)
It's not often that you come across a horror film that tells a story with intelligence and is more concerned with the people in the story than splattering blood and guts all over the screen. Well The Gift is one of the better horror films of recent years, and with names like Sam Raimi and...
Recommendedreview posted: April 12, 2005
The Motorcycle Diaries (2004)
The Motorcycle Diaries tells the story of a life-changing journey that future Cuban revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara and his friend Alberto Granado made on a motorcycle through South America in 1952. At the time, Guevara was 23 years old, and Granado was 29. They set out to see the...
Full Approvalreview posted: April 10, 2005
Peeping Tom (1960)
When Peeping Tom was first released in 1960, it was universally reviled by critics and audiences alike for its sadism and mixing of sex and violence, and essentially ended the career of its director, Michael Powell. To say it was misunderstood at the time would be an understatement, as...
Full Approvalreview posted: April 9, 2005
The Terminal (2004)
The Terminal, a story about a man without a country trapped in an airport for an indefinite amount of time, starts out innocently enough, hits its stride in the first thirty minutes, then once it reaches its midpoint, it gradually becomes worse and worse, until the end, when I was left...
review posted: April 9, 2005
Don't Look Now (1973)
Don't Look Now is a strange motion picture, drenched in symbolism, and with a labyrinthine plot that keeps the audience's minds spinning and wondering what the meaning of all of its odd shots is. Well eventually it all does come together, but, well, maybe one viewing isn't enough to soak...
review posted: April 6, 2005
Mean Creek (2004)
Who hasn't wanted to get back at that mean old bully in school? You know the guy: he picks on kids smaller than him just because he's a big jerk and he can. Who doesn't want to teach that kid a lesson? So what if you had the chance to do so and you found out he wasn't such a bad guy?...
Recommendedreview posted: April 3, 2005
Finding Neverland (2004)
Finding Neverland tells a story about how playwright James M. Barrie got his inspiration for writing his most famous play, Peter Pan. But this moving film is not only about that, but also about the ways in which we deal with difficult times in our lives, and sadness, and most of all the...
Full Approvalreview posted: April 2, 2005
Maria Full of Grace (2004)
Maria Full of Grace is a gripping drama about the decisions we make and the hell we put ourselves through to provide for those we love. First-time writer-director Joshua Marston has crafted a brutally realistic look inside the business of drug mules in such a way that is at times...
Full Approvalreview posted: March 31, 2005
Man on the Train (2002)
Man on the Train tells the story of two men who come to meet by chance, and in talking with one another, each begins to wonder if maybe he would be happier with the life of the other man. This is a French film and the pace is slow at times, but the conversations of these men bristle with...
Recommendedreview posted: March 28, 2005
Shaun of the Dead (2004)
Mutilating zombies has never been funnier than in Shaun of the Dead. Taking a page from the Evil Dead franchise, this film provides plenty of blood, guts, and gut-busting comedy. But what's really brilliant about it is that it doesn't limit itself to comedy and zombie-killing, but also...
Full Approvalreview posted: March 28, 2005
In the Company of Men (1997)
Corporate America is full of jerks corrupted by power who feel that they have every right to use this power to their own advantage and treat others like garbage. In the Company of Men tells the story of a few such gentlemen, and does so in what is supposed to be a realistic way, but I...
review posted: March 25, 2005
I Heart Huckabees (2004)
I Heart Huckabees is a film about everything and nothing all at once. Actually, that's a lie, it's not about that at all. Well, it is, sort of. It pretends to be about existentialism but really what it's about is satirizing philosophy and exposing how ludicrous the whole thing is. There...
Full Approvalreview posted: March 23, 2005
Grey Gardens (1975)
"It's very difficult to keep the line between the past and the present," says Little Edie Beale early on in Grey Gardens, "You know what I mean?" In a way, the intent of this documentary is to help us understand what she means. You see, Edie, 56 years old at the time the film was made,...
review posted: March 21, 2005
Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004)
Michael Moore really doesn't like George W. Bush. Any American who doesn't live in a cave could tell you that. With Fahrenheit 9/11, Moore presents his admittedly biased case against Bush and the war being waged in Iraq. Unfortunately, when you're watching a Michael Moore film, you never...
review posted: March 19, 2005
The Elephant Man (1980)
The Elephant Man tells the story of John Merrick, a severely deformed man who lived around the turn of the century, and was the subject of ridicule and general horror for those who only saw him as a circus freak. However, for those who took the time to get to know him, and saw past his...
review posted: March 17, 2005
The Barbarian Invasions (2003)
The Barbarian Invasions is a rare and unconventional film: it is complicated, but the complications come not from the plot, but from the characters. At the end of the film, we are not left wondering what happened, because all of the events in the film are pretty clear, but rather why what...
Recommendedreview posted: March 14, 2005
Something the Lord Made (2004)
In the 1940s, Dr. Alfred Blalock and a team of doctors at Johns Hopkins were making great advances and innovations in the field of cardiac surgery. However, with the great multitude of privileged doctors surrounding him, perhaps Blalock's most valuable asset was the work of his lab...
review posted: March 14, 2005
Open Water (2003)
What would you do if you were stranded in the middle of the ocean, with hungry sharks circling? Well, in Open Water, we find out what two people in just that situation might do. The film is starkly realistic and haunting in its depiction of this crisis, and plunges to depths you wouldn't...
Recommendedreview posted: March 7, 2005
The Freshman (1990)
The Freshman is probably best known for Marlon Brando doing a parody of his legendary Godfather character. While in itself, this performance is pretty funny, the film in which it occurs is fairly forgettable, and ultimately a letdown....
review posted: March 6, 2005
Sideways (2004)
Put simply, Sideways is one of the best, most entertaining dramedies I have ever seen. It manages to pull off the difficult task of making its characters both absurd and sympathetic at the same time. And not only that, but I feel like I learned some things about the intricacies of wine to...
Full Approvalreview posted: March 5, 2005
Crumb (1994)
Robert Crumb was the reluctant face of underground comic books between the late 1960s to the late 1980s. His comics were often controversial, mostly provocative, and always far off the beaten path, and for some reason, people identified with this, and he became rich and famous. Terry...
Recommendedreview posted: March 3, 2005
Do the Right Thing (1989)
Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing is an uncommonly intelligent film that attacks the issue of race relations by refusing to take sides and exposing the humanity that lies behind the broad brushstrokes of the term "race." The film builds racial tension to a breaking point, and when the...
Full Approvalreview posted: February 27, 2005
Dogville (2003)
Lar von Trier's Dogville is an ambitious motion picture. It is also contrived, self-indulgent, fatally overlong, and ultimately downright repulsive. Dogville tells the story of what happens when Grace (Nicole Kidman), on the run from gangsters, stumbles upon the small Rocky Mountain town...
review posted: February 26, 2005
Elephant (2003)
On April 20, 1999, in Littleton, Colorado, the worst school massacre in American history took place at Columbine High School. The attack was perpetrated by two kids who were social outcasts in their school, and felt that the only way they could get even and send a message was to march...
Full Approvalreview posted: February 26, 2005
Darkman (1990)
Before the Spider-Man franchise, Sam Raimi helmed another comic book superhero film: Darkman. It is the story of many superheroes: a freak accident leaves a man as a societal outcast, struggling to come to grips with this freak that he has become. The first two-thirds of Darkman are...
review posted: February 20, 2005
Citizen Ruth (1996)
Abortion is always a difficult topic to tackle, because its two extreme sides - pro-life and pro-choice - have a "you're either with us or against us and there's no in-between" mentality. Alexander Payne's Citizen Ruth is a political satire that does not take a stand on either side of the...
Recommendedreview posted: February 19, 2005
Changing Lanes (2002)
Changing Lanes pulls a fast one on you. No, I'm not talking about a shocking plot twist. What I mean is that it lets you think that it's a tale of the vengeance that two men inflict on one another after a traffic accident causes more trouble than they could have imagined, but really it's...
Full Approvalreview posted: February 18, 2005
Bringing Out the Dead (1999)
"We're all dying," says New York City paramedic Frank Pierce, played by Nicolas Cage, to Mary (Patricia Arquette), whose father is barely hanging on inside the ER after having a heart attack. That short sentence cuts right to the heart of Frank's dilemma in Bringing Out the Dead: when...
review posted: February 16, 2005
He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not (2002)
Sometimes in a romantic relationship, signals can get crossed, and one party ends up feeling differently about the other. He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not tells a two-sided love story: one of budding romance turning into neglect and one of mysterious obsession bordering on danger....
Full Approvalreview posted: February 15, 2005
Blow Out (1981)
Brian DePalma's Blow Out is a taut thriller that would make Hitchcock proud. The Master of Suspense loved to put his characters in situations where they had to sit by helplessly while events occur beyond their control - the best example of this is Rear Window - and DePalma uses that...
Recommendedreview posted: February 12, 2005
The Asphalt Jungle (1950)
The Asphalt Jungle is a classic film noir directed by one of cinema's greatest, John Huston. It's a heist film, but what makes it different from others is that it is more concerned with the consequences of the heist than the actual robbery itself. Unfortunately, the movie failed to meet...
review posted: February 10, 2005
Bad Santa (2003)
Not only is this Santa bad, he is vulgar, crass, dirty, foulmouthed, loose-moraled - come to think of it, I can't imagine a worse Santa. In spite of this, Bad Santa is a brilliant dark comedy, full of huge laughs from beginning to end, as long as you can put up with all of the bad...
Full Approvalreview posted: February 6, 2005
Anchorman (2004)
Ron Burgundy is a 1970s news anchor in San Diego, a lonely, unintelligent man who will read anything that is written on the teleprompter. In Anchorman, his world is invaded by an ambitious woman with dreams of her own for the anchor position, and Ron doesn't quite know how to react. On...
Recommendedreview posted: February 5, 2005
The Magnificent Seven (1960)
The Magnificent Seven, a Western remake of Kurosawa's Seven Samurai, is a good movie, but hardly the classic that many people would make it out to be. The simplistic plot delivers exactly what it should, but the film falls short in its character development, possibly because of the limits...
review posted: February 5, 2005
Auto Focus (2002)
Bob Crane shot to television stardom in the 1960s as the star of the television series Hogan's Heroes. However, while he was enjoying the life of a TV star, he was simultaneously delving into dark territory in his personal life - sexual promiscuity and deviance. Auto Focus tells the story...
Recommendedreview posted: February 3, 2005
8 1/2 (1963)
How does one begin to talk about 8 1/2? Every frame in this film could be put in a frame and hung on a wall. But it is not just the most brilliantly vivid visual film I've seen, it is indeed brilliantly conceived from beginning to end as well....
Full Approvalreview posted: February 1, 2005
Napoleon Dynamite (2004)
Napoleon Dynamite is a hilarious movie. However, it has some key flaws - one-note characters and hardly any semblance of a plot - that take away from the film's enjoyability. It's a great setup for a movie, but all throughout, I found myself waiting for something better to happen....
review posted: January 31, 2005
Affliction (1997)
If I were pressed to describe Affliction in one word, I think that word would be "difficult." Now, don't get me wrong, the film is a compelling, well-made portrait of man's descent into madness, but the tone and subject matter are designed to disturb, and that's exactly what they do....
review posted: January 29, 2005
Garden State (2004)
"You know that point in your life when you realize that the house that you grew up in isn't really your home anymore?" Andrew Largeman (Zach Braff), along with millions of American twentysomethings, has reached that point. He has returned home to New Jersey for the first time in nine...
Full Approvalreview posted: January 26, 2005
Amores Perros (2000)
Amores Perros is a Mexican film by 21 Grams director Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu that involves three interlocking stories of love, violence, loss, and dogs. Yes, dogs....
Full Approvalreview posted: November 11, 2004
Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004)
Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow is that rarest of movies - a hybrid of the past and the future, of action and romance, with comedy and wit tossed in for good measure. Its greatest asset, however, is that it is a visual feast, sweet eye candy for all manner of moviegoer. While the...
Full Approvalreview posted: September 18, 2004
Bubba Ho-Tep (2002)
As far as offbeat movies go, Bubba Ho-Tep takes the cake and runs about 300 miles down a swampy path into the woods with it. In a retirement community in East Texas, Elvis Presley (Bruce Campbell) longs for the days when he could get out of bed. He meets none other than JFK (Ossie Davis)...
review posted: July 19, 2004
House of Sand and Fog (2003)
The story is thus: Kathy (Jennifer Connelly) is a recovering alcoholic who fails to pay taxes on her home and is evicted. Within the same week, Massoud Behrani, an Iranian immigrant (Ben Kingsley) with aspirations to make it in America, buys the house at an auction. His intention is to...
Recommendedreview posted: April 16, 2004
American Splendor (2003)
Excellent, excellent film. This is the true story of Harvey Pekar, a lowly, lonely file clerk in Cleveland, OH, who, sometime around 1980 decided to write his own comic book about his own boring, seemingly meaningless and difficult life. He became a minor celebrity and recurring guest on...
Full Approvalreview posted: March 15, 2004
Intolerable Cruelty (2003)
I wasn't really expecting much from this movie, as I hadn't heard great things, but it turned out to be utterly hilarious. Of course, it's a Coen Bros. movie, so I guess it's almost impossible for it not to be funny. Here's the story: Miles Massey (George Clooney) is a divorce lawyer on...
Full Approvalreview posted: March 14, 2004
The Grifters (1990)
This is a movie about con men (and women) starring John Cusack, Annette Bening and Anjelica Huston. Roy (Cusack) is a fairly successful 25-year-old short-con man, who meets Myra (Bening) and becomes romantically connected. She finds out that he's a con man and reveals herself as a highly...
Recommendedreview posted: December 7, 2003
Dark City (1998)
A man (Rufus Sewell) wakes to find himself in a hotel. Time has stopped momentarily. The man is told he has been there for 3 weeks. He doesn't remember how he got there or even who he is....
Full Approvalreview posted: October 20, 2003
Bowling for Columbine (2002)
This is a fantastic documentary about gun control (or lack thereof) in America. Michael Moore traverses America looking for answers as to why so many people are murdered with guns every year, while in other prominent countries, rates are miniscule....
review posted: September 13, 2003
Lost in La Mancha (2002)
This film is a documentary about the making of The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, as directed by Terry Gilliam, who you may know from such movies as Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and 12 Monkeys. Well, the movie never got made, due to catastrophic events that occurred during filming. Lost in...
review posted: September 8, 2003