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"North Country" - For the Easily Outraged: Also, "Domino" PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Tuesday, 25 October 2005 18:00

Frances McDormand and Charlize Theron in North CountryNORTH COUNTRY

At a serious, well-intentioned “issue movie,” you will periodically hear from a sect of the audience whom I refer to as the tsk-ers. Tsk-ers are especially vocal at works in which the leading figure – always righteous and noble, and prone to suffering in silence – finds him- or (generally) herself experiencing painful hardships in the cause of Doing the Right Thing, while their families, friends, and the world at large all turn against them.

 
Almost Heinous: "Elizabethtown" and "Two for the Money" PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Tuesday, 18 October 2005 18:00

Kirsten Dunst and Orlando Bloom in ElizabethtownELIZABETHTOWN

After a reportedly disastrous screening at the Toronto Film Festival in September, Cameron Crowe trimmed some 18 minutes from his latest project, Elizabethtown, before its national release on October 14. Of course, I never saw Crowe’s Toronto cut, so I can’t venture a guess as to what scenes wound up getting the boot. But having seen the finished project, I’m thinking that the loss of those 18 minutes was in no way satisfactory – to be honest, I’m not sure which scenes Crowe should have left in. For Elizabethtown is, in almost every respect, shockingly weak, so tonally incorrect and irrationally pleased with itself that it left me a little dazed. How could Crowe, who has made such wonderfully humane, marvelously detailed comedies, have gone so far afield?

 
Acting Trumps Presentation, and Here’s the "Proof": Also, "In Her Shoes," "The Greatest Game Ever Played," and "Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit" PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Tuesday, 11 October 2005 18:00

Gwyneth Paltrow and Jake Gyllenhaal in ProofPROOF

Most cinephiles detest filmed versions of plays, with their awkward exposition, stagy dialogue, and functional, assembly-line characters who serve their purpose within the author’s conceit and exit just in time for another character to show up and do the same; oftentimes, you can all but see the proscenium arch hovering overhead.

 
Pulp Friction: "A History of Violence," "Oliver Twist," and "Serenity" PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Tuesday, 04 October 2005 18:00

Viggo Mortensen in A History of ViolenceA HISTORY OF VIOLENCE

I was completely rapt by the austerity and dread of David Cronenberg’s A History of Violence – for the first five minutes. In the film’s beautifully sustained opening sequence, we watch as two men – one middle-aged, in a black suit, and another, younger and sporting a T-shirt and jeans – exit their motel room. They load up their car, and the older gentleman drops off the room key while the other – slowly, slowly – pulls the car up to meet him. Moments later, the older man returns, having had, he says, “a little trouble with the maid.” But before they leave, they need water. The younger man enters the motel office to replenish their supply, and as he does, we finally see the image that Cronenberg has thus far denied us, and that we in the audience have properly anticipated – the motel manager and maid lying dead in pools of blood. A frightened little girl, gently stroking the hair of her doll, enters the scene and makes eye contact with the younger killer. And the man, smiling gently, tells her not to be afraid, slowly aims his revolver at the girl’s head, and fires.

 
Foster Soars, but "Flightplan" Is Earthbound: Also, "Tim Burton's Corpse Bride" and "Just Like Heaven" PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Tuesday, 27 September 2005 18:00

Jodie Foster in FlightplanFLIGHTPLAN

Movies such as Flightplan are hell to review. How do I explain, exactly, why the film doesn’t work without giving away the plot secrets that prevent it from working? Like last fall’s already-forgotten The Forgotten, director Robert Schwentke’s airborne thriller involves a missing child. During a trans-Atlantic flight from Berlin to America, Jodie Foster’s newly widowed Kyle lays her six-year-old daughter Julia (Marlene Lawston) down for a nap, falls asleep herself, and wakes to find the girl missing. Obviously, escape from the plane is impossible, but Julia is nowhere to be found, and, more disturbingly, no one on the flight seems to remember her being aboard. Could Julia have merely been a figment of Kyle’s imbalanced imagination?

 
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