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Killer Instincts: "Jarhead," "Good Night, & Good Lunck.", "Chicken Little," and "The Weather Man" PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Tuesday, 08 November 2005 18:00

Jake Gyllenhaal in JarheadJARHEAD

In movies, nothing is harder to define than tone, and the tone of Sam Mendes’ Jarhead, based on Tony Swofford’s Gulf War memoir, is so elusive that, hours after it ends, you might still not know what to make of it. In many ways, the movie is like a two-hour expansion of Full Metal Jacket’s first 40 minutes, as the 20-year-old Swofford (Jake Gyllenhaal) and his fellow Marine recruits, pumped up to an almost insane degree, train for their mission in the unbearable desert heat and prepare for battle. In Mendes’ film, however, there is no battle for his protagonists to respond to; the war ends while the Marines’ bloodlust is still reaching a boil. The film is, in many ways, about the maddening banality of service, and it has resulted in an occasionally maddening movie, but its shifting tones and air of unpredictability make it impossible to shake off; at the finale, you might not know exactly what you’ve seen, but you certainly know you’ve seen something.

 
"Saw II" Effective, But Not Much Fun: Also, "Doom," "Stay," and "Prime" PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Tuesday, 01 November 2005 18:00

Saw IISAW II

Since we’re no longer forced to endure Cary Elwes shrieking his hammy little head off for 90 minutes, Saw II was inevitably going to be a less annoying experience than 2004’s Saw, but the movie is pretty effective in its own right. Not entertaining, mind you, but effective. Last fall’s surprise horror hit saw Elwes and another mad overactor at the mercy of the serial killer Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) – who devises for his prey wildly elaborate devices of torture that defy both description and belief – and in one of Saw II’s few impressive twists, he’s apprehended at the end of the movie’s first reel. What follows resembles what might result if you watched The Silence of the Lambs and Seven in picture-in-picture format. As Jigsaw – in sinister, I-know-something-that-you-don’t Hannibal Lecter mode – is interrogated, and his master plan dissected, by Donnie Wahlberg’s quick-to-boil cop, a whole new slew of potential victims, including Wahlberg’s teenage son, try to survive a vicious spook house by evading Jigsaw’s contraptions and deconstructing the maddeningly obtuse sets of clues the killer has left them. (Like its precursor, Saw II makes explicit what Seven left to your imagination.)

 
Closing Out of Town PDF Print E-mail
Feature Stories
Written by Mike Schulz   
Tuesday, 25 October 2005 18:00

Citing “the cost of film rentals and insurance” and “really low” attendance, Mike Reid, director of the Open Cities Film Society, announced that the organization was discontinuing its New York City Film Series at Davenport’s Figge Art Museum, nine weeks and eight films ahead of schedule.

 
"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?

 
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