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"The Break-Up" Is Hard to View: Also, "The Living Sea" PDF Print E-mail
Written by Mike Schulz   
Tuesday, 06 June 2006 23:39

Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston in The Break-UpTHE BREAK-UP

There are a whole bunch of different movies circulating within the Vince Vaughn/Jennifer Aniston comedy The Break-Up, and every single one of them is more enjoyable than the one they're stuck in. Director Peyton Reed's film concerns the battle of wills that commences once Vaughn's Gary and Aniston's Brooke decide to split, but here are five of The Break-Up's subplots that, I'm guessing, would have made for far more entertaining feature-length viewing

Power Grabber: “X-Men: The Last Stand,” “See No Evil,” and “Over the Hedge” PDF Print E-mail
Written by Mike Schulz   
Tuesday, 30 May 2006 23:12

Halle Berry, Patrick Stewart, Hugh Jackman, and Ian McKellen in X-Men: The Last StandX-MEN: THE LAST STAND

In his X-Men films of 2000 and 2003, Bryan Singer managed a marvelous blend of gravitas, insouciance, and pure ass-kicking spectacle, and the highest praise I can give X-Men: The Last Stand is that director Brett Ratner, nearly scene for scene, fools you into thinking that Singer helmed this one as well. For a director with an indistinct visual style, there are far worse ways to go than aping the visual style of others, and in the case of The Last Stand, Ratner’s channeling of Singer’s tone seems less unimaginative than duly reverent, and even inspiring; you can feel Ratner working diligently to not louse up Singer’s vision. And he hasn’t. This third, and purportedly final, entry in the mutant-superhero saga is a spectacular entertainment, and if you were worried that Ratner’s participation would guarantee acceptable effects but little in the way of personality, your fears will prove unfounded – it’s a more-than-satisfying wrap-up to the trilogy.

Sensory Deprivation: "The Da Vinci Code" and "Just My Luck" PDF Print E-mail
Written by Mike Schulz   
Wednesday, 24 May 2006 00:45

Tom Hanks and Audrey Tautou in The Da Vinci CodeTHE DA VINCI CODE

Throughout Ron Howard’s The Da Vinci Code – based, of course, on Dan Brown’s staggeringly successful novel – Tom Hanks and Audrey Tautou continually find themselves in dimly lit rooms, gloomy cathedrals, and the occasional underground tomb. When the characters finally do venture outdoors, their visibility doesn’t much improve, as almost the entire movie takes place at night. And during the film’s two-and-a-half-hour running length, deprived of nearly all natural (and even artificial) light, I never craved a nap so badly in my life.

Brush with Greatness: "Art School Confidential," "Poseidon," "An American Haunting," "Akeelah & the Bee," "Hoot," and "RV" PDF Print E-mail
Written by Mike Schulz   
Wednesday, 17 May 2006 02:25

John Malkovich and Max Minghella in Art School ConfidentialART SCHOOL CONFIDENTIAL

I’ve read critics who have described Terry Zwigoff’s Art School Confidential as nihilistic, sour, and mean-spirited. They’re saying it like that’s a bad thing. Working with screenwriter Daniel Clowes – adapting the film from his comic book, and again collaborating with the director who helmed 2001’s Clowes-scripted Ghost World – Zwigoff has, here, fashioned a wonderfully nihilistic, sour, and mean-spirited comedy; it might take easy potshots at the politics and posturings of the art community, but those potshots are funny and clever, and the film’s refusal to sentimentalize any of its characters (even our protagonist) is incredibly refreshing. Still, the movie has been met with much dissatisfaction, if not outright annoyance. Art School Confidential seems, to me, the most thoroughly misunderstood movie of the year.

Cruise in for a Bruisin’: "Mission: Impossible III" PDF Print E-mail
Written by Mike Schulz   
Wednesday, 10 May 2006 03:00

Tom Cruise and Keri Russell in Mission: Impossible IIIMISSION: IMPOSSIBLE III

Call it envy, call it sour grapes, call it schadenfreude, but I’ll admit to hugely enjoying the public meltdown of Tom Cruise, mostly because it’s finally making him interesting. Cruise has always been too bland to be true. He’s moderately proficient, and in several of his films – most recently Collateral and Minority Report – he’s even been impressive. But he has too few resources to draw upon as a performer. It would be hard to accuse Cruise of slouching on the job – he’s determined and earnest, and you can sense him trying to suggest interior life. But his line readings have no surprise and his on-screen performances rarely build; whenever a new scene begins, Cruise appears to have forgotten everything his character experienced in his previous scenes. He can’t seem to play more than one emotion, or one thought, at a time.

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