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Slightly Off-Key: "Rent" and "Pride & Prejudice" PDF Print E-mail
Movies - Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Tuesday, 29 November 2005 18:00


During its first 10 minutes or so, the film version of Jonathan Larson’s Tony- and Pulitzer Prize-winning musical Rent is so thrilling you might want to applaud. As the opening credits unfurl, the movie’s cast – all but two of whom reprise their original stage roles – sings Rent’s signature number, “Seasons of Love,” on a bare stage in dramatic downlight, and performs with fervent, passionate joy.

A Summer Sleeper Trumps a Trio of New Releases: "Happy Endings," "Walk the Line," "Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire," and "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" PDF Print E-mail
Movies - Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Tuesday, 22 November 2005 18:00

Lisa Kudrow and Bobby Cannavale in Happy EndingsHAPPY ENDINGS

This summer, I was fortunate enough to catch a special screening of writer/director Don Roos’ Happy Endings at the University of Iowa, but decided to hold off on a review until the film made it to our area.

A Goofy Thriller and a Glove-ly Romance: "Derailed" and "Shopgirl" PDF Print E-mail
Movies - Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Tuesday, 15 November 2005 18:00

Jennifer Aniston and Clive Owen in DerailedDERAILED

There’s nothing all that wrong with director Mikael Hafstrom’s thriller Derailed, until, that is, it turns into a thriller. Chicagoan Charles Schine (Clive Owen) is a harried family man with a wife (Melissa George) and a young, diabetic daughter. While commuting to work one morning, he meets a stranger on the train: the beguiling, flirtatious – and similarly married – Lucinda (Jennifer Aniston). Over the course of a few days, the two enjoy snappy conversation, meet for drinks, and eventually find themselves a hotel. But before their affair can be consummated, LaRoche (Vincent Cassel), a scruffy-looking nightmare with a gun and a thick French accent, breaks into their room, takes their wallets, beats Charles within an inch of his life, and rapes Lucinda. Then everything goes to hell, both for the characters and, unfortunately, for the movie.

Killer Instincts: "Jarhead," "Good Night, & Good Lunck.", "Chicken Little," and "The Weather Man" PDF Print E-mail
Movies - 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
Movies - Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Tuesday, 01 November 2005 18:00


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.)

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