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"Spy Game" Trips on Logic: Also, "Behind Enemy Lines" PDF Print E-mail
Movies - Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Tuesday, 04 December 2001 18:00

Robert Redford and Brad Pitt in Spy GameSPY GAME

Tony Scott’s Spy Game opens with one of those enjoyably implausible preludes we’re used to seeing in the James Bond series: It’s 1991, and American CIA agent Tom Bishop (Brad Pitt) is attempting to free a female captive (Catherine McCormack) from a Chinese prison. How will he accomplish this task? Why, by masquerading as a doctor called in to give vaccinations to the inmates, feigning fatal electrocution after touching a wired prison fence – which results in the momentary shut-down of the prison’s electrical power, including its surveillance cameras – lying “dead” on a hospital gurney, fleeing the scene when no one’s looking, scrambling down ratty corridors in search of the captive, bribing a mentally defunct witness with a piece of gum, and accompanying the prisoner back to the “dead” man’s gurney, where prison guards will unknowingly escort the duo to an ambulance and then to freedom. And what trips up the plan? The gum.

 
"Harry Potter" Misses Its Magic: "Harry Potter & the Sorcerer's Stone" and "Shallow Hal" PDF Print E-mail
Movies - Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Tuesday, 20 November 2001 18:00

Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson in Harry Potter & the Sorcerer's StoneHARRY POTTER & THE SORCERER'S STONE

When I sheepishly tell friends that I haven’t yet read any of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books, their reaction is usually shock – “You’re kidding!” – followed by euphoric insistence – “You’ve got to read them! You’ll love them!” When I tell these same friends that I didn’t much like the movie version of Harry Potter & The Sorcerer’s Stone, I get a different response, one that’s a combination of mild disgust and serious condescension.

 
Lynch’s Latest Builds a Dream Palace: "Mulholland Dr.", "Heist," and "Life as a House" PDF Print E-mail
Movies - Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Tuesday, 13 November 2001 18:00

Laura Elena Harring in Mulholland Dr.MULHOLLAND DR.

We’ve all had the experience: It’s the middle of the night, and you awaken from a dream so vivid, so unreal, so funny and terrifying in equal measure, that your only thought is to go back to sleep immediately, to re-enter that astonishing dream state and keep it going.

 
Pixar’s Latest Is Its Least ... and Still Great: "Monsters, Inc.", "Domestic Distrubance," and "The One" PDF Print E-mail
Movies - Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Tuesday, 06 November 2001 18:00

Sulley in Monsters, Inc.MONSTERS, INC.

Saying that Pixar’s Monsters, Inc. is the weakest of its quartet of computer-animated feature films is like bitching that you got a Jaguar for Christmas when you really wanted a Porsche; instead of achieving the genius-level greatness of the Toy Story films and A Bug’s Life, the studio’s new work is just brilliantly designed, cleverly plotted, and funny as all get-out. What’s to complain about?

 
Acting Duo Elevates "K-PAX": Also, "13 Ghosts" PDF Print E-mail
Movies - Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Tuesday, 30 October 2001 18:00

Kevin Spacey in K-PAXK-PAX

Kevin Spacey has made a career out of being snidely patronizing, of being the smartest person in the room, and that’s what I adore about him; he patently refuses to be lovable, and his wicked intelligence and dry-as-sandpaper line readings give a snap to just about every role he plays. (That’s why his performance as the physically and emotionally scarred teacher in last year’s imbecilic tearjerker Pay It Forward was so disappointing; he’s not built for sentiment, and his presence in that mopey role merely exposed the film’s schmaltziness.) I guess it was inevitable that Spacey, who always comes off as knowing more than we do, would one day play an alien (or is he?) who arrives on Earth to teach us all lessons about life and love that we can’t figure out for ourselves. And so we have K-PAX, which had the potential to be excruciating but, as directed by Iain Softley and performed by a marvelous cast led by Spacey and Jeff Bridges, turns out to be thoroughly engaging; it’s a case study in how the right director and performers can redeem mostly worthless material.

 
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