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Newly Arrived Oscar Nominees Unmissable: "Far from Heaven," "The Pianist," "Dark Blue," and "Gods & Generals" PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Tuesday, 04 March 2003 18:00

Julianne Moore and Dennis Haysbert in Far from HeavenFAR FROM HEAVEN and THE PIANIST

While huge movie markets such as New York and L.A. had to content themselves with only one major new release this past weekend – Cradle 2 the Grave, featuring the long-awaited pairing of Jet Li and Tom Arnold – we’re being treated to the area debuts of Far from Heaven and The Pianist, two of 2002’s greatest achievements and the recipients of 11 Oscar nominations between them. Both movies are so good that it’s almost churlish to recommend one over the over – by all means see both – but if pressed, I gotta give the edge to Todd Haynes’ Far from Heaven, which is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before.

 
"David Gale" Is Bad, but Not All That Bad: "The Life of David Gale," "Old School," and "Deliver Us from Eva" PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Tuesday, 25 February 2003 18:00

Laura Linney and Kevin Spacey in The Life of David GaleTHE LIFE OF DAVID GALE

Reading the reviews for Alan Parker’s The Life of David Gale, you might assume that it’s the most staggeringly offensive cinematic release since Freddy Got Fingered. (Glenn Kenny of Premiere magazine and Roger Ebert gave the film a combined total of zero stars.) And upon realizing that the film in question boasts the considerable acting abilities of Kevin Spacey, Kate Winslet, and Laura Linney, not to mention direction by two-time Oscar nominee Alan Parker, you’d have every right to wonder: Can the movie be that god-awful? The short answer is: No, it’s not. Parker’s film is bad, yes, but it’s bad in typical Hollywood fashion, especially for a paranoid thriller; the plot twists are ludicrous, the dialogue, especially when dealing directly with the film’s polemic over the death penalty, is clunky, and it’s so high on its do-gooder mentality that it comes off as vaguely embarrassing. But despite what you might have read, it’s not the work of Lucifer, merely the work of talented individuals acting uncharacteristically like hacks.

 
Affleck Nearly Sinks "Daredevil": Also, "Shanghai Knights" and "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days" PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Tuesday, 18 February 2003 18:00

Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck in DaredevilDAREDEVIL

Though he tries mighty hard, Ben Affleck isn’t quite able to ruin Daredevil, Mark Steven Johnson’s screen adaptation of the Marvel comic. Among comic-book fans, the news that Affleck would be portraying the tortured hero – an angry, despressed, and, oh yeah, blind lawyer who, when not losing cases in court, dons leather and kicks bad-guy ass – was met with a collective rolling of the eyes; a friend of mine, upon hearing about the casting, put it succinctly: “Oh great. It’s gonna suck."

 
"Antwone Fisher" Wins – as the Most Overrated Movie of 2002: Also, "Biker Boyz" and "Real Women Have Curves" PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Tuesday, 11 February 2003 18:00

Derek Luke and Denzel Washington in Antwone FisherANTWONE FISHER

It’s a bit late, but it finally arrived. The closing of each year brings with it at least one touching, inspirational, triumph-of-the-human-spirit movie designed to make audiences weep and Oscar voters genuflect, while certain Midwestern film critics roll their eyes and wish they could throw things at the screen. (Previous examples: I Am Sam, The Hurricane, and Shine.) For a while, it looked like 2002’s might be About Schmidt, but the film barely qualified; it wasn’t incompetently made, and it did provide a few laughs. At last, though, we have a winner.

 
"The Recruit" Shouldn’t Be Boring – But It Is: Also "Darkness Falls" and "Final Destination 2" PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Tuesday, 04 February 2003 18:00

Al Pacino and Colin Farrell in The RecruitTHE RECRUIT

In Roger Donaldson’s The Recruit, Colin Farrell plays M.I.T. graduate James Clayton, whose astonishing computer prowess catches the attention of C.I.A. agent Walter Burke (Al Pacino). Burke enlists Clayton to join the organization, bringing the young man to a top-secret, governmental compound nicknamed The Farm, where Clayton will train as a C.I.A. operative. While at The Farm – a hall-of-mirrors environment where, we’re told ad nauseum, “nothing is what it seems” – Clayton falls for fellow recruit Layla (Bridget Moynahan), who, Burke later reveals, is secretly a mole, attempting to sabotage the C.I.A. from within; Clayton’s assignment is to catch her in the act. Will Clayton’s love for Layla threaten his allegiance to the C.I.A.? Does Layla even have a secret agenda? Is Burke really who we think he is? Is anything what it seems?

 
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