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items tagged with dramas

A "Scandal"-ous Waste of Skill: "Notes on a Scandal," "Volver," "Smokin' Aces," and "The Hitcher"
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2007-01-31 09:33:08

Cate Blanchett and Judi Dench in Notes on a ScandalNOTES ON A SCANDAL

In Richard Eyre's Notes on a Scandal, Judi Dench appears to be having an amazingly fine time playing an evil harridan. Why does the movie itself have to be such a dud? In the film, Dench portrays prickly history teacher Barbara Covett, who becomes pathologically obsessed with Sheba Hart (Cate Blanchett), a younger colleague in the art department. (As Barbara's last name suggests, Eyre's film, based on the novel by Zoë Heller, won't be much concerned with subtlety.) When Barbara discovers that the married Sheba has been carrying on with a 15-year-old student (Andrew Simpson), she uses the knowledge to surreptitiously gain Sheba's trust, in the hopes of turning their friendship into something more, shall we say, Sapphic. Subsequently, threats are made, careers are jeopardized, relationships are destroyed ... and why oh why isn't the movie more fun?


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No Guts, No Glory: "Letters from Iwo Jima," "The Last King of Scotland," and "Pan's Labyrinth"
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2007-01-24 08:16:47

Letters from Iwo JimaFor devoted movie hounds, and those who enjoy getting caught up with potential Academy Award nominees, this past weekend was an embarrassment of riches, as Davenport's Showcase 53 presented the local debuts of Clint Eastwood's Letters from Iwo Jima, Kevin Macdonald's The Last King of Scotland, and Guillermo del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth. Of course, the wide(r) release of these three films makes good business sense - what better time for such specialized works to attract audiences if not the weekend after the Golden Globes and before the announcement of 2006 Oscar nominees? (Showcase 53 and Moline's Great Escape Theatre also, wisely, brought The Queen back to area screens - seriously, folks, it's so much fun! - and Great Escape re-opened Babel.)


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Out of Step: "Stomp the Yard," "Alpha Dog," and "Curse of the Golden Flower"
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2007-01-17 08:14:20

Columbus Short in Stomp the YardSTOMP THE YARD

Before seeing Stomp the Yard, in which a young hip-hop dancer from Los Angeles adjusts to fraternity life at Atlanta's Truth University, I didn't know much about step dancing. But after watching director Sylvain White's inspirational drama, I discovered that there are apparently two distinct types - there's great step dancing and then there's really great step dancing. Though the movie is ostensibly a coming-of-age story wherein our hero, DJ (Columbus Short), finds respect and love during his first year of school, it's really just 8 Mile or Bring It On for the dance world, as warring frats compete to see whose moves out-step whose. (Step dancing - frequently practiced at African-American universities - is a combination of marching and precise choreography, generally accompanied by chants and, in this movie's case, taunts.) Yet it's pretty easy to guess which groups of dancers will be considered the greatest in Stomp the Yard - it's whichever dancers go next.


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It’s the End of the World as We Know It: “Children of Men” and “Freedom Writers”
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2007-01-10 08:13:36

Clive Owen and Julianne Moore in Children of MenCHILDREN OF MEN

The year is 2027, and the world is in chaos. Scratch that: The world is chaos. For nearly 20 years, women have been infertile, and the planet's youngest citizen has just been murdered at the age of 18. Random bombings and guerrilla warfare have become an element of daily life - a newscast shows "the siege of Seattle" entering its 1,000th day - and internment camps are as commonplace as coffee shops. In England, refugees are routinely rounded up for deportation and execution. And it is in this hopeless, unspeakably dangerous universe that director Alfonso Cuarón, in Children of Men, has fashioned one of the most supremely intelligent, forceful, and exhilarating movies of recent years.


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