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items tagged with Josh Friedman

A Lighter Shade of Noir: “The Black Dahlia,” “Gridiron Gang,” “The Last Kiss,” and “The Protector”
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2006-09-20 04:34:58

Aaron Eckhart and Josh Hartnett in The Black DahliaTHE BLACK DAHLIA

The opening sequence of Brian De Palma's L.A. noir The Black Dahlia is so busily choreographed that, at first, you think it has to be some sort of put-on. A melee involving a street full of cops and sailors in downtown Los Angeles circa 1946, the balletic, slow-motion punching and flailing is orchestrated within an inch of its life; nothing about it seems real, but it's so dazzlingly executed that you hardly care. But with Josh Hartnett's ersatz tough-guy narration droning away, it quickly becomes clear that the scene isn't meant to be funny. It isn't comedy that De Palma's going after here but stylization, and as The Black Dahlia progresses, it's obvious that the director doesn't have the cast or screenwriter required to give his baroque touches a context. A few nastily enjoyable moments aside, the film is dour, dull, and confusing, enlivened only by a few zesty supporting portrayals and whatever directorial wit De Palma can bring to it.


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When the Spielberg Touch Goes Deeply Wrong: "War of the Worlds"
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2005-07-06 00:00:00

Tim Robbins, Tom Cruise, and Dakota Fanning in War of the WorldsWAR OF THE WORLDS

My first thought after seeing Steven Spielberg’s War of the Worlds was: Thank God for the aliens, because although the creatures themselves aren’t particularly memorable – a gooey blend of the director’s beatific Close Encounters visitors and H. R. Giger’s 1979 Alien design – their spacecrafts certainly are. The ships’ enormous tripod legs, crushing everything in their paths, exude a wriggling, snakelike suggestiveness, and they have vicious talents besides; these tentacles have the ability to either incinerate their victims instantly – making the human race resemble ants at the mercy of a magnifying glass – or toss them into the spaceships’ grotesque “mouths,” producing more grisly, prolonged executions. (A couple of killings are reminiscent of Steve Buscemi’s demise in Fargo.) To the War of the Worlds aliens, humans are a combination of entertainment, nuisance, and snack, and whenever Spielberg gives us evidence of just how queasily horrifying an attack of this nature might be, his movie is gripping and evocative.

My second thought was: Steven Spielberg has lost his mind.


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