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items tagged with Robert De Niro

The War at Home: "Brothers," "Armored," "Everybody's Fine," and "Transylmania"
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2009-12-06 22:35:54

Natalie Portman, Tobey Maguire, Bailee Madison, and Taylor Geare in BrothersBROTHERS

In director Jim Sheridan's Brothers, adapted from a 2004 Danish film of the same title, a stalwart Marine captain (Tobey Maguire) is captured, tortured, and presumed dead during his fourth tour in Afghanistan. Miraculously, however, he survives the ordeal, only to return home convinced - and not entirely without reason - that his loving wife (Natalie Portman) is sleeping with his ex-con brother (Jake Gyllenhaal). Even if the movie weren't a remake, this wouldn't exactly be the most inventive of plotlines, but there's still enough about Brothers that's raw, painful, and touching to make it satisfying melodrama regardless of its contrived design. Or rather, there would be, if you weren't so frequently distracted by all the capital-A Acting that's going on.


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Best. Oscars. Ever.: Notes on the 2009 Academy Awards Telecast
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Feature Stories

2009-02-23 19:11:28

OscarsSeriously, by the end of Hugh Jackman's opening number during the 2009 Academy Awards telecast, did it even matter if the rest of the show was any good?


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Nuts and Dolts: "Burn After Reading," "The Women," and "Righteous Kill"
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2008-09-17 08:15:57

Brad Pitt in Burn After ReadingBURN AFTER READING

Brad Pitt is so adorably dim-witted in the Coen brothers' espionage comedy Burn After Reading, and John Malkovich is so hilariously profane (and singularly weird), that it's a little heartbreaking to admit just how disappointing the actors' debut outing with the Coens actually is. From 1984's Blood Simple to last year's No Country for Old Men, the filmography of Joel and Ethan has been chockablock with enjoyably eccentric throwaway characters. Until now, though, I'd never seen a Coen brothers movie that was nothing but a series of enjoyably eccentric throwaway characters; Pitt, Malkovich, and the film's other hard-working performers provide a decent enough time, yet I still left Burn Without Reading feeling a little bewildered and annoyed, and counting the months - hopefully not too many - until the siblings' next endeavor.


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Mike’s Online-Only Movie Reviews - 2008
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2008-05-01 11:06:16

The AlpsThe Alps (not rated) - The people have chosen, and the people chose good. Last fall's winner of the Putnam Museum's "Everyone's a Critic" series - which follows climber John Harlin's attempts to scale the north face of the Eiger mountain, where his father perished in 1966 - is such a breathtaking spectacle that watching it makes you a little dizzy; not from the Eiger's treacherous inclines and precipitous drops, which are (enjoyably) vertigo-inducing enough, but from the dazzling visual rush provided by director Steve Judson and his remarkable team of camera operators. Judson re-creates Harlin's ascent with jaw-dropping skill - you'll fight the urge to blurt out "How on earth did they film that?!" repeatedly during The Alps' 45-minute running length - and he and his crew photograph the Swiss mountain ranges with crystalline perfection; I'm not sure any movie has ever looked better in IMAX format. When the film turns to matters of geology and the historic make-up of the mountains, things get a little stodgy, but you're quickly returned to the awe-inspiring vistas, an unexpectedly touching human element courtesy of Harlin and his understandably worried wife and daughter, and, believe it or not, a series of marvelously employed Queen tunes that - in this format, at least - suggest what the elevator ride to heaven would sound like.


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Mike's Online-Only Movie Reviews - 2007
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2007-10-30 00:41:02

Eduardo Verastegui and Tammy Blanchard in BellaBella (PG-13) - Alejandro Monteverde's drama, which concerns the friendship between a chef and a newly pregnant, newly unemployed waitress, received the People's Choice Award at the 2006 Toronto Film Festival. Um... who are these "people," exactly? Space people? Because I can see how Bella might be confused with a great movie if you didn't understand a word of human conversation. Even then, of course, you might still be put off by the film's bizarre editing (with flash-forwards routinely, meaninglessly interrupting scenes-in-progress) and lackluster photography; Montevrede shows more interest in food than in his stars. And then there's that baffling ending, which seems to set the film up for a sequel - one that fills in that massive "Huh?!?" of a climactic plot hole. But it's still the mawkish, maudlin screenplay that does it in; Eduardo Verástegui (looking uncannily like Jim Caviezel as Christ) and Tammy Blanchard (as ever, looking uncannily like Judy Garland) are stuck with unplayable dialogue and baldly written characters, and the movie shamelessly plies on the merely-functional supporting stereotypes. The movie is pro-life and pro-family with a vengeance, which might account for its (limited) popular success. I just wish it were also a little pro-brain, and a lot anti-cliché.


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