Archives for August 2008


Ramin Bahrani

Iranian-American filmmaker talks about his upcoming project

Ramin Bahrani is part of the Iranian diaspora called second generation. Having lived in America most of his life, his first film Man Push Cart got him major nods on the festival circuit. And the festival buzz is a good buzz. It sustains a filmmaker. It helps that his sophomoric work opus Chop Shop was well received at the Director's Fortnight in Cannes two years ago, too. Bahrani is off to Venice ... more >

Hamlet 2

Rock me sexy Hamlet?
Steve Coogan, Catherine Keener and Joseph Julian
Directed by Andrew Fleming

As William Shakespeare said, “The play’s the thing,” right? So that’s where we’ll start, rating a Tucson high school’s performance of the musical sequel to the Bard’s masterpiece – Hamlet 2, anchored by the show-stopping and possibly damnation-inducing number “Rock Me, Sexy Jesus.” (That title reminds me of an old dilemma – if I download “Jesus Christ Superstar,” am I at risk of spending an ... more >

Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Woody Allen on the rise
Scarlett Johansson, Rebecca Hall, Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz
Directed by Woody Allen

Woody Allen’s Vicky Christina Barcelona runs from promising to intriguing to agreeably incoherent to disagreeably incoherent to utter anarchy. A little frustrating as film, yes, but one might say it successfully mirrors the pathway of romance. It certainly mirrors the pathway of the volcanic marriage of artists Maria and Juan Antonio (Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem), a disturbed, bickering ... more >

The Rocker

A super-witty take on This is Spinal Tap
Rainn Wilson, Christina Applegate and Josh Gad
Directed by Peter Cattaneo

Is The Office becoming to today’s movie culture what Friends was to the 1990s? Is Steve Carell transforming into the new Jennifer Aniston, appearing in mass-appeal star vehicles of varying quality, with the occasional indie effort thrown in for credibility? Possibly. Jenna Fischer has played supporting roles in comedies such as Judd Apatow’s Walk Hard. A Lisa Kudrow starter kit? Mmmmm, sort ... more >

Tropic Thunder

Behold this summer's hottest comedy
Ben Stiller, Robert Downey Jr., Jack Black and Steve Coogan
Directed by Ben Stiller

The Hollywood career of Robert Downey Jr. has been something of a Biblical experience. Looked at in a certain way, you rarely see so much begatting in one lifetime. Young stardom begat an early Oscar nom. Success begat addiction. Addiction begat arrests. Which begat an indie film resurrection. Which begat critical appreciation. Which has now begat a return to stardom. This summer, his career ... more >

The Pineapple Express

A deliriously-funny weed hit of a movie
Seth Rogen, James Franco and Danny McBride
Directed by David Gordon Green

Judd Apatow, the king of the American raunch-com, and David Gordon Green, the lyrical indie filmmaker, whose ethereal work has been among the best American filmmaking of the past decade. In truth, it’s not as odd as it seems. As far back as his earliest films, Green would express his interest in doing commercial projects in order to support his artistic ones. And his films have been known to ... more >

Man on Wire

It's those priceless moments
Philippe Petit
Directed by James Marsh

When on Aug. 7, 1974, Philippe Petit stepped out onto a narrow wire lashed between the World Trade Center towers, he remained a black speck in an endless morning sky. The clouds pressed low. More wind passed than desirable. The wire, one tells, was the worst they ever hung. He was 1,350 feet and the width of a cable away from a harrowing death. And he was 200 treacherous feet from his dream. I ... more >