Archives for January 2009


The Uninvited

There's more than meets the eye
Emily Browning, Arielle Kebbel and Elizabeth Banks
Directed by Charles Guard and Thomas Guard

I'll start with an old war story from my earliest days of writing these things. This story is, above all, a confession of a lack of nerve. In my first few months of film writing, as I was just getting my feet under me, I watched a romantic comedy that I thought was far above the typical fare. I thought long and hard about giving it a four-star review. However, deep down, I accepted the “just a ... more >


Original plot, great acting—what more can you ask for?
Brendan Fraser, Andy Serkis and Eliza Bennett
Directed by Iain Softley

In "Inkheart," Brendan Fraser loses his wife in a bizarre book-reading accident. As a professional bookbinder, the silver screen’s newest big-time child-herder is a “silver tongue” a person who can literally bring a story to life simply by reading out loud. He releases a cast of knife-wielding meanies from the pages of an adventure book called Inkheart. But it isn’t a free lunch. His wife gets ... more >

The Queen and I

History, one truth at a time
Empress Farah, Nahid Persson and Zinat S. Lloyd
Directed by Nahid Persson

"The Queen and I," a doc by Swedish-Iranian director Nahid Persson Sarvestani and an official entry at Sundance, offers an intriguing premise: the evolving relation between two women with different and even antithetical backgrounds, the director and her subject, Empress Farah Pahlavi, widow of the former Shah of Iran deposed by the Islamic Revolution of 1979. Brought up in a working-class family, ... more >

Last Chance Harvey

When meeting someone becomes a game-changer
Dustin Hoffman, Emma Thompson and Kathy Baker
Directed by Joel Hopkins

Is there a film critic’s superstition that the first film you see in a year will determine if the rest of the film year is good or bad? Oh, I hope not. That’s because only one word comes to mind when I think about Last Chance Harvey: phony. Starting with its overly precious title (His name is Harvey. It’s his last chance), this tale of a music man blares false note after false note. Not one seems ... more >


(by Ali Naderzad) On a snowy Martin Luther King Day in New York City, things can get drab pretty quickly. What's a film critic to do? The Walter Reade Theatre seems like it's leagues away from here. You've seen all the movies and read all your movie news digests. You can either watch "Citizen Kane" for the 321st time or get reacquainted, as I did today, with the New York Times-led series on ... more >

Revolutionary Road

Harking back to duller times
Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet and Christopher Fitzgerald
Directed by Sam Mendes

Shortly before his death in 1992, Richard Yates, the author of Revolutionary Road, bemoaned the fact that two of his wishes as a writer—fairly common among the breed—never came to pass: One, to have a book reviewed on the front page of the New York Times and two, have a short story published in the New Yorker.( A third wish usually out of reach for most writers is to have your creation make it to ... more >

France loses filmmaker Claude Berri

A man with stories to tell

Claude Berri who just died at age 74 was a versatile producer, director and sometimes actor, better known in France than abroad, although his very first effort, a short film called “The Chicken,” won him an Oscar. Berri could be tremendously funny but with a deep melancholy streak that came through in films such as Tchao Pantin with the beloved French comedian Coluche. He is the author of ... more >