Archives for January 2009

ARCHIVES

The Reader

Lost in translation
Kate Winslet, Ralph Fiennes and Bruno Ganz
Directed by Stephen Daldry

As it is most often the case with films based on well-known books, people who have read Bernard Schlink’s “The Reader” won’t much like Stephen Daldry’s film. It has evident qualities, first and foremost the excellent acting by Kate Winslet who has just won a Golden Globe award for her supporting role. But it is always slightly off and misses the spirit of the book. Scenes added, one assumes, ... more >

Not easily broken

Lots of emergency room visits. We're just saying.
Morris Chestnut, Taraji P. Henson and Maeve Quinlan
Directed by Bill Duke

If there is one B.O. trend lately that has gone virtually silently, it’s the quiet rise of the inspirational movie. This trend turned Tyler Perry into the least talked-about B.O. star in America. It’s most recently been seen in the word-of-mouth success of "Fireproof," a firefighter film that has no buzz, no stars (unless you love "Growing Pains" enough to count Kirk Cameron), and unexpectedly ... more >

Valkyrie

Maybe things will turn out differently
Tom Cruise, Bill Nighy and Carice van Houten
Directed by Bryan Singer

As with many historical events, we know how the story ends yet cannot help thinking that maybe this time around things will turn out differently. Marie-Antoinette was never guillotined, the Titanic did not hit the iceberg, Pearl Harbor never happened. Although we know that all the attempts to assassinate Hitler failed, including the one on June 1944, led by Von Stauffenberg and his ... more >

Frost / Nixon Redux

Another critic offers her perspective
Frank Langella, Michael Sheen and Kevin Bacon
Directed by Ron Howard

Is it me or have performances become extraordinary? In the past few weeks alone, watching Mickey Rourke in "The Wrestler," Sean Penn in "Milk," Philip Seymour Hoffman in "Doubt" and the more subdued Clint Eastwood in "Gran Torino" leave one slack-jawed. The experience is similar to watching not only extreme sports, triathlons, and parkour races, but any sport nowadays. With the bar set so high, it ... more >

The year in review

Ari Folman's Waltz with Bashir leads the way

In 2008 I’ve seen forty-three films in theaters, twenty-five rentals, and some fifty others either on satellite or on instant watching internet sites. Give or take, that’s about a hundred twenty films. I give films a grade out of twenty as I dutifully list in my yearbook title, director, year, main cast. My first criterion for a good film is that it hold my attention throughout. If my mind ... more >

THE YEAR IN REVIEW

(BY KEVIN BOWEN) 2008--a so-so year. But enough about that. Let's look at the ten best films. -Man on Wire In four years of reviewing films I have twice awarded the number one slot on my yearly top ten list to a documentary. I've been known to say that if I had to show aliens one film as a slice of humanity, I might choose Werner Herzog's Grizzly Man. Now I think that that's a touch cynical; I ... more >

Golden Door (Nuovomondo)

Storytelling that's original - finally!
Charlotte Gainsbourg, Vincenzo Amato and Aurora Quattrocchi
Directed by Emanuele Crialese

This is everything we want a film to be: imaginative, engaging, surprising, highly entertaining. It is also a microcosm of the millions of immigrants who came to this country at the turn of the last century. Never have the huddled masses been more tired or poor than the Sicilian brothers who manage to get on a boat that will take them to America, the land of milk and giant vegetables. The hoops ... more >