Film Review

Slow Burn, Quickly Forgotten

 ray_liotta.jpgRunning into a midtown Manhattan screening room at 10:07 AM for a 10:00 AM showing of Zoo, a documentary on men who date horses, I was surprised to see Ray Liotta's face being projected. Had the actor, known for his charmingly irascible characterizations and his inability to turn down any role (e.g. Operation Dumbo Drop (1995)) developed a taste for four-legged creatures that didn't require riding them with a saddle? Read more »

French Perfection

the__valet.jpgFive years ago, when The Closet came out, I wrote for indieWire, "Director/writer Francis Veber, 63, who scripted The Tall Blond Man with One Black Shoe (1972), The Toy (1976), Le cage aux folles (1978), and The Goat (1981), plus wrote and directed last year's hilarious The Dinner Game, (the American remake's planned title is Dinner for Shmucks), has returned with what might turn out to be the funniest film of the year." Ditto for 2007. Read more »

It Slices! It Dices! It Perms!

Afro_SamuraiAfro Samurai: The Director’s Cut (FUNimation DVD)

Between the Independent Film Channel airing Samurai 7 and Gunslinger Girl, Showtime Beyond running Peacemaker, and Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim block boasting Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, Eureka 7, and Blood+, among others, there’s more anime on American TV now than ever before. But while we aren’t expecting CBS to start airing Neon Genesis Evangelion or Ergo Proxy during those rare half-hours between CSI spin-offs, they did come one step closer recently when the cable network Spike TV — which doesn’t even air American cartoons — showed Afro Samurai. Read more »

King of Monsters Restored to Original Glory

gojira_attackGojira, Godzilla Raids Again, Mothra Vs. Godzilla (Classic Media)

With twenty-eight films under his belt, and fifty years in the business, he is, literally and figuratively, the biggest movie star to ever come out of Japan. So it’s only fitting that Gojira “Godzilla” Yoshikawa would finally be getting his due with a series of truly special edition DVDs from Classic Media. Which isn’t just long overdue because of Godzilla’s stature as an actor and icon, but because many of his films, when released in the U.S., were dramatically edited, had new footage added, and were so badly dubbed into English that they made a generation of American filmgoers believe that everyone in Japan talked like bad ventriloquists. Read more »

Father Knows Least

chris__rock.jpgAccording to the statistics showcased on, 1 in 20 husbands have admitted to cheating on their wives. On the distaff side, it's 1 in 22. As for the number of men who take off their wedding rings when they leave the apartment without their wives, it's 1 in 3, while the percentage of men caught in their infidelities registers in at 80%.

Wait a second! The New York Times reports higher figures. How about 21 percent of men and 13 percent of women have copulated with a third party! Read more »

Nicolas Cage Is Still Moonstruck

nicolas__cage.jpg2006 was a busy year for Nicolas Cage. The Ant Bully. World Trade Center. The Wicker Man. Apparently those offerings didn't sate our yen for Cage. This past weekend, Ghost Rider, in which the Oscar-winner embodies the demon-possessed comic-book hero Johnny Blaze, brought in an estimated $44.5 million, revitalizing a previously tepid Hollywood box office.

If that wasn't sci-fi enough, there's Next (with Julianne Moore), in which Cage stars as a man who can see the future. Read more »

Puccini for Beginners

pucciniDid anyone ever argue that being a beautiful, witty, opera-loving, critically-acclaimed-but-poorly-selling novelist who's a New York lesbian is easy? Well, truthfully, in 2007, it doesn't seem like that much of a chore. Even Truman Capote once noted, "There's nothing cozier or safer than a nice little lez-nest."

But for Allegra (Elizabeth Reiser) nothing is ever that effortless.

Take her current relationship with Samantha (Julianne Nicolson). After nine months of extremely heavy dating/delirious sex, Sam wants a commitment. Read more »

Alice Braga: A Legend in the Making

bragaThis coming December, Warner Brothers will release I Am Legend, a much anticipated horror thriller that stars Will Smith as the last man on Earth unaffected by a plague-like virus that turns its victims into blood-craving mutants. However, there's no doubt Smith's character will be affected by his costar Alice Braga, world cinema's latest seductive siren. By the way, she can also act.

In fact, last year The New York Times' headlines screamed out in its Arts and Leisure section that Alice Braga had given one of the five "breakthrough performances" of the year. Read more »

Solomon Grundy Vs. Superman Returns

superman_returns.jpgSuperman Returns (Warner Home Video)

Solomon Grundy finally get to see new Superman movie. Him expect lots but think movie not deliver. Make promises. Lie. Make Solomon Grundy angry!

Solomon Grundy think problem start with script. Try too hard to be like original, suffer for it. Solomon Grundy not think bad thing. But him think some change not bad thing either. Solomon Grundy once made of flesh. Now him made of peat bog. Not dying a good thing, Solomon Grundy think (even if Brainiac right and peat bog mostly manure run-off). Read more »

Venus In Grey

venus"I have no memories I'm prepared to share with you," Peter O'Toole once noted, possibly to some prying journalist.

What a giant fib! The countless memories this actor has already indelibly shared with us range from such classics like Lawrence of Arabia (1962), Becket (1964), Lord Jim (1965), and The Lion in Winter (1968) to My Favorite Year (1982) and The Last Emperor (1987). Read more »

Some Serious Bonding

casino_royaleI fully expected Casino Royale to suck. All the Daniel Craig hype aside, the thought of seeing a franchise picture, slated for the holidays, with rampant product placement and all the sins of our millennial movie-going madness left me cold. Still, it was a rainy Saturday, so I did a “what the hell” and went.

There were times during this movie when I wanted to stand up and cheer. They got it right. Very right.

Somehow the makers of this film managed to tap into the menace and genuine fear that has to fuel a thriller like Bond. Read more »

Metaphysical Anime

gitsGhost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
Complete Collection (Magna Home Video)

In 1991, when writer and artist Masamune Shirow released his action-packed but metaphysically driven cyberpunk manga Ghost in the Shell, he probably never imagined he was giving birth to a cottage industry that would one day encompass movies, video games, action figures, novels, T-shirts, and some inappropriate fan-made art of his hero, Major Motoko Kusanagi. Or that it -- and especially the now-classic animated G.I.T.S. movie that followed four years later -- would inspire a legion of other cyberpunk animes, mangas, and live-action movies, most notably the equally adrenalized and philosophical Matrix saga. Read more »


robert_altman.jpgYou can't do overlapping dialogue in writing. That's just one of the reasons this appreciation of American filmmaker Robert Altman will be inadequate. The real way it should be done is a group of people -- some who knew him for Gosford Park some who knew him for M.A.S.H. some for California Split orThe Long Goodbye, some who never heard of the dude -- all these people running in and out of rooms gabbing and talking over one another. But to remember Altman just for his over-lapping dialogue would be like only remembering Hitchcock as the "master of suspense." (Interesting aside, it was Hitchcock who salvaged Altman's flagging career and gave him a break. Read more »

Old Yaller Goes to Mongolia

yelllow_dog.jpgThe Mongolian film The Cave of the Yellow Dog is one that I really wanted and expected to like, since I am generally a sucker for films set in that area of the world. But it proved a rather long 93 minutes. The problematic issue may be genre. This film proves a somewhat unsatisfying blend of fiction and documentary, lacking the dramatic story line we expect in fiction and the depth of depiction we expect in documentary.

The filmmaker, Byambasuren Davaa, was born in Mongolia in 1971, and her goal in this film is to bring that lost world of her youth to our attention: “the viewer is introduced to my Mongolian culture. Read more »

Second Honeymoon

honeymoon.jpgThe Honeymoon Killers
Directed by Leonard Kastle, 1970. (Criterion DVD, 2003)

Some movies were destined to be in black and white. Monochrome becomes them, not just because of the period in which they were realized, but somehow their subject matter would appear cheapened by the gaudiness of color. Sunset Boulevard, Some Like It Hot, and Psycho are three prime examples that benefit from the other worldliness of flickering grays.

A rather late addition is the 1970 cult curio The Honeymoon Killers. Read more »

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