A movie about Joy Division and Factory Records. See review this issue.
Drug scare films are fun to drop acid to.
A cloying and charming story about the famous author of a pseudofeminist self-help volume called Why Love Doesn't Work, who learns that it can, but only when your partner is a sexist (but sexy) radio shock-jock. A lot of people will despise this film for its droll potty mouth, cutesie characterizations, and sitcom-sticky situations; but even more will like it without wanting to admit it (like fun sex with a shallow partner). The truth is, it's very pleasant. (Sean Nelson)
Austin Powers: Goldmember
There are two things that aren't funny in this movie, and they are Beyoncè Knowles as Foxxy Cleopatra, and Myers' newest villain from Holland, Goldmember. And the reason why they aren't funny is because people from Holland are never funny, and neither is Beyoncè Knowles. Another thing that isn't funny are all the jokes from the first two Austin Powers movies--which happily, are nowhere to be seen. Wait that's not true. The bad jokes are in the movie, but they've been improved upon to the point where they actually are funny. Especially the poop and pee jokes.
Biggie and Tupac
The controversy behind Biggie and Tupac's deaths is revealed in an annoying British accent. See review this issue.
Blood Work is a total bore. I was hoping this would be Clint Eastwood's swan song to a life of vigilantism, a retrospective of themes that have run through his work. But that's wishful thinking. The plot is thin, the characters aren't believable, the pacing and lighting are totally Matlock, and the performances are tired. Except for Anjelica Huston, who is not so much good but just never bad. As for the old firebrand himself, Eastwood acts constipated and ill tempered, like there's some annoying key grip just off-camera holding up a sign that says, "Go ahead, make my day." It's just too bad that someone talked the Great Warrior into this. (Michael Schilling)
If you can't afford a plane ticket, you could go see Blue Crush instead. The plot's trite and cheesy--girl from Hawaii kicks ass at surfing, meets boy from the mainland, almost gives up surfing, until a crucial competition arises and he rallies behind her--but the surf scenes are awesome. Hawaii's gorgeous, as are the surfer chicks and their male counterparts. It's like a two-hour vacation, especially for the part of your brain that does the thinking. (Amy Jennings)
After a bass player gets fired from a rock-n-roll band, he snaps, and goes on a raping and killing spree.
From the director of House on Haunted Hill comes what promises to be another unbelievably thrilling horror film about computers. Four people end up dead within 48 hours of logging on to a website, and "brash young police detective" Mike Reilly (played by the insufferable Stephen Dorff) is assigned to investigate. To solve the case, of course, our young detective must himself log-on to the site (DUNT-dunt-DUN!)... if he dares.
Full Frontal catalogues the difficulty of maintaining a monogamous relationship when you're a Hollywood starlet, boo hoo. It shows how fucked up and stupid actors are in regards to sex and love, because they're never 100 percent invested in either. The film jokes about how Julia Roberts falls in love with any old lighting guy that kisses her ass, which is true, but funny, and I guess we're supposed to be charmed that Hollywood can poke fun at itself, even though those rich dicks are really like that. On top of the Hollywood spoofing, director Soderbergh makes a film within a film within a film, a gimmick that has no clear purpose, but is nonetheless, entertaining. On the whole, Full Frontal is pretty good, but not great, and loses big points for no sex. (Katie Shimer)
The Good Girl
Justine Last (Jennifer Aniston) works at the Retail Rodeo. She has worked there for many many years, her husband and his buddy paint houses for a living and smoke a lot of pot. Justine is sad, bored, and unhappy, until... a weird young guy calling himself Holden (Jake Gyllenhall) befriends her. From there, it's all down hill. I heard tons of hype about this film before screening it, "Jennifer Aniston plays against type... " and all that. Well, Jennifer does play against type, but isn't that what acting is all about? Given the directing and writing credits of director Miguel Arteta and writer Mike White who brought us the deliciously uncomfortable Chuck and Buck, I guess I expected a more ominous and darker tone, but The Good Girl seems more screwball than drama. This works on some levels, but overall it just feels melodramatic. (Brian Brait)
Adrian Grenier stars as a Harvard philosophy student/basketball star who finds himself in a pantsload of trouble after agreeing to fix a game to make himself and his mobster girlfriend (Sarah Michelle Gellar) rich. Complicating matters is his hotsy-totsy philosophy teacher (who he's also sleeping with), two sexually adventurous FBI agents, and the longest LSD trip ever recorded on film. For being an indie director, James Toback does a nice job of reigning in his artsy-fartsy subject matter and quick edits, however, he still seems torn between telling a good story and retaining his indie cred. The result is an almost-interesting mess that unfortunately is intent on distancing its characters from the audience. (Wm. Steven Humphrey)
The Hippie Temptation
A now hysterical 1967 CBS News feature chronicling a reporter hanging out in the Haight-Ashbury district in San Fran, visiting the Grateful Dead, and discussing the dangers of LSD.
I Love You Alice B. Toklas
Instead of buying a new Porsche, Peter Sellers decides to spend his mid-life crisis time being a hippie.
A three-hour French epic about the life-long romantic travails between turn-of-the-century porcelain and cognac manufacturers, based on a multi-volume novel. Before you start running for the exits or mainlining the No-Doze, consider the vital thrum that director Olivier Assayas brings to this staggeringly ambitious, potentially creaky relic. To his credit, Assayas refuses to kowtow to the conventional molasses reverence of the period piece, relying instead on welcome bursts of nervously prowling camerawork and a thrillingly fractured take on the source material. (Decades drop between frames.) The plot could perhaps have benefited from a tad less compression, but the director, aided by marvelous performances from Emmanuelle Beart and Isabelle Huppert, manages to free the historical epic from its traditional stately dullness and lends it rawness and life. (Andrew Wright)
Little Fauss and Big Halsy
Robert Redford and Michael J. Pollard star as motorcycle racers, one naive and one womanizing, but both losers.
There is a sinister undercurrent running just below the surface of this limp ode to Salt Lake City suburbia, and it gives the movie's after-school special themes a certain morbid interest. Emily (Evan Rachel Wood) is a fourteen year-old Type A violinist who runs a neighborhood stand hawking "secret keeping" rather than lemonade. Kids pay to confess their minor misdeeds and receive her sage advice, while she suffers silently under the burden of a mammoth secret of her own. Half-convinced the screenwriter's penchant for melodrama would infect the wholesome kiddie crimes, I dreaded each new confession. Would bland cat-napping admissions yield to revelations of child molestation, glue-sniffing, and anorexia? Well, no. But that fact doesn't make Little Secrets any less frightening and strange.(Annie Wagner)
Love and a Bullet
Laugh if you must at the thought of Naughty By Nature's Anthony "Treach" Criss acting, but this is actually his fourteenth film. How does that feel, Gretchen Mol?
Lovely and Amazing
This follow-up to the similarly graceful Walking and Talking is a shrewdly respectful character study of a fractured family of women trying to ride herd on their raging neuroses. Fantastic acting and sensitive writing underscore the simple DV directorial approach. (Sean Nelson)
This costume drama, which is set in 16th century, is about a mad woman who claims to have been the queen of Spain. Before watching this film, please read Gogol's Diary of a Madman, which is about a madman who claims to be the king of Spain.
Martin Lawrence Live: Rundteldat
Daaaamn GEENA! I'm making up words again! An' they gave me another concert movie! They so CRA-ZYY! You know I ain't making no MONEY without wavin' a gun or wearin' a big ol' prosthetic ASS! WHEN will they learn?!?!
Master of Disguise
A brief overview should demonstrate what a miserable, puny affair this Dana Carvey vehicle is. The men in a certain Italian-American family possess a genetic predisposition toward disguising themselves as other people (and turtles, and piles of poo). Their family name: "Disguisey." The imagination that went into developing this magical universe is truly astounding: the term for this mimetic talent, for example, is "energico," and it involves the use of a device called the "Disguising Ball of Knowledge." There is a running gag that dictates that whenever the villain tries to cackle, he farts. And to top it all off, somebody had the brilliant idea of putting a pedophilia joke in a kid's movie. I can't believe this didn't go straight to video. (Annie Wagner)
Me Without You
Two girls grow up in London as best friends--Marina is always being told she's the pretty one, and Holly is always surrendering to her command, even though Marina's a total backstabber. As they get older, it becomes obvious that Holly is more intelligent, motivated, together, and even better-looking, but they cling to their set patterns. The film expertly shows the twisting of their relationship over time. These girls, in their journey to become women, struggle against each other to a point of no return. (Katie Shimer)
If Margaret Cho's latest stand-up concert film doesn't quite live up to her first, "I'm the One That I Want," it's not necessarily her fault. While "I'm the One" catapulted her into comedy stardom, it also relied on the story of her previous struggles in showbiz and life for material. In Notorious C.H.O., she's left to ruminate on her topics of choice, which include sex, menstruation, and body image. (Why they sent a heterosexual white male who's only slightly doughy to review this is beyond me...) In short, topics include colonic irrigation, ice cream up the butt, the search for the g-spot, and fisting. Best line: "If straight men had periods, every bachelor pad would look like a murder scene." Brilliant? No. Funny enough to see? Yes. (Marc Mohan)
One Hour Photo
Oh, how we miss Mork! Creepy and hairy-as-an-ape Robin Williams plays a stalker. See review this issue.
No director in the universe (with the possible exception of John Waters) could save a bad novel like Possession, which was authored by A. S. Byatt. It's the one novel Hollywood should have left in its original condition: a bad book. Now it has a second life as a bad movie. (Charles Mudede)
Psychedelic Music Shorts
This should be pretty self-explanatory: Janis, Creedence, the Stones, Jefferson Air, The Animals, The Doors, Slay and the Family... Wow. It's like a hippie dream come true.
Read My Lips
Anyone who has ever enjoyed hiring power at a job where everybody hates their guts will sympathize with secretary Carla's potentially Christopher Makepeace-style choice to hire a newly-minted ex-con as her assistant. Everyone else will find something to relate to in the cycle of petty revenge-taking and blackmail that starts with some harmless lip-reading, but eventually spirals out of control.
Road to Perdition
Starring Tom Hanks, Paul Newman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Jude Law--a ridiculously stellar ensemble--Road to Perdition tells a rather simple tale, and it tells it nearly perfectly. A hit man (Tom Hanks) sees his family slaughtered, save for his oldest son. Father and son hit the road to exact revenge. Perdition transcends every revenge film currently documented within my brain. Mendes, working once again with Conrad Hall, has fashioned a heartfelt, exquisite, and above all, patient revenge epic. (Bradley Steinbacher)
A comedy exploring that which unites all great nations, including ours, in this modern age: electoral fraud. This charmer from Iran features the traditional buddy-cop teaming of female voting official and male soldier-chauffeur as they travel to a distant island in order to rock the vote. Satirical targets include elections in general, Iranian elections specifically, and attitudes toward women most of all.
Chandler and Hugh Grant's girlfriend unite for a rollicking, Vicodin-fueled road adventure that has something to do with a million dollars, divorce papers, purple cowboy hats. Another stirring Friends vehicle in the tradition of The Pallbearer and Ed.
She-Devils on Wheels
Following the usual protocol, a female motorcycle gang holds nightly races to see who gets to go home with the hot men. However, when an all-male motorcycle gang slinks onto the She-Devils' territory, they're in for a lot more than a good screw.
In M. Night Shyamalan's most recent masterpieces, his obsessions with Philadelphia and the presence of God shine through, making the movie not only a thriller about crop circles and aliens, but also an interesting meditation on some deep stuff.
A film director loses his lead actress halfway through production and, desperate to finish his "masterwork," decides to create his own actress via computer. This is the plot to Andrew Niccol's Simone--a bland, unfortunate Hollywood satire that aims to skewer the cult of celebrity, but instead manages to shoot itself in the foot. As a comedy, Simone manages a few well-placed shots (the bulk of which come courtesy of the always brilliant Catherine Keener), but as satire, it fails miserably due to the sheer unbelievability of the storyline's various twists and turns. (Bradley Steinbacher)
The Singles Ward
This is the story of a guy who is Mormon and gets divorced, a big problem if you're Mormon. He attends the singles ward, which is basically like a dating club for single Mormons. Just as he's getting fed up, he falls in love with the ward director. Drama ensues.
The Spice Girls are to Sleater-Kinney as Blue Crush is to this film. Oh sure, there are still the hard-toned bods, but there is no annoyance of, say, a sappy plot! Just surfing and real surfers. Unflinching surfing footage makes it seem like the surf is right there, pounding on your head.
Like most 15-year-old boys who acquire Sigourney Weaver as their stepmom, Oscar wants to doink her. But for the sake of efficacy and realism, he's willing to consider his stepmom's friend Bebe Neuwirth as a fall-back.
The world's top heavyweight contender (Ving Rhames) relocates his training facilities to Sweetwater penitentiary after a little misunderstand regarding that whole rape incident (oops!). Upon arrival, "Ice Man" is confronted with the ego threat of Monroe Hutchen (Wesley Snipes), former rising boxing star and current prison champion 10 years running. Somehow Columbo gets involved, and Master P is in there somewhere-anyway, they fight, "one for his honor and one for his future, and only one will be...UNDISPUTED."
Who is Cletus Tout?
While watching this film, I came up with a plan to save the US economy: the government should sponsor Christian Slater and/or Tim Allen vehicles. Then the whole country could turn out to see them and pay $7 a ticket, plus a $4 popcorn, a $3 soda, and a $2 bag of M&Ms. In other words, if each American did their duty and paid $16 to see a Tim Allen and/or a Christian Slater movie, and the theaters turned over the proceeds to the government, then we just might get this country out of the economic shitter. Oh, wait... the movie? Told through amusing flashbacks, this is a silly, whimsical farce revolving around a funny/mean, movie-obsessed hitman (Allen), an escaped convict (Slater), his newfound true love (Portia di Rossi), her magician father (Richard Dreyfus), and a box of diamonds. Film noir and screwball sensibilities unevenly collide with modern, Pulp Fiction-like violence. It's not terrible, not great, but it could just save our economy. (Brian Brait)
The Wild Angels
Peter Fonda, the leader of the Hell's Angels, helps spring his outlaw buddy from the hospital and then faces off against the police. 1966 film.
Wild in the Streets
A rock star joins forces with a California politician and they lobby to get younger people elected for office. Once in power, the teens take control, going so far as to feed their parents acid. I would not want to see my parents on acid.
Just how bad is XXX? Worse than you've imagined. Seriously. I would rather be catheterized by a Parkinson's-afflicted nurse than sit through it again. It's that bad. Don't believe me? Then go see it. Flop down the $10 at your neighborhood multiplex and slouch your way through the picture. You'll see--and afterward you'll say, "Shit, man, I wish I'd listened to that chump from the Mercury." (Bradley Steinbacher