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Jeff Beck, Jamie Cullum, Alan Bates and Kyle Eastwood - Jeff Beck, Jamie Cullum, Alan Bates and Kyle Eastwood London, England - at the BBC Jazz Awards 2008 at the Mermaid Theatre Monday 21st July 2008

Jeff Beck, Jamie Cullum, Alan Bates and Kyle Eastwood
Jeff Beck
Jeff Beck and Jamie Cullum
Jeff Beck
Jeff Beck
Jeff Beck and Jamie Cullum

Women In Love Review


OK
Ken Russell's Women in Love is alternately heralded and dismissed by viewers. I stand somewhere in the middle: It's a definite mess, though the titular women out-act the men they're ostensibly in love with. Russell's at his pervy best here (and Glenda Jackson was the first actress to win an Oscar in a movie featuring a nude scene; in this case her own plus a notorious all-male, all-nude, fireside wrestling sequence), and his interpretation of D.H. Lawrence's book is on the liberal side. But ultimately the film is so confusing and meandering that its perversity is shuffled under the rug of its own pretensions. Still, it's memorable for both its era-specific shock value and for Jackson's alternately sweet and vicious performance.

The Sum Of All Fears Review


Weak
The biggest mystery in The Sum of All Fears is not how terrorists manage to smuggle a nuclear bomb into downtown Baltimore. Rather, it's how CIA operative Jack Ryan, formerly played by Alec Baldwin and Harrison Ford, has suddenly become 30 years younger and has turned into a junior agent at the CIA with only a few months of experience. In the hands of Ben Affleck, Ryan is no longer the commanding veteran he once was in films like Patriot Games. Now he's little more than a jerky teenager with a hot girlfriend and a chip on his shoulder.

I won't try to explain the metamorphosis of Ryan because it's never mentioned in the movie (and no, it's not a prequel; the film takes place in the present). Central to the plot is the hunt for an old nuclear bomb lost by the Israelis in 1973 and recovered, sold, and rebuilt by various arms dealers, terrorists, and neo-Nazi groups decades later. Their idea is to blow up the bomb in the U.S., blame it on the Russians, ignite a massive nuclear response from both sides, and -- in the greatest stretch of imagination ever to strike a Hitler enthusiast -- somehow survive WWIII and seize control of the world in the aftermath.

Continue reading: The Sum Of All Fears Review

The Cherry Orchard Review


Very Good
Actors understandably welcome the opportunity to perform Chekhov, whose plays are painfully funny in their quiet observation of human folly. In Uncle Vanya and The Three Sisters, we recognize some part of ourselves. Renowned director Michael Cacoyannis, who helmed Zorba the Greek in 1964, assembles a powerhouse international cast for his screen interpretation of The Cherry Orchard, including Alan Bates (Gosford Park), Katrin Cartlidge (Breaking the Waves), and Melanie Lynskey (Heavenly Creatures). That great horror actor Michael Gough is well typecast as an ancient butler, and grand dame Charlotte Rampling's timeless iconic presence lends itself beautifully to the tragic Madame Lyubov Andreyevna Raneskaya.

Despite the remarkable assemblage of talent, Cacoyannis' Cherry Orchard feels self-aware of adapting a renowned classic from stage to screen. The cinematography is handsome and stately, but more appropriate to the colorful orchards and vast family estate, the 1900 costumes, the theatrical entrances and exits, than to the intimacy of Chekhov's vivid characters. (It almost makes one long for the hand-held documentary treatment of Louis Malle's seminal Vanya on 42nd Street.) The stylistic choices here take a while to get used to, especially during a drawn-out prologue, absent in the original text, as Madame Lyubov and her buoyant teenage daughter Anna (Tushka Bergen) make elaborate preparations to return to their Russian estate after a self-imposed exile. Some may be exhausted by this Masterpiece Theater treatment (lingering over every piece of luggage) before Chekhov's social entanglements kick in -- which happens shortly after the dozen major characters have assembled at their estate.

Continue reading: The Cherry Orchard Review

An Unmarried Woman Review


Good
Jill Clayburgh delivers her seminal performance in this well-regarded film about the female response to a husband who leaves her (er, so she's a married woman, but that's beside the point). And while Clayburgh soars, the rest of the film is hopelessly dated with its late '70s pop psychology, nutty hairdos, and creepy free love sentiment. And frankly, it's a little bit boring.

The Mothman Prophecies Review


Very Good
Although its title sounds new age goofy, The Mothman Prophecies most certainly is not. It's an intelligent, tense thriller of the unexplained, a film for anyone who thinks the X Files movie comes up short. In fact, most of the action plays out like an extended X Files episode, one that would leave fans of the genre a little spooked, slightly sad, and wanting more.

Based on real events, most of which occurred in 1966 and 1967 (the film is set in present day), The Mothman Prophecies is a complex meeting of unseen monsters, voices from beyond, and eerie coincidence (...or is it?) Richard Gere stars as John Klein, an established Washington Post reporter whose good fortune is shattered when his beautiful wife Mary (Debra Messing) sustains severe injuries in what appears to be a single car accident. As Mary slips in and out of consciousness, she asks if John has seen "it." "It," according to her wild sketches, appears to be some sort of beastly giant bat. Either Mary has suffered brain damage, or something wholly supernatural has entered John's life.

Continue reading: The Mothman Prophecies Review

Gosford Park Review


Good
If Robert Altman had been given The Remains of the Day, the end product might have looked something like this.

Gosford Park is the name of an English country estate, where, in 1932, a gaggle of royals and wannabes -- including a horde of locals plus a popular British actor and a Charlie Chan-obsessed Hollywood movie producer -- gather to attend a weekend hunting party. Upstairs, it's the usual hoity-toity, drawing room chitter-chatter, while downstairs an army of servants does little but gossip about the visitors above.

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The Statement Review


Bad
No matter how much leeway you want to give certain films - whether they star an actress you like or are about a worthy subject - it just isn't enough, and you will end up disliking them no matter how much you don't want to. With some of these films, like The Statement, you end up coming close to actually hating the thing and hoping bad things happen to it.

An ostensible Nazi-hunting thriller that's far too impressed with its supposed moral ambiguity, The Statement is about former Vichy militia Pierre Brossard (Michael Caine) who, back in 1944, helped the Nazis round up and execute seven Jews in a small French town. It's based on the true story of Paul Touvier, who ordered such an execution on June 29, 1944 in southwestern France, and was sentenced to life in prison in 1995.

Continue reading: The Statement Review

Quartet Review


OK
Quartet is -- quite strangely -- based on a true story. Jean Rhys's novel traces her life in glitzy Paris in the 1920s, one which stood in start contrast to the city lights.

Rhys -- reinvented here as Isabelle Adjani's wide-eyed Marya Zelli -- found her husband, an illegal art dealer, arrested and thrown into prison. Suddenly broke, she shacked up with a pair of Brits of questionable morality, eventually getting cut loose, whereupon she would become a professional writer.

Continue reading: Quartet Review

Hollywood North Review


Good
Here's an idea for a Canadian movie: Canadians make a movie!

Any cinephile knows that Canada's government will gladly fund the production of just about anything a Canadian wants to produce, no matter how bad the script. All it takes is a Canadian cast, crew, and shooting in the country.

Continue reading: Hollywood North Review

Gosford Park Review


Very Good

You may need a program to keep track of the two dozen-plus characters in Robert Altman's soap opera, murder mystery, chamber comedy-of-manners "Gosford Park."

Carpeted with dry wit and filled to the rafters with salacious secrets and unspoken animosity, the film takes place at an English country estate in 1932 and unfolds from two points of view -- above stairs, where a multitude of aristocrats size each other up in subtle sociological war games, and below stairs, where their gossipy maids and valets fall into a strict pecking order based upon whom they serve.

The estate is the home of the aloof upper-crusters Sir William and Lady Sylvia McCordle (Michael Gambon and Kristin Scott Thomas) and it's gathering place for their many coattail-riding relatives, including Aunt Constance (the wonderful, quizzically austere Maggie Smith) who habitually puts on airs as if she's not living off an allowance from the McCordles.

Continue reading: Gosford Park Review

Alan Bates

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Alan Bates Movies

The Sum of All Fears Movie Review

The Sum of All Fears Movie Review

The biggest mystery in The Sum of All Fears is not how terrorists manage to...

The Mothman Prophecies Movie Review

The Mothman Prophecies Movie Review

Although its title sounds new age goofy, The Mothman Prophecies most certainly is not....

Gosford Park Movie Review

Gosford Park Movie Review

If Robert Altman had been given The Remains of the Day, the end product might...

The Statement Movie Review

The Statement Movie Review

No matter how much leeway you want to give certain films - whether they star...

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Gosford Park Movie Review

Gosford Park Movie Review

You may need a program to keep track of the two dozen-plus characters in Robert...

The Sum Of All Fears Movie Review

The Sum Of All Fears Movie Review

If there's any movie that might have been wise to shelve after Sept. 11, "The...

Evelyn Movie Review

Evelyn Movie Review

The most celebrated child custody battle in Irish history is the subject of "Evelyn," a...

The Statement Movie Review

The Statement Movie Review

Michael Caine is in the midst of a career Renaissance, giving some of his all-time...

The Mothman Prophecies Movie Review

The Mothman Prophecies Movie Review

By making a big deal out of the fact that his supernatural chiller "The Mothman...

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