Bart Rosenblatt

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You Kill Me Review


OK
Ben Kingsley can do just about anything, and that's basically why he is able to walk the tightrope he does. As popular and talented as Kingsley is, he also has an unmistakable air of anonymity. He's one of the few actors in the game who can play any character and somehow trick us into believing he's not Ben Kingsley playing a character; we just accept him as the character. It's this very talent that gives lesser material (House of Sand and Fog, Suspect Zero) a needed kick of rhythm and believability. Though he's not the only good thing in John Dahl's pulpy You Kill Me, his presence makes the fun all the more refreshing.

As Polish-mob hit-man Frank Falenczyk (pronounced Fail-an-chik), Kingsley has the most fun he's had onscreen since he muttered a red-streak as the frenzied madman Don Logan in Jonathan Glazer's superb Sexy Beast. This time, his gangster-take has a more reserved and subdued nature, playing more for deadpan hilarity than ballistic scares. That deadpan ability serves Frank best when he's banished from his New York home to San Francisco for botching a job after too many drinks. His boss (Philip Baker Hall) has had enough of his alcoholism, and his best friend (Marcus Thomas) can't help him any more. So, it's off to the Bay for him.

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Noel Review


Grim
Susan Sarandon starring in your movie ought to guarantee a box office bonanza, no? Well, not always. This terribly ill-advised film (which got only the barest of theatrical releases) is a textbook example of just about everything that guarantees disaster. That includes putting Robin Williams in a non-comedic role, giving Penélope Cruz too much dialogue, having Alan Arkin believe that Paul Walker is his reincarnated wife, and, worst of all, setting your Christmas movie among the horrors of an urban hospital.

The idea here is that our central characters (including all of the above, plus one guy who breaks his own hand so he can relive his Best Christmas Ever as he did as a kid in the E.R.) have problems. You know, New Yorker problems: Walker is a jealous cop (and Cruz is his flirtatious girlfriend), and Sarandon's geriatric mother is an a sort of dazed funk -- just staring at the walls, refusing to eat. Sarandon is the centerpiece of the film: She's a mopey creature who's faced endless disaster in her life (a stillborn baby, even), but she's trying to keep up appearances.

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Drowning Mona Review


Unbearable
If you've ever found yourself in a theater watching a movie like Throw Momma from the Train or Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead, then you'll understand my experience with Drowning Mona. Drowning Mona is one of those films that you might hear about and shrug it off as a bad idea. Then you'll see a trailer and realize that your first instinct was right. There is no logical reason for you to ever see this movie. It looks unfunny, moronic, and you have already crossed it off the list of all the movies you are potentially interested in ever investing your time in. But despite all of that, you somehow end up forking over eight bucks for the privilege to see it. And your worst fears are realized.

Suffice it to say that Drowning Mona is a bad film. It is a very bad film. Let us count the ways.

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