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The Falcon and the Snowman Review


Excellent
Underseen (and true) spy drama set in the early 1970s, The Falcon and the Snowman tells the perplexing tale of Christopher Boyce (Hutton), a low-level document controller who filtered reams of material to the Soviet Union. His mistake? Using his coked-up drug pusher buddy (Penn) as his bagman. As Penn's character falls apart, so does the plan. And in a way, so does the film. While most of Falcon is great, some of it drags and doesn't make sense. Still, you do get to hear a bit about Boyce's motivation: His conscience, which told him to expose the CIA for some of its more nefarious and off-topic activities. A good companion piece to better-known thrillers of the era like All the President's Men.

Everything Is Illuminated Review


Grim
The trick with movie adaptations is that they must stand on their own, without relying on a viewer's familiarity with the source material. In fact, a filmmaker's sensitivity with film form can be gauged by how well he or she molds non-cinematic elements into their cinematic counterparts while retaining the essence of the source -- its meaning and effect. For his debut as writer-director, Liev Schreiber tries to get his arms around a difficult novel -- Jonathan Safran Foer's own debut, the remarkable Everything Is Illuminated. Considering the actor-turned-director's inexperience behind the camera, Schreiber might've been better off choosing a less complicated book-to-film project.

Foer's novel pitches the reader between the past and the present, between a magical-realist historical chronicle and the first-person reflections of a Ukrainian translator who makes hilarious mincemeat of the English language. Foer's story follows the journey undertaken by an obsessive personal historian -- named Jonathan Safran Foer -- from New York to the remote Ukrainian village from which his grandfather escaped under the shadow of the Nazis. Accompanying him are the malapropism-prone Alex and Alex's irascible and eccentric grandfather who has ghosts of his own to bury. For all its stylistic bric-a-brac, the ideas of reconciling with the past and of survivors struggling to exorcise themselves of guilt resonate eloquently throughout the novel.

Continue reading: Everything Is Illuminated Review

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