On paper, the treacle-meter for The Soloist is nearly off the charts. But while Wright (Atonement) hasn't fashioned anything like a classic, and the screenplay by Susannah Grant (Erin Brockovich) is frequently thin on motivation, the film is not even close to the disaster that it should have been. This is higher praise than it may sound.
Continue reading: The Soloist Review
Synecdoche (sih-NECK-doh-kee) is a word whose meaning is too long to type out here -- and isn't essential to understanding the film, anyway. But it's just the type of word you might throw in the title of your first movie as a director if you wanted to let people know in advance they're in for something offbeat. And Synecdoche, New York is nothing if not determinedly offbeat.
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This doesn't settle well with the studio that's paying $20 million for a man with sex-appeal; they don't want someone who resembles Santa Claus. If Willis doesn't shave and drop some weight, the studio will pull the plug on the movie and sue for damages. But Willis has been growing the beard for six months and wants to make an artistic statement. He's not going to be picking up a can of shaving cream anytime soon.
Continue reading: What Just Happened Review
In the Mesa high school in Tucson where Fleming sets his gonzo theatrics, culture is either alive-and-well or being beaten to death with a sack full of cantaloupes, depending on who you talk to. The drama department has just finished a stage production of Steven Soderbergh's Erin Brockovich, under the tutelage of Dana Marschz (Steve Coogan). An actor who hit his peak on commercials for herpes medication and Jack LaLanne's Power Juicer (two products that aren't always mutually exclusive), Marschz has moved his wife (Catherine Keener) and random friend Dave (David Arquette) to Arizona to teach acting. It's the first day of the new semester when Marschz finds out that his class has grown from a closeted homosexual (Skylar Astin) and a goody-two-shoes (Phoebe Strole) to an entire class made up mostly of Latino outcasts and some white dude who has a jones for rave culture. It's no small wonder that Marschz's dementia, once goofy and lovable, becomes unstable and leads concurrently to the attempted dismantling of the drama department and the writing of Marschz's titular brainchild, Hamlet 2.
Continue reading: Hamlet 2 Review
Four years later, Outside magazine contributor Jon Krakauer documented McCandless' travels in his debut novel Into the Wild, which serves as a blueprint for Sean Penn's adaptation of McCandless' life. Look at me cross-eyed all you want but this tale of "a rebellious 1990s Thoreau" (as the press notes ponder he might be) brings out a buoyancy in director and terminal humbug Penn that's been absent in his filmography thus far. One might think Penn would be more apt to adapt Krakauer's recent Under the Banner of Heaven instead, but his direction in Wild is astute and brisk though not always as concise as one would hope.
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The contrived setup gives us Nic as one Silvia Broome, a long-time resident of Africa who now makes a living as an interpreter at the UN. The headlines have a hated president from her homeland by the name of Zuwanie who's accused of genocide coming to give a speech to the General Assembly; most observers assume that the speech will save him from being tried for crimes against humanity as he pledges democratic reforms, and so his enemies are -- possibly -- planning to murder him at the podium. Or at least that's what Silvia says, as she overhears a potential plot late one night in her talkin' booth when she returns to the UN to get her "flutes and stuff."
Continue reading: The Interpreter Review
On the surface, I can't envision too many actors who look the part of a stereotypical 40-year-old virgin better than Carell. (He co-wrote the film with Freaks and Geeks alumn Judd Apatow.) You might even consider his role as the awkward weatherman in Anchorman as a warm-up to this part. Despite being severely handicapped by a lackluster libido, Carell's Andy Stitzer has everything that makes him happy: a great job at an electronics store called Smart Tech, an action figure and comic collection worth thousands of dollars, and a reliable bicycle that gets him to and from work every day.
Continue reading: The 40 Year-Old Virgin Review
By being as straightforward as, well, a horse race. It's just a big loop from start to finish. No real surprises along the way, just jockeying for position. Simpatico finishes right where it started, with a time of 106 minutes.
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The film observes the daily rituals of four hapless but elastic women as they struggle with various demands of their eventful lives. While most movies would become lost in the complicated world of these spontaneous situations, Lovely & Amazing simply observes as the characters deal with thought-provoking issues involving relationships, health, age, romance, and work.
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And not at all a bad movie, and the most aptly titled film out right now. Walking and Talking is basically just that, focusing on best friends Laura (Anne Heche) and Amelia (Catherine Keener) and their comedic struggles with life and love at the dawn of the big 3-0.
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Hence why Philip Seymour Hoffman is such a perfect choice to play Truman Capote in a film about the research that became the book In Cold Blood. Not only does he look like him and sound like him, but because Capote was such an enormous personality in his own right, the smallest glimpse into Hoffman's movements or talk speaks volumes. He conveys so much with so little, and he's able to provide an amazing performance of the four years it took to write his biggest seller.
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The subjects of this film are the intertwined worlds of modeling, soap operas, and music videos in New York City, and given the nature of these industries, it is obvious from the beginning that the film's director (Tom DiCillo of Living in Oblivion fame) is setting us up for another stale commentary about the superficiality of these image industries with little actual plot to revolve around.
Continue reading: The Real Blonde Review
The centerpiece of Being John Malkovich, in case you haven't guessed, is a portal, which provides the unique opportunity to "be John Malkovich." As one character, when approached with the chance, exuberantly improvises, "Great! That was my second choice." Which leads us right back where we started. Why John Malkovich?
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A couple of problems threaten to spoil the remote idyll. Jack has a terminal heart condition and they both know his days are numbered. What each wants to do about it differs monumentally. For her part, Rose is devoted to the idea of committing suicide as soon as dad leaves his mortal coil, feeling she couldn't face life without him. In the wisdom of maturity and a wider scope of options, Jack would like to live out the remainder of his life with a companion who, at the same time, would become a replacement adult supervisor for teenager Rose when he's gone. Nice plan -- one that even a normal father might well dream up. And, since he's been dating Kathleen (Catherine Keener) during his rare visits to the mainland, and likes her, he asks her to come live with him and Rose.
Continue reading: The Ballad Of Jack And Rose Review
Neil LaBute does exactly that with this highly anticipated follow-up to In the Company of Men, a film so anti-humanity it's practically a sequel.
Continue reading: Your Friends And Neighbors Review
Miller sets her story, about an ailing father (Daniel Day-Lewis)and his teenage daughter (Camilla Belle), in and around an abandoned 1970shippie commune.
Father Jack and daughter Rose have lived an isolated life,farming and building tree forts, and have turned out rather odd.
Jack ordinarily spends a good deal of time railing againstan evil housing developer (Beau Bridges) who is looking to spoil the island.But for a change of pace, he impulsively invites his secret lover, Kathleen(Catherine Keener), and her two sons, chunky Rodney (Ryan McDonald) andthuggish Thaddius (Paul Dano) to move in. Although this new trio has notbeen raised in a commune, they're just as troubled as Jack and Rose, andtalk just as blandly.
Continue reading: The Ballad Of Jack & Rose Review
After going from esoteric art house darling to Oscar-winning mainstream mogul without losing his soul, it was probably inevitable that Steven Soderbergh would eventually make an industry farce -- and "Full Frontal" is the consummate ironic marriage of his two worlds.
The cinematic equivalent of an Escher painting, it's movie within a movie within a movie within a movie that keeps folding in on itself. Low-budget ($2 million) but awash in big names (Julia Roberts, Brad Pitt, David Duchovny), it's also a joke within a joke within a joke. Sometimes the joke is on Hollywood mucky-mucks. Sometimes the joke is on fans of his mainstream success ("Erin Brockovich," "Ocean's Eleven"). And sometimes the joke is on art film snobs who can't understand why Soderbergh, the artuer behind left-field flicks like "Schitzopolis," "The Limey" and "sex, lies & videotape," would have ever "gone Hollywood" to begin with.
On one level "Full Frontal" is an over-lit, digi-video, fly-on-the-wall guerilla-style picture following several cross-pollinating characters both inside and on the fringes of the filmmaking industry. David Hyde Pierce plays a melancholy milksop writer for Los Angeles Magazine whose first screenplay is being produced. Catherine Keener is his petulant, borderline-lunatic wife, a human resources director who torments nervous employees in erratic, interrogation-style interviews by day, and by night becomes a Hollywood hanger-on with delusions of significance. Mary McCormack plays her sister, a manicly depressed massage therapist who gets sexually harassed by a bigwig movie producer (David Duchovny), who wants help with his autoerotic fantasies.
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In the 1996 modest and little-seen relationship comedy delight "Walking and Talking," writer-director Nicole Holofcener demonstrated a preternatural knack for capturing the bonds between women with her candid and vicarious style of emotion honesty and funny, true-to-life dialogue. But her second independent film, "Lovely and Amazing," fails to find the same spark as it eavesdrops on a family of gratingly neurotic and insecure women.
Sad-eyed Brenda Blethyn, a specialist at screwed-up moms ("Little Voice," "Secrets and Lies"), is the emotionally messy matriarch, who spends most of the movie in the hospital due to complications from liposuction surgery. Doped up on painkillers and more depressed than usual (in part because her flirtations with her plastic surgeon aren't getting anywhere), she still has complaints about her daughters at the ready.
"One's really f**ked up," she tells the doctor, "and the other one isn't married."
Continue reading: Lovely & Amazing Review
It's so comforting to see Robin Williams in yet another family movie, playing a psychotic kiddie show clown fired from his job and bent on murdering the guy in the purple rhino suit who took his place...
Hey! Wait a minute!
Truth be told, it is so refreshing to see Robin Williams turn 180 degrees from the string of insultingly innocuous and sappy fiascoes he's been making almost habitually for the last several years ("Bicentennial Man," "Patch Adams," etc.) and dive headlong into "Death to Smoochy," a relentlessly dark farce that takes place in the fictitiously cutthroat world of children's television.
Continue reading: Death To Smoochy Review
Unrivaled as the most inventive and wildly conceptual movie of 1999, there's just no way to explain "Being John Malkovich" without it sounding too weird to be for real.
The daring feature debut of music video and commercial director Spike Jonze, the film stars a disheveled John Cusack as an unemployed, master puppeteer and social malcontent who discovers a portal into the mind of actor John Malkovich when he takes a peon filing job at an esoteric office on the 7 1/2th floor of turn-of-the-Century Manhattan high-rise.
See? I told you.
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Poking around in the mind of John Malkovich was a wonderfully weird, wildly conceptual experience in 1999's "Being John Malkovich," but the ingenious "Adaptation" is a testament to the fact that screenwriter Charlie Kaufman's head is an even more peculiar place.
Kaufman is the off-kilter mastermind behind both films, and while the former was a dark, cerebellum-warping, fictional funhouse ride, the latter began life simply as a commission to adapt Susan Orleans' novel "The Orchid Thief." What the project morphed into, however, is something far more bizarre because Kaufman's unbridled and bewildered efforts to turn the book into a movie began bleeding into the screenplay itself.
In the deft and innovative hands of "Malkovich" director Spike Jonze, three cross-pollinating narratives are stitched together in an extraordinary patchwork of idiosyncratic storytelling: First, the film follows the plot of "The Orchid Thief," which is, in part, about the misfiring conservation philosophies of a real Florida flower poacher named John Laroche (Chris Cooper), who took Orleans (Meryl Streep) into the Everglades on excursions to steal protected orchids that he then breeds to sell in his flower shop.
Continue reading: Adaptation Review
Date of birth
23rd March, 1959
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