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David Newman and Keith Merryman - NAACP Image Awards Luncheon Los Angeles California United States Saturday 26th January 2013

David Newman and Keith Merryman
David Newman and Keith Merryman

Camp Hell Review


Very Good
Even with some unnerving supernatural elements, the scariest thing about this low-key horror film is the earnest spirituality of the Christian community. The grounded approach and honest performances are provocative and unsettling. As is the fact that it's based on a true story.

Against his will, teenager Tommy (Denton) is sent to a Camp Hope by his deeply religious parents (Delany and McCarthy). More like a military bootcamp than a week of summer fun, the camp is run by a cult-like covenant community. The rules Father McAllister (Davison) enforces are painfully strict, although Tommy scores points because he's reading Dante. Fortunately, no one knows about his crush on Melissa (de Angelis). Meanwhile, after a violent demon-related incident, Daniel (Eisenberg) has been in a mental health facility for six months.

Continue reading: Camp Hell Review

David Newman - Writers, David Newman, Keith Merryman, New York City, USA - New York premiere of 'Friends with Benefits', held at the Ziegfeld Theater - Arrivals Monday 18th July 2011

David Newman

Superman Review


Very Good
Yeah, it was 1978 when Superman first hit theaters in the version most of us remember -- with Christopher Reeve as the Man of Steel and Marlon Brando as his disco-inspired pop. Superman is a lovable epic full of quaint nostalgia and incredible mysteries of logic (because if the earth spun the other way round, time would apparently reverse... riiiight). The story tells the bulk of the Superman legend -- his escape from Krypton, coming to terms with his powers as a youth in Smallville, moving to big old Metropolis and becoming Clark Kent (and falling for crusty Lois Lane), and dealing with a Lex Luthor (Gene Hackman, excellently over the top) plan to buy up real estate in Nevada and then destroy most of California, thus making his new coastline worth millions. Watch for Terence Stamp's Zod in the first scene -- he'll be back to rule as one of cinema's great villains in Superman II.

Continue reading: Superman Review

Superman II Review


Good
"Kneel before Zod."

Superman II had all the signposts of a disaster. Richard Donner, who shot much of the footage during the production of the first Superman, found himself forced away from the movie and replaced by Richard Lester, who claimed never to have heard of Superman before signing on to the franchise. To top it off, Marlon Brando sued to cut out all his scenes as Jor-El. And Gene Hackman was unavailable to shoot after Lester took the reins.

Continue reading: Superman II Review

Superman III Review


OK
The third entry in the Superman series stands as one of history's most infamous cautionary tales about the danges of computers, and it's also one of the silliest. Not only does Richard Pryor engineer a way to steal all the rounded half-pennies from his employer, he manages to synthesize kryptonite (using tobacco tar as an ingredient where needed) and design an artificial intelligence system that "wants to live." No Lex Luthor this time out; Pryor's employer is Robert Vaughn -- a corporate mogul trying to use technology to cause world disasters and profit from them. There's barely any Lois Lane either -- she's on vacation -- so Superman/Clark Kent finds himself with his highschool crush, Lana Lang (Annette O'Toole), who is about twice as much fun as Margot Kidder ever was.

The Dying Gaul Review


Good
In 1995, the internet was still a strange, scary destination for most Americans, a primary meeting place for pornography hounds and other assorted lonely creeps who sought out the thrilling anonymity of the web's myriad chat rooms. Based on one of his plays, Craig Lucas' (The Secret Lives of Dentists, Prelude to a Kiss) directorial debut The Dying Gaul is fascinated with the dangerous allure of these online social venues, which provide users with identity secrecy and, thus, the means to express taboo fantasies (and deal with emotionally corrosive issues) from the comfort and safety of home. Part movie industry critique and part Greek tragedy, Lucas' film charts the modem-enabled turmoil between a married Tinsletown power couple and an aspiring gay screenwriter in the luxurious Hollywood hills, a trio whose interpersonal dynamic is irreparably disrupted thanks to the nasty role-playing opportunities afforded by computers. Yet with its story of rampant duplicity and showbiz shallowness tied to a now technologically outdated mid-'90s milieu, and with its satire weighed down by banality, The Dying Gaul seems relevant only insofar as its cast effectively pinpoints the vengeful malice born from spurned love and squandered trust.

Jeffrey (Campbell Scott) is a bottom line-driven producer interested in Robert's (Peter Sarsgaard) script "The Dying Gaul," a semi-autobiographical tale about AIDS based on his relationship with his now-dead agent and partner Malcolm (Bill Camp). However, to make the project commercially viable, Jeffrey demands that Robert change the central couple from a homosexual to heterosexual duo. Jettisoning his integrity, Robert sells out and does as Jeffrey asks, in the process pocketing $1 million and establishing a close-knit friendship with Jeffrey and his failed screenwriter wife Elaine (Patricia Clarkson), whose life is so purposeless that learning how to control her multi-million dollar house's blinds constitutes an exciting afternoon. Yet the happy threesome's relationship is soon torn asunder when, after learning that Robert frequents chat rooms, Elaine strikes up an in-disguise online conversation with her new friend and learns that he's having an affair with Jeffrey. This devastating discovery frighteningly undercuts Elaine's sense of security and stability while also igniting a desire for retribution, leading to a dangerous game of cyberspace cat-and-mouse in which Elaine poses as the back-from-the-dead spirit of Malcolm and, ultimately, each character's true, less-than-savory personalities are drawn out into the blinding L.A. light of day.

Continue reading: The Dying Gaul Review

What's Up, Doc? Review


Very Good
What ever happened to joyously screwball comedies? Sure, once in a while a chaotic free-for-all like Rat Race will come along, but for the most part, fast-paced Marx Brothers-style farces are gone with the wind. One of the last pure examples may be What's Up, Doc?, Peter Bogdanovich's 1972 tribute to the great comedies of the '30s and '40s. This wacky sendup of every comedy cliché is what my mother would call a hoot from beginning to end, with Barbra Streisand and Ryan O'Neal leading a big and crazy supporting cast through all sorts of wacky gyrations.

When four people carrying identical luggage all check into a San Francisco hotel at the same time, you know right away that the movie will be driven by a big suitcase screwup. Uptight scientist Howard Bannister (O'Neal) is carrying a bunch of ancient rocks that he thinks emit interesting musical tones. Judy Maxwell (Streisand), a petty thief and mooch who is hanging around the hotel mainly to steal room service sandwiches, is carrying underwear. Another guest carries a load of diamonds, and the fourth has a stack of secret government papers. When everyone grabs the wrong bag, the comedy commences.

Continue reading: What's Up, Doc? Review

Superman Review


Very Good
Yeah, it was 1978 when Superman first hit theaters in the version most of us remember -- with Christopher Reeve as the Man of Steel and Marlon Brando as his disco-inspired pop. Superman is a lovable epic full of quaint nostalgia and incredible mysteries of logic (because if the earth spun the other way round, time would apparently reverse). The story tells the bulk of the Superman legend -- his escape from Krypton, coming to terms with his powers as a youth in Smallville, moving to big old Metropolis and becoming Clark Kent (and falling for crusty Lois Lane), and dealing with a Lex Luthor (Gene Hackman, excellently over the top) plan to buy up real estate in Nevada and then destroy most of California, thus making his new coastline worth millions. Watch for Terence Stamp's Zod in the first scene -- he'll be back to rule as one of cinema's great villains in Superman II.

Superman III Review


OK
The third entry in the Superman series stands as one of history's most infamous cautionary tales about the danges of computers, and it's also one of the silliest. Not only does Richard Pryor engineer a way to steal all the rounded half-pennies from his employer, he manages to synthesize kryptonite (using tobacco tar as an ingredient where needed) and design an artificial intelligence system that "wants to live." No Lex Luthor this time out; Pryor's employer is Robert Vaughn -- a corporate mogul trying to use technology to cause world disasters and profit from them. There's barely any Lois Lane either -- she's on vacation -- so Superman/Clark Kent finds himself with his highschool crush, Lana Lang (Annette O'Toole), who is about twice as much fun as Margot Kidder ever was.

Track Down Review


Weak
For this film review, we begin with a history lesson. Kevin Mitnick stands as probably the most famous, the most notorious, and the most successful computer hacker of all time. After nearly 15 years of hacking (alternating with jail and probation time), he was finally apprehended for the last time in 1995, for a collection of tech crimes. and was released from prison in early 2000. (The story of his questionably legal incarceration is itself enough material for a book and a movie.) I interviewed Mitnick shortly after his release; today he's a computer security consultant (though he's not allowed to touch a computer as a term of his release).

Track Downwas produced shortly before Mitnick's release amid much controversy. Mitnick, as you might expect, is a cause celebre among the hacker community, while he's been vilified by the corporate and legal communities. The story of his long career as a hacker was the subject of two major books -- The Fugitive Game, written mainly from Mitnick's point of view, and Takedown, written by the man who captured him. The latter book (widely dismissed by the hacker community as propaganda) got optioned by Miramax, and against all odds, the Kevin Mitnick story became a movie, starring Skeet Ulrich as Mitnick and Russell Wong as Tsutomu Shimomura, the man who "captured" Mitnick and the co-author of Takedown.

Continue reading: Track Down Review

Bonnie And Clyde Review


Extraordinary
Faye Dunaway has never looked better than when she wore a hat titled to one side and aimed a gun right at the camera for the poster shot of Bonnie and Clyde. This watershed film from Arthur Penn tells the dreamlike, obviously fictionalized tale of infamous bank robbers Clyde Barrow (Warren Beatty) and Bonnie Parker (Dunaway), who plied their trade in the south during the Great Depression. Their famous bullet-ridden end is one of cinema's most famous shootouts. Less has been said (though it should) for Bonnie's expertly written dialogue and impressive performances all around. You'll never root for the bad guys more than you will here.
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Camp Hell Movie Review

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