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Black Book Review


Weak
Right around the time that the star actress of the Dutch WWII film Black Book -- in which she plays a Jewish woman cozying up to the Nazis as a pretend gentile in order to help the resistance -- takes a careful moment to put blonde hair dye on certain more private parts of her body, one suddenly remembers, ah yes, Paul Verhoeven is directing this, isn't he? It's a pity that as a director, Verhoeven's instincts trend so adamantly toward the punishingly crass, because he had in his hands the root of quite a good film here, a thoughtful thriller that can ultimately be seen only in occasional glimpses.

Quite the best thing Verhoeven has going for him is his fantastic Dutch cast, headed up by Carice van Houten in a relentlessly fearless performance as the singer Rachel Stein, who is forced into one morally compromising position after another. The film starts in 1944, when Stein has been in hiding for years, but is sent on the run after an errant Allied bomb destroys her hideout. As a former singer, she's able to take on new personas with great ease, but there's always a tough brightness about her, the statuesque ease of someone who's accustomed to being stared at and fought over.

Continue reading: Black Book Review

Soul Assassin Review


Grim
Soul Assassin? No, it's not a new kung fu video game, it's a thriller with Skeet Ulrich in the lead. Yes, Skeet Ulrich is still working, and he's alongside Kristy Swanson in this impossible-to-explain business/corruption/espionage/vengeance movie. Virtually the entire movie is shot in wierd blue mood lighting, with flashbacks, jump-cuts, and a gaggle of characters to follow. Not entirely worth the effort.

Stealing Heaven Review


Weak
This based-on-a-true-story fable about love and repression in medieval France is both touching and silly. And as erotic as any costume drama can get, I figure. This sex-fueled romp has a pretty gal falling for a celibate theologian... no good for anybody. Sadly, the movie is ruined not by its melodramatic plot but by the '80s synthesizers that punctuate every single scene of the film. The Middle Ages never sounded so electronic. Ugh.

The Unbearable Lightness of Being Review


Extraordinary
When I first watched The Unbearable Lightness of Being, I was dating a poet who had read and loved the book. Not wanting to involve myself in reading the book at that point, I rented the movie instead. I loved it then and I love it now, but, at this point in time, I can compare it to the novel by Milan Kundera. The two are both vastly similar and vastly different. As an adaptation, it succeeds in transcribing the events of the novel, but does not do as well in successfully demonstrating its points.

The Unbearable Lightness of Being focuses on Tomas (Daniel-Day Lewis), a Don Juanist terrified of commitment and a surgeon at a Prague hospital. He is trapped between his platonic and semi-erotic love of Teresa (Academy Award winner Juliette Binoche), a photographer and his wife and a erotic and semi-platonic love of Sabina (Lena Olin), a painter and his mistress.

Continue reading: The Unbearable Lightness of Being Review

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