E. Bennett Walsh

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The Kite Runner Review


OK
Practically no other nation's modern history has been so rife with grief and shattered expectations as that of Afghanistan; a fact utilized to maximum effect by Marc Foster in his adaptation of Khaled Hosseini's book club blockbuster The Kite Runner. Starting in the relatively chaos-free years before the Soviet invasion and concluding in the middle of the Taliban's theocratic lockdown, the film manages the difficult task of tracking massive historical upheavals while keeping tightly focused on the people forced to live through such tumultuous changes.

The character who ties the whole narrative together is Amir, a spoiled brat of a kid who turns into a spoiled writer as an adult only to grudgingly submit himself to the rigors of becoming a hero near the conclusion. In the mid-1970s, the young Amir (Zekiria Ebrahimi) lives with his prosperous father, or Baba, in a nice house in Kabul. Amir lives a pretty decent and sheltered life, his best friend, the fiercely loyal Hassan (played with emphatic nobility by Ahmad Khan Mahmoodzada), is the son of the family's head servant, and will do practically anything Amir wants. His Baba is a proudly educated and modern man, with his jazz records, turtlenecks, bottles of liquor, and well-kept Mustang; the last particularly beloved by the Steve McQueen-worshipping boys. Amir and Hassan are an excellent team when it comes to the fascinating Afghan take on kite-flying, where pairs of boys get into high-altitude duels, trying to cut the strings of their opponents kites (the sport was later banned when the Taliban came to power).

Continue reading: The Kite Runner Review

Kill Bill: Volume 2 Review


Terrible
Editor's Note: Last year I let Sean O'Connell and Jeremiah Kipp go at it -- Tarantino style -- over the merits of Kill Bill: Volume 1. The results were classic: O'Connell loved it, Kipp despised it. With the second installment of the highly-anticipated flick, the tables are turned. Now O'Connell's got his blade sharpened, and while Kipp is hardly a convert, he at least has a few kind words for the movie. Ladies and gentlemen, enjoy round two of this battle royale!

Sean O'Connell: "the thrill has been completely abandoned"Movie geeks love comparing Quentin Tarantino's work to that of other celebrated directors, but the maverick filmmaker mostly reminds me of burned-out monster rockers Guns N' Roses.

Continue reading: Kill Bill: Volume 2 Review

Kill Bill: Volume 1 Review


Excellent
Editor's Note: Once in a while a film comes along that's so popular the critics start lining up months in advance, begging to review it. Kill Bill is a case in point, and Tarantino would do well to turn his camera at the gory battles among the filmcritic.com staffers, what with all the limbs and blood flying everywhere. But Bill has also become another source of strife: It's the most contentious film we've reviewed in a long while, with lovers and detractors lined up on either side of a wide DMZ. So in the spirit of the kung fu flick, which inspired Tarantino to make Bill in the first place, we present our own knock-down, drag-out battle to the death. Enjoy.

Sean O'Connell: "writes itself into the Hollywood history books"Quentin Tarantino's fourth film, Kill Bill, reminds us why we, as a collective moviegoing society, wish he'd work more often than he does. The acclaimed director rocketed to cult stardom with Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction, cranked out an overlong homage to film noir in Jackie Brown, and then slid off the filmmaking radar for the better part of six years.

Continue reading: Kill Bill: Volume 1 Review

Stealth Review


Terrible
Sometime in the near future, the Navy will develop extremely cool new fighter jets called Talons, and they will be piloted by moody ignorami in dangerous anti-terrorism missions all around the planet; that is, until an even cooler jet comes along and threatens to replace them in the whole blowing-up-baddies department, leaving said ignorami even moodier and more disgruntled. That, at least, is the thesis of Stealth, the newest slab of computer-generated tedium to be visited upon us by maestro Rob Cohen - who has slid so far downhill that his previous work, like the turbo-charged exploitation flick The Fast and the Furious, looks like classics compared to what he's shoveling out now.

Because studio execs are still strangely demanding that directors include human beings in their films, Stealth provides us three Navy test pilots who were chosen to fly the top-secret, experimental Talon planes. Played by Jamie Foxx, Jessica Biel, and Josh Lucas, they're sort of a holy trinity of hotness, flying their sleek craft in perfect formation, and eager for whatever life-threatening emergency gets tossed their way. Unfortunately, they've just been saddled with a fourth wingman: an unmanned plane named EDI, for Extreme Deep Invader, which sounds like something purchased by seedy men in certain disreputable shops on the dark fringes of the San Fernando Valley. The three are none too happy with having EDI along on the secret mission they're given early in the film: Take out a Rangoon high-rise that's empty save for a number of high-level terrorists. And they're resentful not just because EDI talks like HAL's drugged younger brother, but because they're worried about getting replaced by machines, which is just what their commander officer (Sam Shepard) wants to happen - with a little help from a shadowy buddy of his in D.C.

Continue reading: Stealth Review

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