Ezra Swerdlow

Ezra Swerdlow

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When In Rome Review


Weak
Despite its over-the-top zaniness, this romantic comedy manages to keep us entertained with its starry cast and a nutty plot. If only the filmmakers had resisted the urge to exaggerate both the humour and the sentimentality.

Guggenheim curator Beth (Bell) is organising an important museum event when she has to dash to Rome for her sister's sudden wedding, where she begins to fall for best man Nick (Duhamel), who rescues her from a few embarrassing moments but lets her down romantically. In a funk, she swipes some coins from a fountain then ends up being stalked back in New York by the lovelorn guys (painter Arnett, wannabe model Shepard, street magician Heder and art patron DeVito) who threw them into the water.

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Invincible (2006) Review


Very Good
Following the disappointing 1975 season that saw the team finishing 4-10, the Philadelphia Eagles needed assistance and weren't picky about where the help would come from. In a move characterized as part desperation, part publicity stunt, the Eagles organization held open tryouts in the summer of '76. They attracted hundreds of overweight, under-qualified Philly fanatics and one unassuming NFL hopeful blessed with natural abilities.Invincible tells the predominantly true story of down-on-his-luck bartender Vince Papale (Mark Wahlberg), who attended the Eagles' free session and impressed newly appointed head football coach Dick Vermeil (Greg Kinnear). Reports vary, and some think Papale received a personal session with Vermeil based on his already decent play for the Philadelphia Bell of the World Football League, but either way, Papale eventually accepted an invitation to the Eagles' training camp and half expected to be cut after the first week. To his surprise - and to his jaded teammates' constant chagrin - Papale battled for a roster spot and provided the discouraged Eagles fan base with a reason to care about the battered franchise.Papale is the classic underdog, and first-time director Ericson Core takes the necessary steps to ensure that the film's hero ascends to his proper pedestal. A former cinematographer, Core pays special attention to the streets, alleys, and grimy watering holes of Philadelphia, knowing they add as much (if not more) to Papale's character as any conventional locker room chat. The blue-collar Invincible soaks up local flavor and sweats working-class determination. By including gratuitous shots of Papale jogging through his inner-city neighborhoods, Core clearly indicates his intentions to wrestle the title of Top Overachiever from Philly's other sports son, Rocky Balboa - and he temporarily succeeds, at least until Sylvester Stallone releases the sixth and final Rocky in December.About the only person not excited by Papale's remarkable rise is Wahlberg. Though physically prepared for the scruffy film's hard-hitting football sequences, Wahlberg brings a quarter of the energy and charm to scenes shared with his goombah pals and his beer-slinging, Giants-loving bartender gal (Elizabeth Banks). These characters could have been dismissed as cogs in the motivational movie machine, but writer Brad Gann goes to great lengths to illustrate how a labor strike hits these men harder than a linebacker. Papale provided these good-natured bums with an escape from their daily hardships. Wahlberg had an opportunity to channel that energy, yet even as Papale's fortunes turn, the actor's enthusiasm stays predominantly level.Wahlberg's even keel doesn't hinder Invincible, which still manages to be extremely likable despite its conventions. About the only people bound to find fault are die-hard Giants, Cowboys, and Redskins fans, all of whom will tire almost immediately of the film's unbridled Eagles adoration.You red dudes are goin' down!

Cop Land Review


Weak
Cop Land was supposed to do for Sylvester Stallone what Pulp Fiction did for John Travolta. Alas, the movie was (rightly) ignored by audiences and shrugged off by critics, thanks to an almost complete lack of anything so much as resembling a compelling story.

The plot is so simple as to defy description: A lot of New York cops live across the water in Jersey, and it turns out they are all beholden to the mob. It's up to fat, half-deaf Sheriff Freddy (Sly) to expose this atrocity!!! Would that there were more to say, Cop Land builds its "mystery" by simply not telling you what's going on. Only after an hour or so do you piece together the whole mob angle, and then the audience realizes, "Hey, there's nothing happening here!" Note to Mangold: Watch L.A. Confidential a few times if you want to see how clever plot structure goes, not to mention throwing in a little wit here and there.

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Whiteboys Review


Bad
Well, it turns out that a movie based on a one-joke premise (white guys in Iowa think they're gangsta rappers and, you know, front) can indeed fill 90 minutes with that one joke.

Too bad the joke is not funny. At all. Whiteboys (aka the street-friendly Whiteboyz) claims "It's all good!" but that's far from the truth. Actually, it's all insulting and moronic, as Hoch and co. try their hand at street talk and drug dealing with deliterious effects. Is this a comedy? I don't think so. Not on purpose, anyway. The film gets even worse with Hoch's frequent regressions into dream-sequence land, punctuated by real rapper cameos.

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Brooklyn Babylon Review


Weak
From Mississippi Masala to Jungle Fever, interracial dating has always been an exciting topic that Hollywood has embraced and ended up using to produce... some really boring movies.

The overly familiar-sounding Brooklyn Babylon features (see if you can guess) a Rastafarian black man (Tariq Trotter) and a Jewish woman (Karen Goberman) who come together on the eve of nearly full-blown race riots, all brought on because of a fender bender between his friend and her brother. Oy vey, now that's original.

Continue reading: Brooklyn Babylon Review

Ezra Swerdlow

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Ezra Swerdlow Movies

When in Rome Movie Review

When in Rome Movie Review

Despite its over-the-top zaniness, this romantic comedy manages to keep us entertained with its starry...

Invincible (2006) Movie Review

Invincible (2006) Movie Review

Following the disappointing 1975 season that saw the team finishing 4-10, the Philadelphia Eagles needed...

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Brooklyn Babylon Movie Review

Brooklyn Babylon Movie Review

From Mississippi Masala to Jungle Fever, interracial dating has always been an exciting topic that...

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