Fred Berner

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Speak Review


OK
It's meant to be a mystery, but Melinda (Kristen Stewart) is a semi-mute -- by choice -- because she was raped at a party. In addition to earning her the nickname "Squealer," she's understandably scarred -- scarred to the point where she narrates incessantly about how alienated she feels. (Although we know this already, because she's into art.) As after-school special fare goes, Speak is decent, even pretty good at times, but ultimately this material feels so familiar that we see every turn in the story telegraphed from miles away.

Speak Review


OK
It's meant to be a mystery, but Melinda (Kristen Stewart) is a semi-mute -- by choice -- because she was raped at a party. In addition to earning her the nickname "Squealer," she's understandably scarred -- scarred to the point where she narrates incessantly about how alienated she feels. (Although we know this already, because she's into art.) As after-school special fare goes, Speak is decent, even pretty good at times, but ultimately this material feels so familiar that we see every turn in the story telegraphed from miles away.

Vanya On 42nd Street Review


Excellent
Someone had an idea: take an 1860s play by classic Russian writer Anton Chekhov, and get director Louis Malle, screenwriter David Mamet, and actors Andre Gregory and Wallace Shawn, together to make a feature film of it.

The only thing more puzzling than this scenario is the fact that this movie, Vanya on 42nd Street, is a fabulous film. "Uncle Vanya" is the play in question, a tragicomic tale of family members plagued by broken hearts, lost youth, and missed opportunities. The film's premise is that "Uncle Vanya" is being performed by a small theatrical group, and the film simply captures the last rehearsal of the play before the costumes arrive.

Continue reading: Vanya On 42nd Street Review

Pollock Review


Good
Please, please, please, please, please read the book that formed the basis of the movie Pollock. Jackson Pollock: An American Saga won the Pulitzer Prize for a good reason: It's a 934-page masterpiece that gets into the guts of the artist now being celebrated on celluloid by Ed Harris. Published in 1989 and written by Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith, the tome contains everything about Pollock that was left out of Harris' up-and-down movie -- and, unfortunately, that means 99 percent of the demons, doubters, friends, and forces that inspired Pollock to drink, paint, drink, and paint again.

A good example: Pollock was suicidal, maniacal and violent throughout his 44-year life. The first sentence of Naifeh's and Smith's book -- the very first sentence -- is this quote from Pollock: "I'm going to kill myself." Explains a lot, but for some odd reason, Harris only hints at Pollock's suicidal tendencies in his long-anticipated film.

Continue reading: Pollock Review

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