This satire couldn't be more cutting edge. Former tabloid TV producer Daniel Minahan (and co-screenwriter of I Shot Andy Warhol) takes dead aim on glib, pre-packaged network formulas for success. A terse narrator (Will Arnett) offers mock-sympathetic encouragement for the contestants as well as in-depth play-by-play ring coverage. Opponents are given screen time for weepy confessions to their assigned guerrilla cameramen, dispassionately filming their fight or flight confrontations on hand-held digital video.
Continue reading: Series 7 Review
So I am sitting down and now pondering which to write: the good review or the bad review, each a definite possibility, and the decision is reached: heads for good, tails for bad. But alas, the coins are upstairs and I am a lazy bum. So I guess I write option C: the mediocre review. The movie really wasn't either.
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Based on an award-winning story by Tom McNeal, Tully is a guy-at-a-crossroads tale, told with a welcome lack of standard convention. The title character, played by able newcomer Anson Mount (Crossroads), is a young, good-looking fella admired by most of the women in his Nebraska farming town, and playing his quiet popularity for all it's worth. Tully works on his pappy's farm with his younger brother, Earl, but still finds time to get it on with a local stripper (Catherine Kellner) on the hood of her car (or his car, if available).
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Jennifer B. Katz's lighthearted fable about love and bankruptcy is amusing and lightly entertaining, though its heroine Watson (Wendy Hoopes, best known as the voice of Jane and Quinn on MTV's Daria) isn't entirely sympathetic.
Continue reading: 101 Ways (The Things A Girl Will Do To Keep Her Volvo) Review
One of the more gratifying feelings a movie critic can have is the feeling of going into a picture expecting tiresome clichés of an overplayed genre, only to discover delightfully surprising freshness and soul where all the hackneyed conventions usually are.
"40 Days and 40 Nights" is such a movie. Misleadingly marketed as just another misogynistic romp through the young male libido, this often ribald comedy about a frustrated 20-something giving up sex for Lent is what the puerile, simplistic "American Pie," "Tomcats" and "Saving Silverman" might have been, had they been made by people with imagination and wit.
Directed by Michael Lehmann -- the man behind the twisted teen angst and irony of the subversive '80s cult hit "Heathers" -- "40 Days" finds many new and inventive ways to make sexual frustration funny.
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Satire has never been as ugly and unpleasant as it is in "Series 7," an extreme "what-if" spoof of reality TV that oversteps its intentions by making its plot, its atmosphere and its characters all so abhorrent and grating I walked out of the press screening after 20 minutes. And I had to really force myself to stay that long.
The movie isn't really a movie at all -- it's just shaky, "Cops"-style video footage from "The Contenders," a fictitious "reality show" in which common Americans are picked by lottery to try to assassinate each other.
The show's reigning champion (10 kills in two "tours") is Dawn (Brook Smith), a hard-bitten loser with a million axes to grind from her screwed-up upbringing. She's nine months pregnant and willing to do whatever it takes to make it through a third tour and thus free herself and her baby from the grip of the show.
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A dark comedy about "soldiers with nothing to kill except time" -- convicted felons, junkies and high school dropouts serving in West Germany just before the fall of the Berlin Wall -- "Buffalo Soldiers" has designs on being a incisive satire somewhere between "M*A*S*H," "Catch-22" and "Dr. Strangelove."
But in its cheeky skewering of the U.S. military (which saw the movie much delayed in the wake of the 2001 terrorist attacks and subsequent hawkish patriotism) its provocative ambitions are dragged down by characters as cartoonish as those in lowbrow in-the-army-now laffers like "Stripes" or "Private Benjamin."
Our anti-hero is a battalion clerk named Ray Elwood (Joaquin Phoenix) who is serving his country to avoid serving time. Being of a criminal mind, he's found his access to base goods and equipment a lucrative source of extra income on the East-West black market and he's got his fingers in everything from Mop 'n' Glo to guns and drugs to the base commander's bitter, frustrated wife (Elizabeth McGovern).
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Controversy has engulfed "The Believer" since its premiere at last year's Sundance Film Festival, where it won the Grand Jury Prize but still couldn't find a distributor because it's a frank and frightful portrayal of an angry young Jew who hates his own heritage so much he becomes a neo-Nazi.
An intense examination of faith and a challenge to the notion of blind faith, it has been misunderstood by filmgoers who can't stomach being inside the head of Danny Balint (played by "Murder by Numbers" killer Ryan Gosling). That is certainly understandable -- it's an ugly place full of intolerance and self-loathing.
The film has also been criticized over the possibility that it might find an audience among hate groups who may hear Danny's articulate, even well-argued malevolence and not see that in his obsession he's discovered a new, more profound (if twisted) devotion to his congenital creed.
Continue reading: The Believer Review
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