Hallee Hirsh

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Speak Review


Good
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


Good
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.

Manna From Heaven Review


Bad
The five precocious Burton sisters of Buffalo, NY have given us a precocious film about a group of people so hateful we are forced to try our best to simply ignore them. How's that for skipping the first day of Filmmaking 101?

Manna From Heaven is the story of a Buffalo family who one day discover $20,000 "raining from heaven," wisely decide to split it up, and then go on their merry ways. A decade or so later, every last one of them has grown up to be a loser, having squandered his or her (mostly her) share of the loot. The lone exception is Theresa (Ursula Burton... well of course the good one is going to be played by a Burton sister!) who has become an ash-on-the-forehead nun. In fact, Theresa becomes convinced that the 20 grand of so long ago was not a gift but a loan, and that they must now "pay it back."

Continue reading: Manna From Heaven Review

Spring Forward Review


Extraordinary
People will compare it to My Dinner with Andre. They will inevitably be wrong. People will assume that it has something to do with Daylight Savings Time. They, too, will be wrong. People will assume that just because Michael Stipe executive produced this film, it will end up seeming like Being John Malkovich. They, too, will be wrong. In point of fact Spring Forward is that rare gem, a film with no brothers or sisters to deal with, no son to look down upon or father to look up to. In the family tree of American cinema, the most Spring Forward can have are a few distant cousins.

So what is Spring Forward? Simply put, Spring Forward is unique. It is not unique in the sense of Being John Malkovich or Spectres of the Spectrum (a uniqueness tainted with the surreal), but instead unique in the point of fact that it a movie that has no plot, that has no centralized point or purpose... that has nothing but characters. The characters are Murph (Ned Beatty) and Paul (Schreiber), two city parks department workers in Connecticut who spend one year talking while on the job.

Continue reading: Spring Forward Review

Happy Endings Review


Good
A comedy-of-life roundelay about several sexually mixed-updenizens of L.A., "Happy Endings" returns writer-director DonRoos to the sardonic psychological territory he trod in his stinging black-humordebut "The Opposite of Sex."

After opening with a hysterical woman named Mamie (LisaKudrow) getting hit by a car, he introduces a humorously detached meta-filmnarration style when the screen splits in two, and words appear on a blackbackground to reassure us that "No one dies in this movie. It's acomedy. Sort of."

"What happens next," the lettering continues,"was 20 years ago" -- at which point we learn that Mamie gotknocked up at 16 and was supposed to have an abortion, but secretly gaveup the baby for adoption. The unknowing father was her stepbrother Charley(Steve Coogan), who is now gay ("Who isn't?" quips the text onthe screen) and has run the family restaurant business into the groundsince the death of their parents.

But Roos is just getting warmed up. Soon an aspiring documentaryfilmmaker (a scruffy Jesse Bradford) with zero scruples is offering angry,neurotic Mamie information about her son -- but only if he can make a movieabout their reunion. Connected more loosely to these characters are a lesbiancouple (Laura Dern and Sarah Clarke) who may have secretly conceived theirchild with Charley's boyfriend's sperm, and Jude (Maggie Gyllenhaal), ablunt and sultry free-spirited young gold-digger who seduces a sexuallyconflicted rich kid (Jason Ritter) on her way to landing a much biggerfish -- his lonely dad (Tom Arnold).

Continue reading: Happy Endings Review

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Dev Patel Is A Lost Boy In Touching True Story Drama 'Lion'

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Hallee Hirsh Movies

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Manna From Heaven Movie Review

Manna From Heaven Movie Review

The five precocious Burton sisters of Buffalo, NY have given us a precocious film about...

Happy Endings Movie Review

Happy Endings Movie Review

A comedy-of-life roundelay about several sexually mixed-updenizens of L.A., "Happy Endings" returns writer-director DonRoos to...

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