Jeff Nathanson

Jeff Nathanson

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Tower Heist Review


Grim
With a high concept and a lazy script, there isn't much to this caper comedy at all. But it does have a few solid laughs scattered here and there, mostly in random one-liners that make up for the lacklustre plotting and strained slapstick.

After billionaire Arthur Shaw (Alda) is sent to prison for fraud, the manager of his insanely posh Manhattan apartment building, Josh (Stiller), is furious that his staff's pensions have been lost. So he teams up with his employees (concierge Affleck, chef Sidibe and lift operator Pena), a disgruntled ex-tenant (Broderick) and a local crook (Murphy) to steal back what they're owed. But they have to be careful, because an FBI agent (Leoni) is poking around Arthur's penthouse. And then there's the question of where all of those stolen millions are hidden.

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New York, I Love You Review


Good
There are 11 captivating short films in this anthology, the second in the Cities of Love series by producers Benbihy and Grasic. But this collection isn't quite as varied or engaging as Paris Je T'Aime.

All of these stories take place in Manhattan, with only one or two brief forays into other boroughs, and they all centre around relatively well-off people, mainly white or Asian. They're also quite serious and emotional, with only brief moments of humour dotted here and there, although some make us smile more than others. Each is about a male-female relationship--marriages, brief encounters, possibilities, life-long companionship. Most have a somewhat gimmicky twist, and a few are intriguingly oblique.

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Rush Hour 3 Review


Terrible
For all the talk of his beguiling cameo as a police chief, Roman Polanski shows up in Rush Hour 3 for exactly two scenes for about two minutes. In fact, the French police have absolutely nothing to do with anything in the third Rush Hour installment. Polanski simply acts as a diacritic; a punctuation mark to let us know we're entering and exiting the French portion of the program. And although they are given more screen time, Ingmar Bergman-regular Max Von Sydow and French actor/director Yvan Attal serve similar purposes: They're garnish on a liver sandwich made with moldy bread and mayonnaise that started going green around the time of the Bay of Pigs.

Rush Hour 3 plunks our questionable partners, the loose-mouthed Carter (Chris Tucker) and elastic Lee (Jackie Chan), into an international scandal involving the Chinese Triad election that takes them from sunny Los Angeles to gay Paris. Lee's friend and employer Consul Hu (Tzi Ma) is about to blow the lid off the Triads when a sniper snags him a few centimeters north of his heart. Hu's friend Vernard (Von Sydow) OKs Lee and Carter's trip to his hometown of Paris, where, for one reason or another, the Chinese Triad have decided to have an election.

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Rush Hour 2 Review


OK
I enjoyed the original Rush Hour, the 1998 action comedy that grossed more than $250 million worldwide. Through its central characters, played by Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan, the film provided audiences with a fresh, exciting combination of action and outrageous comedy. Although not a great film, and certainly not worthy of a sequel, director Brett Ratner admirably stitched together two immensely different characters, finding a charismatic delight in the diversity of Tucker and Chan.

Unfortunately Ratner does not find the same joy in Rush Hour 2, an occasionally amusing comedic adventure that leaves us with a profoundly annoying Chris Tucker fighting for attention while Jackie Chan fights one-dimensional Chinese villains with his bare fists. The film contains some neat action sequences, a great third act, and the most hilarious outtakes I can remember - but the clash of genres feels intrusive and awkward. I wanted more excitement, more character dimension, and a whole hell of a lot less of Chris Tucker's irritating mouth.

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Speed 2: Cruise Control Review


Terrible
Just about as bad as they come. Ridiculous follow-up to Speed, which wasn't all that great to begin with.

The Last Shot Review


Good
This is a sometimes hilarious sometimes flat takeoff on the allure of Hollywood make believe and the mystical green light of production. As a spoof of inside customs and practices of the film industry, it's a telling and whimsical satire put together by obvious insiders. As a factory for jokes, it varies, it wobbles, it tickles but most of all it finally brings a laugh to theatres at a time when something comedic is sorely needed.

It's well known or, at least, widely surmised, that the teamster's local, the union that drives the wheels of production, is mob controlled. So when often-overlooked FBI agent Joe Devine (Alec Baldwin) suggests to his superiors that the way to take down local mobster Tommy Sanz (Tony Shalhoub) is to lure him into a sting operation based on the illusion of a new Hollywood production, he's given the Bureau's green light.

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The Terminal Review


OK
No modern traveler has more notoriety than Merhan Karimi Nasseri, who has been stranded in Terminal One of Paris's Charles de Gaulle airport since 1988. Nasseri was expelled from Iran in 1977 and spent 10 years trying to gain political asylum in Europe. That all came to an end when his bag was stolen in Paris, essentially stranding him at CDG. In 1993, a movie was made about him (Lost in Transit), starring Jean Rochefort. Nasseri's life reappears on screen this year in The Terminal, courtesy of Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks. And shamefully, Nasseri goes unmentioned in the movie's production notes.

In The Terminal, Spielberg gives us Hanks as Viktor Navorski, a visitor from the fictitious country of Krakhozia in Eastern Europe. Hanks, made up to be pasty and lumpy, puts on a mush-mouthed accent reminiscent of Yakov Smirnoff, and finds himself landing at New York's JFK on a mission we won't discover until the end of the film. We know only that it involves a Planters peanut can.

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Catch Me If You Can Review


Good
By 1967, Frank Abagnale Jr. (Leonardo DiCaprio) had become the youngest con man to make the FBI's "Most Wanted List." He'd cashed millions of dollars in forged checks, posed as a co-pilot for a major airline, landed a job as a surgeon in Atlanta, and passed the bar exam in New Orleans. At the time, he was barely old enough to drive.

So goes Catch Me If You Can, Steven Spielberg's second film of the year after the darker, more imaginative Minority Report. The director's cat-and-mouse game draws from Abagnale's autobiography and begins with the criminal's capture at the hands of FBI agent Carl Hanratty (Tom Hanks). The film then slowly backtracks six years to explain both how and why these two men wound up at this point. Part of it has to do with Frank's father (Christopher Walken), a smooth-as-silk seller with tax troubles. But most of it has to do with Frank's need to test his wits against inferior playmates.

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Jeff Nathanson

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