John Shepherd

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The Stoning of Soraya M. Review


Good
Despite a slightly simplistic filmmaking style, this true story retains real force in its depiction of human cruelty in the name of religion. It's not easy to watch such horrific events, but it's so important that it cries out to be seen.

In 1986, French-Iranian journalist Freidoune Sahebjam (Caviezel) is driving through Iran when his car breaks down in an isolated village. Called "crazy" by the men, Zahra (Aghdashloo) corners him and recounts the brutal events of the preceding day. Defenceless in a society ruled by Sharia law, Zahra's niece Soraya (Marno) was the subject of a conspiracy led by her husband (Negahban), who wanted to marry a 14-year-old. To do this he had to gain the support of the local convict-turned-mullah (Pourtash) and the weak-willed mayor (Diaan).

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Picture - John Shepherd New York, USA, Friday 23rd April 2010

John Shepherd Friday 23rd April 2010 2010 Tribeca Film Festival Premiere of Snowmen - Arrivals New York, USA

John Shepherd

An American Carol Review


Grim
To hear Conservatives tell it, Hollywood is out of touch with the true "America." To them, the ultra-liberal product produced by the morally (and creatively) bankrupt individuals of Tinseltown just doesn't reflect the country's true tone and temperament. As a way of standing up for what they hold true and dear, card carrying member of the USA, A-OK brigade, David Zucker (of Airplane! and Naked Gun fame) has created a pro-country, anti-dissent spoof of the Charles Dickens yuletide classic. Yet An American Carol misses a golden opportunity to show a sense of humor. Instead, it wallows in the kind of "us vs. them" tactics that created such complaints in the first place.

Michael Malone (Kevin Farley) is a documentary filmmaker famous for his anti-USA efforts like America Sucks the Big One. On the strength of his celebrity, he's organized a march against the Fourth of July. While his agent (James Woods) thinks he's crazy, a group of terrorists led by the evil Aziz (Robert Davi) think he's the perfect patsy for their ongoing jihad. They hire him to make a "movie" which is actually a front for a suicide bombing at a Trace Adkins concert. Happy to pursue his radical idealistic ends, Malone is suddenly visited by the ghost of his idol, JFK (Chris Anglin). He warns that he will be visited by three more ghosts, including Gen. George F. Patton (Kelsey Grammer). All hope to change his left-leaning ways, guiding him toward a more patriotic position.

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The Ultimate Gift Review


OK
And here I thought the ultimate gift was a Nintendo Wii.

As part of the trend in faith-driven filmmaking (and based on an apparently very popular self-help book), The Ultimate Gift is inspirational filmmaking at its most average. The tale involves a recently deceased business tycoon (James Garner), who gives token fortunes to various family members, all of whom have been ingrate layabouts their entire lives. The exception is young grandson Jason (Drew Fuller), who's the worst of all. He gets a series of tasks from lawyer Ted (Bill Cobbs), designed to see if Jason can actually become a useful member of society and thus, worthy of his inheritance.

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The Climb Review


Weak
I don't mean to laugh, but when you put Dabney Coleman and Todd Bridges in a movie, you gotta chuckle a little bit.

But this is no piece of pop culture camp -- this is a serious melodrama about mountainclimbing and God, courtesy of World Wide Pictures, aka The Motion Picture Ministry of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Unbeknownst to me, Billy's quite a movie producer -- with such recent titles as Something to Sing About and the Rat Race-takeoff Road to Redemption.

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Wonderland (2000) Review


Weak
The city of London has a million stories, and Wonderland tells just one of them -- well, okay, three. No, five -- five! Six -- eight -- all right, eleven subplots competing for screen time.

At the center are three sisters lookin' for a little love and compassion. Perky Soho waitress Nadia (Gina McKee, Croupier), her hair punked out in cute rabbit ears, indulges in the lonely hearts club of personal ads for Mr. Right, or at least a decent lay. Abrasive, no-nonsense hairdresser Debbie (Shirley Henderson, Topsy-Turvy) settles into a tract of not taking shit from anyone, especially her irresponsible ex, Dan (Ian Hart, Spring Forward). He can barely be counted on for weekend visits to their teenage son (Peter Marfleet). Molly (Molly Parker, Waking the Dead) is very pregnant and needs a little support from her friends, especially when her husband (John Simm) goes through a mid-life career meltdown.

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Friday the 13th: A New Beginning Review


Unbearable
After promising that part 4 was The Final Chapter, here comes Friday the 13th: A New Beginning (aka part 5). No Corey Feldman. No Crispin Glover. No someone else... though that'd be a rotten spoiler to reveal. Here we find part 4's Tommy Jarvis slightly older (and recast) and gone crazy, with plenty more terrorizing underway. Widely considered the worst of the Friday the 13th series... and that's hard to argue with. (Best scene: Blonde girl gets hacked up as she practices doing The Robot in her room.)

Bobby Jones, Stroke Of Genius Review


Terrible
If Jim Caviezel wanted his next project after The Passion of the Christ to be bland, uncontroversial, and utterly forgettable, he picked a winner in Bobby Jones, Stroke of Genius. The only people bothering Caviezel will be fanatical golfers desperate to find out how he duplicated Jones's classic swing.

Presented by the Bobby Jones Film Company and approved by his heirs, so you know it's brutally honest, Stroke of Genius details the first half of Jones's life, which is presented with as much narrative élan as a fifth grader's book report. A sickly boy, Bobby watches with rapt attention the matches on the golf course near his house. He spends hours practicing in the vast Georgia countryside, and as a teenager becomes a star amateur. Later, after years of struggling, he becomes the best golfer in the world.

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