Jonathan Cavendish

Jonathan Cavendish

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Bernard And Doris Review


OK
HBO lined up two big stars to tell the story of billionaire tobacco heiress Doris Duke and her loyal yet shady butler Bernard Lafferty. Susan Sarandon and Ralph Fiennes star in Bernard and Doris and give it a go, but the truth is that they are both miscast, Sarandon especially, and that error subverts what is otherwise a witty half drama/half comedy.

Racing through the final years of Doris's troubled life in typically episodic biopic fashion, the teleplay introduces us to an aging but still feisty woman who doesn't suffer fools gladly and manages her sprawling estate and her finances with an iron fist. When a butler delivers cantaloupe that is chilled incorrectly, Doris fires him on the spot.

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Bridget Jones's Diary Review


Good
I'm used to the e-mail: You're not a cheerleader so you shouldn't review Bring It On! Or If you don't like boring movies about Iraqi Kurds you shouldn't review A Time for Drunken Horses! Or If you've never heard of Reinaldo Arenas you shouldn't review a movie about his life (Before Night Falls)!

Sorry, folks, I don't buy it. Do I need to be shot into space to review Apollo 13? A movie should stand on its own whether you're familiar with the subject, whether you're fond of the topic in question, or whether you're a member of the demographic that the film is about or is targeted at. If it especially appeals to a certain group (and what film doesn't?), well, good for you. But I'm going to review whatever I want -- and if you don't want to hear what a white guy in his late 20s has to say about cinema, well, that's just to bad.

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Bridget Jones: The Edge Of Reason Review


Weak
In the last three years, Renée Zellweger has lost all 25 pounds of her Bridget Jones weight, vamped her way through Chicago, chunked up again for Cold Mountain, waifed away for Down with Love, and -- finally -- put all that weight back on for her long-awaited return to the role of an insecure Brit -- one which she swore she'd never perform again.

Well, throw enough money at something and it's bound to change people's minds. In fact, that seems to be the operating assumption for the entirety of this sequel, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, a lackluster follow-up to the mildly enchanting original.

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Croupier Review


Good
Mike Hodges, best known for the lean and mean Get Carter (1971), returns to form with Croupier. This polished throwback to the wit and economy of British thrillers from the late '60s and early '70s certainly has style to spare, but like its smooth operator protagonist, it lacks a soul.

Down on his luck novelist Jack Manfred (Clive Owen, handsome and angular as a young Sean Connery) is forced to make ends meet by taking a job at a high stakes casino. He's a croupier, or dealer, operating with cold precision. He sizes up gamblers who line up as the roulette wheel to try their luck.

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St. Ives Review


OK
Take one Merchant-Ivory flick and stir in about 20 pounds of marshmallow crème -- and you've got St. Ives.

Pronounced "sahn TEEVE," the film is based on a Robert Louis Stevenson tale about a Napoleonic Era French captain named Jacques St. Ives (Jean-Marc Barr) who is captured by the British during the war, sent to P.O.W. camp in Scotland, and falls in love along the way, of course. The object of his affection is a local girl (the forgettable Anna Friel), who lives under the protection of her mother (Miranda Richardson), a woman who is having a dalliance with the stiff prison camp boss (Richard E. Grant), who is oddly enough receiving lessons in the ways of love from our very own, very Frahnch St. Ives.

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A Man Of No Importance Review


Good
Long-awaited and highly-acclaimed, A Man of No Importance has crawled into town for a limited run. In the film, Albert Finney plays Alfie Byrne, a 1960 Dublin bus director who is obsessed with Oscar Wilde and directs an annual staging of one of his plays with a cast composed of his bus's passengers.

As if that weren't enough, Alfie, stricken by "the love that dare not speak its name," is constantly at war with his emotions and his sexuality, and he is painfully infatuated with the bus's driver, Robbie (Rufus Sewell). As the annual play draws near, a new rider, Adele (well-played by Tara Fitzgerald) shows up, and Alfie decides to cast her as the virginal lead in Wilde's controversial Salome.

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Ordinary Decent Criminal Review


Terrible
I can only imagine one thing worse than Kevin Spacey trying on an Irish accent, and that's sultry Linda Fiorentino doing the same thing.

Accents are hardly the biggest problem with this movie, though. It's a dull-as-a-Nerf-ball script that makes Ordinary Decent Criminal far less than ordinary. It's almost painful sitting through its rote heist vignettes and endless expository scenes in between them. A bunch of IRA rhetoric doesn't add anything to Spacey's cryptic criminal, who just wants to help out his family while avoiding a fearsome prosecutor.

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Trauma Review


Terrible
Hey, just because you put Colin Firth in your movie doesn't mean it isn't total nonsense.

In the ill-advised Trauma, Firth tries his hand at, of all things, a psychological horror movie. His Ben wakes from a coma to discover that his wife has been killed in a car crash. He tries to get his life together in the creepiest apartment complex on earth, only to be haunted by a variety of visions, snoopy cops, and a plague of ants. Oh, and Mena Suvari lives down the hall.

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Gangster No. 1 Review


Weak
Sometimes, a film just goes beyond its means. Gangster No. 1 is just such a film. With a lukewarm gangster drama script, over-the-top performances from such actors as David Thewlis, Malcolm McDowell, and Paul Bettany, and Paul McGuigan's (The Acid House) exaggerated directing style, it just falls apart like Jell-O left in the sun.

Gangster No. 1 feels like pieces a bunch of other, better movies slapped together -- GoodFellas' musical selections, the violence from American Psycho and Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, a dash of any Quentin Tarantino or Guy Ritchie style of editing, Malcolm McDowell in a performance recalling A Clockwork Orange. Some of it's fun, but it just isn't original or creative.

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Jonathan Cavendish

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