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Marie Antoinette Review


Very Good
The word "soft" summarizes the world of Sofia Coppola, perfectly. Each film she has made has the tenderness, vagueness and, ultimately, the sensibility of a fluffy, white cloud in the middle of a blue sky. With two near-perfect films on her resume, 1999's The Virgin Suicides and 2003's majestic Lost in Translation, Sofia Coppola's third film should have been an easy play. Instead, we are given the beguiling Marie Antoinette.

There's the famous Marie-Antoinette (Kirsten Dunst): the one who so insipidly said "Let them eat cake" when learning of the famine and starvation of the French people and the one who had her head cut off and displayed, with ample delight, to the same people she told to eat said cake. Then there's the private Marie Antoinette: the one who was forced into a French marriage (she was Austrian originally) by her brutish mother and who would eventually lose a newborn baby right as her kingdom was crashing down. Coppola seems very confused as to whom she wants to show in Marie Antoinette.

Continue reading: Marie Antoinette Review

The Break-Up Review


Weak
In most romantic comedies, some find themselves pining for the two leads to finally put their differences aside and reunite, slow dancing while an overused R&B tune plays in the background and the comic relief best friend tells a last joke. It's a genre that's been done to death, of course, but perfectly enjoyable when all the elements are in alignment. When the elements aren't there, however, the result is fairly ugly. The Break-Up -- a solid argument against real-life couples being allowed to play opposite each other in purportedly romantic films -- spends about five minutes setting up Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston as a couple and then proceeds to fill the rest of its running time with all the reasons why they really should break up; and well before it's over you'll be wishing they'd just call it quits.

Accomplishing the quite difficult task of neutering the normally volcanic presence that is Vaughn and further dampening Aniston's already meek comedic abilities, The Break-Up takes some quite considerable assets and squanders them completely. Vaughn and Aniston play Gary and Brooke, a couple who meet-cute at a Cubs game, are shacked up together in a nice downtown condo before the end of the credits, and are relentlessly bickering and splitting up just a few minutes later. Vaughn plays Gary as a more muted and oafish version of his standard motormouth self -- not a pleasant creation -- which leads one to believe that the film will eventually allow him to use his charm to win back the uptight and angry but still in-love Brooke. The critic's oath precludes this writer from giving away the admittedly surprising (though not necessarily in a good way) ending, but what can be said is that little in this film goes as expected.

Continue reading: The Break-Up Review

Husbands And Wives Review


Very Good
Woody Allen took a turn toward the exceptionally nasty with this bleak yet strangely compelling look at modern romance. Between Mia Farrow and Judy Davis, it's tough to find two actresses that exude contempt more readily, and there's indeed plenty of shrieking and hitting in the picture, which opens with Davis and husband Sydney Pollack announcing their divorce. A whirlwind series of affairs and acrimony follows, all captured on nausiating shakycam. Lots of hate in this movie, but it's strangely endearing. I'm not quite sure why. It's also worth noting that the film came out immediately after Allen and Farrow split up.

Children Of The Revolution Review


Good
A true oddity, in keeping with Australian cinema. What with F. Murray Abraham as Stalin (yes, the Stalin), who fathers a lovechild in the 1950s with a visiting Australian radical played by Judy Davis, how can you expect anything but weirdness? With early-career appearances by Rachel Griffiths and Geoffrey Rush, Children of the Revolution is remarkable for its sheer ballsiness, but the story is likely a bit too circuitous, self-referential, and unbelievable for most tastes. Ostensibly based on a true story, the sarcasm eventually gets so thick you find you need a mint.

Where Angels Fear To Tread Review


Weak
Insanely overwrought British period drama (based on E.M. Forster's first novel) has corset-ready standbys like Rupert Graves, Helena Bonham Carter, Judy Davis, and Helen Mirren headed to turn-of-last-century Italy. The story gets off to a promising start as the wealthy Mirren decides to marry an Italian of low status (Guidelli), finding a culture clash that only gets worse with the pronouncement that she is pregnant. Unfortunately, Mirren's character dies during childbirth, launching the movie into its primary plotline -- the war over the child, fought by her family and her no-Ingles husband. Sadly, this plot is melodramatic, incredibly phony, and nearly unwatchable. Unless you've just got a thing for corsets and petticoats, give this one a pass.

Absolute Power Review


Bad
Really lame thriller about the president and the cover-up that ensues when he murders some hot chick. Can't believe William Goldman wrote this crap, or that Eastwood, Hackman, Harris, and Davis bothered to get involved with it either.

Deconstructing Harry Review


Very Good
The Wood-man cometh, and he goes for broke this time.

Pretty much taking pot-shots at everyone he's ever known, every establishment he can think of, every vice there is, and--mostly--himself... that's your basic summary of Deconstructing Harry. Allen is vulgar and crass, wholly unlikeable... but hysterical. Maybe the funniest part of the film is the cast of stars he's lined up, all of whom do nothing but get spit upon the whole time! Suckers! (The movie is told half in reality, half as visualizations of writer Harry Block's (Allen) stories, thus, the large cast.)

Continue reading: Deconstructing Harry Review

Celebrity Review


Excellent
Another fall, another movie from the Woodman.

Shot in black and white and filled with about 30 big-name stars, Celebrity is a welcome return to old-school Allen, his first really good film since 1994's Bullets Over Broadway.

Continue reading: Celebrity Review

Gaudi Afternoon Review


OK
Oddball and out of sync, I'm at a loss to figure out how Judy Davis, Juliette Lewis, and Marcia Gay Harden got attached to this project -- with Harden agreeing to play a transsexual, at that. Meandering and a little bit vapid, what develops is a light piece about the hapless Davis, hired to work as a kind of P.I. in Barcelona in a missing persons case. Needless to say, lots of silliness about gender-bending ensues. Definitely for the woman who's comfortable with her sense of self.

Barton Fink Review


Extraordinary
That "Barton Fink feeling" is all over the Coen brothers movie, a modern classic that both celebrates and damns the Golden Age of Hollywood. One of the Coens' most play-like movies, John Turturro stars in a career-making role as an angst-ridden supporter of the common man, a playwright who makes it big in New York and then sells out to L.A., where he is promptly interred in a seedy hotel to write a wrestling movie. There he meets a friendly but slightly off-kilter insurance salesman (John Goodman) and his hero, an old time writer (John Mahoney). Nothing turns out as it seems, and the surreal finale to the film elevate the movie to being one of the Coens' best.

My Brilliant Career Review


Good
Gillian Armstrong recruits a young Judy Davis, Sam Neill, and beloved Scottish book for this odd little cult favorite, a story about a woman who has to choose between her "brilliant" career and the various men in her life. Davis is charmingly cynical in the film, and Neill's a winner, but ultimately this period piece gets so caught up in its own cleverness and wannabe shock that it comes off as trite.
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Yacht - Chain Tripping Album Review

Yacht - Chain Tripping Album Review

In terms of approach, 'Chain Tripping' takes some beating. To call Yacht's latest release conceptual would be underplaying its inspiration wildly.

Feeder - Tallulah Album Review

Feeder - Tallulah Album Review

On 'Tallulah', Grant Nicholas and Taka Hirose seem to have that burning connection again.

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Album of the Week: Machine Head released debut Burn My Eyes 25 years ago

Album of the Week: Machine Head released debut Burn My Eyes 25 years ago

Burn My Eyes was released on this day (August 9th) in 1994.

Neverworld 2019 Review

Neverworld 2019 Review

With an eclectic mix of established acts, up and coming talent and resurgent household names, Neverworld once again offered up some superb musical...

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Judy Davis Movies

The Dressmaker Trailer

The Dressmaker Trailer

When Myrtle (Tilly) was little, she lived a happy life, along with her mother in...

T.S. Spivet Movie Review

T.S. Spivet Movie Review

As he did in Amelie, French filmmaker Jean-Pierre Jeunet tells a simple fable with witty...

The Young And Prodigious T.S. Spivet Trailer

The Young And Prodigious T.S. Spivet Trailer

T.S. Spivet is a child prodigy fascinated with the world of cartography and invention and...

To Rome With Love Movie Review

To Rome With Love Movie Review

After Midnight in Paris, Woody Allen remains in a cheery European mode for another breezy...

To Rome With Love Trailer

To Rome With Love Trailer

Woody Allen takes us on a romp around yet another beautiful European city with his...

The Break-Up (2006) Movie Review

The Break-Up (2006) Movie Review

In most romantic comedies, some find themselves pining for the two leads to finally put...

Marie Antoinette Movie Review

Marie Antoinette Movie Review

The word "soft" summarizes the world of Sofia Coppola, perfectly. Each film she has made...

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Marie Antoinette Movie Review

Marie Antoinette Movie Review

The word "soft" summarizes the world of Sofia Coppola, perfectly. Each film she has made...

The Break-Up Movie Review

The Break-Up Movie Review

In most romantic comedies, some find themselves pining for the two leads to finally put...

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