Lemore Syvan

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Henry's Crime Review


Good
This sleepy comedy is surprisingly entertaining as its plot twists and turns along the way, combining a bank heist with a romance. And rather a lot of Chekhov too. But it's the likeable cast that makes it worth seeing.

Henry (Reeves) is just drifting through life with his wife Debbie (Greer) when his old school friend Eddie (Stevens) leaves him to take the fall for a bank robbery Henry knew nothing about. His life in prison isn't much worse than outside, and his new friend Max (Caan) makes up for the fact that Debbie runs off with one of the robbers (Hoch). And when he gets out a year or so later, Henry decides that since he's done the time, he might as well do the crime.

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The Private Lives Of Pippa Lee Review


Excellent
As a more emotional take on the themes examined in American Beauty, this internalised drama is subtle and unpredictable. It also features terrific performances from an eclectic cast.

Pippa (Wright) is married to the much-older Herb (Arkin), a publisher who hates that he's now retired. But it's Pippa whose world is starting to unravel, as she reaches the point where she needs more than being a trophy wife and mother to two now-grown kids (Kazan and McDonald). Her sleepwalking antics indicate that her subconscious has already figured this out, but it'll take a look at her childhood (played by Lively and youngster Madeline McNulty) to help her see what she needs to do next.

Continue reading: The Private Lives Of Pippa Lee Review

Sherrybaby Review


Good
It struck me while watching Sherrybaby that one of Maggie Gyllenhaal's greatest strengths as an actress is an ability to cross class lines effortlessly and often. There are some great, versatile actresses -- Nicole Kidman, perhaps -- who nonetheless don't seem qualified to play someone like Sherry Swanson (Gyllenhaal), a young recovering drug addict just out of prison, longing with needy desperation to begin mothering her young daughter Alexis (Ryan Simpkins).

Yes, Charlize Theron uglied herself up for Monster and Halle Berry went working-class for Monster's Ball. But Sherrybaby isn't Monster Mommy; it's a quiet, painful little portrait with little of the inherent sympathy (or showier ugliness) of those other roles. More to the point, while Theron and Berry rocked the Oscar-friendly reverse-makeover, Gyllenhaal looks more or less as she usually does: moony face, sad eyes, feathery voice. The only physical transformation involves a blond dye-job, trashy heels, and a lot more screen time for her breasts.

Continue reading: Sherrybaby Review

Duane Hopwood Review


Weak
Call it the Leaving Las Vegas effect: Everybody wants to make a movie where they play a disgusting antihero who, even as he self-destructs, manages to find a way to redeem himself in the end, even if he's still a dangerous drunk and his personal growth is just minimal. That's well and good, but I'm not sure that David Schwimmer is the go-to guy for such a role. Obviously trying to break free from a decade of typecasting as a nervous geek, he's uncomfortably out of place here and the performance just doesn't work. Things turn out better for Jeneane Garofalo as our pal Duane's ex-wife, though her underwritten role meant that I barely recognized her before the end. Safe to skip. "Hopwood," incidentally, was the plaintiff in the famous "reverse discrimination" lawsuit that ended affirmative action in many arenas. When it's more entertaining to think about an old legal case than watch a movie it has nothing to do with, well... hmmmm.

Sherrybaby Review


Good
It struck me while watching Sherrybaby that one of Maggie Gyllenhaal's greatest strengths as an actress is an ability to cross class lines effortlessly and often. There are some great, versatile actresses -- Nicole Kidman, perhaps -- who nonetheless don't seem qualified to play someone like Sherry Swanson (Gyllenhaal), a young recovering drug addict just out of prison, longing with needy desperation to begin mothering her young daughter Alexis (Ryan Simpkins).

Yes, Charlize Theron uglied herself up for Monster and Halle Berry went working-class for Monster's Ball. But Sherrybaby isn't Monster Mommy; it's a quiet, painful little portrait with little of the inherent sympathy (or showier ugliness) of those other roles. More to the point, while Theron and Berry rocked the Oscar-friendly reverse-makeover, Gyllenhaal looks more or less as she usually does: moony face, sad eyes, feathery voice. The only physical transformation involves a blond dye-job, trashy heels, and a lot more screen time for her breasts.

Continue reading: Sherrybaby Review

Personal Velocity Review


Excellent
Combining an excellent literary accent with eclectic reflection on life's perpetual habit of transitioning, Rebecca Miller's highly touted Personal Velocity comprises engaging three-dimensional Everywomen in compelling stories that end up surprisingly cinematic. Split into three portraits, each detailed enough to fill out characters that shy away from easy categorization, the 85 minutes of emotional endeavors may be painful but never bore.

First there's Delia (Kyra Sedgwick, consistently underrated for far too long), a tough cookie from hard knocks who must manage to break the cycle of family abuse without losing control in front of kids that have already seen Mommy cut down to size. Next is Greta (Parker Posey, fantastic in her most human role to date) who accidentally works her way up the corporate ladder, but also possibly out of a marriage that has lost all spark. Finally, Paula (Fairuza Balk, always interesting to watch) is living from one sign-from-above to the next after realizing she's pregnant.

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King Of The Corner Review


Good
Peter Riegert got a bad beat off of Animal House. Pegged in his debut film appearance as a crude, slapstick, comic actor (and not a very handsome one at that), Riegert didn't do much of anything after -- nothing much that you've probably seen, anyway.

Riegert will probably have the last laugh. He's starred in some real gems, like Local Hero and Traffic, and he even earned an Oscar nomination for his short film, By Courier.

Continue reading: King Of The Corner Review

Cash Crop Review


OK
From Homegrown to Bongwater to Half Baked, the pot movie is back in a big way.

If only all of those movies didn't suck.

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The Ballad Of Jack And Rose Review


Very Good
For some people isolation means happiness. Such is the case of Jack and Rose, father and daughter (Daniel Day-Lewis and Camilla Belle), living sparingly and deeply enjoying it on an island off the Pacific Northwest. In earlier days, it was the setting for a commune -- one that Jack built, led, and closed down as times and manias changed. Now, with the funds from a buyout in his bank account, his comforts are secure, and that's a bit of heaven for Rose who not only adores her father and cherishes her life, but will protect both with all her energy and life force.

A couple of problems threaten to spoil the remote idyll. Jack has a terminal heart condition and they both know his days are numbered. What each wants to do about it differs monumentally. For her part, Rose is devoted to the idea of committing suicide as soon as dad leaves his mortal coil, feeling she couldn't face life without him. In the wisdom of maturity and a wider scope of options, Jack would like to live out the remainder of his life with a companion who, at the same time, would become a replacement adult supervisor for teenager Rose when he's gone. Nice plan -- one that even a normal father might well dream up. And, since he's been dating Kathleen (Catherine Keener) during his rare visits to the mainland, and likes her, he asks her to come live with him and Rose.

Continue reading: The Ballad Of Jack And Rose Review

Casa De Los Babys Review


Good
In a fit of Altman-envy, auteur filmmaker John Sayles has delivered a picture that has a situation instead of a plot and brought together a bevy of top actresses to act it out within a seemingly loose framework. But the lack of a plot doesn't mean it doesn't have a structure, and the one here is engineered to convey the range of needs and problems connected with first-world women adopting third-world babies.

Six women from the U.S. with different life experiences and unique values are brought together in their quests to adopt a baby in an unstated South American country (though shot in and around Acapulco, Mexico). The problem they all face is the bureaucracy that's in charge of the process -- one that feels uncomfortably arbitrary, subject to more whim than substance.

Continue reading: Casa De Los Babys Review

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Lemore Syvan Movies

Henry's Crime Movie Review

Henry's Crime Movie Review

This sleepy comedy is surprisingly entertaining as its plot twists and turns along the way,...

The Private Lives Of Pippa Lee Movie Review

The Private Lives Of Pippa Lee Movie Review

As a more emotional take on the themes examined in American Beauty, this internalised drama...

Sherrybaby Movie Review

Sherrybaby Movie Review

It struck me while watching Sherrybaby that one of Maggie Gyllenhaal's greatest strengths as an...

Sherrybaby Movie Review

Sherrybaby Movie Review

It struck me while watching Sherrybaby that one of Maggie Gyllenhaal's greatest strengths as an...

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Personal Velocity Movie Review

Personal Velocity Movie Review

Combining an excellent literary accent with eclectic reflection on life's perpetual habit of transitioning, Rebecca...

The Ballad of Jack and Rose Movie Review

The Ballad of Jack and Rose Movie Review

For some people isolation means happiness. Such is the case of Jack and Rose, father...

Casa De Los Babys Movie Review

Casa De Los Babys Movie Review

In a fit of Altman-envy, auteur filmmaker John Sayles has delivered a picture that has...

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