But watching my home town be blown away is only one of the charms of ID4 (the film's hip moniker). First there's the War of the Worlds meets Star Wars meets The Right Stuff story, about a superior, marauding alien force threatening to annihilate the human race (and almost succeeding). And an all-star cast of freedom fighters (more on them later). Director Roland Emmerich, who redeems himself for the idiocy of Stargate, and who isn't afraid to kill off the good guys. Some dazzling visuals. Loud sound effects. Plus every Star Trek and X-Files fan in town in the audience. What more do you want?
Continue reading: Independence Day Review
Both involve an overachieving first daughter who, tired of living up to elevated expectations, cuts loose from the presidential apron strings and strikes off in search of pre-twentysomething independence. Moore, in her film, bounces around Europe, while Holmes tests the waters of college life. And while each daughter truly believes they're sowing their wild oats, they both are being watched over by undercover agents planted in their path by the overprotective president. (Liberty was even titled First Daughter in an early incarnation.)
Continue reading: First Daughter Review
In exploring this relationship, and virtually all of the relationships in the film, Moncrieff and her actors don't shy away from awkward, uncomfortable truths. Strathairn does especially well with this material; although there are only a few scenes of him teaching in front of the whole class, he captures the reserved vibe of a talented, unflashy high school English teacher as instantly as a snapshot. The audience's perception of the Auster character is most open to change over the film's 90 minutes, and Strathairn is a rock of believability, refusing to bother with cheap signifiers when Auster's actions become morally ambiguous (it may help if you find, as I do, almost any cast member from Sneakers infinitely watchable by association). Newcomer Agnes Brucker is equally reluctant to indulge in theatrics; armed with Bruckner's unfussy expressiveness, Meg's every decision is understandable.
Continue reading: Blue Car Review
Set in an absurd, patronizing fantasy world in which flag-waving citizens line the streets to see the president's kid off to college and angry political protesters share the red-carpet sidelines at black-tie events with shallow reporters asking stupid questions, "First Daughter" could well be the most hackneyed and insipid movie of 2004.
Failing to achieve even the shrug-worth mediocrity of January's similarly plotted "Chasing Liberty" (with Mandy Moore), this gimmick-driven disaster drags star Katie Holmes down with it as Samantha Mackenzie, the sheltered, personality-free offspring of a controversial commander-in-chief (an unconvincing, completely vanilla Michael Keaton), who falls in love with a cute Secret Service agent (an even blander Marc Blucas) posing as a student in her dorm.
Although introduced in the manner of a fairytale, the film's rampant lack of authenticity is simply insurmountable. Samantha's bodyguards constantly hover three feet behind her -- even in class and while she's alone in the dorm's TV room. The girl is never once shown doing anything that even remotely resembles studying, yet as she's egged on by a soundtrack of flutes and twinkling triangles, she proclaims her determination to have a normal coed experience. In pursuit of it, she sneaks out on dates with that charming classmate she doesn't know is an undercover agent -- that is until he blows his secret identity by rescuing her during one of many security breaches so impossibly contrived that the Secret Service should sue 20th Century Fox for defamation of character.
Continue reading: First Daughter Review
In 1947, Dalton (Bryan Cranston) is the film industry's top-paid screenwriter, so of course the House Un-American Activities Commission goes after...
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This lively romp is entertaining enough to amuse the audience even when it veers off the rails.