Michael Cowan

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Moonlight Review


Very Good
When we first meet Claire, a privileged teenager growing up in her parents' opulent home, she is in shock. She's been carefully practicing piano in an immaculate room when she experiences the initial drops of her first menstrual cycle. Frightened, she retreats to the family shed, where more shock awaits. A young, orphaned drug courier has been hiding out there, left for dead with a gunshot to the belly.

With no common language, these two connect instantly -- perhaps it's the blood -- and embark on an emotionally wrenching journey in this visually appealing, occasionally heavy-handed thriller from Paula van der Oest (Dutch director of the Oscar-nominated Zus & Zo).

Continue reading: Moonlight Review

Moonlight Review


Very Good
When we first meet Claire, a privileged teenager growing up in her parents' opulent home, she is in shock. She's been carefully practicing piano in an immaculate room when she experiences the initial drops of her first menstrual cycle. Frightened, she retreats to the family shed, where more shock awaits. A young, orphaned drug courier has been hiding out there, left for dead with a gunshot to the belly.

With no common language, these two connect instantly -- perhaps it's the blood -- and embark on an emotionally wrenching journey in this visually appealing, occasionally heavy-handed thriller from Paula van der Oest (Dutch director of the Oscar-nominated Zus & Zo).

Continue reading: Moonlight Review

Head In The Clouds Review


Weak
Why anyone thought this title suitable for a complex romantic thriller I can only guess: The central character, the flighty, ravishing Gilda Bessé (Charlize Theron), has no concern for anything that limits her pleasures and, while her closest friends (and lovers) are making serious commitments in response to the threat of fascism, she maintains her socialite amusements and keeps her "head in the clouds." It seems a title borrowed from some Disney fantasy rather than applying to the wartime tragedy that is attempted here.

The daughter of a French aristocrat raised by an American mother, Cambridge University student Gilda has garnered a reputation for campus scandal. Irish born Guy (Stuart Townsend, Theron's real life squeeze), on the other hand, is a struggling student on scholarship and is of a more serious nature. So, when his Cambridge dorm door flies open one rainy night in 1933, and the notorious Gilda herself asks for shelter, his world is rocked. He sensibly makes no moves on her when she stays the night, giving her attraction to him a basis of credibility when the sex sparks fly later.

Continue reading: Head In The Clouds Review

The Merchant Of Venice Review


Very Good
When I heard that Al Pacino was playing Shylock in The Merchant of Venice, part of me was extremely skeptical. I was fearful he would bellow every other word ("If YOU prick US!"), which has been his acting technique for over a decade. Or, perhaps he would lapse into the Foghorn Leghorn accent that made The Recruit such a hoot.

It's been a crap shoot with the great actor for some time. Watching Pacino is like watching a beloved, over the hill athlete sticking around. He hobbles, the crispness of his movements isn't there, and the mixture of luck and confidence he once had is just a pleasant memory. More often than not, you just hope he just doesn't stumble. You just want a glimmer of what once was.

Continue reading: The Merchant Of Venice Review

The Statement Review


Bad
No matter how much leeway you want to give certain films - whether they star an actress you like or are about a worthy subject - it just isn't enough, and you will end up disliking them no matter how much you don't want to. With some of these films, like The Statement, you end up coming close to actually hating the thing and hoping bad things happen to it.

An ostensible Nazi-hunting thriller that's far too impressed with its supposed moral ambiguity, The Statement is about former Vichy militia Pierre Brossard (Michael Caine) who, back in 1944, helped the Nazis round up and execute seven Jews in a small French town. It's based on the true story of Paul Touvier, who ordered such an execution on June 29, 1944 in southwestern France, and was sentenced to life in prison in 1995.

Continue reading: The Statement Review

Jericho Mansions Review


Bad
What the hell?

This conflagration of Barton Fink and Melrose Place makes as close to zero sense as it gets, and that's just the beginning. It gets more baffling as it moves along.

Continue reading: Jericho Mansions Review

Steal Review


Bad
Oh, what's the point?

Here's another movie that consists of a series of tame heists followed by lengthy chase scenes, as a collection of punks outwits the cops and the mafias to try and abscond with 20 million bucks. Stephen Dorff and Natasha Henstridge aren't necessarily the kiss of death in a movie -- and in fact they're collectively the only thing worth watching here -- but that isn't saying much. (Even more baffling: The 82 minute movie includes 8 minutes of closing credits -- that's 10 percent of the film!)

Continue reading: Steal Review

Michael Cowan

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Michael Cowan Movies

Moonlight Movie Review

Moonlight Movie Review

When we first meet Claire, a privileged teenager growing up in her parents' opulent home,...

Moonlight Movie Review

Moonlight Movie Review

When we first meet Claire, a privileged teenager growing up in her parents' opulent home,...

Head in the Clouds Movie Review

Head in the Clouds Movie Review

Why anyone thought this title suitable for a complex romantic thriller I can only guess:...

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The Merchant of Venice Movie Review

The Merchant of Venice Movie Review

When I heard that Al Pacino was playing Shylock in The Merchant of Venice, part...

The Statement Movie Review

The Statement Movie Review

No matter how much leeway you want to give certain films - whether they star...

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