Niels Mueller

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The Assassination of Richard Nixon Review


OK
Richard Nixon does not die in The Assassination of Richard Nixon, but the film's protagonist - a depressed, angry, middle-aged man named Samuel Bicke (Sean Penn) - eventually comes to believe that, for the good of himself and his country, the commander-in-chief deserves death. Estranged from his wife, unable to hold down employment, and disgusted by the lies and hypocrisies of a 1974 American society that favors the deceitful rich and powerful over the little man, Bicke is a powder keg waiting for his fuse to be lit. And in Niels Mueller's unsettling debut, that igniting spark comes from a series of final disappointments that Bicke - the type of man who blames his woes on a general, conspiratorial "they" - conveniently pins on the corrupting influence of the tricky U.S. president seen talking about hope and prosperity on his living room TV.

A kindred spirit of Taxi Driver's Travis Bickle ("God's lonely man") with politics, instead of prostitution, on his mind, Bicke fervently believes in honesty, upright morals, and a sense of decency and fairness. Unfortunately, his uncompromising idealism functions as a straightjacket, preventing him from performing the casual deceptions necessitated by his job as a furniture salesman or accepting the fact that his estranged wife Marie (Naomi Watts) must don a short miniskirt and tolerate customers' gropes to earn a living as a waitress. He resents the success of his tire salesman brother Julius, longs for the happy stability of living with his wife and three kids (who seem to fear him), sports fanciful dreams of starting his own tire business with an African-American friend (Don Cheadle's Bonny) and longs to join the Black Panthers (who he believes can relate to his supposed persecution). To Bicke, the world has been corrupted, and the only effective response - after sending Leonard Bernstein (a "pure and honest" man) his tape-recorded memoirs - is to orchestrate an attack on the White House via hijacked airplane that will, he imagines, awaken the world to American injustice.

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Tadpole Review


Excellent
When you're young, it seems all you want is to be older - whether it's finally to be allowed to stay up late, to go out to a bar, or just to be taken seriously. In Oscar's case, it's just to be desirable.

All of Oscar Grubman's (Aaron Stanford) prep school friends - including best friend Charlie (Robert Iler of Sopranos fame) - tell him that he's a 40-year-old trapped in a 15-year-old's body. Instead of feeding on pop culture and pop music, Oscar spends his time quoting Voltaire and listening to opera. Think of him as a Max Fisher minus the bullshit. He strives to be cultured and sophisticated well beyond his years, and girls his age just don't cut the gouda.

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13 Going On 30 Review


Good
If 13 Going On 30 had feet, they'd never touch the ground. The effervescent retro romance opens with the jingly strokes of an '80s pop synthesizer and races through the best of Rick Springfield ("Jesse's Girl"), Michael Jackson ("Thriller"), and The Go-Go's ("Head Over Heels") in five minutes flat. Either you're tapping your feet right now or running for the hills. The toe-tappers, obviously, will have a better time at this one.

In 1987, gawky teen Jenna can't see the girl-next-door beauty that exists beyond her braces. She keeps best friend Matty - her pudgy and unbearably sweet admirer - at arm's length. After a major disappointment involving a rigged game of "Seven Minutes in Heaven" at her 13th birthday party, Jenna makes a fateful wish to be older. With the help of some potent fairy dust, 13-year-old Jenna becomes 30-year-old Jenna (Garner), a Manhattan magazine editor pushing copy for Poise, a struggling fashion rag.

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Niels Mueller

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