Paul Calderon

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Welcome to New York Review


Excellent

Both this film and its central character are so unapologetic that it's difficult to get either out of your head long after the final credits roll. A fictionalised version of a notorious real story, this is an unflinching account of how the rich and powerful live seemingly above the law. Until they crash with a thud so loud it's heard around the world. And as an exploration of how money and privilege corrupt the soul, this film is essential viewing, no matter how uncomfortable it is to watch.

At the centre is Devereaux (Gerard Depardieu), the corpulent head of the World Bank, whose life is a whirlwind of prostitutes, drugs and wild sex parties, even as he still has hopes of one day becoming president of France. Then in a five-star suite in a Manhattan hotel, he unthinkingly assaults a maid (Pamela Afesi). And he has no idea why he's being arrested in a media frenzy. He calls his wealthy wife Simone (Jacqueline Bisset) for bail him out, and she reluctantly drops her charity work to fly to New York and rent a house for them for the duration of his trial, standing by his side for the cameras, along with his daughter Sophie (Marie Moute). But Devereaux is so sure his political connections will get him off that he remains utterly unrepentant.

Depardieu is astonishing in the role, giving a fearless performance as a man who is so self-absorbed that he can't even begin to think that his actions might hurt someone. Consequences don't matter to him, because he's always done whatever he wants. And Depardieu is utterly transparent in every scene, most memorably when he is strip-searched by the cops and, even more disturbingly, when he mauls a young journalist (Shanyn Leigh) interviewing him about the trial. Opposite him, Bisset is radiant and fierce as a woman worn down by her infant-like husband, but standing by him against her better judgment. Their bristly conversations in the final act play out in long takes that are seriously gripping.

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Welcome To New York Trailer


Devereaux is well known by the people closest to him as an uninhibited playboy, using his wealth and his high status as a rich French politician to gain him access to a whole world of sexual adventures. Despite the fact that he has a loving wife, nothing stops him in his pursuit of pleasure, but such undisciplined behaviour is always likely to be dangerous. After one spontaneous encounter with a New York hotel maid, he finds himself suddenly accused by authorities of being a rapist. While everyone knows of his womanizing ways, no-one would've suspected such an occurence and Devereaux is left cowering and desperate, and feeling guilty that his lifestyle has led to such injustice. Will a man who has so many big ideas on rescuing the economy manage to hold his high for long enough to protest his innocence? Or has he managed to end his promising career?

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Bad Lieutenant Review


Excellent
On radio station WFAN, a man named "Mad Dog" unwaveringly defends his beloved Mets, who are down three games against the Dodgers in the series, to a battalion of cynical and hopeless New Yorkers. Somewhere in Manhattan, a nun is raped by two young men and left soiled at the bottom of the altar. A cop who takes a bump of cocaine only seconds after he drops his boys off at high school is in charge of keeping the city safe and, at night, he spends the money he stole and violently cajoled from criminals on swigs of vodka, sessions of free-basing and lesbian shows at a seedy hotel. If the Lord is in New York City, he stepped out for a minute.

Such are the totems of the godless world of Abel Ferrara's Bad Lieutenant, a season in hell that doubles as a vehicle for Harvey Keitel's blistering tour-de-force as the nameless officer that gives the film its name. Full to bursting with unadulterated drug use, violent sex, and moral decay, it also serves as Ferrara's most unfettered and primal ode to a one-time soulless New York that now looks more like a planet of condos.

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Oxygen Review


OK
Passable thriller about a psycho escape artist who buries a woman alive and screws with the head of the cop on the case. Cinemax late night at its best.

One Tough Cop Review


Grim
One Tough Cop sure makes for one boring movie. This true story of a case in the life of NYC flatfoot Bo Dietl has that "ripped from today's headlines" feeling usually reserved for TV. It's best left there.

All Revved Up Review


Terrible
What are John Turturro and Lili Taylor doing in a movie with race cars on the video cover -- a movie called All Revved Up?

Beats the crap outta me. I suffered through the 83 minutes of Revved and am no closer to figuring out why it was made, what attracted its stars to the project, or even what the hell it was supposed to be about.

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Four Rooms Review


Grim
I wish I could say I was let down by Four Rooms, but given the sheer volume of just awful buzz about the film, I think I got what I was expecting: an over-anticipated, overworked movie that was full of talent but devoid of taste.

It starts off bad enough. As the credits announce the four writer/directors (Allison Anders, Alexandre Rockwell, Robert Rodriguez, and Quentin Tarantino), a cartoon sequence plays over them, in the tradition of cinematic masterpieces like Mannequin. This sets the stage: New Year's Eve at Hollywood's Mon Signor Hotel and only one bellhop (Tim Roth), and believe me, it's a rillyrilly wacky place. The film then launches into the first of four 30ish-minute shorts, one by each director.

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Sweet Nothing Review


Unbearable
Sweet Nothing, you got that right. This ridiculous ode to crack makes the pathetic Permanent Midnight look like the work of genius. Director Gary Winick, who directed Tadpole (great) but produced Women in Film (crap), maybe ought to think about his projects a little more carefully. This one's really, really, really stupid to the point of being insulting.

King of New York Review


Weak
King of New York, a violent story of one gangster who shoots, stabs, and beats his way to the top of the local crime scene, has never had the street cred of Scarface, despite the similar themes.

And though Artisan is issuing a two-disc DVD release of the film, don't expect it to find much more of a cult audience 14 years after its original release.

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Rock the Boat Review


Grim
Rather vapid corporate mystery has Amanda Donohoe investigating a little corruption, a little murder as she retakes control of the company she founded. Too bad none of the stories is very interesting.

Pulp Fiction Review


Essential
Royale with cheese, baby, royale with cheese. The film of that single-handedly changed the face of American -- and world -- cinema in 1994, Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction is a rare masterpiece that is unlikely to be repeated by him, or his imitators. And believe me, many have tried, with varying levels of success.

This set of interlocking tales involving gangsters, boxers, druggies, and plain old joes is alternately exciting and funny -- and often both at the same time. Whether it's John Travolta's Vincent Vega doing the twist with his gangster boss's wife and later miraculously pulling her out of a drug overdose, Samuel L. Jackson reciting the Bible or picking splattered brain out of his enormous afro, Tim Roth and Amanda Plummer robbing a diner, Bruce Willis throwing a boxing match and later ending up facing a couple of oversexed hillbilly degenerates, or Ving Rhames overseeing the whole proceedings, the movie is utterly brilliant, hilarious, and thrilling. Even the little things are perfect: Tarantino has never since quite managed to recapture his masterful use of the close-up and fantastically interesting lighting choices. It's one of only a handful of films that gets better every time you watch it.

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The Last Castle Review


OK

With the United States in the throes of an unexpected war, the timing may not seem right for a movie about military infighting. But "The Last Castle" has a certain popcorn-picture kind of flag-waving pride about it that is enormously satisfying and oddly apropos for this particular moment in history.

Robert Redford could be a gentleman's John Wayne in his starring role as Gen. Eugene Irwin, a highly decorated and revered Army officer beginning a 10-year sentence in military prison for leading his troops, against orders from the President, on a rescue mission that ended in catastrophe.

He's a humble but cocksure leader, greatly admired even by ironhanded warden Colonel Winters (James Gandolfini), who asks the general up to his office to shake his hand before having him shown to his cell. But Winters' respect soon turns to resentment as Irwin begins questioning his methods of managing the men in his jail -- nicknamed The Castle for its stately courtyard-and-towers design.

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Girlfight Review


Excellent

"Girlfight" knocks you on your backside from its very first image -- a powerful close-up of the pure fury in the eyes of its heroine, a dangerous 15-year-old girl from the projects with a propensity for between-class brawls at her high school.

Exploding with her intense focus and attitude, the shot is like something from "Raging Bull," and that's no coincidence. The film is about fierce, angry, intelligent Diana Guzman (Michelle Rodriguez) finding an outlet for her fire and ire by becoming a boxer -- and I don't mean a woman who punches the heavy bag as a trendy form of exercise. I mean a teenage girl who can get into the amateur ring with men and send them to the mat -- hard.

All temper and fists with no control as the film begins, Diana strong-arms her way into training at a broken-down Brooklyn gym alongside aspiring male boxers. The first female interloping in this sweaty, testosterone world, she's given a supply closet as a makeshift girls' locker room and strives to tune her raw power into precision and stamina with help of a washed-up boxer-turned-coach (Jaime Tirelli) who surprises even himself by believing in her.

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