Paul Schiff

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David Levien, Paul Schiff and Brian Koppelman - David Levien, Paul Schiff, Brian Koppelman New York City, USA - Premiere of 'Solitary Man' - Arrivals Tuesday 11th May 2010

David Levien, Paul Schiff and Brian Koppelman

The Air I Breathe Review


Weak
Veronica Lake acidly remarked in Sullivan's Travels, "There's nothing like a deep dish movie to drive you out in the open." Jieho Lee's feature film debut, The Air I Breathe, is so deep dish that after it's theatrical run it will probably be found in the frozen chicken pot pie section of your local supermarket.

Supposedly based on an ancient Chinese proverb about the four pillars of life -- Happiness, Pleasure, Sorrow, and Love -- Lee's film embodies these four emotions into four killingly stereotypical characters played by Forest Whitaker, Brendan Fraser, Sarah Michelle Gellar, and Kevin Bacon, handing them their own stories interconnected in a Tarantino-esque roundelay of increasingly absurd coincidences. But even though the film is unrelentingly bleak and despairing and is even bracketed by weeping, all the storylines in the film lead to Sarah Michelle Gellar taking a vacation. It's Sarah Michelle Gellar's world and we just live in it.

Continue reading: The Air I Breathe Review

Paul Schiff - Tuesday 15th January 2008 at Arclight Theater Los Angeles, California

Paul Schiff

Epic Movie Review


Weak
The stigma of "I've seen it all before" pervades Epic Movie in unexpected ways. Writers/directors Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer's previous credits, Scary Movie (as two of six writers) and Date Movie, tell you what you're in for: the skewering of some currently popular cinematic genre. Famous scenes will be re-shot, famous people lampooned, and there will be plenty of naughty bits. Experience might also alert you to the film's questionable quality. However, in a movie whose lifeblood is appropriation, borrowing, copying, and sullying (parody seems too sophisticated a description), it is surprising that Epic Movie feels tired not because it reminds us so often of the epics it sends up, but because it suffers from the faults of its "Something" Movie predecessors.As with Scary, Date, and Not Another Teen, Epic Movie takes for its plot a cobbled together version of the events of the films it lampoons. Thus, we first meet four orphans before they win a golden ticket to Willy Wonka's factory that leads to an epic adventure in Gnarnia (with a silent G, "for legal purposes"). First orphan Lucy (Jayma Mays) is the daughter of a Louvre curator who finds her golden ticket when clues around her father's dead body lead to, gasp, Da Vinci. Edward (Kal Penn) leaves his Mexican orphanage after a wrestler/monk tries to feed him a dead cat (apparently, Nacho Libre was an epic). Peter (Adam Campbell) is an X-Man with chicken wings, picked on in high school by Mystique (Carmen Electra) and LC (from the TV's Laguna Beach). The final orphan, Susan (Faune A. Chambers), represents the point at which the filmmakers just couldn't be bothered anymore. She was on a plane once, and so were some snakes.In as ambiguously defined and incredibly inclusive a category as "epic" there are ample opportunities for satirical sparks. And there are moments, fleeting as they are, such as Peter's exploration of the sexual shape-shifting possibilities of Mystique, when those opportunities are taken. More frequently, though, the order of the day is mere repetition. The Nacho Libre scenes and Snakes on a Plane sequence do nothing with the original material other than cast it with inferior actors. Later, aboard a more touristy "Black Pearl," SNL's Darrell Hammond is very good at impersonating Johnny Depp impersonating Keith Richards, but is given too little to do besides this. In all, the film lacks the perspective needed for effective satire. As with Date Movie, the filmmakers don't have much to say about the films they are dealing with. They simply present them to us in a burlesque fashion with a fart joke here and a rude word there.Worse still, the filmmakers have turned their attention too heavily to their back catalogue. There are the staple gratuitous slow motion bikini dancers, Carmen Electra is back, MTV references fill in where jokes cannot be found, and Jayma Mays seems with her dazed and confused performance to be channelling Scary Movie star Anna Faris. Rather than looking for things to say about the latest in epic films, they seek to appropriate a successful formula onto the latest box office successes. The movie is also entirely toothless. Discussing the film, Penn brags of how Friedman and Seltzer "ridicule" Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle, in which he starred in 2004. Here, ridicule translates to a shot of a White Castle restaurant on the screen and Penn saying, "I have a feeling I have been here before." Perhaps this was my problem. I want some savageness in my satire, and Epic Movie is decidedly tame. As one who sat through The Da Vinci Code, X-Men 3 and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, I was expecting a suitably cruel counter attack. Instead, I got what I should have expected knowing the pedigree. In this latest and tiredest Friedman/Seltzer puff piece the law of diminishing returns persists.Lion for dinner? Let's go!

Date Movie Review


Terrible
A note to readers: Before Pete Croatto wrote his review for Date Movie, he wrote an impassioned letter (listed below) to Christopher Null, the editor in chief of filmcritic.com. Because of site policy, he was not able to write a review. We at filmcritic.com hope this letter serves as an able substitute.

Dear Chris:

Continue reading: Date Movie Review

Ghost In The Machine Review


Weak
Technology has been the Luddite boogeyman since the dawn of time. But it's no longer fashionable to eschew all modern conveniences; the guy who can't turn on a computer has automatically thrown himself out of the gene pool. Heck, at my office (yes, even we esteemed film critics often have day jobs) one of the tech nerds is approaching 80. You've got to evolve to survive, and in our day and age of wireless hotspots and podcasts, fear of the machine equals pariah status. The Luddite is a Cro-Magnon. But our modern culture has always been about dichotomy. And in a purely American way, the Luddites - while unable to download a song or even run a spell check - have something that we techies have lost: an appreciation for the simple, quiet life and old-fashioned, nose-to-the-grindstone work. It goes like this: You can love the machines and get a kick from using them, but rely on them too much and you'll lose your soul. It's like a modern day Descartes-ian dilemma: what really separates us from our technology? The makers of films like Ghost in the Machine argue that all our technological advances have improved our lives but they can't fight off the "real" evil that always surrounds us. The type of evil you can't ctrl-alt-delete away.

Debuting before uncaring audiences in 1993, director Rachel Talalay's (Tank Girl) Ghost in the Machine is a derivative sci-fi/horror hybrid that adds nothing new to the old "amok machine" genre that is represented best by director Donald Cammell's Demon Seed. The plot concerns Karl, the "Address Book Killer," (the horror!) played by Ted Marcoux (Dark Blue), who is killed in a freak accident and has his ever-living and ever-evil soul transferred directly into the power supply. (Don't even ask.) Karl roams the electric highway, possessing all manner of gadgets and kitchenware, as he stalks lovely Karen Allen and her son.

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Whatever It Takes Review


Very Good
I sat down to write this review with a gleeful sparkle in my eye, anticipating the bitter contempt I would quickly unleash on the entire cast and crew of Whatever It Takes, citing an array of blunders ranging from laughable dramatic moments to a disappointingly predictable adaptation of the already over-used plot movements of Cyrano de Bergerac. Then I remembered Porky's and had a change of heart.

Whatever It Takes is actually a solid pinning of the high school romantic comedy. There's nothing especially original about its plot or characters, but most of its target audience won't notice. Basically, what we have here is the standard boy-wants-girl-but-she's-out-of-his-league-so-his-friend-coaches-him-and-she's-gullible-enough-to-fall-for-it picture. The twist is that this is a two-way exchange. Ryan Woodman (Shane West) is a supposedly geeky high school senior lusting after popular girl Ashley Grant (Jodi Lyn O'Keefe -- She's All That). Chris Campbell (James Franco of Freaks and Geeks) is a dumb but popular jock looking to bed Maggie Carter (Marla Sokoloff), the smart-but-undervalued hottie who lives next door to Ryan. So the two begin a completely unsurprising story arc in which the two most prominent teenage girl stereotypes fall for every line in the book without ever suspecting a thing.

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My Cousin Vinny Review


Excellent
Marisa Tomei won one of the most controversial Oscars ever for her brash performance as Joe Pesci's dumbass lawyer girlfriend in this film, and -- her high, loud voice aside -- she's the least memorable part of the film. Rather, a genuinely funny script with dialogue perfectly delivered by Pesci ("What is a grit!?") gets tons of laughs. After all, he's a gambino wannabe lawyer trapped in a Southern small town. Michael J. Fox in the South doesn't get laughs. Pesci does. Very funny fish-out-of-water flick and, Oscar notwithstanding, generally underrated.

Maid In Manhattan Review


Good
It wouldn't be the holiday season without fairy tales starring the likes of Santa, Rudolph, or Frosty. This season also finds a small Cinderella story thrown into the jolly mix. Instead of being an ugly stepsister though, this Cinderella spin-off is about a maid, played by the beautiful Jennifer Lopez. And as all fairy tales are pure fiction, Maid in Manhattan certainly fits the bill.

Lopez is Marisa Ventura, a divorced mom forced to raise her young son Ty (Tyler Posey) on her salary as a maid for a ritzy Manhattan hotel. Each day, she drops Ty off at school and travels by subway from the Bronx to work where she arrives just in time for the morning briefing on the glamorous guests the maids will serve that day. These guests include the newly single socialite Caroline Sincaire (Natasha Richardson), who has come to the hotel to sulk, and New York Assemblyman Chris Marshall (Ralph Fiennes) who is there to prepare for his upcoming campaign for Senator.

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Black Knight Review


Terrible
Early in the fish-out-of-water (or rather black-man-out-of-the-hood) comedy Black Knight, the medieval English king exclaims in describing Martin Lawrence's Jamal, "He's no longer funny, but he refuses to give up the joke."

A truer thing has never been said. It amazes me the filmmakers left that line in the film. Perhaps they were feeling self-reflective.

Continue reading: Black Knight Review

Rushmore Review


Extraordinary
When I asked Wes Anderson and Owen Wilson what would be next after 1996's Bottle Rocket, they told me they were working on a number of projects about "serious things." I expressed skepticism then, and it turns out it was justly founded. Rushmore is anything but serious, despite the Presidential-sounding name.

So, what is Rushmore? Rushmore is a prestigious private school in Nowhere, U.S.A. (actually Houston and Dallas, Texas), where its most vocal student, Max (Schwartzman), is also its worst academically. Rushmore the movie follows Max in his travails at school, where he falls hopelessly in love with teacher Miss Cross (Williams, straight from The Postman and a haircut). Unwilling to accept that the age differential is a concern, the 15-year old Max embarks on a grand scheme to build an enormous aquarium as a symbol of affection. That he builds it on the school's baseball diamond is what gets him thrown out of Rushmore.

Continue reading: Rushmore Review

Walking Tall (2004) Review


Good
Ironically, Walking Tall runs short. Credits included, the testosterone opera two-fists its way through 77 sweat-soaked minutes, and it's just enough. You won't be hungry for seconds by the time the last baddie hits the floor, but you won't be checking your watch repeatedly, either.

Let's not sugarcoat it. Tall remains a one-note genre picture specifically tailored to its shining star - The Rock. For what it is, though, Tall is quite good. It has fun with its limitations. It boasts strong fight choreography and interesting direction by Kevin Bray, who keeps the spotlight on its charismatic and camera-friendly leading man.

Continue reading: Walking Tall (2004) Review

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Paul Schiff Movies

The Air I Breathe Movie Review

The Air I Breathe Movie Review

Veronica Lake acidly remarked in Sullivan's Travels, "There's nothing like a deep dish movie to...

Epic Movie Movie Review

Epic Movie Movie Review

The stigma of "I've seen it all before" pervades Epic Movie in unexpected ways. Writers/directors...

Date Movie Movie Review

Date Movie Movie Review

A note to readers: Before Pete Croatto wrote his review for Date Movie, he wrote...

Whatever It Takes Movie Review

Whatever It Takes Movie Review

I sat down to write this review with a gleeful sparkle in my eye, anticipating...

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Maid in Manhattan Movie Review

Maid in Manhattan Movie Review

It wouldn't be the holiday season without fairy tales starring the likes of Santa, Rudolph,...

Black Knight Movie Review

Black Knight Movie Review

Early in the fish-out-of-water (or rather black-man-out-of-the-hood) comedy Black Knight, the medieval English king exclaims...

Rushmore Movie Review

Rushmore Movie Review

When I asked Wes Anderson and Owen Wilson what would be next after 1996's Bottle...

Walking Tall (2004) Movie Review

Walking Tall (2004) Movie Review

Ironically, Walking Tall runs short. Credits included, the testosterone opera two-fists its way through 77...

Mona Lisa Smile Movie Review

Mona Lisa Smile Movie Review

For most of us, a satirical review of the stuffy attitudes and strict behaviors of...

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