Robert Greenhut

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Trust Review


Excellent
Even though this film has a deeply disturbing theme, one of the most frightening things about it is the way it continually threatens to turn into a revenge thriller. But the filmmakers have something much more involving - and wrenching - in mind.

Will and Lynn (Owen and Keener) are parents of three lively, independent-minded kids. Peter (Curnutt) is just heading off to university, 14-year-old Annie (Liberato) is starting high school and Katie (DeButch) is still too young to understand much of what happens next. Annie is chatting online with Charlie, a teen in another city who slowly becomes her closest confidant. So she's a bit startled when he confesses that he's 20. Then 25. Then he agrees to meet her and turns out to be closer to 35 (Coffey). But he loves her and makes her feel beautiful.

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Alice (1990) Review


Very Good
Alice in Wonderland gets a Woody Allen update and makeover in this oddball story of a woman (Mia Farrow) who is stricken with a backache and seeks the advice of a Chinese herbalist/hypnotist, who diagnoses her with emotional problems instead. Soon she's hallucinating, invisibly eavesdropping, communicating with the dead, and otherwise curing herself, all while navigating the waters of her heart. Allen earned a screenwriting nomination, but Farrow is charming in her red hat, and William Hurt is memorable as her straying husband.

Find Me Guilty Review


Terrible

There's a serious losing streak as far as "true stories" in cinema are going. It's an open invitation to drizzle overdone sentimentality and turn crass tear-jerking into box office gold (see Glory Road or North Country?). That being said, that kind of stuff is spun gold in the face of the haphazard bile that is being thrown at the audience in Sidney Lumet's latest film, Find Me Guilty.

The film opens with Tony Campagna (Raul Esparza) making a panicked phone call to an unnamed person. He immediately goes from there to the home of his cousin, "Fat Jack" DiNorscio, a lone shark and cocaine dealer, and shoots him five times. For reasons unknown, DiNorscio survives, but refuses to rat on Tony. To him, ratting on family and friends is worse than death, and he tells his daughter that as she sits next to his hospital bed. Soon enough, Jack is in jail and part of a massive trial with most of the New Jersey crime family. In court, Jack befriends a lawyer (Peter Dinklage) but refuses his council, deciding to represent himself instead, against the wishes of mob boss Nick Calabrese (Alex Rocco). DiNorscio makes terrible jokes, but like all naïve if not honest men, he's endearing in a certain way, especially to Judge Finestein (Ron Silver). His charming and quirky attitude in court is hard to stand but seems to work on the jury, as they go in the room to deliberate on what would become the longest court case in U.S. history.

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Husbands And Wives Review


Very Good
Woody Allen took a turn toward the exceptionally nasty with this bleak yet strangely compelling look at modern romance. Between Mia Farrow and Judy Davis, it's tough to find two actresses that exude contempt more readily, and there's indeed plenty of shrieking and hitting in the picture, which opens with Davis and husband Sydney Pollack announcing their divorce. A whirlwind series of affairs and acrimony follows, all captured on nausiating shakycam. Lots of hate in this movie, but it's strangely endearing. I'm not quite sure why. It's also worth noting that the film came out immediately after Allen and Farrow split up.

Regarding Henry Review


Weak
Regarding Henry is a sappy three-hankie weeper masquerading as an updated and hip story about a yuppie struggling to find his inner child. That's not much of a choice for any movie to offer. Released in 1991 as a heartwarming, Hollywood tearjerker, writer Jeffrey Abrams and director Mike Nichols seem to have consciously removed the basic passions from that classic genre by recycling a load of sentimental plots, piling on the mushy scenes, and handing out a conventional TV-movie-of-the-week.

Henry (Harrison Ford) is a typical bad father and no-good husband. An overworked, big-shot lawyer idolized by his co-workers (he's the money guy), he's hated by his wife (Annette Bening) and teenage daughter (Mikki Allen). Why? Well, as far as I can tell, when his daughter spills orange juice he's real strict in punishing her, he never holds his wife's hand in public, and he won't buy his daughter a puppy. The movie doesn't much show or explain this side of Henry's personality, so I guess it's a given that he's an all-around, self-obsessed, insensitive jerk. As these plots go, Henry needs to get his priorities straight; he's due for a knockdown, a comeuppance.

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The King Of Comedy Review


Excellent
The King of Comedy is a wholly original and entirely offbeat, dark comedy about fame, obsessive fandom, and the medium from which they both feed: television. The film careens from witty satire to difficult melodrama to downright silly and back again. And while King, made in 1983, does appear slightly dated, Scorsese's first film after Raging Bull and perhaps most underappreciated work (or at least a close second to The Last Temptation of Christ) deserves to be seen. And with the recently released DVD, maybe it will.

The film concerns aspiring comedian and completely obtuse Rupert Pupkin, played by Robert De Niro in one of his few comic performances. Kings, however, is no Analyze This or ; De Niro gives a brilliant and, at times, disturbing portrayal of a man so obsessed by fame and enthralled with his idols that he kidnaps comedian and late night talk show host Jerry Langford (Jerry Lewis in a thinly veiled parody of his own star image) in order to get his big break and show the world that Rupert Pupkin is the new king of comedy. The problem is that he is not that funny, and his self-deprecating brand of humor quickly becomes sad as it traverses the line from joke to personal trauma.

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Heartburn Review


Weak
The backstory of Heartburn is infinitely more interesting than its reality: Jack Nicholson took the role after shooting had begun, after Mandy Patinkin was fired for not being funny enough.

Strange then: Nicholson isn't funny at all, and only the quirky charms of Meryl Streep make Heartburn remotely palatable. Heartburn is Nora Ephron's first comedy, based on her novel of the same name -- a thinly veiled expose about her life with journalist Carl Bernstein. The film casts Streep as a New York food writer and Nicholson as a Washington columnist. They meet, fall in love, decide to marry, have kids. Unfortunately, Nicholson can't keep it in his pants -- and all manner of trouble ensues.

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Stateside Review


Weak
Stateside is interesting, for awhile, in the way that it fractures and places together pieces of several youth-movie subgenres. We have here, at various points, Rich Kid Makes Good; Opposed Young Love; Gaining Character in Grueling Boot Camp; and, most dubious of all, Mental Illness Romance. Starring in all of these mini-movies are Jonathan Tucker as Mark DeLoach, rich kid sent to the U.S. Marines in lieu of jail time for a DWI; and Rachael Leigh Cook as Dori Lawrence, schizophrenic star of stage and screen.

This sounds ridiculous, and sometimes it is -- when this mash-up isn't telling an engagingly off-kilter story with clever and/or strange details. For example, when Mark keeps a '40s-style pin-up in his Marine locker, there's a weird joke in the fact that the poster actually is the girl waiting for him back home. And that it's actually the '80s (you can tell because, like seemingly all quasi-hip characters in a sensitive youth-driven indie movie, everyone is constantly going to see The Evil Dead in theaters).

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The Purple Rose Of Cairo Review


Very Good
If Radio Days is Woody Allen's love letter to radio, The Purple Rose of Cairo is his ode to old movies. Purple Rose, however, is about ten times as ridiculous, its conceit being that Jeff Daniels' Depression-era movie star walks right out of the movie screen to be with the girl in the audience (Mia Farrow) whom he loves. This of course causes havoc for the characters on the screen (who provide the most hilarity in the film) and the real people here on earth, who simply aren't prepared for a fictional character to become one of them.

Eventually, this sends the studio into a tizzy, and the actor who plays the movie star shows up to try and coax his alter-ego back onto the screen. Meanwhile, the fictional character learns that you can't use fictional money in a restaurant and that cars don't just start on their own without keys. It's all lighthearted and full of whimsy, and that's about it. Allen presumably is trying to make a statement here about wanting what we can't have, and how harsh reality can be, but it doesn't really come across. Purple Rose is just too goofy to carry much of a punch.

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A League Of Their Own Review


Excellent
Ah, baseball. The mere mention of America's pastime brings forth images of fresh grass, sunny days, endless labor disputes and another round of steroid controversy.

If you're tired of the ugliness surrounding the summer sport, or just need to be entertained, than you should check out A League of Their Own, now out on DVD. Like most great sports movies, League is more than just a series of dazzling feats between the lines. It features laughs, drama, and excitement... in short all of the aspects that make the sports section of the newspaper so captivating.

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Robert Greenhut

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Robert Greenhut Movies

Trust Movie Review

Trust Movie Review

Even though this film has a deeply disturbing theme, one of the most frightening things...

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Stateside Movie Review

Stateside Movie Review

Stateside is interesting, for awhile, in the way that it fractures and places together pieces...

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