Roscoe Lee Browne

Roscoe Lee Browne

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Smiley Face Review


Weak
Smiley Face is Gregg Araki's entry into that hallowed genre of the stoner comedy, of which Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle may be the most resent minor classic (a major stoner classic seems somehow self-contradictory, doesn't it?). But Araki's take on what is really the modern update of slapstick lags in some major departments, mostly notably in briskness and anarchy, the engines of this genre. Thankfully, this being an Araki outing, it still manages a dash of weirdness and spontaneity to keep things amusingly off-kilter.

Smiley Face's stoner heroine Jane F. (Anna Faris) may be about as dull as bongwater, so a story about her had better be sharp and stepped up for it to register, and it can't even for half a beat be afraid that it's not making sense. The best slapstick flicks -- of which the stoner comedy is the modern-day update -- do not care if you get the jokes or not, or even if you like them very much (those qualities help make everything from The Three Stooges to Airplane! to the aforementioned Harold & Kumar so charming). In this regard, Araki's approach to the material is rather cautious, as the genre goes; there's a been-there-done-that whiff about this humor, and he wants to endear us to Jane and her story too insistently. Most troublesome is that Araki and screenwriter Dylan Haggerty beat a very simple premise -- that this chick is baked out of her gourd -- into the ground over and over again. The entire extent of Smiley Face's comedy rests on Faris pulling the dopey stoner face and stumbling through the scenery as she scrambles to pay off her dealer so he won't confiscate her furniture.

Continue reading: Smiley Face Review

Oliver & Company Review


Weak
Disney's animated version of Dickens' Oliver Twist, Oliver & Company, is a true oddity in the Disney canon. For starters, the animation style is completely different from anything else in its repertoire. Obviously inspired by Ralph Bakshi (of Felix the Cat fame), the movie features garish perspectives, serious abuse of zoom (in almost every scene), and an attempt at urban grittiness which Walt Disney never knew in his entire life.

And yet here it is, Oliver & Company, wherein an orphaned kitten falls in with a crowd of dogs-cum-hustlers, only to end up adopted into a rich girl's house. A kidnappng and rescue plot (pushing the boundaries of the G rating) ensues -- ironically, it's the best part of the movie.

Continue reading: Oliver & Company Review

Naked in New York Review


Excellent
Earnest and cute, this essential '90s rom-com has Eric Stoltz going gaga over an enchanting Mary-Louise Parker, here in perhaps the least cynical role of her career. The story borders on irrelevance: They're New Yorkers who dabble in the theater, quickly hook up, then question whether they are truly meant for each other. It's all told in flashback as Stoltz drives his car en route to... where? Like I said, very cute, but some may find it cloying.

Babe Review


Excellent
Baa ram ewe. The already-classic kiddie flick wins raves for its groundbreaking animation and a theme that is both child-accessible while not insulting to adults. Plus, that little pig is so darn cute.

Hamlet (2001) Review


Essential
When most people think of Shakespeare they cringe, thinking of melodrama, costumes, and strange vocabulary. But what happens if you pare down the stereotypical theatrical imagery of Shakespeare and simply concentrate on the characters in the story?

This new version of Hamlet, directed by Campbell Scott (The Spanish Prisoner) and Eric Simonson does just that, and beautifully so. The setting is Americanized (the post-Civil War-era South), the production design simple, and nobody is forcing an accent unknown to them. It makes you want to scrounge for the books you packed away in high school because you didn't feel like figuring them out at the time.

Continue reading: Hamlet (2001) Review

Judas Kiss Review


OK
Intrigue and sexiness mix together in Judas Kiss, just not very well. Carla Gugino, Gil Bellows, Simon Baker, and Til Schweiger make an unlikely band of scam artists-cum-kidnappers, but it's cop partners Alan Rickman and Emma Thompson (both with outrageously bad New Orleans accents) that really make you wonder who the hell cast this thing. Tons of stars, including Hal Holbrook in an exceptionally over-the-top role, make this movie fun but unspectacular.

Oliver & Company Review


Weak
Disney's animated version of Dickens' Oliver Twist, Oliver & Company, is a true oddity in the Disney canon. For starters, the animation style is completely different from anything else in its repertoire. Obviously inspired by Ralph Bakshi (of Felix the Cat fame), the movie features garish perspectives, serious abuse of zoom (in almost every scene), and an attempt at urban grittiness which Walt Disney never knew in his entire life.

And yet here it is, Oliver & Company, wherein an orphaned kitten falls in with a crowd of dogs-cum-hustlers, only to end up adopted into a rich girl's house. A kidnappng and rescue plot (pushing the boundaries of the G rating) ensues -- ironically, it's the best part of the movie.

Continue reading: Oliver & Company Review

Logan's Run Review


Weak
In the future, it's gonna look a lot like the '70s. We'll wear monochrome jumpsuits, there will be glitter everywhere, and of course we'll have to live under plastic domes on account of the nukes. Oh, and escalators everywhere. Logan's Run has a compelling idea (forced suicide at 30 years old... but some become "runners" as they try to escape to "Sanctuary," where you can grow old in peace) but it's ruined by some of the worst special effects in the history of movies. Still, it's a watershed piece of bad cinema.
Roscoe Lee Browne

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