Scott Macaulay

Scott Macaulay

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Idlewild Review


Excellent
I didn't go into Idlewild expecting to see one of the best films of 2006. In fact, I didn't go into Idlewild, Bryan Barber's bootlegger/gangster musical, with any expectations. Perhaps Universal was equally perplexed. This really isn't a film you can effectively advertise in any traditional sense. The most challenging films are never that easy. Not having read about the film and not being a fan of musicals - the very thought of Moulin Rouge made my bowels quake - I approached Idlewild with apprehension. I'm a fan of Outkast. I've always preferred Andre 3000's quirk and funk to Big Boi's gangsta shuffle, but I came out of Idlewild with a much richer appreciation for the duo's talent.

You don't need to have heard a single song by Outkast to appreciate Idlewild's brilliance. The film has a life - at times almost fantastical - that springs from the screen and pounces and coos in your lap as though it's wooing you. Barber was a video clip director, he cut his teeth on three minute commercials for bands like Outkast, and he's got the polish down so tight it's almost part of the celluloid. At times it can be distracting. Sometimes there is so much happening on screen that you eyes overload and your brain shuts down. You just can't catch it all. But the music - that snaky (perfectly used) synth bass line, that flapping guitar work, the sugary gut punch of the horns - pulls you back into the film like a musical whirlpool.

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Raising Victor Vargas Review


Very Good
To watch most movies featuring teenagers, you would assume that sex is as simple a function of breathing. In goes seduction and confidence... and out comes a liaison. The most refreshing aspect in Peter Sollett's Raising Victor Vargas is in how the young characters stumble around their emotions, trying to spot their comfort zone.

The title character (Victor Rasuk) is an 18-year-old Lower East Side playa-wannabe: The film's opening finds him undressing for a neighborhood girl, derisively called "Fat Donna." Though that encounter is interrupted, Victor and his friend are soon hitting on two girls at the local swimming pool, where Victor falls for Judy (Judy Marte), who ignores him. Rejection isn't about to slow him down, though. Victor recruits Judy's younger brother (Wilfree Vasquez) to reintroduce them, and thus the two kids begin an awkward process of letting their guards down.

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Julien Donkey-Boy Review


Bad
Youngster auteur Harmony Korine proves once again that he's fully lost touch with reality in Julien Donkey-Boy, a nihilistic bit of crap that wants to be oh-so-cool but is really just a low-budget exploration of nothing. Ostensibly a story about the half-deranged Julien (Ewen Bremner) and his fully-deranged father (Werner Herzog, of all people!), there's really nothing much beyond the Dogme 95-confirmed videography and scene after scene of meaningless pap. Pretty much in line with Gummo, Korine's most recent work.

The Château Review


Very Good
Director Jesse Peretz scores some major laughs in the delightful, shrewd, and cozy French farce The Château, a cross-cultural comedy which can be considered the eccentric and frothy version of Gosford Park. Peretz, who helmed the arbitrary and forgettable First Love, Last Rites, serves up an energetic and irreverent examination of class study in a wickedly humorous charmer. The film was shot, to mixed results, with a hand-held digital video camera to give the movie an informal, spontaneous feel, and Peretz's ensemble cast were all encouraged to improvise without the safety net of a solid script. Although The Château at times appears as a scattershot project, the spry storyline more than compensates for the minor drawbacks. This is one small-scale satire that certainly knows how to celebrate its off-kilter conventions.

All is quaint at the titular chateau amongst the chief manservant and his intimate staff until a sudden shockwave rocks the establishment. Suddenly two adoptive American brothers arrive, one a Midwestern white, frumpy bohemian type (Paul Rudd) and the other a black, balding, sharply-dressed businessman (Romany Malco). The siblings are there in the scenic French countryside to claim the expansive deteriorating estate left to them by an unknown departed great uncle.

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King Of The Jungle Review


Weak
John Leguizamo attempts to take a serious turn in King of the Jungle and frankly, it's as laughable as any of his comedy work. Such a funny comic actor, Leguizamo has nothing in the way of dramatic chops, here playing -- get this -- a mentally challenged young man whose civil rights activist mother is shot and killed. The plot summary claims the film is about his search for the killer, but really the film consists of an hour of Leguizamo running around and showing off his Gilbert Grape-esque acting skills, followed by 20 minutes of this pathetic search for justice. Just awful, namely due to a horrifically bad script, he is chased through the film by New York movie regulars Rosie Perez, Michael Rapaport, Marisa Tomei, and Annabella Sciorra.

Joe The King Review


Terrible
If you go to see this movie because you like Val Kilmer or Ethan Hawke, you're making a mistake. You won't get the typical flamboyance a la Kilmer, nor the masculine ruggedness you've come to expect from Hawke. Both actors put on weight and changed their look in order to portray absolute degenerates in this film, but that old trick doesn't work for these two. No matter how sloppy, drunk, or flabby these two get, they can't hide their Hollywood faces--they're just too pretty. Both are unconvincing, and when the two biggest names fail to produce, you know you've got a lousy product.

Joe the King is the sad story of a young boy trying to cope with his dysfunctional family in a poor, small town in the 1970s. Director and writer Frank Whaley's debut attempts to reveal the loneliness of adolescence by exposing the heart of a boy made tough by the harsh circumstances of his miserable family life. Set in upstate New York, the film follows Joe Henry (Noah Fleiss -- Josh and S.A.M.) as he deals with an abusive father (Kilmer) and a hapless mother (Karen Young). His only salvation is his fifteen-year-old brother, Mike (Max Ligosh). Together they comfort each other as they deal with each violent and horrific episode of family crisis.

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Scott Macaulay

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Scott Macaulay Movies

Idlewild Movie Review

Idlewild Movie Review

I didn't go into Idlewild expecting to see one of the best films of 2006....

Raising Victor Vargas Movie Review

Raising Victor Vargas Movie Review

To watch most movies featuring teenagers, you would assume that sex is as simple a...

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The Château Movie Review

The Château Movie Review

Director Jesse Peretz scores some major laughs in the delightful, shrewd, and cozy French farce...

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