Sheila Tousey

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Christmas In The Clouds Review


Bad
The success of independent films like March of the Penguins, Whale Rider, and My Big Fat Greek Wedding makes you wonder why Hollywood bigshots don't greenlight more projects like them -- modestly budgeted, impassioned movies without all the hubbub and fanfare of celebrity actors and niche marketing strategies. But the ugly truth is, Hollywood bigshots get it right more often than they get it wrong. Most independent films don't merit an audience wider than the festival circuit and the director's living room. They simply aren't good enough. Christmas in the Clouds is such a movie.

Watching it one can't shake a familiar, unpleasant feeling, a sense memory tied to bad TV. Perhaps if you combined the absolute worst episodes of the classic shows Newhart and Northern Exposure, extracted the talent of both ensemble casts, and stretched out the running time to that of a feature-length movie, the remaining dregs would be something like Christmas in the Clouds, a film that commits nearly every sin in the storyteller's handbook. From absurd plot contrivances to long stretches of tedium to a predictable resolution, Christmas in the Clouds nails them all.

Continue reading: Christmas In The Clouds Review

Christmas In The Clouds Review


Bad
The success of independent films like March of the Penguins, Whale Rider, and My Big Fat Greek Wedding makes you wonder why Hollywood bigshots don't greenlight more projects like them -- modestly budgeted, impassioned movies without all the hubbub and fanfare of celebrity actors and niche marketing strategies. But the ugly truth is, Hollywood bigshots get it right more often than they get it wrong. Most independent films don't merit an audience wider than the festival circuit and the director's living room. They simply aren't good enough. Christmas in the Clouds is such a movie.

Watching it one can't shake a familiar, unpleasant feeling, a sense memory tied to bad TV. Perhaps if you combined the absolute worst episodes of the classic shows Newhart and Northern Exposure, extracted the talent of both ensemble casts, and stretched out the running time to that of a feature-length movie, the remaining dregs would be something like Christmas in the Clouds, a film that commits nearly every sin in the storyteller's handbook. From absurd plot contrivances to long stretches of tedium to a predictable resolution, Christmas in the Clouds nails them all.

Continue reading: Christmas In The Clouds Review

This So-Called Disaster Review


Bad
While he's better known as an actor with a distant, lonesome cowboy air about him, Sam Shepard (The Right Stuff, Black Hawk Down) has for the past couple decades been one of America's greatest living playwrights - but you'd hardly know it from this film. Having cast Shepard as the ghost in his modern-day, Manhattan-set Hamlet (the Ethan Hawke one), director Michael Almereyda then agreed to make a documentary about the weeks of rehearsal leading up to the 2000 San Francisco premiere of Shepard's play, The Late Harry Moss. The play's cast is impressively star-heavy - Nick Nolte, Sean Penn, Woody Harrelson, Cheech Marin - and one imagines that Almereyda thought he could simply act as a fly on the wall, catch these greats at work, throw in some interview bits, and have a compelling document on the creation of live theater.

Needless to say, things didn't turn out that way. One very large problem is that Almereyda is new to the documentary biz and doesn't seem to have figured out how things work. Normally a visual innovator in his films like Nadja and the aforementioned Hamlet, Almereyda leaves the camera static, hoping that his subjects will provide all the necessary drama. They don't. Penn looks to be in full Mr. Hollywood mode, reading a newspaper and barely paying attention, while a shaggier-than-usual Nolte is in the throes of some chemically-induced meltdown; Harrelson and Marin just look happy to have been asked along.

Continue reading: This So-Called Disaster Review

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This So-Called Disaster Movie Review

This So-Called Disaster Movie Review

While he's better known as an actor with a distant, lonesome cowboy air about him,...

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