Stephen Gaghan

Stephen Gaghan

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Picture - Peter Davis, Topper Mortimer, Minnie... New York City, USA, Thursday 8th April 2010

Peter Davis, Topper Mortimer, Minnie Mortimer and Stephen Gaghan - Peter Davis, Topper Mortimer, Minnie Mortimer and Stephen Gaghan New York City, USA - Preview of Minnie Mortimer's new line at Scoop in SoHo Thursday 8th April 2010

Havoc Review


OK
Eventually, every girl grows up. Cinema dictates this. Sometimes, that move into adulthood is seamless (see Jodie Foster, Claire Danes, Scarlett Johanssen, Kirsten Dunst). Sometimes it is agonizingly painful (see the Olsen twins, Hilary Duff, and -- arguably -- Drew Barrymore).

Sometimes it is as curious as all get-out (see Anne Hathaway in Havoc). I don't know if I've ever seen a more radical departure of film roles than Hathaway's decision to go from the Princess Diaries films to this one. Hathaway's former work is almost unilaterally square in the rated-G realm. Her PG-rated movies earned those ratings primarily due to events like Hathaway falling on her butt.

Continue reading: Havoc Review

Havoc Review


OK
Eventually, every girl grows up. Cinema dictates this. Sometimes, that move into adulthood is seamless (see Jodie Foster, Claire Danes, Scarlett Johanssen, Kirsten Dunst). Sometimes it is agonizingly painful (see the Olsen twins, Hilary Duff, and -- arguably -- Drew Barrymore).

Sometimes it is as curious as all get-out (see Anne Hathaway in Havoc). I don't know if I've ever seen a more radical departure of film roles than Hathaway's decision to go from the Princess Diaries films to this one. Hathaway's former work is almost unilaterally square in the rated-G realm. Her PG-rated movies earned those ratings primarily due to events like Hathaway falling on her butt.

Continue reading: Havoc Review

Syriana Review


OK
Never send a writer to do a director's job. That, more than the addictive evils of easy oil and cozy government/business corruption, is the true lesson of Syriana. When Steven Soderbergh took on Stephen Gaghan's byzantine script for Traffic, he utilized a few simple tricks to keep it all making sense, everything from grouping stories by color scheme to casting vivid character actors for minor roles so that they wouldn't get lost in the shuffle. Gaghan doesn't have these skills to bring to bear and though he beats his sprawling epic somewhat into shape, it leaves one wishing for the film that could have been, given a better director.

Like Traffic, Syriana is a messy Gordian knot of plot, only with no Soderbergh to slice it neatly open. Instead of drug trafficking, the subject this time is the nexus where oil corporations, the U.S. government, Islamic extremism, and Middle East dictatorships come together in an unholy fusion of polity and greed. The characters are introduced at a leisurely pace, Gaghan laying it all out with perhaps a little too much care. Once things start to cohere, the film shunts into a political thriller about an unnamed Gulf State where the ailing king's two sons are jockeying for control; one is a lazy playboy beloved by U.S. interests and the other is an educated reformer who wants to modernize his country and stop kowtowing to the west.

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Abandon Review


Grim
A timely late October release and a spooky ad campaign suggest that Abandon revolves around the ghostly return of a long-lost boyfriend who haunts a lovely coed. Not the case. In reality, it's a melodramatic after school special about a deranged college girl who gets left by every man she dares to love, starting with her father. It's not scary, unless you happen to be the girl.

The question driving Abandon is who abandoned who? Did charismatic but manipulative Embry (Charlie Hunnam) leave his clingy college sweetheart, Katie (Katie Holmes, who probably would get confused if she and her character didn't share a first name), or is it the other way around? And is Embry alive and kicking on a European jaunt, or dead, as a sleazy, washed-up detective (Benjamin Bratt) believes but can't prove?

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The Alamo (2004) Review


Unbearable
A soldier's life has been famously characterized by hours of boredom punctuated by moments of stark terror. Well, The Alamo manages to capture half that story.

The Alamo isn't a patriotic, heart-swelling epic. It's a dull, rotten, dreary, excruciatingly-long miniseries which sadly reduces men of historical significance to dirtbags fighting over dirt. Yawn. Ugh. Another $100 million that could have saved the Texas school system.

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Rules of Engagement Review


Unbearable
The best thing about being a critic is getting to see unreleased films weeks and sometimes months before the general audience does. The toughest thing about being a critic is being subjected to the waste products of the movie industry, run by conglomerates that wouldn't know a Cronenberg film from a bottle of Heineken.

Rules of Engagement is one of these waste products: pulling together a great cast, a great story idea, and a great director, then letting it all fall apart into a mess of things I wouldn't even blame Joel Schumacher for.

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Stephen Gaghan

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