Most of On the Doll's stories are writ small, but each is intense (save for one, which concerns another fetish-oriented call girl who's trying to get out of the business... and failing). Mignone does a remarkable job at taking what starts as a mild flirtation or tiptoeing into perversity and showing how baby steps can soon lead to full-on, downhill slides. The movie is surprisingly at its best in the story of the two teens, who first flirt with their perverted teacher (played memorably by Ocean's 11 series character actor Eddie Jemison), then end up taking a ride with him to the local web porn production studio, where they're crudely sized up for their value to the viewing audience. It's a shocking transition: Just minutes earlier these girls were worrying about their grades.
Continue reading: On The Doll Review
A shockingly lithe Robert De Niro stars as Monroe Stahr, a 1930s studio executive based on Irving Thalberg (a prolific producer who died at the age of 37, presumably from overwork). Stahr has lost loves in the past and a crushing chip on his shoulder in the present. He's a workhorse, but he wants something more out of life.
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Bad Timing tells an extremely simplistic story: In Vienna, psychologist Alex Linden (Art Garfunkel) meets a mysterious blonde named Milena (Theresa Russell) at a party, and soon they strike up an affair. Eventually she turns up in the E.R. What happened? A detective (Harvey Keitel, attired and styled as the obvious model for Pulp Fiction's Vincent Vega) is sent in to investigate.
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Jewish self-hatred is an interesting foundation for a film, if only because it's a subject never explored by an industry still apologizing for the Holocaust. The lengths to which someone will go to redefine and prove themselves a member of the enemy circle are certainly compelling. But when the main character in question dives between extremes without a single clear definition of his motives, the strength of the narrative suffers. A double life can only work when you are aware of some of the triggers that push some semblance of reality into the character in question.
Continue reading: The Believer Review
Although, quite honestly, I don't have a particular problem with porn (it just isn't in the regular canon of films to be reviewed, that's all), that simple joke often proves true. One-too-many guilty pleasure flicks have been bashed by me on the account that they do nothing other than serve as a generalized platform for commercializing sex without any other cinematic value. And, although I am willing to give points in such a B-or-C-grade film for casting a woman with certain... assets... that suit the part, I find myself unable to otherwise turn off the "critic's switch" within me to the point that I can be guiltlessly turned on by the images in front of me on the screen.
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The conceit this time: Each director takes a piece of classical music and sets it to film -- mostly without dialogue and invariably without any sense whatsoever.
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Controversy has engulfed "The Believer" since its premiere at last year's Sundance Film Festival, where it won the Grand Jury Prize but still couldn't find a distributor because it's a frank and frightful portrayal of an angry young Jew who hates his own heritage so much he becomes a neo-Nazi.
An intense examination of faith and a challenge to the notion of blind faith, it has been misunderstood by filmgoers who can't stomach being inside the head of Danny Balint (played by "Murder by Numbers" killer Ryan Gosling). That is certainly understandable -- it's an ugly place full of intolerance and self-loathing.
The film has also been criticized over the possibility that it might find an audience among hate groups who may hear Danny's articulate, even well-argued malevolence and not see that in his obsession he's discovered a new, more profound (if twisted) devotion to his congenital creed.
Continue reading: The Believer Review
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