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Treacle Jr. Review


Very Good
Gillen reteams with The Low Down writer-director Thraves for another meandering, improv-style London drama. And Thraves keeps us engaged with the central relationship even when his filmmaking gets a bit pushy.

Tom (Fisher) leaves his wife and child and quietly takes a train to London, where he starts living on the street. His drop-out idyll is disrupted first by street thugs and then by the smiling, chatty Aidan (Gillen), who lives with his controlling "girlfriend" Linda (Steele). He makes money through odd jobs, including taking his neighbour's (Cohen) cat Treacle into cafes to scare off mice. Tom finds shaking off the clingy Aidan virtually impossible, and eventually starts to soften toward him. Although Linda is another story.

Continue reading: Treacle Jr. Review

The Illusionist Review


Weak
There's something in Paul Giamatti that was just made for the 19th century. With those slightly bulbous but penetrating eyes and stolid weariness, one can imagine him looking out of an old daguerreotype with hat in hand, an emblem of a less superficial age. So it's nice to see Giamatti (so often made to play the whiny comic relief) cast in the otherwise dismissible film The Illusionist as a gruff policeman in fin de siècle Vienna, dropping his voice into a lower register than usual and assuming an impressive stature; honorable but shaded with a tiny bit of incipient corruption. If only everything else in the film worked this well.

Based on a short story by Steven Millhauser, a Pulitzer winner given to tidy exposition and nostalgic settings, The Illusionist concerns a stage magician who was separated from the love of his love due to his peasant roots and her aristocratic family, only to meet her years later on stage, when she is betrothed to a villainous crown prince. The magician, Eisenheim, is played stiffly by Edward Norton, without a shred of humor or self-awareness. Somewhat in keeping with his performance is that by Jessica Biel as his beloved, Sophie von Teschen -- whose beauty helps brighten these lamp-lit rooms, but who is never close to believable as a Viennese noblewoman. Rather more in keeping with the spirit of the rather melodramatic story is Rufus Sewell, as the evil Crown Prince Leopold, who swans through the film with cigarette holder perched lightly in one hand, his face a deliciously, maliciously bored mask.

Continue reading: The Illusionist Review

Shanghai Knights Review


Very Good

Jackie Chan told me in an interview last year (which I failed to get written up -- sorry!) that the sequel to his kung-fu comedy-Western "Shanghai Noon" was "five times better than the first one." I didn't believe him. Jackie, I apologize.

Riding high on Chan's chemistry with Owen Wilson -- reigning king of the acerbic ad-lib -- "Shanghai Knights" is hilariously tongue-in-cheek and packed with comical homages to everything from the Keystone Kops and Harry Houdini to The Beatles and "Taxi Driver."

Although it might not quite measure up to Chan's claim of quintuple the quality, it is one of those rare multiplex delights: A sequel that bests its predecessor in nearly every way.

Continue reading: Shanghai Knights Review

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Tom Fisher Movies

Treacle Jr. Movie Review

Treacle Jr. Movie Review

Gillen reteams with The Low Down writer-director Thraves for another meandering, improv-style London drama. And...

The Illusionist Movie Review

The Illusionist Movie Review

There's something in Paul Giamatti that was just made for the 19th century. With those...

Shanghai Knights Movie Review

Shanghai Knights Movie Review

Jackie Chan told me in an interview last year (which I failed to get written...

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