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Bad Lieutenant Review


Excellent
On radio station WFAN, a man named "Mad Dog" unwaveringly defends his beloved Mets, who are down three games against the Dodgers in the series, to a battalion of cynical and hopeless New Yorkers. Somewhere in Manhattan, a nun is raped by two young men and left soiled at the bottom of the altar. A cop who takes a bump of cocaine only seconds after he drops his boys off at high school is in charge of keeping the city safe and, at night, he spends the money he stole and violently cajoled from criminals on swigs of vodka, sessions of free-basing and lesbian shows at a seedy hotel. If the Lord is in New York City, he stepped out for a minute.

Such are the totems of the godless world of Abel Ferrara's Bad Lieutenant, a season in hell that doubles as a vehicle for Harvey Keitel's blistering tour-de-force as the nameless officer that gives the film its name. Full to bursting with unadulterated drug use, violent sex, and moral decay, it also serves as Ferrara's most unfettered and primal ode to a one-time soulless New York that now looks more like a planet of condos.

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'R Xmas Review


Terrible
I presume the inscrutible title is meant to be read as "Our Christmas," but don't expect any Home for the Holidays-style amusement in this abysmally pathetic drug drama from long-since-out-of-it director Abel Ferrara.

Though it's a wisp of a movie at 83 minutes, Ferrara manages to bore us to tears with the film's dippy story of drug deals gone wrong. The spare dialogue is a place to start: What little the film has is drowned out by annoying music and the rest consists mainly of unbroken strings of swear words, sometimes in English.

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Double Whammy Review


Weak
Has any film director fallen quite as far as Tom DiCillo? After a masterful debut with his tongue-in-cheek look at filmmaking, Living in Oblivion, DiCillo has turned in a series of progressively more-ignored features, including Box of Moon Light and The Real Blonde. His latest, Double Whammy, is going straight to video, despite a cast that includes Denis Leary and Elizabeth Hurley -- and not in bit parts, either!

The silly, one-joke story is reason enough to find Whammy (not a movie about Press Your Luck!) so inspiring. Leary plays a cop who, only through some fault of his own, is never able to bust a perp. It starts out in a fast food joint, when a gunman drives through the wall and starts shooting. Leary slips and hits his head, and a little bespectacled kid uses his gun to save the day. Later, his apartment supervisor is killed while he's oblivious in the building. Various quirky characters (like Hurley's masseuse) try to distract you into thinking this movie is actually about something, but the deception never works too well.

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King Of New York Review


OK
King of New York, a violent story of one gangster who shoots, stabs, and beats his way to the top of the local crime scene, has never had the street cred of Scarface, despite the similar themes.

And though Artisan is issuing a two-disc DVD release of the film, don't expect it to find much more of a cult audience 14 years after its original release.

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Ghost Dog: The Way Of The Samurai Review


Excellent
Written and directed by Jim Jarmusch, Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai embodies a variety of genres from Mobster to Urban to Martial Arts. Jarmusch, critically acclaimed for Mystery Train (1989) and Stranger Than Paradise (1984), stays true to his uniquely languid and methodical style in telling the fascinating story of Ghost Dog (Forest Whitaker - The Crying Game, Phenomenon), a contract killer who has isolated himself from society by taking refuge in a shack atop an inner city rooftop that he shares with a flock of pigeons.

Ghost Dog studies the early eighteenth century Japanese warrior code from the book, Hagakure: The Way of the Samurai, and the story is told as a sequence of verses from the ancient text. Each morning he bows to the altar he has constructed and practices the ancient disciplines of the samurai training. In the spirit of the ancient warriors, he has pledged his loyalty to a single master, a small-time mobster named Louie (John Tormey - Kiss Me Guido, Jungle 2 Jungle), who saved Ghost Dog's life when he was young. As an assassin, Ghost Dog communicates only via carrier pigeon and moves through the night like a phantom, killing with the skill and speed of a true Samurai.

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Next Stop Wonderland Review


Weak
Huh? Hope Davis and Alan Gelfant play two Boston mopers (one a nurse, one an aquarium worker) who just can't find their soulmates. Mom puts a personal ad in the paper for Davis, even(!). The ensuing comedy of errors ends up being a limp melodrama of cliches. The plot is straight out of Sliding Doors and 'Til There Was You, but Wonderland adds nothing to the will-they-meet? genre of romance filmmaking, and Davis wears way too much lipstick. Best reserved for late night insomnia attacks. This one will knock you right out.

Fast Food, Fast Women Review


Weak
My brother describes Anna Levine as "Skeletor," and damn if that isn't pretty near the truth. And Levine's not just scary to look at, she's a poor actress and a bad dancer. The fact that Amos Kollek's script is stilted and his direction is iffy makes matters worse, but unfortunately Fast Food, Fast Women is just a vain attempt at making a movie about the perils of romance in the modern age. It of course succeeds at exposing none of them.

Blue In The Face Review


Good
It took all of five days after wrapping the shoot of Smoke to create Blue in the Face, an (allegedly) all-improvised follow-up to Wayne Wang and Paul Auster's feature centered on a tiny smoke shop in Brooklyn. It's a weird experiment in filmmaking, studded with cameos by Lou Reed, Madonna, Michael J. Fox, Roseanne, Lily Tomlin, and more. Unfortunately, you've probably seen all the funniest bits in the movie's trailer.

Separated into segments with titles like "Brooklyn Attitude," Blue in the Face explores the Brooklyn mystique and the Brooklyn experience with video interviews and impromptu sketches. Everything "Brooklyn" is praised, from Ebbets Field and Jackie Robinson to Belgian Waffles and the sanctity of the local cigar store.

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The Yards Review


Extraordinary
The Yards begins with a rebirth of sorts. A subway train emerges from a tunnel into daylight. It is carrying Leo Handler (Mark Wahlberg) out of the darkness and home, after his time in prison. He has taken the rap for an auto theft circle, one including close buddy Willie (Joaquin Phoenix), and is returning to a grateful homecoming. But The Yards is a dark crime drama, and Leo's future doesn't remain in the light for long in James Gray's impressive, classically styled mini-saga.

Gray, recently appearing with The Yards at the Boston Film Festival, based his tale of New York City subway vendor corruption on his own father's experiences. The filmmaker has given us a well-composed script, deftly flowing through intertwining relations of families, friends, enemies, and politicians. He sustains a hopelessly dim design throughout the film, even having the mind to steal wonderfully from a few Godfather scenes (he claims by accident), and lifting Gordon Willis' outstanding cinematography with his DP, Harris Savides (on purpose). Gray's direction gives us an overriding sense of doom that retains suspense far beyond that of a second-time filmmaker (his first being 1994's grim Little Odessa). But all that is nothing without Mark Wahlberg.

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Lulu On The Bridge Review


OK
Paul Auster (writer of Wayne Wang's Smoke and Blue in the Face) is no stranger to oddball productions. Lulu on the Bridge is another step down the path to David Lynch, with Harvey Keitel as a sax player who gets shot and -- after a miracle recovery that leaves him with one lung -- embarks on an adventure involving Mira Sorvino and a magic rock that glows in the dark. Oh-kayyyyy. It all becomes all-too-apparent what's been going on by the end of this, so after plenty of mood lighting and jazz music, you're released back into the world to completely forget everything you saw. Whatever.
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Victor Argo Movies

Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai Movie Review

Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai Movie Review

Written and directed by Jim Jarmusch, Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai embodies a...

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The Yards Movie Review

The Yards Movie Review

The Yards begins with a rebirth of sorts. A subway train emerges from a...

Fast Food, Fast Women Movie Review

Fast Food, Fast Women Movie Review

"Fast Food, Fast Women" is a considerably imperfect movie, the intangible charm of which has...

Angel Eyes Movie Review

Angel Eyes Movie Review

"Angel Eyes" is not the cheaply manipulative woman-in-peril thriller it appears to be in its...

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