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Adam Resurrected Review


Bad
If Adam Resurrected were any better a film, it would have the potential to be actively offensive, as opposed to merely tiresome and baffling. Between Jeff Goldblum's wildly over-mannered performance and the schlocky treatment of serious subject matter, it's hard to know whether to simply dismiss the film or be outraged by it. Dismissal is likely the better option.

The film is adapted from Yoram Kaniuk's controversial 1968 novel, which was one of the first works of literature to deal in a serious manner with the repercussions of the Holocaust. The controversy is not that surprising, given that it's about a German Jewish performer, Adam Stein (Goldblum), interred at a concentration camp where he entertains other prisoners to keep them docile on their way to the extermination chamber, where his family is sent while he fiddles away; not much noble uplift or moral condemnation to be seen. Stein, a clownish old cabaret emcee whose dizzying intellect matches his taste for mayhem, later ends up a madman in a fanciful high-tech asylum for survivors in the Israeli desert where he plays court jester to the other inmates and indulgent therapists. He also likes reenacting some of the worst aspects of his treatment in the camps, whether on his dusky-eyed nurse-lover or the newest patient, a young boy raised to believe he's a dog.

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The Walker Review


Good
There are several things being chatted and whispered about in the backrooms, parlors and bars of Paul Shrader's Washington but nothing distinctive. The closest to a controversy comes when a few specific so-and-sos ruminate about a possible conspiracy involving the vice president and a dead escort. These events, however, doesn't seem to matter much in the grand scheme of things, and that is both a good thing and a bad thing in Shrader's latest film, The Walker.

As is explained by a pair of FBI agents, a walker is the title given to men who escort women of great importance (and elderly age) from here to there in the ladies' leisurely days of lunching and shopping. Like other men in his profession, Carter Page III (Woody Harrelson) has the breeding and education that the career demands and his taste in fashion and furniture is impeccable; he's also a flagrant homosexual. He shuttles away from his one-day-a-week job as a real estate insider to meet up with the likes of Lynn Locklear (Kristin Scott Thomas), the wife of a senator, and Abigail Delorean (Lily Tomlin), the wife of Washington's most powerful fixer (Ned Beatty).

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Willem Dafoe and Penthouse Monday 3rd December 2007 Private party at Vanessa von Bismarck's penthouse for Ennio Capasa of Costume Nationale New York City, USA

Willem Dafoe and Penthouse
Willem Dafoe and Penthouse
Willem Dafoe and Penthouse

Willem Dafoe and Wes Anderson - Willem DaFoe and Guest New York City, USA - New York Film Festival's opening night premiere of Wes Anderson's 'The Darjeeling Limited' at Avery Fisher Hall - Arrivals Friday 28th September 2007

Willem Dafoe and Wes Anderson Friday 28th September 2007 New York Film Festival's opening night premiere of Wes Anderson's 'The Darjeeling Limited' at Avery Fisher Hall --Arrivals New York City, USA

Willem Dafoe and Wes Anderson
Willem Dafoe and Wes Anderson
Willem Dafoe and Wes Anderson

Mr. Bean's Holiday Review


Good
Though Rowan Atkinson has amassed a ton of genius comedic creations in his 52 years, none of his other characters, Raymond Fowler and Edmund Blackadder included, quite stand up against the inexplicable Mr. Bean. Virtually a mute, the fact that Bean's humor derives solely from reactions and body movements certainly gives the character a unique flair but what of the relation of Bean to the world? A popular theory casts Bean as an alien wandering around our planet, trying to exist in some state of normalcy, though the word "conspicuous" might as well be tattooed on the man's chin.

The genius of a character like Bean is that he is never completely explained to us in any specific way. Throughout his stand-up, a sadly short-lived BBC series, and Bean (his 1997 movie romp), Atkinson and the writers have never given a shred of evidence to justify or correlate Bean's persona. You could call him a blank slate based on his aloof, ruinous behavior, but that definition disregards his absurd volatility. If Bean was badly cut, you'd half-expect his blood to spurt out and form a mini-Bean that tap-danced to elevator music. It is unsurprising that a character of this untoward bewilderment would find a happy home in France, the home of Jerry Lewis's most devoted fandom.

Continue reading: Mr. Bean's Holiday Review

Paris, Je T'aime Review


Good
One would like to think that there at least a few other cities in the world besides Paris that could have inspired a film as varied in the types of cinematic pleasure so ably delivered by the anthology piece Paris Je T'Aime -- but it seems unlikely. This isn't due to an unavailability of good stories or locations in many other great metropolises, but more because being able to dangle the possibility of shooting in Paris in front of the world's greatest directors is going to be so much more enticing. Also, there are few other cities besides Paris that come with such a powerful and multifarious wealth of preassociated images and emotions for both filmmaker and audience to both draw upon and react against. So what could have been a collection of short films with a few highs, several lows, and a lot of muddled in-betweens is in fact a remarkably and consistently imaginative body of work, practically giddy with energy, that only rarely touches the ground.

Project overseers Emmanuel Benbihy and Tristan Carné wanted to create a cinematic map of Paris, with each short film representing one of the city's 20 arrondissements (neighborhoods). They ended up with 18 films, none of them more than a few minutes long and directed by a glittering, international roster of filmmakers. While none of the films here are anything approaching masterpieces, hardly a one is in any way a chore to sit through, which has to be some sort of an accomplishment.

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Auto Focus Review


OK
Making stories about celebrities who mess up their lives has become a kind of cottage industry these days. Tabloid magazines have thrived on it for years. The E! True Hollywood Story and Behind the Music have extended celeb-thrashing to TV.

Finally the big screen has embraced such tales, but Auto Focus proves, once again, there's too little tale in these stories to merit more than 15 minutes with Barbara Walters.

Continue reading: Auto Focus Review

Platoon Review


Extraordinary
Like no other movie could tell, Platoon shows us categorically that war -- and especially the Vietnam War -- is hell.

The story is vintage Oliver Stone -- based on his own experiences in the bush with only a few moments of fictionalization. In Platoon, Charlie Sheen plays a young and naive Private Chris Taylor, a newbie in Nam who is thrown waist-deep into the jungle only hours after arrival. Within a week he's regretting having volunteered, already a shell of the man he was in the States.

Continue reading: Platoon Review

American Dreamz Review


Weak
There's a peculiarly painful sensation one gets when witnessing a comedy build toward its big moment, having carefully laid all out all the correct elements and primed you for all the gags as it leads up to the orchestrated finale and then... Just. Doesn't. Get. There. You get that feeling quite a lot in Paul Weitz's American Dreamz, about an American Idol-like reality show which becomes the linchpin in a dangerously rickety skit about wannabe celebrities, and yes, the war on terror (because one must be relevant). There's another feeling one gets, and it comes from that oft-ignored voice in the back of your head, the one that says, Hey, maybe we shouldn't be laughing at this, even if it was funny.What are we supposed to make of this queasy and uncertain concoction that lands a few weak punches and then dances safely back out of range? Weitz is no Wilder, but he's done better than most in comedy. American Pie may have brought us an unfortunate amount of Chris Klein, and In Good Company was hardly a beacon of originality, but they both possessed a refreshing amount of heart; while About a Boy proved that Hugh Grant's louche side is his best one. These were all films of modest means that succeeded beyond their stated intent. With American Dreamz, writer/director Weitz not only bites off more than he can chew, he (not to mention we) can barely get his mouth around the thing.The constellation of players include: Britney-like Ohioan pop striver Sally Kendoo (Mandy Moore), Simon Cowell-esque host Martin Tweed (Hugh Grant), a president and vice-president (Dennis Quaid and Willem Dafoe) who just may resemble a pair currently in power over there in D.C., and Omer (Sam Golzari), a clumsy, showtunes-loving terrorist (you read that right) who accidentally gets on the show after being sent to join a sleeper cell in Orange County. There's also Sally's sweet but dumb-as-rocks boyfriend William Williams (Chris Klein), who runs off to the army after she dumps him, and Omer's flaming-gay cousin Iqbal (Tony Yalda) who thinks he deserves to be on the show, and a number of fine performers like Shohreh Aghdashloo, Judy Greer, and John Cho wasted in dead-end roles. With all this at hand, Weiss aims to plug into some sort of vein of current American irreality, juxtaposing the fanatic public adulation of this TV show with the grinding presence of the war and the terrorist threat, but ends up splashing them all with the same cartoonish colors and scoring only the easiest of points.There is ample opportunity here, it's just not utilized. Quaid plays his Bush stand-in with ardent vigor as a decent but none-too-bright man who wakes up the day after his reelection and announces to his stunned manservant, "I'm going to read the newspaper." Cut to weeks later and the president bedroom is thick with papers and books, the commander in chief's head dangerously expanding, saying incredulously to his Cheney-like VP (Dafoe, mixing just the right amount of malice and buffoonery), "Did you know there were three different kinds of Iraqistanis?" But then this line of broad mockery is abandoned for a "Terrorist Training Camp" in some California desert masquerading as the generic Middle East, where Omer - who became a terrorist because his mom was killed by an American bomb; funny, that - dances to showtunes in his tent. Then it switches again to Ohio for some dreadfully unfunny reality-show-contestant satire that flops dead on arrival due to Moore's dead fish of a performance. Like Grant - who should have turned in a killer Cowell impression here, and whose soulless character bonds with Moore - she remains on the leash, never fully engaging. About the only thing in the too widely ranging American Dreamz that works is Omer, a sweetheart of a character whose earnest lack of talent is as endearing in the film as it would be on a reality show - for a satire aimed at modern society, he's about the only character who could actually exist in it.It has been said by some that Paul Greengrass's United 93 - prior to its opening, at least - is an exploitation of a national tragedy, a shameless attempt to make dramaturgical hay from an episode that should be treated with more respect. The jury of public opinion has yet, of course, to make a ruling in that matter. Until then, though, we have American Dreamz, which seems to think that the Iraq War, terrorism, the death of innocent Middle Easterners by American hands, and the current White House situation are all just as equally worthy targets of spoofery and fun as is reality TV. It's not really a cynical or outrageous point of view, but just a really lazy one, and offensively, exploitatively so.Who likes pizza?

Inside Man Review


Extraordinary
Let's just say this now: the heist movie is tired, kaput, over. Maybe it was the endlessly upgraded arms race in cinematic heists trying to outdo each other. One time it's a $50 million job, the next $100 million. Every time the perps are armed with increasingly high-tech gadgetry pitted against One Lone Cop who must say at some point early in the film, "These guys are good." Ocean's 11 and 12 didn't help, playing the whole thing for a lark and tossing around astronomical sums of money like so many imaginary zeros. So with all this to consider, how is it the new heist movie Inside Man - featuring some pretty smart bank robbers facing off against a possibly smarter hostage negotiator - turns out to be such spiffy entertainment?

For one, the film seems located in a neighborhood that's at least adjacent to the real world. For another, it features Clive Owen vs. Denzel Washington; like Batman vs. Superman but with fewer KAPOW!s. Lastly, it's got a sense of humor, remember those? There are those who will say that Spike Lee is the absolute last person you'd call up to direct a heist movie, since he'd never done anything remotely like it before. Ignore them, as he was the perfect director to bring in on this one, Inside Man being almost more a film about New York's gloriously messy welter of ethnicities than it is about a bank robbery. Though the robbery itself is something to behold, too.

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To Live And Die In L.A. Review


Good
Tough as nails cop drama has an on-the-edge cop (Petersen) doing anything he can to take down the counterfeiter (Dafoe) who killed his partner. Extremely bloody and gruesome, To Live and Die in L.A. shows exactly how painful it can be to get shot, butchered, and burned alive. In other words, there's a whole lot more dying than living going on here... Music by none other than Wang Chung.

Animal Factory Review


Very Good
Dear Ma,

After seeing Steve Buscemi's sophomore directorial effort, Animal Factory (following 1996's Trees Lounge), I nearly reconsidered choosing film criticism as a career path. For the first hour of this film, it seemed the way to go was to become a convict. (By the way, ma, they don't call 'em inmates in the pen, they call 'em convicts.)

Continue reading: Animal Factory Review

Platoon Review


Extraordinary
Like no other movie could tell, Platoon shows us categorically that war -- and especially the Vietnam War -- is hell.

The story is vintage Oliver Stone -- based on his own experiences in the bush with only a few moments of fictionalization. In Platoon, Charlie Sheen plays a young and naive Private Chris Taylor, a newbie in Nam who is thrown waist-deep into the jungle only hours after arrival. Within a week he's regretting having volunteered, already a shell of the man he was in the States.

Continue reading: Platoon Review

Existenz Review


Excellent
Well, Cronenberg is back, and after a couple of misfires like Crash, M. Butterfly, and well, pretty much the last ten years of his oeuvre, he's got a solid flick with eXistenZ. In fact, I'd say it's his best work since 1983's Videodrome.

The story is straight outta modern/near-future pop culture: Using a "bioport," you can jack your body and mind into an immersive game world--a world served up by a handheld bio-engineered creature called a "game pod" that is essentially a blood-pulsing Nintendo. There are no computers in the film: just the mutated organisms that are Cronenberg's trademark. And oh does he put them to good use.

Continue reading: Existenz Review

Pavilion Of Women Review


Weak
Melancholy and plodding, Pavilion of Women features a curious performance from Willem Dafoe as an American priest in China (causing a ruckus of course)... and not much else. For those of you interested in the ways of old, traditional Chinese families, this is your movie.

Streets Of Fire Review


Weak
A bizarre take on West Side Story, Streets of Fire gives us Paré and Lane as the beast and the beauty in the music scene of "another time, another place" -- a time that manages to muddle the hair styles, attire, and vehicles of the 1930s, 1950s, and 1980s. Needless to say, it's an ugly time, an ugly place. The "rock-and-roll fable" of Streets of Fire doesn't have much to say, culminating in a pick-axe fight between Paré and bad-boy Dafoe, which I think says just about all you need to know.

The Aviator Review


Excellent
The mythology of Howard Hughes is quite possibly bigger than the man could ever live up to. Already the subject of a handful of movies and over 100 books, the particulars of the Hughes legend are widely known. But leave it to Martin Scorsese to spin the eccentric's life into a more coherent -- if sprawling -- mass.

As its title would imply, The Aviator focuses Hughes through the lens of the airplane, his greatest passion in the world. Hughes is known for many things -- business, movies, his women, hypochondria, political scandal (the lattermost is barely touched in this film) -- but it's his love of and scientific advances with aircraft that have had the most lasting effects on society.

Continue reading: The Aviator Review

Finding Nemo Review


Extraordinary
The Pixar logo - which is the company's name with a desk lamp in place of the "I" - has become the cinematic equivalent of a "Prime" stamp on a side of beef. Once we see it, we know we're in for breathtaking animation, clever scripts, and wholesome family entertainment. The cynic in me waits for the geniuses responsible for the Toy Story features, A Bug's Life, and Monsters, Inc. to slip up and release a flop. Looks like I'll be waiting a few more years.

The latest Pixar pearl, Finding Nemo, ventures under the sea, where single dad Marlin (voice of Albert Brooks) overprotects his only son, Nemo (voice of Alexander Gould). One day, Nemo wades into uncharted waters on a dare, only to be snatched up by a scuba diver and placed in the tank of an Australian dentist. For the remainder of the film, Marlin and a forgetful fish named Dory (voice of Ellen DeGeneres) scour the ocean floor in an effort to bring Nemo home, a task that's easier said than done.

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The English Patient Review


Excellent
Just so you know, "patient" refers to a man with a medical condition, not the ability to sit through a film that flirts with a three hour running time.

You think I'm kidding, but I'm serious -- The English Patient has got to be the longest romance movie I've ever seen [This was before Titanic. -Ed.]. Well, Out of Africa was awfully long, too, but that doesn't make it okay! (Like your mother might say, "If Meryl Streep jumped off a cliff, would you do it too?")

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The Clearing Review


Very Good
There's tension in them there trees, and hopefully some cash for Fox Searchlight in the form of counter-programming. Surrounded by a sea of summer popcorn escapist vehicles, the rock-solid kidnapping thriller The Clearing feels like a frigid and somber snowball dropped into the heart of the Arabian Desert. We're typically not trained to accept weighty emotional dramas in the dog days of July, though when one this good rolls through, let's hope it has a better survival rate than said lump of frost.

The adult-oriented character piece delves headfirst into the natural landscapes of the Southeast - primarily Georgia and North Carolina - to hide the criminal wrongdoings of kidnapper Arnold Mack (Willem Dafoe) and his valuable target, Wayne Hayes (Robert Redford). While the men work their way to an undisclosed location in the woods, Clearing continues to focus on the consequent people affected by the impromptu abduction - from Wayne's wife, Eileen (Helen Mirren), and their children (Alessandro Nivola, Melissa Sagemiller) to the businessman's mistress (Wendy Crewson).

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Light Sleeper Review


Very Good
Light Sleeper feels like a serious '80s film, though it was made all the way in 1992. It's a relic of the drug era, filled with a soulful performance from WIllem Dafoe (a conflicted upper-class dealer who wants to get out of the business), a synthesizer score, and virtually no scenes set during the day. Susan Sarandon and Dana Delany also look straight outta 1983, with a bouffant hairdo and a close-cut Jane Wiedlin cut, respectively. As for the film, it's more hit than miss, and Dafoe's earnest portrayal carries the movie through its rockier, less sensical parts. Worth a look.

Clear And Present Danger Review


OK
Jack Ryan returns for a third outing in Clear and Present Danger, reuniting Harrison Ford's Ryan with director Phillip Noyce, who also directed Ford-as-Ryan in Patriot Games.

Too bad that with plenty of raw material (notably Willem Dafoe as an American mercenary working in Columbia), Danger comes up awfully short. For starters, what is our CIA hero doing poking around in the Colubian drug trade? Sure, he's rooting out a huge conspiracy that goes all the way up the U.S. political ranks, but must we be subjected to endless Latino stereotypes en route to that? Clancy is always at his best when he's dealing with terrorists or Russians. Here we have a plot (nearly 2 1/2 hours in length) that trots out the usual exploding drug factories and endless cartel assassinations. Ryan's escape from a troublesome mission is infamous for the bad guys' repeated inability to hit a near-motionless target.

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Once Upon A Time In Mexico Review


Good
Once Upon a Time in Mexico has everything it needs to rise to the grand occasion the film's title suggests. And written on the theater marquee, the title resonates nicely with two classic Sergio Leone epics, Once Upon a Time in the West and Once Upon a Time in America. Director Robert Rodriguez has his El Mariachi / Desperado trilogy in the right place to deliver on such a grandiose promise: the lead character comes to the film with a tragic history and a cult following. The cast qualifies as "all-star," featuring matinee pretty boys, sultry Latin ladies and some of Hollywood's most recognizable baddies. The characters run a larger-than-life gamut of legends, presidents, corrupt government agents, and cartel leaders, each with enough grudges, ferocity, and posse to start a professional wrestling federation.

But Leone developed similar elements into films that ran more than three hours. Rodriguez packs it all into 97 minutes and can't help but give only suggestions of a plot and impressions of the forces that drive it. Nevertheless, once the bullets start flying and the one-liners start ricocheting, it doesn't matter much that Once Upon a Time in Mexico is a confusing mess of a film. When it works, you don't care about all the times it doesn't.

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Speed 2: Cruise Control Review


Bad
Just about as bad as they come. Ridiculous follow-up to Speed, which wasn't all that great to begin with.

American Psycho Review


Very Good
From the opening scene, showing drops of blood on a pristine white surface, we know we're in for... well, not your ordinary slasher flick. Turns out the "blood" is a berry sauce being applied to a plate of haute cuisine. And the mind games of American Psycho have only just begun.

Steeped in controversy and mired in production for years, American Psycho tells the story of Anybroker Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale), a highest-society late 1980s Wall Street investment banker with a penchant for murder and a bloodlust that doesn't quit. Think of it as a portrait of Gordon Gecko as a young, homicidal man.

Continue reading: American Psycho Review

New Rose Hotel Review


Weak
Frustrated to the point where most people will give up, Abel Ferrara's New Rose Hotel is one of the worst-realized psychodramas ever made, despite its stellar one-two punch of Walken and Dafoe. Ostensibly a story about two con men who take $100 million to get a bigshot scientist to defect to a rival firm, it eventually turns into a story of obsession and subjectivity when Dafoe's character realizes he's been had. The end result is that the last half the movie is a flashback to the first half of the movie, and mostly in slow motion. Interminable and dull, with plenty of mood lighting and little in the way of mood.

The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou Review


Very Good
In The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, one sees other actors besides Bill Murray - quite a lot of them, actually - but there are really no other performances to speak of. This is his movie, and everyone else, no matter how large a role they have, is really just a walk-on. Now, to your average filmgoer, this sounds like a fine thing, after all, one doesn't often say, "I would have liked that movie more if there'd been less Bill Murray." (Except Garfield.) Oddly enough, this film-long tribute to Murray, with a script lovingly crafted for his deadpan delivery by Wes Anderson (The Royal Tenenbaums) and Noah Baumbach (filmcritic.com favorite Kicking And Screaming), is replete with stabs of comedic genius but never quite takes off.

Murray ambles through his performance as oceanographer Steve Zissou, whose longtime partner was just eaten by a rare species of shark ("which may or may not exist") and is determined to set off on an expedition to find the shark and kill it. When asked what scientific purpose this would satisfy, Zissou gives an almost imperceptible shrug and says, "revenge." Much in the same way that Luke Wilson's Richie in The Royal Tenenbaums had long outlived his brief fame as tennis pro by the time the film started, in Life Aquatic, Zissou's best days are already behind him, and the film is littered with the detritus of his past glory, many of them '70s-style nostalgia items like a special edition tennis shoe or a pinball machine featuring his bearded visage. The funding for Zissou's increasingly poorly-received films is drying up, it looks like his wife is about to leave him, and there's a reporter nosing around asking painful questions. So Zissou's expedition - a half-assed, barely-planned affair - is much less a research trip than a has-been's last hurrah, a perpetually stoned Ahab hunting his white whale (or jaguar shark, in this case).

Continue reading: The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou Review

Shadow Of The Vampire Review


Excellent
In this age of digital filmmaking, Shadow of the Vampire is a love letter to the beautiful mechanism of a motion picture camera. There's something both tactile and mysterious about images created on a thin sliver of film guided through a series of loops and pins. The final product is run through another instrument with wheels and sprockets, the projector. As the movie flickers across a silver screen, it's not too much of a stretch imagining the director whispering, "I gave you life."

That's the implied joke throughout Shadow of the Vampire, the strange and fanciful projection of what might have occurred during production of that classic 1922 German horror film, Nosferatu - A Symphony of Terror.

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Victory Review


Weak
Fairly pedantic and plodding, this period piece, set in 1913 in the Dutch East Indies (ah, I remember the Dutch East Indies...), this film has all the makings of a sultry romance (think The Piano) but never amounts to much more than a watery day-trip.

The convoluted story has a female violinist (Irène Jacob) shanghaied from her indentured servitude by a semi-wealthy island-dweller (Willem Dafoe). Naturally, the woman's owner becomes a bit miffed and sends some goons (including Rufus Sewell and Sam Neill in a rare bad-guy role) after them. Imagine the hijinks!

Continue reading: Victory Review

The Reckoning Review


Good
Starting out as a cunning variation on the crime thriller, this medieval mystery (set in England at the end of the 14th century) moves with dramatic vigor and an engrossing build. Too bad it gets bogged down in the final reckoning, with grand themes and indulgent speechmaking designed to ensure we get the message. We do, but it brings out the worst in our performers.

Putting the tale into motion is Nicholas (Paul Bettany), an earnest but lustful priest who is caught bedding a married woman of his flock and fleeing from his town in disgrace. On the road without any prospects, he encounters a troupe of itinerant actors making their way from town to town and earning their keep by staging scenes out of the Bible for an entertainment-deprived, rural public. Offering his limited skills, Nicholas convinces Martin (Willem Dafoe), the troupe's main man, to accept him into the ensemble against Tobias's (Brian Cox) grousing against it. Martin's sister Sarah (Gina McKee), on the other hand, is quick to overcome her initial distrust and soon develops a growing affection for the fair-haired newbie. As her eyes increasingly fasten on him, she brings a hint of sexual tension to the scenario.

Continue reading: The Reckoning Review

XXX: State Of The Union Review


Weak
Who says sequels are never better than their predecessors? Megabudget producers have hammered away at proving this maxim wrong, primarily through sequelizing as many crummy movies as good ones. Sure, a movie like The Matrix sets a gratifyingly high bar for its successors, but it's quite the opposite for films like XXX, Tomb Raider, and Resident Evil; hardly any effort at all is needed to surpass the original.

And hardly any effort is often what they get, which brings us to XXX: State of the Union. This follow-up to XXX, the 2002 extreme-sports-and-videogames-themed James Bond knockoff, is markedly superior. Which is to say it is slightly less tedious, slightly less blatant in its idiocy, and still miles away from working as a competent action movie.

Continue reading: XXX: State Of The Union Review

Auto Focus Review


OK
Making stories about celebrities who mess up their lives has become a kind of cottage industry these days. Tabloid magazines have thrived on it for years. The E! True Hollywood Story and Behind the Music have extended celeb-thrashing to TV.

Finally the big screen has embraced such tales, but Auto Focus proves, once again, there's too little tale in these stories to merit more than 15 minutes with Barbara Walters.

Continue reading: Auto Focus Review

Basquiat Review


Weak
Basquiat -- or "Sasquiatch," as I am becoming increasingly fond of calling this film -- may teach you a thing or two. Now you may not want to know any of the stuff you learn during its two long hours of running time, but like it or not, you will learn something.

That something is a base level of information about Jean Michel Basquiat, a Haitian artisté in the early '80s who became Andy Warhol's favorite son. (What is it with Warhol movies this year?) Basquiat rose from living in a cardboard box and decorating the streets of New York with cryptic graffiti to a high-profile yet short-lived career in the highest of art circles. All before his not-too-untimely death at the age of 27 from a (take a guess) heroin overdose.

Continue reading: Basquiat Review

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.

Affliction Review


OK

When in doubt, set your moody psychodrama in the frozen northeast, which will set the mood perfectly.

Affliction has plenty of mood. Too bad the story stinks. Telling the twin tales of small town Sheriff Wade Whitehouse (Nolte) -- a father/son struggle with pop (Coburn) and an investigation into a suspicious hunting accident-cum-land grab -- both turn out to be as dry as dust. Wade, like dad, is a boozehound and an overall loser. Why girlfriend Margie (Spacek) puts up with him is a mystery. How the audience is supposed to care about him is an even bigger one.

Coburn won Best Supporting Actor for his miniscule role, and that seems deserved, but if you're looking for a far better frozen thriller, check out Fargo or A Simple Plan.

Tom & Viv Review


OK
Notable mainly because two of its stars were nominated for 1994 acting Oscars, Miranda Richardson and Rosemary Harris, Tom & Viv is 1994's biopic about the life and times of T. S. Eliot (Willem Dafoe) and his wife, Viv (Richardson). Richardson's performance as the poet's ill wife who slowly loses her mind thanks to turn-of-the-century drugs is fine: the best of the five nominees for Best Actress in my opinion. Harris plays Viv's mother, and she has about 12 dull lines. Plotwise, this self-absorbed tale goes nowhere after the first 15 minutes. Interesting is Richardson's character interpretation, but nothing more.

Overnight Review


Good

Like watching a train wreck in slow motion while an ignorant, arrogant engineer shovels more coal onto the fire, "Overnight" is a cautionary tale about the fickle nature of showbiz in which the victim is his own worst enemy. A documentary following the rapidly self-destructing, stalled-rocket career of Troy Duffy, a Boston bartender/bouncer who on a fluke landed a sweetheart writing-directing deal with Miramax Films in 1997, the film would be painful to watch if its subject weren't such an insufferable lunkheaded egomaniac.

The kind of boastful, booze-pounding tough guy who might get in bar fights for fun, Duffy sold Miramax's Harvey Weinstein on his vigilante-with-a-heart script called "The Boondock Saints," and was paid $300,000 up front. Then he was given a $15 million budget for the movie, on which he would have casting approval and final cut -- two creative controls Miramax rarely grants even to established cinematic geniuses. But as his friends film every moment for what Duffy clearly thinks will be a rise-to-glory making-of about his film and the illustrious career to come, this flash-in-the-pan refuses all advice and begins alienating powerful Hollywood players, burning bridges left and right.

Within weeks, no one at Miramax will take his calls. Over the next three years, Duffy clings desperately to his inflated sense of self-importance. "We have a deep cesspool of creativity here," insists the badly-in-need-of-a-dictionary wannabe filmmaker, whose self-proclaimed talent and vision are quite simply never on display. As for Miramax, "they're gonna pay dearly for saying no to us," Duffy barks, habitually swearing up a storm.

Continue reading: Overnight Review

The Aviator Review


Excellent

Eschewing every pitfall of the biopic genre and delving deeply into the essence of both Howard Hughes' genius and his slow burn into madness, Martin Scorsese's "The Aviator" is a film of grand scope and masterfully intimate nuance, portraying a wild young mustang of a man who lived a fast life on an epic scale.

Presenting Hughes' view of the world as one in which nothing is impossible and the most momentous, groundbreaking decisions come instantly and instinctively ("What would controlling interest in TWA cost me?"), the film's crux is not the psychosis the man is best known for today, but his gift for sparing no expense to pursue novel visions no one else could see.

"We gotta reshoot 'Hell's Angels' for sound," Hughes decides on a whim in an early scene, after having already spent four years and millions of his own dollars perfecting his first foray into filmmaking -- a World War I epic featuring dozens of biplanes in an ambitious, jaw-dropping dogfight scene, parts of which Hughes shoots from a plane he flies into the fray himself.

Continue reading: The Aviator Review

American Psycho Review


OK

"American Psycho" could be called a personality sketch of a serial killer, but Patrick Bateman doesn't have a personality. His entire existence is a facade.

"There is an idea of a Patrick Bateman," he says in a chillingly apathetic voice over, "But there is no me. I simply am not there."

What is there in this icy, incisive adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis' controversial and bloody psychological thriller -- published in the wake of the Reagan-Bush era -- is an extremely black satire of 1980s aggressiveness and indulgence with a succulently twisted wit.

Continue reading: American Psycho Review

Existenz Review


Good

Abandon the deep-seeded sexual-social metaphors and waterdown the ick factor, and DavidCronenberg's "eXistenZ" could be aSci-Fi Channel movie.

Something of a cautionary tale about the future of virtualreality, featuring seamless multiple-layer story-within-story scenarios,Cronenberg's foundation here is the kind of what-is-reality? plot linethat has also been the basis of dozens of "Outer Limits" episodesand several recent feature films ("Dark City," "TheMatrix").

But because "eXistenZ" has been born of the mindof North America's most intelligent, off-the-wall auteur, there's so muchmore going on here, including themes of terrorism, experimental sexualityand humanity merging with technology (and vice versa).

Continue reading: Existenz Review

The Reckoning Review


Weak

In "The Reckoning," a troupe of 14th century traveling actors abandon their standard Bible-story fare while visiting a small fiefdom in order to reenact the recent murder of a local boy, and discover in the process that the official version of events is a cover-up for something far more disconcerting.

Having an outsiders' perspective, the players can sense something amiss with the local Church-based justice, and one of their number -- himself a disgraced priest on the run played by Paul Bettany -- feels compelled to investigate. A mute, wild-woman healer (and thus a suspected witch) is scheduled to hang for the crime, but what he discovers leads the actors to risk their lives to expose the truth by presenting a play based on the facts.

Unfortunately, writer Mark Mills (who adapted Barry Unsworth's novel "Morality Play") and director Paul McGuigan utterly fail to address one fundamental problem with their story: What makes them think the people of this village would pay to see the still-fresh horror of a child's brutal murder fictionalized for them like some Middle-Ages Movie of the Week?

Continue reading: The Reckoning Review

Spider-Man 2 Review


Very Good

Here's why Toby Maguire's Spider-Man is the greatest superhero in movie history:

Maguire so completely embodies the character's unique yinand yang -- the joyous, daredevil confidence of Spidey and the sweet, self-doubtingyoung chump that is Peter Parker -- that the exhilarating action in "Spider-Man2" is less interesting than his inner turmoil at being torn betweendoing what he's compelled to do and having the life he wants.

Continue reading: Spider-Man 2 Review

Spider-Man Review


OK

This has never happened to me in a movie before: There I was, ignoring a host of petty quibbles and enjoying the heck out of the unabashed comic-bookish cool of Sam Raimi's summer blockbuster "Spider-Man" adaptation -- then the second the credits rolled, I was overwhelmed by a feeling of bitter disappointment.

Why? Because with the candy-like taste of it fading faster than 25-cent bubble gum, I realized this is a throwaway movie that won't stand the test of time. It's a trifle -- nothing more than a fleeting piece of 2002 pop culture for teenage boys that down the road will seem as dated and dopey as the 1989 "Batman" has become and the 1978 "Superman" has been for a long time.

I expected more from Raimi, whose gift for great cheese (e.g. the "Evil Dead" movies) seems to have been suppressed here by commercial concerns (beyond selling soundtrack CDs, what purpose does it serve to have a performance cameo by hip-pop star Macy Gray?) and by an evangelical adherence to what might be called the Marvel Comics Movie Adaptation Handbook.

Continue reading: Spider-Man Review

Finding Nemo Review


Good
Offering further proof that the folks at Pixar are ceaselessly, unflaggingly more clever and imaginative than anyone else working in big-budget feature animation, the underwater CGI-animated "Finding Nemo" opens today -- and it's smarter, funnier and more entertaining than any other all-ages film so far this year.While Disney's in-house animators have been assembly-lining prosaic sequels ("The Jungle Book 2," "Return to Never Land") and re-imagined misfires ("Treasure Planet") -- and very occasionally coloring a little bit outside the lines ("Lilo and Stitch") -- the computer-'toon platoon at Pixar's Emeryville, California studios is supplying the Mouse House with delightfully creative products like "Monster's Inc." and this new adventure, in which an apprehensive, over-protective clown-fish father traverses the sea in search of his missing son.

The youngster was scooped up near his reef home by some monstrous, two-legged land creature in scuba gear and deposited into a Australian dentist's fish tank, populated by a colorful crew of fellow captives who help little Nemo (voice of Alexander Gould) hatch an escape plan. In the meantime, Marlin -- his fretful father with the perfectly anxiety-ridden intonations of Albert Brooks -- ventures deeper into the deep blue than he has ever dared before, determined to find the boy.

Helped along the way, if "helped" is the word for it, by a dingbat blue tang with short-term memory problems (and the oh-so-apropos voice of Ellen DeGeneres), Marlin finds his courage in dangerous adventures (mines and shipwrecks) and discovers friends in the forms of a surfer-dude sea turtle (voiced by Andrew Stanton, the movie's director), an astute pelican (Geoffrey Rush) who becomes his transportation into the dentist's office, and a trio of 12-stepping sharks who are trying to go vegetarian (including future "Hulk" Eric Bana and Barry Humphries, aka "Dame Edna").

Resourceful in its storytelling (the East Australian Current which Marlin must travel is akin to an underwater freeway crossed with a roller coaster) and reliably, steadily hilarious ("Hey, you're a clown fish," observe all the dopier sea critters who meet mopey Marlin. "Tell us a joke!"), "Finding Nemo" is also astounding to look at. Like a fantastical scuba dive, the picture's always-in-motion undersea universe would be downright photo-realistic if Stanton and his animators hadn't dialed up the cartoonishness just enough to give all the fish googly ping-pong-ball eyes.

Continue reading: Finding Nemo Review

The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou Review


Good

Steve Zissou is a washed-up Jacques Cousteau type suffering from an Ahab complex and middle-age ennui. His long-time first mate has just been eaten by the mysterious (and fictional) jaguar shark, and although his undersea documentaries haven't turned a profit in years, he's setting sail on one last low-budget oceanography adventure to make one last, rather out-of-character nature film -- about hunting down that shark if it's the last thing he does.

Another eccentric, buoyantly melancholy ensemble piece from wonderfully weird writer-director Wes Anderson ("Rushmore," "The Royal Tenenbaums"), "The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou" is thick with the curious comedy of crew conflicts, researcher rivalries, laid-back shootouts with kidnapper pirates, and an outlandish underwater world teeming with colorfully imaginary stop-motion creatures created by Henry Selick ("The Nightmare Before Christmas").

But the movie's driving force is Anderson's signature sense of humor. The underlying (and unspoken) joke of this oddball farce is that it is transparently fake. Besides inventing an ocean full of fantastical life, the film is full of mischievous impossibilities, nonsense science, and cinematography designed to make it amusingly clear that the scenes onboard Zissou's run-down, retrofitted, World-War-II surplus sub-hunter ship are shot on a cut-away soundstage set.

Continue reading: The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou Review

Willem Dafoe

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Willem Dafoe

Date of birth

22nd July, 1955

Occupation

Actor

Sex

Male

Height

1.78


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Willem Dafoe Movies

Murder on the Orient Express Movie Review

Murder on the Orient Express Movie Review

The latest adaptation of Agatha Christie's 83-year-old classic whodunit, this lavish, star-studded film is old-style...

Justice League Trailer

Justice League Trailer

The planet is in turmoil. Superman is apparently dead and crime rates have surged around...

Murder On The Orient Express Trailer

Murder On The Orient Express Trailer

It's the 1930s and a group of strangers from different walks of life board a...

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Justice League Teaser Trailer

Justice League Teaser Trailer

In the wake of his friend Clark Kent's monumental sacrifice, Bruce Wayne and Diana Prince...

Dog Eat Dog Movie Review

Dog Eat Dog Movie Review

Yet another bonkers thriller starring Nicolas Cage, this trashy crime comedy comes from director Paul...

The Great Wall Trailer

The Great Wall Trailer

William Garin and Pero Tovar journey it far and distant lands in a bid to...

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Justice League - Comic Con Trailer

Justice League - Comic Con Trailer

Bruce Wayne knows that the Earth is under threat from evil forces much worse than...

Finding Dory Trailer

Finding Dory Trailer

Since Nemo and his father were reunited, the residents living in the coral off the...

Finding Dory - Teaser Trailer

Finding Dory - Teaser Trailer

Dory, everyones favourite forgetful fish from Finding Nemo is back and it looks like she...

John Wick Movie Review

John Wick Movie Review

There have been so many awful revenge thrillers lately that we've almost forgotten that it's...

The Grand Budapest Hotel - Featurettes Trailer

The Grand Budapest Hotel - Featurettes Trailer

While preparing to film 'The Grand Budapest Hotel', director Wes Anderson and company scouted for...

John Wick Trailer

John Wick Trailer

John Wick was one of the criminal underground's finest hitmen until the untimely death of...

A Most Wanted Man Movie Review

A Most Wanted Man Movie Review

Photographer-turned-filmmaker Anton Corbijn continues to show striking maturity with only his third movie (after Control...

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