William Teitler

William Teitler

William Teitler Quick Links

Film Comments RSS

What Maisie Knew Review


Extraordinary

Even though this drama is based on a 115-year-old novel, it feels powerfully timely today in the way it recounts events surrounding a particularly grim divorce. As we see the story through the eyes of a young girl caught between her self-involved parents, we are emotionally drawn right to the heart of the matter. Of course, it takes skilled filmmakers and a far-above-average cast to make this work.

Maisie (Aprile) is the 6-year-old daughter of fading rocker Susanna (Moore) and art dealer Beale (Coogan), whose marriage isn't dissolving quietly. As fiery arguments echo around their New York apartment, Maisie can't quite understand their anger but feels her hope fading. Sure enough, they separate, and when she goes to visit Daddy she's unnerved to discover her nanny Margo (Vanderham) is now living with him. Then Mommy marries nice-guy barman Lincoln (Skarsgard), who becomes Maisie's most reliable friend as her parents use her as a weapon in their bitter custody battle.

Directors McGeehee and Siegel (Bee Season) cleverly maintain Maisie's point of view all the way through the film, so we only see and hear things as she would. Much of what happens is never explained to her, but we get it and we understand that she probably does too. This includes the shocking irresponsibility displayed by both Susanna and Beale, who continually dump Maisie on each other as a kind of assault. And because they're preoccupied with their work, it's up to Margo and Lincoln to pick up the slack.

Continue reading: What Maisie Knew Review

The Polar Express Review


Weak
The first 10 minutes and the last 10 minutes of Robert Zemeckis' digital banquet The Polar Express draw inspiration from Chris Van Allsburg's wonderful Christmas novel of the same name. Beginning with the late-night arrival of the pinch-me-I'm-dreaming locomotive and ending with the narrator's ringing of a symbolic bell, these whimsical bookend scenes find the perfect holiday ambiance that wraps us in a cozy blanket of adolescent wonder.

Bridging the film's beautiful opening and closing, though, are 77 minutes of exhaustive, roller coaster-worthy action sequences, death-defying skids across frozen lakes and approximately 15 harrowing occasions where the beloved Polar Express is inches away from jumping its tracks and killing everybody on board. It's Van Allsburg by way of Arnold Schwarzenegger, and it just doesn't fit the initial warm-and-fuzzy mood.

Continue reading: The Polar Express Review

Zathura Review


Bad

In Zathura, a board game magically comes alive when played, thrusting its participants into a wild adventure through outer space. Based on a children's book by Chris Van Allsburg, Zathura shares a striking resemblance to another Van Allsburg book turned movie called Jumanji. Each film centers on kids who get sucked into oddly-titled-board games gone wild. While the concept works magically on paper, the translation to film has not been so successful. Marginal special effects and a heavy-handed dead-end plot crippled Jumanji. And unfortunately, Zathura suffers from the same problems as its predecessor.

In the film, pre-teen brothers Danny and Walter (Jonah Bobo and Josh Hutcherson) are always at odds with each other. Because Walter is a few years older and more independent, he wants nothing to do with Danny. But Danny is full of energy and desperate for some attention. Yet, everyone else in his broken family is sadly unavailable. Danny's older sister (Kristen Stewart) is too consumed with teenage boys; his dad (Tim Robbins) is too wrapped up with this work; and his mom is only available for selected visitation periods. What Danny wants most is to play with his brother.

While spending the weekend at their dad's creepy old house, a bored Danny finds a game called Zathura tucked away under the basement stairs. The game seems simple enough -- turn a key, push a button, and a card pops out with instructions on how to move your game piece. But because Walter thinks Danny cheats at board games, he's unwilling to participate and Danny must play alone. His first card warns of a meteor shower. Moments later, a heavy barrage of meteors attack the house and the boys are forced to take cover in the fireplace. Once the storm passes, Danny and Walter are shocked to find their house magically floating through space on a pile of rocks, dirt, and debris. Each new card that Danny and Walter draw brings them closer to the game's end, but also triggers a new series of frightening events for them to encounter.

Zathura -- Game on!

And what a boring game it turns out to be once it actually gets started! Zathura spends a ridiculous amount of time at the beginning to establish the fact that the boys hate each other. For nearly 30 minutes, we're subject to non-stop, obnoxious yelling and screaming between Danny and Walter. Then, once the house is in space, the arguing continues as the pair decide how to combat an out of control robot with circular saw blade hands and heat-seeking alien lizards with sharp teeth. The meager special effects creations are far from intriguing or memorable. They look like cheap imitations of scarier monsters from other movies, which may be too much for some younger children to handle.

In the end, Zathura is such a mess that the backstory it spends time developing is completely ignored. The film is so consumed with throwing whatever it can at these boys that they're never afforded a believable chance to reconcile their relationship. Kids may not care, but adults who believe Zathura will teach kids a lesson on working together should pass on this space trash.

Adventure is waiting. Literally.

How To Deal Review


Terrible
You could take a camcorder to the mall, videotape strangers at random, and end up with a better movie than Mandy Moore's How to Deal. Soggy and melodramatic, this mess aims to address the obstacles we encounter en route to romance. But a pessimistic mood causes the picture to drag its feet. Staged without an ounce of genuine sentiment, Deal makes Britney Spears' dismal Crossroads look like Casablanca.

Screenwriter Neena Beber draws inspiration from two separate Sarah Dessen novels, but can't squeeze one decent movie out of the material. In only her second starring role, Moore plays Halley Martin, a disillusioned high schooler learning how to deal with a lifetime's worth of problems. Halley's divorced dad (Peter Gallagher) has a new fiancée, while her mom (Allison Janney) is still coping with the split. Her best friend, Scarlett (Alexandra Holden), is pregnant, and her older sister's pending nuptials appear doomed from the start. Out of the blue, Halley is falling for a detached hunk (Trent Ford) who might be able to convince her that true love exists.

Continue reading: How To Deal Review

The Polar Express Review


Weak
The first 10 minutes and the last 10 minutes of Robert Zemeckis' digital banquet The Polar Express draw inspiration from Chris Van Allsburg's wonderful Christmas novel of the same name. Beginning with the late-night arrival of the pinch-me-I'm-dreaming locomotive and ending with the narrator's ringing of a symbolic bell, these whimsical bookend scenes find the perfect holiday ambiance that wraps us in a cozy blanket of adolescent wonder.

Bridging the film's beautiful opening and closing, though, are 77 minutes of exhaustive, roller coaster-worthy action sequences, death-defying skids across frozen lakes and approximately 15 harrowing occasions where the beloved Polar Express is inches away from jumping its tracks and killing everybody on board. It's Van Allsburg by way of Arnold Schwarzenegger, and it just doesn't fit the initial warm-and-fuzzy mood.

Continue reading: The Polar Express Review

Jumanji Review


OK
If nothing else, Jumanji is the most unfortunately titled film of the year. And if you haven't turned on your television in the last month you may still be among the few who don't know what it means. For the uninitiated, Jumanji is an ancient board game set in the spooky jungle. When the game is played, it causes supernatural things to happen, including the creation of a horde of monkeys, earthquakes, a monsoon (indoors), and a stampede through the suburbs of the New England town in which Jumanji is set.

The story begins some 26 years earlier, when young Alan (Robin Williams) and Sarah (Bonnie Hunt) unearth the game and start playing. On Alan's first move, he finds himself sucked into the game as a prisoner, only to be released when the game is continued in 1995 by Judy (Kirsten Dunst) and Peter (Bradley Michael Pierce). Unfortunately, the ill effects of the game disappear only when it is finished, so the three track down Sarah, who, after years of therapy, has finally come to grips with the shock of seeing Alan vanish, and they continue where they left off.

Continue reading: Jumanji Review

William Teitler

William Teitler Quick Links

Film Comments RSS
Advertisement

Occupation

Filmmaker


Advertisement
Berlin House Where David Bowie And Iggy Pop Lived Marked By Plaque

Berlin House Where David Bowie And Iggy Pop Lived Marked By Plaque

The flat at Hauptstrasse 155 was where Bowie and Iggy lived between 1976 and 1978 in the city, which inspired the so-called 'Berlin trilogy' albums.

Rupert Grint To Star In TV Re-Make Of 'Snatch'

Rupert Grint To Star In TV Re-Make Of 'Snatch'

Grint will star alongside Dougray Scott and Ed Westwick in a 10-part TV series for Sony's streaming platform Crackle.

Advertisement

William Teitler Movies

What Maisie Knew Movie Review

What Maisie Knew Movie Review

Even though this drama is based on a 115-year-old novel, it feels powerfully timely today...

The Polar Express Movie Review

The Polar Express Movie Review

The first 10 minutes and the last 10 minutes of Robert Zemeckis' digital banquet The...

Zathura Movie Review

Zathura Movie Review

In Zathura, a board game magically comes alive when played, thrusting its participants into a...

Advertisement
How to Deal Movie Review

How to Deal Movie Review

You could take a camcorder to the mall, videotape strangers at random, and end up...

The Polar Express Movie Review

The Polar Express Movie Review

The first 10 minutes and the last 10 minutes of Robert Zemeckis' digital banquet The...

Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.