James Urbaniak

James Urbaniak

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Plain Dirty Review


Weak
Hillbilly girl (Dominique Swain) has affair with big city attorney, so her hick husband (Henry Thomas) locks her up in the house. Will she escape? Or more to the point: Will you bother to keep watching until she escapes? This boring melodrama has little going for it, proving once again that no one will ever give Swain the chance to appear in a movie that doesn't suck out loud.

Continue reading: Plain Dirty Review

American Splendor Review


Excellent
Comic book heroes like Spider-Man and The Hulk get all the press. Hey, what about the little guy?

Harvey Pekar is the ultimate little guy -- not just in the comics world, where his American Splendor has been an underground phenomenon for decades, but in real life, as he has held down a steady gig as a file clerk in a Cleveland VA hospital since the beginning of the known universe.

Continue reading: American Splendor Review

Teknolust Review


Bad
A sci-fi film for those who enjoy the concept and theory of the genre, if not actually its practice, Teknolust would probably be better enjoyed if it had been made into a multimedia display for a modern art museum. But, alas, it was not, and so viewers have to endure new media artist Lynn Hershman Leeson's uncomfortable attempts at taking her cracking-stiff theories and translating them into dramatic narrative form.

Dipping back into the world of the micro-indie film - which she seemed to have mostly abandoned after the passing of her cinematic mentor, Derek Jarman - Tilda Swinton plays four roles here, but Dr. Strangelove it ain't. Her primary role is as Rosetta Stone (get it?), a bio-geneticist who, in a strangely-reasoned attempt to help the world by creating robots equipped with artificial intelligence, has discovered how to download her own DNA into a computer and thus create three SRAs (Self Replicating Automatons) in her image. The SRAs are named Ruby, Marine and Olive and dresses them each according to color (red, blue, and green). This doesn't serve much purpose besides being pretty look at, and also giving us an easy way of telling the Swintons apart (aside from the fashion-victim wigs Ruby and Olive wear). Rosetta herself is easy enough to ID: as the nerdy scientist, they put her in the most frightful and unattractive of the wigs and make her goggle out at the world from behind a pair of giant glasses.

Continue reading: Teknolust Review

The Book Of Life Review


Excellent
After six feature films shot with the same "too hip to smile" minimalist approach, critic's darling Hal Hartley really needed to shake things up. Shot on hand-held digital video as part of the France Collection 2000 series, The Book of Life is that project, a shaggy dog guffaw at the end of the millennium.

Miles away from what we critics enjoy referring to as "visually austere" (i.e., static shots with careful compositions), The Book of Life throws caution to the wind. Working with new cinematographer Jim Denault (Boys Don't Cry) instead of old standby Michael Spiller (Trust), Hartley spins and fusses in colorful blurred abstractions, creating a dreamy, impressionistic look with none of his trademark hard edges. Look, ma -- no hands!

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James Urbaniak

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Album Of The Week: The 41st Anniversary Of 'Remain In Light' By Talking Heads

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On the 8th October 1980 Talking Heads released not only one of their most significant albums but also one of the most significant albums of the last...

James Urbaniak Movies

American Splendor Movie Review

American Splendor Movie Review

Comic book heroes like Spider-Man and The Hulk get all the press. Hey, what about...

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Teknolust Movie Review

Teknolust Movie Review

A sci-fi film for those who enjoy the concept and theory of the genre, if...

The Book of Life Movie Review

The Book of Life Movie Review

After six feature films shot with the same "too hip to smile" minimalist approach, critic's...

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