Film Reviews : Pre-2005

Tears in the Astroturf: Friday Night Lights  Watchable
November 1, 2004

This feel-good movie doesn't

A lot of reviewers have gotten the pom-poms out for Friday Night Lights. The ads use Larry King, who bleats, "One of the Greatest Sports Movies Ever Made." Richard Roeper waves his thumb and ... more

Come Back, Jack! Why Schmidt Is Shit  Watchable
February 1, 2003

Payne capsized an actor and a novel in this misfire

About Schmidt drives another nail in the coffin of irony. About Schmidt is as lacking in irony as its blatant crayon drawing ending. It's a synthetic antidote to a ... more

Things change  Better than average
December 17, 2001

David Mamet tones it down a second time in the relaxed State and Main

When one has proven himself, he has earned his right to go his own way -- even if its less adventuresome than his past route. Director/screenwriter David Mamet ... more

Vegas-born buzz  Better than average
May 17, 2001

Lady in the Box debuted at CineVegas last December, then became a hit on the festival circuit

When a film has its world premiere in Las Vegas, what then happens to it?

If the film is the independent Lady in the Box, it goes ... more

DVD: The catcher in the lie  Better than average
May 3, 2001

Was Barry Levinson right in Hollywood-izing The Natural?

When J.D. Salinger was asked why he turned down huge money to make The Catcher in the Rye into a movie, he answered simply, "Holden wouldn't like it."

On the other han ... more

DVD: Bring it on, Joan  Badly flawed
April 5, 2001

Oscar nominee Joan Allen waves her cheerleader's pompoms for Rod Lurie's contrived political drama The Contender

At their best, DVDs allow us to know films better and to consider provocative issues. At their worst, DVDs essentially ... more

Rolling along  Watchable
March 29, 2001

The zipper, the apple pie -- and now, Tomcats' runaway testicle

Tomcats is a raunchy, rambunctious, crowd-pleasing film. It has a scene with our hero chasing after a bouncing, runaway testicle through a hospital that will define ... more

DVD: Let's do the time warp again  Classic
March 8, 2001

It's a nostalgia trip with the new, special edition DVD of Dr. Strangelove

In the 1960s, as a fledgling writer seeking my first magazine publication, I kept sending out an article on the philosophy of Swedish director Ingmar Bergman ... more

Turkeybone  Badly flawed
March 1, 2001

The already flopping Monkeybone deserves its fate

The film Monkeybone is a raucous mess. Director Henry Selick mixes animation and live action to the noisy, clumsy detriment of both.

It's the strident story of cartoonist Stu ... more

Grounded  Watchable
February 22, 2001

Chris Rocks plays it safe and clean in Down to Earth

It had all the signs of being a disaster -- two directors, four writers, a duration of under 90 minutes and negative pre-release buzz. But despite the warning signs, Down to Earth ... more

DVD: Restored integrity  Classic
February 8, 2001

Robert Altman's satirical Nashville is presented the way it should be

The DVD of Nashville is a godsend, the first time it has been available on home video in its original widescreen aspect ratio. The VHS and laserdisc were not wide ... more

Hollow man  Badly flawed
February 1, 2001

Giuseppe Tornatore's Malena lacks emotional resonance

For those of us who love Cinema Paradiso, the news that its Italian director Giuseppe Tornatore and his musical soulmate Ennio Morricone were getting back together to do anot ... more

Teenybopper flatulence  Awful
January 25, 2001

Sugar and Spice is more like snips and snails and puppy dog tails

Director Francine McDougall thinks of her film Sugar and Spice as "a sophisticated black comedy." Yeah, right. Its as sophisticated as a Twinkie, and as black as a ma ... more

You can bunk on it  Watchable
December 14, 2000

The unconvincing Proof of Life is a missed opportunity

There is something major missing in Proof of Life. When Director Taylor Hackford decided to cut a steamy sex scene out of the film, he emasculated it. What is left of the romant ... more

Understanding Kubrick: The Shining  Classic
June 1, 1981

The Shining met the fate of several other Stanley Kubrick films when it came out; most viewers did not like it, so they rejected it. Most importantly, they did not understand it in any way which allowed them to deal with it constructively. ... more

Brian De Palma's Coming of Age: Blow Out  Classic
February 1, 1981

Brian De Palma has often seemed the bastard son of Alfred Hitchcock and Lizzie Borden. His work has suffered from being overly derivative and ridiculously gory. If De Palma had a personal vision, it was subsumed by tricks and a sensibility that tu ... more

Vertigo: The End of Eden  Classic
February 1, 1980

Vertigo is one of the most pessimistic popular films ever made. It is ironic that Alfred Hitchcock usually is not appreciated for the thematic values in his films. Hitchcock, who is interested in and marvelous at creating effects, is often ... more

From troubled to terrific  Classic
July 3, 1976

Robert Altman and crew have done the necessary reorganizing and reediting on Buffalo Bill and the Indians and have created a terrific movie out of the troubled dust of what was. The first time I saw the movie in New York, it was explicit, c ... more

Fantastic voyage into fantasy  Great
April 26, 1976

Use of images, imagination stunning in The Man Who Fell to Earth

The Man Who Fell to Earth, at the Dabel, is the most beautiful, jagged, freakish film of the year. Startling and displacing, it is also tender and mournf ... more

Plot good Hitchcock  Very Good
April 16, 1976

The delight of a good Hitchcock film is watching the master at work. His style, tone, and touch have the surety of time and experience. He can take a mediocre plot and make it dance and throb with the perennial Hitchcock spirit.

Family ... more

Images rare, beautiful film defying logic  Great
May 7, 1973

It is a rare film that can entice me to surrender my logic, but Images does just that. It is pretentious, contrived, and melodramatic. Why then does it cause this generally suspicious viewer to plunge into its chilling pools?

Ima ... more

Avanti's incongruities give pleasure  
February 12, 1973

Director Billy Wilder, on of the old pros if American movie-making, is sixty-seven years old. His career has been productive, uneven, and creative. His films have sharp edges and soft centers, often teetering on the borders of the maudlin.

... more
The Last Picture Show  Better than average
March 22, 1972

The Last Picture Show predictable, almost trite

The Last Picture Show, at Loew's Ames, has received generally enthusiastic reviews and eight Academy Award nominations but it is commonplace and borders on triteness. < ... more

The Comic Sense of 2001  Classic
October 1, 1969

2001 is a film of surprising subtlety that has caused many serious critics to miss its tones. Pauline Kael (Harpers), John Simon (The New Leader), and Stanley Kauffmann (The New Republic) have all misgauged the film ... more

Darling  Better than average
April 1, 1966

John Schlesinger's Darling is a film of excessive and self-defeating brilliance. Schlesinger is intelligent, but his approach is one-dimensional. His characters are fashionable types, his symbols are too often gimmicks; and Darling b ... more

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