Julie Taymor does The Beatles songbook in Across the Universe

I believe I’m in the minority opinion here, but I really liked Across the Universe. Already loving the songs of the Beatles and the films of Julie Taymor, perhaps I’m predisposed. Taymor rounds up all the usual suspects from the Lennon & McCartney oeuvre: Lucy, Jude, Maxwell (as in “Silver Hammer”), Jo Jo (from “Get […]

U2 in a state called vertigo: U23D

U23D is actually a fairly traditional concert movie, a mostly straight-up filmed record of a representative show of a single tour. U2 had already produced one theatrical feature film about themselves (1988’s Rattle and Hum), and released countless productions on video and DVD before and since. So what could have been just another video of […]

9/11-ploitation: J.J. Abrams’ Cloverfield

First of all, let me just say I get it. I get that Cloverfield is meant to be a modern day analogue of Godzilla. I get that postwar Japanese moviegoers witnessed an enraged giant lizard borne of nuclear technology stomp Tokyo flat in an unstoppable pique, and I get that Godzilla became a classic for […]

The Illusionist

The Illusionist perhaps suffers from being released in proximity to The Prestige, a far superior period piece sharing the use of magic as a storytelling conceit. However, The Illusionist has two strong assets to point out: The cinematography is truly beautiful, comprised of sepia images (seemlingly projected by oil lamp) and old-school iris out transitions. […]

The Iron Giant

The Iron Giant is a sorely underrated animated film remarkable on so many fronts, not the least being a rare film among the company of The Incredibles (not coincidentally also directed by Brad Bird) as a story truly for the ages and for "all ages." Also one of the few films capable of choking up […]

Short Take: Bong Joon-ho’s Salinui Chueok (Memories of Murder)

A police procedural based on a true serial killer case, a rare phenomenon for South Korea in the 1980s. Grizzled detectives chasing down a serial killer is well-trod territory in film, but director Bong Joon-ho approaches it with a genre-defying sense of humor. Also surprisingly effective is its pleasantly lackadaisical pacing that truly takes its […]

Banlieue 13 (District B13)

To the editors of Time that picked District B13 as one of the 10 best films of the year, I can only ask, dude, Que la baise vous pensaient-elles? Yes, granted, it touches on some extremely sensitive and timely issues in a racially and culturally divided Paris, but those moments are bolted-on and heavy-handed, serving […]

M. Night Shyamalan squanders the last of his goodwill in The Lady in the Water

I don’t know where to start with this one. I’ve been a M. Night Shyamalan fan from the very beginning, even when the role was better described as apologist. Even to a fan, nearly every film comes with a “yeah, but…” disclaimer: The Sixth Sense is an excellent piece of slight-of-hand with some genuine emotion, […]

Everything You Know is Wrong: U2: Zoo TV Live From Syndey

If I could build a time machine to take me to see any band in history, it would be a trip to the early 90s to catch U2 at any point along their legendary Zoo TV tour. New to DVD, Zoo TV: Live From Sydney documents the lads’ performance in Sydney during the aptly named […]

Is George Miller’s Happy Feet about bootyshaking or overfishing?

Happy Feet is a tough one to try to reduce to a single stars-out-of-five rating. It possesses two extreme split personalities, its lack of integration calling into question its integrity. Was there a struggle behind the scenes between a studio wanting another cookie-cutter cartoon animal kid flick vs. a filmmaker envisioning something of substance? The […]

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