Johnny Depp delivers a truly strange performance in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest is a healthy dose of frivolous fun; I don’t care what the critics are saying. I could do without Orlando Bloom’s cardboard performance and Keira Knightly’s CGI bosoms, but that’s not what the movie is about. As with the first installment, watch it for Johnny Depp’s fresh one-of-a-kind […]

Drew Thomas’ 2006 documentary Coachella

I don’t normally review music dvds in this blog, but since Coachella received a theatrical release in Europe, I thought it deserved a mention. It’s a rare concert film that is as interested in the concertgoers and the character of the event itself as in simply capturing the performances. Favorite moments: Thom Yorke actually smiling […]

Tommy Lee Jones’ almost unbearably gruesome The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada

Three Burials joins Jim Jarmusch’s Dead Man as one of my few highly-rated westerns. Like Dead Man, its tone meanders from the darkly comic to the melodramatic, and is at times almost unwatchably gruesome. Which does nothing to explain why I liked it, I know. Special mention to Barry Pepper for taking what must be […]

A god walks among us in Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns

It’s probably my own fault for buying into the hype, but Superman Returns left me cold. There’s not a lot of drama implicit in the story of an omnipotent alien from another planet, and I just can’t buy the “god walks among us” metaphors. Spider-Man is a real, troubled human being burdened with great responsibility; […]

Shane Black’s Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

Even if the marketing hadn’t trumpeted the dramatic return of burnt-out Hollywood high-concept screenwriter Shane Black, it’d be painfully obvious Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is a movie crafted specifically for the audience he practically created with his Lethal Weapon quadrilogy. The all-over-the-place plot leaves a few threads dangling (What happened to the whole Michelle Monaghan […]

Burt Lancaster’s and Deborah Kerr’s beach clinch in From Here to Eternity

From Here to Eternity is famous for a lot of reasons: Burt Lancaster’s and Deborah Kerr’s hot clinch on the beach, the mere presence of Frank Sinatra, and, like a lot of canonical classics, its own fame. But, gradually, it dawns on you: what it’s really about is the utter inconsequence of our lives. Constantly […]

Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s Le Fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain

One of my favorite films of all time. It’s just such a movie, you know? The same is true of virtually all of Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s films; I have such fond memories of seeing Delicatessen on a crappy 16mm print at college, City of Lost Children at the Cambridge Film Festival, and Amélie and A Very […]

Orson Welles’ F for Fake is part documentary, part essay, part practical joke

F for Fake is Orson Welles’ last completed movie: part documentary, part essay, part practical joke. Welles portrays himself much as I would imagine him: a robust raconteur settled in for the long haul at a good restaurant, surrounded by educable pretty young things, eating and telling tall tales with great relish.

Brett Ratner’s X-Men III: The Last Stand is lost in a densely self-referential world

God help me, but I agree with Harry Knowles’ review. Sometimes you need a fanboy to point out what’s wrong with a movie crafted for fanboys. He picked up on the absurdly sensitive Wolverine, the important Phoenix backstory cursorily related in hammy exposition, and the sudden and arbitrary shifts from day to night. But the […]

Juliet must choose between Max and Jorge in Shopgirl

Poor Juliet Capulet must choose between Max Fischer and Jorge Festrunk. Shopgirl is let brought down by the implausibility of either.

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