All life’s a play in Charlie Kaufman’s Synecdoche, New York

Whether it actually is or not, Synecdoche, New York has the feel of a very, very personal work of art. I know next to nothing about writer/director Charlie Kaufman’s personal life, and don’t even necessarily feel like I do now. Then again, few people do know Kaufman, as he has famously managed to sidestep much […]

Who abandoned whom in Tamara Jenkins’ The Savages?

The Savages is the story of a fractured family, separated not least by geography, that reunites on the occasion of an aged parent’s health. Both siblings haven’t seen their father in years, so what was probably a slow decline seems to them a sudden plunge into senility. Both have their own problems, and neither is […]

Sidney Lumet shows us how it’s done in Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead

Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead is a powerful, electric return to form for the 83 year-old Sidney Lumet, director of such canonical classics as 12 Angry Men, Serpico, Network, and, uh, The Wiz? Kelly Masterson’s screenplay tells the high-tension tale of a pair of wholly doomed brothers as a non-linear narrative from multiple points […]

J.J. Abrams’ Mission: Impossible III is preposterous but exhausting

A few disconnected thoughts on Mission: Impossible III: I rue the day Terminator 2 (aka “T2”) came out and was a big hit; now every pre-ordained blockbuster comes abbreviated: ID4, LXG, AVP, X3, and now of course M:I:III. Like most summer action blockbusters, M:I:III is at first enjoyably preposterous but quickly becomes exhausting. Although the […]

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