by Steve Dollar


When it was first released 25 years ago, Something Wild seemed very much a part of the zeitgeist. As "morning in America" drifted into the senile platitudes of Ronald Reagan's second term, and Top Gun and Back to the Future cleaned up at the box office, some filmmakers were reconsidering the national identity, in particular, the apple-pie verities of small towns in what might now be called Red States - aka, the Heartland.

Blog entry 05/13/2011 - 3:32pm

Reviewer: James Van Maanen
Rating (out of 5): ****

What a presence, in any of his films, has Stellan Skarsgård. This unusual actor -- he of the firmly under-stated performance and increasingly jowly visage -- has, to my knowledge, never given a bad performance, even in dreadful movies like Angels and Demons or silly ones like Mamma Mia!. The actor turns 60 this year and has 109 roles to his credit (including the original Insomnia and Dogville), but I doubt that he has ever been better than he is in A Somewhat Gentle Man, the new Norwegian film cogently directed by Hans Petter Moland (who also directed Skarsgard in the lesser known Aberdeen) with a fine script by Kim Fupz Aakeson.

Blog entry 05/02/2011 - 3:00pm

Reviewer: James van Maanen
Rating (out of 5): ****


"Even though, sometimes, I don't know who you are, I still love you."

These words, uttered by a sweet-like-you've-never-seen-him Ewan McGregor toward the conclusion of I Love You Phillip Morris, are so fitting, both for that moment and for the two characters who make up the lion's share of the movie -- and, in fact, for so many love relationships: Do we ever really know the one we profess to love? -- that they effectively sound the theme for this unusual, surprising film. So full of quirky truth is it that, on one level, the fact that its protagonists are gay is almost beside the point. This is the film love story of the year (last year's prize went to Wendy and Lucy, demonstrating, I think, that where movies are concerned, it's the love that counts rather than the type of lovers).

Blog entry 04/13/2011 - 11:58am

Reviewer: Jeffrey M. Anderson
Rating (out of 5): ***

Casino Jack's ace-in-the-hole is Kevin Spacey, once more playing the cynical, snappy type of character he made so memorable in American Beauty. He's clearly enjoying every manic moment here, throwing in the occasional celebrity impression besides, and the screenplay by Norman Snider does a nice job of feeding his frenzy. There isn't much room for others in this kind of one-man show -- such as Kelly Preston, stuck in the sidecar playing Spacey's wife -- but Jon Lovitz gets in some nice moments as a sleazy, small-time hood.

Blog entry 04/11/2011 - 11:09am

Reviewer: Jeffrey M. Anderson
Rating (out of 5): ***

Most American romantic comedies depend on some kind of lie to keep the drama going for 90 minutes. One love partner has some big secret that he or she just can't quite manage to tell the other. This basically means that, if someone would just speak up, there wouldn't be a movie. It goes without saying that this renders most romantic comedies totally uninteresting. Happily, Nanette Burstein's new Going the Distance is merely about a tough situation. Both partners are totally honest with one another, and they're genuinely in love, but they're simply having a tough time with the distance between them.

Blog entry 12/07/2010 - 3:08pm

Reviewer:  Jonathan Poritsky
Rating (out of 5): ***½

Predating Ian Fleming’s James Bond, OSS 117 is the call number for Hubert Bonisseur de La Bath, a secret agent extraordinaire. Creator Jean Bruce wrote over ninety books for the character in his lifetime, and de La Bath made his way into eight films from 1956 to 1971. He never reached the international popularity of his doppelgänger in her majesty’s secret service, but his legacy is now cemented, if lampooned, in the latest film from Michel Hazanavicius, OSS 117: Lost in Rio, the second in a series of parodies.

Blog entry 08/31/2010 - 12:15pm

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