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The Screener

Thursday, February 19 2009

Oscar Nominated Short Films 2009

Unlike stiff features like The Reader or even the wildly uneven Curious Case of Benjamin Button, this year's Oscar-nominated shorts program is pretty much a risk-free venture.


Thursday, February 12 2009

Two Lovers: All Your Choices Are Bad Ones

What James Gray bravely does in Two Lovers is return the idea of pain, and the threat of bad decisions, to the American film romance.


Thursday, February 5 2009

Taken: Daddy Tortures Best

Mill's towering righteousness is just too much for this weak little film, whose only interest is in affirming the white patriarchal prerogative.


Thursday, January 29 2009

A Perverted Perception of Movies

The success or failure of The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema hinges greatly on what one thinks of Slavoj Zizek's free-range associations on desire, blood, human waste, castration, and social control in films.


Thursday, January 22 2009

On the End of Every Fork

Our Daily Bread is a 21st century naked lunch in the true sense of what Burroughs meant, not a scattershot impressionistic sensory assault, but an eye-opener that can actually change the way one views the world.


Thursday, January 15 2009

Slumdog Millionaire: All Eyes East

Slumdog Millionaire's Golden Globe win for Best Motion Picture/Drama is like a flare warning Hollywood about its future in cinema.


Thursday, January 8 2009

Guerrilla Patton

Soderbergh's supersized retelling of the Che Guevara legend is an uncomfortable mix of war procedural and unabashed hero worship; ingenious but flawed.


Thursday, December 18 2008

Exquisite Agony

This holiday season, Mickey Rourke (in The Wrestler) and Will Smith (Seven Pounds) suffer for all us sinners.


Thursday, December 11 2008

Shameful Exposure

A fiery Kate Winslet saves morality tale in 'The Reader' while a similarly powerful Meryl Streep can't do the same for the overly certain 'Doubt'.


Thursday, December 4 2008

Frost/Nixon: An Interview with a Vampire

Frank Langella seethes and pulsates with cunning as the deposed president in 'Frost/Nixon', a far cry from the grinning cowboy executive Josh Brolin presented in 'W'.


Thursday, November 20 2008

Cut to the Whatever

Marc Forster's Quantum of Solace slices away nearly every element of the old Bond, and leaves nothing in its place.


Thursday, November 13 2008

Dying on the Mind: ‘A Christmas Tale’ and ‘House of the Sleeping Beauties’

In the moody House of the Sleeping Beauties, an aging widower fights despair with a succession of naked beauties, while in the sprawling A Christmas Tale, a family bickers around their mother’s terminal illness.


Thursday, November 6 2008

Keith Haring: Warhol, Jr.

The Universe of Keith Haring digs under the artist's pop veneer and goes all the way to the surface, finding some kind of meaning in simplicity.


Thursday, October 30 2008

Robot Roll Call: Mystery Science Theater 3000

The 20th anniversary DVD release of Mystery Science Theater 3000 is less a greatest-hits package than a reminder of simple joys, like mocking lousy movies.


Thursday, October 23 2008

Identities in Flux

Kaufman’s Synecdoche, New York is performance art as civilization-annihilating Godzilla, whereas Eastwood's Changeling is a film that wins the stranger than fiction category, hands-down.


Thursday, October 16 2008

Why, Spike, Why?

For all of Spike Lee's status as the eternal Young Turk, he's also a moviemaker who came of age just a few years after the brat pack of Spielberg, Scorsese, de Palma, et al.


Thursday, October 9 2008

Irrational Exuberance

Watching Mike Leigh’s sublimely fresh Happy-Go-Lucky, you could be forgiven for wondering what the rest of humanity is so depressed about, anyway.


Thursday, October 2 2008

In the Land of the Blind

Fernando Meirelles’ adaptation of Jose Saramago’s Blindness fails because the source material doesn’t easily lend itself to cinema, and because the filmmaker is clearly out of his depth.


Thursday, September 25 2008

Pretty Vacant

The world of The Duchess should have been one of fiery tumult, but little of that foment makes it into this film’s garden party landscape.


Thursday, September 18 2008

The Cold Season

Just when you start worrying about the state of American movies, and wondering whether the business is going to swandive into irrelevance, along comes something as vital and jolting as Frozen River.


Thursday, September 11 2008

Women Without Men

Diane English’s version of The Women barely nudges from its Martha Stewart interiors, exchanging insights for platitudes. It’s a cup of lukewarm tea, without even a biscuit on the side.


Thursday, September 4 2008

Are We Not Funny? Laugh, Damn You!

The problem with the (inexplicably popular) Tropic Thunder may be that Ben Stiller is just not a funny filmmaker. Not even remotely.


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