Archive for September, 2006

Facing the Giants
Big Things on Small Budgets

Time for me to put up or shut up.
Earlier this year, in a commentary regarding Superman Returns published at Jeffrey Overstreet’s Looking Closer, I whined, “It’s always comforting, I guess, to know that my next $200 million Whopper will taste just like my last $200 million Whopper… Sure, [the summer] blockbusters have all been entertaining […]

The Last King of Scotland
A Journey into Darkest Everywhere

A fitting match for its subject, Kevin Macdonald’s The Last King of Scotland alternately charms and bludgeons, tells lucid truths and weaves fantastical fictions, walks the straight and narrow and then wanders off into the weeds.
The bulk of the movie’s factual elements deals with the very real, very human, and very monstrous Idi Amin. Not […]

Contemporary Cliches from an Age Gone By

Well, not all films “based on a true story” are created equal. That’s just a fact.
I’ve seen a lot of these in the last year or so. First there was The Greatest Game Ever Played, which was not the greatest movie ever made; it seemed more interested in CGI scoreboards than it was […]

All the King’s Men
Disappointing Cinematic Mastery

All the King’s Men played out on the screen before me like a fresh spring breeze blowing through the eaves of the dark, sinister, slapdash forest that mainstream filmmaking has largely become. In this remade retelling of Robert Penn Warren’s fictionalization of depression-era Louisiana politics, director Steve Zaillian brings us not only a period […]

Everyone’s Hero
The Family Film That Couldn't Try Any Harder

In the interest of protecting my reputation as an animated-film lover, I’m going to have to set aside my nit-picking for this review. (See my review of Monster House if you’re wondering what I mean.) The truth is, I’ve tried to use the same critical criteria for live-action and animated films, rather than viewing them […]

Jesus Camp
Not Your Everyday Christian Kids

Documentary filmmakers Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady follow a small group of children to Pastor Becky Fischer’s “Kids on Fire” summer camp where kids are taught a worldview quite different from the one that most, and I do mean most, Americans are familiar with.
Every subculture has its own pretense. We all come into this world […]

The U.S. vs. John Lennon
The Real Ballad of John and Yoko

As a nominal Beatles fan and dedicated Flower Power scoffer, I found that The U.S. vs. John Lennon provided an abundance of opportunities to gain insight not only into the life and purpose of John Lennon, but the equally mythologized and criticized era in which he made his voice heard. While exploring Lennon’s very public […]

Gridiron Gang
"The Rock" Tries Hard and Mostly Succeeds

I love football. In general, I also love football movies. Gridiron Gang does not love me back.
I fully expected to use words very similar to those in reviewing Gridiron Gang, and was pleasantly surprised to have my low expectations demolished. But even as the movie was playing, I remained skeptical. It wasn’t until the film’s […]

My Country, My Country
In Lament of Profound Patriotism

The prevailing trend in documentary filmmaking is to abandon the illusion of objectivity. Michael Moore might be most responsible for this development, stepping out from behind the camera to be an active participant in the filmmaking itself, in the entertainment that his movies provide, and in helping to shape the events that his films portray. […]

This Film is Not Yet Rated
Blowing the Lid Off Of... Well, Something

Despite its obvious bias against the “insidious form of censorship” that is the MPAA rating system, This Film is Not Yet Rated provides a significant amount of information about the history and structure of the Motion Picture Association of America as well as a surplus of conversation fodder for both the film aficionado and the […]