Wednesday, February 27, 2002

Celebrity

Posted By on Wed, Feb 27, 2002 at 12:00 AM

Last year, Mariah Carey suffered a very public emotional breakdown, then trundled off to a clinic for some psychic decompression. Now, to add insult to injury, her record company has given her the kiss-off, albeit with a $28 million parachute. Should we laugh or cry? Neither, suggests Chris Rojek...

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Nightmare at high noon

On the road to a fundamentalist apocalypse in Afghanistan.

Posted By on Wed, Feb 27, 2002 at 12:00 AM

Unabashedly an exposé, a condemnation of the Taliban from a Muslim's point of view, the latest film from Iranian director Moshen Makhmalbaf is roughly hewn. Yet it's also a film of visual surprises and an abiding strangeness that lingers long after one's initial viewing.

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Queen of the Damned

Posted By on Wed, Feb 27, 2002 at 12:00 AM

The latest film based on the writings of popular horror concoctor Anne Rice isn't so much a sequel as a troubled animal unto itself. It's as if late Detroit vocalist Aaliyah, the intoxicating highlight of the movie, knew this was her last chance to steal the show. But there isn't much to steal.

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Beijing Bicycle

Posted By on Wed, Feb 27, 2002 at 12:00 AM

Here's a modern Chinese variation on De Sica's The Bicycle Thief, uncertain in tone but enlightening in what it shows us of contemporary Beijing. Overall the impression is that director Wang Xiaoshuai doesn't want to upset us too greatly, and the film suffers a little from this kindness.

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Vengo

Posted By on Wed, Feb 27, 2002 at 12:00 AM

Director Tony Gatlif's homage to flamenco music is thinly disguised as an old-fashioned revenge drama. The music is powerful and passionate and entrancing and endless, but as an attempt to offer a dramatic corollary to the music, this is a badly bobbled job.

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Dragonfly

Posted By on Wed, Feb 27, 2002 at 12:00 AM

A supernatural thriller with Kevin Costner? As Dragonfly unfolds its lackluster wings, its mystery fades into New Age sentimentality spiked with a few scattered horror-show shocks. Despite its airy-fairy, feel-good ending, it never soars.

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Two grande dames

Valuable new essay collections from Joan Didion and Susan Sontag.

Posted By on Wed, Feb 27, 2002 at 12:00 AM

They could be sisters. Joan Didion and Susan Sontag share so much, it's hard to believe they have no common genetic ancestry. The two do share a tight relationship on the time line, however: both coming of age artistically during the tumult and excitement of the '60s, waging parallel battles...

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Two grande dames

Valuable new essay collections from Joan Didion and Susan Sontag.

Posted By on Wed, Feb 27, 2002 at 12:00 AM

They could be sisters. Joan Didion and Susan Sontag share so much, it's hard to believe they have no common genetic ancestry. The two do share a tight relationship on the time line, however: both coming of age artistically during the tumult and excitement of the '60s, waging parallel battles...

Continue reading »

Wednesday, February 20, 2002

Letters to a Young Contrarian

Posted By on Wed, Feb 20, 2002 at 12:00 AM

For all the sad stories we read of how churlish anti-intellectualism rules the schoolyard and the do-gooders of the PTA, Basic Books offers America’s youth a bracing corrective with its new Art of Mentoring Series. Christopher Hitchens, columnist and commentator extraordinaire, delivers the inaugural volume. Post-Sept. 11, his extended...

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Très cool

Jean-Pierre Melville’s moody foray into the sunset of French noir.

Posted By on Wed, Feb 20, 2002 at 12:00 AM

Poised between the last days of film noir and the beginning of the French New Wave, Jean-Pierre Melville's 1955 cult item (translation: "Bob the Gambler") manages to seem both prescient and nostalgic. It’s the kind of film where the body count can be rather high but the overall mood remain one of easy insouciance.

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