Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Return of the mack

Jude Law again shows us what's it all about

Posted By on Wed, Nov 10, 2004 at 12:00 AM

The world of the Casanova has changed a tad since the original Alfie, featuring Michael Caine in the title role, came out in 1966. Feminism and AIDS has definitely taken the luster off the image of free-wheeling, free-banging swingers whose only care in the world is the right lighting in their “bachelor pads.” But the charm and deceptively deep morality of director Charles Shyer’s remake is that guys like Alfie, this time played with a perfect balance of swagger and clumsiness by Jude Law, will always be around.

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Sideways

Posted By on Wed, Nov 10, 2004 at 12:00 AM

Wine, food, the California landscape, life, the meaning of it, your ability to drink from its goodness — these are little bits of what Sideways is about. The entertaining, brutally honest and sometimes hilarious flick follows an odd couple of men in the middle of their lives who go on a road trip and end up finding themselves. Paul Giamatti hits all his marks as a depressed rejected novelist fanatical about wine; as does Thomas Haden Church as a has-been actor trying to get laid before he gets married. It’s a comedy rare for its complexity; funny but smart.

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Fade to Black

Posted By on Wed, Nov 10, 2004 at 12:00 AM

Fortunately for Jay-Z, the twists on his roller coaster of a year can’t derail the energy that crackles throughout Fade to Black. The documentary tracks the recording of his latest album and captures his groundbreaking Madison Square Garden concert last year, which sold out in two hours. The rapper’s narration peppers the film with reflections on his life and career, but the rare studio footage is where the movie’s real meat can be found.

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Ju-on

Posted By on Wed, Nov 10, 2004 at 12:00 AM

This Japanese film is the basis of the new American remake The Grudge, widely panned by critics. However, the original isn’t much more than a well-oiled ghost story machine, more creepy than frightening. It succeeds well enough to make it a solid if not especially memorable genre entry.

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Undertow

Posted By on Wed, Nov 10, 2004 at 12:00 AM

Director David Gordon Green’s latest poetic excursion into the grotesque rural South may not provide much in the way of thrills, but for viewers with a taste for the willfully obscure, it might satisfy. The story of two white-trash teenage boys on the run from a sadistic uncle who covets their father’s stash of gold coins, the film is far more interested in idiot-savant character quirks than actual suspense.

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The Incredibles

Posted By on Wed, Nov 10, 2004 at 12:00 AM

The Disney/Pixar collaboration — which brought you Finding Nemo and Monsters, Inc. — strikes gold again with this tale of superheroes returning to their normal, everyday existence. There’s a stellar lineup of stars lending their voices, among them Holly Hunter, Samuel L. Jackson, Wallace Shawn and Jason Lee. Oh yeah, and Craig T. Nelson.

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Primer

Posted By on Wed, Nov 10, 2004 at 12:00 AM

"Murky" is the word for this intelligent but too thickly plotted low-budget sci-fi effort by Shane Carruth. Two friends dicking around in their garage invent something sinister; but the interesting elements are marred by the abnormally high scientific mumble-jumble quotient. However, Carruth deserves some credit for making this occasionally interesting puzzle with a miniscule budget, even if it’s unnecessarily obscure and too clever for its own good.

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Wednesday, November 3, 2004

A choice film

Period drama follows trials of London abortionist

Posted By on Wed, Nov 3, 2004 at 12:00 AM

If ever there could be a gray area on the abortion issue, the makers of Vera Drake have found it. Compassion — not politics — drives the script and brilliant performances. Imelda Staunton most certainly deserves and will receive an Oscar nod for the title role, playing a woman in 1950s London who quietly helps young women get abortions.

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Ray

Posted By on Wed, Nov 3, 2004 at 12:00 AM

Like many Hollywood biopics, this is a respectful, if not particularly penetrating, homage to Ray Charles. Jamie Foxx turns in a remarkable performance, in which he meticulously and convincingly recreates Ray Charles. But ultimately, what makes Ray a real pleasure is the music. Charles’ toe-tapping, heart-thumping R&B is passionately infectious and Foxx’s bouncing body jitterbug is a dead-on imitation of the blind soul king.

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Voices of Iraq

Posted By on Wed, Nov 3, 2004 at 12:00 AM

Three filmmakers distributed 150 digital video cameras to people throughout Iraq and encouraged them talk about post-Saddam life there, but the end result was edited to make a certain point: that you shouldn’t despair, and things aren’t as bad as you’ve been told. Despite this, it’s an interesting film, and the filmmakers manage to keep their agenda in check for long stretches.

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