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Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Assassins and killers

Speilberg's new film an uneasy melding of action thriller and ethical drama

Posted By on Wed, Dec 28, 2005 at 12:00 AM

You can tell a director thinks his film is really important when he turns a two-hour story into a three-hour ordeal. Whether it’s artistic indecision or overindulgence, these movies exhaust the patience and bladders of their audiences. If elaborate, multifaceted films like Syriana and Crash can deliver the goods in two hours, there’s no reason King Kong, The Producers, The New World and Munich can’t do likewise.

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Memoirs of a Geisha

Posted By on Wed, Dec 28, 2005 at 12:00 AM

In adapting Arthur Golden’s bestselling novel Memoirs of a Geisha to the big screen, American director Rob Marshall (Chicago) steadfastly refuses to delve beyond the white face paint and find out what really happens to a woman’s emotional state after a life of male servitude. Instead, he’s more content to focus on all the baubles, beads and bling of the lifestyle, at the expense of the characters.

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The Producers

Posted By on Wed, Dec 28, 2005 at 12:00 AM

If you want a textbook example of how not to bring a Tony Award-winning musical to the big screen, you have only to look at the lifeless train wreck that is The Producers. Susan Stroman, the celebrated director-choreographer of the stage production, proves to be a painfully inept and unimaginative filmmaker, turning the rambunctious Broadway hit into a cinematic dud.

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The Ringer

Posted By on Wed, Dec 28, 2005 at 12:00 AM

Say this for Johnny Knoxville’s latest attempt at comedic stardom: It has a great sound track. Unlike the sweet-and-sour comedy of, say, Stuck on You, there’s nothing even remotely daring in director Barry Blaustein’s approach to this material. The Ringer stumbles around for its first half-hour, unsure of what kind of comedy it’s trying to be. The film, as predictable as such dumb ’80s comedies as Soul Man, fails to deliver on either laughs or heart, and all you’re left with are the songs.

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Wolf Creek

Posted By on Wed, Dec 28, 2005 at 12:00 AM

Wolf Creek is sensationalistic and ugly, a horror franchise that tries to cash in on somebody else’s dead children. Liz and Kristy (Cassandra Magrath and Kestie Morassi), a pair of sexy young Brits, hook up with Ben (Nathan Phillips) on a cross-country drive across the dusty Outback. When their car mysteriously dies, an amiable yokel named Mick Taylor (John Jarratt) comes to their rescue, towing them to his camp for an overnight repair. When the trio awakens, however, they find themselves in a world of stomach-churning violence.

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Rumor Has It

Posted By on Wed, Dec 28, 2005 at 12:00 AM

Rob Reiner’s best decision in this movie was omitting any graphic Jennifer Aniston-Kevin Costner sex scene, instead leaving it to the audience’s imagination. It’s not the May-December romance that makes one cringe as much as the circumstances surrounding their intimacy: Aniston’s character Sarah is frantically hunting down Costner’s Beau to question him about the affairs he had with her mother and grandmother decades ago. Unfortunately, Rumor Has It takes what could have been a grown-up picture about relationships and turns it into a goofball comedy that belongs in a low-rent sitcom.

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Queens reigns supreme

Posted By on Wed, Dec 28, 2005 at 12:00 AM

Queens reigns supreme In The Bridge is Over, rapper KRS ONE issued a fatwa against fellow MCs from the borough of Queens: “Manhattan keeps on making it, Brooklyn keeps on takin it, Bronx keeps creatin it and Queens keeps on fakin it.” The question of street cred — who has...

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Blanket of snow and sorrow

A poet uncovers the power of love

Posted By on Wed, Dec 28, 2005 at 12:00 AM

Poet Jonathan Johnson (author of Mastodon, 80% Complete) has written a love song and elegy about the power of place. In Hannah and the Mountain: Notes Toward a Wilderness Fatherhood, that place is a mountain homestead in northern Idaho. Johnson and his wife Amy give themselves over to building a...

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Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Way hot West

Bareback, er, Brokeback Mountain: Where good guys get it in the end

Posted By on Wed, Dec 21, 2005 at 12:00 AM

Although the film starts out hot, it will disappoint some and comfort others to know that this film isn’t all about gay sex. As the decades pass, the two cowboy lovers' mustaches and clothing become more garish, but their romance settles into a pensive, intimate rhythm. Struggling to enjoy all of the things that straight people take for granted, the two seem, by the end, like an old married couple. In a way, the film argues, that’s exactly what they are.

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Fun with Dick and Jane

Posted By on Wed, Dec 21, 2005 at 12:00 AM

When Dick gets promoted at his high-tech, high-pressure company, he and his wife Jane indulge in all the luxuries they once denied themselves. Their prosperity, however, is short-lived. As his CEO Jack McCallister (a terrifically slimy Alec Baldwin) makes a speedy helicopter exit, Dick learns he’s been promoted just so he can be the fall guy for Globodyne’s shady, Enron-like accounting. With the company belly up and his pension check nonexistent, Dick and Jane resort to desperate measures: Dick and Jane become bumbling, polite — and surprisingly successful — suburban bandits.

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