• The Electrical Life of Louis Wain

    The Electrical Life of Louis Wain

    ★★★

    52/100

    A.V. Club review. Surprisingly good during its Foy-centric stretch, I suspect because the writers found little about Wain's marriage and thus were forced to more or less invent the whole relationship, making it play like fiction. The rest's just a biopic.

  • The Adventures of Robin Hood

    The Adventures of Robin Hood

    ★★★★½

    81/100

    At least third viewing, last seen 2003. I wrote a short review then for Time Out New York, don't have much to add; this film's greatness is entirely superficial, and I grin through the whole damn thing every time.

    The magazine paid me to come up with some words, though, so I did:
    __________________________________________________________

    Errol Flynn was a cocky bastard, and perhaps no role suited him quite so well as that of the self-righteous outlaw of Sherwood Forest, whose…

  • There's Someone Inside Your House

    There's Someone Inside Your House

    ★★

    This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

    40/100

    A.V. Club review. I guessed who the killer was almost immediately, simply because every other possibility seemed likely to set off a wave of protests. (It ain't gonna be the trans character, to cite just one example of many.) Seems like an increasingly tough needle to thread. Film's pretty blah even ignoring the obviousness, though; not sure why Brice is concentrating on chills rather than making more uneasy comedies like The Overnight. What's that? Ka-ching, you say? Ka-ching ka-ching?

  • Crimson Gold

    Crimson Gold

    ★★★½

    66/100

    Second viewing (last seen at Cannes '03), no change. A touch too blatant to achieve greatness—that last apartment is just absurdly lavish—and I now feel there's no need for the film to circle all the way back to its bravura opening scene (though I appreciate that Panahi cuts to the end credits at what appears to be his initial starting point, so that little or nothing actually gets repeated; still, it'd have been more effective imo to conclude on…

  • Eden

    Eden

    [Originally published in Entertainment Weekly.]

    "Let your spirits soar," suggests the tag line for the earnest drama Eden, about a 1965 housewife (Joanna Going), contending with both a patronizing husband (Dylan Walsh) and multiple sclerosis, who discovers astral projection. You may find soaring a bit tricky, however, with the millstone of the picture’s clunky symbolism around your neck. The title is perhaps forgivable (the setting is a prep school called Mount Eden), but when Going’s plight is underlined with a…

  • Blade

    Blade

    [Originally published in Entertainment Weekly.]

    Half human, half vampire (and, as played by Wesley Snipes, stoic to the point of stupor), the titular comic-book hero of the tedious action-horror flick Blade is doomed to forever battle sharp-fanged underworld denizens and his own cravings. The action involves lots of second-rate martial-arts choreography (made even less thrilling by the video’s pan-and-scan job), while the psychological conflicts are filled with unconvincing angst. Booby prizes: the many giggle-provoking moments, as when Kris Kristofferson’s vampire hunter solemnly hands a hematologist a can of "vampire Mace."

    Grade: D+

  • Mr. Jealousy

    Mr. Jealousy

    [Originally published in Entertainment Weekly.]

    There’s a terrific, delirious farce struggling to emerge from the likable romantic comedy Mr. Jealousy, in which Lester Grimm (Eric Stoltz), consumed by you-know-what, joins the therapy group of his girlfriend’s ex-lover (a hilariously arrogant Chris Eigeman), hoping to find out more about her past. Lest Lester give himself away, he poses as his best friend Vince (Carlos Jacott); then Vince joins the group posing as Lester. The comic possibilities are limitless; unfortunately, by the…

  • Smoke Signals

    Smoke Signals

    [Originally published in Entertainment Weekly.]

    It’s no fun saying that the Emperor is naked when he’s so well intentioned and culturally vital, but the sad truth is that Smoke Signals—billed as the first feature written, directed, coproduced, and acted by Native Americans—is borderline atrocious, alternately scoring cheap laughs with Dances With Wolves jokes and assaulting the viewer with cloying, sentimental claptrap. It’s a tough call which of this buddy/road movie’s two protagonists—the nerdy Thomas (Evan Adams) or the passive Victor (Adam Beach)—is the more annoying. Only Gary Farmer, seen in flashbacks as Victor’s long-absent father, rises above the sociological treacle.

    Grade: D

  • Montana

    Montana

    [Originally published in Entertainment Weekly.]

    This film’s title, Montana, like that of Terry Gilliam’s Brazil, symbolizes the happier, carefree existence for which its beleaguered protagonists yearn—as well as the wide open spaces in the plot. This latest wisecracking hitman flick is notable only as a showcase for Philip Seymour Hoffman (Happiness, Patch Adams), who invests a nothing role as a double-dealing accountant with so much effortless comic panache that he seems to have been inserted from some other, more interesting movie.

    Grade: C

  • Ringmaster

    Ringmaster

    [Originally published in Entertainment Weekly.]

    So it’s come to this: a movie based on a freakin’ daytime talk show. Jerry Springer (dubbed ”Jerry Farrelly” here) is a bland, ineffectual supporting character in Ringmaster, forever blinking in befuddlement at his guests. The story centers instead on people so desperate to be validated by TV that they willingly debase themselves before the world. It’s a grotesque, patronizing parade; nobody told Molly Hagan, though, who invests her trailer-park matron with an oddly affecting caricature of dignity.

    Grade: D+

  • Everest

    Everest

    [Originally published in Entertainment Weekly.]

    Critics raved about the visuals in this otherwise conventional IMAX documentary, which chronicles a '96 expedition to reach the mountain’s summit. Unfortunately, what takes the breath away when seen on a screen eight stories tall looks like just another Discovery Channel show when reduced to 27 inches. Moreover, reading the closing credits—which say ”="some climbing scenes were recreated"— is quite a letdown.

    Grade: B-

  • Meet Joe Black

    Meet Joe Black

    [Originally published in Entertainment Weekly; the section devoted to Beloved appears to be missing from EW.com.]

    "This film has been modified from its original version," states the disclaimer that begins many a videocassette. "It has been formatted to fit your TV." Why stop there? Some movies would benefit from another warning: "This film needs modifying. Keep a finger on the fast-forward button." Two egregious cases in point: Meet Joe Black, Martin Brest’s three-hour remake of 1934’s unassuming Death Takes a…