Back in the glory days of the 1940s, Mickey Mouse and his pals Donald
Duck and Goofy were the crown jewels of Disneys animation empire.
These days their rare cartoon appearances are mere afterthoughts compared
to blockbusters like Toy Story and Finding Nemo.
Now that the geniuses at Pixar are taking their product elsewhere,
Disney itself has vowed to close down its traditional animation division
and focus on computer generated films. Perhaps as some sort of last
hurrah for the old hand-drawn days, Disney has released The Three
Musketeers, starring its old stalwarts, Mickey, Donald and Goofy.
Though it features some humorous Three Stooges-style gags, the films
is eventually undone by its horrible musical numbers, which are comical
spins on the music of Beethoven and Tchaikovsky. If youre
a fan of the original Disney characters, do yourself a favor and pick
up the Walt Disney Treasures DVDs, which collect decades worth
of classic shorts. (G) Rating: 1; Posted 9/3/04
Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
If you didn't see Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind during
it's theatrical release earlier this year, then you missed the best
film of 2004. Forget Spider-Man, Will Smith, Jesus and the
year's other blockbuster action heroes, screenwriter Charlie Kaufman's
beautifully eccentric and wildly imaginative masterpiece puts all
of them to shame.
You may know Kaufman from his previous films, Being John Malkovich
and Adaptation, both critically acclaimed for their clever
and oddball premises. Fortunately, unlike those two efforts, which
were more fun to describe than actually sit through, Eternal Sunshine
of the Spotless Mind has a concept that pays off.
Jim Carrey (the superstar funny man in his best dramatic role to
date) and Kate Winslet (who most of the world remembers from that
little movie about the leaky boat) play a dysfunctional couple that
cant seem to stay apart, despite having their memories of each
other erased. Considering the outrageous storyline and surreal imagery,
its mind-boggling that this film turned out so emotionally powerful,
especially in the hands of a director (Michel Gondry) best known for
his music videos.
If youre in the mood to have a mini-Kaufman film fest, then
you should also pick up his grossly under appreciated 2002 adaptation
of Gong Show host Chuck Barris autobiography, Confessions
of a Dangerous Mind. (R) Rating: 5; Posted 9/3/04
with Conan O'Brien The Best of Triumph the Insult Comic Dog
Thanks to talk show host Conan O'Brien, late night TV has become
home to such outrageous characters as a masturbating bear and a robot
pimp, as well as skits like "If They Mated." Undoubtedly,
O'Brien's greatest contribution to television comedy has been Triumph
the Insult Comic Dog, a character responsible for what some have rightly
called the funniest moments from the last ten years of television.
Created and voiced by former Saturday Night Live writer Robert
Smigel (also remembered as one of "Da Bears" Superfans),
Triumph's appearances on Late Night with Conan O'Brien have
made him a pop culture star, complete with his own CD and music video.
This new DVD collects Triumph's most popular escapades, including
his dog-humping visit to the Westminster Dog Show, his appearance
on Hollywood Squares (where he sat next to Kathy Lee Gifford), the
notorious altercation with rapper Eminem at the MTV Video Awards,
and most notably, his hilarious roasting of Star Wars
fans waiting in line for the film's premiere. (NR) Rating: 5; Posted
The newest film from maverick director Jim Jarmusch is a series of
vignettes, featuring an eclectic cast consuming massive amounts of
coffee and cigarettes. The caffeine and nicotine consumption are all
that connect these different segments, which were filmed over the
course of almost two decades. Some of the scenes prove memorable,
others utterly pointless. The best of the bunch are the newest shorts,
one of which features actors Alfred Molina and Steve Coogan playing
themselves, and another has Oscar winner Cate Blanchett playing double
roles. The rest of the oddball cast includes Roberto Benigni, Steven
Wright, Spike Lees siblings Joie and Cinque, Steve Buscemi,
Iggy Pop, Tom Waits, Jack and Meg White of the White Stripes, Bill
Murray and rappers GZA and RZA.
Unless you're a hardcore Jarmusch fan or you've secretly been dying
to see Murray rif with the Wu-Tang Clan, you probably won't find much
here to your liking. (R) Rating: 3; Posted 9/3/04
Sometimes it seems like nothing is harder for Hollywood to pull-off
than the straightforward, honestly emotional family drama. Thankfully,
our hockey-loving, bacon-producing neighbors to the north dont
seem to have that problem. From Canadian director Denys Arcand comes
The Barbarian Invasions, a darkly funny and powerful meditation
on one mans death and the friends, family and former lovers
who gather around him for the end.
Rémy (Rémy Girard) is a college professor who has spent
his life pursuing both intellectual and sexual extremes.
Now, as his life slips away from him, hes left to take stock
of what he actually achieved along the way and what he never gained,
like a relationship with his millionaire son. An unglamorized if offbeat
portrayal of death, The Barbarian Invasions is an extremely
smart, well-written example of how moving and meaningful every day
drama can be. Hollywood take note. (R) Rating: 4; Posted 8/5/04
The first half of Quentin Tarantinos Kill Bill opus
was a mad, bloody pastiche of Japanese samurai sword fights, gory
anime and various pop culture tidbits from the last 30 years or so.
In other words, most everything that the ingenious, man-child writer/director
loves. The whole package was also wrapped with the gorgeous camera
work, fractured narrative structure and super slick soundtrack that
have become Tarantino trademarks.
Kill Bill Volume Two expands the lists of influences to include
cheesy Chinese Kung Fu flicks and visceral 1970s American revenge
films, like 1977s Rolling Thunder, a Tarantino favorite.
Taken all together, its an impressive collection of references
and cinematic styles. Unfortunately, the pay-off of Volume Two
fails to live up to the promise of Volume One. Sure, Uma Thurmans
vengeful Bride finally does get to Kill Bill as you might
expect, but compared to the final 30 minutes of Volume One,
Volume Twos climax is thoroughly under whelming. Its
great, bloody fun seeing The Bride hack and slash her way through
Bills minions, consisting of Michael Madsen as a self-loathing,
down-and-out swordsman and Daryl Hannah as a sinister one-eyed assassin.
But once theyre both disposed of, the film loses all momentum.
After three hours of over the top action, were left with some
oddball family drama and a long meditation on Superman.
With both DVDs now available, fans can finally watch both halves as
one film, the way Tarantino originally intended. Unfortunately, I
think youll find that while impressive in its scope and style,
Kill Bill peaks about two hours too soon. (R) Rating: 3; Posted
Despite all the gory films made to look like music videos and the
million dollar special effects of Hollywoods last few decades,
when it comes to being downright bizarre and visually surreal, few
films can match director Tod Brownings infamous 1932 cult classic
Browning was a colorful eccentric best known for directing the original
Dracula starring Bela Lugosi. For Freaks, Browning assembled
a cast of real-life sideshow superstars, including Siamese twins Daisy
and Violet Hilton, Human Skeleton Peter Robinson, Half Man/Half Woman
Josephine Joseph, microcephalics Zip and Pip (inspiration for the
cartoon Zippy the Pinhead) and Johnny Eck The Legless
Boy. The scene-stealer among the group is Radian The Human Torso,
who in one legendary scene demonstrates how he lights his own cigarette
(top that, David Lynch).
This story of betrayal, which was banned in Great Britain for 30 years,
begins when a beautiful acrobat and her strongman boyfriend decide
to seduce a dwarf in order to steal his inheritance. When the circus
performers decide to take their revenge on the scheming beauty, you
end up with what is absolutely one of the Top Five most bizarre endings
in movie history.
Now that this Citizen Kane of cult classics is finally available
on DVD, dont just take my word for it. See for yourself, as
long as youre not afraid of becoming One of us! One of
us! (UR) Rating: 5; Posted 8/5/04
Passion of the Christ
Unless you recently awoke from a coma, you probably already heard
something or other about this little movie. Christians around the
world flocked to it in droves, while critics (generally a godless,
heathen bunch) were, on average, less than enthused. For those who
already have a deep, personal connection to the story of Jesus, director
Mel Gibsons mercilessly graphic movie will surely prove deeply
affecting. However, when you look at The Passion of the Christ
as merely a film and not a piece of religious dogma, it proves dull,
excessively violent and even laughably ridiculous in parts.
Gibson's decision to have a pale-faced, androgynous Satan float wordlessly
through the background of several scenes comes off as hokey and over-the-top.
When the devil shows up at one point cradling some sort of deformed,
demonic Mini-Me, it's apparently supposed to be a creepy perversion
of the Virgin Mary with child, but it proves about as creepy as a
clip from an Ozzy Osbourne video.
Actor James Caviezel finally lives up to some of the promise he showed
in 1998's The Thin Red Line by delivering an admirable performance,
even though it consists for the most part of simply stumbling around,
near death. However, no level of fine acting can elevate the sappy,
melodramatic flashbacks showing Jesus and his mother in happier times,
including the young carpenter's apparent invention of the table and
chair combo (I seem to forget that Bible passage.).
Is the film anti-Semitic? Will it bring lost souls to Christ by demonstrating
in graphic detail how he suffered on the cross? It's hard to answer
those questions. But bottom line, it's easy to see that this is simply
put a weak and deeply flawed film. (R) Rating: 2; Posted 8/5/04
Films as tender and relaxed as The Station Agent just don't
get made anymore. Well-made feel-good movies are, for the most part,
a thing of the past. Last year's Whale Rider, regarded by
many as 2003's best film, was a major exception. Though The Station
Agent wasn't as lauded as Whale Rider, it did prove
a real crowd-pleaser at the Sundance Film Festival, taking home awards
for writer/director Tom McCarthy and actress Patricia Clarkson.
Peter Dinklage plays a sullen dwarf who inherits an abandoned train
station and with it, a town full of nosey neighbors. Simple, subtle
and sweetly humorous, The Station Agent is a great way to
waste a couple of hours curled up on the couch. (R) Rating: 3; Posted
Larry Clark's Kids is one of the most disturbing films of the last
several years, featuring grade school kids embroiled in sex and drugs.
City of God is similar in theme only with loads of guns thrown
in. Think Kids mixed with Goodfellas and you've
got a good picture of this breathtaking film.
Teenage gangs rule the streets in the slums of Rio de Janeiro, but
young Rocket (Alexandre Rodrigues) dreams only of being a photographer.
Over the years, it falls to him to bare witness as hoods rise and
fall, and the slums are consumed with violence. From the time he was
just a small boy, Lil Dice (Leandro Firmino in a haunting performance)
has been the most ruthless gangster on the streets, but he'll never
be satisfied until the whole neighborhood is his.
Based on real events, this dark epic has all the energy and flash
of a first-rate music video while still boasting the drama of an intense
documentary. Not to be missed. (R) Rating: 4; Posted 7/4/04
Like a cross between X-Men and Ghostbusters, the
Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense is a collection of government-funded,
super-powered oddballs who spend their nights battling other super-powered
oddballs for the fate of the world. The misfits include a telepathic
fishman, an emotionally fragile firestarter and a big, red demonic
manchild with a soft spot for kittens (and these are the good guys).
Based on a comic book series by writer/artist Mike Mignola, the film
does a great job of translating Mignola's lush, atmospheric artwork
into cinematic eye candy, including dead-on character designs and
CGI effects that blend seamlessly with the live-action shots. Unfortunately,
for a setup this offbeat and imaginative, Hellboy takes itself awfully
serious at times.
An unrequited love and a strained father/son relationship pack far
less wallop than Hellboy's stone-fisted right cross. Hellboy
works best when the action and the witty one-liners are coming fast
and furious. When it pauses for melodrama, you start to realize that
at a little over two hours, it's a little too long. (PG-13) Rating:
4; Posted 7/4/04
(The Complete Series)
Lots of different TV shows made their debut on DVD lately, including
all 52 episodes of the 1967 Spider-Man cartoon (from the
days when TV cartoons had a 5-cent budget) and the 1970s live-action
Wonder Woman series (from the days when young boys everywhere
loved to watch Linda Carter change clothes by spinning around really
fast). There have also been new seasons of high profile shows like
Six Feet Under, The Simpsons and All In The
Family. Amidst all that, it might be easy to forget about Playmakers,
the first original dramatic series produced by ESPN.
Playmakers follows the behind the scenes drama of a fictional
pro football team, including the struggles of a veteran running back
returning from a knee injury, the wild young running back who claimed
the starting job, a hard-hitting linebacker haunted by his past, a
banged-up quarterback forced to play through pain and the coach who
tries to hold them all together. Football has rarely, if ever, been
adequately dramatized on screen, but Playmakers scores big,
thanks to executive producer John Eisendrath and a cast of largely
unknowns. One of the standouts is Tony Denison as coach George, a
role that finally lets Denison make good on the potential he first
showed 18 years ago on Crime Story (another great TV show
now available on DVD).
It's not hard to figure out why the NFL pressured ESPN to can this
show since it gives away far too many of pro football's dark secrets.
For example, episode three, "The Piss Man," details the
elaborate lengths players go through to beat drug testing. This three-disc
set features all 11 episodes of the show's run, a short but memorable
run that proved once and for all that ESPN is about more than just
"Sportscenter," "College Gameday" and daytime
flashbacks of Lou Ferigno in his prime. (NR) Rating: 4; Posted 7/4/04
Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Aside from all the Oscars it took home earlier this year, Return
of the King should also claim the prize as the most over-praised
move in film history. It isn't anywhere close to being one of the
greatest films ever, as some have claimed. It wasn't the best film
of 2003 (that title should have gone to Whale Rider or 21
Grams). It's not even the best of the Lord of the Rings
trilogy. The accolades the movie received were really meant for the
series as a whole, which of course was a mammoth accomplishment that
fully deserved lofty praise.
However, when judged solely on its own merit, Return of the King
proves too long and too cluttered to be considered perfect. Granted,
the effects are flawless, the battle scenes stand head and shoulders
above most any others ever filmed in terms of grandeur. Director Peter
Jackson is able to maintain a high level of tension throughout, or
at least until the ending, which staggers on far longer than it should
As with most any great journey, this quest of hobbits, dwarves and
wizards seemed far more exciting when it was just beginning rather
than once they finally reached their objective. (PG-13) Rating: 3;
This is one of those films that boasts an interesting premise, but
ultimately proves more enjoyable to simply describe than to actually
B-movie superstar Bruce Campbell (the Evil Dead series) plays
an aging Elvis Presley, who's living in a Texas nursing home under
the guise of an Elvis impersonator. Ossie Davis (NAACP Image Awards
Hall of Famer) plays another resident at this colorful little retirement
home who believes himself to be JFK, dyed black. Together, the pair
must battle a resurrected Egyptian mummy who feeds on souls while
dressed like a cowboy.
Sounds like the makings of a camp classic, right? Especially given
Campbell's spirited performance as the cranky old King, who doesn't
let a bad hip stop him from doing a little Kung Fu Fightin'.
However, director Don Coscarelli, creator of the low budget horror
hit Phantasm, can't work the same magic here. At times, Coscarelli
seems to think his film is creepy, funny, even dramatic (as Elvis
longs to be reunited with his family), yet all it really achieves
is a steady dullness. (R) Rating: 2; Posted 6/4/04
Disney Treasures Wave Three (Limited Edition)
The third wave of the Limited Edition series of Walt Disney Treasures
features several cartoons that the kids will love, including Mickey
Mouse's most popular appearances, and the first ever Donald Duck compilation,
as well as various programs that extend far beyond the typical kiddie
Walt Disney On The Front Lines is a collection of WWII era
educational films and recently declassified training material that
boasts several fascinating shorts. You'll see Minnie Mouse and Pluto
demonstrate how cooking fat can be turned into ammunition; the Seven
Dwarfs combat malaria and even a goose-stepping Donald Duck, who wakes
up inside a nightmarish Nazi world in the hilariously surreal "Der
Feuhrer's Face." There's nothing hilarious about "Education
for Death," which in its details of a young Nazis education,
proves to be the most grim bit of animation Disney has ever produced.
Walt Disney On The Front Lines also includes the feature length
Victory Through Air Power, which just like the rest of these
rarely scene bits of history, features gorgeous art that ranks alongside
Disney's most revered films. Walt Disney's Tomorrowland also
features plenty of rarely scene or never-before-shown material, thought
in this case it's relating to the then burgeoning idea of space exploration,
as well as Walt's ambitious, utopian hopes for his Disney World Resort
The Chronological Donald Volume One collects the famous Duck's
cartoon appearances from 1934 to 1941, including the first appearances
of Daisy Duck and Donald's rambunctious nephews. Mickey Mouse In
Living Color Volume Two covers Mickey's career from 1939 to 1995
and features his best-know works, such as "Mickey and the Beanstalk"
and "Mickey's Christmas Carol." Considering how horrible
Disney's new animated material is, it's at least refreshing to see
that they still know how to treat the classic works in their vaults.
(Unrated) Rating: 5; Posted 6/4/04
Except for being without a doubt the boldest and freshest comedy in
years, Bad Santa almost defies description.
How do you describe a film this painstakingly vulgar and still convince
someone that it has real heart, which it does. In fact, I'd say it
packs ten times the emotional warmth of any lame Tim Allen holiday
snooze fest. You just have to dig beneath the layers of gross-out
jokes and offensive behavior.
But don't worry, it's easy, since you'll be laughing your way through
the entire film. Unless, of course, you're the type of movie fan who's
eager to be offended. In which case, this story of an alcoholic department
store Santa (played by the expertly cast Billy Bob Thornton) and his
relationship with a misfit kid should definitely stay off your Christmas
list. (R) Rating: 5; Posted 6/4/04
Addio Zio Tom
(Goodbye Uncle Tom)
Without a doubt one of the most shocking and bizarre films ever made,
Addio Zio Tom must be seen to be believed. Originally released
in 1971, this Italian-made docudrama of the 19th century American
slave trade was considered so inflammatory that it was completely
recut and heavily edited before release. This directors cut
DVD (which was released a few months ago, but has only just recently
begun to trickle into local, independent video stores) showcases the
complete, uncut film for the first time anywhere.
It's hard to say that watching this sweeping, brutal film is really
an enjoyable experience, especially considering there's no narrative,
but instead just an endless stream of violence and perversion. However,
one can only marvel at the achievement. Utilizing a massive cast of
mostly Haitians, the writing/directing team of Gualtiero Jacopetti
and Franco E. Prosperi crafted epic scenes of mind-blowing atrocities,
juxtaposed with a call for violent revolution (think Nat Turner with
an afro), all set to an outrageously cool score.
Is it over-the-top? Just a little. Educational? Hard to say. Exploitative?
Probably. Unforgettable? Definitely. But is it for everyone? Definitely
not. (NR) Rating: 4; Posted 5/7/04
New York (Special Edition DVD)
Next to Scarface (which got the special edition DVD treatment
last year), Abel Ferraras hip-hop crime drama King of New
York is the favorite film of every red-blooded, American gangster
Inspired in part by the rhymes of rap pioneer Schoolly D, King
of New York was one of the first dramatic films to prominently
feature rap music on the soundtrack. This story of a recently paroled
drug kingpin reclaiming his old territory also features a terrific
cast, including David Caruso (as a pre-NYPD Blue rule-bending
cop), Victor Argo (whose recent passing ended a storied career of
tough guy roles), Christopher Walken (as the cold-blooded king himself)
and Larry Fishburne (from the days before he got an Oscar nomination
and became Laurence), who steals every scene he struts
and giggles his way through.
Among other highlights, the swan song for Fishburnes gold chain
and Kango-clad triggerman features what is easily one of the screens
most memorable screams (think about it, they're tough to pull off).
If that isnt enough to pique your interest, know that this Special
Edition DVD also features documentaries on director Ferrara and rapper
Schoolly D. (R) Rating: 4; Posted 5/7/04
The Last Samurai is among the most predictable films youll
ever see. Before you even press play, you'll already know that the
alcoholic antihero is going to eventually get his act together, learn
to fight like a true warrior and ultimately save Japan for all future
generations, while also finding a little romance along the way. Basically,
if youve seen the trailer, youve seen the whole film.
So why is it still so enjoyable? Thank Tom Cruise, who brings real
integrity to his shallow role as a Civil War vet haunted by his grisly
past, who's seduced by the mysterious world of the samurai. Also thank
director Edward Zwick, who's obviously studied the classic samurai
films of Akira Kurasowa (like The Seven Samurai), as the battle
scenes and sword fights here are stellar. Zwick, of course, has previous
experience with sweeping battle scenes from his stint directing the
1989 Civil War tearjerker Glory.
While the plot packs no surprises whatsoever, The Last Samurai
does score a few points for swapping the typical, Hollywood love scene
for a moving sequence where Cruise's love interest dresses him for
battle. Though it's a guilty one, The Last Samurai is still
a pleasure to watch. (R) Rating: 3; Posted 5/7/04
Poet Picture Show
Without a doubt, 39th Street is one of Kansas City's most unique and
vibrant districts, and Prospero's Books is a major reason why. The
Pit Poet Picture Show serves as a suitable introduction to Prospero's
Pit, the monthly poetry readings held at the store. The creation of
J. Stapleton Jr., who previously filmed No War on Sundays profiling
the anti-war movement in Kansas City, this DVD serves as a backdrop
to round-robin, freefor-all readings, where amateur writers
from across the city gather to present their latest works. The crowd
has grown from just a handful in the early days to a healthy throng,
where readings can go on for hours.
Though this short documentary contains little footage of the actual
readings, it does feature interviews detailing both the excitement
and tragedy within this artistic setting, as well as exclusive performances
by local poets Bob Savino, Caroline OBrien and Victor Smith.
Smith's poem about a drug-addled couple overheard at a bus stop is
easily the most affecting work. The DVD's special features include
22 minutes of bonus scenes (almost as long as the film itself) including
a few more poems and interviews.
If you're not familiar with the eclectic trappings of KC's 39th Street
and you've never checked out Prospero's lively poetry readings, The
Pit Poet Picture Show may just whet your appetite to do so. (NR)
Rating: 3; Posted 5/7/04
Dirty Pretty Things has to be one of the coolest movie titles
of recent memory, and it's the perfect moniker for this haunting love
story about the tarnished, voiceless souls who so often fall through
the cracks of society. Audrey Tautou, star of the quirky French hit
Amelie, stars as an illegal immigrant working as a chambermaid
at a London hotel. There she befriends a kindred spirit, a former
doctor with a dark past (brought to life in an eye-opening performance
from Chiwetel Ejiofor). When their hotel turns out to be part of an
underground organ trade, both desperate immigrants are forced to decide
just what price they're willing to pay for freedom. Like director
Stephen Frears's previous films (The Grifters and Dangerous
Liaisons), Dirty Pretty Things is a menacing mix of authentic
suspense and complicated romance. (R) Rating: 4; Posted 4/2/04
While Mel Gibson's visually-assaulting but seriously flawed The
Passion of The Christ is making believers swoon all across the
country, a far more profound religious experience awaits viewers of
a far-less heralded film, The Magdalene Sisters. Based on actual
events at the Magdalene Laundries in Ireland, this powerful film tells
the story of three young girls who were condemned to lives of forced
labor for such severe crimes as being pregnant, being raped and simply
being too pretty.
A scathing indictment of religious hypocrisy, writer/director
Peter Mullan's film was initially condemned by the Catholic Church.
However, after a groundswell of grassroots support, it has helped
shine a spotlight on the actual women who endured life in these prison-like
sweatshops that were a source of significant revenue for the Church
right up through the 1970s. At present, the only controversy surrounding
this brutal little film is whether or not it's brutal enough, as the
real-life victims of the Magdalene Sisters say their actual experiences
were far worse. (R) Rating: 4; Posted 4/2/04
Much was made of the amount of violence displayed in this, the 4th
film from Gen X auteur Quentin Tarantino. One high-profile review
even called it the bloodiest mainstream film ever made. However, if
you're familiar with the type of beautiful ballets of bloodletting
showcased in Japanese classics like Lightning Swords of Death,
then you'll realize that Tarantino is merely doing what he does best:
sprucing up neglected genres.
Kill Bill is Tarantino's love letter to Japanese samurai
films, Chinese Kung Fu flicks and 1970s American revenge films like
Rolling Thunder, jazzed up with pop culture tidbits like Bruce
Lee's yellow jumpsuit from Game of Death, the jazzy theme song
from the 1960s Green Hornet TV show and even legendary Martial
Arts idol Sonny Chiba himself. Uma Thurman stars as The Bride, a bad-ass
assassin back for vengeance on the former cohorts who betrayed her.
There's not a lot of meat on the story (especially since this is just
one half of a film that proved too long), but as long as you're willing
to be distracted by the amazing fight choreography, you'll never notice
the lack of plot or characterization. As with Tarantino's previous
films, it's not necessarily about the story he's telling, but instead
about how he's telling it. And Tarantino tells this one beautifully.
Bloody, but beautiful. (R) Rating: 5; Posted 4/2/04
Last year's Matrix films rank alongside The Godfather
III and Star War Episode I as the most disappointing sequels
(or prequels, whatever) in movie history. The Wachowski brothers'
status as Hollywood golden boys sure didn't last long. After these
two pretentious, convoluted and colossally boring duds, they've found
themselves replaced as sci-fi/fantasy darlings by a certain barefoot
New Zealander with a hobbit-sized stack of Oscars. With their next
film, maybe the Wachowskis will return to the moody, low-budget roots
they displayed in their 1996 debut, Bound. You're far better
off renting that then Matrix Revolutions. Unless of course
you're actually looking for ridiculous dialogue, laughable death scenes,
computer generated gaudiness and a perplexing, thoroughly unsatisfying
ending. In which case, this is the film for you. (R) Rating: 1; Posted
This search for a vicious witch doctor who hangs snakes from trees
and buries men’s hearts could have played like an Old West version
of The Silence of the Lambs. Unfortunately, director Ron
Howard didn’t have the guts for that.
Despite how creepy the trailers looked, what Howard delivers is a
poorly paced Western
that’s only slightly creepier than Little House on the Prairie
and significantly less compelling than the John Wayne classic The
Searchers, of which it seems a shoddy remake.
Cate Blanchett is a fiery, widowed rancher whose absentee father,
played by Tommy
Lee Jones, has just recently returned home after years of living among
“the savages.” When Blanchett’s daughter is abducted
by a scar-faced Indian medicine man she’s forced to form an
uneasy alliance with Jones in order to track them down. The resulting
scenes of family drama are well-played and rarely overdone, thanks
of course to Jones and Blanchett, who both deliver typically terrific
It’s the action scenes that fall flat, proving convoluted, pointless
and utterly devoid of dramatic impact, right up to the grossly anti-climactic
finale, which plays more like a rough cut than a finished film. (R)
Rating: 2; Posted 3/15/04
It’s going to take a hell of a lot of effort before director
Joel Schumacher can ever make up for his wretched past, most notably
his murder of a promising Batman franchise with the colossal
clunkers Batman Forever and Batman & Robin.
Veronica Guerin is a nice attempt at redemption, but it still
falls flat, thanks to Schumacher’s tendency to avoid subtlety
and originality at all costs.
This is a by-the-numbers retelling of an Irish journalist’s
true-life battle against Dublin’s most powerful drug lord. Oscar
winner Cate Blanchett gives a solid performance as a lionhearted woman
who’s in way over her head, but despite some occasional thrills,
the film can never rise above Schumacher’s bland handling.
For residents of present day Ireland, the real Veronica Guerin
was a courageous and foolhardy fighter whose sacrifice continues to
be celebrated. Unfortunately, this film is both forgettable and best
forgotten. (R) Rating: 2; Posted 3/15/04
Dark comedy is a tricky thing. Get it right, and you’ll have
hilarious results. Get it wrong, and you’ve got a disaster.
Unfortunately, director Danny DeVito has experience with both. His
successes include the 1989 hit War of the Roses and the critically
damned but surprisingly funny Death to Smoochy.
DeVito’s latest effort, Duplex, is an absolute disaster
from start to finish. Ben Stiller
(who seems to alternate good and terrible films) and Drew Barrymore
star as a married couple with an annoying, elderly neighbor. Think
Throw Momma From the Train, only without the train. Or the
Like many of DeVito’s films, the violent shenanigans of the
characters play like the cartoon antics of Wyle E. Coyote, rarely
ever causing real injury. Viewers, however, will definitely feel the
pain, as they suffer through every un-funny minute of this dud. (PG-13)
Rating: 0; Posted 3/15/04
Sand and Fog
Ben Kingsley is quite simply one of the finest actors working today.
Though his roles have ranged from a Nobel Prize winning pacifist (Gandhi)
to a growling, snarling, mad dog killer (Sexy Beast), the
one consistent element throughout his career has been his complete
dedication and believability, no matter the character’s accent,
nationality or situation.
In House of Sand and Fog, Kingsley plays a complicated Iranian
exile whose new house is meant to be a business venture to aid his
struggling family, but ends up being a source of great trouble and
tragedy. As the home’s rightful owner, Jennifer Connelly leaves
behind her flirtation with anorexia and post-Oscar doldrums, erasing
all memory of her unhealthy outing in the Hulk. Connelly
and Kingsley are both excellent as morally ambiguous characters caught
beneath an impending doom from which there is no escape. (R) Rating:
5; Posted 3/15/04
With his 1992 masterpiece Unforgiven, Clint Eastwood raised
the bar so high that he probably put the final nail in the coffin
of the western genre. Kevin Costner apparently didnt get the
memo. Costners lame attempt to craft a revisionist gunfighters
tale of his own boasts all the machismo of the classic Sergio Leone
spaghetti westerns (like The Good, The Bad and The Ugly), but
none of the characterization or moral ambiguity that made Unforgiven
such a compelling classic.
The heroes of Open Range are New Age cowpokes (gruff on the
outside, with Dr. Phil on the inside) who eat, sleep and breathe clichés.
Other than the always-terrific Robert Duvall, the films only
saving grave is the chaotic final shootout.
Unfortunately, youll have to sit through almost two hours of
stale romance and dry exchanges to get there. (R) Rating: 2, Posted 3/7/04
in Wonderland (Masterpiece Edition DVD)
By 1951, when Walt Disney released his animated version of Alice
in Wonderland, it had been in development for over 20 years. Obviously,
Lewis Carrolls whimsical, meandering tale proved a tough book
The finished film was too offbeat and unorganized to rank among Disneys
elite efforts, like Dumbo and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
Still, the film is a testament to the sense of imagination and adventure
that Disneys animation studio once possessed in spades. This
new Masterpiece Edition features several special features unearthed
from the Disney vaults, including a newly discovered Cheshire Cat
musical number, the Mickey Mouse animated short Thru the Mirror
and various Alice-related TV programs of the 1950s.
The DVDs more up to date features include a Virtual Wonderland
Party and the Adventures in Wonderland set-top game. While
this set doesnt offer a new documentary look at the film, it
does include a behind the scenes special from 1951 that provides a
glimpse at how Disney used to be, and how it will seemingly never
be again. (G) Rating: 4, Posted 3/7/04
Writer/director David Mamet is the master of films about con artists,
films where the plot twists and turns like a roller coaster ride.
If only Mamet had done Matchstick Men. Instead, its like
Mamet-lite with a quirky but kind-hearted con man and a plot that
takes one major twist. If you dont see that twist coming, this
will be an enjoyable though ultimately forgettable ride. If you do
see it coming, then Matchstick Men loses every bit of dramatic
tension and becomes so obvious and heavy-handed that not even Nicolas
Cages terrific performance can hold your interest.
Ridley Scott is a fine director (despite Hannibal) and co-star
Sam Rockwell is a fine, young actor (check out his performance in
Confessions of a Dangerous Mind), but instead of renting Matchstick
Men, why not take in one of David Mamets masterpieces, like
The Spanish Prisoner or Heist, and leave the conning
to the experts. (PG-13) Rating: 3, Posted 3/7/04
Book: The Movie
Late last year, the History Channel aired an intelligent, in-depth
documentary tracing the history of comic book superheroes. At the
same time movie theaters were showing American Splendor, one
of the years best films, which also happened to be based on
an underground comic series. Unfortunately, whenever it looks like
comic books are creeping toward mainstream respectability, something
like Comic Book: The Movie comes along to drag them back into
the mire of geeksville. Even worse than the painstaking lack of humor
(which is usually detrimental to a film that purports to be a comedy),
this mockumentarys most disgusting trait is that so many noteworthy
people such as comic legend Stan Lee, indie filmmaker Kevin Smith
and Jedi master Mark Hamill were involved in its creation.
If youre not a comic fan, theres probably no way in hell
youd ever pick up this film. Yet, even if you are a self-proclaimed
comic geek, you should still avoid it like the plague. It will only
make you ashamed. (PG-13) Rating: 0, Posted 3/7/04
The Italian Job
To put together a successful heist flick, youll need some quirky
characters, exotic locations, a healthy dose of technical expertise,
a lightning fast pace, and above all else, enough smarts to stay one
step ahead of the viewer. The Italian Job fits the bill.
Despite being a remake of a 1969 Michael Caine film, this effort from
director F. Gary Gray (The Negotiator) comes off as fairly
fresh. Mark Wahlberg stars as a charismatic criminal mastermind whose
motley crew of thieves includes wisecracking computer hacker Seth
Green and lovely lock-pick Charlize Theron. These crooks wind up having
to steal a boatload of gold, not once but twice, after theyre
double-crossed by one of their own (played by a contractually obligated
Edward Norton). If youre looking for a slick, funny and never
dull excuse to down a lot of popcorn, this one will do. (PG-13) Rating:
3, Posted 11/14/03
Its terribly rare these days to find a romantic comedy thats
of any substance, let alone one that involves teens. Thats what
makes Raising Victor Vargas such a godsend.
As scripted by writer/director Peter Sollett, Victor is a troubled,
teenage boy in the inner city. His coming of age involves
a grandmother at her wits end, a younger brother whos just hitting
puberty, a sister whos determined to make his life a living
hell and the gorgeous, young girl of his dreams who wont give
him the time of day. Though it boasts plenty of raw honesty, Raising
Victor Vargas proves itself far more satisfying, sympathetic
and endearing than that other, more-infamous exploration of teenage
sex-lives, 1995s Kids. (R) Rating: 5, Posted 11/14/03
While 2001s Moulin
Rouge is generally credited with reviving the long dead movie
musical that title rightly belongs to Chicago. It wasnt
the best film of 2002, not by a long shot, regardless of how many
statues it took home on Oscar night. But Chicago is definitely
the most stylish and enjoyable musical in many a year. Starring Renee
Zellweger and Oscar-winner Catherine Zeta-Jones as a couple of sexy,
murdering vixens with jazz in their hearts, Chicago also features
surprisingly adept musical performances from master character actor
John C. Reilly, rapper Queen Latifah and a tap-dancing Richard Gere.
Where Moulin Rouge was gaudy and soulless, Chicago
proves that a little bit of style and inventiveness goes a long way
(and this from a guy who usually likes his musicals to have cute cartoon
animals). (PG-13) Rating: 4, Posted 11/14/03
of a Dangerous Mind
Best known for the uber-oddball
Being John Malkovich, Charlie Kaufman was the screenwriter
behind two notable films in 2002. One inspired a high degree of controversy
and critical acclaim, while the other seemed to slip completely under
everyones radar. Thats unfortunate, considering Confessions
of a Dangerous Mind outclassed Adaptation in every conceivable
Sam Rockwell (Heist, The Green Mile) delivers an absolutely
uncanny, bravura performance as Gong Show host Chuck Barris
(dont miss Rockwells hilarious, dancing screen test among
the DVDs special features), and actor George Clooney proves
himself to be a remarkably accomplished director in his first appearance
behind the camera.
Kaufmans screenplay is an adaptation of Barris Unauthorized
Autobiography, which detailed his supposed exploits as a CIA
assassin. Surprisingly, the surreal subject matter actually lends
itself to several moments of honest emotion, in addition to loads
of dark humor. (R) Rating: 5, Posted 11/14/03
Lion King (Special Edition DVD)
The Lion King remains one of Disneys most majestic and entertaining
animated films, not to mention its most financially successful. Unfortunately,
it also remains the source of great controversy.
Among the bonus features of the new two-disc Special Edition DVD is
the discussion by filmmakers of the various influences on their story,
including Joseph Campbell, the Bible and Shakespeare. The one obvious
influence not mentioned is Kimba the White Lion, a Japanese TV series
that first aired in the 1960s. Many animation fans remain quite furious
that Disney denies any connection between the two despite the fact
there is striking similarities between the general plot, most every
main character, various scenes and even specific images.
This DVD release boasts a nice selection of features, including an
all-new song sequence, deleted scenes, 5.1 Enhanced Home Theater Mix
and Experiential features and games, but an acknowledgement of the
films true roots would have been even more welcome. (G) Rating:
3, Posted 11/14/03
When the summers two most over-hyped films (The Matrix Reloaded
and The Hulk) prove to be glossy bores, its inevitable that
a film like 28 Days Later emerge as a sleeper hit. This low-budget
horror flick from director Danny Boyle (Trainspotting) should remind
viewers that computer-generated effects arent necessary to deliver
a kick-ass adrenaline rush.
Despite being shot on digital video for next to nothing, this story
of a plague-ravaged London where enraged zombies stalk the living
is so stylish and charged with kinetic energy that it makes the recent
Matrix sequel look like the stilted posturing that it is. An amped-up
homage to zombie classics like Dawn of the Dead, 28 Days Later isnt
scary enough to keep you up at night or haunt you for days like the
marketing suggests, but it does display a maturity and wit thats
sorely lacking in many films of this genre. (R) Rating: 4, Posted
Who: The Kids Are Alright (Special Edition DVD)
Though the band probably really died in 1978 when drummer Keith Moon
finally succumbed to a lifetime of notorious excess, the passing last
year of bassist John Entwistle was definitely the final nail in The
Coming exactly forty years after their very first recording, this
new two-disc Special Edition DVD of their performance compilation,
The Kids Are Alright, serves as a fitting tribute to some of rocks
most accomplished musicians. Originally released in 1979 and often
ranked among the greatest rock films of all time, The Kids Are Alright
features footage that covers The Whos entire career, including
a literally explosive appearance on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour,
their legendary 4 a.m. performance at Woodstock and countless other
TV gigs, promotional clips and rare interviews. Of the DVDs
countless special features (including the years coolest menus),
the most poignant is undoubtedly the isolated audio track for Entwistles
bass playing, which explains why he was called Thunderfingers.
(NR) Rating: 5, Posted 11/14/03
In a year dominated by uninspired sequels and moronic, major studio
duds, its beautifully poetic and wildly refreshing to see a
film like Whale Rider. While not innovative, groundbreaking or stylistically
remarkable, it is hands down the most satisfying, inspiring
and emotionally affecting film of the year.
In one of the most amazing child performances ever shown on screen,
11-year-old Keisha Castle-Hughes plays Pai, a native of New Zealand
devoted to her tribes tradition and history but not able to
live up to her grandfathers narrow-minded expectations.
The ridiculously undeserved PG-13 rating is yet another example of
why the Rating Board desperately needs a radical overhaul. If youre
the type of moviegoer who complains that the films today only celebrate
sex and violence and that theres hardly anything out there thats
suitable for family viewing, then Whale Rider is a movie that should
supported in every way. See it, fall in love with it and tell your
friends. (PG-13) Rating: 5, Posted 11/14/03
Nemo (2-Disc Collectors Edition DVD)
These days, the magicians at Pixar stand head and shoulders above
every other animation studio, including the once supreme Disney, now
notable only as Pixars distributor. Theres a good reason
Finding Nemo is the highest grossing animated film in history.
Despite classics like Toy Story, A Bugs Life and
Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo is easily Pixars finest
film. Viewers tag along as a worrisome clownfish and his peppy, memory-challenged
colleague embark on an undersea odyssey from the beautiful Great Barrier
Reef to the confines of a dentists aquarium.
Like most of Pixars DVDs, this one features worthwhile bonus
features, including a documentary, educational guides to underwater
life, a virtual aquarium feature and a visual commentary that mixes
deleted scenes and behind-the-scenes clips. Saying it is such a cliché,
but sometimes clichés are true: This really is fun for all
ages. (G) Rating: 5, Posted 12/12/03
While X-Men started off magnificently and then fell apart
at the end, X2 starts off slow and unfocused before bringing
everything together perfectly for the final showdown.
Returning for the second go-round, mutant-wise, are Wolverine, Storm
and Jean Grey (all three of whom finally get to cut loose with their
powers), Cyclops (who does little besides get his ass kicked, twice),
Rogue (though without any real purpose, other than to look cute) and
Professor X (whos surprisingly clueless and helpless for the
worlds most powerful telepath).
The dastardly Magneto and his sexy sidekick Mystique are back as well,
though theyre not the true villains of the story. That title
goes to Stryker (played by brilliant character-actor Brian Cox), a
merciless general out to rid the world of mutants.
X2 is conversely darker and more humorous than its predecessor,
but most importantly, it features the type of high-stakes action scenes
that fans have been dying for. (PG-13) Rating: 4, Posted 12/12/03
Story (Season One DVD Set)
Most moviegoers think of Michael Mann as the director of acclaimed
films like Heat and The Insider. More serious fans know
him as the creator of the 1980s TV hit Miami Vice. Only hardcore
fans know Mann as the executive producer of Crime Story, one
of TVs great, unsung classics.
This tough-as-nails cop drama introduces Dennis Farina, a former Chicago
cop making a nice living playing movie tough guys and near-do-wells
(Snatch and Get Shorty). Lt. Mike Torello was the defining role of
Farinas career and the driving force behind Crime Storys
Playing a gruff cop with a bad marriage, a short temper, a gutful
of gravel and a merciless job working major crimes in 1950s Chicago
(and later in Las Vegas), Farina never seemed to be acting. This unforgettable
but short-lived series also featured great performances from Anthony
Denison as the up and coming crime boss who is Torellos arch
enemy, with comedian Andrew Dice Clay and creepy Silence of the
Lambs star Ted Levine as seedy hoods, not to mention appearances
by stars like Michael Madsen, Gary Sinise, Ving Rhames and Julia Roberts.
(NR) Rating: 5, Posted 12/12/03
With this weepy, independent drama, soap opera star and writer/director
Karen Moncreiff serves notice that she may one day make a great film.
Blue Car shows promise, but little else.
This is the story of a teenage girl who's using poetry to try and
make sense of her angry, distant mother, her absent father and her
deeply troubled little sister, not to mention the poetry teacher whose
interest in her seems to go a tad beyond the simply tutorial.
Already an accomplished actress at age 18, Agnes Bruckner delivers
a convincing performance as the main character. Bruckner manages to
outshine virtually all of her adult costars, including veteran actor
David Strathairn, who plays the concerned yet lustful professor.
Movie screens never really suffer from a glut of coming-of-age stories
starring young girls, so its great to see Moncreiff attempting
to fill the void. Blue Car isnt by any means a bad film.
Its just not a particularly memorable one. (R) Rating: 2, Posted 12/12/03
of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
Pirates of the Caribbean is a Disney amusement park ride
where plastic pirates with stiff, squeaky movements chase one another
in endless circles. If it werent for the outrageously energetic
performance of Johnny Depp, this film version would have about as
much life as that aging ride.
For his role as the gleefully wicked scalawag Jack Sparrow, Depp drew
inspiration from mush-mouthed rocker Keith Richards, giving viewers
a pirate who appears to spend the films entire 140-minute running
time in a state of mild inebriation. Compared to Depp, everything
else in Pirates of the Caribbean is merely window dressing,
most notably his co-stars Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley, who display
all the charisma of well-sculpted mannequins.
Director Gore Verbinski does jazz things up with a touch of the same
visual flair he displayed in The Ring, and the computer- generated
skeletal pirates are far less rickety than their animatronic inspiration.
But still, without Depps energy, this would be just another
forgettable thrill ride. (PG-13) Rating: 3, Posted 1/8/04
Chitty Bang Bang
In 1967, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang had all the makings of a classic.
Three years after the success of Disneys Mary Poppins,
MGM was able to reunite that films star, Dick Van Dyke, with
its legendary composers, the Sherman brothers. This new childrens
film would be of an epic scope, as penned by Willie Wonka creator
Roald Dahl and based on a story by James Bond author Ian Fleming.
Unfortunately, all that creative talent did not translate into a great
While Chitty Chitty Bang Bang does boast some outrageous musical
numbers, gorgeous sets and wacky props, its most notable these days
for its oddball pop culture significance. Older viewers will get a
kick from seeing naughty comic Benny Hill playing a kindly toy maker,
and fans of Marilyn Manson can gaze upon one of the shock rockers
early inspirations, namely the terribly creepy Child Catcher, whose
dialogue was sampled on Mansons first album. Even if youre
a fan of this film from childhood, you may find it far more enjoyable
to simply watch the bonus features, as Van Dykes memories of
the filming are more entertaining than the actual film. (G) Rating:
2, Posted 1/8/04
Just when you think youve seen the height of improbability in
Hollywood storytelling, along comes something like Out of Time
to raise the bar for all future screenwriters who aspire to ineptitude.
This murder mystery starring Denzel Washington makes improbable circumstances
and boneheaded characters into an art form.
Washington plays a dimwitted yet tenderhearted sheriff who attracts
both beautiful women and serious trouble like flies. When his gorgeous
mistress turns up dead, his gorgeous, estranged wife is called in
to investigate the murder, leaving the sheriff to rely on his wise-cracking
sidekick to help him save his own hide. The plot twists here prove
almost as exciting as a game of Twister and make about as much sense
If Out of Time has any redeeming element, its Washington;
as yet again hes forced to demonstrate how to inject even the
most ridiculous dialogue with a sense of drama. (R) Rating: 1, Posted 1/8/04
Enthusiasm: The Complete First Season
Despite the fact that one of the greatest sitcoms of all time bore
the name of its star, writer Larry David has clearly shown that his
talent was just as important as Jerry Seinfelds in the success
of Seinfeld. Davids HBO series Curb Your Enthusiasm
is like Seinfeld only without the censors and double the angst.
If it werent for the fact that the show is almost entirely improvised,
it would definitely sweep the writing categories at the annual Emmy
awards. As it is, David will simply have to settle for having the
funniest show on television. For that, he can thank his co-stars including
comedian Wanda Sykes, and former Seinfeld star Julia Louis
Dreyfus, whose relationship with David goes all the way back to their
Saturday Night Live days.
This new DVD set includes all ten episodes from the shows first
season, as well as the HBO Comedy Special that first introduced the
world to Davids lovable loser. (NR) Rating: 4, Posted 1/8/04
If there was a sexier film than Swimming Pool in 2003,
someone please clue me in. As far as I'm concerned, this steamy French
mystery takes the prize.
Noted actress Charlotte Rampling plays a middle-aged British
mystery writer who retreats to the French countryside, looking for
peace and quiet. Instead, she finds a gorgeous, young sexpot played
by gorgeous young actress Ludivine Sagnier (currently appearing in
theaters as Peter Pan's Tinkerbell). The older woman's fascination
with the younger serves to fire her creative energies and ultimately
weaves a web of seduction, secrets and perhaps even murder.
Despite her young costar's stunning looks, Rampling is still
the heart of the film's sexual fire. Almost thirty years after her
suspenders-clad dance in the classic film The Night Porter, Rampling
even adds another nude scene to her resume. Though the twist ending
may leave the viewer feeling a little cold, the rest of this film
will surely warm your fires. (R) Rating: 4, Posted 2/7/0
This is a film so compelling, perplexing and provocative that
it could only ripped straight from reality. What begins as a documentary
about a professional clown turns into a showcase for home video footage
of a family in the midst of utter chaos.
You'll have to decide for yourself just who to believe in this
documentary about a small-town, middle-class computer teacher and
his teenage son who are both brought up on charges of child molestation.
Capturing the Friedmans provides an unprecedented look
at a seemingly normal family as it's ripped to shreds by bizarre revelations
and horrendous crimes. It's impossible to place complete trust in
any of the people presented throughout this film, which leaves the
viewer with nagging questions that can linger long after seeing the
film. Nothing about this film is simple, save its importance. It is
undoubtedly one of the year's best. (NR) Rating: 5, Posted 2/7/04
It's great to see that at least one member of the Coppola family
is still capable of quality work. While legendary director Francis
Ford Coppola has gone from making celebrated epics like The Godfather
to being a filmmaker of very little consequence, his daughter Sofia
has done an exemplary job of keeping up the family name.
First off, the young director deserves enthusiastic kudos for
resurrecting the career of Bill Murray, one of the most under-appreciated
and sadly misused actors of his generation. Murray's role in Lost
In Translation as a jaded, aging movie star who's weary of everything
in his life, fits him so perfectly that it's literally impossible
to imagine anyone else in the part.
This film is a romance between two lonely Americans trapped in
Tokyo, one more subtle, beautiful and emotionally honest than most
other romantic comedies. While her father's flawless epics defined
the latter part of the 20th century, director Sofia Coppola has crafted
a flawless film of her own, thereby serving notice that she'll be
among the filmmakers to define the new century. (R) Rating: 5, Posted
On paper, this film looks like a disaster. How can there be drama
where a film's real life inspiration pops up to remark how little
he resembles the actor who's portraying him?
American Splendor breaks plenty of rules in the way it
mixes fictionalized scenes, stylized interviews, actual footage from
Late Night with David Letterman and panels from the comic books
that inspired the whole thing. It's a wonder that it works at all,
let alone to such perfection.
He may not look exactly like the real Harvey Pekar, but Paul
Giamatti still does an amazing job capturing the gruff, comic curmudgeon.
Hope Davis gives an equally adept performance as the neurotic fan
that winds up marrying her favorite underground comic writer. In a
year when X-Men 2 and The Hulk assaulted the senses
of moviegoers, it's great to have a film like American Splendor
to remind the world that comic books are more than simply superheroes
in spandex. (R) Rating: 5, Posted 2/7/04
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