I walked out of the theater after seeing X-Men mildly annoyed. That's not an unnatural reaction to a film for me, but this time there was a secondary element that made the whole thing perplexing. What's that second element? Well, how's this for a kick in the head? I wasn't at all sure why I was annoyed. See, the film is pretty well directed, well acted (if big budget American actioners are the bar), features seamless special effects and stands as probably the most comic book-like comic book adaptation I've ever seen (from the US, at least, both Hong Kong and Japan have produced comic adaptations that play like the real thing in a big way). Considering the amount of riffing I've done on previous comic book adaptations, I should be happy there was no Joel Shumacher-esque nippled costumes, no camp, etc. Thing is, I wasn't. I was annoyed and it took me a few days to figure out why.

Thankfully I now know and can share.

It's a first issue.

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Thirteen Days

Normally the presence of Kevin Costner is a sink or swim proposition for me. Sometimes, Bull Durham being the most noteworthy example, I like the guy and in turn I like the film. Other times, Prince of Thieves being the most notorious example although The Bodyguard isn't far behind, Costner drives me nuts and the film ends up in my "what a piece of crap" pile. Thirteen Days, surprisingly, is a movie that manages to do that which I thought was impossible, survive an onslaught by the "bad" Costner and come away relatively unscathed.

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The Royal Tenenbaums

While it may not be "serious" enough to merit such raves from anyone but little old me, I have no problems saying The Royal Tenebaums is my favorite thing to come out of Hollywood this year.

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The Magnificent Ambersons

This was Welles' follow-up to Citizen Kane and although he didn't have William Randolph Hearst out for blood trying to stop the film's release, he did have his share of trouble when it came to getting this one into the theater.

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The Cell

It's like Pink Floyd's The Wall, with more gore, less dialogue and no music.

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Bamboozled, Spike Lee's latest, is, in a lot of ways, a unique film. With a boldness few directors today possess (and even fewer critics are comfortable with), Lee here delivers a fascinating, funny, probing movie that plays to two of his strengths; writing comedy and sparking debate. It does so brilliantly.

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Small Time Crooks

or me it's scary, but if you're under twenty and you don't watch "old" movies, the odds you've seen a great Woody Allen film are close to nil. That's not to say he's been horrible for the past few years, he hasn't, it's just that he hasn't really hit the heights he once hit with regularity. Unfortunately, Small Time Crooks continues this trend by finishing the day as simply an above-average comedy.

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Rush Hour 2

Turning the rare sequel trick and surpassing the original, Rush Hour 2 returns Chris Tucker, Jackie Chan and all of the culture clash shenanigans that made the original film a success. It marries that fun base a slightly stronger story, action that better highlights Chan's martial arts skills and a finer supporting cast. The result is a fun film that is certain to please fans of the original and may win a few new converts along the way.

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15 Minutes

With 15 Minutes, writer/ director John Herzfeld (Two Days in the Valley, Don King: Only in America) takes aim at an easy, if deserving target; the intersection of crime, sleaze and television and the resulting "fame" the trio can bring. The result is a successful film made more worthwhile by its commentary.

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2001: A Space Odyssey

If you ask me, and since I'm writing a review- someone did, this is one the best films ever made.

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Anna and the King

ake award winning actors from two continents (Chow Yun-Fat and Jodie Foster), add lush locations and mix in a well-known story and you should be able to come up with a pretty successful picture. That's the theory at least and on paper it sure looks like a solid plan. Thing is, making movies isn't easy (if it was everybody would be doing it) and a successful formula doesn't always add up to a successful film. Such is the case with Anna and the King.

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I saw this at a screening in L.A. It was a New Line deal so we had to wait for all of the "important " folks to plant their asses in their seats before the show could start. I was, therefore, really itching for the movie to begin. A half an hour after it was supposed to start, it did, and it was worth the wait.

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Blair Witch 2: Book of Shadows

em>Blair Witch 2: Book of Shadows. File this one under Bad Idea. I'm guessing the folks over at Artisan were desperate to capitalize on the success of last year's surprise hit, The Blair Witch Project. Unfortunately they were apparently a little too desperate. Somewhere in the rush to get this film made they forgot one verrry important fact. People dug The Blair Witch Project because it was a good movie. This one isn't.

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Capsule Reivews

New Capsule Reviews: Bottle Rocket, The Others, Waiting for Guffman, The Player, Bonnie and Clyde, Dogtown and Z-Boys

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Cecil B. Demented

I loved this movie. Truly, honestly loved it. It's mean (but "fun mean"), funny as all get out and pushes all sorts of buttons. Tossing sex, drugs, and violence at the screen with Wong Jing-like panache, Waters' here has delivered a film that easily ranks as one of the best times I've had at the theater this year.

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"I'm Spartacus."

I just had to get that out of the way.

This is what the world needs more of; Russell Crowe chopping peoples heads off.


Sure it's a 9 on the bloody scale (more gory than I expected... and I expected a lot), the ending stumbles a bit and overall it's probably a teeny bit too long (150 minutes? Aren't we supposed to save those running times for December?), but all in all this is a fine return to classic big scale, toga and sandal, "I-get-to-fight-the-lion" filmmaking.

I'm a fan of that style. But then again, isn't everybody?

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Godfather I and II

This isn't really much of a review as I think that it's pretty common knowledge that these films are great. Actually, the fact that they are user-rated #1 and #8 respectively at the Internet Movie Database is probably proof enough of that theory. So, unless you've been living under a rock for the last 28 years, you probably don't need some guy who was a few weeks away from birth when The Godfather was released telling you how good these movies are. What I am going to do instead is make a small suggestion about your plans for this weekend and then drop some anecdotal tidbits about these films that might heighten your viewing experience.

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Hannibal, the long-awaited sequel to 1991's The Silence of the Lambs, is an almost prototypical Hollywood movie. It's lush, well produced, well-written, acted professionally and a little light intellectually. Where Silence of the Lambs spent much of its time in relatively heady psychological waters, this film plays less to that and instead stays a lot closer to the typical thriller angle. The result is a lesser, but still solid, film.

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Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

Now that all the little ones have seen it twice and us big folks have a chance to see this flick here's a quick rundown based on previous Harry Potter exposure.

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The Tuxedo


"Hey Rob, I know it's been a while, but we just got something in the mail. Would you be interested in interviewing Jackie Chan?"

"You bet your ass I would. You'd have to shoot me in the face with a cannon to stop me. Sign me right up What movie is this for?"

"The Tuxedo"

"The Tuxedo? Who else is in it?"

"Jennifer Love Hewitt. It's directed by some guy that used to do commercials or music videos or something."


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Man on the Moon

Hope no one was expecting a regular, paragraphed, linear, prose-style review of this one. I've evaluated the situation and decided the only way I'm going to get all of my thoughts on this movie onto paper is to just ramble on as it comes to me. There's just no other way.

I just hope it all makes sense in the end...

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Me, Myself and Irene

With Me, Myself and Irene, Jim Carrey returns to physical comedy and reunites with the Farrelly Brothers, the folks responsible for Carrey's 1994 hit Dumb and Dumber and 1998's smash hit comedy, There's Something About Mary. On paper this looked to be one of the summer's bright points as I like Jim Carrey and I loved both There's Something About Mary and 1996's Kingpin. In the end however, the old sports cliché comes into play and I'm reminded that "they don't play the games on paper."

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Night of the Hunter

"The wedding night, the anticipation, the kiss, the knife, BUT ABOVE ALL... THE SUSPENSE!"

With a tagline like that it's hard to imagine that this film wasn't a commercial success upon it's release in 1955. Maybe if they'd mentioned how godawful creepy it was people would've better know what to expect.

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O Brother Where Art Thou

Okay, so this isn't the best the Coen Brothers have yet produced and I'd probably stop short of calling it a great movie, but O Brother Where Art Thou is still a lot of fun.

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Requiem for a Dream

Requiem for a Dream, the second feature from director Darren Aronofsky, provides a rare synthesis of cinematic experimentation and emotionally compelling storytelling. It's a brilliant effort. Taking the potential glimpsed in the low- budget, high energy Pi, and marrying it to Selby's powerful tale of love, dreams and addiction, Requiem for a Dream provides a jolting, heartfelt journey into the depths of the human experience.

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