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Movie Reviews

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    REVIEW | Cash Poor: Julio DePietro's "The Good Guy"

    Whatever suspense Julio DePietro's "The Good Guy" seems to think it's generating is predicated upon the supposedly surprising twist that its central Wall Street wannabe tycoon is not, in fact, a standup guy. Though all of the details of his cretinous behavior come as a slap in the face to the film's...

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    Berlinale Critics Notebook: The undeniable ‘find’ of the festival, so far?

    It was 106F the day I left Sydney, at the end of a four-month visit with family and friends. By the time I got home to Berlin, on the evening of January 26, it was -4F. The cold was dry and tense and lacerating; you felt hollowed out by it. But far worse were the pavements: thickened with weeks of c...

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    REVIEW | Haunted House: Michael Palmieri and Donal Mosher's "October Country"

    The type of introspective, intimate domestic American nonfiction that has sprouted up so much in art-house theaters in the wake of the success of "Capturing the Friedmans" has come to typify documentary filmmaking of the past decade. Itself somewhat of an acolyte of the far more sensitive "Crumb," which at least foregrounded its inevitable grotesquerie, Andrew Jarecki's sensational depiction of an upper-middle-class Jewish family torn apart by intimations of child molestation tried to pass off its essentially exploitative nature as an investigation into American suburbia. Plus, with its tacked-on faux reconciliation ending and lack of aesthet...

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    REVIEW | On the Butcher Block: Haim Tabakman's "Eyes Wide Open"

    Most of the gay Israeli films that have made their way to the U.S. have seemed to prefer narratives of extreme conflict. Of course there have been exceptions (last year’s glib yet exceedingly hot romantic comedy "Antarctica"‘s only issues were, refreshingly, those of sex and commitment), but for the most part, they place their central homosexual couplings within larger political or social frameworks that make them seem like extraordinary challenges to embrace or overcome. So in Eytan Fox’s breakout "Yossi and Jagger," it’s not just a clandestine gay love affair, but one enacted within the uber-masculine barracks and battlefields of the Israel...

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    REVIEW | No Exit: Scandar Copti and Yaron Shani's "Ajami"

    "Ajami" gets right to the tragic heart of the matter. Before the viewer knows what or whom he's watching, a young boy is gunned down in the middle of a city street in broad daylight. Though a backstory is soon provided, the incident truly and crucially never makes sense. Revenge, recompense, clumsy justice, even apparently legitimate legal proceedings provide a measure of context and set the rest of the narrative in motion, but the brutal fact of the murder is never gotten over. Violence will return, again and again over the course of the film, but it is not to be justified by theoretical or political abstractions, and its impact is never sof...

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  • Leonard Maltin
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    Dennis Hopper On Display

    Even as Hollywood survivor Dennis Hopper battles prostate cancer, he is being celebrated in a multimedia show that’s touring the world. I caught a glimpse of it on my recent trip to Australia, where the exhibition called Dennis Hopper and The New Hollywood is on display through April 25 at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image in Melbourne. The touring show of photographs and artwork by Hopper is accompanied by a coffee-table book of the same name, published by Flammarion in conjunction with the ACMI and La Cinematheque Francaise. The book was on sale in the Centre’s lovely gift shop, but I didn’t want to lug it ho...

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    REVIEW | The Toxic Avenger: Josh Fox's "GasLand"

    Josh Fox's "GasLand" is the paragon of first person activist filmmaking done right. Matching his perspective with a slew of infuriating case studies, Fox explores the influx of hydraulic fracturing (or "fracking"), a method of drilling natural gas that endangers the sanity of water supplies in the i...

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  • Leonard Maltin
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    film review - Edge of Darkness

    Let’s deal with the elephant in the room right away: I wasn’t sure how I would respond to seeing Mel Gibson on screen for the first time since his public embarrassments and utterances. Like many of you, I have felt ever since queasy about the man. I wasn’t even sure if I wanted to like his new starr...

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    REVIEW | Cholodenko's "All Right" with Forward Moving Family Film

    Lisa Cholondenko's "The Kids are All Right" succeeds at normalizing a once-progressive scenario. The story of a married lesbian couple and the chummy sperm donor responsible for their family produces a sitcom-ready plot that drifts to its natural finish. As the two moms, Julianne Moore and Annette B...

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    REVIEW | Off Peak: Philipp Stölzl’s “North Face”

    The lineage of cinematic mountain climbing extends back to the films of the 1900s. These early efforts evolved into the hugely popular German Bergfilme of the Twenties, the Alpine equivalent of the American Western; in both genres the activities of its characters are circumscribed by features of the landscape. The image of the heroic Aryan mountain climber conquering nature through force of will didn’t go unnoticed by the Third Reich in the 1930s (notably, Leni Riefenstahl began her career starring in Bergfilmes), and the Germanic mythology captured in these works certainly found a ready outlet in the epic pageants of the Nazi era. Aside f...

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