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Movie Reviews

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    Head Trip: Carlos Reygadas's "Battle in Heaven"

    Sadly, in 2006 opening your film with a seemingly real blow job isn't quite the shot across the bow of good taste that it once was. Finishing right where you started perhaps ups the ante slightly, but if Carlos Reygadas thinks his by-now infamous bookends are throwing anyone for a loop then he's pr...

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    White Trash: Hunter Richards's "London"

    The saying goes that everyone has at least one story worth telling. Frankly, that's bullshit. Some stories--and some people's lives, for that matter--are not worth unleashing on the rest of us; their twisted, narrow ideas of the world should only be left to serve their own myopia. Take Hunter Richar...

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    A "Woman" of No Importance: Mike Barker's "A Good Woman"

    "A Good Woman," the original title of Oscar Wilde's 1892 play "Lady Windermere's Fan," is a film about the same characters we've met in the play's previous incarnations, only this time many of them are Americans and they're on the shores of the Italian Riviera in 1930. This shuffle of accents, cost...

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    The Dead Zone: Eugene Jarecki's "Why We Fight"

    Documentaries like Eugene Jarecki's Sundance Grand Jury Prize-winning "Why We Fight" put me in two frames of mind. On the one hand, its staid and steady by-the-PBS-book blend of talking heads, archival footage, and recent news clips makes one ponder the necessity of a theatrical release. On the other, its topicality asserts art houses a better choice than TV broadcast, which -- with the multitudinous options noisily competing for attention -- might drown out rather than bring the film's pressing issues into focus. Political documentaries, as evidenced by their recent popularization in the lead up to the 2004 presidential election, can now se...

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    Reverse Shot's 11 Annoyances of 2005

    How we hated them. So much that we can't stop talking about them. Certainly our second annual list of the most obnoxious experiences we had in 2005 watching ostensibly our favorite art form could come across as nothing more than a mean-spirited endeavor, but keep in mind that some of these titles seem to have slipped past the shit-o-meter and on to awards heaven or box office royalty with nary a detractor. Others are merely dead horses that deserve a few more beatings. Call it nasty, but look on the bright side: Maybe Todd Solondz will read this and be so deeply offended that he'll go out and make another movie about how the whole world just ...

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    Reverse Shot's Best of '05: "Kings & Queen" and 9 More

    A grab bag of 2004 festival faves just getting "wider" releases. Misunderstood studio experiments. Inventive indie charmers. It becomes increasingly ridiculous to try and separate one year's best-of list from the next in any sort of edifying ideological, spiritual, or political manner, as the disparity of visions and points of view from around the globe just happen to be reflected in a handful of films lucky enough to see the light of a projector. So, at Reverse Shot, as always, our notion of a panoply of critical voices never seems more appropriate than when compiling a top ten. As with last year's poll, each staff writer voted for ten films...

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    A History of Reference: Woody Allen's "Match Point"

    There are those who will take the opportunity to elevate "Match Point" to instant classic status and those who will damn it with faint praise -- yet both will do so by saying the same thing: "Woody Allen's best in years!" Never mind that Allen stands utterly alone in output quantity, and that approximately the same amount of time has elapsed between "The Thin Red Line" and "The New World" and Woody's last very good film ("Sweet and Lowdown") and his latest very good film. There have become simply too many expectations surrounding each release -- Woody Allen diehards, who feel a harsh jab to the heart every time another "Jade Scorpion" or "Hol...

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    A View to a Kill: Michael Haneke's "Cache"

    Shock the bourgeois. That rallying cry of early 20th Century European art and art cinema -- apres Baudelaire -- becomes less effective as each passing year pulls us further from the canonized abrasions of modernity and deeper into the postmodern neutralization of visceral, disarming violence. In ret...

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    Dead Man Riding: Tommy Lee Jones' "The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada"

    This season's other cowboy bonding pic, Tommy Lee Jones' spare, deeply warped theatrical directorial debut may not be as socially radical and ultimately important as "Brokeback Mountain." But in all other respects (structure, dialogue, and detail) it's "The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada," with its sun-drunk flights into the absurd, that takes the risks. There's something so admirably cavalier about Jones, who could have taken on any subject, devoting himself to this story of a "simple" cowboy hauling his best friend's decaying corpse across the border. Guillermo Arriaga wrote the screenplay, and as with his Inarritu collaborations, "Amo...

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    Don't Fence Me In: Ang Lee's "Brokeback Mountain"

    Even on the eve of "Brokeback Mountain"'s release, it's difficult to separate the actual movie onscreen from the media attention that's been swirling around it for months. Is Ang Lee's effective tragic romance to be viewed as just another epic love story unfolding under a panoramic azure sky or as a groundbreaking mainstream cinematic evocation of homosexual love? While it's beyond doubtful that "Brokeback," even if it proves to be a multi-Oscared box-office success, will open the floodgates for a bevy of studio-financed gay-themed movies, its very conception seems to have created a heavy social burden that the film simply may not be able to ...

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