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Movie Reviews

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    REVIEW | Frozen Assets: Dominique Abel, Fiona Gordon, and Bruno Romney's "L'Iceberg"

    Considering "L'Iceberg," a cute-as-a-button-and-about-as-sharp-as-same feature debut comedy from Belgium by writing/directing/acting team Dominique Abel, Fiona Gordon, and Bruno Romney, it seems the deadpan ethos of Wes Anderson has found a home in mainland Europe. In a way, this style has come full circle - one of his guardian angels, Jacques Tati, harkened from France, and it makes conceptual sense that the playful wonders of controlled composition and quirky production design should return to their Gaul origins. But something has gone wrong here. Despite a desire to provide the most whimsical of entertainments, "L'Iceberg" feels contrived ...

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    REVIEW | Terror Bull: Jeff Renfroe's "Civic Duty"

    Waiting for "Civic Duty" to start, I browsed its synopsis: an everyday guy, recently unemployed, spends all day taking in alarmist TV news and, saturated with images of swarthy bad guys, decides to undertake a paranoiac surveillance operation on his new Middle Eastern neighbor. As the lights went do...

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    TRIBECA '07 | Critics Notebook 4: Reel Politic

    Hollywood cranked out a plethora of movies about World War II and the Korean War as they were being fought. But it took years after Vietnam and the Gulf War for the U.S. to make fiction features about them. Today, American documentarians are pretty much the only filmmakers addressing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The time lag between event and product for narrative films is a truism, but if this country could swing it in the '40s and '50s, why not in the '70s and the '00s? America is not the only nation with a blind spot. Most Tribeca Film Festival films about current conflagrations are docs, and a majority of the fiction features that de...

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    REVIEW | In Loving Memory: Sarah Polley's "Away from Her"

    For moviegoers, the thought of "losing" Julie Christie might simply be too much to bear. That's why Sarah Polley's got a devastating hook in her crystalline feature debut "Away from Her": as Christie's Alzheimer's-afflicted Fiona slowly slips away from her husband Grant (Gordon Pinsent), she's also gradually fading from us, viewers, lovers of her vivaciousness, her glamour that never overshadowed her wisdom. In fact, it's the very mystery of Julie Christie - that actress who so enchanted moviegoers in the Sixties and Seventies with her delicately modulated brand of lush femininity and strong independence - that functions as "Away from Her"'s ...

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    TRIBECA '07 | Critics Notebook 3: The Evolution and Whither American Indies

    1. Whither American indie films?2. Do they evolve?3. Or wither?

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    REVIEW | Bad Education: Emmanuel Bordieu's "Poison Friends"

    "Poison Friends" revives a rare pleasure of moviegoing: articulacy. Ten years ago Phillip Lopate diagnosed a "Dumbing Down of American Movies," and the disproportionate praise given to reactionary "realism" in recent indies suggests that, as expectations shrivel, things have gotten stupider across t...

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    TRIBECA '07 | Critics Notebook 2: A Crossroads of Marriage and Nature

    Is it possible that the geographical sources of the best Tribeca films that touch on nature and the overall concept of beauty reveal some major lack in the West? By default? Perhaps the sterility of much of our consumer-friendly culture has pulled us away from the natural world and the realm of genu...

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    TRIBECA '07 | Critics Notebook 1: Breaking Down a Carnival of Art and Politics

    Art and politics: two poles rightfully addressed by many of the selections in a film festival located (more and more virtually) near the festering hole that was the World Trade Center. The Tribeca Film Festival is so large (157 features) that this article covers those that most neatly fit into the "...

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    REVIEW | The Gift Horse: Robinson Devor's "Zoo"

    In gentler times, a film that sets out to seriously tackle taboo zoophilia might have elicited a bump on the cause celebre Richter scale, but in these post-everything days, when images and ideas far more controversial and chilling are readily available to any who care to look for them, there's littl...

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    REVIEW | Light It Up: Francis Veber's "The Valet"

    Francis Veber has been an industrious source of chipper, very lucrative French screen farces for well over 30 years, working first as a screenwriter, then as a director, amassing credits on such popular titles as "La Cage aux Folles" and "The Dinner Game," as well as a smattering of American remakes...

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