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Movie Reviews

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    PARK CITY '07 REVIEW | Heartache Free of Language Barriers: Christopher Zalla's "Padre Nuestro"

    Good ambiguity is a film that enthralls audiences and yet, manages to give a variety of pleasures. That's "Padre Nuestro," a wonderful Spanish-language debut from writer/director Christopher Zalla and arguably the best dramatic feature I've watched so far at the festival. My initial response would b...

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    PARK CITY '07 REVIEW | Bad, Bad Boy: George Ratliff's "Joshua"

    At many film festivals, Cannes comes to mind; audiences would openly jeer a disastrous movie like director George Ratliff's unintentionally silly, bad seed horror drama "Joshua." At Sundance, where the film made its premiere over the weekend, the audience I sat with was polite and only laughed at al...

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    PARK CITY '07 REVIEW | What Women Want: Zoe Cassavetes' "Broken English"

    The downside for Zoe Cassavetes regarding her famous family, actress Gena Rowlands and her late father, actor/filmmaker John Cassavetes, is that there will always be comparisons. The upside, at least regarding her New York-to-Paris romantic comedy, "Broken English" is that it's something of a homeco...

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    PARK CITY '07 REVIEW | The Kids Aren't Alright, But They Can Be: Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine's "Wa

    The frequent documentary template when dealing with suffering children in Africa is to choose those lucky enough to escape, often to the United States, and tell their fish-out-of-water stories ("Lost Boys of Sudan" and "God Grew Tired Of Us" follow this recipe). Husband-and-wife documentary team Sea...

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    REVIEW | Upstart: Andrei Kravchuk's "The Italian"

    It's something of a shame that the two most striking bits in Andrei Kravchuk's "The Italian" come, like bookends, at its beginning and end. The first finds a group of young children emerging like phantoms from the mist hovering over a bleak Russian bog to push an SUV run short of gas to its destination - the crumbling orphanage where much of the film takes place. For a moment "The Italian" seems to be taking cues from countryman Aleksandr Sokurov's hypnotic cinema. The other captures plucky six-year-old orphan Vanya (the remarkable Kolya Spiridinov), near the end of a long journey, carefully smoothing his hair before, hopefully, meeting hi...

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    REVIEW | Paris Is Burning: Philippe Garrel's "Regular Lovers"

    Circa 1974, Amos Vogel wrote that Philippe Garrel was "one of the most unknown important new directors" but "like Werner Herzog, he is too original and self-willed to become popular." What a difference thirty years makes: Herzog's the self-promoter of his folk-art persona, so successful that anyone ...

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    REVIEW | Straight Talk: Stewart Wade's "Coffee Date"

    Intermittently charming and often tedious, "Coffee Date" is another in the endless line of low-budget, gay-themed, goodhearted sitcoms that dot the nether regions of the film landscape. Much as a film like Stewart Wade's can be derided for its lack of craft, visual ambition, and recycled narrative of sexual identity crisis, it also can't be denied that as a genre the marginalized gay indie, with its limited release pattern and eventual DVD and cable boon, is one of the strongest standing bastions of true independent American cinema. "Coffee Date" works on the same level as its brethren, and just barely stands out from the pack, save for its c...

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    REVIEW | Chris Sheridan and Patty Kim's "Abduction: The Megumi Yokota Story"

    To chart the unusual case of a 13-year-old Japanese girl who went missing in 1977, filmmakers Chris Sheridan and Patty Kim take a slightly different approach to the typical talking-heads documentary. Segueing at about the halfway mark from exotic expose to human interest story, the careful construc...

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    REVIEW | Eastern Western: Wisit Sasanatieng's "Tears of the Black Tiger"

    Better late than never, Thai director Wisit Sasanatieng's pink-and-aquamarine western "Tears of the Black Tiger" finally arrives in U.S. theaters nearly six years after it first premiered at the Vancouver International Film Festival. Shelved by Miramax, dropped by The Weinstein Co. and now rescued f...

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    REVIEW | Outside Men: Christopher Quinn's "God Grew Tired of Us"

    There's a reason why a film like Christopher Quinn's impassioned and affecting "God Grew Tired of Us" is designed to appeal to a more populist audience, and why, despite all of its pain and heartache, it needs to be couched in uplift. It's simply a story of which far too many Westerners have remained ignorant, a difficult period of history that's far too recent to gloss over. Quinn's documentary relates the travails of three of the "lost boys" of Sudan, young men who, as children, were forced to separate from their families when the government ordered a mandate that they be killed during the Second Sudanese Civil War (which started in the ear...

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