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Film Reviews

  • Leonard Maltin
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    NINE

    As someone who had major problems with Rob Marshall’s Chicago—which robbed the Broadway show of all its humor and rendered its dance numbers unwatchable through egg-beater editing—I did not expect to like Nine, Marshall’s ambitious adaptation of the 1982 stage musical inspired by Federico Fellini’s 8½. Imagine my surprise, then, as I tell you I loved it. I’ve already heard complaints about the picture from other quarters, which I won’t enumerate here, but I bought into it one hundred percent. It begins with accepting—or embracing—Daniel Day-Lewis as 1960s Italian film director Guido Contini. He makes the transformation so...

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    Invictus

    Invictus doesn’t have the element of surprise in its favor, but the story it tells is solid, interesting, and (yes) inspiring. Would that the world had more leaders as wise as Nelson Mandela, who recognized that despite his election to the Presidency of South Africa in 1995, there was still dissensi...

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    Red Cliff

    John Woo built his reputation by creating visceral Hong Kong action films that made their Hollywood counterparts seem tame and old-fashioned. In Red Cliff he emulates epic historical dramas like Spartacus and once again reveals his mastery of cinematic storytelling, while raising the bar for...

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    Up in the Air

    Up in the Air is the best film I’ve seen all year. Frankly, that isn’t much of a compliment, so let me be clearer: this is mainstream moviemaking at its best. It’s entertaining, first and foremost, but it’s also thoughtful, timely, and provocative. The film has been...

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    The Princess and the Frog

    The filmmakers who helped usher in the renaissance of Disney animation twenty years ago with The Little Mermaid have done it again with The Princess and the Frog. Here is a tuneful, entertaining, great-looking, hip, funny animated feature destined to the capture the hearts of young fans and Disney a...

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    Broken Embraces

    I felt a tinge of disappointment when I realized the hero of Pedro Almodóvar’s latest film was a director. It struck me as a glib, easy way of concocting a story to express the Spanish filmmaker’s love of cinema. I should have had more faith in him. Broken Embraces is a marvelous piece of storytelli...

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    Everybody's Fine

    Sentiment is a tough sell nowadays, but when I see the success of The Blind Side I know that audiences are just as susceptible as ever to manipulation by a skillful storyteller. Everybody’s Fine isn’t nearly as ambitious as The Blind Side, and doesn’t have the same broad appeal—there’s no sports ang...

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    Me and Orson Welles

    Me and Orson Welles

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    Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans

    During a panel discussion at this year’s Telluride Film Festival, Nicolas Cage was asked to respond to a description of his performance in this film as over-the-top. He replied, with a smile, that it seemed that casting him in this particular role under Werner Herzog’s direction meant “over-the-top”...

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    Precious

    When a film aims for greatness and falls just short of its target, one can dwell on its attributes or nit-pick its failings. In the case of Precious, I’m inclined to take the high road, because of the movie’s raw emotionalism and exceptional performances.

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