Source Code

Source Code

Director Duncan Jones (Moon, Whistle) is a fan of science fiction in the truest sense. Where most films in the genre these days lean heavily on fantasy, his films use fictional science to create a believable world. The logic of the science is sometimes stretched thin, but it is generally just the backdrop for a drama that is set against it. In Moon, the science fiction aspect was used to give birth to an original drama that couldn’t exist in the natural world, but could be believable in the framework of that film, and Source Code is similar in its approach.

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Age of the Dragons

Age of the Dragons
When any film stars Vinnie Jones in it, you pretty much know what you’re in for; cockney accents, hard men, a bit of casual misogyny, and maybe some gold teeth if you’re real lucky. Only this time Danny Glover, some random Americans and a big ass white dragon are thrown into the mix. Splendid.

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So Close (Chik yeung tin si)

So Close (Chik yeung tin si)

The brothers Chow Nunn and Chow Lui's giant computer company is facing a tense crisis - a powerful computer virus is rapidly wiping out their computer network. At the last minute a cyber-friend arrives to join the battle.

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Tracey Fragments

Tracey Fragments
The Tracey Fragments uses its non-standard visual style, a split-screen approach that can show from one to sixteen frames at any one time, in a vain attempt to camouflage the paucity of the story. Director Bruce McDonald, working from a script by Maureen Medved, seems to believe that because he's doing something most filmmakers avoid, it qualifies The Tracey Fragments as being interesting and cutting edge. It is neither. This unexceptional and uninteresting story of a self-pitying borderline-personality teenager verges on being unwatchable as a result of McDonald's decision to bombard the audience with extraneous images in lieu of telling the story.

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My Big Fat Greek Wedding

My Big Fat Greek Wedding
It is the unenviable lot of the film critic to endure a long string of so-called "romantic comedies", most of which are only marginally romantic, and not at all funny. So, when there's an exception to the rule, it's worth taking notice. Such is the case with Joel Zwick's My Big Fat Greek Wedding, an independent picture which has proven to be 2002's little engine that could. Watching this movie is like eating cotton candy - there's a lot of sweetness and not much substance, but it's a joy to consume while it lasts.

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Domino

Domino
I'm sure the story of bounty-hunter Domino Harvey would make for compelling cinema if only Tony Scott had decided to film it without the masturbatory excesses that are evident in Domino. Over-the-top doesn't begin to describe Scott's off-putting, intrusive style. Cutting with rapid-fire precision that would make a machine gun seem slow, Scott never allows his restless camera to stay with one shot or angle for more than about a second. Domino looks like it was hyped up on speed and acid. It's ADHD filmmaking. One can understand short action sequences being presented in this chaotic, staccato manner, but Domino goes on like this for 120 minutes. It's impossible to become involved in the movie. Fifteen minutes into the proceedings, I nearly screamed in frustration for things to stay still for a moment. I wanted to enjoy the story, but the style kept interfering.

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Ocean's Eleven

Ocean's Eleven
The good news is that the 2001 version of Ocean's Eleven represents one of the rarest of Hollywood rarities: a re-make that is actually better than the original. That's not to say that this motion picture is an unqualified success - one tends to expect a little more from a director of Steven Soderbergh's caliber. However, 2001's Ocean's Eleven moves along at an enjoyable clip and relies on more than the notoriety of its stars to pack movie theaters. The 1960 original was a sluggish, unimpressive caper comedy that is best remembered as being the first time the so-called "Rat Pack" (Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Joey Bishop, Peter Lawford, Sammy Davis Jr.) appeared together on screen. The "event" didn't require much else, resulting in a meandering film that fell short in the areas of plot, character development, humor, and suspense. When producer Jerry Weintraub, director Soderbergh, and actor George Clooney elected to re-make Ocean's Eleven, they rectified some of the earlier movie's glaring faults. So, while this is a re-make in the sense that it borrows the 1960 picture's title and premise, there are many, many differences, almost all of which represent improvements.

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Natural Born Killers

Natural Born Killers
Despite his reputation as one of America's foremost "serious" filmmakers, Oliver Stone's name under the "director" caption does not guarantee a good movie. I learned that lesson while enduring the seemingly-endless tedium of The Doors, and was reminded of it during some of the long, drawn-out portions of JFK. However, nothing that Stone has directed - or misdirected -- prepared me for the grotesque mess that is Natural Born Killers.

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Last of the Mohicans

Last of the Mohicans
There is so little wrong with this film that I'll get the incidental negatives out of the way first. The introductory moments are somewhat confusing, and it takes about fifteen or twenty minutes to get the characters and situations straight. Madeleine Stowe's British accent is of the "now-you-hear-it, now-you-don't" variety, although her performance pretty much makes up for this inconsistency. Finally, the photography surrounding the waterfall is unconvincing. Other than that, The Last of the Mohicans is virtually flawless.

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Jumanji

Jumanji
Apparently, the producers of Jumanji wanted this film to be a Jurassic Park for 1995's holiday season. If so, it's a badly misplaced, and ultimately futile, hope. For, although no one would suspect Steven Spielberg's 1993 dino-picture of having a plot worthy of great literature, at least it had a storyline -- something this film is lacking. Jumanji takes approximately one-hundred minutes for four people to play a board game. The result isn't much more fun or involving than watching a few friends play Monopoly. Even the Robin Williams manic humor can't save Jumanji, at least not entirely.

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Mulholland Falls

Mulholland Falls
Following several release delays, Mulholland Falls has finally reached theaters. Usually, when a distributor keeps putting off a film's opening, it's a sign that there's something wrong with the production, and, about halfway through Mulholland Falls' one-hundred seven minute running length, we figure out what that "something" is: the plot, to put it charitably, is shaky. This is a great looking film with a fine cast, but, when all is said and done, the storyline doesn't cut it. It's convoluted, contrived, and, worst of all, has a disappointing payoff.

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Panic
Henry Bromell's Panic, is a perfect example of what the average independent film has become in 2000. It features recognizable stars and has the kind of storyline with the potential to play reasonably well in the average American multiplex. Like Grosse Pointe Blank, Analyze This, and TV's "The Sopranos", Panic features a premise that's quickly growing tired - that of a gangster/bad guy who visits a shrink. In this case, the patient is Alex (William H. Macy). Ultimately, the film is less about his relationship with his doctor (played by John Ritter) than about the reasons he's seeing a psychologist in the first place.

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Bad Girls from Mars

Bad Girls from Mars
Someone is killing off the female leads of the movie production Bad Girls from Mars. The producers feel they should try to finish the film, even though theyre making a lucrative amount from insurance payoffs, so they fly in European sex bomb Emanuelle as the new lead. Emanuelle immediately begins embarrassing the producers by leading a wild party life around town. Meanwhile the killings continue, and detectives try to stop the fiend responsible.

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Billy Madison

Billy Madison
Billy Madison is the 27 year-old son of Bryan Madison, a very rich man who has made his living in the hotel industry. Billy stands to inherit his fathers empire but only if he can make it through all 12 grades, 2 weeks per grade, to prove that he has what it takes to run the family business.

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Human Traffic

Human Traffic
The Cardiff club scene in the 90s five best friends deal with their relationships and their personal demons during a weekend. Jip calls himself a sexual paranoid, afraid hes impotent. Lulu, Jips mate, doesnt find much to fancy in men. Nina hates her job at a fast food joint, and her man, Koop, who dreams of being a great hip-hop d.j., is prone to fits of un-provoked jealousy. The fifth is Moff, whose family is down on his behavior. Starting Friday afternoon, with preparations for clubbing, we follow the five from Ecstacy-induced fun through a booze-laden come-down early Saturday morning

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Modigliani

Modigliani
Set in Paris in 1919, biopic centers on the life of late Italian artist Amedeo Modigliani, focusing on his last days as well as his rivalry with Pablo Picasso. Modigliani, a Jew, has fallen in love with Jeanne, a young and beautiful Catholic girl. The couple has an illegitimate child, and Jeannes bigoted parents send the baby to a faraway convent to be raised by nuns. Modigliani is distraught and needs money to rescue and raise his child. The answer arrives in the shape of Paris annual art competition. Prize money and a guaranteed career await the winner. Neither Modigliani, nor his dearest friend and rival Picasso have ever entered the competition, believing that it is beneath true artists like themselves. But push comes to shove with the welfare of his child on the line, and Modigliani signs up for the competition in a drunken and drug-induced tirade. Picasso follows suit and all of Paris is aflutter with excitement at who will win. With the balance of his relationship with Jeanne on the line, Modigliani tackles this work with the hopes of creating a masterpiece, and knows that all the artists of Paris are doing the same.

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