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I attended the Tehran Film Festival in 1972 and was invited to the home of my guide and translator to meet her parents and family. Over tea and elegant pastries, they explained proudly that Iran was a "modern" country, that they were devout Muslims but did not embrace the extremes of other Islamic nations, that their nation represented a new way. Whenever I read another story about the clerical rule that now grips Iran, I think of those people, and millions of other Iranians like them, who do not agree with the rigid restrictions they live under, particularly the women. Iranians are no more monolithic than we are, a truth not grasped by our own zealous leader. Remember, on 9/11 there was a huge candlelight vigil in Tehran in sympathy with us.
It feels as if years have passed since I first heard about Fanboys. Once it fell under the purview of the Weinsteins there were reported orders of cuts, edits, and re-shoots, along with an ever-delayed release date. I had long since given up on the possibility of seeing it on the big screen, completely expecting to see it pop up on the DVD release schedule some random week. Well, color me surprised when I saw it actually arriving on the big screen, albeit in severely limited release. Consider me officially excited to find that one of those few theaters is not too far from me. The only question left was whether or not it would live up to expectations, considering the delayed schedule and the decidedly geeky nature of its subject matter.
The movie's opening scenes are intended to be reminiscent of an old 8mm family movie. They are also intended to impress upon the viewer that Spencer's father and mother were good people who he cared for very much. However, it did a pretty poor job of conveying the intended message, because I failed to care what happened to the family. When the Megalodon appeared and ate the boat, I was relieved that something, no matter how poorly edited, had happened.
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In a small Louisiana town, a drilling crew sets blast charges to blow through the earth to tap the oil residing beneath. They uncover an ancient Indian artifact - a portal that houses the Kachinawaya, or animal spirit. The drilling crew unwittingly releases the spirit of the Monsterwolf upon themselves and anyone else who dares encroach on Indian land. The beast begins to savagely attack oil company employees, who have been warned by the local tribal Chief, to stop drilling on Indian lands or the Kachinawaya will continue to terrorize them. The oil company lawyer starts to uncover the mystery of the Kachinawaya and discovers that she is the last living descendant of the tribe from which the Kachinawaya was borne and she is the only one left who can stop it before it rips the town apart. Together, with her sheriff father and boyfriend, they race against time to destroy the Monsterwolf.
Miracle at St. Anna
Recently, Spike Lee was in the news feuding with Clint Eastwood about the absence of black servicemen in Eastwood's recent Iwo Jima duology. According to Lee, Eastwood ignored history in Flags of Our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima by not making any of the American characters black. Eastwood succinctly responded by suggesting that Lee should "Shut [his] face." One could argue that Lee's reason for making his complaint public was to garner publicity for Miracle at St. Anna, the controversial filmmaker's World War II tale about black soldiers in the European theater. Knowing Lee to be as passionate as he is outspoken, I prefer to believe his words are reflective of his feelings rather than just sound bites useful for the promotion of a film. Maybe the distributor (Disney/Touchstone) feels otherwise.
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Gracie is a by-the-numbers sports drama about a young girl who defies the odds to succeed in an all-male arena. It's the kind of thing that might make for a compelling after school special, but is hardly what one expects to spend $10 for at a multiplex. The film hits all the expected high notes of melodrama, does plenty of preaching from the pulpit, and comes to a rather abrupt conclusion (immediately after the expected moment of redemption/triumph). Yet for all its faults, Gracie is made with enough grace to get us rooting for the protagonist. This is due more to the heartfelt performance of actress Carly Schroeder than it is the less-than-inspired inspirational screenplay by Lisa Marie Petersen and Karen Janszen.
Spider-Man 2 has all the elements of a good, but not great, superhero motion picture. While lacking the tragic grandeur that made last year's Hulk such a unique experience, Spider-Man 2 fills the void with solid character development, self-referential humor, effects-enhanced action, and (unfortunately) talky pop psychology. A worthy sequel to the 2002 blockbuster, Spider-Man 2 will deposit fans somewhere on the satisfaction spectrum between quietly pleased and overjoyed. Although not as economical with its scenes as the first Spider-Man, this film nevertheless advances the leftover threads from its predecessor, tells its own self-contained tale, and dangles enough bait to hint at where Spider-Man 3 will be heading.
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Over the past few years, as studios like Disney, Dreamworks, and Fox have worked to revive motion picture animation, Warner Brothers has remained mired in the lackluster morass that nearly killed animation during the '80s. The distributor's big effort of several years ago, The Quest for Camelot, remains one of the most depressing animated underachievers of the decade. And this year's The King and I was an absolute embarrassment - a new nadir in animated miscalculation. Given Warner Brothers' recent track record, it's no wonder that I approached their latest, The Iron Giant, with more than a hint of misgiving. Fortunately, my fears were unfounded. This is top-notch entertainment.
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Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills
Someone once said this about the United States' justice system: "If ten guilty men must go free to prevent one innocent man from falsely going to prison, so be it." This philosophy explains why, at least in theory, every accused criminal is presumed innocent until proven otherwise. At some point, however, our approach to justice in this country became warped. So, if the system is broken, is it possible to get a fair trial? This is a crucial question, and, if we accept the evidence presented in Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky's Paradise Lost, the sobering answer may be "no", at least in certain high-profile cases.
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Even Cowgirls Get the Blues
Writer/director Gus Van Sant's early bid for big-time commercial success -- a success he didn't manage to achieve until Good Will Hunting -- is based on Tom Robbins' 1976 feminist bestseller. Uma Thurman plays Sissy Hankshaw, a woman born with very large thumbs. After her parents (Grace Zabriskie and Ken Kesey) take her to a doctor (Buck Henry), who offers her parents no remedy for their daughter's condition, the film races ahead to the 1970s.
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If youre Popeye, then your trusty flask of Liquid Courage is your spinach, making women easier to talk to and standards a thing of the past. The only difference is that Popeye didnt risk waking up the next morning with the clap.
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Filth and Wisdom
Described as a comedy/drama/musical/romance, the story revolves around a Ukrainian immigrant named A.K. (Hütz) who finances his dreams of rock glory by moonlighting as a cross-dressing dominatrix and his two female flatmates: Holly (Weston), a ballet dancer who works as a stripper and pole-dancer at a local club and Juliette (McClure), a pharmacy assistant who dreams of going to Africa to help starving children.
The Gypsy punk band that appears in the film is portrayed by real-life Gypsy punk band, Gogol Bordello, who also contributed three songs to the film's soundtrack. The band's lead singer, Eugene Hütz, portrays the main character — a character with a philosophical attitude towards life. Madonna allowed additional dialogue written by Hütz himself to be included in the film.
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What would you do? You know you should run, but youre not going to, are you? Remember, youve been warned. These DREAM SLASHERS are much more than they seem. And youll probably wish you never heard their siren song. Because they just might be the last dream you ever had. Can you tell the difference between whats real and whats all in your head? What happens when your fantasies become reality? Newcomer Keren Gilbert (Pledge This, Beer League) heads a shocking and SEXY cast of vixens ready to take over the night and YOUR DREAMS. Can you resist their charms? Just try.....
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FairyTale: A True Story
Based on factual accounts, this is the story of two young girls that, somehow, have the ability to take pictures of winged beings... which certainly causes quite a stir throughout England during the time of the first World War. Everyone, except the girls who think its quite normal, are excited about this photographic proof that fairies exist... even the great Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Harry Houdini pay the girls a visit.
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Journey to the End of the Night
In a dark and decadent area of So Paulo, the exiled Americans Sinatra and his son Paul own a brothel. Paul is a compulsive gambler addicted in cocaine and his father is married with the former prostitute Angie, and they have a little son. When a client is killed by his wife in their establishment, they find a suitcase with drugs. In the night that they have scheduled a negotiation with African buyers, their African liaison dies while having sex with the travesty Nazda. Sinatra proposes to the Nigerian dishwasher of the brothel, Wemba, to travel to the harbor of Santos, close the business with the drug dealers and in return he would receive a large amount. Wemba accepts but while returning to his car in the harbor, he is attacked by two smalltime thieves and passes out. His lack of contact with Sinatra and Paul leads to a sequence of misunderstandings with a tragic end.
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Four pals are on their way to a boxing match, but gets stuck in heavy traffic. To get to the boxing match in time they take the first exit they find to find another way to the venue. As they are driving around lost in gang-land they get stuck and witness a brutal murder. The killer wants no witnesses and tries to kill them too. The four pals get away the first time, but the killer is soon back on their tail again while they are trying to find help in the middle of nowhere.
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