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Cole Smithey
 
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Tulpan (Review)

Simple, neorealist tale rides exquisite beauty and eloquence

0 Comments · Friday, August 21, 2009
Director Sergey Dvortsevoy tells a poignant story about Asa (Askhat Kuchinchirekov), a Kazakh soldier who returns from a duty in the Russian Navy to his family's remote, bucolic life on the southern steppe. The neorealist film captures the life-and-death demands of a seemingly alien landscape within the context of a generational paradigm shift in Central Asia. Grade: A.  

Soul Power (Review)

Vital music documentary features James Brown, B.B. King and more

0 Comments · Friday, August 21, 2009
This vital documentary covers "Zaire '74," a three-day concert preceding the famous Ali/Foreman "Rumble in the Jungle" boxing match in Kinsasha, Zaire. It's an imperfect social document of a time when anything seemed possible. Here's proof that Michael Jackson never had a thing on James Brown. Grade: B.  

The Girl from Monaco (Review)

French genre-bender a subtly suspenseful trip

0 Comments · Friday, July 31, 2009
Anne Fontaine's clever genre-bender is a romantic satire that achieves a delicate balance of motivation and risk/reward or punishment on the social stage of its French Riviera town. This shrewd film maintains a subtle layer of suspense before releasing its narrative trap. Grade: B-.  

Funny People (Review)

Judd Apatow delivers another hilarious comedy

0 Comments · Friday, July 31, 2009
Writer/director Judd Apatow raises the stakes on his already stellar formula for generating laughs with a comedy that's equal parts sincerity and wit. This is by far Adam Sandler's best movie because Apatow writes comic set pieces that allow germs of humor to expand between the more obvious laughs that Sandler hits with sharp-shooter accuracy. Grade: A-.  

Adoration (Review)

Atom Egoyan's latest is a thought-provoking dissection of post-9/11 sensibilites

0 Comments · Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Talented Canadian auteur Atom Egoyan errs on the side of shattered melodrama in a thought-provoking dissection of post-9/11 sensibilities. As with all of his films, 'Adoration' is a forward-thinking exploratory work of cinema meant to invigorate audiences into social discussions beyond its narrative structure. Grade B-.  

Cheri (Review)

0 Comments · Thursday, July 2, 2009
Set in the Belle Epoque era of the late 1800s, Michelle Pfeiffer plays Lea, an aging high-society courtesan whose romantic dabblings with a young stud named Cheri (Rupert Friend) lead to a certain ennui of requited lust for the aged Lea, whose life plan was not as thoroughly conceived as she imagined. Pfeiffer momentarily teases the oh-so-droll drama from its dull-witted eroticism from time to time, but the overall effect is that of stale chocolate. Grade: C.  

My Sister's Keeper (Review)

0 Comments · Friday, June 26, 2009
Nick Cassavetes' three-hankie weepy lurches during its music-video sequences and gratuitous voice-over narration from members of the Fitzgerald family as they struggle with their terminally ill daughter Kate (well played by Sofia Vassilieva). Yet, in spite of some of its less-than-elegant editorial decisions, 'My Sister's Keeper' is full of terrific performances. Grade: B.  

Easy Virtue (Review)

0 Comments · Friday, June 12, 2009
Although the filmmaker fumbles with connecting Noel Coward and Cole Porter tunes to the film's narrative fabric, director Stephan Elliott wisely plays to the seething conflict between Larita (Jessica Biel) and Mrs. Whitaker (Kristen Scott Thomas). Restrained in its execution, 'Easy Virtue' is a nearly bawdy take on women's liberation in a post-Victorian England just before the Great Depression. Grade B-.  

The Hangover (Review)

Drink, drugs, dubious charm and general bad behavior

1 Comments · Wednesday, June 3, 2009
To its credit, 'The Hangover' transfers to the audience the smelly, still-inebriated state that the title promises. Director Todd Phillips (Old School) is nothing if not relentless in his pursuit of a full sack of masculine stupidity at the hand of drink, drugs and the dubious charms of Las Vegas. Grade: B-.  

Drag Me to Hell (Review)

Sam Raimi returns to his horror roots with stellar results

0 Comments · Friday, May 29, 2009
Co-written with his brother Ivan, Sam Raimi crafts an enormously enjoyable house of cinematic horrors that is at turns funny, campy, shocking and scary. He uses everything in his bag of cinematic tricks to create a fast-paced, 'Twilight Zone'-styled horror movie that continuously goes much further than you might expect. Grade: A.