Film Reviews

On (and off) the Grid

Mixing splatter and hilarity, the surprising Cabin in the Woods makes a good case for post-modern horror. Consider first, if you will, the ingenious poster for the long-delayed project: There’s a basemented cabin (not in the woods) suspended in blank white space, whose naked architectonics reveal that the structure can be manipulated like Rubik’s cube, twisted this way and that.


Bully: Portraits of cruel young

Unless you were a bully yourself, you have probably been bullied in school. The cruelty of children is common doctrine, no?


One Kine First Time

First-time filmmakers can glean some very helpful tips from Chuck Mitsui’s debut feature: the Hawaii-based One Kine Day. Neophyte directors often fail because of the self-applied pressure to make Citizen Kane, Breathless, She’s Gotta Have It or Reservoir Dogs on the first outing.


Unfinished Music

It’s too bad that the word “icon” has become the most overused term in what passes for modern celebrity journalism. But if the word icon doesn’t apply to Bob Marley, who became a kind of quasi-religious figure to millions, a sign of hope, and, as it turns out, financially generous, to whom can it possibly apply?


The Nyuk-Nyuk Files

This writer saw The Three Stooges, the longest-running comedy team in American movies, in person only once–as a late-career stage act at a state fair. And after a more than 30-year career, the three–minus the marvelous Curly Howard (substituted by the mediocre Curly Joe DeRita)–had honed down their best movie sketches, brought along their all-important soundman (Bonk!


Lost and Found

What inspired you to start the Found Footage Festival? My friend Joe [Pickett], who I’ve known since sixth grade–he’s the other guy doing the festival–we were just bored in our small hometown of Wisconsin.


Tales of Africa

Oka! tells tales within tales of primitive, transitional and perhaps sustainable Africa. For her third film, part-time Hawaii writer-director Lavinia Currier (Passion in the Desert, full disclosure: this writer worked as a consultant on this film) has chosen an intricate challenge: a narrative without melodrama, telling several stories: Equatorial Banzele forest pygmies enduring enmity from neighboring Bantus; incursion by timber companies and illegal hunters (some from China) chasing after the magnificent elephants within the forest; a quest by a terminally ill American ethnomusicologist trying, before shades fall, to complete his musical-instrument collection by finding the befabled Molimo, an extremely rare instrument said to be able to call elephants.


Pirouette and Plié Poets

Karen, a sophisticated 40-something poetry and dance teacher almost exclusively referred to as “Ma’am,” gazes around the classroom before zooming in on her prey. “When you stare at a woman, do you undress her with your eyes or cover her up?” she asks Marlon (Paolo Avelino), a struggling student utterly enamored by the enigmatic poetess, played by Jean Garcia in this film, the lineup in this weekʻs Third Annual Filipino Film Festival.


Is the Party Over?

Franchise comedy movies–meaning a stable of at least three or four films with related casts and plots–are rare, the most lucrative of the lot belonging to the American Pie collective, six and counting (two of these on direct-to-DVD). The newest, if not the freshest, is the current American Reunion, replete with scatology, cunnilingus, fellatio, infidelity, sex-with-food, major drunkenness and old jokes.


Objection! Overruled!

Listening to Science Friday on NPR last week, I heard the author Ian Tattersall opine on the question as to whether Homo sapiens had any more evolution left in them. Based on the population pool of 7 billion and counting, he said, the answer was no.


Swimming Upstream

The comedies of director Lasse Hallström (Chocolat, My Life as a Dog come to mind) are like no one else’s: deft, “humanistic,” character-driven and funnier as they go along. They often begin gently, with here and there a few chuckles, and then rope audiences in, ending up far more eccentric than they first appear.


Eat Drink Film Fest

Dinner and a movie was a weekend standard until the tab for two crept past $40. An evening better spent would be to pair up rented Netflixed or streamed movies with complementary edibles.


Dude, Where’s My Self?

Heard this one before? Jeff is a run-of-the-mill thirty-something pothead slacker still living in his mom’s basement.


Mars on $10 million a Day

Yes, it’s all true, Disney spent $250 million on the budget for John Carter, which only reinforces what Dolly Parton said about her enhancements: “It takes a lot of money to look this cheap.” Well, not cheap exactly in the case of Carter–just maybe uninspired. Your humble reviewer could spend the rest of this page listing the titles of the movies from which Carter borrowed.


White Cops Can’t Jump

Due to his striking good looks and youthful appearance, Officer Tom Hanson (a breakthrough role for Johnny Depp) is approached with an undercover sting assignment where he would play a high school student and report on the scenes and happenings of . .


Isn’t It Good?

Watching Norwegian Wood and writing about it call upon two different and opposed parts of the brain. Writing Mind says: A Japanese Love Story (with suicides).


Dirty Blue

“This used to be a glorious soldier’s department,” snarls Rampartʻs “Date-Rape” Dave, a beat officer in the police district in L.A. for which the film, set in the late 1990s, is named.


Save Planet Seuss

It’s a thneed: a utilitarian As-Seen-on-TV squeegee of shape-shifting proportions! This sweater-like fabric reconfigures to fit all your fantastical needs!


Faces of Hate

When it begins later this week, the 10th annual Temple Emanu-El Kirk Cashmere Jewish Film Festival, with films from seven countries, examines the history of anti-semitism in a wide range of material, including the Olympics and recent American political scene. These films will not have played at commercial theaters here.


Confined Spaces

We are witnesses to their stories. A middle-class Iranian couple relays their disputes to a harried judge who must decide whether to grant them a divorce.


Man in the Mirror

Summer, 1984. That’s just a year after Michael Jackson’s Thriller becomes a worldwide musical sensation touching every corner of Planet Earth, including Waihau Bay, the sleepy seaside New Zealand town portrayed in the comedy-drama Boy.


Surfing: It’s a Black Thing

“Charlie don’t surf!” was the mad Colonel’s cry in Apocalypse Now. Today, the same shorthand applies to African-Americans.


Dirty Hippie Yuppies

There are two kinds of people in this world. Draw a line in the dirt, and I’m on the side saying, “Um, gross, dirt.” Comedy Wanderlust is a film about taking people out of their Bed, Bath & Beyond-sponsored comfort zones and nudging them across that absolutely grizzly line into more uninhibited, down-to-earth territory.


The Oscar Follies

Here it comes, lumbering toward us in a few days… The octogenarian Oscars, replete with a resurrected host Billy Crystal, nine Best Picture noms, only two nominated songs, be-gowned starlets and the usual promise that the whole thing will be shorter this year–two hours-ish, they say.


Comic Stripped

Since it found success with The Blair Witch Project in ‘99, “found footage” as a genre continues to find…itself. With Blair and Paranormal Activity, its purpose was authenticity.


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