October 14, 2005 |
Rodrigo Garcia's "Nine Lives" is that rare episode film that actually accrues a cumulative power and doesn't merely proceed from one segment to the next. By the time it's over it has become a testament to the inner resilience of women in coping with a critical moment in their lives.
May 16, 1998 |
"Yield of the Long Bond" is a tense, gloomy philosophical treatise on love--earthly vs. spiritual, vulgar vs. polite, real vs. professed. It's also a play that changes, as swiftly as a thunderstorm, into a whodunit, a murder mystery. In the second act, the mystery clears up almost as quickly as it blew in. In its final moments, the story morphs again, this time into a melancholy and romantic cautionary tale. If this sounds like a play with structural problems, it is.
October 16, 2011 |
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides Walt Disney, $29.99; Blu-ray, $39.99/$49.99 There's a distinct "hanging around town after graduation" vibe to "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides," the fourth installment of the billion-dollar Disney franchise. With Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley and director Gore Verbinski all out of the picture, Johnny Depp is left to shoulder the bulk of the swashbuckling as Capt. Jack Sparrow, with some help from Penélope Cruz as Blackbeard's daughter (and Ian McShane as Blackbeard)
July 23, 2010 |
Starz, which has found success with its historical sword-and-sauciness series "Spartacus," updates the mix a millennium or so and raises the tone a bit with "The Pillars of the Earth," an eight-hour adaptation of Ken Follett's 1989 thousand-page novel of medieval England. Set mostly in and around the fictional town of Kingsbridge, which should not be confused with the actual British town of Kingsbridge, during a violent period of English history known as the Anarchy, which should not be confused with that song by the Sex Pistols, it is a tale of holy aspiration and earthly skullduggery, as various characters build monuments to God, fight for titles, feather their nests, fall in love, have sex in a cave, or invent the credit system and the flying buttress.
June 9, 2006 |
Much as I admire "Deadwood," David Milch's trippy western set in a gold rush camp in the Black Hills of South Dakota, I can't get with the outrage at HBO for canceling it (experience the venom at www.savedeadwood.tv). Yes, I know Milch had intended his story of the Old West to play out over four seasons, but it's a western, we know how it ends -- with gunplay, death and a classic soliloquy, not necessarily in that order.
November 7, 2011 |
"Kung Fu Panda" was one of those movies you had to see to believe. At least to believe it was any good. The concept — a bumbling out-of-shape Panda named Po (voiced by Jack Black) finds himself living his dreams when fate decrees he join the Kung Fu elite of Tigress (Angelina Jolie), Mantis (Seth Rogen), Crane (David Cross), Monkey (Jackie Chan) and Viper (Lucy Liu) and overseen by the diminutive but mighty Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman) — seemed pretty silly, designed to sell stuffed panda dolls more than anything else.
February 28, 2013 |
Pity poor Jack. There he was, minding his own business in some dusty fairy tale book when the powers that be dragooned him into active service as the front man for the would-be blockbuster "Jack the Giant Slayer. " Of course, Jack's been through the Hollywood shuffle before. Research reveals that he appeared in an Edison film as far back as 1902 and that his story has been embraced by talents as diverse as Gene Kelly, Chuck Jones and the Three Stooges. But there may never have been a Jack tale that delivered so little pleasure for so many dollars as what we have here.
March 13, 2009 |
"Kings," which begins Sunday on NBC, is certainly the strangest series to be offered by a major network in this slowly unrolling winter season, a parallel-world modernizing of the biblical story of King Saul and little David, who with his sling slew Goliath and later became king himself. (Goliath in this case is the name of a kind of tank, and the sling is a bazooka.
January 17, 2005 |
"The Aviator" soared -- sort of. "Million Dollar Baby" decked the competition -- but wasn't a knockout. "Sideways" uncorked a couple of winners -- although it wasn't drunk with success. And "Closer," a dark film about love and betrayal, whose award chances even its own studio had begun to doubt, walked off with two acting awards Sunday night at the 62nd Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills. The Hollywood Foreign Press Assn.'
August 5, 2006 |
In "Scoop," Woody Allen's latest film, Scarlett Johansson plays a cub newspaper reporter who teams with a bumbling magician (Allen) and the ghost of a dead journalist (Ian McShane) to catch a serial murderer. Although we can't vouch for the realism of this setup -- in our experience, dead people rarely provide good news tips -- newspaper journalists will certainly appreciate Allen's take on their profession.