All posts under Reviews

CD Review: Snow White and the Huntsman

Snow White sure has come a long way since Disney. From perky but bland cartoon to beautiful but bland live action cartoon earlier this year (MIRROR MIRROR) and now somnambulistic but bland live action corpse thanks to Kristen Stewart, she of the vacant, glassy-eyed, open-mouth school of acting. So it’s no surprise that director Rupert Sanders’s menacing take on the fairy tale—SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN—basically ignores its title and focuses more on Charlize Theron’s evil queen. And what a queen she is—beautiful and endowed with the power to steal youth, all decked…

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CD Review: Last Breath

For someone who worships THE OMEN, it might come as a surprise that I’m not a fan of horror films. And I like torture films even less. I don’t understand what entertainment value can be gleaned from watching human beings cause each other extreme emotional and physical torment. So to say watching LAST BREATH was torture is not only an obvious pun, but an understatement. The film, which made the rounds of the horror film festival circuit but was released direct-to-video, stars director/writer Ty Jones and Mandy Bannon as an unhappily…

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CD Review: Ben-Hur (1925)

Long before Charlton Heston chariot-raced his way to Oscar glory, MGM filmed BEN-HUR as a silent film in 1925, starring Ramón Navarro as Judah and Francis X. Bushman as Messala. At nearly $4 million, the film was the most expensive silent film ever made. With exhortations of “The Picture Every Christian Ought to See,” audiences flocked to see the film. Though the film ultimately operated at a loss, it turned the newly merged MGM into a major force in Hollywood. In the 1980s, the Technicolor scenes were found in a Czech film archive…

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CD Review: Wings

Whenever I hear the word “wings” I’m reminded of two classic TV comedy moments. The first is Carol Burnett and Madeline Kahn in a Eunice sketch rehearsing Mary, Queen of Scotland. Only Carol could make the line “Oh, mah lady, mah lady, you flah before me as on wangs!” into pure comic gold. The second is a typical Simpsons throwaway gem. In an episode from a very early season, the camera pans across the living room and you hear the TV announcer: “Tonight, on Wings…ah, who cares…” Pure genius. Now those…

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CD Review: John Carter

Disney has faced an uphill battle marketing its new film, JOHN CARTER. Based on Edgar Rice Burrough’s 1917 novel A Princess from Mars, the studio has endured negative press for months surrounding focus groups, changing titles, and the dilemma of how to present a sci-fi/fantasy film based on a century-old book that few people have even heard of, much less read. Forget all the pre-opening manhandling and online vitriol. JOHN CARTER is a thoroughly entertaining, if imperfect, film that should give genre fans plenty to enjoy, whether it’s eye candy leads Taylor…

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CD Review: Downton Abbey

Welcome to the world of DOWTON ABBEY withdrawal. If you have yet to succumb to the pleasures of this superb PBS miniseries, I suggest you do so posthaste. I have three friends, whose opinions I respect, who urged me to watch the show over and over again. As my brain cells disintegrate with age and my TV attention span shrinks further and further away from the 21-minute sitcom limit, the thought of devoting hours to what I saw as a stuffy, glorified UPSTAIRS, DOWNSTAIRS just didn’t appeal to me. I’m an…

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CD Review: Jane Eyre

Nobody conjures up unrequited love like those wacky Brontë sisters. And with all the doom and gloom of its Gothic trappings, there’s a reason why JANE EYRE has remained a classic for 165 years—Jane is one strong-willed lady. If the 1943 film version only gives you the bare essentials of Charlotte Brontë’s story and Joan Fontaine’s performance is a bit milquetoast for such pre-feminist leanings, George Barnes’ evocative cinematography peeks into the shadows and corners of Thornfield Hall with pure Gothic atmosphere. Arguably the most successful element in the film is Bernard Herrmann‘s heaving…

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CD Review: Iris

When his Serenada Schizophrana was performed live at Carnegie Hall in 2005, Danny Elfman seemed to shed the shackles and demands of film, providing some of the freshest music of his career. With IRIS, Cirque du Soleil’s new stage show, Elfman is inspired once again to new heights of inventiveness with one of his most joyful musical creations. The show, which is currently playing at the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles, explores the history of cinema and its various genres through a combination of dance, acrobatics, live video, filmed sequences and animation. In interviews,…

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CD Review: The New Babylon

Five years before Dmitri Shostakovich scandalized the operatic world and ran afoul of Stalin and the Soviet government with Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk District, the legendary composer began his cinematic career with the 1929 silent film THE NEW BABYLON. Once the opera was denounced in Pravda, the Communist Party newspaper, commissions dried up and the composer’s film work suffered with the propagandist films he was forced to accept. But while his first film may not be particularly well known, its score is the mark of a mature genius (written when…

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CD Review: The Artist

Every year, if we film music fans are lucky, a film score or two will come out of nowhere that surprises us and moves us in unexpected ways. This year’s winner for me (in more ways than one) is Ludovic Bource‘s delightful nod to Hollywood’s Golden Age in THE ARTIST. This silent film is directed by Michel Hazanavicius with a loving fondness for the genre and stars fellow Frenchmen Jean Dujardin (who won Best Actor at this year’s Cannes Film Festival) and Bérénice Bejo in two star-making roles as George Valentin, a famous…

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