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Film & TV

Bloodsucker Smackdown

The bigger, flashier Blade II still feels a little too familiar.

By Greg Beacham
POSTED // Jun 11,2007 - Blade II, a film about killing vampires, is a bit of a bloodsucker in its own right. In keeping with the normally commendable one-upmanship that drives Hollywood sequels these days, it’s determined to be bigger, flashier and just plain longer than...

Film & TV

The Good Bi Girls

Kissing Jessica Stein finds giddy romantic comedy in sexual experimentation.

By Greg Beacham
POSTED // Jun 11,2007 - Just in case there was any confusion, there’s an early scene in Kissing Jessica Stein in which the two women whose love affair dominates the film discuss lipstick application techniques and preferences in expert detail. These aren’t lesbians...

Film & TV

Author! Author!

Two superb performances capture a writer’s life in Iris.

By Greg Beacham
POSTED // Jun 11,2007 - It’s easy to fail when making a film about a writer, because it’s difficult to compellingly film somebody writing. Painting, sculpting, boxing and wicker crafts all lend themselves to visuals. Writing is just a woman at a desk or a typewriter,...

Film & TV

Petty Hate Machine

Todd Solondz continues his career of cinematic contempt in Storytelling.

By Greg Beacham
POSTED // Jun 11,2007 - It’s the cinema of contempt, and it really sucks. Most of us learned in elementary school that people who spend their time making fun of other people usually carry gargantuan doubts about their own self-worth. It’s been the topic of many bad...

Film & TV

Slack Hawk Down

Carnage and melodrama make uncomfortable foxhole-mates in We Were Soldiers

By Greg Beacham
POSTED // Jun 11,2007 - Mere moments into We Were Soldiers, the battlefield smells familiar. As a circa-1954 French platoon maneuvers through the Vietnamese Central Highlands, a soldier’s conversation is interrupted by a spatter of blood and the rotten-melon squelch of...

Film & TV

Dead Man Squawking

The restrained Monster’s Ball works best when it’s not trying too hard.

By Greg Beacham
POSTED // Jun 11,2007 - In just one five-minute stretch of Monster’s Ball, you can get a sense for everything that’s wonderful about it—and everything that’s slightly embarrassing. Hank Grotowski (Billy Bob Thornton), a Georgia corrections officer, sits...

Film & TV

La Marseilles-Malaise

Cate Blanchett tries to bore the Nazis into submission in Charlotte Gray.

By Greg Beacham
POSTED // Jun 11,2007 - The untold stories of great historical events are a favorite source of inspiration for authors and filmmakers, but we so rarely hear the untold fictional stories of ineffectual goofballs and their idiotic, failed ventures. Such is the saga of Charlotte...

Film & TV

Raw is War

Black Hawk Down immerses you in a guided tour of combat hell.

By Greg Beacham
POSTED // Jun 11,2007 - A line from Plato prefaces Black Hawk Down: “Only the dead have seen the end of war.” We understand the contemporary significance of those words by the close of this remarkably arresting film from director Ridley Scott (Gladiator). This is...

Film & TV

Vengeance Isn’t Sweet

Another year, another tepid Dumas adaptation in The Count of Monte Cristo.

By Greg Beacham
POSTED // Jun 11,2007 - Alexandre Dumas would have been right at home in Hollywood. In the 19th century, Dumas cranked out sprawling tales as quickly as possible, usually with little regard to their quality. Critics hated them. Readers loved them. In his private life, he nailed...

Film & TV

Canada Dry

The Shipping News smoothes over the novel’s damp Newfoundland chill.

By Greg Beacham
POSTED // Jun 11,2007 - There are times when you just want to get in your car, drive down to Book Soup on Sunset Boulevard, buy out the entire inventory, stop at Home Depot to buy a shovel, drive back up into the Mojave Desert and bury every single book in a big hole in the...
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