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  • Zodiac

    Zodiac

    ★★½

    This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

    Didn't work for me. I found myself frustrated by the very thing hipsters and cineastes seem to love about it -- and which, by extension, only a Philistine would object to: Its lack of resolution.

    It is also derivative as hell. The set design and compositions seem second-hand to me, with Fincher's main influence -- ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN -- feeling obvious in every frame.

    Even the performances seem imitative rather than spontaneous and natural.

    In short, ZODIAC suffers from…

  • This Is Where I Leave You

    This Is Where I Leave You

    ★★

    My suspicion that THIS IS WHERE I LEAVE YOU is basically facile, zeitgeist-pandering bullshit was confirmed in a telling moment near the end when Tina Fey plucked a cigarette out of another character's mouth and said, "Give me a break -- it's 2014!"

    For reasons I couldn't quite articulate at the time, that moment annoyed the hell out of me (and I'm not even a smoker).

    I realize now that what director Shawn Levy was doing there was simply (and…

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  • Life

    Life

    ★★

    This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

    From critic Damon Fudge comes an observation I agree with:

    "What made ALIEN work wasn't just the alien's merciless savagery, but the fact that it was humanoid enough so the audience felt it must be killable. LIFE eliminates that possibility in our minds, probably in hopes that it would make for a more frightening creature. But such indestructibility doesn't make the creature scarier, it just makes the fates of the crew feel inevitable, and then the audience is just ticking…

  • Rob Roy

    Rob Roy

    ★★★★★

    Earthy, exciting, and uncommonly literate adventure written by the great Alan Sharp, whose wonderful screenplay improves on the tedious Walter Scott novel it was based on.

    This story of a fiercely proud commoner (Liam Neeson) who runs afoul of a local aristocrat and his villainous and quite deadly nephew (Tim Roth) in 18th century Scotland is tremendous in every respect, with top direction by Michael Caton-Jones, a lush and melodic music score by Carter Burwell, and one of the most harrowing climactic sword fights ever filmed.

    My pick for the finest period adventure since Richard Lester's THREE and FOUR MUSKETEERS. It is just that good.