• Madeline's Madeline

    Madeline's Madeline

    ★★★

    For 16-year-old Madeline (Helena Howard), the theatre world serves as not only a welcome escape from her difficulty home life but also some desperately therapy for her own increasingly troubled mental state. She's clearly more comfortable living a make believe fantasy than her own real life. Miranda July plays her mother while Molly Parker plays her opportunistic theatre director who attempts to tap into Madeline's problems at home and difficult relationship with her mother in order to find inspiration for…

  • Ray

    Ray

    ★★½

    Ray Charles was indeed a genius and an incredible musician and, while he may have lead an interesting life, Taylor Hackford sure as hell did not find a way to make an interesting dramatization of it. Part of the reason why the film is a failure is because it cares more (a lot more) about Charles' love of heroin than it does it does his love of music. In fact, if you believe the film's account, Charles only seems to…

  • The Swimmer

    The Swimmer

    ★★★

    I gotta admit, I didn't really know what to make of this one. Frank Perry's "The Swimmer" is essentially one long metaphor as the character played by Burt Lancaster spends an afternoon hoping from one backyard swimming pool to another in his affluent suburb while on his way back home. Along the way, he encounters friends, neighbors, and past lovers and their interactions allows us to sort of piece together fragments of Lancaster's life both past and present. The closer…

  • Mass

    Mass

    ★★★★

    The majority of Mass' runtime involves 4 people in a room talking and yet, despite this, it's one of the most riveting and intense movie experiences of the year. By presenting two sets of parents grieving the loss of their children (one at the hands of the other), the film taps into a raw emotion that leaves a lasting scar. Jason Isaacs and Martha Plimpton play the parents of one of the victims while Reed Birney and Ann Dowd play…

  • The American President

    The American President

    ★★★½

    I wish I owned a pair of the same rose colored glasses Aaron Sorkin uses to view American politics through. Seriously, "The American President" and its offspring "The West Wing" are in many ways bigger fantasies than the "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy. Despite their propensity to seek out the good and noble where none exists in the American political system, there can be enjoyment in watching these romantic fantasies come to life. The American President reunited Sorkin with…

  • Scent of a Woman

    Scent of a Woman

    ★★

    If you want to trace back the exact moment Al Pacino transformed from Al Pacino the actor into Al Pacino the cartoon character than look no further than the film that finally won him an Academy Award (hoo-ah!). He didn't win for "The Godfather", "Serpico", "Dog Day Afternoon", or even "Dick Tracy", Pacino won his first and thus far only Oscar for his work on "Scent of a Woman". That, to me, is among the biggest travesties in Oscars history.…

  • David and Lisa

    David and Lisa

    ★★★★

    Director Frank Perry emerged onto the scene with this low budget exploration of young love through the prism of mental illness penned by his then wife Eleanor. Keir Dullea (of "2001: A Space Odyssey" fame) plays David, a young man who suffers from what appears to be a severe case of autism who's brought in for treatment at a psychiatric center under the care of a psychiatrist played by Howard Da Silva. While there, he meets Lisa (Janet Margolin), a…

  • Stir Crazy

    Stir Crazy

    ★★½

    Sidney Poitier was proof positive that not all great actors are cut out to be directors. Clint Eastwood and Robert Redford are the rare exemptions. For as much as he would light up the screen whenever he appeared in front of the camera, Poitier didn't seem to really know what to do whenever he found himself on the other side of the lens. Case in point, "Stir Crazy" where the director somehow squandered the talents of both Gene Wilder and…

  • Targets

    Targets

    ★★★

    In many ways, the making of "Targets" is more interesting than the film itself. Basically, Boris Karloff owed Roger Corman two days work and so Corman hired a young writer named Peter Bogdanovich (RIP) to direct a movie with Karloff so long as he used stock footage from he and Karloff's 1963 film "The Terror". Bogdanovich, working in collaboration with his wife and co-writer Polly Platt (who also did the production design on the film) came up with the concept…

  • Bob Roberts

    Bob Roberts

    ★★★½

    Couldn't think of a more fitting movie to watch on January 6th than this chillingly prophetic mockumentary written, directed and starring Tim Robbins as the eponymous character, a folk singing conservative politician with a cult of personality. While satirical in nature and comedic in tone, "Bob Roberts" sometimes feels like a horror film as 30 years later we're not all that far off from the political discourse explored in the film. Roberts, who's Pennsylvania senatorial campaign is chronicled in the…

  • Secrets & Lies

    Secrets & Lies

    ★★★★½

    Sometimes walking into a movie completely blind can be so rewarding. On the surface, "Secrets & Lies" doesn't seem all that appealing. Its got a vague title, ultra generic poster, and it features no real stars to speak of, which is partly why I chose to put it off all these years. Huge mistake! The only thing that drew me to the film is the various accolades it earned (Palme d'Or, Oscar nominations) so finally I sat down and gave the…

  • Soul

    Soul

    ★★★

    I really think Pixar is incapable of making a bad movie (well, besides maybe the "Cars" movies) but I must say it's been a long time since they made a really good one too. "Coco" or "Inside Out" might fit those descriptions for some but I think you have to go all the way back to "Toy Story 3" to find the last truly great movie the studio produced. They seem to have settled into the mold of producing content…