Month: December 2005

This is the type of movie that bullies its way into having good reviews by a) being in a language other than English and b) having a lot of explicit sex. I’m here to tell you that even watching sexy Iberians going at it gets boring if the story is...

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F For Fake (1974), Orson Welles, B

Welles’ meditation on charlatanism is in itself a great magic trick. Stare at it too hard and you’ll realize it’s just a mish-mosh of someone else’s footage, plus whatever other crap he had lying around his editing room. But with enough smoke and funhouse mirrors it feels like a full meal. Disc Two of Criterion’s release has some wild documentaries. One is a “straight” version of the events detailed in “F For Fake,” the other is a look at Welles’ late career, his production manner during this time and the projects he lorded over simultaneously and never...

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Munich (2005), Steven Spielberg, A

Before you get scared off by the scent of a heavy message, know this: “Munich” is a damned entertaining film. If you like a picture like The Day of the Jackal, well, this is like that but ten times over. Never has the middle eastern problem been such a fun ride. Maybe that sounds a little coarse, but conflicting emotions and subsequent guilt are what this movie is about (that message you’ve heard so much about.) I’ll let the movie, with its punchline last shot that works like a sledgehammer to the stomach (thank God I waited to read the Times review, which spoiled it), speak for itself. There are a number of sequences that are gasp-worthy. And one shot that is right out of the Brian De Palma playbook (yes, that’s a compliment.) I must say, though, there is one moment that outright sucks. I wish I could have five minutes with Steven just to ask him what the hell he was thinking. (For those that have seen it — I’m talking about the money shot — you’ll know what I mean when you see it.) I actually slapped my forehead at this shot. But this is three seconds in a two-and-a-half-hour film that is really terrific. As someone who can divorce himself from reality, I left thinking, “Wow — we live in fascinating times. I wonder if...

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Funny Girl (1968), William Wyler, B+

I have 36 expressions Sweet as pie and tough as leather And that’s six expressions more Than all them Barrymores put together Instead of just kicking me why don’t they give me a lift Well, it must me a plot ‘Cause they’re scared that I got such a gift Well I’m miffed ‘Cause I’m the greatest star I am by far But no one knows it Wait, they’re gonna hear a voice A silver flute There’ll cheer each toot ( Yeah, she’s terrific!) When I expose it! Now can’t you see to look at me That I’m a natural Camille As Camille I just feel, I have so much to offer (Hey listen kid I know I’d be divine because …) I’m a natural cougher [couching sounds] Some ain’t got it, not a lump I’m a great big clump of talent! Laugh, they’ll bend in half (Did you ever hear that story about the traveling salesman?) A thousand jokes (Stick around for the chokes) A thousand faces, I reiterate When you’re gifted Than you’re gifted These are facts I got no ax to grind He, what are you blind? In all the world so far, I’m the greatest star No autographs please [spoken] Do you thing beautiful girls are gonna stay in style forever What if I say not, any minute now there’ gonna be out Finished than it’ll...

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Crash (2005), Paul Haggis, D

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Anyone else bored with racism? And what, really, is the message of this film? That everyone is a racist asshole, so we ought to just accept it? This movie gets props for being so “real,” but you know what? I know a lot of black and white people who work together every day and manage not to fight and, in fact, manage to be friendly. Now, this movie does have some very well-played and well-acted scenes. But there are also a lot of really ridiculous scenes. Two of which are predicated on outrageously far-fetched coincidences, and one scene that has two back-to-back outrageously far-fetched reversals. In slow-mo. So what that means is that during this serious and award-nominated treatise on American culture I laughed loud and hard four times. Hardly the director’s intention. I proclaim this movie to be a joke — and, frankly, it isn’t that difficult to shock your audience into respect if you make your characters (thin, one-dimensional characters for that matter) say abusive things. Please do not confuse this with David Cronenberg’s brilliant and entertaining film of the same...

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Jordan Hoffman is a New York-based writer and film critic working for The Guardian, Vanity Fair, Thrillist, Times of Israel, NY Daily News and elsewhere.

He is the host of ENGAGE: The Official Star Trek Podcast, a member of the New York Film Critics Circle and challenges you to a game of backgammon.

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