Month: July 2008

Chop Shop (2007), Ramin Bahrani, A-

The 400 Blows on the 7 train. A pre-teen boy and his undying hustle are the unstoppable force meeting the unmovable object of reality in this devastating yet somehow not-depressing drama. Running car parts among the rain-clogged streets of the “Iron Triangle,” selling M&Ms on the G train, or once in a while watching a Mets game for free from the subway platform, destiny has handed a childhood to Alejandro without school or parents. He sleeps in the back of a garage with his similarly directionless sister whose tight jeans and ample bust offer her a commercial enterprise she finds difficult not touse to her advantage. Will the dream of saving money to buy an empanada van turn fruitful or just lead to massive...

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Darkman (1990), Sam Raimi, B

Nobody makes movies like Sam Raimi anymore. Including Sam Raimi. What’s exciting about Darkman (other than seeing Frances McDormand and Liam Neeson have to speak its dialogue) is that it shows how awesome a low-budget movie can be. It’ll force you to think up ways to get the shots you need in innovative ways. Camera placement is key in the early Raimi films; every conceivable angle and swoop are used, making this a real geeky treat. Exhibit A in the case against doing everything with a...

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Family Nest (1979), Bela Tarr, C

I get it, I get it. Kitchen sink realism. When Mike Leigh does it, at least there’s humor (usually.) If there’s humor here it is lost in translation. Anyway, if looking for an apartment sounds like your idea of a good time, rent this movie. I think I’m done with Bela Tarr’s early films. If there’s no swooping long takes and evocative music on the soundtrack, I’ll skip...

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Radio Days (1987), Woody Allen, A+

Amarcord in Brooklyn – Woody Allen’s nostalgic, near-plotless love letter to his childhood uses the influence of radio programming as a clothesline to hang his stories. Most are about his family, some are about the radio stars themselves. I’ve seen this movie six hundred times (can Woody’s nostalgia for his youth make me nostalgic for my youth?!?) and it keeps getting better. It is smart, funny, warm, wonderfully shot and it has Wallace Shawn in it. The late 60’s/early 70’s may have been Woody at his funniest, and the late 70’s may have been Woody at his hippest – but his string of work in the 80’s, I feel, is Woody at his...

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The Adversary, DS9 3

A newly promoted Sisko hops in the Defiant to scope out what may or may not be activity on the Tzenkethi border. But, ruh-roh, turns out there’s a Founder on board and he’s set the ship on a one-way mission to start a war! With the Federation and Tzenkethi duking it out, it’ll be that much easier for the Jem’hadar to overtake the Alpha Quadrant. Luckily, they all saw Kurt Russell in The Thing and are able to suss the guy out. But are they too late to prevent a different...

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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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