House of Flying Daggers (2004)

house_of_flying_daggers

[This review was originally published at Christianity Today in December 2004.] - For the second time this year, American audiences are being treated to a martial arts epic by the acclaimed Chinese director Zhang Yimou. But where Hero was a perfect title for a movie about a courageous warrior's quest for vengeance, the title of the new film, House of Flying Daggers, is misleading. In Japan, it is more appropriately titledThe Lovers. Daggers is a more colorful choice, but The Lovers correctly … [Read more...]

Fight Club (1999)

UPDATE 2010: Looking back at my original review for Fight Club, I find my feelings haven't changed about it... except in one significant way. The conclusion of the film is much, much more disheartening. It portrays a calamity that, at the time of the film's release, seemed over-the-top and incredibly bleak. Apocalyptic, even. Well, a couple of years after the film came out, we came to know calamity just like that. And so, what was once a sort of absurd comedy is now a very real scar on the … [Read more...]

The Lovers on the Bridge (1991)

With amazing performances and some bizarre spectacles, Leos Carax's The Lovers on the Bridge a paints unforgettable (if not exactly admirable) pictures of wild romance. Plunging us into a the difficult and unpredictable lives of the homeless in Paris, Carax shows us an ugly, cruel world that is full of betrayals. Romantic love and passion are upheld as the best hope for a fulfilling life, and its characters pursue this with a passion, believing it should be attained no matter what. And … [Read more...]

28 Days Later (2003)

After seeing the preview for 28 Days Later, those who love violent zombie movies rushed to the theatre hoping for chaotic bloodletting and absurd violence. Most others assumed it would be  just another icky horror film, and they steered around it as if it were typical roadkill. And who can blame them? Derivative, disposable horror movies show up almost every week these days, and those worth discussing are rarities indeed. But Danny Boyle (Trainspotting) had a lot on his mind while he … [Read more...]

Shrek 2 (2004)

shrek-2

This review was originally published at Christianity Today. - When we bade farewell to the happily honeymooning ogres Shrek (Mike Myers) and Fiona (Cameron Diaz), it seemed like a "happily ever after" ending. True love had saved Fiona from the curse that bound her in the guise of a human being during the daylight. At last she was free to be her ogre-ly self, 24-7. She had learned to accept who she was, and she had discovered someone who loved her that way. Shrek had overcome his antisocial … [Read more...]

The Emperor’s New Groove (2000)

the-emperor-s-new-groove

I walked into The Emperor's New Groove expecting another formulaic Disney movie. I came out giddy with joy. For all of the craftsmanship of this year's smash family movie Chicken Run, The Emperor's New Groove is ten times funnier and more creative. It's one of the year's... uh... the year's best... NO! I can't make myself say it! It's a Disney movie! Aren't Disney movies just predictable, made-for-marketing, and drenched in sentiment? Sentimentality has slowly swallowed storytelling in … [Read more...]

A Mighty Wind (2003)

- Christopher Guest’s commitment to “mockumentaries” about community events is a curious thing. All three of his semi-improvisational films — Waiting for Guffman, Best in Show, and now A Mighty Wind — have explored and celebrated the strange behaviors of human beings as they prepare for a public spectacle. He choreographs comical collisions of ego and inanity, and the results usually cause us to wince, laugh, and groan. And somehow, in the midst of inspired improvisation, he … [Read more...]

Alien: Resurrection (1997)

2012 Update: It's been fifteen years since I posted these first-impressions on Jean-Pierre Jeunet's chapter in the Alien saga. At the time, it was a disappointment. But now that the preposterous Alien v. Predator series had trivialized these creatures and reduced the imaginings of Ridley Scott, H.R. Giger, and James Cameron to juvenile video-game fare, Alien: Resurrection looks like a movie from the good old days. I might even find myself talked into watching it again. I mean, surely a movie … [Read more...]

The Count of Monte Cristo (2002)

count-of-monte-cristo-1

[This review was first published at the original Looking Closer website in 2002.] - Director Kevin Reynolds, responsible for the bloated Waterworld and the misguided Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, has chosen a strong cast and a solid script for his adaptation of Alexander Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo. The result is not a great film, by any means, but it reveals that Jim Caviezel (The Thin Red Line, Frequency) can be a compelling big screen hero and Guy Pearce (Memento, L.A. Confidential) … [Read more...]

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004)

Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

This review was originally published at Christianity Today in December 2004. - You won't find the word father on the résumé of Steve Zissou. That's because Zissou, an inventive seafaring documentarian, has been too caught up in his own self-perpetuating mythology to settle down and raise a family. But every dream has its price, and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, director Wes Anderson's latest melancho-medy, is the story of a visionary who must reckon with the temporality, and the … [Read more...]


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X