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Year: Stars: Rating: Reviewer:

The Beach (2000)

Present-day parable of Paradise Found and Paradise Lost: more precisely, a legendary island Shangri-La somewhere near Thailand (from the air it looks like Never-Never Land in Disney's Peter Pan, meaning, among other things, that it looks painted instead of photographed), home to a Hippie Commune cum Club Med, as well ... (R)

1.0 starsDuncan Shepherd

A Bigger Splash (2015)

Four damaged souls in various stages of recovery — filmmaker Paul (Matthias Schoenaerts) from depression and booze, rock star Marianne (Tilda Swinton) from damaged vocal cords, nymphet Penelope (Dakota Johnson) from fatherlessness, and record producer Harry (Ralph Fiennes) from, well, his life up to now — meet up at an ... (R)

2.0 starsMatthew Lickona

Broken Flowers (2005)

Jim Jarmusch's mainstreamiest film to date has a lot of laughs in it, despite the pretentiousness of the cinéma d'ennui pacing and deliberately dissatisfying ending. Laughs are laughs, nonetheless, and once they've fought through the pretentiousness, they cannot be wiped off the scoreboard. (Another impediment to be fought through, another ... (R)

3.0 starsDuncan Shepherd

Burn after Reading (2008)

The Coen brothers revisit their favored stupidity theme: Raising Arizona, Barton Fink, Fargo, The Big Lebowski (that one above all), O Brother, Where Art Thou?, the secondhand Ladykillers, at least the Llewellyn Moss protagonist in No Country for Old Men. Back to the well once more. The placement of this ... (R)

4.0 starsDuncan Shepherd

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (2005)

The mythic children's book by C.S.Lewis makes for a good children's film, better, to pick a couple of nearby co-ordinates, than any of the Harry Potters, better than any third of The Lord of the Rings, albeit still rather longish at two hours and twenty minutes. In the first place, ... (PG)

2.0 starsDuncan Shepherd

Constantine (2005)

Soporific supernaturalism, notwithstanding some startling special effects, with Keanu Reeves as a cool-dude demonologist in a long coat, doomed to Hell for a momentarily successful suicide attempt, and ticketed to an early grave, even now, for a pack-a-day smoking habit. Tilda Swinton, of all people, is cast as the angel ... (R)

0.0 starsDuncan Shepherd

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)

The central conceit, and little else, has been retained from an F. Scott Fitzgerald short story of the same name: a protagonist who ages in reverse. (The story of course was written and titled before the soundalike name of Benjamin Britten came to fame, and as long as they were ... (PG-13)

1.0 starsDuncan Shepherd

The Dead Don't Die (2019)

The scary (and gory) things on screen may be zombies, but the real monster here is the troll in the director’s chair. Jim Jarmusch and friends (Bill Murray, Adam Driver, Tilda Swinton, et alia) have a laugh at the audience’s expense with a film that starts off sounding good, looking ... (R)

0.0 starsMatthew Lickona

The Deep End (2001)

The lady-in-distress storyline, unspooled on a smallness of scale that could nowadays be maintained only in an independent film, is agreeably old-fashioned, as you would expect when you know that it's a remake of a top-drawer 1949 melodrama by Max Ophuls, The Reckless Moment. The introduction of an explicit homosexual ... (R)

2.0 starsDuncan Shepherd

Female Perversions (1997)

The premise, or thesis, taken from a work of nonfiction by Dr. Louise J. Kaplan and spelled out on screen in a printed preamble, asserts that conformance to the "normal" is the biggest perversion of all. Or something like that. First-time filmmaker Susan Streitfeld has attempted, with some degree of ... (R)

1.0 starsDuncan Shepherd

Hail, Caesar! (2016)

Remember movies? The Coen brothers do. Westerns, romances, musicals, dance extravaganzas — the works. (All of which are on gorgeous, indulgent display here.) Millions of people used to look to them for — in the words of Capitol Pictures’ Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin) — “information, uplift, and yes, ... (PG-13)

3.0 starsMatthew Lickona

I Am Love (2010)

The mad passion of a wealthy Milanese matron (Tilda Swinton) for the much younger chef with whom her son has entered a restaurant partnership. Thus, there’s a food-film ingredient from the shelf of Babette’s Feast, Big Night, Like Water for Chocolate, Mostly Martha, and the like — a sensual awakening, ... (R)

2.0 starsDuncan Shepherd

Julia (2009)

Very large performance in a very long movie, Tilda Swinton as a foul-mouthed slatternly alcoholic in a harebrained kidnap scheme. Only when the kidnapped child gets twice kidnapped (the Coens could have wrung some laughs from this) does the suspense begin to build. Too little, too late. With Aidan Gould, ... (R)

1.0 starsDuncan Shepherd

The Limits of Control (2009)

In form a thriller, this feels more like an endurance test: so far-fetched, so encoded, so self-indulgent, it’s not apt to stir much curiosity or hope of satisfaction. Yet even though the course of action — from Madrid to Seville to the Spanish hinterland, in the company of a stone-faced, ... (R)

2.0 starsDuncan Shepherd

Love Is the Devil (1998)

A seven-year slice -- more like a mince -- of the life of British painter Francis Bacon and his S&M relationship with his model, George Dyer. John Maybury's attempt to recapture in live action the "atmosphere" of a Bacon painting, without actually showing any, relies on the cold mechanics of ... (NR)

0.0 starsDuncan Shepherd

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