Movie Reviews

Mission of conscience

I mean, what does the dude have to do to earn a little respect? I think the pride of Penn’s Grove, N.J., will have to wait a little longer for his Oscar. Meanwhile, you can see him act up a storm in the uneven but still decent Tears of the Sun, Antoine Fuqua’s follow-up to Training Day (2001).

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Using needle to make point

The Life of David Gale is two movies. It’s a thriller and it’s a message movie. As a thriller, it works, sometimes very well. As a message movie, it seems at first to be quite clunky, even preachy. It is only as the credits are rolling that you realize you’ve been had. The Life of David Gale does indeed have a message. Only it’s not the message you might think.

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Cops under fire

Set in the Los Angeles Police Department in April 1992, the thriller Dark Blue takes place days before the acquittal of four white officers in the beating of black motorist Rodney King and the subsequent L.A. riots.

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A genre set free

Lockdown is one of those movies that proves the old axiom, “You can’t judge a book by its cover” — or by its trailer, anyway. I expected the stereotypical film about young black men in trouble with the law. But what I got was a powerful punch of cinema, especially in the second half.

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Samurai bored

I can’t predict number one, but I think it’s safe to say that movies like The Sting and Thelma and Louise will be on that list. With the same certainty, I can assure you that Shanghai Knights, the sequel to Shanghai Noon (2000), will not make an appearance. However, the unlikely but funny pairing of Owen Wilson and Jackie Chan lends the movie a certain scruffy charm.

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Spinning its wheels

That could be because The Fast and the Furious is satisfied being what it is — basically a souped-up contemporary Roger Corman cult film. Biker Boyz, on the other hand, is too serious for its own good. Instead of simply trying to be The Fast and the Furious for bikers, the film throws in a little bit of everything, making for somewhat of a mess, albeit a pretty entertaining one.

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Throw away the key

Granted, National Security is a comedy — or at least it’s supposed to be. Also granted, it’s no less of a challenge to create a hit comedy than a compelling drama. In the end, the tickets cost the same, and so does the popcorn.

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Time well spent

It is tempting to say that Nicole Kidman holds her own in The Hours. After all, she is in the same movie as — although never actually sharing the screen with — heavyweights Meryl Streep and Julianne Moore.

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Keys to survival

At two hours and 28 minutes, The Pianist, based on the real-life experiences of virtuoso Wladyslaw Szpilman during World War II, is not easy to sit through. But it would be no easier to sit through were it 90 minutes long.

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Movies that moved me

It’s the time of year when everyone trots out top 10 lists. Top 10 movies, top 10 books, top 10 hot dogs, top 10 stupid people and so on. I’m surprised no one has come up with a top 10 list for top 10 lists. I mean, really, who the heck are we to lord it over everyone else? But until someone comes up with an alternative, here I go with mine. A small caveat: This is more of a “Top 10 Favorite Movies of 2002” than a 10 best. Enjoy.

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