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The Runaways Review


Very Good
A fascinating exploration of the effects of fame on young people, this true story is sharply directed and acted. It's also great to see a film about girl power that's this realistic and resonant. And packed with such great songs.

At only 15, Cherie Currie (Fanning) is overwhelmed when Joan Jett (Stewart) asks her to front her band The Runaways. With the encouragement of music promoter Kim Fowley (Shannon), Cherie becomes an iconic presence on stage and off, propelling the group into previously uncharted territory as female rockers. And while Joan and the other bandmates (Maeve, Taylor-Compton and Shawkat) take the lifestyle in their stride, Cherie is continually drawn back to her big sister (Keough) and absent parents (O'Neal and Cullen).

Continue reading: The Runaways Review

What Just Happened Review


Excellent
In Hollywood, hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars can hinge upon a leading man's decision to shave. Just look at Bruce Willis. Not in real life... but in What Just Happened, where Willis appears as himself. In the film, he's been cast in a big movie, but he's put on a few pounds since his last picture, and has decided to grow a shaggy beard.

This doesn't settle well with the studio that's paying $20 million for a man with sex-appeal; they don't want someone who resembles Santa Claus. If Willis doesn't shave and drop some weight, the studio will pull the plug on the movie and sue for damages. But Willis has been growing the beard for six months and wants to make an artistic statement. He's not going to be picking up a can of shaving cream anytime soon.

Continue reading: What Just Happened Review

Art Linson - Sunday 25th May 2008 at Cannes Film Festival Cannes, France

Art Linson

Into The Wild Review


Very Good
One day, you just pack up your essentials in a backpack, do away with all forms of identification, and set off on the road to find that piece of blue sky that's been missing from your puzzle. Such is the task taken on by young Chris McCandless (Emile Hirsch) when he set out in the summer of 1990 hoping to reach the blustery ether of Alaska. Abandoning a life of charm, money, and an equally rebellious sister (Jena Malone), McCandless walked, hitched, and explored America for two years before he died from starvation and partial poisoning on the outskirts of Denali National Park in Alaska.

Four years later, Outside magazine contributor Jon Krakauer documented McCandless' travels in his debut novel Into the Wild, which serves as a blueprint for Sean Penn's adaptation of McCandless' life. Look at me cross-eyed all you want but this tale of "a rebellious 1990s Thoreau" (as the press notes ponder he might be) brings out a buoyancy in director and terminal humbug Penn that's been absent in his filmography thus far. One might think Penn would be more apt to adapt Krakauer's recent Under the Banner of Heaven instead, but his direction in Wild is astute and brisk though not always as concise as one would hope.

Continue reading: Into The Wild Review

Scrooged Review


Very Good
Treatments of A Christmas Carol don't get much more quirky -- or memorable -- than this 1988 adaptation of the Dickens classic, done with no attempt to maintain respect for the stuffy source material. As a Scrooge-like TV producer (producing a live adaptation of A Christmas Carol, starring Mary Lou Retton as Tiny Tim), Bill Murray doesn't even come close to stealing the show from a host of characters who do: Bob Goldthwait as a gun-toting Cratchitt type, Carol Kane as a memorably pugilistic ghost of Christmas present, and many more. Not quite a "classic," but a roaring good time.

Great Expectations (1998) Review


Weak
You know, I didn't like the book Great Expectations when I was in high school, so I don't know why anyone thought it would be liked any better now. Hawke's meddling with the story is well-documented (including changing the main character's name from Pip to Finn). Then there's the updating to the 20th century, making Pip, er, Finn an artist (and a bad one at that), Bancroft's horrific drag-queenish dance instructor. De Niro's lost expression. Ugh. I'll take the book over this.

The Black Dahlia Review


Weak
Sure, the man's had a bad run of things. When Brian de Palma directed Snake Eyes, a corker of a plot that went nowhere, it seemed like a fluke. When he did Femme Fatale, that ludicrous sapphic French diamond heist flick, it could be written off as just an idiosyncratic minor joke by a former Hollywood heavyweight in self-imposed Euro-exile -- something to keep him occupied until he went back to the big leagues. Well, that moment of return finally arrived in the form of the long-gestating adaptation of James Ellroy's 1987 novel The Black Dahlia, a mystery about the infamous 1947 Elizabeth Short murder which seemed purpose-built for de Palma's needs. Ellroy's fever dream of a novel has everything that the famously self-referential director could utilize: doppelgangers (male and female), seedy urban underbelly, and psychosexual perversities galore. Given the limp, campy joke of a film that resulted, however, it seems time to stop making excuses for the man -- Brian de Palma has become one very bad director.

The generally limp script by Josh Friedman starts off smartly, setting us up for the bruising friendship between the stars, a couple of L.A. cops who also happen to be boxers and get paired up for a publicity-machine fight that touts them as "Mr. Fire and Mr. Ice." Ice is "Bucky" Bleichart (Josh Hartnett), a cool and low-key guy charitably described as a loser who gets his shot at a good chunk of change as well as reassignment to the LAPD's hotshot Warrants department for agreeing to the fight. Fire is Lee Blanchard (Aaron Eckhart), one of those bigger-than-life cops who cuts corners with aplomb and seems happy enough to bring Bucky on as his partner after knocking his teeth out (literally) in the ring. Further binding the two men together, besides work and friendship, is Kay Lake (Scarlett Johansson), the sultry blonde dame on Lee's arm who takes a shine to Bleichart that doesn't seem to be entirely platonic.

Continue reading: The Black Dahlia Review

Casualties Of War Review


Excellent
Vietnam War movies are always tough to watch, especially for those of us who go through life burdened with liberal guilt. But of all the Vietnam movies out there, none is more painful to watch -- and paradoxically more beautifully shot -- than Casualties of War, in which all of director Brian De Palma's prodigious talents are in full effect. To steal a line from another Vietnam classic: "The horror..."

Based on an allegedly true event that was reported in the New Yorker, Casualties is a stripped-down tale of a small platoon of Army grunts who head into the jungle only to lose their humanity, a trope that has traveled from Conrad to Coppola to here. It's Satan in paradise, wreaking havoc and leaving unexplainable carnage behind.

Continue reading: Casualties Of War Review

Scrooged Review


Very Good
Treatments of A Christmas Carol don't get much more quirky -- or memorable -- than this 1988 adaptation of the Dickens classic, done with no attempt to maintain respect for the stuffy source material. As a Scrooge-like TV producer (producing a live adaptation of A Christmas Carol, starring Mary Lou Retton as Tiny Tim), Bill Murray doesn't even come close to stealing the show from a host of characters who do: Bob Goldthwait as a gun-toting Cratchitt type, Carol Kane as a memorably pugilistic ghost of Christmas present, and many more. Not quite a "classic," but a roaring good time.

Great Expectations Review


Weak
You know, I didn't like the book Great Expectations when I was in high school, so I don't know why anyone thought it would be liked any better now. Hawke's meddling with the story is well-documented (including changing the main character's name from Pip to Finn). Then there's the updating to the 20th century, making Pip, er, Finn an artist (and a bad one at that), Bancroft's horrific drag-queenish dance instructor. De Niro's lost expression. Ugh. I'll take the book over this.

Spartan Review


Extraordinary
What is the man behind such parlor-room films as The Winslow Boy and House of Games doing directing an explosive military thriller, complete with airdrops and sniper rifles? And starring Val Kilmer? Trust me: Give Spartan ten minutes, and you'll stop asking such stupid questions.

David Mamet's latest project is far from conventional fare, and ultimately that works in his favor. From the opening scene, where two soldiers pursue each other through a jungle, Mamet keeps us guessing. What kind of movie are we watching? Within about 10 minutes, the bones of the story are made clear: the president's daughter (Kristen Bell) has been kidnapped from her dorm room, and the Secret Service pulls out all the stops to get her back. That includes recruiting special operations soldier Robert Scott (Val Kilmer), an uncannily capable military man who's as intuitive with people and motives as he is skilled with weapons.

Continue reading: Spartan Review

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Art Linson Movies

The Runaways Movie Review

The Runaways Movie Review

A fascinating exploration of the effects of fame on young people, this true story is...

What Just Happened Movie Review

What Just Happened Movie Review

In Hollywood, hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars can hinge upon a leading man's...

Into the Wild Movie Review

Into the Wild Movie Review

One day, you just pack up your essentials in a backpack, do away with all...

The Black Dahlia Movie Review

The Black Dahlia Movie Review

Sure, the man's had a bad run of things. When Brian de Palma directed Snake...

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Imaginary Heroes Movie Review

Imaginary Heroes Movie Review

Considering that Imaginary Heroes starts off with a teenager's suicide and then follows what happens...

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