Author: Norm Schrager

In a Dream

In a Dream

Visual artist Isaiah Zagar lives on the delicate border between joy and insanity. The mosaic master of Philadelphia, now in his late 60s, offers a dose of philosophy with calm insight -- and then his...

Movie Review posted on 11th June 2009

Pontypool

Pontypool

Producers of low budget thrillers usually take one of two approaches to keep the bottom line slim: 1) Spend the money on cheap, gory scares; or 2) Establish a gimmick that keeps the story and...

Movie Review posted on 28th May 2009

Gigantic

Gigantic

If you're going to make a film about two people falling in love, having two likable lead actors is an excellent place to start. For director Matt Aselton's first-time effort, Paul Dano and Zooey Deschanel...

Movie Review posted on 3rd April 2009

Alexander The Last

Alexander The Last

For the last couple of years, filmmaker Joe Swanberg has been one of the unofficial "people to watch" in the indie movie world. A passionate participant in the "mumblecore" movement, he gained attention with Hannah...

Movie Review posted on 16th March 2009

Two Lovers

Two Lovers

Joaquin Phoenix has a reputation for diving heartily into roles, and his starring turn in James Gray's Two Lovers is no exception. In the film's first scene, Phoenix's dive is literal: A Brooklyn kid plunging...

Movie Review posted on 13th February 2009

Yonkers Joe

Yonkers Joe

Making a film about a scam artist is probably a lot like being one -- no matter how solid an idea seems, it's really all about the execution. The life of a cheat lends itself...

Movie Review posted on 9th January 2009

Entourage: Season Four

Entourage: Season Four

When it comes to rooting for a television character, screen actor Vincent Chase is an easy choice. The focal point of the punchy, profane Entourage, Vinnie (Adrian Grenier) is laid back, loyal, great with women,...

Movie Review posted on 28th December 2008

City Of Ember

City Of Ember

We critics like to argue that Hollywood defangs most family fare. Unless it can find a viable commercial tie-in, or lead to a series of equally superficial sequels, studio suits avoid anything remotely dark or...

Movie Review posted on 10th October 2008

Nights and Weekends

Nights and Weekends

If you prefer independent film -- real, do-it-yourself, independent film -- there's still hope in today's mega-budget world: a movement fondly called Mumblecore (see Funny Ha Ha, Mutual Appreciation). It's minimalist laid-back filmmaking full of...

Movie Review posted on 9th October 2008

Harold

Harold

Late in the inept comedy Harold, the title character (Spencer Breslin) arrives at a friend's house, and the pal's father comes to the front door. A close-up lingers on the dad as if to say...

Movie Review posted on 2nd October 2008

Sixty Six

Sixty Six

Preteen years can be so awkward, especially when you're in the shadow of a bully big brother. And an obsessive-compulsive father. And a blind rabbi preparing you for your Bar Mitzvah. This is the sweet,...

Movie Review posted on 1st August 2008

The Year My Parents Went on Vacation

The Year My Parents Went on Vacation

If you were a ten-year-old boy in 1970 Brazil, you had one thing on your mind: The Brazilian football soccer team playing in the World Cup. But for young Mauro (Michel Joelsas), his excitement for...

Movie Review posted on 25th July 2008

Crawford

Crawford

Think you've been screwed by the Bush Administration? Imagine the people of Crawford, Texas. Once the quintessential American small town, Crawford became the unwitting hotbed of all things political -- thanks to a bunch of...

Movie Review posted on 6th July 2008

Ping Pong Playa

Ping Pong Playa

Movie fans of a certain age -- about 30 to 45 -- have fond memories of a few 1980s HBO mainstays that seemed tailor made for TV. Eddie and the Cruisers, Just One of the...

Movie Review posted on 8th April 2008

Blindsight

Blindsight

Within the first five minutes of Blindsight, inspiration is paired with desperation. First, we hear from famed mountain climber Erik Weihenmayer, a blind athlete who successfully scaled Mount Everest. Then, we witness two blind Tibetan...

Movie Review posted on 22nd March 2008

Day Zero

Day Zero

The alternate reality in Day Zero is a nightmare for young American men: Within a backdrop of terrorist attacks and the Iraq War, the U.S. military draft has been reinstated. It's an intriguing concept, but...

Movie Review posted on 18th January 2008

Look

Look

The voyeuristic Look begins with statistical information that's perfect for our YouTube world: More than four billion hours of surveillance video are generated every week in the U.S., from roughly 30 million cameras -- and...

Movie Review posted on 15th December 2007

I Am Cuba

I Am Cuba

At this writing (Novenber 2007), a just-released undercover poll of Cuban citizens reflects their unhappiness with the Castro regime and government leadership. That's the Cuba of today. I Am Cuba is the Cuba of yesterday,...

Movie Review posted on 21st November 2007

Why Has Bodhi-Dharma Left for the East?

Why Has Bodhi-Dharma Left for the East?

This 1989 art house favorite from Korean filmmaker Yong-Kyun Bae is a narrative contradiction: serene enough to be nothing but meditative, but with core ideas that provide a philosophical challenge. So you may choose to...

Movie Review posted on 7th November 2007

The Genius Club

The Genius Club

A movie about the world's greatest minds should include -- at the very least -- a modicum of intellectual discourse. What a disappointment then to get a bunch of dopes spitting out earnest soap-opera dialogue....

Movie Review posted on 31st October 2007

Zoo

Zoo

Making a film about something as sickeningly taboo as bestiality is risky, to say the least. Assume the filmmaker gets past the criticism of tackling such subject matter. Then he can revel in titillation and...

Movie Review posted on 23rd September 2007

Halloween (1978)

Halloween (1978)

Considered by many to be a modern horror classic, Halloween succeeds through simplicity. This thriller -- a veritable kickoff for 25-plus years of slasher films -- works because director John Carpenter keeps the story neat...

Movie Review posted on 2nd September 2007

Noriko's Dinner Table

Noriko's Dinner Table

In 2002, Japanese filmmaker Sion Sono reacted to his country's high suicide rate with a cult horror classic called Suicide Club. Roughly three years later, Sono introduced this sequel, the second part of his planned...

Movie Review posted on 12th August 2007

Descent

Descent

There's an unavoidable visceral reaction that occurs while watching a victim exact revenge. It can make an audience cheer during the Death Proof segment of Grindhouse. It's what keeps your fists clenched as the girl...

Movie Review posted on 10th August 2007

Your Mommy Kills Animals

Your Mommy Kills Animals

In the first few minutes of the shrewdly named Your Mommy Kills Animals, we're told the U.S. government named the animal rights movement the #1 domestic terrorist threat in 2005. We spend the rest of...

Movie Review posted on 20th July 2007

Colma: The Musical

Colma: The Musical

Colma: The Musical blazes a new trail for cinematic start-ups: the earnest, low-budget musical. Forget the massive, overdone blowout that is Chicago. Skip the made-for-Oscar, epic style of Dreamgirls. Hit the suburbs with this cast...

Movie Review posted on 7th July 2007

Row Hard No Excuses

Row Hard No Excuses

There's a common belief that achieving most goals is a marathon, not a sprint. For the athletes in Row Hard No Excuses, their shared aspiration makes a marathon look like a gentle morning walk.These people,...

Movie Review posted on 2nd July 2007

Shadow of the House

Shadow of the House

With a slice of humor and a bit of melancholy, photographer Abelardo Morell gives himself the title "The Last Cuban." Having left his native island at the age of 14, Morell became the ultimate assimilation...

Movie Review posted on 24th May 2007

Fay Grim

Fay Grim

Roughly ten years after cementing his place as an offbeat indie favorite, Hal Hartley revisits the characters that put him there. His 1997 Henry Fool, a screenplay-award winner at Cannes, introduced us to lonely garbage...

Movie Review posted on 28th April 2007

Grindhouse

Grindhouse

Longtime buddies Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez have worked together before (Four Rooms, Sin City), but this takes it to the next level. Grindhouse is their shared B-movie fantasy: a three-hour, bare-knuckled double feature epic,...

Movie Review posted on 6th April 2007

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