Past Stories

Mad Mex

After the lucrative and controversial Passion of the Christ, Mel Gibson plays it safe in Apocalypto by turning his time-traveling camera toward a different ancient culture, that of the Maya, in the early 16th century, right at ...


HAMMERED BY HOPELESSNESS

If Sherry (Maggie Gyllenhaal), sitting across her parole officer’s desk, suddenly turned into a gorilla, his treatment of her would scarcely change. After all, this creature in her too-short skirt behaves just as civilize...


THE TEMECULA FILM FESTIVAL

When Jo Molton, a fast-talking ex-news producer, moved to Temecula with her newborn and husband, he teased her that she’d better find a hobby since she couldn’t cook or keep house. "Temecula was so pretty, but ...



Handled With Carelessness

The first time 24-year-old Florentino Ariza (Javier Bardem) wept over a girl, his mother (Fernanda Montenegro) smiled and told him to enjoy his pain and suffering, as strong emotions don’t last a lifetime. Only for him, ...


Elizabeth the First, Part II

In the closing scenes of 1998’s Elizabeth, Cate Blanchett’s Virgin Queen, having survived an assassination attempt and executed Mary, the ruler of Scotland, has vanished behind her wigs and white powder. She’s...


Stark Lunacy

Joel and Ethan Coen’s barren, beige, and bleak Texas plains are no country for anyone. In the opening shots there’s not a soul alive, just more wind and dust than a Saharan twister. Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem) h...



Just Say Noir

Ellsworth “Bumpy” Johnson was a poet, philosopher, and the biggest gangster in Harlem. And like a good WTO protester, he hated not just cops but goliath corporate interests shoving the little guy suppliers to the fr...


“Offed” Funny

Dante’s Inferno imagined that suicides wind up in a dense forest crowded with crooked limbs and painful thorns. Goran Dukic’s wistful comedy reckons their afterlife is more like the drive from Los Angeles to the Sal...


Seriously Wrong

Here’s a formula for Oscar success: Mix tragic death with heroin addiction, stir in interracial romance, domestic abuse, suburban angst, and Academy Award winners Benicio Del Toro and Halle Berry, and garnish with two pre...



ALPHA DOG

 “I’m not interested in making a 90-minute version of America’s Most Wanted,” writer-director Nick Cassavetes told District Attorney Ronald J. Zonen when he pressed him for access to the police file...


POSTCARDS FROM THE LEDGE

 The American Dream is as much a punch line as a promise. The famed “rise up the corporate ladder” has given way to parodies of motivational speakers a la Greg Kinnear in Little Miss Sunshine and satires of cub...


Blood of Shallows

World War II cursed and blessed serial murderer Ray Fernandez. A head injury left the former family man brain-damaged and bald; other soldiers’ fatal wounds gave him a crop of pension-rich widows to seduce and rob. Once R...



Raymond Carver Crossed with Oprah

A Raymond Carver short story is a straight-arrow shot through the forest that is human behavior. They’re economical tales—some nearly all dialogue—and they whiz by and hit the gut, leaving you with a vague sen...


Detangled Web

Into a decade glutted with superhero flicks comes a new first: a franchise that improves with every installment. Has a three-quel ever been the best film in a series? Not Terminator 3, not Godfather 3, not Superman 3, Rocky 3,&...


Perfectly Executed!

Global arms-manufacturing corporation Palisades Defense—the McDonald’s of weaponry—enjoys making big claims. Their land mines, assault rifles, and missile launchers aren’t ethically questionable, they&rs...



The Cool Kids Club

If you sat through Ocean’s Eleven and Twelve, you might have a dim sense by Ocean’s Thirteen that George Clooney is supposed to be Danny and Brad Pitt is named Rusty. Character is secondary; the franchise coasts by ...


Strange Medicine

  </p>OnOn May 9th, California native Edith Isabel Rodriguez was refused by Martin Luther King/Drew Hospital in Los Angeles because the emergency room staff wrote her off as a hypochondriac and uninsured. As she wri...


Friendly Fascism

Harry Potter hasn’t died (yet), but the giddy naïf whose eyes twinkled when he waved his wand is long in the grave. Five films into the franchise, he carries his magic stick like it’s made of concrete, not phoe...



Gagging On Fumes

“In Baltimore,” belts Tracy Turnblad (Nikki Blonsky), “every sound is like a symphony.” Not exactly. Charm City—in this kitschy musical as created by John Waters, adapted for the stage by Mar...


Cook Your Own Meat!

Gyu Kaku, a Japanese restaurant chain (newly opened at posh Victoria Gardens), has the makings of a great night spot for twentysomething singles: pretty little hostesses and waitresses clustered around hot, well-apportioned bar...


Any Amour Questions?

French actress Julie Delpy, a blonde with perfect fox features, has spent her career kissing her way through Paris in a series of swoony, talky romances beloved by girls with brains. Now, she’s written and directed her ow...



Penis Whimsy

In 600 years, the thesaurus will be one page long and devoted to "dick." It won’t need another word. In this balls-out comedy, it reigns supreme as noun, verb, and adjective—a lexicon that would welcome th...


Ignorance Isn’t Exactly Bliss

Chris Gorak’s bone-chiller about a terrorist attack in Los Angeles was shot between 9-11 and Hurricane Katrina but feels like a direct response to both. In the nouveau-boho eastside hills, Lexi and Brad (Mary McCormack an...


Comedy Blue Balls

The obesity epidemic continues to infect this summer’s slap-happy comedies with Dan Fogler, Tony-winner, as the latest chubby, bumbling anti-hero. Nothing against the burliness of leading men like Fogler, Seth Rogen, and ...



The Chronicles of Bosnia

The city of Sarajevo sits in the center of a basin surrounded by hills. Its houses and markets–and newer, larger markets–stretch up to the peaks like strung Christmas lights. After last decade’s four-year sieg...


Spiritual Poverty

A Wes Anderson film is like a snow globe: it’s hermetically sealed, precious, and pointless. Furthermore, there’s only one possible template—wealthy man-child considers wresting with his issues, declines, and...


Say Cheeeeese

Curb Your Enthusiasm, on which comedian Jeff Garlin lumbers around as Larry David’s best friend, strongly influences his debut as a writer and director. The cast (which includes Sarah Silverman, Amy Sedaris, and Bonnie Hu...



The Beast Within

By Amy Nicholson On days when phones keep ringing and traffic chokes the route home, we dream of running off into the peaceful woods. Of course, we know that the woods aren’t really any more restful; instead of tiptoeing...