Past Stories

Desert Bayou

In the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, 600 New Orleans residents—all black and homeless—were loaded on a plane and told only after takeoff that they were moving to Salt Lake City. The evacuees were litera...


Bella

Right wing pundits argue that Latino immigrants do jobs we wouldn’t want to do. Alejandro Gomez Monteverde’s preposterous drama inadvertently takes Ann Coulter-speak to the extreme. Eduardo Verastegui stars as Jos...


Returneth to the Salton Sea

 There was a point in time when the Salton Sea, which sits like a festering sore some 50 miles south of Palm Springs in the Imperial Valley, was thought to be the vitalist, most elegant playground to the rich ever…



Portrait of the Artist as a Toddler

When Marla Olmstead was three-years-old, she asked her father—an amateur painter—for a brush, paint, and canvas. He lifted her up on the dining room table and she set to work swirling colors for an abstract piece wi...


Michael Clayton

 George Clooney, his grin turned down a notch, stars as a calculating lawyer in Tony Gilroy’s dense and engrossing thriller. After his colleague (Tom Wilkinson) goes crazy while working on a class action suit agains...


Lust, Caution

 Ang Lee’s wrenching WWII drama is set among the spies and back-stabbers of the Japanese occupation of China. Based on Eileen Chang’s short story (a title card that provoked snickers as the audience bunkered d...



Gone Baby Gone

Forgive him for Gigli. Ben Affleck’s directorial debut reveals the B-list actor to be a storyteller of surprising depth and complexity. Brother Casey Affleck (of Jesse James) stars as Patrick Kenzie, a baby-faced amateu...


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...


Control

“I exist on the best terms I can,” says Ian Curtis in the opening minutes of Anton Corbijn’s grittily beautiful arthouse biopic, shot on a black and white filmstock that picks up every nick in the wallpaper an...



The Not-So-Good ‘German’

 Steven Soderbergh has been chasing the ghost of film noir for much of his career. The Good German is the 15th feature he’s directed since his legendary indie success sex, lies, and videotape, back in 1989, and at le...


Dystopic Pregnancy

Alfonso Cuarón’s films to date have centered on widely ranging themes in widely ranging genres, and the gripping Children of Men represents yet another new direction. This makes it harder to pin down a characterist...


CINEPHILE

"I kind of came in as an AWOL," says Vietnam Vet Randy Rowland, "and within two days of hitting the stockade, I was facing a death sentence for singing ‘We Shall Overcome.’" If that’s not t...



PAN’S LABYRINTH

 Guillermo Del Toro’s (Hellboy, The Devil’s Backbone) latest tortured dreamscape pits a small girl named Ofelia (Ivana Baquero) against a faun, a disconnected mother, a fascist—literally—stepfather,...


THE DAME FROM HELL

 Dame Judi Dench has spent the last decade playing queens, spies and Shakespeareans. Though Our Favorite Dame’s (save Helen Mirren) spinster schoolteacher, Barbara, in Richard Eyre’s wickedly enjoyable thriller...


FUTURE PRIMITIVE

 There are no laser guns or flying cars in Alfonso Cuaron’s brilliant and horrific Year 2027 thriller Children of Men. (In case you’re wondering, the film’s relationship to the P.D. James novel approaches...



REEL LIFE: A 2006 TOP 10

 A 12-year-old upset that Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties didn’t earn a slot on anyone’s Top 10 list might shed a few less tears if she knew taste was subjective. It must be—how the hell else did treacly,...


PRETTY ON THE OUTSIDE

 Renée Zellweger suffers for her art. She muscled up for Chicago, puffed up for Bridget Jones, and here, as childhood’s inescapable authoress Beatrix Potter, Zellweger nervily appears to go onscreen sans make...


ABSOLUTE WILSON

 David Byrne once said of avant-garde director Robert Wilson (Einstein on the Beach, The Black Rider) that he “makes 98 percent of theater look hopelessly old-fashioned.” A choreographer who came of age in the ...



LOATHING IN THE TIME OF CHOLERA

 In The Painted Veil, Kitty Fane (Naomi Watts) is stuck in rural China, 1925, and if the rebels or the cholera don’t kill her, the boredom certainly will. However, for her, the real villain is her husband Walter (Edw...


REST IN PIECES

 According to writer-director Karen Montcrieff’s meticulous nightmare The Dead Girl, women’s plight hasn’t advanced much since the rape-’em-all, kill-’em-all, subjugate-’em-all biblical ...


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...


Embrace of Evil

 Idi Amin was a bad mofo, and in his Uganda, the penalty for not shutting your mouth was execution. But to impetuous (and fictitious) Scotsman Nicholas Garrigan (James McAvoy), the loony ex-dictator—whose self-desig...


HEAVEN AND HELL

 “There is a saying in America—time is money,” advises a Pittsburgh guide. A week earlier, that was unfathomable to the four young Sudanese men depicted in God Grew Tired of Us. At their jobless refugee c...



Nudity and Tears

 For most of human history, by the time news of your celebrity rippled across an ocean, you were likely already dead. But then came the Gutenberg, and the telegraph, and most devastatingly for Edie Sedgwick, the camera. Ed...


Biddy On Parade

 Hollywood isn’t letting Diane Keaton age gracefully, but at least she’s doing it in style. Her wardrobe in Because I Said So, a slap-happy battle of the sexes (and generations), is her best since Annie Hall&md...


Pointed and Clumsy

 Judging by modern history, there are few things worse to be in a war than French—except North African. As a French colony, the people of North Africa were told to look to La France as their Queen. In turn, they wer...



All Thaied Up

 Every time I go to my favorite Thai restaurant, Thai Elvis, the waitress asks me what level of spice I can handle. And no matter what lowball number I pick, my noodles come out at atomic 10. Channel that trait for…