Movies

 

Having covered motion pictures and entertainment for print publications, I started reporting for a statistics Web site called Box Office Mojo in 2002, becoming a partner shortly thereafter. I continued until 2008, when we sold the site to the Internet Movie Database. After writing most of the articles and developing the site into a top-ranked movie source, I decided to pursue new opportunities. I still enjoy seeing and writing about the movies.


Movie and DVD Review: The Little Mermaid

Posted in 2005

Walt Disney Pictures’ 1989 adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale, The Little Mermaid, is a brilliantly animated musical about the glory of becoming human. Colorful animation, wonderful songs and unspoiled heroism make this a great movie. Flowing with good characters and values, The Little Mermaid is one of Disney’s best pictures.


Movie and DVD Review: Dreamgirls

Posted in 2004

Dreamgirls doesn’t dazzle as much as it jumps, hollers and stomps in its sequined production and costume design, which it certainly does. It’s an empty, overblown, gorgeous and occasionally entertaining show that passes the time.


Movie and DVD Review: In Her Shoes

Posted in 2005

Quickly forgotten in theaters, In Her Shoes starring Cameron Diaz, Toni Collette and Shirley MacLaine—as they have never been seen—is a soap opera with a touch of class from director Curtis Hanson (8 Mile, L.A. Confidential). It’s out on DVD.


Movie and DVD Review: Batman Begins

Posted in 2005

Retaining the comic book series’ darkness, the movie, which bears no relation to the studio’s previous Batman blockbusters, is based on a story by David S. Goyer, who co-wrote the script with director Christopher Nolan. Batman Begins is about a man who chooses to become an avenger, a businessman and a hero.


Movie Review: The Human Stain

Posted October 2003

With a strenuous plot based on a Philip Roth novel, an unlikely cast and an uninviting title, director Robert Benton’s The Human Stain, written by Nicholas Meyer, is unexpectedly engrossing. The 71-year-old Benton (Kramer Vs. Kramer, Places in the Heart, Nobody’s Fool), who makes about three pictures a decade, has dramatized a quietly triumphant tale, and the result is mesmerizing.


Movie Review: Feast of Love

Posted October 2007

Blending realistic romanticism with a shot of fatalism, the engaging Feast of Love is perfect for adults of all ages. This interlocking character picture is threaded through an idea, not driven by demographics, and the result is a poignant look at how people live and love, at their worst and at their best.


Interview: Alexandre Desplat on The King’s Speech

Posted January 20, 2011

Composer Alexandre Desplat recently spoke with me from Paris about his new score for The King’s Speech. He has scored some of Hollywood’s best motion pictures, including Casanova, The Upside of Anger, The Queen, The Painted Veil, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. We talked about them all during our interview.


Interview: Robert Osborne on Liza Minnelli

Posted December 9, 2010

The incomparable singer and actress Liza Minnelli, winner of the Oscar®, Emmy®, Grammy®, and four Tony Awards®, sits down with Turner Classic Movies (TCM) host Robert Osborne in one of his best interviews yet for a new Private Screenings special, scheduled to premiere Saturday, Dec. 11, at 10 p.m. (ET/PT). They discuss the lives and careers of Minnelli’s legendary parents, Judy Garland and Vincente Minnelli. Read more >>


Interview: Alan Menken on Disney’s Tangled

Posted November 13, 2010

Alan Menken is, as his official biography states, among the Walt Disney Studio’s most prolific composers. The New Rochelle, New York native co-wrote Aladdin’s romantic “A Whole New World,” Pocahontas’s sweeping “Colors of the Wind,” and dozens of memorable songs for Disney’s animated classics The Little Mermaid (1989), Beauty and the Beast (1991) and The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996). Menken recently talked to me about his work for Disney’s new animated picture, Tangled, based on the children’s story of Rapunzel. Read more >>


Interview: Alejandro Amenabar on Agora

Posted May 30, 2010

Director Amenabar, whom I first met and interviewed at the Roosevelt Hotel on Hollywood Boulevard to discuss his haunting, Oscar-winning The Sea Inside in 2004, talked briefly with me about Agora from Spain during an interview by telephone. The South American-born composer, writer and director, who speaks in a thick Spanish accent, talked about Agora’s ideas. Read more >>


Review: Little Miss Sunshine

Posted June 12, 2010

The best movie this summer is the dry Little Miss Sunshine, a slightly smug slice of life that is the most entertaining picture playing in theaters. Granted, that’s not saying much, but this little tart is as good as it gets. Read more >>


Interview: Alejandro Amenabar on Agora

Posted May 30, 2010

Director Amenabar, whom I first met and interviewed at the Roosevelt Hotel on Hollywood Boulevard to discuss his haunting, Oscar-winning The Sea Inside in 2004, talked briefly with me about Agora from Spain during an interview by telephone. The South American-born composer, writer and director, who speaks in a thick Spanish accent, talked about Agora’s ideas. Read more >>


Review: Agora

Posted May 28, 2010

The Sea Insidedirector Alejandro Amenabar’s new movie, Agora, depicts civilization turned upside down. The representation of 4th century Greco-Roman Alexandria, Egypt, before, during and after the rise of Judeo-Christianity is disturbing, unsettling, and, at times, hard to watch. Like a well-produced documentary, it is immensely interesting and thought-provoking. Read more >>


Review: Sex and the City 2

Posted May 28, 2010

More poignant than the airy 2008 original, if not nearly as funny, Sex and the City 2 is another two and a half hours of fun with female friendship that offers one huge oversight and a gem of an insight. As long as you take this schlock as it is—30 minutes too long like the original—you’ll have a fine time. Read more >>


Alejandro Amenabar on The Sea InsideThe Young Man and the Sea

Posted May 27, 2010

Making an uplifting movie about a man who wants to die was a challenge Alejandro Amenabar couldn’t resist. After the fantasies Open Your Eyes (remade as Vanilla Sky) and The Others, the 32-year-old writer, director and composer chose a more intimate—and controversial—subject for his latest picture, The Sea Inside (Mar Adentro in Spanish). He started with the basics. Read more >>


Review: The Sea Inside

Posted May 27, 2010

With lyricism and motion, and with life as the focal point, Alejandro Amenabar’s subtitled Spanish movie about a man fighting for the right to die, The Sea Inside, stimulates both the senses and the mind. Read more >>


Review: Sex and the City

Posted May 27, 2010

Never having subscribed to Home Box Office (HBO) let alone watched the HBO show about what looked like a sisterhood of shallow women, my expectations for Sex and the City, a movie based on the cable program, which was based on a book by Candace Bushnell, were markedly low. Read more >>


Review: Robin Hood

Posted May 13, 2010

Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood is another epic action movie—and a scathing indictment of taxation without representation, government control of wealth and religion, and abnegation of man’s rights. That the filmmakers ultimately misplace its theme—by sticking to an expository structure ala Batman Begins—puts Robin Hood slightly off its mark. Read more >>


Review: Alice in Wonderland

Posted March 2, 2010

Disney writer Linda Woolverton (Mulan, The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast) and director Tim Burton thoroughly reconfigure Lewis Carroll’s literary classic Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in Disney’s new, computerized adaptation, which bears some resemblance to the studio’s 1951 animated version. The result, Alice in Wonderland, is an enjoyable spectacle.Read more >>


Review: Avatar

Posted January 6, 2010

Avatar is big, loud, and bodacious—and totally bankrupt as a cinematic experience. I tried to like this spectacular monstrosity at every turn, especially with a new actor named Sam Worthington in the lead—he’s much better in Terminator: Salvation—but enduring Avatar is like watching an epic through beady little eyes with the droning homily that everything small is beautiful. Read more >>


Russian Writings on Hollywood, Why Businessmen Need PhilosophyFocusing on Two Views of Ayn Rand’s Sense of Life

Posted October 24, 2009

The Russian-born writer Ayn Rand (1905-1982) lives, at least in a sense she probably would have relished: through her ideas. Rand’s books, including The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, continue to sell more than 350,000 copies a year. A Library of Congress readers’ poll in 1991 ranked Atlas second to the Bible in importance for Americans’ lives, and the U.S. Postal Service recently announced that she’ll grace a new first-class stamp, featuring an elegant young Rand against the backdrop of one of her favorite literary symbols: the skyscraper. Read more >>


Interview: Robert Mayhew on We the Living

Posted October 12, 2009

Robert Mayhew, a philosophy professor at Seton Hall University, is the author of Aristotle’s Criticism of Plato’s Republic, The Female in Aristotle’s Biology, and Ayn Rand and Song of Russia, and the editor of Ayn Rand’s Marginalia, Ayn Rand’s The Art of Nonfiction, Essays on Ayn Rand’s We the Living, Essays on Ayn Rand’s Anthem, Ayn Rand Answers, Essays on Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead, and Essays on Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. His latest book, Plato: Laws 10, was published by Oxford University Press in 2008. Dr. Mayhew earned his PhD in philosophy at Georgetown University in 1991. Read more >>


Review: We the Living

Posted September 23, 2009

The movie adaptation of Ayn Rand’s We the Living is haunting, passionate and, in today’s context, fundamentally relevant. The 1942 foreign film by Italian director Goffredo Alessandrini, which centers upon three individuals’ struggle against Soviet Russia, is a masterpiece. Read more >>


Review: The Lives of Others

Posted July 21, 2009

Writer and director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s haunting The Lives of Others (in German with English subtitles) is an extraordinarily powerful drama that repudiates altruism, the idea that one must live for the sake of others, as a moral code. Read more >>


Review: The Soloist

Posted April 24, 2009

Robert Downey, Jr. strengthens Paramount’s sad, enigmatic tale of two lonely Los Angeles men, The Soloist. As journalist Steve Lopez, upon whose book this film is based, Mr. Downey turns the darkest moments into a silent resolve to commit to something higher and his performance as the searching writer is completely absorbing. Read more >>


Review: Sophie Scholl: The Final Days

Posted March 27, 2009

Sophie Scholl: The Final Days opens with the title character, a plain college student, singing to an American record in English. The scene is a proper introduction to the story of a good, joyful German in Nazi Germany. Neither apologia—like the dreadful Downfall—nor another trivialization of Nazism, this gripping account of an ordinary citizen’s ordeal under National Socialism dramatizes how faith in the state extinguishes life. Read more >>


Review: The Last House on the Left

Posted March 13, 2009

A medical doctor (Tony Goldwyn) takes his wife (Monica Potter) and child (Sara Paxton) to the family lake house in this standard yet, in today’s times, almost enjoyable horror movie. In many ways, The Last House on the Left is an old-fashioned thriller that jolts the tired genre with a heavy dose of what horror pictures lack: characters that are good people. Read more >>


Review: The Incredible Hulk

Posted March 9, 2009

With a strong cast, plot and action, The Incredible Hulk is another resounding Marvel Studios success. There is not much to mine here—a scientist is poisoned in an experiment and he’s triggered by anger to become a raging green hunk of muscle—but what’s there to be made is simple and well done. Read more >>


Review: The Painted Veil

Posted March 9, 2009

Made in China under the control of its communist government, co-produced by actors Edward Norton and Naomi Watts—who also star—The Painted Veil is nevertheless a beautiful motion picture about one Western couple’s incredible journey into a primitive Chinese village. Read more >>


Review: Watchmen

Posted March 5, 2009

Here we are in the worst economic crisis since the Depression, with the government expanding its power, and along comes Watchmen, a comic book-based epic about a band of avengers in a quasi-police state. This heavily promoted thriller might have been remarkably relevant. Read more >>


Review: 300

Posted March 5, 2009

Prepare for gory: the overblown 300 slices, dices and decimates any sign of intelligent life in a computer-generated, music video-styled monster mash that calls itself a movie. It’s more like an all-out blitzkrieg against one’s perceptual senses, consistently locked in attack mode. Read more >>


Review: V for Vendetta

Posted March 5, 2009

Set 20 years in the future, the flamboyant V for Vendetta is less science fiction than social commentary in comic book style, though this exhaustive movie is not easily described. With several odd-sized pieces, it is one strange puzzle—and an allegorical warning against tyranny. Read more >>


Interview: Earl Hamner

Posted February 12, 2009

Best known as the creator and producer of the long-running CBS series The Waltons, Earl Hamner’s work ranges from his early screenplays for Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone to his script for the 1973 animated musical adaptation of E.B. White’s children’s novel, Charlotte’s Web. The 83-year-old bestselling writer sat down to talk about remaking Charlotte’s Web, his new book, and his classic television movie, The Homecoming, at his office in Studio City, California. Read more >>


Review: The Notebook

Posted February 11, 2009

Shamelessly sentimental, The Notebook is as predictable as a dimestore romance novel (it is based on the bestselling novel by Nicholas Sparks) but director Nick Cassavettes pulls it off. Read more >>


Review: Sordid Lives

Posted February 8, 2009

Watching writer and director Del Shores’s Bible Belt parody, Sordid Lives, is like driving through the boondocks, finding only honky-tonk radio and listening to one of those raunchy tunes; it’s unusual in a humorous way and you find yourself humming along. Based on the Shores play of the same name, Sordid Lives sounds like a typical gay-themed movie—and a bad one at that: an old woman’s funeral brings a small Texas town to a standstill, as the town’s characters rehash their trashy lives one by one, including a man with wooden legs, a tattooed barfly, a transvestite in an institution and more two-timing than the Texas two-step. Read more >>


Sordid Lives DVD Premiere

Posted February 8, 2009

A windy night in Los Angeles did not keep the cast of Del Shores’ Texas farce, Sordid Lives, from filing into the Regent Theatre this week for a screening to celebrate the comedy’s release on DVD ($34.99, Fox Home Entertainment). Read more >>


Interview: Thomas Carter

Posted January 31, 2009

Known for his movies about daring individualists, director Thomas Carter (Coach Carter, Save the Last Dance, Swing Kids) turns to the story of America’s first doctor to successfully separate craniopagus (Siamese) twins in a Turner Network Television (TNT) original movie, Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story. The movie premieres at 8 p.m., Saturday, February 7. Read more >>


Interview: Robert Osborne on Ernest Borgnine

Posted January 23, 2009

Since Turner Classic Movies (TCM) premiered on cable television in 1994, Robert Osborne has been the host and anchor. A writer for the Hollywood Reporter since 1977, Mr. Osborne, author of 80 Years of the Oscar: The Official History of the Academy Awards, covers movies, TV and Broadway. His newest interview, an hour with character actor Ernest Borgnine (Marty), airs on Private Screenings at 8 p.m. ET, Monday, January 26. Read more >>


Interview: Robert Osborne on Katharine Hepburn (2007)

Posted January 23, 2009

In honor of the centenary of Katharine Hepburn’s birth on May 12, Turner Classic Movies (TCM) host and motion picture historian Robert Osborne talked about the great screen actress, TCM’s Star of the Month. Read more >>


Interview: Robert Osborne on John Wayne (2007)

Posted January 23, 2009

Turner Classic Movies (TCM) host and movie historian Robert Osborne talked to me in 2007 about screen legend John Wayne, an actor who represents the iconic American hero. Read more >>


Interview: Turner Classic Movies’ Robert Osborne (2006)

Posted January 23, 2009

With Turner Classic Movies’ premiere of The Essentials, host Robert Osborne takes over for director Sydney Pollack and, paired with co-host Molly Haskell, will present this season’s classic motion pictures. Read more >>


Review: Coach Carter

Posted January 22, 2009

Director Thomas Carter’s story of a basketball coach’s mission to remake high school athletes, Coach Carter, is practically a throwback to movies like Boys Town and To Sir, With Love. For this reviewer, a simple tale of a goal-driven man of principle beats a million-dollar downfall any day. Read more >>


Review: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Posted January 4, 2009

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, written by Eric Roth (Munich, which was morally repugnant) and directed by David Fincher (Zodiac, which was miserable) is breathtaking and, on purely cinematic grounds, it is a grand three hours, as the tagline says, of life measured in moments. Read more >>


Review: Milk

Posted January 4, 2009

Sean Penn is outstanding as a gay activist in Milk, a potent, purposeful drama whose lead actor tops the movie itself. That’s not to cut Milk short of its due. Almost every adult in America will gain from having seen the gay-themed movie, which filters the rise of the nation’s first openly gay elected official, Harvey Milk, through the Jewish firebrand’s pre-cautionary thoughts, which he audiotaped in case of assassination. Read more >>


Review: Frost/Nixon

Posted December 6, 2008

I remember the British broadcaster David Frost’s heavily promoted interviews with former President Richard Nixon back in 1977; at the time, it seemed odd that the one-on-one interviews weren’t being televised on the major networks and an unknown Brit with prominent Seventies sideburns seemed an unusual choice for the nation’s only president to resign to make his case. Read more >>


Review: The Queen

Posted December 6, 2008

Following his splendid Mrs. Henderson Presents with another take on a British battleaxe, the queen Elizabeth of England, director Stephen Frears offers an intelligent and moving examination of aristocracy in the modern age. It is simply called The Queen. Read more >>


Review: Red River

Posted September 29, 2008

Released in black and white 60 years ago, Howard Hawks’ 1948 Western, Red River, starring John Wayne at his best, is a masterpiece. Based on a piece of fiction in the Saturday Evening Post by Borden Chase, who also wrote the screenplay, Red River captures the American spirit. It is an epic about earning respect, love and money. Read more >>


Review: The Lucky Ones

Posted September 29, 2008

Director Neil Burger’s follow-up to his romantically clever The Illusionist, The Lucky Ones, is a wry character study about three American soldiers posted in Iraq. Like his first movie, this small-scale picture is involving. Watching an Army trio’s road trip to Las Vegas—on leave from service in Iraq—is easy. Read more >>


Review: Jarhead

Posted September 29, 2008

Admittedly, Jarhead looked awful from the tag line, “Welcome to the Suck,” and this 1990s rehash of a zillion war movie clichés is a plotless nomad in the desert, which is a shame; with 2,000 U.S. military deaths in the Middle East, where the movie takes place, America could use a provocative movie about what it means to fight. Read more >>


Review: Stop-Loss

Posted September 29, 2008

Paramount’s Stop-Loss is overdone but pointed, the type of topical war drama Hollywood used to make for television, (Carol Burnett’s searing 1979 Vietnam War picture, Friendly Fire, comes to mind). Because it’s made by attention-deficit Music Television (MTV), which assumes everyone under 30 has the patience of a puppy, Stop-Loss doesn’t rise to that level of quality. Read more >>


Review: Lions for Lambs

Posted September 29, 2008

Packed with star power in a dialog-driven drama about the most urgent issue of our time—the Bush administration’s undeclared, unsuccessful so-called war on terror—Robert Redford’s Lions for Lambs roars. Read more >>


Review: Eagle Eye

Posted September 26, 2008

With function following form, director D.J. Caruso’s Eagle Eye is yet another assault on the senses. Use earplugs and be ready to watch explosion after explosion, wipeout after wipeout and a multitude of game-like video simulations. With an anti-technology premise, this secondhand movie lifts from better movies—too many to mention—and defaults on its assets.


Review: Lakeview Terrace

Posted September 22, 2008

Like Michael Douglas in Falling Down, Samuel L. Jackson taps into the disaffected middle class male prototype in the provocative Lakeview Terrace. Also based in southern California, also set to a series of suburban triggers—parenting, crime, natural disaster—this movie revolves around two men, both neighbors, and how they approach life.


Movie Review: Appaloosa

Posted September 22, 2008

Appaloosa, co-written and directed by actor Ed Harris (The Human Stain), is surprisingly accessible and involving, though it will probably escape attention. Still, it’s worth seeing on DVD or at a matinee. Built on good performances, flirting with anti-heroism and emerging as an underdeveloped exercise in counterfeit romanticism, this Western has conflict, action and humor, which is better than nothing in the wake of bad news and bad movies.


Movie Review: Righteous Kill

Posted September 22, 2008

The innocuous re-teaming of Seventies superstars Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro, Righteous Kill, offers mild character intrigue in a modern morality potboiler. Probably a must for diehard fans of either actor, the movie, directed by Jon Avnet (Up Close and Personal) and written by Russell Gewirtz (Inside Man), is measurably less than that for anyone else.


Movie Review: Ratatouille

Posted on Box Office Mojo

Pixar’s animated story of a rat that strives to become a top French chef, the irresistible Ratatouille, is pure summer entertainment. Pleasantly light and amusing, it’s a visually appealing tale of work and luck as the key to success.


Movie and DVD Review: Bambi

Posted on Box Office Mojo

After somehow managing to avoid seeing Bambi on the silver screen—a nature movie with all those trees and birds was a turnoff to a kid who favored movies with planes, skyscrapers and people—the animated feature’s premiere on DVD finally brought Walt Disney’s favorite forest to my undivided attention and, like that first dewy morning at summer camp, the reward was worth the wait. Bambi really is wonderful.


Bambi Remembered by Hollywood Artists

Posted on Box Office Mojo

Among those in Hollywood who remember seeing the animated classic in movie theaters during Disney’s re-releases, the DVD release of Bambi elicits excitement. Animation artist Alex Dilts, who attended the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia—founded by Walt and Roy Disney—is looking forward to watching the digitally restored special edition.


Looking Back at Bambi

Posted on Box Office Mojo

With generations of fans and millions of dollars in profits, a 900-word script and a running time of 69 minutes, Walt Disney’s classic Bambi is an example of quality and economy. Its staggering success is not unlike the story of its title character: unstable in the beginning, unmatched in the end. When the animated feature premieres on DVD format for the first time on March 1, the accompanying historical features assure that Walt Disney’s favorite picture also offers 21st century Hollywood several lessons in making money with movies.


Movie and DVD Review: Lady and the Tramp

Posted on Box Office Mojo

Walt Disney’s Lady and the Tramp is another animated feature in Disney’s vault that deserves praise and attention. To this uninitiated viewer, this movie, released in 1955, always looked like a harmless treat about a couple of dogs that swoon over one another. It is that and more, and it’s far superior to what passes for kids’ movies.


Movie and DVD Review: The Little Mermaid

Posted on Box Office Mojo

Walt Disney Pictures’ 1989 adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale, The Little Mermaid, is a brilliantly animated musical about the glory of becoming human. Colorful animation, wonderful songs and unspoiled heroism make this a great movie. Flowing with good characters and values, The Little Mermaid is one of Disney’s best pictures.


Movie and DVD Review: The Jungle Book

Posted on Box Office Mojo

Walt Disney’s The Jungle Book, an animated musical loosely based on Rudyard Kipling’s stories, is a benevolent outing. The 1967 movie follows a child named Mowgli (Bruce Reitherman) from infancy through boyhood. Each encounter takes place in India’s wild jungle—with animals and a setting rich in shades of orange, dark gray and green—where deadly threats come with the territory.


Movie Review: World Trade Center

Posted on Box Office Mojo, August 2006

Oliver Stone makes the worst attack in American history seem practically humdrum in World Trade Center, his take on the darkest day—so far—in this undeclared war between radical Islam and the West.


Movie Review: United 93

Posted on Box Office Mojo, April 2006

United 93, a taut recreation of the September 11, 2001, United Air Lines flight in which passengers counterattacked Islamic suicide hijackers, is powerful as a perceptual-bound experience. Unfortunately, that’s the sum of it; the motion picture, written and directed by Paul Greengrass, achieves nothing else.


Remembering the Munich Massacre

Posted on Box Office Mojo, December 8, 2005

The inevitable publicity surrounding Steven Spielberg’s Munich vividly recalls that West German city’s Summer Olympics in 1972. It was during the Cold War. Olga Korbut was prancing around in her white Soviet leotard—American Mark Spitz, a Jew in Germany, was swimming his way to seven gold medals in his red, white and blue Speedo—and an Arab terrorist was pacing on a balcony in a mask.


Movie Review: Munich

Posted on Box Office Mojo, December 2005

Once again, Steven Spielberg transforms a serious subject—an historic act of Arab terrorism—into a skillfully arranged horror show, trivializing another example of 20th century barbarism. Recalling the terrorist attack at the 1972 Munich, West Germany, Olympic Games, in which 11 Israeli athletes were seized and murdered, Munich tracks besieged Israel’s response. It makes for a slow motion wreck.


Movie Review: Death Race

Posted August 21, 2008

Death Race is apparently a remake of one of those campy, dystopian Seventies pictures like Rollerball, Soylent Green and Logan’s Run. The usual complaints apply: this action movie is very loud and pointless violence and foul language dominate the show. Be seriously ready to cover the ears if you value your ability to hear.


Movie Review: Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Posted August 14, 2008

Having suffered through the three recent Star Wars incarnations, I attended a press screening of Star Wars: The Clone Wars with the lowest expectations. Though mildly entertaining, and any Star Wars product without Jar Jar Binks has to be considered an upgrade, this movie’s message is clear: the good exists only at the mercy of the mixed.


News: Star Wars Trilogy Premieres on DVD

Posted September 21, 2004 on Box Office Mojo

Twentieth Century Fox released creator George Lucas’s first three Star Wars movies, A New Hope (released as Star Wars in 1977), The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Return of the Jedi (1983), today in the popular DVD format.


Movie Review: Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith

Posted on Box Office Mojo in May 2005

The series that began with an idealistic farm boy’s choice between complacency and a noble crusade, with classic Hollywood banter and conflict, ends in an orgiastic blur. Creator George Lucas made Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith, the last installment of his epic Star Wars, more like a video game than a motion picture. With 90 computer-generated minutes—20 more than Attack of the Clones—sensory overloaded Sith fizzles in a blaze of gore.


Commentary: George Lucas Vs. The Stormtroopers

Posted September 26, 2004 on Box Office Mojo

America’s highest-grossing movie series continues to reflect the culture—this time, with alarming implications. Because the pictures were changed to suit George Lucas, Mr. Lucas’ Star Wars trilogy, which premiered on DVD this week, has unleashed a storm of controversy.


Commentary: From Luke to Anakin, Growing Up with Star Wars

Posted May 18, 2005 on Box Office Mojo

The excitement over Revenge of the Sith‘s release recalls standing in line to see the original Star Wars when it opened in 1977. My parents enjoyed taking the family to the movies, which offered personal, low-cost entertainment. We could hardly wait to see The Sting in 1973 and The Towering Inferno a year later. The following year, my sister and I defied our mother to see Jaws, which Mom was convinced was a horror movie.


Movie Review: Mamma Mia!

Posted July 23, 2008

Gather friends and family (except younger kids) to see the joyful Mamma Mia! In the key of Grease and last year’s Hairspray, this lightweight musical is pure, frivolous fun from beginning to end. The movie adaptation of the stage production (built on Swedish rock band ABBA’s popular tunes), which depicts the love of life, is a rare, brightly colored treat.


Movie Review: The Dark Knight

Posted July 23, 2008

Like the title, The Dark Knight, featuring Bob Kane’s DC Comics character, Batman, reflects man’s capacity for malevolence. As it is stated in the picture, one must either “die a hero—or live long enough to … become the villain.” In other words, man is doomed. Director Chris Nolan, who co-wrote the script, displays the seriousness with which he delivered the superior 2005 adaptation, Batman Begins.


Interview: Walt Disney Pictures Chairman Dick Cook

Posted November 15, 2007 on Box Office Mojo

The Disney studio’s top businessman talks about Enchanted, Pirates and Narnia—and a fire on the Monorail—in my exclusive interview.


Analysis: Diluted History Hurts Disney’s The Alamo

Posted on Box Office Mojo

Disney had a $100 million-plus budget riding on its version of The Alamo, a war epic directed by John Lee Hancock. Box Office Mojo had forecast gross receipts of almost $15 million during its opening weekend and, when it barely reached $9 million, it was clear that The Alamo was in trouble.


Movie Review: The Illusionist

Posted August 28, 2006 on Box Office Mojo

The best picture of 2006 thus far is a virtuoso display of acting, direction and storytelling.


Movie Review: Akeelah and the Bee

Posted April 27, 2006 on Box Office Mojo

A girl learns how to think as Laurence Fishburne matches a fine performance from a sweet 12-year-old newcomer.


Movie Review: Eight Below

Posted February 18, 2006 on Box Office Mojo

Disney’s harrowing Antarctic adventure engages with nature-based conflict and eight memorably distinct huskies.


Movie Review: Mrs. Henderson Presents

Posted January 14, 2006 on Box Office Mojo

The Weinstein Company presents a sassy British war story powered by Judi Dench at her best.


Movie Review: Capote

Posted on Box Office Mojo

A stark style suits the story of the famous writer who came to cover a mass murder in the Midwest and lost his way.


Movie Review: Casanova

Lasse Hallstrom’s latest movie is an effervescent, visually stunning Venetian romp starring Heath Ledger as the famous lover.


Movie Review: The Da Vinci Code

Director Ron Howard’s faithful potboiler self-flagellates with slow pace, crammed info and stilted characters.


Movie Review: Good Night, and Good Luck

Absent any context, style doesn’t meet substance in George Clooney’s episodic tale of Murrow Vs. McCarthy.


Movie Review: Dumbo

Walt Disney’s charming 1941 classic celebrates the circus freak within.


Movie Review: Zathura

Posted on Box Office Mojo

Children’s author Chris Van Allsburg (The Polar Express, Jumanji) scores a triple play with director Jon Favreau’s adaptation.


Movie Review: An Unfinished Life

Posted on Box Office Mojo

Despite Jennifer Lopez, Cider House Rules director Lasse Hallstrom rises and shines in a Western-themed fable that puts Robert Redford back in the saddle.


Movie Review: What’s Eating Gilbert Grape

Posted on Box Office Mojo

Director Lasse Hallstrom unearths self-affirmation in an offbeat tale of duty and drudgery.


Interview: Ted Elliott & Terry Rossio On Pirates of the Caribbean

Posted on Box Office Mojo

An interview with the writers who created Captain Jack Sparrow.


Interview: Lasse Hallstrom On An Unfinished Life

Posted on Box Office Mojo

As An Unfinished Lifepremieres on DVD, director Lasse Hallstrom talks about Robert Redford, Jennifer Lopez and ABBA.


Interview: Earl Holliman

Posted on Box Office Mojo

With Police Woman finally on DVD, the 1970s show’s co-star, actor Earl Holliman, talks about his career, his chemistry with Angie Dickinson and the feminist attacks on the show.


Interview: Christopher Nolan

Posted on Box Office Mojo

The Batman Begins director discusses comic books, the 1978 Superman and heroism, what makes a blockbuster, James Bond and and watching Mary Poppins with his family.


Considering Kinsey: Let’s Think About Sex

Posted December 30, 2004 on Box Office Mojo

Fahrenheit 9/11 and The Passion of the Christ may have dominated movie headlines this year, but Fox Searchlight’s Kinsey is probably the movie most likely to offend fans of both blockbusters—and possibly everyone else. With explicit sexuality, politics and religion, it was predictable that writer and director Bill Condon’s biographically-themed picture about bow-tied biology professor Alfred Kinsey, regarded as a pervert by conservatives, would set talk radio tongues wagging with smears and rumors.


Interview with Chris Van Allsburg

Posted on Box Office Mojo

With Zathura on DVD, the nation’s top chidren’s book author and illustrator talks about his picture books, including The Polar Express, and the process of making his books into movies.


Lasse Hallstrom On What’s Eating Gilbert Grape

Posted June 16, 2006 on Box Office Mojo

With a new DVD for What’s Eating Gilbert Grape starring Johnny Depp and Leonardo DiCaprio, director Lasse Hallstrom talks about making the classic small town picture.


Movie Review: Spider-Man

Posted Posted in 2002 on Box Office Mojo

Sony’s uneven but clever and occasionally rousing adaptation of the Marvel Comics character, Spider-Man.


Movie Review: Spider-Man 2

Posted Posted in 2004 on Box Office Mojo

A choppy back and forth sequel that reduces Stan Lee’s Marvel Comics half-hero to anti-hero.


Movie Review: Spider-Man 3

Posted Posted in 2007 on Box Office Mojo

Spider-Man gets serious, battling several enemies—and an enemy within—in a psychological conflict that thankfully drops the first sequel’s cynical guard and gradually restores some heroism. Spider-Man 3, co-written and directed by Sam Raimi, is better than expected.


Interview with Michael Paxton: How Ayn Rand Inspires Filmmaker

Originally published February 15, 1998 in Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)

This month, Ayn Rand appears on the big screen—for the first time since her movie debut. Many people don’t know that the author of The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged arrived in Hollywood as a penniless immigrant from the Soviet Union and was soon cast as an extra in Cecil B. DeMille’s 1927 King of Kings.

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