Los Angeles CityBeat
The Lucky Ones (2008)
"... captures the manner in which both the smallest and largest events on a road trip can build a sense of camaraderie among three strangers with very little in common."
Street Fight (2005)
""...completely gripping and enraging.""
Night Watch (2006)
"...better than most of our domestic product..."
"Despite its length and expansive pace, it's never dull. And, despite the dubiousness of its stabs at being "meaningful," it still leaves you with more than most mega-productions."
Gomorrah (Gomorra) (2008)
"[T]here's nothing here to draw us in -- nothing particularly interesting or engaging about the stories or the characters."
Nothing But the Truth (2008)
"Lurie's style has grown increasingly fluid, and the players (especially Farmiga) deliver, but he tosses everything away with the last twist."
Adam Resurrected (2008)
"It seems to have been written in a tone of magical realism, but the director is Paul Schrader, a filmmaker who has many talents, but no feel for whimsy, let alone magic."
The Wrestler (2008)
"... handily his best leading performance in years ... possibly ever .... Director Aronofsky ... plays it straight, giving us a clear, linear narrative, interrupted only by one intercut flashback. The step away from pyrotechnics becomes him."
Gran Torino (2009)
"[It gives] Eastwood a chance to be funnier than he's been in a long time."
"A witty, well-made addition to the [time travel] subgenre."
"Shanley [opens] up his four-character original enough to make it more cinematic without destroying the claustrophobic air of the characters' school-bound, almost medieval, world."
"Gort the robot looks the same but is ten times bigger and a tenth as interesting -- a good metaphor for the whole project."
"Howard and Morgan are able to structure a series of largely mundane events for maximum suspense."
"[Later] you realize that [Penn] doesn't innately look that much like Milk -- which is a sign of how terrific his performance is. Josh Brolin is no less perfect as White..."
Transporter 3 (2008)
"For the most part, the fights and chases are as implausible as the story, but there's an extraordinarily clever escape-from-certain-death bit about 20 minutes from the end that I don't think I've ever seen before."
The Dukes (2007)
"Between the performances and the nice visual style, the whole feels greater than the sum of its plot points."
"Once the connections become clear, however, this often bitter story almost becomes a thriller, as we fear the next outburst or revelation and its aftermath."
"Director D.J. Paul and screenwriter Joseph "Bo" Colen don't bring much new to the notion of boredom being the toughest part of war."
The Alphabet Killer (2008)
"...a big problem is the preposterousness of the mystery's solution..."
Quantum of Solace (2008)
"[Craig] seems rigidified, with no more inner life than a mechanical action figure."
Soul Men (2008)
"This may not be a great movie, but I still couldn't help falling in love with it."
Captain Abu Raed (2007)
"Nadim Sawalha gives a terrific performance, subtle and complex, and most effective when the camera simply lingers on his face."
Loins of Punjab Presents (2007)
"The most obvious model for this sweet, low-budget production is Christopher Guest's Best in Show ... except with desis instead of doggies."
"Both the best qualities and worst flaws in Changeling have been evident in Eastwood's work for some time now."
"All except di Sciullo's are beautifully drawn, in a variety of distinct styles."
Synecdoche, New York (2008)
"It's really quite brilliant. But it's also so difficult and so emotionally downbeat that it's hard to characterize it as "entertaining.""
Flashbacks of a Fool (2008)
"... an uninspired rearrangement of familiar elements, with little emotional force to justify the entire project."
"One of Leigh's most upbeat films, as well as one of the best."
Ashes of Time Redux (2008)
"... magnificent on a purely sensual level ... The new version is shorter by about ten minutes and is divided by chapter headings, which make the film slightly less confusing."
"... while not the ideological lambasting many probably expected, it's nonetheless not a portrait the subject himself would find flattering."
An American Carol (2008)
"... the jokes are lame and the caricatures too removed from any defensible reality."
"... while he tries not to look snarky, his comic impulse sometimes overwhelms him."
Rachel Getting Married (2008)
"... perfectly calibrates the gradual revealing of the family dynamics, while dragging you through a gamut of strong emotions -- not necessarily the most enjoyable experience."
"... a justified tribute to [Barney] Rosset, who in his mid-80s is still feisty, with a refreshingly lighthearted attitude toward all he accomplished."
"... slickly constructed and frequently funny."
"The whole thing is like an HBO comedy special -- Allah made these guys pretty funny -- and it's hard to see why it's getting theatrical release."
Miracle at St. Anna (2008)
"It might have been easily trimmed by a half hour, which is a shame, because there are so many good moments buried in there -- a proverbial two-hour movie struggling to get out."
Righteous Kill (2008)
"Russell Gewirtz's script is built around a trick, one that is simultaneously too clever by half and not clever at all (which itself is quite a trick)."
Lakeview Terrace (2008)
"Lakeview Terrace is well enough made to partly overcome my general distaste for films ... that are unpleasant, yet without catharsis or edification"
Sukiyaki Western Django (2008)
"... for all its virtues, Sukiyaki Western Django is a one-gimmick film that eventually wears out its welcome."
What Women Want (2001)
"English's attempts to fit The Women into a modern setting are intelligent, but that, unfortunately, does not suffice, because the film is so limp in so many other ways."
"Ball drops the poisonous little voodoo dolls he mistakes for characters into a ... realistic environment, as though that will somehow render his story more "serious.""
Burn After Reading (2008)
"Even though Burn After Reading is often funny, it rarely achieves either the hilarity of Intolerable Cruelty or the iconic goofiness of The Big Lebowski."
Un Secret (A Secret) (2008)
"Miller and his excellent cast create characters whom we can understand and even empathize with, even as they commit horrible breaches of faith."
Ping Pong Playa (2007)
"Ace documentarian Jessica Yu's fictional feature debut ... is mostly funny and often cute, but it suffers a bit in comparison to the very similar Foot Fist Way ..."
"Chabrol does his best work in the thriller genre, but he seems colder and frankly humorless when he works with real-life stories [as he does here]."
"For most of its length, Traitor is a serious and suspense-filled film ... But as the movie approaches its climax, the plot goes crazy -- and [not] in a good way."
Tropic Thunder (2008)
"Stiller is terrific, and Downey is somewhat better than terrific -- inspired. ... Tropic Thunder really is hysterical; and it even manages, now and then, to surprise."
Hamlet 2 (2008)
"Coogan is a master at playing jerks, but Dana is too silly, too stupid, and too unappealing to enlist us on his side."