Film Reviews

North Carolina Burning

A chapter in the civil rights struggle becomes an overly polite movie.
It all started with a casual remark. In 1970, Timothy Tyson was an 11-year-old white boy growing up in Oxford, N.C., when one of his friends said, “Pa and Roger and ‘em shot ‘em a nigger.” Just like that...

GasLand Drills for Answers

A Pennsylvania filmmaker visits North Texas to get the dirt on gas drilling.
In December 2008, live-theater producer and filmmaker Josh Fox (his 2008 film, Memorial Day, was based on the Abu Ghraib prison scandal) was approached by several landmen who wanted him to sign a deal to lease mineral rights fo...

Love Is All Around

Big movie stars outnumber big laughs in Valentine's Day.
Even before Valentine’s Day has reached the theaters, gimlet-eyed observers are already comparing it to the 2003 British film Love Actually, both movies being scattershot omnibus comedies that tell multiple romantic stori...

Need a Lift?

Frozen won't give you one, just thrills and chills.
The Sundance Film Festival may be known for earnest, small-scale dramas, but it also has been the launching pad for some brutally simple low-budget thrillers as well. Hollywood’s good at entertaining you with the unreal; ...

Letters to Savannah

Yet another sodden Nicholas Sparks adaptation: Dear John.
In her recent, cautiously positive review of Extraordinary Measures, film critic Dana Stevens advanced the idea on Slate that the movie world’s new guilty pleasure is pablum rather than pulp. In other words, slasher flick...

One-Part Drama

Another British import loses its flavor in America: Edge of Darkness.
The key to understanding what’s right and what’s wrong with Edge of Darkness is knowing that it’s based on a British TV miniseries. Our friends across the Atlantic regularly make intelligent multiple-hour opus...

Breaking Bad

Somehow, the upper reaches of stardom have always seemed to just elude Jeff Bridges’ grasp despite all his advantages as a well-known actor’s son who came of age during a golden period for Hollywood filmmaking and k...

Domestic Conflict

When I was a boy, I visited relatives in South America and noticed that all my uncles and aunts seemed to employ maids. I thought it was strange. My relatives weren’t noticeably wealthier than my parents, and yet neither ...

Firth of Force

Talented though he is, Colin Firth has never shown that much range. While his close contemporary Hugh Grant has made a career out of playing different variations on the same randy bon vivant, Firth has made his largely by playi...

Medical License

In the late 1990s, a Harvard Business School graduate named John Crowley made medical history. He was a Bristol Myers executive whose two youngest children suffered from Pompe disease, a form of muscular dystrophy that had alwa...