Film Reviews

Dead on the 4th of July

The maker of Donnie Darko goes funnily and frustratingly off the deep end.
Kristian Lin
You remember Donnie Darko. Six years ago, this feature debut by then-26-year-old writer-director Richard Kelly captivated audiences with its phantasmagoric style, unleashing an intriguing dark side of Jake Gyllenhaal that we ha...


The Man in the Fred Suit

Bitter and schmaltzy, this comedy about Santa’s brother doesn’t fly.
Kristian Lin
The trailers for Fred Claus that showed in theaters last Christmas pitched the movie at adults — the director of Wedding Crashers re-teaming with Vince Vaughn to make a comedy about Santa Claus’ unjolly brother.



Earthly Delight

John Cusack helps elevate a big-budget popcorn flick to an emotionally honest character drama.
Cole Williams
Just when you think you’ve seen every type of Hollywood family drama, along comes something nice to revitalize your faith in mainstream cinema.


Unoriginal Gangster

Ridley Scott tries to make the Citizen Kane of crime flicks and falls short.
Kristian Lin
The shortcomings of American Gangster are right there in the title. It’s the latest film by Ridley Scott, a director who long ago was pegged as a mythmaker.



Also-Ran

In case you haven’t noticed, the indie dramedy formula won’t be going away anytime soon, thanks to movies like Dan.
Cole Williams
Of all the young, male comedic actors who have recently been in or directed movies that don’t hew to formula, Steve Carell is arguably tops of the class.


Wes Bengal

An indie auteur falls short again, but The Darjeeling Limited still has some laughs.
Kristian Lin
A decade ago, I watched Eddie Murphy end years of crappy comedies by starring in The Nutty Professor.



Amanda Alert

Ben Affleck comes up aces directing the missing-girl mystery Gone Baby Gone.
Kristian Lin
It probably didn’t happen this way, but I can easily imagine Ben Affleck in the midst of his 2003 Gigli-induced purgatory, taking time out to watch Mystic River and thinking to himself, “Hell, I can do that” (or words to ...


Blood and Snow

Even after 30 Days of Night, this film can’t put a new twist on the vampire genre.
Kristian Lin
Since Bram Stoker’s Dracula was published 110 years ago, doing something new with vampires in any storytelling medium has gotten to be extremely difficult.



Mr. Bagman

The flawed legal thriller Michael Clayton still wins favorable judgment.
Kristian Lin
You shouldn’t be surprised that Michael Clayton is currently being overrated by America’s film critics. The movie practically begs for it.


The Other Elizabeth

Cate Blanchett returns for a royally disappointing sequel about England’s queen.
Kristian Lin
In 1998, an Indian director and his Australian leading lady collaborated on Elizabeth, a chilling historical drama that brought their largely unknown names to the world’s attention.