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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

new on DVD: young men and old women

That poor Harry has been able to retain his sanity after all he’s been through in his young life is pretty remarkable, and he doesn’t get a break in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (read my review/buy at Amazon), either. Whether it’s the mysteries of girls and how to ask them for a date or, you know, power-hungry lunatics fixated on killing him, it’s a sure bet that Harry’s high-school experience is worse than yours was.

Jake Gyllenhaal’s Marine recruit — aka Jarhead (read my review/buy at Amazon) — does not retain his sanity, not quite, even though he never fires a wartime shot, or comes under fire, either. Just being in the military is enough to drive you bonkers, it seems.

Don’t be fooled by the inane older woman-younger man romantic comedy vibe of Prime (read my review/buy at Amazon) — it’s just the thin and not very sweet icing on a cake of an idiotic mother-in-law sitcom. I’ve never been embarrassed for Meryl Streep before, but she really gets the short end of the shiksa here.

While Uma Thurman is pretending to be an old woman, the old woman in Howl’s Moving Castle (not reviewed/buy at Amazon) really is young too — she’s been enchanted by some dark magic to appear old. The whys and wherefores of that do not come to a satisfying end — this is the rare Miyazaki film that fails to please. The animation is stunning, but the story it’s telling is confused and incomplete.



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