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rare female film critic | by maryann johanson

new on DVD: ‘Bug,’ ‘As You Like It,’ ‘Evening,’ ‘Black Book,’ ‘Next,’ ‘Knocked Up,’ more

See it:

Bug [buy it]. From my review:

Where Bug succeeds, it does so by inducing in you the same kind of on-edge, constant low level of terror Agnes lives with on a daily basis, the kind of ordinary distress with modern living that afflicts way too many people. Agnes drinks too much. She does drugs. She has, at best, one friend to speak of. She is dealing, as the film opens, with ongoing harassment by telephone from her ex-husband, who’s just gotten out of prison. And she’s got other ghosts haunting her, too, we later discover. Ashley Judd is appropriately worn-out and grungy as Agnes, makes the waitress a fragile, desperate creature at once sympathetic and shockingly weak, and she’s the best reason to check out this flick. (Harry Connick Jr. shows up later as Agnes’s deliciously disgusting ex, and he’s a revelation, too.)

See it:

As You Like It [buy it]. From my review:

[A]nyone who thinks that Shakespeare is a chore to be suffered needs to see how fresh and refreshing and sweet and enlightening and simply pleasant his wicked-sharp words can be, when done right. And as with all of Branagh’s Bard flicks (I even adore his almost universally panned musical adaptation of Love’s Labour’s Lost), it’s done oh so right here.

Evening [buy it]. If all chick flicks were this damn good, the phrase wouldn’t have become a pejorative.

Black Book [buy it]. Paul Verhoeven brings WWII suspense action to the arthouse with this can’t-miss tale of a Jewish lass who goes undercover at Nazi HQ. And all without the help of Indiana Jones, even.

The TV Set [buy it]. David Duchovny stars in this wicked satire as a writer just trying to get his TV show on the air. Did I mention it stars David Duchovny? David Duchovny stars.

Skip it:

Next [buy it]. From my review:

There are lots of crimes a movie can commit — being boring, being nonsensical, being implausible, being irrelevant — but it’s the rare movie that can commit all of them in the space of 90 minutes. Enter Next, the latest atrocity to be perverted out of the literary work of genius science fiction mastermind Philip K. Dick. Don’t be fooled by the Dick connection — the screenplay, which took three writers to concoct, is based on a Dick short story, but it has little to say about the matters of identity and self-delusion with which Dick concerned himself so vitally. Next has little to say about anything, in fact, including the basic need for cohesion, believability, or simply giving the viewer bang for her multiplex buck that we should be able to expect, at a minimum, from our movies.

Knocked Up [buy it]. From my review:

I’m not saying that writer/director Judd Apatow has not given us an accurate representation of the state of modern relationships as many, perhaps most Americans experience it. It’s that he’s celebrating as charming and inevitable and amusing and sweet what anyone who is that apparently rare specimen — an actual, genuine grownup — should be decrying as deplorable.

I so want this for Christmas:

Sherlock Holmes: The Complete Granada Television Series [buy it]. A dozen DVDs full of Jeremy Brett, the best Sherlock Holmes ever. And I’ll sic the hounds of Baskerville on anyone who says otherwise.

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