my week at the movies: ‘Defiance,’ ‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,’ ‘The Reader,’ ‘Revolutionary Road,’ ‘Gran Torino’

No official “press” screenings for me this week — it’s all FYC screenings. That is, “for your consideration.” These are specialty screenings that the studios hold for members of critics’ organizations, AMPAS (the “Academy” that awards the Oscars), and other industry guilds who will be voting on their year-end acclaims in the early weeks of … more…

Gone Baby Gone (review)

It’s no rare thing that a film gets buzz for its director. It’s a rare thing when that director has never made a film before. It’s an even rarer thing when the film by that first-timer turns out to be as astonishingly confident and shrewd as actor-turned-director Ben Affleck’s *Gone Baby Gone.*

Flags of Our Fathers (review)

Half bitter and harsh, half propagandistic and hagiographic, this is the love child of ‘Saving Private Ryan’ and ‘Pearl Harbor,’ too sentimental to be intellectually satisfying but too tart to serve as melodrama.

Million Dollar Baby (review)

Oh, but this is a sucker punch of a movie, harsh and sere and so thoroughly unsentimental that it seems to have active contempt for lesser movies that pander to the audience’s desire to walk out of the theater feeling good and happy and that all is right in the world. This is like winning the lottery and getting hit by a train on your way to cash in your ticket. This is not for anyone who feels the need to escape real life at the multiplex. This *is* real life, as real as film gets. You are warned.

Unforgiven (review)

‘It’s a hell of a thing, killin’ a man,’ says thief and killer William Munny (Clint Eastwood, who also directed) in Unforgiven. ‘You take away all he’s got and all he’s ever gonna have.’ Practically an antimovie, this revisionist Western rejects the concept of casual murder that many films revel in to examine why ‘it ain’t so easy to shoot a man.’