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February 29, 2024

  • Danez Smith at AWP
    Richard Saker/Contour by Getty Images As we end Black History Month, here is one of my favorite poets, Danez Smith, who writes on intersectionality between their Black and Queer identities. At the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) conference in Kansas City, MO, I had the opportunity to personally meet Smith, and they are […]
  • Lying in Memoir
    Lauren Slater crafts diligent, depictive metaphors in narrative, and I hate her writing, simultaneously. Should there be lying in memoir? In her book, Lying: A Metaphorical Memoir (2000), Slater crafts lies from epilepsy to nunneries to doctor visits and proposed peer reviewed theses to AA meetings. However, within these lies, she allows us to question […]
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Film Clips

(RATINGS: The movies listed below are rated according to the following key: 4 stars — excellent; 3 stars — good; 2 stars — fair; 1 star — poor.)

(M.C. — Mark Caro; M.W. — Michael Wilmington; J.P. — John Petrakis; L.C. — Lou Carlozo; M.R. — Maureen Ryan; R.K. — Rick Kogan; M.E. — Monica Eng; B.S. — Barbara Shulgasser; A.J. — Allan Johnson; V.E. — Vicky Edwards; R.E. — Robert K. Elder.)

BAMBOOZLED. This deliberately outrageous Spike Lee movie is a shock-comedy about the evils of African-American media stereotypes. Starring Damon Wayans, Michael Rapaport, Savion Glover and Tommy Davidson, this film takes you from uproarious laughter to discomfort to stunned silence. Stay until the credits are done because the end-title sequence is a marvel of wit, rage and tenderness. R (strong language and some violence). 2:15. 3-1/2 stars. — M.W.

BEST IN SHOW. Dog shows are a potentially rich but largely untapped vein of cinematic humor. Another of Guest’s ensemble improvisatory comedies, like his 1997 sleeper hit ‘Waiting for Guffman’ — and starring many of the same hilariously gifted actors — this movie mines dog shows for every laugh they can reasonably provide, steeping us in the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat, champion-doggie style. PG-13. 2-1/2 stars.

BILLY ELLIOT. The plot description for this British film sounds cutesy: An 11-year-old boy begins skipping his boxing lessons to take instruction in ballet. (Billy’s mother is dead, and his father and brother are striking miners. The boxing lessons presumably will toughen up Billy for the fights to come but he’s not terribly skilled or inspired.) The movie earns its sentiment by vividly reconstructing the conflicts of a specific time and place while showing the artistic birth of someone raised in that environment. R. 3-1/2 stars.

BOOTMEN. Set in Australia, this is a reasonably enjoyable formulaic film about a group of young men in a steel mill town, one of whom starts a tap dance group to raise money for the struggling steelworkers. What it gains in fun, the film loses in credibility, as the production number itself more closely resembles a high-priced Las Vegas extravaganza than a quickly organized charity event. R (violence, strong language, sexual situations). 1:32. 2 stars. — J.P.

BOUNCE. A romance develops between a salesman (Ben Affleck) and the widow of a man who died in a plane crash. The twist is the salesman was the one who was supposed to be on that plane. This is a bittersweet, mostly serious love story with heart. PG-13 (some language, sensuality). 1:42. 3 stars. — M.C.

CHARLIE’S ANGELS. The rip-off movie from the ’70s TV series, this film attempts mixing campy humor, comic book speed and dazzling Hong-Kong-style martial arts. The scenes are unfunny and the action is unthrilling. Stars Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz, Lucy Liu and Bill Murray. PG-13 (action violence, innuendo and some sensuality/nudity). 1:32. One star. — M.W.

DR. SEUSS’ HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS. Lavishly produced and directed by Ron Howard, this family fantasy-comedy of staggering opulence tells the children’s tale of the Grinch (Jim Carrey) who tries to ruin Christmas for a lovable village of people named the Whos of Whoville. Carrey gives a titanic comedic performance. PG-13 (some crude humor). 1:42. 3 stars. — M.W.

DUNGEONS ‘ DRAGONS. The movie is devised from a medieval-based role-playing game that has been gnawing on the gray matter of our children — both young and old — for the last quarter-century. It portrays a fantasy world of elves, dwarfs, thieves and magicians ruled over by an idealistic young queen who is in constant danger of being overthrown by the powers of evil that infest her court. One clumsy scene keeps running into another, making it clear that the filmmakers didn’t have a clue as to how to fashion a story out of the assorted D’D requirements. It is testament to the weakness of the script that it even drags down a master actor like Jeremy Irons, who gives a wide-eyed scenery-chewing performance as the evil wizard Profion. ‘Dungeons and Dragons.’ PG-13. 1:45. 1 star — J.P.

THE LEGEND OF BAGGER VANCE. Director Robert Redford’s inspirational sports saga, set in 1931, is about a local Savannah, Ga., golfer (Matt Damon) competing in a three-man tournament for $10,000 before World War I, after which his life was destroyed when he lost his career and fiance (Charlize Theron). PG-13 (some sexual content). 2:07. 2-1/2 stars. — M.W.

LITTLE NICKY. A madly overblown, fitfully funny, outrageously tasteless comedy about the son (Adam Sandler) of the devil (Harvey Keitel) and the hell he lives every day. PG-13 (crude sexual humor, some drug content, language and thematic material). 1:33. 2 stars.– M.W.

MEET THE PARENTS. An exhausting nightmare comedy about a guy (Ben Stiller) who meets his fiancee’s (Teri Polo) parents (Robert De Niro and Blythe Danner) and makes all the wrong moves. Directed by Jay Roach of the ‘Austin Powers’ movies, this comedy scores almost all of its laughs out of extreme anxiety and embarrassment. PG-13 (sexual content, drug references and language). 1:48. 3 stars. — M.W.

MEN OF HONOR. Director George Tillman’s epic film based on real-life Carl Brashear (Cuba Gooding Jr.), the first African-American deep sea diver for the Navy. Gooding plays his role of trials and tribulations with great heart and emotion. Also stars Robert Di Nero as his hard-as-nails diving instructor. R (language). 2:09. 3 stars.– M.W.

102 DALMATIANS. Glenn Close is back as that canine-hating Cruella De Vil in Disney’s movie about those spotted pooches. G. 1:41.

PAY IT FORWARD. A drama about a teacher (Kevin Spacey) who gives his students a homework assignment to help fix the world, and it changes many lives. Also stars Helen Hunt, Haley Joel Osment, Jay Mohr and Jon Bon Jovi. PG-13 (mature thematic elements including substance abuse/recovery, some sexual situations, language and brief violence). 2:04. 2 stars. — M.C.

PROOF OF LIFE. Russell Crowe is an ace hostage negotiator trying to free Meg Ryan’s kidnapped husband from money-hungry guerrillas in a fictional Latin American country. A popcorn movie with a bittersweet glaze, its ability to satisfy is directly related to how much you buy into the characters’ plight. R. 2:15. 3 stars. — M.C.

RED PLANET. This movie’s tagline should be ‘In space no one can hear you yawn.’ Set in the year 2057, this film centers on astronauts who are on a mission to Mars in preparation for the planet to become colonized by Earthlings. Stars Val Kilmer, Carrie-Ann Moss and Benjamin Bratt. PG-13 (sci-fi violence, brief nudity, language). 1:50. 2 stars. — M.C.

RUGRATS IN PARIS: THE MOVIE. The latest animated film about the lovable Nickelodeon tykes who stir up fun and trouble wherever they go. This time the gang takes off for an adventure in Paris. G. 1:20. 2 stars. — L.K.

THE SIXTH DAY. A thriller that centers on a man (Arnold Schwarzenegger) who lives in a world where cloning is commonplace and no one ever truly dies. His life suddenly is turned upside down when he is cloned by mistake while he’s alive. PG-13 (strong action violence, brief strong language, some sensuality). 2:04. 2-1/2 stars.– M.C.

UNBREAKABLE. ‘Sixth Sense’ writer-director M. Night Shyamalan reteams with Bruce Willis for another eerie story, this time about the sole survivor of a train crash. Also stars Samuel L. Jackson and Julianne Moore. PG-13 (mature themes, some disturbing violent content, a sexual reference). 1:47.

VERTICAL LIMIT. A morass of dimwitted family crises and hack action-movie cliches packed with some of the most visually exciting thrill scenes ever to crawl up (and fall off) a mountainside. Laced with more jaw-dropping cliffhangers than Election 2000 and cursed with twice as much mind-numbing silliness, ‘Vertical Limit’ is a movie that’s split right down the middle. PG-13. 2:06. 2-1/2 stars.– M.W.

THE WIND WILL CARRY US. Abbas Kiarostami’s film poem of sometimes humbling beauty: a movie that opens up a new world to us — in the mountains of Iranian Kurdistan — with an enchanting freshness and austerity of vision. It’s about the collision of the sophisticated and the primitive, the misunderstandings that ensue when a modern city man is plunged into the ancient rhythms and rituals of an isolated mountain village. And it’s done in a breathtakingly assured, deceptively transparent style. No MPAA rating (family). 1:58. 4 stars.– M.W.

YOU CAN COUNT ON ME. A poignant, moving film about life in a small town that explores the relationship between a sister (Laura Linney) and her irresponsible brother (Mark Ruffalo) who were orphaned in their youth and are now reunited. Also stars Matthew Broderick. R (language, some drug use and a scene of sexuality). 1:51. 3-1/2 stars.– M.W.

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