Meet the Robinsons

[National Review Online,  March 30, 2007] If you see only one movie about Doris the Evil Hat this year, make it “Meet the Robinsons.” Disney’s 46th animation feature recaptures the old Walt magic; it’s got spark, originality, and pure delight, qualities missing from the usual shallow, preachy kid fare recycling on DVD players today. (Some credit no doubt goes to Executive Producer John Lasseter, a founder of Pixar and now Chief Creative Officer of both Pixar and Disney, whose mark is seen on such solid-gold films as “Toy Story” and “The Incredibles.”) If Disney can keep this kind of energy going, there could be a new golden age ahead.

The Nativity Story

[Beliefnet, November 30, 2006] The curiosity of the Christmas season has got to be “The Nativity Story,” a film which presents the story of the Virgin Mary, her betrothal to Joseph, and the birth of Jesus Christ with an utterly straight face. If you thought Hollywood was incapable of approaching Christians without a cattle prod, you’ll be shocked at how circumspect this movie is.

For Your Consideration

[National Review Online, November 17, 2006] Here’s a riddle: When do you leave a Christopher Guest movie feeling glum and discouraged? When it’s not funny? No, “For Your Consideration” is by no means a dud. Fans of Guest’s recent films will find plenty of the same character-based absurdities here. It’s hilarious. Right up until the last fifteen minutes.

The Prestige

[National Review Online, October 23, 2006] For the first few minutes of “The Prestige,” I wondered if the projectionist had loaded the trailer by mistake. After a brief, surreal opening shot (but file it away for later), we hear wise old stage-magician Cutter (Michael Caine) describing in voice-over the three “acts” of a magic trick.


[National Review Online, October 13, 2006] When David Cathcart completed his screenplay about Truman Capote, he phoned Bingham Ray, the head of United Artists, and offered to send it over. Ray responded, “It’s on my desk.” This surprised Cathcart, since he thought the work hadn’t yet left his own desk. Ray insisted, “I’m looking at it right now. ‘Capote’ by Dan…”

Open Season on Beauty

[Dallas Morning News, October 1, 2006] “I didn’t like the part in the restaurant,” Hannah, my 6-year-old granddaughter, said. We were leaving a screening of Sony’s new animated feature, “Open Season,” and I was trying to remember any scene in a restaurant. When she said it was “too messy,” I realized that she meant an early scene where the movie’s lead characters, a suburban bear and a one-antlered deer, run loose in a mini-mart.

The Science of Sleep

[National Review, September 29, 2006] Early in Michel Gondry’s new film, “The Science of Sleep,” lead character Stephane (Gael Garcia Bernal) is joyfully recounting a concert he attended with his beloved dad. He’s awed as Duke Ellington comes out on stage, resplendent in a white suit.


[National Review Online, September 22, 2006] War movies are the Dinty Moore Beef Stew of cinema: meat, potatoes, coupla carrots, and no surprises. You got your dashing-but-human cowboy, the center of the story. You got your noble African-American. You got your clean-cut fellow who will at some point go, sweating and trembling, into shock. You got your plump, condescending child of privilege. And you got your enigmatic battle-hardened hero, who appears as if from the shadows, speaks lines that are somehow both cryptic and blunt, and then retreats. In this movie, he has a pet lion, which might push things over the top a bit.

All the King’s Men

[National Review Online, September 22, 2006] In 1946 Robert Penn Warren published a novel, “All the King’s Men,” which took Louisiana governor Huey P. Long as the inspiration for Willie Stark, a strong-minded Southern agrarian politician of the 30’s. Willie’s story is told by his assistant, a more complex and ambivalent man, Jack Burden.


[National Review Online, September 7, 2006] What really happened the night George Reeves died? Sounds like a pretty promising idea for a movie. George Reeves was the All-American hunk who played Superman on TV in the 1950’s, and many a Baby Boomer’s ideas of courage, nobility, and strength were shaped by that half-hour afternoon show. So it was devastating news when Reeves was found dead of a shot to the head, on a June night in 1959. His death was ruled a suicide.