Biggie & Tupac

This director has to be one of the worst documentarians on the planet. And definitely the worst narrator. And yet I managed to learn a few things from this movie. And strangely, the people that he approached for interviews and filming seemed oddly to allow him a level of access that I wouldn’t have expected. Why? How?

This is probably only for real fans of the title characters. Otherwise, just check out Notorious – much more entertaining.

Definitely Maybe

Disappointing to the point where not even Ryan Reynolds’ charms could revive it. Not even Rachel Weisz as a love interest could save it. There is too much script here. You can just see the writers piling it on. One more wrinkle, another complication, the expected unexpected. And back around to the beginning. Cute by a little too much.

Art and Craft

There was more than one person who suggested that, given his talents, Mark Landis should paint original works, and sign them with his own name. Which sort of misses the point.

What he does, and why he’s become famous, is copy works by famous painters. Or copy their style, at least. And then pass off the works to museums and galleries as originals. One key point though, is that he doesn’t try to sell the works, and therefore he is not committing any crime.

He may know that what he does is forgery, but he calls it “philanthropy.” For Landis, it is the act – the entire act, of painting and presenting a work, complete with paper and wood and frames and canvases all made to look age-appropriate, and then presenting it to a gallery as authentic – that is important.

Yes, his work is undeniably good. But if he had toiled for these same years producing originals, would he be a famous painter? Probably not. As someone in the film said, his schtick is as much performance art as it is painting. And what a performance.

The Shape of Water

I’ve never been a big fan of del Toro, but he does have a signature style that is arresting and interesting to look at. This is a beautifully filmed movie, with impeccable attention to detail. It should win something at the Oscars, or several things – set design, costumes, makeup…

I could even overlook the magical realism – or is this even beyond that? Is this straight-up fantasy? – because this was so engagingly told and brought to life. Sally Hawkins will never get the Oscar for this, though… sex with the creature from the Black Lagoon? The Academy will never go for it…

The Adjustment Bureau

Another one of those films that relies largely on Matt Damon’s charismatic screen presence to carry it through. The plot is so silly as to be a distraction, really, as you poke holes in all of its obvious weak points. But yes, I get it, it’s a parable! True love! Nothing can keep them apart! How romantic…


Magic is so unsatisfying. When anything is possible, the screenwriter can be so lazy. Just wave a wand at it. So while the premise of an alternate society that evolved with fairies and orcs alongside humans is sort of intriguing, and makes the race relations story somewhat fresh (?), I just can’t commit my full attention to this kind of movie. I spend too much time complaining out loud…


There’s no way in hell that she would’ve learned that amount of the aliens’ language in such a short time frame. But that is a minor quibble. And ironic, in a movie about time travel. Or is it simply seeing the future?

Amazingly gripping, when so little really happens. But maybe that’s just the former language teacher in me speaking. What’s really different about this, in terms of a modern science fiction film – or really just about any genre these days – is that it’s more interested in the underlying ideas and philosophical questions that arise when we make contact with aliens – or they with us – than in intergalactic warfare or conflict in general. The only ones fighting here are the humans.



1. Should the statute of limitations be allowed to run out on sick fucks like this guy?

2. If it was this easy way back then, how much simpler must it be today, with all of our miniaturized cameras and other electronics?

3. Is Gay Talese as guilty in his own way, a bit overly eager for the salacious tidbit, to the point where fact-checking becomes an afterthought?


Started out pretty strong, then quickly devolved into cliché. Woody Harrelson is a good choice for this role, and he makes the film watchable, even when the script gets lazy and offers up the most predictable situations. A pretty good way to kill time on a plane, but otherwise…