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The Grey Zone Review


Essential
One of the most poignant moments in the grave Holocaust drama The Grey Zone comes as a group of Hungarian Jews known as the Sonderkommando try to save the life of a young girl who has come out of the death chamber alive. These Sonderkommando assisted the Nazis in the killing of fellow Jews in exchange for a four-month reprieve from their own death sentence. They received better food and more comfortable living quarters, but they knew all along that their time would eventually reach a similar, tragic end. "It makes no difference, we're dead anyway," one of the men coils. But for this one fleeting moment, their thoughts of death elude them as they rescue this seemingly inconsequential girl.

Many scenes, like the above, though thoroughly bleak and depressing, exemplify why The Grey Zone is such a beautiful film. Based on true events as told in the book Auschwitz: a Doctor's Eyewitness Account, the film chronicles the struggles faced by these Sonderkommando as they plan and eventually execute a fatal uprising that destroys two crematoriums inside the Auschwitz II-Birkenau death camp.

Continue reading: The Grey Zone Review

The Impostors Review


Very Good
A charming and funny farce, obviously the brainchild of Tucci on peyote (or something akin), The Impostors lacks the magic of a film like Big Night, but still makes you smile plenty. A host of indie regulars round out the cast, which features Platt and Tucci as hapless actors stranded on a cruise liner.

Topsy-Turvy Review


Good
One of my earliest childhood remembrances was watching a performance of H.M.S. Pinafore. I thought it was really neat. The costumes and music were amazing and even though I couldn't understand all of what was going on, I was fascinated by how all of these people worked together.

Now 20 years later, while watching another Gilbert and Sullivan performance (of sorts) I am still thinking the same things.

Continue reading: Topsy-Turvy Review

Me Without You Review


Weak
It should have won an award for worst accent ever, as "star" Michelle Williams' faux-Britspeak fades in and out and makes the movie borderline unbearable. The movie itself follows several years in the lives of two London friends (Williams and the far more interesting Anna Friel), who engage in all manner of self-destructive behavior. The film looks a lot more fun for the two girls than it is for us to watch. Very corny and often sappy to boot.

The Merchant Of Venice Review


OK

In his bold, brusque re-imagining of William Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice," screenwriter and director Michael Radford ("1984," "Il Postino") has successfully solved one of the play's two inherent impediments -- its insensitive, arguably anti-Semitic caricature of the greedy, vengeful Jewish creditor Shylock, who demands a literal pound of flesh as payment for a defaulted loan.

Applying audacious creative license, Radford has reinvented the character as a tragic and more central figure -- played by no less than Al Pacino -- whose villainy is motivated by a sense of indignation for his treatment at the hands of bigoted gentiles. This "Merchant" is no longer a farce, but a drama thick with implications about the dangers of religious power in society.

Unfortunately, Radford's creativity with the Bard's narrative doesn't extend to renovating the film's weightless, transparently contrived primary plot about Bassanio (Joseph Fiennes), a young man who wishes to woo beautiful heiress Portia (uncommonly lovely Lynn Collins), but fears he hasn't the wealth to make the proper impression. These romantic aspirations lead his merchant-shipper best friend Antonio (Jeremy Irons) to securing the sinister, high-risk loan from Shylock on Bassanio's behalf.

Continue reading: The Merchant Of Venice Review

Topsy Turvy Review


Good

Director Mike Leigh has usurped his subjects' mirthful sense of humor and penchant for prolonged presentation in his new film "Topsy-Turvy," a jaunty, jolly, light-hearted look at the lives of Victorian operetta architects Gilbert and Sullivan.

Like G&S, Leigh delights in garnishments that add color to his characters and to the pliant performances such details inspire.

Leigh's actors are always especially absorbed in their parts because of the way he works -- creating the screenplay in concert with his players during incessant rehearsals -- but in contrast to his downcast-but-hopeful, slice-of-life dramas ("Secrets and Lies," "Career Girls"), this picture radiates a distinct playfulness that is nothing short of contagious.

Continue reading: Topsy Turvy Review

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