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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

May 28, 2020   |   Ithaca, NY

Powerful dancing beats standard plot twists

By | Feb 8, 2007

There’s not really much to be added to the genre of “personal redemption via [insert art form here].” The key is showcasing the chosen art and illustrating its fresh and vital appeal within a well-established framework. “Stomp the Yard” hits this mark, doing for stepping what “Roll Bounce” tried to do for synchronized roller-skating. Here’s…

‘Aces’ low in bloated mob tale

By | Feb 7, 2007

Writer-director Joe Carnahan’s latest exercise in pop-violence, “Smokin’ Aces,” is truly awful. Designed only to elicit sophomoric shouts of excitement from the audience, this unnecessarily convoluted film has a hyper-kinetic style of editing and an undeserved tone of smugness that floats through it like a toxic gas. The story involves Buddy “Aces” Israel, a campy…

Artistic video blurs reality into fantasy

By | Feb 4, 2007

Some people take portraits in the middle of a park. Others take portraits in a department store. Artist Sam Jury takes portraits in the middle of a dream — or at least that’s what she tries to make viewers think. Jury’s mixed media piece “Forever is Never” is an enlightening video that allows the viewer…

War film captures different point of view

By | Feb 1, 2007

The most popular World War II films are told from the perspective of the winners. Like the war itself, they’re epic, noisy and violent. No matter how much corn syrup is splattered around the set, at least audiences get to leave feeling good about the ultimate outcome. Enter “Letters from Iwo Jima,” an American World…

Scandalous behavior rocks the playground

By | Feb 1, 2007

The truly shocking relationship in “Notes on a Scandal” is not the torrid affair between a teacher and her student, but rather the warped intimacy that binds an adulterer and her blackmailer. Art teacher Sheba Hart (Cate Blanchett) and 15-year-old Stephen Conolly (Andrew Simpson) are exploited by history teacher Barbara Covett (Judi Dench), who puts…

Latest big-screen musical lives up to the hype

By | Jan 31, 2007

Based on the Broadway musical of the same name, “Dreamgirls” is an inspiring toe-tapper that chronicles the lives of Effie White (Jennifer Hudson), Deena Jones (Beyoncé Knowles) and Lorrell Robinson (Anika Noni Rose), as they follow their dreams of pop stardom. The girls get their big break when they are hired as back-up singers for…

‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ is a fairy tale worth getting lost in

By | Jan 31, 2007

Guillermo Del Toro’s “Pan’s Labyrinth” attempts to explore the prevalent malevolence of the real world through the fantastical eyes of an innocent child. Sergi López stars as the seriously evil and cold Capitán Vidal of a fascist post–World War II army base in rural Spain, where young Ofelia, portrayed by 12-year-old Ivana Baquero, comes to…

Comedian offends and tackles religious issues

By | Jan 26, 2007

George Carlin is not stand-up comedy’s elder statesman. “Elder” and “state” imply a type of establishment, which Carlin has always successfully avoided. There’s the old adage that all comedians secretly wish they were rock stars. As such, maybe Carlin is the Jimi Hendrix of stand-up. The gold standard. The undisputed great one. And like a…

Action film delivers beauty and suspense

By | Jan 25, 2007

Zhang Yimou’s latest Chinese epic “Curse of the Golden Flower” is on an even greater scale than “House of Flying Daggers” and “Hero,” pitting imperial egos against internal family politics. As the impassive Emperor Ping (Chow Yun Fat) and his family prepare for the annual Chrysanthemum festival, conspiracies run rampant and treachery is more prevalent…

‘Freedom Writers’ stays true to 1990s race conflicts

By | Jan 25, 2007

The “teacher with a heart of gold” has become such a cliché in American pop culture that it’s amazing most kids aren’t idolizing their remedial English teachers instead of movie stars and musicians. Richard LaGravenese’s “Freedom Writers” manages to transcend any hint of condescension these “inspiring” tales are often full of. “Freedom Writers” is based…

Spy film fails

By | Jan 24, 2007

“The Good Shepherd” is a fictionalized account of the beginnings of the CIA and its founders. The film hops across five continents and spans more than 30 years in the life of the (largely fictional) Edward Wilson (Matt Damon), without generating any excitement or coherency. This ambitious attempt to dissect the spy genre is built…

Stunning science fiction film visualizes the future

By | Jan 24, 2007

Alfonso Cuarón’s “Children of Men,” an electrifying and impassioned topical tale, begins with a bang, grabbing its audience by the collar and dragging it through a disturbingly resonant dystopia. Like the best of science fiction, “Children of Men” draws upon the familiar and relevant. The year is 2027, and women can no longer give birth.…