ROUNDERS (John Dahl, 1998)

I haven’t seen Red Rock West (1993) or Unforgettable (1996), but The Last Seduction (1994) is depressive and contemptuous of its audience. Still, a beguiling Rounders may owe something to director John Dahl. Certainly the film is beautifully written by David Levien and Brian Koppelman, elegantly lensed in sometimes noirish colors by Jean Yves Escoffier, […]

REAL WOMEN HAVE CURVES (Patricia Cardoso, 2002)

Sentimental and insubstantial, Real Women Have Curves revolves around the generational dispute between a mother, a Mexican immigrant, and a daughter who is eager to embrace most aspects of her identity as a first-generation American. The daughter, Ana, has just graduated from high school and wants to go to college (her Latino English teacher encourages […]

CINDERELLA MAN (Ron Howard, 2005)

It was Damon Runyan, I believe, who fixed the tag “Cinderella Man” to light heavyweight boxer James J. Braddock during the Great Depression. It is fitting, therefore, that Ron Howard’s Cinderella Man, which is about Braddock’s failures in the ring—his boxing license was revoked in 1933—and sensational comeback in 1935, should be vaguely Runyonesque as […]

RUN[,] LOLA[,] RUN (Tom Tykwer, 1998)

Lola Rennt, literally, Lola Runs, but nonsensically turned in the U.S. into an uncomma-ed command, Run Lola Run, contributes nothing to the development of the idea of the permutations of chance and circumstance. It pretends to, with little inserted montages of peripheral characters’ alternate fates as it spins its central yarn thrice, each with alternate […]

RABBIT-PROOF FENCE (Philip Noyce, 2002)

Philip Noyce deserves a footnote in film histories, I suppose, for guiding young Nicole Kidman to stardom in Dead Calm (1989), a popular though mediocre thriller. The Australian filmmaker, already commercial, relocated to Hollywood for the likes of such inconsequential and stupid projects as Patriot Games (1992), Clear and Present Danger (1994) and The Bone […]