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By Michael Sragow and Michael Sragow,Sun Movie Critic | January 12, 2007
Real intimacy has become so rare in today's movies that the fake intimacy of Notes on a Scandal may take you in, then leave you feeling rooked. Seldom has so much first-rate acting and top craftsmanship been wasted on such a small-minded melodrama. The cascade of interest it has aroused this award season may just reflect the current hipness of cruelty. The film grabs your interest as a tale of two flawed teachers: the fetching art instructor Sheba Hart (Cate Blanchett), who sleeps with a 15-year-old student, and the battle-ax history department head, Barbara Covett (Judi Dench)
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By Michael Phillips and Michael Phillips,Tribune Newspapers critic | December 25, 2009
Eight and a half reasons "Nine" is a mixed bag: One:: It's underweight. Based on Fellini's exhilarating "8 1/2," "Nine" contains a fraction of the story material even a simple show such as "Chicago" handed its cinematic adapters. On Broadway, with Raul Julia starring in the original, beautiful Tommy Tune staging, "Nine" moved so fluidly you didn't notice what wasn't there. Same with the starring Antonio Banderas. Two:: The movie is shot and edited like a two-hour trailer for itself.
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By Michael Sragow and Michael Sragow,Sun Movie Critic | November 16, 2006
Based on the trailer alone, moviegoers have been saying that the James Bond of Casino Royale is not your daddy's 007. And he's not. He's actually your granddaddy's 007. Casino Royale (Sony) Starring Daniel Craig, Eva Green, Mads Mikkelsen, Judi Dench, Jeffrey Wright. Directed by Martin Campbell. Rated PG-13. Time 144 minutes.
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By Michael Sragow | March 25, 2007
EARLY BERGMAN -- Eclipse, from the Criterion Collection / 5-disc set, $69.95. Early Bergman, a 5-disc anthology of Swedish master Ingmar Bergman's first half-decade in movies, hits the ground at a gallop on Disc 1 by re-introducing audiences to Alf Sjoberg's Torment (1944). It makes other films about teen rebellion look and sound like campfire tales. Torment, Bergman's first produced screenplay, conjures an emotional conflagration out of three conflicted characters: a romantic senior at a Stockholm prep school, Jan-Erik Widgren (Alf Kjellin)
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By Ann Hornaday and Ann Hornaday,SUN FILM CRITIC | May 14, 1999
"Tea With Mussolini" exudes the ineffable perfume of memory, redolent of sensory cues and ephemeral moments. Luckily for filmgoers, the memory in question belongs to Franco Zeffirelli, who adapted this film from his own memoirs with the novelist John Mortimer.The story begins in 1935 in Florence, Italy. Benito Mussolini has been in power for 13 years, and at the moment, as a subtitle tells us, "the sun is still shining on the square and statues, and the dictator Mussolini is the gentleman who makes the trains run on time."
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By Roger Moore and Roger Moore,ORLANDO SENTINEL | April 2, 2004
SUN SCORE **1/2 Disney gets back to the basics with Home on the Range, where the characters are cute, the tunes are knee-slappers and the gags are almost as big as the West. With Randy Quaid as a yodeling cattle rustler and Roseanne Barr as a cow out to foil him, how could they go wrong? It's a stitch, from the cowboy chorale title tune to Roseanne Barr, voicing the milk cow Maggie, bragging about her udders. ("Yeah, they're real. Stop staring.") This is Disney with a hint of Pixar's comic edge.
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By Kevin Thomas and Kevin Thomas,LOS ANGELES TIMES | June 3, 2005
Charles Dance's Ladies in Lavender teams two of Britain's grandest dames, Judi Dench and Maggie Smith, in an endearing film of subtlety and charm. This lovely period picture, set in Cornwall in 1936, is a pleasure from start to finish. On a sunny summer day, a nearly drowned young man (Daniel Bruhl) is washed ashore on a craggy beach, where he is discovered by spinster sisters who share a fine old stone manor house on the cliff above. Dench's Ursula and Smith's Janet are leading quiet lives indeed, attended by their crusty but loyal housekeeper (Miriam Margolyes)
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By MICHAEL SRAGOW and MICHAEL SRAGOW,SUN MOVIE CRITIC | February 3, 2006
Review B+ Titillation for the hoity-toity and hoi polloi. That's what the heroine and hero of Mrs. Henderson Presents, a wealthy widow (Judi Dench) and her music-hall impresario (Bob Hoskins), offer to the theatergoing public in the 1930s and '40s, as breadlines grow and the Nazi threat erupts into the Battle of Britain. Under the guise of a fact-based period piece, that's what director Stephen Frears and writer Martin Sherman bequeath to their moviegoing public, too - a humorous bounty of flesh and fantasy.
NEWS
By Michael Sragow | March 25, 2007
EARLY BERGMAN -- Eclipse, from the Criterion Collection / 5-disc set, $69.95. Early Bergman, a 5-disc anthology of Swedish master Ingmar Bergman's first half-decade in movies, hits the ground at a gallop on Disc 1 by re-introducing audiences to Alf Sjoberg's Torment (1944). It makes other films about teen rebellion look and sound like campfire tales. Torment, Bergman's first produced screenplay, conjures an emotional conflagration out of three conflicted characters: a romantic senior at a Stockholm prep school, Jan-Erik Widgren (Alf Kjellin)
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By Chris Kaltenbach and Chris Kaltenbach,SUN STAFF | August 1, 1997
Queen Victoria is in a funk, and Britain is not amused.The year is 1864. Victoria's been queen for 26 years, but of more pressing import, she's been a widow for three. Ever since Prince Albert Saxe-Coburg-Gotha died of typhoid, Victoria's been holed in Windsor Castle, not seeing anyone, not governing, barely living. Britain is slipping into a constitutional crisis, support is growing for an end to the monarchy, and still Victoria fails to respond.Something needs to be done. And the man to do it is John Brown, a Scotsman who tended the Royal Family's horses when Albert was alive, befriending both him and his wife, the Queen.
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By Michael Sragow and Michael Sragow,Sun Movie Critic | January 12, 2007
Real intimacy has become so rare in today's movies that the fake intimacy of Notes on a Scandal may take you in, then leave you feeling rooked. Seldom has so much first-rate acting and top craftsmanship been wasted on such a small-minded melodrama. The cascade of interest it has aroused this award season may just reflect the current hipness of cruelty. The film grabs your interest as a tale of two flawed teachers: the fetching art instructor Sheba Hart (Cate Blanchett), who sleeps with a 15-year-old student, and the battle-ax history department head, Barbara Covett (Judi Dench)
FEATURES
By Michael Sragow and Michael Sragow,Sun Movie Critic | November 16, 2006
Based on the trailer alone, moviegoers have been saying that the James Bond of Casino Royale is not your daddy's 007. And he's not. He's actually your granddaddy's 007. Casino Royale (Sony) Starring Daniel Craig, Eva Green, Mads Mikkelsen, Judi Dench, Jeffrey Wright. Directed by Martin Campbell. Rated PG-13. Time 144 minutes.
FEATURES
By MICHAEL SRAGOW and MICHAEL SRAGOW,SUN MOVIE CRITIC | February 3, 2006
Review B+ Titillation for the hoity-toity and hoi polloi. That's what the heroine and hero of Mrs. Henderson Presents, a wealthy widow (Judi Dench) and her music-hall impresario (Bob Hoskins), offer to the theatergoing public in the 1930s and '40s, as breadlines grow and the Nazi threat erupts into the Battle of Britain. Under the guise of a fact-based period piece, that's what director Stephen Frears and writer Martin Sherman bequeath to their moviegoing public, too - a humorous bounty of flesh and fantasy.
FEATURES
By Kevin Thomas and Kevin Thomas,LOS ANGELES TIMES | June 3, 2005
Charles Dance's Ladies in Lavender teams two of Britain's grandest dames, Judi Dench and Maggie Smith, in an endearing film of subtlety and charm. This lovely period picture, set in Cornwall in 1936, is a pleasure from start to finish. On a sunny summer day, a nearly drowned young man (Daniel Bruhl) is washed ashore on a craggy beach, where he is discovered by spinster sisters who share a fine old stone manor house on the cliff above. Dench's Ursula and Smith's Janet are leading quiet lives indeed, attended by their crusty but loyal housekeeper (Miriam Margolyes)
FEATURES
By Roger Moore and Roger Moore,ORLANDO SENTINEL | April 2, 2004
SUN SCORE **1/2 Disney gets back to the basics with Home on the Range, where the characters are cute, the tunes are knee-slappers and the gags are almost as big as the West. With Randy Quaid as a yodeling cattle rustler and Roseanne Barr as a cow out to foil him, how could they go wrong? It's a stitch, from the cowboy chorale title tune to Roseanne Barr, voicing the milk cow Maggie, bragging about her udders. ("Yeah, they're real. Stop staring.") This is Disney with a hint of Pixar's comic edge.
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By Ron Dicker and Ron Dicker,SPECIAL TO THE SUN | June 1, 2002
NEW YORK - So you want Reese Witherspoon's perfect little life? The kudos for strong comedic performances in Election and Legally Blonde? The cute-on-cute looks? The storybook marriage to actor Ryan Phillippe? Having it all never seemed so meaningless when Witherspoon was out with her then-infant daughter, Eva, in the park. "I had to put her in the back of the car and change her and a paparazzi got her," Witherspoon recalled in an interview to promote her new movie, The Importance of Being Earnest.
NEWS
By Phil Perrier | March 24, 2002
LOS ANGELES -- Judging from this year's Academy Award nominees, you would think all of the male members of the academy had been knocked unconscious and locked in a basement. The contenders for Best Picture are A Beautiful Mind, Gosford Park, In the Bedroom, The Lord of the Rings and Moulin Rouge. Oprah Winfrey's book club could have made these choices. Not one movie about soldiers, gladiators or cowboys. Perhaps after decades of critics bemoaning the lack of quality small films being nominated, this is a makeup year.
FEATURES
By Michael Phillips and Michael Phillips,Tribune Newspapers critic | December 25, 2009
Eight and a half reasons "Nine" is a mixed bag: One:: It's underweight. Based on Fellini's exhilarating "8 1/2," "Nine" contains a fraction of the story material even a simple show such as "Chicago" handed its cinematic adapters. On Broadway, with Raul Julia starring in the original, beautiful Tommy Tune staging, "Nine" moved so fluidly you didn't notice what wasn't there. Same with the starring Antonio Banderas. Two:: The movie is shot and edited like a two-hour trailer for itself.
NEWS
By Phil Perrier | March 24, 2002
LOS ANGELES -- Judging from this year's Academy Award nominees, you would think all of the male members of the academy had been knocked unconscious and locked in a basement. The contenders for Best Picture are A Beautiful Mind, Gosford Park, In the Bedroom, The Lord of the Rings and Moulin Rouge. Oprah Winfrey's book club could have made these choices. Not one movie about soldiers, gladiators or cowboys. Perhaps after decades of critics bemoaning the lack of quality small films being nominated, this is a makeup year.
ENTERTAINMENT
By Chris Kaltenbach and Chris Kaltenbach,Sun Movie Critic | February 24, 2002
WASHINGTON -- Meryl Streep smiles and blushes and waves her hand nonchalantly. Acting, she insists, is something she just does, not something that taxes her or something she struggles with. She almost makes it sound easy. But those of us who have watched her on-screen for the past 25 years know better. Nothing so good can, if there is any justice in the world, be so simple. "This is why I've never been able to teach anything," Streep says in mock exasperation when asked what she has drawn on in bringing so many memorable characters to the screen.
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