Posts by: robertr


There is a man lurched forward. His shirt is off, but his striped blue and white pants radiate in the background. The man’s face is emaciated but his expression is without pain or happiness. Where his skin isn’t stained red from blood or bruising, it is a bland pale white. This image is featured on […]

Wild Grass

Photography and cinema, Siegfried Kracauer observed, have a special power to portray happenstance.  Often films, trying to use this power, spoil the effect with a certain portentousness: see Crash or the execrable 13 Conversations About One Thing. People encounter one another haphazardly, but random luck sends them in directions already meticulously charted: Initial conflict! Reluctant […]

Love Ranch Review

How many times have we seen this picture of the modern American West: kitschy, raunchy cities naïvely clinging on the edge of enormous, bare landscapes?  The backdrop of Taylor Hackford’s Love Ranch is not unique in the movies; Nevada and California’s mountains and canyons, juxtaposed with a protagonist’s capitalist hubris, make for an instantly recognizable […]

The A-Team

I think I’ve only seen one episode of “The A-Team,” but thanks to the show’s comically strict adherence to formula and more than two decades of parody since its cancellation, I think I do get the general idea. Maybe if I was older, I’d be able to enjoy the show for some nostalgic purpose, but […]

A Solitary Man

The title “Solitary Man” sounds a bit like “A Serious Man,” but the two movies are polar opposites. Whereas the Coen brothers’ film is about a good man struggling to keep his life in balance, the 2009 film by Brian Koppelman and David Levien concerns a bad man resolutely tearing his life apart. More importantly, […]

Get Him to the Greek

The premise is a simple one, one likely heard many a time during the endless bombardment of commercials: a record company employee must get a rock star to the Greek Theater in 72 hours. However, producer Judd Apatow has built his career by taking these simple stories, mixing in some raunchy humor, adding a moral, […]


One of the few good aspects of Saturday Night Live’s long, slow descent into complete irrelevance has been the lack of any films based on the venerable show’s sketches. After eleven releases between 1990 and 2000, of which only Wayne’s World even approached watchability, there were none in the last decade. Jorma Taccone’s Macgruber is […]

Great Scene: John Adams

In the American character today, there are few things in shorter supply than political courage.  Indeed, the depth of partisan conformity in Washington, D.C., has made the very idea of “going against the grain” all but unpalatable.  Yet since America’s founding, there has been the occasional profile in stately valor, in which the leaders of […]

Great Scene: Alice

Who is the curious girl we follow down the rabbit hole?  Many people of my generation probably picture Disney’s well-behaved blond soprano, and now we can add Tim Burton’s bare-shouldered adult heroine to our Alice repertoire.  None too sinister young ladies: the world Alice’s imagination creates can be scary, but it’s full of reassuring and […]

Kick Ass

I’ll start by addressing the pun that will be made by so many bloggers over the next few weeks: No, Matthew Vaughn’s Kick-Ass does not kick ass. It is a flawed but mostly enjoyable film that is better than most of what is currently playing in the major theaters, but you’d lose nothing by waiting […]