New Releases

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
A Less Pulpy Comic Book Sequel

One of the pleasures of Joe Johnstonís Captain America: The First Avenger, released in 2011, was its pulp magazine atmosphere. With its nostalgic sepia-toned color scheme, a 1940s-set story about vanquishing the evil Nazi regime, its space opera gadgets and gizmos, and its Superman-like faith in truth, justice, and the American way, it had a wonderful gee whiz sensibility that evoked the Saturday matinee serials of yesteryear.
Is She the Bad Person She Claims to Be?

Lars von Trierís Nymphomaniac: Volume I introduced us to Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg), who was found lying bruised and bloodied in the middle of a street by a man named Seligman (Stellan SkarsgŚrd). Recovering in his apartment, she proceeds to tell him the first half of her life story, a graphic sexual odyssey that dated all the way back to her third year. Nymphomaniac: Volume II, in which she tells the remainder of her story, begins right where the first film ended.
Read More!
Who Am I Speaking to Right Now?

Frankie & Alice, which has remained shelved since its week-long, award-qualifying release in December of 2010, tells the true story of a woman with dissociative identity disorder (DID). This forces me to rethink my negative feelings for it, since the condition remains to this day the subject of much debate and controversy, not merely amongst the general public, but also amongst medical professionals.
Read More!
He Can Crack Safes, But Can He Redeem Himself?

Itís said that there are only seven original plots. Iíve never bothered to seriously investigate this claim, but I think I can give it the benefit of the doubt, given what Iíve accumulated from years of movie watching. For any narrative artist Ė an author, a poet, a songwriter, a filmmaker Ė the trick is not to come up with an original plot, but to find clever ways to disguise or make bearable a plotís complete lack of originality.
Read More!
Aronofsky's Take on a Biblical Story

Darren Aronofskyís Noah is, on the one hand, exactly what the title suggests: A dramatization of the biblical story of Noah, who, being the only man God viewed favorably, was called upon to build an ark that would house two of every animal, protecting them from a great flood that would return the earth to a pure state, before the misdeeds of humanity. But unlike the disappointing Son of God, released only one month ago, Noah isnít a series of sanitized, Sunday School vignettes, and the title character isnít an idealized figure.
Read More!
Every Bit as Unwatchable as Its Predecessor

2012ís The Raid: Redemption, an unendurable excursion into the lowest depths of action-movie filmmaking, has fared very well with critics, and its reputation has only continued to grow, its Rotten Tomatoes score currently set at 85%. Now we have The Raid 2, and although equally as unwatchable as its predecessor, it had already earned an 84% approval rating before its official U.S. and Indonesian release dates.
Read More!
Who Says a Sequel Is Never Quite as Good?

2011ís The Muppets, a cinematic reboot of the entire Muppet franchise, fared surprisingly well with critics. The notable exception was myself. I didnít respond to the plot, I felt the songs were unmemorable, I failed to notice the chemistry between human stars Jason Segel and Amy Adams, the celebrity cameos came off as gimmicky, and worst of all, it truly seemed as if the title characters, who are supposed to dominate every story they partake in, were reduced to background scenery.
Read More!
The Start of a Sexual Odyssey

Itís a testament to Lars von Trier that his Nymphomaniac: Volume I is provocative in ways far more complex than the title suggests. The visual component of graphic, unsimulated sexuality is certainly there, but what we see isnít as shocking as the thoughts and feelings of the central character, from whom the title is derived.
Read More!
When No Explanations Suffice

Adam Bell (Jake Gyllenhaal), a Toronto history professor, appears to have settled into a routine of lecturing his students by day and making love to his girlfriend, Helen (Sarah Gadon), by night. In both cases, it has become mind-numbing and mechanical. Thereís no passion, no excitement, no minute glimmers of personal satisfaction. When he walks from one point to another, dressed in a crumpled suit that pads his build unflatteringly, he looks genuinely pained, as if the bones in his legs were made of wood.
Read More!
An Affront to Human Intelligence

Although Need for Speed is based on a long series of video games going back to 1994, to watch it is to know, with perfect clarity, that it owes much more to the Fast & Furious film franchise, with action typecasts defying gravity and recklessly breaking speed laws in souped-up muscle cars. To watch it is also to know that it doesnít even remotely approach what the Fast & Furious films have achieved, and this goes beyond the decision to have it released in 3D.
Read More!

From The Movie Vault Archives


The Wiz (1978)
Baum's Vision Gets Urbanized

Sidney Lumetís The Wiz is an adaptation not just of the Tony-winning Broadway musical but also of L. Frank Baumís novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, which means it already has three strikes against it from a sizeable audience of fans and purists. Those who loved the novel Ė and, it cannot be denied, the 1939 MGM musical it spawned Ė may not respond well to the storyís urbanized updates, the cast consisting entirely of African American actors, the songs peppered with Motown, funk, and gospel influences.
A Less Pulpy Comic Book Sequel
Read More!
Is She the Bad Person She Claims to Be?
Read More!
Who Am I Speaking to Right Now?
Read More!
He Can Crack Safes, But Can He Redeem Himself?
Read More!
Aronofsky's Take on a Biblical Story
Read More!
Every Bit as Unwatchable as Its Predecessor
Read More!
Who Says a Sequel Is Never Quite as Good?
Read More!
The Start of a Sexual Odyssey
Read More!
When No Explanations Suffice
Read More!
An Affront to Human Intelligence
Read More!
Baum's Vision Gets Urbanized
Read More!
A Camp Horror Movie, Minus the Camp
Read More!
A Dizzying Whirlwind of Conflict
Read More!
Cormanís Horticultural Farce
Read More!
What Lies Waiting Beyond That Corridor?
Read More!
Chris Pandolfi makes his picks for The Best Films of 2012. See his full list of favorite films right here!
Read More!
Chris Pandolfi makes his picks for The Worst Films of 2012. See the full list of dispicable films right hereÖ
Read More!
Chris Pandolfi Talks with the Author of Enemies, A Love Story
Read More!
San Diego's Biggest Convention as Seen Through the Eyes of The Massie Twins
Read More!
The reasoning behind my review of Act of Valor, supporting our troops, and the meaning of real patriotism
Read More!