Category: 1 star


Shohreh Aghdashloo, in 'The Stoning of Soraya M.'

Dir. Cyrus Nowrasteh
(2009, R, 114 min)

The Stoning of Soraya M. deals with worthy subject matter but is unworthy in its making. I don’t object to the violence, per se, but to the cartoonish simple-mindedness of the storytelling. The film is ostensibly feminist, telling the tragic story of an innocent Iranian woman falsely accused of adultery and stoned to death, and is adapted from a real-life account written by French-Iranian journalist Freidoune Sahebjam in 1994, but there’s an insidious vein of anti-Islamic sentiment coursing through it that left a bitter taste in my mouth. Look at those barbaric Muslims! The men are cowardly murderers and whore-mongers, the women are gossips, and everyone praises Allah while the title character is stoned to death with extravagant directorial panache!

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Charlotte Gainsbourg, in 'Antichrist'

Dir. Lars von Trier
(2009, Not Rated, 108 min)

What if Ingmar Bergman had discovered torture porn? It’s a question no one asked, but the answer is Antichrist, a film that begins very good, becomes oblique by midpoint, and by the time it ends has taken leave of its senses, your senses, my senses — any and all manner of sense. What does any of it mean? It would be easy simply to react to it, but having already subjected myself to it there’s no reason to take the easy way out now … Read the rest of my review at Culturazzi.org.

Paddy Considine, Jonathan Pryce, and Uma Thurman, in 'My Zinc Bed'

Dir. Anthony Page
(2008, Not Rated, 75 min)

Paddy Considine. Uma Thurman. Jonathan Pryce. Three splendid actors altogether sunk by this entire floofy enterprise. “Floofy” is a word I made up. I don’t know quite what it means, but I know it when I see it. My Zinc Bed was produced by HBO and the BBC and despite its stars and pedigree — the writer is Oscar-nominee David Hare (The Hours, The Reader), adapting his own play — was dumped onto the American airwaves and unceremoniously rushed to DVD. Now I know why. It plays like Days of Our Lives written in iambic pentameter, which might be sort of a novel idea if there were even a shred of emotional truth in it.

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Ben Stein, confronting Darwin in

Dir. Nathan Frankowski
(PG)

Early on, a talking head in Nathan Frankowski’s Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed argues that science would benefit if we admit our biases, religious or otherwise, rather than demonize faith. Fair enough. I am agnostic, a lapsed Catholic, a proud liberal. I believe in evolution broadly, in the sense that I believe that our species, and others that walk the Earth, have changed over time from earlier forms to the ones we now occupy. As for the more specific and minute details of Darwinism, I am not a scientist and not well equipped to lead that charge in one direction or the other.

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On DVD: “Funny Games”

Dir. Michael Haneke
(R)

I rented Funny Games out of curiosity. They say it killed the cat.

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