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A Letter to Momo

Even scenes that work, such as a climax on a rain-soaked bridge, feel like they could have been trimmed by a few hand-drawn frames. Maybe…

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Cannibal

Visually striking and confident but frustratingly hollow in terms of character and narrative.

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Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

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Monsieur Hire

Patrice Leconte's "Monsieur Hire" is a tragedy about loneliness and erotomania, told about two solitary people who have nothing else in common. It involves a…

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Cast and Crew

* This filmography is not intended to be a comprehensive list of this artist’s work. Instead it reflects the films this person has been involved with that have been reviewed on this site.

Neil Jordan's Seven Grim Fairy Tales: An Infographic Guide to a Director's Obsessions

May Contain Spoilers
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This piece is about director Neil Jordan's seven most overtly supernatural, fairy tale-like films—The Company of Wolves, High Spirits, Interview with the Vampire, The Butcher Boy, In Dreams, Ondine, and his latest, the mother-daughter vampire shocker Byzantium. An infographic analysis of each—please refer to the key for each symbol's meaning—reveals this pattern and confirms Byzantium is the culmination of 30+ years of Jordan exorcising his personal demons on-screen.

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#56 March 30, 2011

"Of few deaths can it be said that they end an era, but hers does. No other actress commanded more attention for longer, for her work, her beauty, her private life, and a series of health problems that brought her near death more than once." - Roger, from Elizabeth Taylor, a star in her own category

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Stark beauty, dark vision

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Q. In your review for "The Dark Knight," you say that the Joker is a product of his father's poor treatment, but that's just one story he uses to explain his scars. Another is that he did it for his wife, and Batman interrupts before he offers a -- most likely -- different story. I think the point was that he doesn't have a cause. Who's wrong here?

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Weeny Todd

View image Attend the pale and Teeny Todd. He doesn't exactly cut an imposing figure. Jack Skellington with a thicker head of hair.

"Tim Burton has made a miniaturist 'Sweeney Todd.' Wispy, anemic, paper-thin, sanitized. Petit Guignol. Teeny Todd..."

Those were among the first notes to myself that I typed after returning from a December screening of "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street." Before that, it had seemed to me that Tim Burton (the Tim Burton of "Batman" and "Batman Returns," not "Mars Attacks!" or "Nightmare Before Christmas") might be, hypothetically, an ideal choice to make a film of Stephen Sondheim's musical-thriller masterpiece about a vengeful barber who conspires with a randy pie-shop proprietress to bake his victims into meat pies. Surely Burton would make it his own, a movie that wouldn't have to compete with the stage version because it would be a Tim Burton Film, existing in parallel to, but apart from, Sondheim and Harold Prince's achievement.¹

Not quite. It's one thing to Devoid of passion, grandeur, ghastly humor and operatic lunacy, Burton's "Sweeney Todd" is a plastic wind-up toy, a fast-food tie-in trinket. It belongs on a little gingerbread tchotchke shelf, next to your collectible "Macbeth" action-figurines. The best that can be said for it is that nobody's yet adapted the title property for film, so maybe that's something we can still look forward to.²

Sondheim himself has done a fine job of explaining why the filmmakers made the choices they did in bringing this "Sweeney" to the screen (New York Times: "Sondheim Dismembers 'Sweeney' .") And they're all perfectly good reasons. I understand the difficult choices that had to be made. How do you squeeze the show into less two hours? Slash some numbers, condense others, speed up the tempos. Do the performances (and the voices) have to be as strong and idiosyncratic for film as they do on stage? Not necessarily....

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Movie Answer Man (12/28/1997)

Q. As you've probably heard, Spike Lee has attacked Quentin Tarantino and his latest film "Jackie Brown" for using the word "nigger" a reported 38 times, Lee claiming it was gratuitous in almost each use. He also said if he used a word like "kike" 38 times in one of his films, his Hollywood career would be over. My feelings: QT has a right to do whatever he wants in films, as does Lee. Your thoughts? (William Batts, New York City)

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