U-571

U-571 is a hybrid. While shot in color and using ample amounts of 21st century technology, it's basically a 1940s film - one that the World War II Office of War Information would have readily approved. It's a testosterone-fest of sweaty, gritty sailors shooting at lots of stuff and  ...

Un Air de Famille

Here is another one of those films that the French do better than anyone else. Practically the entire film takes place within a neighborhood tavern and it is just about all talk. We meet the members of a family: a domineering, rather self righteous mother, her favored yuppie son  ...

Unbreakable

Even before the main titles, Unbreakable starts out offering data about the wide readership of comic books in the United States. And the antagonist character, Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson), is a dealer in comic book art, so that writer/director M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense) has a context  ...

Under California: The Limit of Time

Suggested reading: Almost an Island: Travels in Baja California (1998), Bruce Berger Into a Desert Place: A 3000 Mile Walk Around the Coast of Baja California (1995), Graham Mackintosh The Forgotten Peninsula: A Naturalist in Baja California (1986), Joseph Wood Krutch Best Stories of Baja: Coyotes,  ...

Up at the Villa

Up at the Villa opens with a party of Anglo-American expatriates in Florence, Italy, just around the time of the 1938 Munich peace talks. The ex-pats are dancing full-tilt to a jazz band, kicking and swinging in time to the music, and the sight of rich old people who  ...

The Upside of Anger

Let's get the griping out of the way first, shall we? Writer/director Mike Binder structures The Upside of Anger as a flashback, in this case a gratuitous and leaden device which adds absolutely nothing to his film. His second misjudgment is to use voiceovers both at the beginning and  ...

Urbania

Suggested reading: The Vanishing Hitchhiker: American Urban Legends and Their Meanings (1989), Jan Harold Brunvand The Big Book of Urban Legends (1994), Jan Harold Brunvand _________________________________________ In Urbania, first-time director Jon Shear uses a neo-noir stylethat aptly frames his story (based on a  ...

Venus Beauty Institute (Venus Beaute Institut)

"Love," says Angele, a middle-aged beautician who works at a chic Parisian salon, "is just another form of slavery. It makes me sick and mean." As played by Nathalie Baye in Tonie Marshall's Venus Beauty Institute, Angele is a character rarely seen in films: an aging woman who refuses  ...

The Virgin Suicides

Sofia Coppola's catatonic performance in her father's 1990 film The Godfather Part III was universally savaged, and at age nineteen it appeared that her career might be finished – she's had only a few roles of minor importance since then. But just as a certain Arkansas governor recovered from  ...

The Visit

The Visit, no doubt reflecting the stage play on which it is based, is structured around a series of prison visits. The inmate is Alex Waters (Hill Harper), serving twenty-five years on a rape conviction--a crime he says he did not commit. Waters is defensive, snapping at real or  ...