Entries by Bob Marshall

Tropic Thunder 7

An essentially good-spirited movie, more studio-like than the Judd Apatow flicks and consequently less fun, but smiles and pleasures kept popping up, not least in Tom Cruise’s almost-total disguise as studio boss Lev Grossman. Robert Downey Jr’s dialogue-swallowing failed to enthrall, but the trailers preceding the feature totally worked.

Frozen River 7.8

Another story from the desolate, barren, culture-free northern fringe of America, where folks are just getting by, or trying to, by hook or crook, in this case crook. Melissa Leo gives a sensational performance, lying to her son, batting her eyes at a cop, exhibiting the determination of desperation, constantly balancing the need to cut […]

Vicky Cristina Barcelona 8

Scarlett Johansson was a caricature and Javier Bardem was a mythical (or metaphorical) male, but they set the stage for Rebecca Hall’s Vicky, who portrayed a conflicted heart to perfection (ironically, a similar role to Johansson’s in Lost in Translation, with Barcelona replacing Tokyo). Perhaps never having seen her before helped convince me. The narrator’s […]

Man on Wire 8

A down-to-earth retelling of what has to be one of mankind’s greatest achievements. Climbing Everest or robbing Brinks seem mundane compared to walking on a wire suspended between the twin towers of the World Trade Center. I cringed in my seat, not surprisingly, at photos of Philippe Petit peering off the roof, and smiled out […]

Chris and Don 7

A story about love, Hollywood, art, being gay in mid-20th-century Europe and America, and, in subtle subtext, aging. Christopher Isherwood was the hook, the famous name, and it helped that he was so good looking and, apparently, charming, on top of being British and a good writer. But Don Bachardy was the real story, and […]

Dark Knight 7.8

Far more enjoyable than I had any reason to expect, because there was this underlying story of human relationships, motivations and emotions that carried on through the cartoon razzmatazz. The fact that three earthbound characters – played skillfully by Maggie Gyllenhaal, Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman – knew Batman’s identity provided the link between those […]

Mamma Mia! 6

Going against all the reviews and the word-in-the-street, we actually liked the book of Mamma Mia! when we saw it on the stage in London. The daughter’s relationship with her mother, as she searched for her father and approached her wedding, with the separation that entailed, was touching, maybe because we were looking ahead to […]

Tell No One 6.5 (Ne le dis personne)

Before it sank under the weight of its implausibilities, I was hoping that this French psycho-thriller would, Cache-like, leave its mystery unsolved and leave us drifting in a world of unknowable terror. Instead, it went the Fugitive route and had its pediatrician hero, Alex, outrunning and outwitting the entire Paris police force and, worse, gave […]

Encounters at the End of the World 6

I’m a Werner Herzog fan and admire his quest to explore the outer limits of humanity, but this movie of Antarctica came off as little more than a personal travelogue. Try as he might, the people he interviewed were unexceptional, except for what they were doing: each, in a different realm, was examining a fundamental […]

Up the Yangtze 6.5

This was one of those documentaries where you wonder, how did the filmmaker know to pick this person to cover, and then, how did the filmmaker get access to film this scene – in this case, when the personnel manager fires Jerry, the arrogant loner who is talented but doesn’t fit the Chinese team model. […]