Christopher Orr

The Movie Review: 'Quantum of Solace'
November 14, 2008

When the 16th James Bond film, Licence to Kill, was released in 1989, it was widely reported that its working title, Licence Revoked, had been altered thanks to a survey revealing that fewer than 50 percent of Americans knew the meaning of the word “revoked.” How far we have come since then. Bond’s last outing, Casino Royale, was not only his best in over three decades, it was also his smartest, and its franchise-record grosses evidently persuaded 007’s custodians that we Yanks aren’t quite such a load of morons after all.

The Movie Review: 'Slumdog Millionaire'
November 12, 2008

Slumdog Millionaire, Danny Boyle’s captivating new film, is structured as a riddle: How is it that 18-year-old Jamal (Dev Patel), a penniless orphan--i.e., “slumdog”--from the streets of Mumbai, could answer trivia question after trivia question correctly on the Indian version of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” en route to a shot at the 20 million rupee jackpot? Is he a genius? Is he cheating? The riddle is answered with a series of flashbacks to Jamal’s boyhood, in which reside the seeds of his hard-won knowledge.

The Movie Review: 'Synecdoche, New York'
November 07, 2008

“Regardless of how this whole thing works out, I will be dying, and so will you, and so will everyone else here. And that’s what I’d like to explore.” These are the opening instructions that theater director Caden Cotard (Philip Seymour Hoffman) offers a newly assembled cast in Charlie Kaufman’s film Synecdoche, New York. But they might just as easily serve as a warning to prospective moviegoers. Fans of the film (and I am one) will praise its immense ambition and originality; critics, for their part, will declare it to be glum and narcissistic.

The Movie Review: 'Zack and Miri Make a Porno'
October 31, 2008

      With 1990s films such as Clerks and Chasing Amy, Kevin Smith pioneered the kind of tender raunch that, under Judd Apatow, has come to dominate American comedy. As Apatow himself once put it, “Kevin Smith laid down the track.” Now, though, the train has left the station and, like everyone else, Smith is desperately trying to climb back aboard.

The Movie Review: 'Changeling'
October 23, 2008

The first signs of trouble in Clint Eastwood’s period drama Changeling arrive early. Christine Collins (Angelina Jolie), a single mother in 1928 Los Angeles, readies her nine-year-old son, Walter, for school; heads to her job as a telephone operator supervisor (nice detail: the roller skates she wears to glide quickly from one end of the phone bank to the other); promises Walter she’ll take him to a movie on Saturday; etc. In his better films, Eastwood has taken care with such scene-setting, meticulously establishing the moods of working-class Boston or the rituals of the gym.

The Movie Review: 'W'
October 17, 2008

st1\:*{behavior:url(#ieooui) } Head cheerleader. Failed oilman. Air National Guard. Mano a mano. Traded Sammy Sosa. Turd Blossom. Is our children learning? Axis of Evil. Slam dunk. You break it, you own it. Shock and awe. Drain the swamp. Misunderestimated. Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists. Freedom fries. Mission Accomplished. The dark side. Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice--you don’t get fooled again.If these phrases ring a bell, it is likely either because you just watched Oliver Stone’s George W. Bush biopic W.

The Movie Review: 'Rachel Getting Married'
October 17, 2008

Let’s begin with Anne Hathaway, because everyone else will. In Rachel Getting Married, the budding star adds a few pounds--I would not like to guess the relative contributions made by costume, prosthetics, and old-fashioned calories--and sports a black bob so rough it might have been pruned with gardening shears. Her wardrobe runs the full spectrum from black to dark gray and from baggy to baggier. She smokes constantly, cigarettes in cinema having seamlessly evolved from totems of style to badges of neurosis.

The Movie Review: 'Body of Lies'
October 10, 2008

Three years ago, Ridley Scott’s ill-conceived epic Kingdom of Heaven implicitly asked the question, “What would a movie about the Crusades look like if everyone in it had a 21st-century ideological outlook?” (The unsurprising answer: It would look nothing at all like the Crusades.) With Body of Lies, Scott once again turns his eye to conflict in the Middle East, though this time he wisely keeps his moral and historical frames in present-day alignment. The result is a film that, while far less muddled, still doesn’t have much new to say.

The Movie Review: 'Blindness'
October 03, 2008

Fernando Meireilles’s 2003 breakthrough film, City of God, was a discomfiting masterpiece, a sad tale of children killing children in the slums of Rio de Janeiro that was also one of the most ferociously stylish, entertaining films of the last decade. His 2005 follow-up, The Constant Gardener, was very nearly the opposite: a somewhat silly global conspiracy thriller with a presentation as high-toned and laborious as a brochure from the World Health Organization.

The Movie Review: 'Eagle Eye'
September 26, 2008

If one were to take the typewriters away from Borel’s million monkeys and instead equip them with a film editing machine and copies of Enemy of the State, The Game, Live Free or Die Hard, WarGames, 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Terminator, and Wall-E how long would it take them to produce Eagle Eye? A week? A day? Director D.J. Caruso’s new action thriller (executive produced by one Steven A. Spielberg) borrows so profligately that it may want to consider lining up for a share of the Wall Street bailout.