DERIVATIVE: IMITATIVE OF THE WORK OF ANOTHER PERSON, AND USUALLY DISAPPROVED OF FOR THAT REASON. SEE: GANGSTER SQUAD

Gangster Squad Pros: Good cast. Cons: So derivative, it makes you just wish you were watching the originals. (This review originally appeared on Epinions.com) Reuben Fleischer’s Gangster Squad is one of the most obviously derivative movies in recent memory. It rips off Brian De Palma’s The Untouchables with a few elements of LA Confidential and

“YOU WANNA PLAY ROUGH? SAY HELLO TO MY LITTLE FRIEND!!!!!!”

Scarface Pros: Pacino, De Palma’s direction, classic line Cons: Giorgio Moroder’s synth score. (This review originally appeared in different form on Epinions.com) In 1983, Brian De Palma was offered the opportunity to direct Flashdance. He declined. Instead, he chose to direct a 1980s re-make of a 1932 Howard Hawks film starring Paul Muni. De Palma

“AND IF YOU DON’T KNOW”, WELL IT WON’T TELL YOU ANYTHING YOU DON’T ALREADY KNOW.

Notorious Pros: Pretty good direction, some good acting by Basset and Luke, the music of cou Cons: Nothing revealed, rushed feel. (This review originally appeared in different form on Epinions.com) When I first saw a trailer for Notorious, my initial thought was “wow they did the Biggie movie pretty quickly. Next up, the Tupac movie”.

“Y’ALL GOT COCAINE EYES”

Blow Pros: Lead performance by Johnny Depp and Ted Demme’s direction Cons: Penelope Cruz, the basic story somewhat familiar. (This review originally appeared in different form on Epinions.com) Consider this story: a young man comes from a modest background and aspires to make something of himself as most people do. His father tries to teach

DARKNESS COMING DOWN

Taxi Driver Pros: Scorsese’s direction, Schrader’s screenplay, the acting, the cinematography and atmosphere. Cons: Will get under your skin big time. (This review originally appeared in somewhat different form on Epinions.com) It’s a line. It’s one that you’ve doubtlessly heard many times. One that you’ve probably said many times. Sometime when you’re on the phone

UNSETTLING FICTION-MAKING

In the House (2012) Pros: strong script, strong performances Cons: the ending is less arresting than the buildup to it Adapted by prolific French auteur François Ozon from a play by Juan Mayorga, “In the House” (Dans la maison, 2012) is a Pirnadellian dark comedy about writing, invasion of privacy, expropriation and manipulation of the

BEEN THERE, DONE THAT.

Jersey Boys Pros: Superb music performances. Cons: Overly familiar and emotionally inert Jersey Boys is a movie one wants to like better than they actually do. The 2014 cinematic adaptation of the long running Broadway play offers up a look at the career of the Four Seasons. The play was a musical complete with singing