Stephanie Zacharek

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Stephanie Zacharek is an American film and music critic.

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  • We've moved away from being a culture of people who think about movies to one made up of people who believe that spouting a list of preferences is the same as registering an opinion.
  • You can talk film theory till you're blue in the face, but in the end, the thing that may haunt you most about a movie is a pair of eyes.
  • Everything about Pee-Wee's Big Adventure, from its toy-box colors to its superb, hyper-animated Danny Elfman score to the butch-waxed hairdo and wooden-puppet walk of its star and mastermind is pure pleasure.
  • [Director James] Cameron manhandles the real story, scavenging it for his own puny narrative purposes. It's a film made with boorish confidence and zero sensitivity, big and dumb and hulking.
  • It's mournful and troubling in a way that goes beyond ordinary movie manipulation. It burns clean.
  • It's a movie barely fit for a cretin, much less a King. ... If you hear a door slam in the theater, you'll know that Elvis has left the building -- in disgust.
  • Who would have thought that [director] Cameron Crowe had a movie as bad as Vanilla Sky in him? It's a punishing picture, a betrayal of everything that Crowe has proved he knows how to do right.
  • I can't remember ever feeling so glad that a movie was finally over. [Director George] Lucas may have held my imagination hostage for two hours, but reclaiming it afterward wasn't hard at all.
  • Monster is a compassionate picture without any obvious agenda. And it's effective precisely because it's not a polemic.
  • Oldboy makes us feel a part of something bigger than ourselves. It's a grand, gritty, indelible experience, the sort of picture that mimics great literature in the way it envelops you in a well-told story while also evoking subtle but strong gradations of emotion.
  • While 9 Songs is sexually explicit in the basic sense, its directness is what's most fascinating, and ultimately most moving, about it.
  • Batman Begins leaks existential phoniness from the first frame.
  • I suspect this picture is pretty close to what fans were hoping for, and for their sake, I'm glad it's markedly better than the two that preceded it. But Revenge of the Sith is still crap.
  • Extravagant in movie terms but stingy in emotional ones, it embodies all of [director Steven] Spielberg's bad impulses and almost none of his good ones: It's a grand display of how well he knows how to work us over, and yet the desperation with which he tries to get to us is repulsive.
  • This is a sturdy little cop thriller, and even when it stretches the bounds of plausibility, you go with it, partly because you believe -- almost against your better judgment -- in what the characters are doing.
  • Children of Men is a solemn, haunting picture, but it's also a thrilling one, partly because of the sheer bravado with which it's made. It left me feeling more fortified than drained. [Director Alfonso] Cuarón, the most openhearted of directors, prefers to give rather than take away.
  • [I]t's guilty of the very thing that makes kids hate history as a subject when it's taught badly: The Da Vinci Code makes the past feel like a dull, grainy, faraway thing, instead of something vibrant and alive.
  • Pan's Labyrinth works on so many levels that it seems to change shape even as you watch it. It is, at times, a joyless picture, and its pall of sadness can begin to weigh you down.
  • The bigger question to ask about 300 is why, for a supposedly rousing tale of heroism, it's so curiously unaffecting.
  • The scariest thing in it may be the way the clock radio has a way of turning itself on, loudly, of its own accord. The song is always the Carpenters' "We've Only Just Begun." Now that's horror.
  • The most interesting character here is an animal, a sturdy-looking white and black bulldog, who appears throughout the movie, angel style, to speak the truth -- silently. In this load of mind-bendy bushwa, he's the only thing worth watching, or listening to.
  • There are epic impulses everywhere you look in There Will Be Blood; what's missing is character development, focused storytelling and, most significantly (apart from that terrific opening sequence), any sense of raw, intuitive drama.
  • This sprawling epic is as lively as a natural history museum diorama.
  • [I]t pretends to examine how self-absorbed we are as a culture, only to be consumed by its own self-absorption. It's also badly constructed, humorless and emotionally sadistic.
  • [Director Christopher] Nolan ... gives us enough multilayered subplots to at least fool us into thinking this is a work of intellectual and moral complexity. But as a piece of visual storytelling, from shot to shot, The Dark Knight is a mess. Characters disappear from one locale and show up inexplicably in another, thanks to the magic of editing. At one point, we learn two characters have been abducted, but Nolan doesn't bother to show us who did it or how. (Later, he explains the "who did it" with dialogue -- the lazy way.) At the end, a major character is left hanging, literally, as we are figuratively. If this is genius, give me hackery.
  • This isn't a picture filled with wonder and a sense of fun; it's so jaded and crass that I almost wonder if it's a highly unscientific experiment designed to gauge how little audiences will settle for these days. Manic and multicolored, Speed Racer is an excess of nothingness.
  • Despite the bare butts and crude sex jokes -- or because of them -- this Adam Sandler vehicle addresses some of the biggest political problems of our time. ... At the very least, it's got to be the first picture to use smelly-feet jokes as a means of parsing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But more than that, it's a mainstream movie that dares to make jokes about the kinds of complex political realities that most of us don't dare bring up at dinner parties.
  • It's time to start recognizing that not all escapist entertainment is created equal. And that some of it isn't even entertainment. Miss March is, to use the vernacular of the escapist moviegoer, the biggest pile of crap I've seen in ages.
  • It's possible [director Jody] Hill has a style, of sorts. But he doesn't work from the heart, or from the gut, as a good comedy director generally needs to. He operates from one guiding question: "How disturbing can we make this shit?"



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