Reviews

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Anger Management, Eternal Life, and Gun Possession

Critics scratch their heads over Punch-drunk Love, contemplate Tuck Everlasting, applaud Bowling for Columbine, and rant over White Oleander. Plus: Reviews of 12 more recent movies.

Even critics are having trouble keeping track of the current new release onrush. Religious press critics weigh in this week with a heap of reviews on the most prominent titles. Here is a run-down of no less than 16 titles currently on the marquee.

Hot from the Oven


You may find it romantic, innovative, and fascinating. You might be downright annoyed. But judging from critical and audience response, chances are you will not forget Punch-Drunk Love, the new film from Paul Thomas Anderson. The 32-year-old director already has three acclaimed films to his name—Magnolia, Boogie Nights, and Hard Eight. At only 89 minutes, this is his first "small" movie.

It stars Saturday Night Live alum Adam Sandler and Oscar-nominee Emily Watson (Breaking the Waves, Gosford Park, Red Dragon.) Their performances and Anderson's unique style are earning the film euphoric raves, shrugs, and accusations of pretension and "randomness." But almost everyone agrees—Sandler, the goofy wisecracker of The Wedding Singer and Happy Gilmore, is surprisingly good.

A few, like Gerri Pare (Catholic News), disagree. Pare calls it "one of the least-engaging romances in years. Many … are likely to find Sandler and the entire film not, as intended, goofy-charming, but downright annoying. The sudden spurts of violence … [are] entirely out of keeping with what should have been a light, entertainingly quirky comedy."

Pare and other critics who explain how the film could have succeeded as a "light, quirky comedy" are, in my opinion, misunderstanding Anderson's intentions. This film is whimsical in places, romantic in others. Nevertheless, at the center of this strange, unpredictable story is a thoughtful exploration of repressed anger, and its various healthy and unhealthy ...

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September
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