David Ansen

Ansen on 'Chuck and Larry'

Adam Sandler knows his audience, wants to please his audience … and wants, in his just-one-of-the-guys way, to make them a little bit better than he suspects they are.

Ansen on 'Ratatouille'

It would seem that Pixar's newest animated movie, "Ratatouille," has a few obstacles to overcome. The title isn't in English, and a good percentage of the audience has probably never tasted it, let alone heard of it.

A Werner Herzog Action Movie

Dieter Dengler (Christian Bale), an American Navy pilot in the Vietnam War, is shot down over Laos, captured, tortured and held in a POW camp in the Laotian jungle, where he immediately begins plotting his escape, though no one has flown the coop before.

Ansen on 'Live Free or Die Harder'

The last time we saw John McClane (Bruce Willis) he was ... who can remember?  It's been 12 years since "Die Hard with a Vengeance," and while the first "Die Hard" is now properly thought of as an action-movie classic, nobody's been sitting on the edge of their seats waiting for the return of New York's toughest, most put-upon detective.  Would anyone care that he was back?  The good news is, "Live Free or Die Hard" makes you care.  Of all the overproduced sequels promising mindless summer...

Talk Transcript: Sean Smith on Angelina Jolie

Like old-time Hollywood movie stars, Angelina Jolie has always seemed larger than life. Not one to disappear into a role, she makes the character fit her fiercely glamorous persona. "A Mighty Heart" changes all that.

David Ansen Reviews 'Sicko'

Whatever you think of Michael Moore—and who doesn't have an opinion?—the man has an impeccable sense of timing. His newest polemic, "Sicko," takes aim at our disastrous health-care system at a moment in the national debate when even the die-hardest boosters of free enterprise acknowledge that major changes have to be made, if not the free universal health care that most Western countries offer, and that we resist.The "we," as Moore takes pains to show us, are the drug companies, the...

'Mr. Brooks': Murder in 12 Steps

If you've seen the trailer for the Kevin-Costner-is-a-killer movie "Mr. Brooks," you might fear that the entire plot has been given away. The good news: there are many twists, turns, subplots and surprises that the coming attractions don't even hint at.

Birth of an Insemination

What "the 40-year-Old Virgin" suggested, "Knocked Up" confirms. Judd Apatow is making the freshest, most honest mainstream comedies in Hollywood. The writer-director has managed to synthesize the neurotic, outsider comedy of Woody Allen, the benign satire of Paul Mazursky and the gross-out combustibility of the Farrelly Brothers into a sweet, raunchy and loose style all his own.Apatow's favorite subject is the eternally adolescent male, in this case the reefer-smoking, videogame-playing slacker...

Ansen: 'Pirates' Stinks Then Sinks

I knew I was in for a long night when Johnny Depp finally makes his appearance in the third—and let us pray final—installment of "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End." Depp, as Jack Sparrow, is residing in Davy Jones's locker—i.e., he's dead—where he is the solitary captain of a landlocked Black Pearl, and subject to hallucinations.

Film: A Marriage Torn Apart By Alzheimer's

The easy and lazy way to describe "Away From Her" is to say that it's a movie about a woman (Julie Christie) with Alzheimer's. There's nothing factually wrong with that sentence, but it conjures up the image of a sentimental disease-of-the-week TV movie.

Movies: Ansen on  '28 Weeks'

The entire population of London was wiped out by the "Rage" virus in "28 Days Later," Danny Boyle's stylishly resonant zombie freak out, but in the slick and frenetically intense "28 Weeks Later," the city is starting to come back.

Ansen: 'Spider-Man 3' Quadruples the Fun

Superman has always been the star of "Superman," not Clark Kent. Same goes for Batman/Bruce Wayne, only a little less so. What's different about the Spider-Man series is that it's always been more about sensitive, vulnerable Peter Parker than about his superhuman alter ego.

Movies: Ansen on 'Hot Fuzz'

"Hot Fuzz," directed by Edgar Wright, does for the cop action movie what "Shaun of the Dead" did for the zombie flick. It's a bigger, faster cut-and funnier-movie than its predecessor, but that's as it should be in a film that's sending up the overamped conventions of a Jerry Bruckheimer/Joel Silver-style big-budget action movie, transformed into quaint English idioms.

Ansen on a Great Thai Filmmaker

The young Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul is not exactly a household name in the U.S. But on film-festival circuits, and wherever cineastes huddle (if you can huddle on the Internet, on sites such as GreenCineDaily) his unpronounceable name is inspiring a devoted following.

Ansen: 'The Hoax' Is Fun, Smart Film

James Frey was a piker compared with Clifford Irving: the minor-league fibs of "A Million Little Pieces" are child's play next to the brilliant and almost successful fraud Irving perpetrated in 1971.

Who Knew Air Guitar Could Be Endearing?

As a subject for a documentary, a bunch of dudes competing in an air guitar contest might be high on your list—as it was on mine—of totally unnecessary cultural events.

Ansen on Mira Nair's 'The Namesake'

Mira Nair's sprawling, engrossing saga "The Namesake," like the acclaimed Jhumpa Lahiri novel on which it's based, spans three decades and two generations, traveling from the 1970s to the present, from Calcutta to New York and back again, immersing us in the immigrant lives of the Ganguli family.

Movies: Soccer and Sexism

In Iran, women are not allowed to attend soccer games. This rule is supposed to protect them from the bad language and crude behavior of men. But many soccer-loving girls try to get around this by disguising themselves as boys and sneaking into the stadium.

Ansen: 'Zodiac' Is a Haunting, Riveting Film

Obsession craves resolution the way a hunter craves his prey. But what happens to the obsessed when there is no resolution? David Fincher's fascinating, uncompromising "Zodiac" is about four men who became obsessed with capturing the legendary Bay Area serial killer known as the Zodiac.

Movies: East Meets West in 'The Namesake'

Mira Nair's sprawling, engrossing saga, "The Namesake," like the acclaimed Jhumpa Lahiri novel on which it's based, spans three decades and two generations, traveling from the '70s to the present, from Calcutta to New York and back again, immersing us in the immigrant lives of the Ganguli family.

Good Spy Vs. Bad Spy

Things are not always as they seem. That was certainly the case with Robert Hanssen, the devout, graceless, buttoned-down FBI agent who, after 22 years of deception, was revealed to be one of the most treacherous spies working for the Soviets in U.S. history.

A Waking Nightmare

The Stasi--East Germany's omnipotent and greatly feared secret police--employed some 100,000 people, in addition to the 200,000 informers who could be counted on to spy on their neighbors, their friends and their own families.

Tales Out Of School

The aptly named Barbara Covett, a stern and lonely teacher at a shabby London secondary school, is a master of both deception and self-deception, which makes her a very dangerous and pathetic woman.

Humanizing The Enemy

Clint Eastwood tells the story of the Battle of Iwo Jima from the Japanese side in "Letters From Iwo Jima." You can view it as a bookend to his recent "Flags of Our Fathers," or on its own.

Following The Flock

Director Robert De Niro and screenwriter Eric Roth's "The Good Shepherd" is nothing if not ambitious. In two hours and 40 minutes of grave, shadowy images, it attempts to tell the story of the formation and transformation of the CIA.

A Brief History Of Sundance Outrages

Sundance wouldn't be Sundance if someone wasn't getting all hot and bothered about some outrageous, shocking, weird, utterly out-there movie leaping off the screen at the film festival in Park City, Utah.