peter pan [ ***-- ] an odd film with good instincts and mixed execution. the art direction is outstanding, but somehow this film lacks a cohesion. still, a fun retelling of the story.
les triplets de bellville [ ***1/2- ] a film about the power of devotion. pretty, good story, and a pattern of non-dialogue driven storytelling. very sweet.
big fish [ ****1/2 ] just lovely. a film about life, art, and embracing the people you love. great acting. a terrific, affecting film.
cold mountain [ **1/2** ] beautiful people, beautiful scenery, beautiful cinematography, and somehow this film lacks authenticity. it plays too much like a formula that doesn't quite jell, in spite of some wonderful performances. if I don't cry at the big scene in a movie, something has gone terribly awry.
the fog of war [ ***** ] a film about the difficulty of knowing the truth. just terrific. this film gets my highest recommendation.
hellboy [ ***-- ] knowing nothing about the character, I enjoyed it. this film has a nice sense of humor about itself.
supersize me [ ***-- ] a caution. very nicely done. this won't make you stop eating at mcdonald's--just transform it into a considered decision.
the day after tomorrow [ ***-- ] poseidon adventure for the earth! why the heck are they approaching new york from the harbor?
farenheit 911 [ ***-- ] entertainment for the left. simplistic, infuriating, polemical, unfocused. probably succeeds at what it sets out to do, but this film won't persuade anyone. there is nothing new here if you read the liberal weblogs.
spiderman 2 [ ***** ] just as good as the first.
I, robot [ ***-- ] I think this film does what it sets out to do, though fans who expect an extra-smart action film will be disappointed. this is no blade runner: it's a solid, stylish action film set in the near-future.
the bourne supremacy [ ****1/2 ] these are just terrific spy films. smart, tight, entertaining, this sequel definitely meets the standard set by the first. highly recommended.
the manchurian candidate [ ****1/2 ] I really liked this film. smart script, great acting, and very, very dense execution. more of a remix than a cover, this version updates story elements and improves on the original film's flaws. the ending is a little hard to understand, but if you've seen the original, you should be able to parse it out. stylistic resemblances to robocop, thematically, cyberpunk.
collateral [ **1/2-- ] with snappier direction, this could have been a smart action film. instead the director chose to try for an atmospheric character study. unfortunately, the script isn't smart enough for that. save it for a matinee or rental.
hero [ ***** ] a lush, lyrical, gorgeous parable about honor and courage. highly recommended.
vanity fair [ **1/2-- ] oddly paced, this film doesn't quite achieve its own purposes. costumes and sets are lavish and beautiful, but the filmmakers aren't sure enough of becky to tell her story compellingly.
sky captain and the world of tomorrow [ ***-- ] beautiful eye candy. I enjoyed it.
I heart huckabees [ ***-- ] quirky and fun.
garden state [ ***1/2- ] gorgeous and inventive, with an outstanding performance from natalie portman. I think it wants to be the graduate for its generation, and at that it fails, but it's worth seeing anyway.
sideways [ ****1/2 ] really, really good. paul giamatti rocks my world, but everyone is outstanding.
the incredibles [ ****- ] stylish fun. recommended.
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the two towers (extended version) [ ***** ] markedly better than the theatrical release, and the appendices are, once again, outstanding. I will express disappointment at the 'Making Of' documentary, which has exactly the same narrative (the devotion of the cast and crew! making this film was a quest itself!) as the first. highly, highly recommended if you have even a modicum of interest in filmmaking.
bend it like beckham [ ***-- ] why didn't this movie work better for me? fun, engaging, worth seeing.
whale rider [ ****-- ] a terrific bit of storytelling. really lovely in spite of the plot, which I was afraid would just be too hackneyed. keisha castle-hughes is beautiful and luminescent and indescribable. really affecting. highly recommended.
the apostle [ **1/2-- ] a character study without enough of a story. if you are looking for outstanding acting, by all means rent this film. if you're looking for good storytelling, look somewhere else. a respectful introduction to fundamentalism. really, this film makes 'open range' seem positively punchy. incidentally, the 'making of' documentary lacks storytelling focus even more than the film.
under the tuscan sun [ ** 1/2-- ] in spite of some great dialogue and terrific acting, somehow this film just misses the mark.
don juan demarco [ ***-- ] wise, charming, very well done film, with the exception of an unsatisfying ending that leaves the two main storylines unresolved. last minute studio interference? who knows. in spite of that, definitely recommended.
bottle rocket [ ***-- ] goofy, charming, funny.
the swimmer [ *---- ] every bit as bad and random as it was when I was 10. a good laugh.
election [ ***-- ] good performances, but sort of mean. this film doesn't approve of or have much sympathy for anyone.
king arthur [ *---- ] so much worse than you even thought it would be. bad in every way.
elf [ **--- ] someone thought of some good elf jokes, and then gave a screenwriter half an hour to speed-write a screenplay to put them in, and then made a film from it. really bad.
the return of the king (extended version) [ ****1/2 ] the entire arwen thread doesn't make sense even with the additional footage, but i still love this whole trilogy--and i'm not a fan of the books. the 'making of' documentaries, with a few exceptions, largely seem to have run out of new things to say. interesting anyway.