Million Dollar Baby [ **** 1/2 ] tremendous acting and good direction, but this film really comes down to an amazing script. sad. recommended.
Millions [ ***1/2 ] one of the sweetest movies ever made. visually inventive, very well acted. some plot problems, but recommended anyway--this film's strengths greatly outweigh its faults.
Steamboy [ *** ] A visually beautiful and inventive film with a somewhat bizarre plot that makes only partial sense.
The Interpreter [ *** ] I enjoyed it. solid script and acting.
Star Wars: The Revenge of the Sith [ * ] I don't know why i'm even giving it this many stars - what a waste of celluloid. This should have been high tragedy, a timeless story that would resonate through the ages. Told well, the Anakin trilogy would have put the original story in the shade. Instead, the ego-maniacal Darth Lucas insisted on doing what he is least interested in: directing live people.
Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy [ *** ] as someone with only passing familiarity with the books, I enjoyed this film. fun fluff.
Mr & Mrs. Smith [ ** 1/2 ] This should have been a brilliant adult fantasy about marriage. Instead, the director spent his energy telling a different story than the writer had. Screenplay needs one more pass to be truly first-rate, but with good direction, this would have been a 4-star film. Angelina is really wonderful as a woman who wins every little battle but can't win what she wants the most.
My Summer of Love [ ** 1/2 ] Beautifully shot and well acted, without a point. A very serious film in which nothing happens.
War of the Worlds [ **** ] I was alternately terrified and horrified. What a ride! Action packed like Jurassic Park, but better. Not for children.
Mad Hot Ballroom [ ** 1/2 ] The filmmakers try to adapt the spellbound formula to an elementary ballroom dancing competition, but the result is muddy and ineffective. Also, it seems staged in numerous places. Recommended anyway because of the charm of the individual children.
Murderball [ ** 1/2 ] More evidence that a compelling premise is more important to critical acclaim than a well-crafted film. The filmmakers miss the best pairing of stories they could have chosen, and they omit important details in the stories they choose to tell. Interesting, informative, important subject matter — just not very skillful storytelling.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory [ *** ] Fairly faithful rendering of the children's classic. The best part of the film is the music: danny elfman is just a genius. Johnny Depp gives a stylized performance that never goes very deep. I would have made some very different choices with his backstory. Interestingly, this film gave me a deeper respect for willy wonka and the chocolate factory, which I never much cared for.
Broken Flowers [ ** ] A scenario without a story. Sometimes entertaining, but not a particularly good film.
2046 [ ***1/2 ] a stylish, dreamlike, confusing meditation that makes sense only according to its own internal logic. not science fiction, by the way. recommended.
The Constant Gardener [ ***1/2 ] really lovely. an intriguing mystery with a somewhat confusing plot, but tremendous performances, especially from ralph fiennes. recommended.
A History of Violence [ ****1/2  ] an inquiry into the nature of the self. do we decide who we are? or not? brilliant. not for everyone.
Corpse Bride [ *** ] pleasant.
Good Night and Good Luck [ **** ] clooney's reach just exceeds his grasp, but this is a smart, stylish, well-done film. highly recommended.
Proof [ *** ] I think this must be a terrific play. it's a good film, though a little too pat for my liking.
Walk the Line [ ** 1/2 ] very superficial. good music, but not enough of it. interesting story, but not enough of it. enthralling emotional lives, but not enough of it. good performances from the actors.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire [ ** 1/2 ] the film franchise is coming up against the limits of adapting 700+ page stories to the screen. this functions as a short-hand version of the book. I liked it, but it wouldn't be easy to follow for a newcomer, or even one who hadn't read the book beforehand. too scary for small children.
Pride & Prejudice [ *** 1/2 ] this is not a quintessential rendering of jane austen's story. knightley is just too young for her role. more importantly, the director misses the essence of elizabeth's relationship with mr. darcy to such an extent that this film becomes a strange "almost-telling" of austen's tale. it is, however, beautiful and atmospheric, filled with startlingly filmic moments for such a straightforward narrative. recommended on its own terms.
Syriana [ *** ] smart, confusing, paranoid. very hard to follow, but not in that good way that makes you feel like you've entered a whole new world. it's just plain hard to follow. don't worry — you can understand the payoff even if you can't follow all the threads.
TCON: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe [ ** ] What a travesty. I think children will like it because they will imagine themselves as the main characters, but this film lacks any emotional depth. It's interesting to see what the director and screenwriter learned from the Lord of the Rings, and what they did not. None of the talking animals were convincing.
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delicatessen [ *** ] dark farce.
ghost world [ ** ] disaffected teenagers enter the adult world. very comic-booky. would have been more engaging if I had liked one of the characters. wow did I not like this film.
hideous kinky [ *** ] a young woman searches for enlightenment in morocco, with her two children in tow. the children are priceless. visually beautiful, meandering, somewhat unfocused.
charlotte gray [ *** 1/2 ] I really enjoyed this movie. navigating the complexities of truth and good and courage. recommended.
bad day at black rock [ ** 1/2 ] perhaps its a change in film styles, but I found this to be a bit of a snooze, theatrical rather than filmic. tracy is too old for the role, and nothing in the action or his performance gave me hints of his real situation--only expository dialogue at the end. I'd love to see a good remake of this film.
briget jones's diary [ *** ] not bad. I can see the appeal of this genre. renee zellweger is so much prettier at this weight than she is stick-thin with collagen-enhanced cheeks.
high fidelity [ ****1/2 ] just as funny and smart and grownup the second time around. highly recommended.
the wedding date [ **1/2 ] surprisingly good. debra messing really is the new lucille ball. dermot mulroney has an inexpressive manner that contrasts strangely with his very exressive voice. this film was written, and directed by women, and it shows in a good way. (airplane)
raiders of the lost ark [ *** ] surprisingly uninvolving. I wanted to care about the characters more than I did.
solarys [ ** ] I know some people love this film, and I agree that the ideas are stimulating, but I found it — as a film — to be a bit of a snooze. this version seems to be at least as much a meditation on the filmmaker's obsessions as it is a retelling of the novel.
solaris [ ** 1/2 ] I liked this version much better. it goes at a more familar pace, and seems as though it may be truer to the book.
the lady vanishes [ ** * ] a romp, weirdly paced at times, but fun to watch anyway.
double indemnity [ *** ] wonderful script, but I guess I just never bought the chemistry between macmurray and stanwyck, which is the hinge upon which all the action turns. robinson is terrific, my favorite part of the film.
march of the penguins [ *** ] over-anthromorphized, and it made me cry four times.
the man who knew too much very slow in places — hitchcock hadn't yet mastered his peculiar sense of timing. worth watching.
the man who knew too much much more emotional resonance, but the parents have been transformed from a jolly couple to a fairly annoying, bickering pair. suffers by comparison to the earlier film.
a beautiful mind [ *** ] nice performances, slow start, gets better as it goes. nice age makeup.