Sean Penn, Naomi Watts and Benicio del Toro star as both victims
and culprits in a twisted game of life and death who will all find
their ways towards one another as they seek answers. A puzzle film
in the spirit of "Memento" and "Mulholland Drive,"
the film tiptoes around essential plot specifics for a good half
hour. But once the goals are revealed, the movie absorbs us in every
basic way--it's brilliantly offbeat and dramatic and flawless in
its delivery. This is the kind of movie you watch to be reminded
of the promise of great cinema.
THE 25TH HOUR /
Spike Lee examines the lives of a select few wanderers whose lives
are reshaped or re-examined by the disasters of September 11 in
New York City. Edward Norton provides the director with his outlet
of anger and injustice, and the movie's verbal lashes at society
and culture are startlingly realistic, a cry of bravery that might
have been heard long before had the American public not been told
to keep up a happy charade following the World Trade Center disasters.
28 DAYS LATER /
The brilliant British film that won critical praise overseas only
months before finally arrives in North American cinemas. A two-hour
tension-filled roller coaster, this unsettling tale about global
chaos erupting after the outbreak of a deadly blood disease is horror
at its most effective, in which scares don't just exist but gradually
manifest themselves in a reality much like ours. The characters
are also very well drawn and provide good contrast to the movie's
crop of villains, which come in more forms than just typical flesh-eating
The latest collaboration between director Spike Jonze and writer
Charlie Kaufman is nearly as brilliant as their "Being John
Malkovich." In the rarely-emphasized "movie-within-a-movie"
approach, Nicholas Cage plays Kaufman following the filming of "Malkovich,"
as he struggles desperately to adapt the bestselling book "The
Wild Orchid" into a successful screenplay. Needless to say,
his result is "Adaptation," a film about the making of
ANGER MANAGEMENT /
Adam Sandler stars as a business man with major social flaws who
is accused of losing his temper on an airplane and is sentenced
to take anger management classes. His instructor: an obnoxious creep
played by Jack Nicholson, who is more obviously disturbed than even
the most enraged pupil of one of his courses. Not very funny and
extremely ill-conceived, but the film does contain a moment on a
freeway that left me cackling for a few seconds.
BOAT TRIP /
Two friends (one played by Cuba Gooding Jr.) decide to embark on
a singles cruise to jumpstart their dormant libidos. One problem:
the cruise they go on just happens to be filled with horny gay men.
So bad it makes you feel like you're being imprisoned in your theater
BOWLING FOR COLUMBINE /
Michael Moore's courageous and startling document of the American
obsession with violence ruffles more than a few feathers, but not
just because the director's stance is generally antigun. Facts,
opinions, circumstances and coincidences are exposed during the
two-hour running time like a government conspiracy file surfacing
for the first time, and though we don't always agree with messages,
approaches or even specific scene inclusions, it's hard not to walk
away without wanting to discuss the issues further. Now that
is what documentary filmmaking should be about!
BRINGING DOWN THE HOUSE /
Steve Martin and his fellow cast members find themselves in a cliched
plot contraption that encourages them to act like hip black people,
if only perhaps to make Queen Latifah's obvious stand-out to appear
less so. A comedy with good intentions, but its formula and by-the-book
structure is simply exhausted, and the jokes are never very funny.
BRUCE ALMIGHTY /
Jim Carrey has been given the powers of God. Yeah right. Then he
decides to use them to remove the bad luck from both his personal
and professional lives. Yeah right again. Much later, however, he
realizes that his life was pretty much easy compared to so many
others, and that half of his decisions were so vane that they wound
up creating more problems instead of solving them. Gimme a break.
CHARLIE'S ANGELS: FULL THROTTLE /
The longest lingerie commercial ever made, "Charlie's Angels:
Full Throttle" is a sequel so bad that it almost makes its
appalling predecessor seem tame in comparison. Lucy Liu, Drew Barrymore
and Cameron Diaz are victims in this travesty of misjudgment; they
are playing heroines who seem to care more about how they look while
kicking someone's butt instead of the actually butt-kicking itself.
To top it all off, the movie even features Demi Moore in its mix,
which should have been the first sign that it was doomed to failure.
First-time director Rob Marshall undertakes the task of converting
the Bob Fosse stage show into a movie musical, but his efforts,
alas, don't add up to much. "Chicago" is shrouded in annoyance,
bland delivery and an unnerving sense of claustrophobia, and of
the major actors featured in the ensemble cast, only Catherine Zeta-Jones
and Queen Latifah emerge as remotely plausible. One of the most
overrated Oscar contenders of our time.
THE CORE /
The most cheerfully absurd disaster film in recent memory utilizes
all sorts of spectacles and goes places that few other films in
the genre has (specifically, in this case, to the Earth's very own
core), but its reward factor is generally numbed by the fact that
Earth's interior really isn't that spectacular in the visual sense.
A lot of admirable talent went into concocting this script, but
it could have been better.
DADDY DAY CARE /
Eddie Murphy's decent into cinema hell continues with this very
unpleasant comedy about laid off fathers who decide to start their
own career caring for other peoples' children (never mind the fact
that they can barely manage their own toddlers). The result is more
like nap time than anything else, and the various gimmicks the story
emplores in order to garner laughs fall flat virtually every time.
Try harder next time, Murphy; at least this wasn't as bad as "The
Adventures of Pluto Nash."
Fashioned from a relatively low-key comic book saga, "Daredevil"
sees Ben Affleck undertake the role of a blind superhero whose other
senses experienced heightened sensitivity after the accident that
rendered his eyesight useless. On his obligatory crime-fighting
voyage, he meets the dashing Elektra, uncovers the plot of the Kingpin,
and even matches wits with the dangerous Bulls-Eye. Not the best
of the comic book adaptations, but enjoyable, true to form, and
compelling in several ways regardless.
DARK BLUE /
This stellar cop drama is set against the horrendous backdrop of
the early 1990s Los Angeles, just mere breaths away from the reading
of the Rodney King verdict and the street riots that followed. The
movie is never quite about events, but interior motives. Kurt Russell
is amazingly effective as a cop whose hatred for others compromises
his integrity, and the movie surrounds him with supporting players
who all share a level of corruption within the legal system. One
of the year's best movies so far.
DARKNESS FALLS /
Tooth fairies aren't scary or even remotely unnerving, but the makers
of "Darkness Falls" try their darndest to remedy that
situation. Rather than developing any kind of deep psychological
agenda with this premise, though, they simply cave into conventional
horror by throwing lots of loud and swift sequences of action at
us. Needless to say, little of it is scary or amusing.
The latest screen adaptation of a populat Stephen King horror novel
revolves around four friends, who find a man lost in the woods,
bring him to their cabin, and realize their mistake when it turns
out he is harvesting something deadly inside him. How in the world
this idea can splinter into so many directions, I dunno--the movie
utilizes alien invasion, bloodthirsty creatures, possession, military
conspiracies and deadly viral outbreaks without the slightest regard
to relevance or purpose. The movie starts off promisingly, but splinters
into utter madness. In the end, the fact that there's any kind of
conclusion to all this lunacy is shocking.
DUMB AND DUMBERER /
A prequel to the Farrelly brothers comedy stars two relatively-unknown
actors in the roles made famous by Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels.
Bad sign. But then the movie does even more unspeakable things than
we expect and manages to emerge as one of the most unfunny and useless
excercises in comedy we will ever see. Is it a wonder no one from
the original film wanted to return this time around?
FAR FROM HEAVEN /
Julianne Moore is marvelous in Todd Haynes' much-hyped 1950s social
and family drama, as a woman who has no love life but then starts
having feelings for the local black gardner, who gives her the attention
that her husband is incapable of. The very rich set design and photography
are big pluses, but this is basically just "American Beauty"
and "The Ice Storm" under the thumbprint of a Douglas
FINAL DESTINATION 2 /
As a general rule of thumb, sequels to mildly successful horror
films aren't generally acceptable, but "Final Destination 2"
has a perspective in mind plausible enough to garner recognition.
This isn't the creepy thrill-ride that its predecessor is, but rather
a hilarious and silly excursion through gruesome absurdity that
leaves many audience members in intentional hysterics. Worth seeing
strictly for its undeniable kitsch value.
FINDING NEMO /
The latest Pixar endeavor is among one of the most breathtaking
films ever made, a colorful and vibrant pictoral of undersea life
that will not so easily be forgotten. The writers supply this visual
magic with an equally-effective story about a clown fish who goes
in search of his kidnapped son, but there are several moments when
the plot is simply a background element in the immense foreground.
GANGS OF NEW YORK /
Martin Scorcese returns to the visionary brilliance that he has
been seperated from with his last few endeavors in "Gangs of
New York," a vibrant and compelling period drama that is dark,
violent, wrapped in history and played out with dramatic brilliance.
Daniel Day Lewis is award-worthy as Bill the Butcher, the leader
of the native gang of the Five Points area in New York. DiCaprio
emerges as a weak spot at times, but that's okay, because the movie
is seldom dull or overstated.
Yes, believe all the negative buzz you have heard--"Gigli"
starring Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck is as bad as bad movies
come, a deplorable mess in the worst sense. None of the characters
emerge as plausible humans, and their situations are so detestably
amateurish that it's a wonder anyone with half a brain could have
thought they would be plausible on screen. Then again, this is the
same director who made "Meet Joe Black" too--in essence,
decency is not on his side to begin with.
When it comes to this rugged excursion into the world of skateboarders
and their uphill battle into making it as professionals, viewers
must not simply have basic affection for the sport itself, but patience
with the film's other elements as well, like a story that takes
nearly forever to actually get off the ground and characters who
don't begin to reveal themselves until long after the adventure
is underway. Much like the ramp that serves as a platform for these
kinds of extreme sports participators, this is the kind of movie
that is in an uphill battle with itself before it finally finds
the courage to soar. By that point, we're not exactly bored or too
exhausted to care, but the thrill factor is decidedly thinned and
our interest is too minuscule to warrant an enthusiastic reaction.
THE GURU /
This insipid and dry comedy about an Indian who ventures into America
searching for success and fame is one of the most amateurish movies
Hollywood has done in recent years, filled with such clunky scenes
like one in which the stars dress in Indian attire while singing
to one of the final numbers from "Grease." The modern
"Ishtar" in almost too many ways to mention.
Disney has not generally been a studio to leave pleasant surprises
for audiences in the form of live action book adaptations, but here
they have broken the mold with what is perhaps one of the most interesting
and amusing family adventures of the recent past. Louis Sachar's
story about a kid whose destiny takes him to the middle of a desert
is funny and charming, but also very well structured in terms of
plot background. Shia LaBeuof is solid as Stanley Yelnats, a kid
whose accident with the law leads him into a gloomy situation that
eventually turns him into a much better person, and the supporting
players are all well drawn. A winner for both kids and adults.
Easily the most character-driven of the recent comic book screen
adaptations, Ang Lee's "Hulk" is nonetheless an uneven
effort in which the great buildup fails to give us the payoff we
deserve. The special effects are admittedly hokey, and the last
hour of the film is so stretched and dimwitted that it's a wonder
the director is the same guy who did "The Ice Storm" and
"Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon."
THE IN-LAWS /
Michael Douglas and Albert Brooks play impending in-laws who have
to work together in order to ensure that their children's wedding
day is an effective one. The problem? Douglas' character is a world-renowned
spy who is heavy in espoinage just when he is supposed to helping
out his son. This isn't a comedy about colorful families and their
dysfunction, as it probably should be, but a spy caper in which
the narrative is indecisive and the humor vapid.
INTOLERABLE CRUELTY /
Yet another failure for the Coen brothers, this dark romantic comedy
starring George Clooney and Catherine Zeta-Jones is mean-spirited,
petty, bizarre and downright cold in the way it tries to provoke
laughter. The chemistry between the two stars is intoxicating and
creates a likable aura, but the Coens refuse to let that element
drive the movie. Thus, it fails.
JEEPERS CREEPERS 2 /
Cut from the same cloth that every other mindless horror film has
come from in the recent years, "Jeepers Creepers 2" is
as dumb and appalling as one would expect. Aside from the fact that
the idea feels like it was brainstormed in the basement of amateur
B-movie directors, there really isn't anything here to be scared
about or interested in (other than the fact that the villain at
least puts a halt to all the stupid dialogue by eating up the culprits).
JOHNSTOWN FLOOD /
One of the more potent documentaries in recent memory, available
exclusively on DVD, tells the story of a major man-made flood that
destroyed a chain of towns in Pennsylvania in 1889. Narrated by
Richard Dreyfuss, the picture is so clogged with facts that you
lean forward to absorb them. Unfortunately, there is also a lot
of dramatization utilized for the events--scenes of re-enactment
that seem useless and lack spirit, and they sometimes happen so
repetitively that it interferes with many of the facts.
THE JUNGLE BOOK 2 /
If the first film wasn't problematic enough, Disney decides to louse
up their animated legaciy by unleashing this lackluster and repetitive
animated sequel in theaters instead of on video store shelves. In
either case, parents are wasting their money here; the movie has
no spark, no imagination, and barely has the energy to keep its
own characters interested, much less the tykes in the audience.
THE LAST SAMURAI /
Edward Zwick directs one of the finest films about the ancient Japanese
warriors I have ever seen, a remarkable achievement of flavor and
potency that poses moral questions when it could have just easily
concerned itself with pure adrenaline. The visual beauty of the
film is also quite astonishing, and the sheer depth the script uses
with it results in one of the best films of 2003.
THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN /
The absolute worst of the 2003 summer blockbusters stars Sean Connery
as Alan Quartermain, an assassin of sorts who is assigned on a mission
with famous story characters like the Invisible Man, Dr. Jekyll
(and Mr. Hyde), Dorian Gray and Mina Harker (the heroine of the
"Dracula" story). Such an ingenious idea would have worked
wonders had there been any sense of logic or amusement in the setup,
but alas there is not. The movie is detached in the worst way possible,
and there is never a moment when we care about what happens to anyone
associated with the heroes. Dreadful.
THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KING /
The third and final installment into the "Lord of the Rings"
trilogy is a satisfying blend of its two predecessors: beautiful,
exciting, dramatic and intelligent down to the finest crevices.
Peter Jackson's effort stretches beyond just typical movie blockbuster,
too; his work finds the heart and the spirit of its story and is
driven purely by those emotions, not special effects or giant explosions
(even though there are several of those as well). The best film
in the trilogy is still the first, but this a fitting and exhilarating
close to the most successful film trilogy of our generaton.
LOONEY TUNES: BACK IN ACTION /
Don't you just love the Looney Tunes? Of course--we all do. But
if there's one thing that you CANNOT love about them, it's that
moviemakers continue to emplore them in these excercised live action/animation
hybrid films that have little payoff other than the fact that they
end. "Back in Action" is no different than "Space
Jam"--it's long and thin on plot and laughs, and doesn't really
inspire any notable emotion other than rolling eyes. There's a reason
why these types of combination films don't get made very often.
LUCIA LUCIA /
A writer whose husband is kidnapped by a local drug cartel goes
in pursuit of him and meets up with two men who will subsequently
change her whole outlook on life. One of them, an older gentleman,
is wise beyond his years, and the other, someone who is much younger,
temps her sexually in ways she has never experienced before. Though
the movie is good in the way it brings her have realizations and
experience joy (should she even bother finding her husband now that
she's happier without him?), but the movie overall is rather tame
and nothing ground-breaking. Wait for video.
A MAN APART /
Vin Diesel plays an anti-narcotics officer whose recent capture
of a famous drug lord results in the demise of his own girlfriend...
and the subsequent revenge plot to follow. Unfortunately for the
movie, it doesn't make much sense in several of its plot situations;
the celluloid is like a giant piece of Swiss cheese, sporadically
leaving gaps here and there without the need to explain or justify
MASTER & COMMANDER: THE FAR SIDE OF THE WORLD /
Easily the worst major Oscar contender in recent memory, a horrendous
and muddled mess of a movie that tries to be too many things in
far too short a period of time to emerge successfully. None of the
characters in this Jack Aubrey sea-faring adventure have much depth,
but that could have been passable had the plot enlisted them in
something genuinely exciting. But the movie is nothing of the sort--it
is dry beyond reason, cold and vague when it shouldn't be and very
frustrating on a narrative level.
MATCHSTICK MEN /
Nicholas Cage is a con-man who has just found out he has a teenage
daughter he's never known, and her arrival throws a monkey wrench
into the neat and tidy environment he calls home (not to mention
his career as a scam artist). Needless to say, however, this loner
eventually learns to be more of a human being with her than with
anyone else he has ever been in contact with, and the movie surrounds
them (and us) in feelings of greatness and accomplishment. The climax
is such a jolt that it almost dislogs the entire emotion, but thankfully
it manages to follow through with a fitting solution.
THE MATRIX RELOADED /
The Wachowski brothers' return to the world of the Matrix is as
exciting and intelligent as one could have hoped it to be. Keannu
Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss and Laurence Fishburne all return to the
roles they originated, as the last suriving human city of Zion is
meeting immediate threat from sentinels of the Matrix of a home
invasion and eventual devastation to the human race. The journey
they go on to try and combat the system is not just exhilarating
on visual levels, but on narrative ones as well; the movie goes
great places and delivers satisfying payoffs.
THE MATRIX REVOLUTIONS /
The second sequel in the "Matrix" series is a great companion
piece to its predecessors, but as a separate entity falls short
of being completely satisfying like the first two films were. Not
much in the way of plot or specifics exist here; the essential function
of the film is to deliver a two-hour climax, which was set up via
the events of "Reloaded." The ending is at least satisfying,
but you can't help but wonder if this installment could have given
us so much more than what it currently does.
MY LITTLE EYE /
Four strangers are invited to participate in a reality internet
show that puts them into an abandoned house in the mountains away
from all human contact. The catch? If even one of them leaves, then
none of them get the impending prize money. Adopts traits from "The
Blair Witch Project" as well as TV's "Big Brother,"
but the payoff is so implausible and stupid that you wonder why
anyone even bothered in the first place.
MYSTIC RIVER /
Clint Eastwood's latest directorial effort examines the fragmented
lives of three friends who survived a childhood trauma and are now
dealing with equally-devastating ones in the present. Sean Penn
and Tim Robbins are great in the way they deliver on emotion without
seeming overzealous in the effort, and the screenplay has a certain
Shakespearean quality about it in the ways it deals with relationships,
personal tragedies and sadistic forms of revenge.
OLD SCHOOL /
The latest gross-out buddy comedy is a return to the tradition of
the greats, eyeing itself more on character reactions rather than
specific ploys of extreme perversion. Will Ferrell is outwardly
brilliant as Frank the Tank, a guy who is so dimwitted he barely
remembers his own name half the time. Lots of great isolated scenes
as well, such as one involving Andy Dick teaching a class on oral
sex. Not overstated or even emphasized by plot, but funny and watchable
OPEN RANGE /
Kevin Costner's lastest excursion is another one of those personal
revenge tales he is familiar with, but one that at least draws solid
performances and doesn't seem to insult the audience in terms of
plot specifics like "The Postman" did. Robert Duvall is
the highlight as a fellow loner who offers wisdom and opinion through
very witty dialogue, and the scenes in which he and Costner engage
in gunplay with enemies who murdered one of their own friends are
great in terms of delivering tension.
PHONE BOOTH /
Joel Schumacher gives us 80 minutes of pure and uncomprimised tension
in this brilliant little thriller, in which a sniper lures a hot-shot
publicist into a phone booth and holds him there even while surrounding
authorities are threatening him for supposedly killing an innocent
pedestrian. The setup is brief and taut, but the emotional core
of the script is extremely driving; it's like watching events directly
on the front lines. Colin Farrell easily gives his best performance
to date as the morally-corrupt anti-hero who is about to be given
his just-desserts, and there is a special surprise waiting for some
of us when the identity of the sniper is revealed. One of 2003's
PIECES OF APRIL /
A family with countless personal problems must put aside the past
and come together in the present in this Thanksgiving-day drama
starring Katie Holmes and Patricia Clarkson (among others). April
is a woman living in the city detached from her family unit, and
she invites them all to her place for the holiday knowing that her
mother (Clarkson) has very little time left after her battle against
breast cancer. Can differences be put aside and new memories be
made? That's the focus of the effective story, although the low-budget
digital photography of the film tends to be more of a distraction
to the message than a benefactor.
PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN /
Johnny Depp gives a riot of a performance in this piratey adventure
about stolen aztec gold and the curse it has put on those unfortunate
pirates who stole it. The goal to remove the curse, alas, reels
in two innocent lovers as a result, and a plot of swashbuckling
adventure ensues. The movie is exciting and fast-paced, but it's
also too long and over-emphasized during crucial action sequences.
THE RECRUIT /
Al Pacino plays a CIA recruiter who has acquired a young and talented
computer expert played by Colin Farrel for Central Intelligence
training. But who what purpose, we ask? The movie doesn't have much
of a clue about anything, other than telling us that "everything
is a test," throwing characters into sticky situations and
then yanking out the rug from underneath us like it's some sort
of colossal surprise. Boring, confusing, and infuriating.
RUNAWAY JURY /
The first film adaptation of a John Grisham novel that I can recall
admiring. John Cusack and Rachel Weisz star as people whose involvement
in a firearm trial's jury reveals secret vendettas, but their efforts
may or may not be comprimised when a powerful tycoon behind the
prosecution (played by Gene Hackman) seems to have his own personal
goals in mind as well. A war of the wits and ethics are put to the
test in this constantly-exciting legal thriller.
The sick and twisted struggle for power that goes on in this bizarre
endeavor leaves viewers with some of the most strange facial expressions
you would ever expect to see; even scarier, watching viewers form
these mutated looks is perhaps greater, more amusing and plausible
than anything the movie itself has to offer. Starring Maggie Gyllenhaal
in a "breakout" performance, the film is laced so severely
with sexual tension and S&M innuendo that it lacks all sense
of satisfaction. Save your money or go rent a porn.
SHANGHAI KNIGHTS /
The follow-up to "Shanghai Noon" starring Jackie Chan
and Owen Wilson take their wisecracking sidekick characters onto
British turf, where a plot to murder the English royal family has
a mysterious link to the death of Chan's own father back in China.
Good comic timing for characters who have the attention span of
drywall, but not spectacular by any stretch.
SHATTERED GLASS /
The biopic about Stephen Glass, a journalist who fabricated many
of his articles in The New Republic back in the late 1990s,
is basically just a solid and mild character study with some great
performances, hardly the earth-shattering achievement so many procclaim
it to be. Peter Saarsgard is solid as an editor who is just about
to uncover his most popular writer's damaging secret, while Hayden
Christensen's performance as the likable and persuasive Glass compliments
SINBAD: LEGEND OF THE SEVEN SEAS /
Another one of these half-hearted feature cartoons from Dreamworks,
"Sinbad" arrives at a time when the industry is gratified
by the mere presence of "Finding Nemo," easily one of
the most beautiful and effective animated films we've seen in years.
Though that doesn'tindicate the quality of the former product, it
shouldn't be a matter of concern for anyone regardless; the movie
is very tame in both narrative and characters, and the animation
styles are so drastically different between background and foreground
that it's almost like watching two different versions of the same
film layed ontop of each other. Good for kids who need a distraction,
but otherwise nothing special.
TEARS OF THE SUN /
Bruce Willis is the head of a Special-Ops unit assigned to apprehend
an American doctor, two nuns and a priest from the Nigerian jungles,
where a group of rebel forces is just about ready to unleash an
"ethnic cleansing" on all its innocent civillians. The
movie, alas, has no shape or focus beyond what is required of a
typical summer blockbuster, and the very notion that we as viewers
can accept a group of stone-faced, unflinching and morally fragmented
soldiers as heroes is a bit insulting.
TERMINATOR 3: RISE OF THE MACHINES /
As exciting and effective as sequels come, "Terminator 3"
returns viewers to a world of time-travel and paradoxes that is
seeped with the threat of human extinction. This time, a female
Terminator dubbed the "Terminatrix" is sent back to eliminate
John Conner and a group of former friends that are to be his colleagues
in an eventual uprising against machines, and Schwarzenegger's older
Terminator, once again, follows behind in order to keep the most
important people alive in order to give mankind a fighting chance.
The ending of the film is ironic and shocking but easily one of
the most brave moments we have seen from this series.
In a dark futuristic metropolis, classic Hollywood movie monsters
are waging a war with each other that creates a sense of havoc and
personal dillemma that is unlike anything they have experienced.
So does the movie operate on similar wavelengths--it is exciting,
fresh and beautiful to behold, a hybrid of "Matrix" production
values and "Blade" sentimentality that works on nearly
every level it crosses. What a wonderous way to enhance the traditions
of movie vampires and werewolves without disregarding their essential
VERONICA GUERIN /
Cate Blanchett stars as real-life Irish journalist Veronica Guerin,
who waged a personal war with major drug lords in her country and
lost her life as a result. While the movie seems almost too sympathetic
with Guerin's plight to seem genuine, the one thing that holds it
all together is Blanchett's performance; she disappears into the
role as easily as she does in any other movie, and her conviction
is persuasive and incessant without seeming overdramatized. The
movie might have been great if it had just simply downplayed most
of its melodrama.
A remake of the 1971 cult classic, in which a man with no friends
and no social skills befriends a basement rat, and soon finds himself
the keeper of thousands of ferocious rodents. Starts off promisingly,
with a silly but exciting edge, but the movie quickly descends into
cold chaos. This isn't mindless or even innocent entertainment,
but viscious, mean-spirited and despicable crap. Those expecting
otherwise will be sorely angered by what is thrown on the screen.
X2: X-MEN UNITED /
The second installment into the inevitable "X-Men" movie
franchise has much more character development and chemistry than
the first film, but unfortunately not nearly as much of an excitement
factor. That's because the plot holds them in situations that are
too nonsensical for their own good, and none of the twists have
the kind of quirky dramatic thrust that the comic books depend on.
It works, but nowhere near the level it should.
© 2003, David