The Company HHHH (2/7)
Good Bye, Lenin! HHHH (4/17)
A Home at the End of the World HHHH (8/7)
Vera Drake HHHH (10/31)
Girl With A Pearl Earring HHHH (1/3)
The Fog of War HHHH (2/27)
Fahrenheit 9/11 HHHH (6/26)
The Triplets of Belleville HHHH (2/22)
The Dreamers HHHH (2/27)
The Passion of the Christ HHHH (3/3)
Super Size Me HHHH
Jane Goodall's Wild Chimpanzees HHH (2/8)
Monster HHH (1/28)
My Architect: A Son's Journey HHH (3/7)
The Hunting of the President HHH (8/21)
Mona Lisa Smile HHH (1/17)
The Ladykillers HHH (4/4)
Garden State HHH (8/14)
Windows (Re-release)HHH (11/9)
The Polar Express HHH (11/28)
Bon Voyage HHH (4/24)
De-Lovely HH (7/31)
The Cooler HH (1/31)
Cold Mountain HH (1/24)
Something's Gotta Give HH (1/1)
Dogville H (3/20)
Playtime (Re-release) H (8/28)
Bright Young Things H (9/25)
The Company HHHH
Director Robert Altman scores another hit in this film about a Chicago ballet troupe written by and starring Neve Campbell. From the stunning opener of Alvin Nikolasi's "Tensile Involvement" to a rainstorm performance in Grant Park, this sweeps one away like a mystical dream. Also starring Malcolm McDowell as the artistic director and the Joffrey Ballet. See it babies!
Good Bye, Lenin! HHHH
An idealistic socialist (Katrin Saß) living in East Germany suffers a heart attack and slips into a coma before the Berlin Wall comes tumbling down. Meanwhile her son (Daniel Brühl) conceals these facts when she awakens as to not cause her any shock lest she die. The lengths at which he goes to create a different world are extrodinary. Also starring Chulpan Khamatova, Florian Lukas, and Burghart Klaußner. Wolfgang directs this farewell to Communism. There's a breathtaking shot of Lenin about midway in the film that is well worth the price of admission.
This film is the quiet sleeper of the year. It delivers a powerhouse performance by the entire cast. A young boy played respectively by Andrew Chalmers, Erik Smith, and Colin Farrell, is confronted with a sudden tragedy. Years later, a strange relationship developes between his best friend (Harris Allan and Dallas Roberts) and his mother (Sissy Spackek). He later moves to New York City where another woman (Robin Wright Penn) gets involved. It all sounds strange, but the performances are so well acted youíll forget youíre in the theater. A haunting song by the late Laura Nyro moves things along. The closing shot along with violet fading credits is moving. Michael Mayer directed this rare gem written by Michael Cunningham.
Vera Drake HHHH
Sweet, kind, motherly Vera Drake (Imelda Staunton) helps out all her neighbors. She harbors a dark secret that brings her world to a shattering halt. When one of her customers winds up in the hospital, the bureatcratic machinery takes over. Director Mike Leigh brings1950's London to life in this brilliant slice of lower middle class life. Surely, this should bring out several Oscar nominations. Also starring, Richard Graham, Eddie Marsan, Anna Keaveney, and Daniel Mays.
Sadly, Johannes Vermeer painted only 36 works in his
lifetime and this film is a fictionalized account of his famous
"Girl With A Pearl Earring". A poor maid (Scarlett Johansson in another stunning performance) is sent to work for the artist, Vermeer (Colin Firth). She lives with him, his wife (Essie Davis) and mother-in-law (Judy Parfitt). Cinematographer Eduardo Serra and production design Ben van Os capture the Dutch period magnificently. This would inspire anyone to paint. A malevolent benefactor is more than sinister (Tom Wilkinson). This could almost be a silent movie as the eyes capture it all. Based on the novel by Tracy Chevalier. Peter Webber directs.
Some might say this is former Secretary of Defense, Robert S. McNamara's way of assuaging his guilty role in the Viet Nam war, while others might say it serves as a warning. Presented in 11 lessons, this offers some much needed guidance for the current Bush administration's growing quagmire of Iraq. Errol Morris directed this, using an Interrotron (a teleprompter that broadcasts the interviewer's face) to obtain the intimate setting.
Fahrenheit 9/11 HHHH
Writer/director Michael Moore turns up the heat on George W. Bush's administration and their opportunistic policies post-9/11 attack. What's striking is Moore's gathering of footage that has never been shown on America's shores. After some graphic war footage, I don't know what's more shocking, hearing John Ashcroft singing his own jingoistic tune, "Let the Eagle Soar" or witnessing Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz"s horrendous grooming habits. Definitely a dark period in American politics.
Frog Popsicles, a pair of revengeful tap shoes, an obese Statue of Liberty raising a Cheeseburger, an overweight dog's dreams, and a whistle-toting grandmother. All this and more in a wacky rescue tale by Sylvain Chomet. Certainly a fascinating piece of animation that blows Pixar and company out of the water. The song "Belleville Rendez-vous" will latch onto your brain for many days.
The Dreamers HHHH
A cineophile's paradise. Italian director Bernardo Bertolucci takes us on a young American's journey, when he (Michael Pitt) meets a brother (Louis Garrel) and sister (Eva Green) that are a little too close for comfort. They all share the love of 1930's cinema, music, and sex. Bertolucci inter-cuts old footage into the new, with stunning results. The score brings back 1960's Paris with nostalgic accuracy. Also starring Robin Renucci and Anna Chancellor as the siblings' parents. The opening credits are dazzling to watch as they disappear and reappear from behind the beams of the Eiffel Tower. You may never look at the Venus di Milo in the same light ever again. Oh mon dieu!
Writer/Director Mel Gibsonís 127-minute portrayal on the last 12 hours of the martyrdom of Jesus (Jim Cavezial) is as stunning as it is repulsive. It isnít bad enough that heís lashed with bamboo and then a whip, but the cat-o-nine tails goes over the top. The violence goes on too long, resulting in a numbing effect. By the time the crucifixion takes place, youíll be thankful that itís coming to an end. Unfortunately, some cheesy special effects take place during a storm that donít fit the feel of the film. For me, the filmís theme is, ďDonít go against the orthodoxy of your religion or thereíll be hell to payĒ. The filmís score by John Debney is first rate and look for Greg Cannom at Oscar time for best makeup. Also starring Maia Morgenstern as his mother Mary, Hristo Shopov as Pontius Pilate, Rosalinda Celantano as Satan, and a disturbing Davide Marrato as the Anti-Christ. See it if you must, but donít take anyone under 17.
Super Size Me HHHH
Writer/director Morgan Spurlock goes on a 30-day diet of McDonalds with hilarious and disastrous results, to highlight the nationŪs addiction to obesity. To drive home a point he even quits exercising as 60% of Americans do. Even more alarming is his discovery of the fast food industryŪs slick marketing to the public school system. Meanwhile, his vegan chef girlfriend, Alexandra Jamieson frets as she watches his health and sex life deteriorate. A must-see for everyone.
© 2004 David Burnham
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