Arts + Life

Arts + Life

A sumptuous adaptation of the novel helped or hurt by Reese Witherspoon as Becky.

Just another serial killer thriller.

The difference might be that Anthony Hopkins wants to be called "Tony," while Ben Kingsley demands to be called "Sir." Hopkins' Hannibal Lecter in "Silence of the Lambs" defined forever the serial killer as witty, charming, and lethal; Kingsley's Benjamin O'Ryan in "Suspect Zero" is none of those but seems to wannabe. Lecter doesn't need to seek respect; O'Ryan wants it badly.

Cinematography that can easily take over the plot.

"The still, sad music of humanity."

And I thought "Dogville" was stylized. Canadian writer/director Guy Maddin ("Dracula: Pages from a Virgin's Diary," "Archangel") has created a film like no other this year except possibly "Triplet's of Belleville." "The Saddest Music in the World" is a "musical" set in Winnipeg in 1933, where Lady Port-Huntly (Isabella Rossellini) is holding a contest to award $25,000 to the saddest music performer. In "Depression Era dollars," no less.

The real drama is in the talk.

"But at my back I always hear/ Time's winged chariot hurrying near."

Amusingly quirky it is.

It is one of the best ever to show the making of a movie.


"Rated X by an All-White Jury" may have been one of the most memorable and profound ad lines in film history.

Filmmaking at its best.

I have to get off this "9/11" preoccupation--I'm seeing the event underlying too many films. Recently I saw the xenophobia in "Dogville" and "The Village"; now it occupies my imagination again in "Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter . . . and Spring," a lyrical Korean masterpiece about isolation, love, death, and renewal.

You'll know why I'm still living to write this review.

I have always been a little early for appointments, and I avoid taking overloaded tour boats to scuba dive. If you see writer/director Chris Kentis's "Open Water," you'll know why I'm still living to write this review.

Best buddy team of the year!

Michael Mann successfully directed "The Insider," "Manhunter," and the "Miami Vice" TV series. Tom Cruise's work in "Magnolia, " "Minority Report," and "Vanilla Sky" shows his interest in stretching his acting experiences. Not surprisingly, then, their "Collateral" can be placed next to "Manchurian Candidate" and "Bourne Supremacy" for best of the 2004 thriller race.

A superlative performance by Jeff Bridges and an excellent turn by Kim Basinger.

Let's relax and let our visionary directors take us.

A less harrowing experience than his other films but a more intellectually satisfying one.

The very noun "village" connotes a closed community often out of time with an outer world grown increasingly forbidding. M. Night Shyamalan's ("Sixth Sense," "Signs") "The Village" incorporates those notions and more modern isolationism and xenophobia stemming from ultraconservative politics and "9/11" to create a less harrowing experience than his other films but a more intellectually satisfying one.

If stoner comedy has a place in the satire canon, this is one of the best.

If two chicks sitting in stalls playing "Battleshits" while the two Indian and Asian "heroes" hide between them suffering the sounds and smells of scatological low humor may be funny to you, then you should consider seeing "Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle." My last stoner movie, the remake of "Starsky and Hutch," was indeed Sunday school by contrast.

"Memento" this film is not; diverting fun it is.

"The Bourne Supremacy" is not a supreme thriller like "Day of the Jackal" but more like the middling "Enemy of State," "The Recruit," or "Spy Game." CIA operative Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) is not even a remote substitute for James Bond. But "Supremacy" is an enjoyable chase through Berlin and Moscow and other world sites. The car race through Moscow is memorable albeit unbelievable, ending with curious similarity to the location of Princess Diana's death.

One of the best American films of the year and the best thriller/political non-documentary.

Allegory is alive and well. If it must be a story with multiple levels of meaning, then Jonathan Demme's ("Silence of the Lambs") "The Manchurian Candidate" (Remade from the 1962 John Frankenheimer version) is a classic example. First level is the story itself of soldiers around the time of Desert Storm brainwashed to perform deeds that ultimately aim at the president of the U.S.

It at least continues the intriguing topic of what it means to be human.

Robots in the arts have always been intriguing. Isaac Asimov promoted them in science fiction to remind us as humans to celebrate our emotions and imperfections, usually coveted by our mechanical creations even with the prospect of death as the ultimate payment due.

The allure of true love that transcends sex and ego!

As I think of the many variations documentaries have taken recently, from the polemical "Fahrenheit" to the realistic "Metallica," I am pleased to report the biopic remains more or less whole, with Irwin Winkler's ("Life as a House") "De-Lovely," the life in song about Cole Porter and his wife, Linda.

Babenco catches the hard sadness of prison life in "Carandiru."

We are left with a business partnership reviving its product.

"The Clearing" is a garden-variety kidnap movie.

Tired of Michael Moore's crybaby "Fahrenheit 9/11"?

The best American movie so far this year and the best comic book adaptation ever.

"I'll peel the skin off your face!"

Spidey nemesis Doc Ock informs one of his victims how he feels. Here's how I feel about director Sam Raimi's ("Spider-Man," "A Simple Plan") "Spider-Man 2": It's the best American movie so far this year and the best comic book adaptation ever filmed.

We're better for all these points of view.

Rumsfeld's "truth" may come more from the beleaguered Arab network than the carefully controlled coalition.

The 2 hours of this remake feel like 80 days in real time.

If I were a filmmaker, the only thing I would remake would be my wardrobe because the odds are not in my favor to improve any original film hit. Ask Gus Van Sant about remaking Hitchcock's "Psycho" or, more recently, Frank Oz about "The Stepford Wives." Neither director would welcome your inquiry.

The first true "disaster" film of the summer

Satirizing fundamentalism is a dicey business.

The stunning setting and bizarre situation make a memorable coming-of-age film.

"There's magic in the web of it."

Like most human beings, 13-year-old Harry Potter is becoming plain interesting as he gets older. The newest installment, "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban," is a testimony to testosterone and tribulation as Harry, Hermione, and Ron meet the threat of mass murderer Sirus Black, who, upon escaping Azkaban Prison, seriously wants to find Harry. Even the hundreds of Dementors sent to protect Hogwarts from Black are more trouble than they are worth.