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Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow is about 70% style and 30% substance. It has a plot and characters, but those are almost beside the point. They are devices that function as hooks upon which first-time director Kerry Conran can hang his amazing visuals. Generally speaking, I'm not a big fan of style-over-substance movies, but this one is so gorgeous that it's possible to become literally lost in the richness of the images. In many ways, that's not a...

Red Lights

15 years ago, this is the kind of chilling, gripping thriller that a hungry distributor like Miramax would have snapped up. Now, it's up to a small company like Wellspring to find these gems in the rough and bring them to our attention. Red Lights is one of the best thrillers I have seen this year: tight, taut, and unpredictable. A great screenplay (based on a novel by French crime writer Georges Simenon, the creator of Inspector Maigret) and top-notch...

Shark Tale

The first salvo in the battle of the would-be autumn family blockbusters has been fired by Dreamworks. Beating The Incredibles to the screen by more than a month, Shark Tale represents the fourth digitally animated feature to come from the studio (following Antz, Shrek, and Shrek 2). Over the past few years, animation companies (Dreamworks and Pixar, in particular) have worked to refine a formula for digital animation. It's a lot like Disney's defunct conventional one: make the story simple...

Friday Night Lights

If you go to this movie based solely on how it is being portrayed in the trailers and advertisements, you will probably be expecting a feel-good romp through familiar territory - a football version of Hoosiers. Like nearly all sports movies, Friday Night Lights is about redemption; however, instead of wallowing in clichés, Peter Berg's film uses them sparingly. This movie is less about what happens on the field than in the hearts of the players. And, while it is...

Silver City

John Sayles has always made political films; they are his bread-and-butter. Yet none, not even Matewan or City of Hope, has been more openly partisan than Silver City, which rips into the anti-environmental policies of the current administration, shows the pointlessness of fighting the co-op of big business and bigger government, and presents a scathing caricature of our current president in the person of Dickie Pilager (Chris Cooper), the man who would be governor of Colorado. Pilager is all smiles...

Motorcycle Diaries, The

Before he became the leader of the Cuban Revolution, Che Guevara was an introverted medical student living a sheltered life in Buenos Aires. His life changed in 1952, when, despite almost being done with his degree, he decided to take a break from his studies and join his friend, Alberto Granado, on a trip through South America. Their journey, begun on an old motorcycle and completed on foot, by hitchhiking, and on a raft, took more than seven months and...

Napoleon Dynamite

Napoleon Dynamite should be required therapy for anyone with a self-image problem. No matter how much of a loser a person believes himself to be, he couldn't possibly be in worse shape than the protagonist of Jared Hess' wickedly funny high school comedy. With a low-key sense of humor and without the slightest whiff of sentimentality, Hess delivers a film about geeks that makes Revenge of the Nerds look like the Hollywood tripe that it is. Napoleon Dynamite isn't about...

Shall We Dance? (2004)

Shall We Dance? is a remake of the 1997 Japanese feature by the same name. Penned and directed by Masayuki Suo, that film was an unexpected pleasure - a feel-good feature that wasn't weighed down by the unnecessarily cloying melodrama and manipulation that often accompanies such endeavors. The movie was so beloved amongst art-house goers that Miramax, who snapped up the North American rights, commissioned a re-make. And, to further enhance anticipation of the new version, they declined to make...

Stage Beauty

Stage Beauty takes us back to the 1660s and the beginning of the English Reformation. King Charles II (Rupert Everett) has just come back from exile in France and his return heralds change. One of many of the ramifications of Charles' moral laxity is the allowance of women to ascend to the stage and play their own gender; previously, male actors played both sexes. This has potentially grave consequences for men who were trained from boyhood to play women, such...

The Lord of the Rings: The two towers Lights up screens around the world

"The opening of this film has truly become a global event," Mittweg said, "because The Lord of the Rings has been embraced by so many different cultures. The first film has shipped 35 million DVD and VHS units worldwide, a testament to the popularity of the trilogy and how widely the fan base has broadened. Multiple premieres of The Two Towers around the globe are a fun and appropriate way to celebrate both the universality of Tolkien's themes and the...