The buzz on Heath Ledger's portrayal of the Joker in The Dark Knight may start to wane by the time the late actor is awarded the Oscar for it, but the effects of this performance are likely to be felt for years, if not decades.
I consider myself an Academy Awards completist: Prior to the annual Oscar telecast, I want to see as many of the nominated films as I can. But I'm also a lazy completist - I want to see these movies so long as I don't have to drive really far. (This is why, to my disappointment and discredit, I'll be watching Sunday's telecast without having viewed Little Children, Venus, and The Good German.)
While watching an emotional climax toward the end of Marc Forster's Stranger Than Fiction, I experienced the oddest case of déjà vu. In the film, a man discovers that his life may be in the hands of an unseen puppet-master - that he, himself, has no control over his own existence - and all of a sudden I was transported back to June of 1997, watching Peter Weir's The Truman Show. Yet what set me off wasn't just that the metaphysics of the two films are similar, or even that a comedian (Will Ferrell instead of Jim Carrey) was enacting the situation; it was that the protagonist's seemingly hopeless circumstances had me in tears, and yet all around me, people were laughing.
Following Paul Greengrass' United 93, Oliver Stone's World Trade Center is the second 9/11-themed movie to arrive in the past four months - including A&E's Flight 93 and the Discovery Channel's The Flight That Fought Back, the fourth in the last year - and make no mistake: There will be more. There are so many tales to be told and so many elements of this national tragedy to focus on that, as cinematic subject matter, 9/11 is practically inexhaustible.
This summer, I was fortunate enough to catch a special screening of writer/director Don Roos' Happy Endings at the University of Iowa, but decided to hold off on a review until the film made it to our area.
After I first saw Donnie Darko on DVD some 16 months back, I did something I'd done only once or twice before, and never again since: I returned to the main menu, hit "Play," and watched the movie again.
In the interest of full journalistic disclosure, let me preface this review of Steven Soderbergh's Solaris by admitting that, in the first 15 minutes, I briefly nodded off.
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