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.
If the end of the world - or, at any rate, the end of Manhattan - eventually comes via a pissed-off, skyscraper-sized reptile, and the destruction is captured on video by an empty-headed twentysomething slacker goofus, the results will probably look and sound a lot like Cloverfield.
Jason Reitman's Thank You for Smoking, adapted from Christopher Buckley's satiric novel, doesn't have much visual flair, but one recurring image in the film lends it worlds of variety: Aaron Eckhart's smile.
Many Hollywood blockbusters feel so generic as to have been formed by committee, and in Batman Begins, that committee appears to be comprised entirely of comic-book bloggers. Just how afraid of Internet fanboys have movie studios become? It has been widely reported that this new installment in the superhero franchise is a deliberate rebuke to director Joel Schumacher's beyond-campy Batman Forever and Batman & Robin, and I couldn't be more on board with that; Schumacher managed to turn Warner Brothers' moody franchise into a half-assed Mardi Gras spectacle, minus the debaucherous fun. (Only in Schumacher's hands could Uma Thurman come off as a depressed drag queen.)
Richard Linklater has directed some marvelous films in the past - particularly Dazed & Confused, The School of Rock, and (his best work until now) 1995's Before Sunrise - but he has never created one as stunningly, ravishingly alive as Before Sunset.
Though the story of two separated lovers braving incredible hardships to eventually reunite is a common one in war-themed movies, I don't think I've ever been less moved by it than in Anthony Minghella's Cold Mountain, an adaptation of Charles Frazier's much-adored Civil War novel.
Since she previously gave one of my all-time favorite film performances in Mulholland Dr., one of my all-time favorite films, it's going to take a lot more than a cheesy little scare flick for me to write off Naomi Watts. But it must be said that in The Ring - a horror movie by Gore Verbinski, with a script by Arlington Road's Ehren Kruger - Ms. Watts comes off as a very poor actress indeed.
Sean Penn is one of the few dependably downbeat figures in American film, and those who like their dramas moody, atmospheric, and richly detailed will get some initial pleasure with The Pledge, Mr. Penn's third directorial outing.
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