If anyone doubted that Pixar’s Brad Bird (“The Incredibles,” “Ratatouille”) could bring his storytelling gifts to a live-action battleship the size of “Mission: Impossible,” rest assured. Following in the formidable footsteps of Brian De Palma, John Woo and J.J. Abrams, Bird has added a potent entry to a series that has suffered nary a misstep to date. Read More
Whatever combination of dramatic machination and emotional truth is at work when the tear-jerk mechanism is satisfyingly triggered, writer-director Rodrigo Garcia supplies it amply and effectively in his adoption melodrama, “Mother and Child.” Rich undercurrents enable this movie to survive its contrived surfaces and thematic problems. Read More
Consisting largely of five angry blokes spewing hate-laced profanity and equating manliness with brute revenge as they determine the fate of a kidnap victim who has slept with the wife of one of them, “44 Inch Chest” aims to be both a gritty psychodrama and a dark comedy about what defines masculinity. Thanks to a sensational cast, it delivers some impressive sizzle on both fronts. Read More
John Woo — the ace Hong Kong action auteur whom Hollywood snatched up and then didn’t know what to do with — has returned to Asian cinema with a bang or, rather, with the whiz of flying arrows, the clop of hooves and other forms of expanded verve.
The cause for note is “Red Cliff,” Woo’s vigorously entertaining Chinese war spectacle. Read More
Whether a movie could be made of Cormac McCarthy’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, “The Road,” was once the subject of spirited debate.
The story of a father and son braving the ruins of post-apocalyptic America has been called impossible to film, yet here is John Hillcoat’s reverent adaptation, faithful to the letter and the spirit, relentlessly bleak but with a sliver of hope for the future. Read More
In 2005, two amateur videographers, both Hurricane Katrina survivors, shared their footage and their stories of the storm with two professional filmmakers, and the collaboration has yielded "Trouble the Water," a terrific documentary.
Horrifying, infuriating, and uplifting as it engrosses us in the lives of people directly hit by the hurricane, the film triumphs as a chronicle of a disaster, an expose of government failure, and a human story. Read More
In 2005, two amateur videographers, both Hurricane Katrina survivors, shared their footage and their stories of the storm with two professional filmmakers, and the collaboration has yielded “Trouble the Water,” a terrific documentary. Horrifying, infuriating and uplifting as it engrosses us in the lives of people directly hit by the hurricane, the film triumphs as a chronicle of a disaster, an exposé of government failure and a human story. Read More
Art-house whimsy comes in bawdy, graceful and thoroughly distinctive form in “I Served the King of England,” writer-director Jiri Menzel’s serio-confection set during a vile stretch of Czech and modern history.
The movie is a human-nature fable, a Czech-nature farce and the sort of food-and-sex romp that subtitles generally render classy. Thanks to the gravity and wit underlying its giddiness, it succeeds in all those arenas. Read More
Paul W.S. Anderson has forged a lucrative career directing cinematic adaptations of video games, including “Mortal Kombat” and the aggressively unpleasant “Resident Evil,” and if his productions tend to share common flaws — confusing, rapid-fire camerawork and a gratuitous attention to extreme gore — they’re rarely boring. Read More
The survival instinct driving the protagonists of “Frozen River” gives rise to respectable thrills and some unforgettable female-condition and poverty drama as two cash-strapped mothers team up as smugglers to give their kids better lives.
Credit goes to first-time writer-director Courtney Hunt and her extraordinary star for this standout indie. Read More