film reviews (late spring 2005)

Off the Map (2003) directed by Campbell Scott (Big Night, 1996); starring Valentina de Angelis and Joan Allen: Snaprating=Keeper, RE-ORDER theme (CHARACTER secondary theme). The WFT film Secondhand Lions aspires to become as tightly directed and wonderfully scripted as this insightful glimpse of a precocious 12 year old girl, her family, and friends.

Kung Fu Hustle (Gong Fu) (2004) directed by Stephen Chow (Shaolin Soccer, 2001); starring Stephen Chow and Qiu Yuen: Snaprating=Keeper, PROBLEM theme. Far more over-the-top than a Warner Brothers cartoon, kung-foolishness fans (who enjoy Jackie Chan movies) will get their fill of giggles while being thrilled by constant CGI-slap-stick, stomp-stick, and crush-stick.

The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill (2003) directed by Judy Irving (Kids by the Bay, 1999); starring Mark Bittner and a flock of parrots: Snaprating=Cheaper, CHARACTER theme. Documentary fans should be captivated by this endearing 'Crumb meets Animal Planet' nature film.

The Interpreter (2005) directed by Sydney Pollack (The Firm, 1993); starring Nicole Kidman and Sean Penn: Snaprating=WFD, PROBLEM theme (MILIEU secondary theme). Pollack's signature 'tiny pool of A-list actors' and a bland script hurts this routine political-thriller in which the United Nations building is the most interesting thing to watch. He did it better in the Keeper: Three Days of the Condor.

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (2005) directed by Garth Jennings (big-screen directorial debut); starring Sam Rockwell and Mos Def: Snaprating=WFD, MILIEU theme (PROBLEM sub-theme). Fans of dry British humor (who enjoy the adherence of the Harry Potter films to their books) may be unhappy with this oblique sketch of Douglas Adams's book because of a dumbed-down script and poor CGI -- even though it's novelty and uniqueness outweighs it's vagary and camp.

Crash (2004) directed by Paul Haggis (big-screen directorial debut, screenwriter of Million Dollar Baby, 2004); starring Don Cheadle, Michael Pena, Sandra Bullock and many others: Snaprating=Cheaper, RE-ORDER theme. This somber snakes-and-ladders-game, (with every flavor of hate on display) effectively combines: 21 Grams and Thirteen Conversations About the Same Thing, insuring you feel dismayed with your fellow-man, upset, and maybe even angry when the credits roll.

Palindromes (2004) directed by Todd Solondz (Happiness, 1998); starring Ellen Barkin and Richard Masur: Snaprating=Cheaper, CHARACTER theme. Solondz fans, and fans of other directors who cause you to pause and think, will overlook the grainy quality of this disturbingly-unique examination of abortion, statutory rape, and pedophilia, which is almost (but not really) a sequel to Welcome To The Dollhouse.

Mindhunters (2003-2005) directed by Renny Harlin (Deep Blue Sea, 1999); starring LL Cool J and Val Kilmer: Snaprating=WFC, PROBLEM theme. Fans who liked My Little Eye, Identity or The Cube will find (this time around) our clueless victims are unbelievable FBI Agents in this over-cooked and over-edited example of a closed-box slasher-movie--but many may still enjoy the exercise of identifying the killer before he's the last one alive.

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