Film Reviews (Early Fall 2005) & Keeper Alert (last two)

Overnight (2003) directed by Tony Montana (directorial debut); starring Troy Duffy and everyone he alienates: Snaprating=WFC, MILIEU theme. This documentary of a talented egomaniac is an early Project Greenlightesque foray into 'how to make enemies and lose influence with strangers'.
The Island (2005) directed by Michael Bay (Armageddon, 1998); starring Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson: Snaprating=WFD, CHARACTER theme (Problem sub-theme). A solid mix of Logan's Run and Bladerunner for SF fans, with more than a heaping portion of Torque for action fans.
Matando Cabos (2004) directed by Alejandro Lozano (Guzman Huerta, 2002); starring Tony Dalton and JoaquĆ­n Cosio: Snaprating=Cheaper, PROBLEM theme. Fans of low-budget films (like El Mariachi) will love this tribute to Snatch and Pulp Fiction (with nods to many others, like Clockwork Orange and Taxi Driver).
The Brothers Grimm (2005) directed by Terry Gilliam (Monty Python and the Holy Grail, 1975); starring Matt Damon and Heath Ledger: Snaprating=WFD, MILIEU theme (Problem sub-theme). Because it's difficult to measure Gilliam-as-writer against other directors, fans of his The Adventures of Baron Munchausen and Time Bandits may enjoy his newly addled concoction.
Grizzly Man (2005) directed and narrated by Werner Herzog (Nosferatu the Vampyre, 1979); starring Timothy Treadwell and many wild animals: Snaprating=Cheaper, MILIEU theme. Wildlife documentary fans who liked The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill will be able to judge for themselves if the mentally challenged Mr. Treadwell (and his girlfriend) welcomed or deserved getting eaten alive.
The Constant Gardener (2005) directed by Fernando Meirelles (City of God, 2002); starring Ralph Fiennes and Rachel Weisz: Snaprating=Keeper, PROBLEM theme (secondary Milieu theme). Fans of suspenseful romantic mysteries will love this wonderfully directed, edited, and acted amalgamation of Tears of the Sun, Beyond Borders, and The Bourne Supremacy.
Four Brothers (2005) directed by John Singleton (Boyz n the Hood, 1991); starring Mark Wahlberg and Terrence Howard: Snaprating=WFT, PROBLEM theme. This is what happens when two mid-1960's westerns (The Sons of Katie Elder and El Dorado) get poorly re-tooled into current-day, icy winter, inner-city Detroit with dumbed-down dialogue, predictable plot, and awful acting.
The 40 Year Old Virgin (2005) directed by Judd Apatow (TV producer; big screen directorial debut); starring Steve Carell and Catherine Keener: Snaprating=WFC, CHARACTER theme. Surprisingly, Ben Stiller (the copyright holder of brunt-of-embarrassing-jokes-guy) isn't the lead in this rarely funny three-joke movie, which will soon be found on the same channel as Bad Santa and Road Trip.
Red Eye (2005) directed by Wes Craven (Scream, 1996); starring Rachel McAdams and Cillian Murphy: Snaprating=WFC, PROBLEM theme. This suspense-retread is too predictable because it borrows every key element from other films except one (fortunately it's the big one), the acting is average, and the script is weak.
Lord of War (2005) directed by Andrew Niccol (Gattaca, 1997); starring Nicolas Cage and Bridget Moynahan: Snaprating=WFD, CHARACTER theme. This well-acted but ploddingly predictable Catch Me if You Can (with guns instead of checks) is heavy on message and, with the exception of a few special effects, light on interesting.
Just Like Heaven (2005) directed by Mark Waters (Mean Girls, 2004); starring Reese Witherspoon and Mark Ruffalo: Snaprating=WFD, PROBLEM theme. Equal parts of Ghost, City of Angels, You've Got Mail, and any another 80's or 90's Meg Ryan film of your choosing; this cute, enjoyable, and smoothly edited flick is not just for chicks.
Junebug (2005) directed by Phil Morrison (big-screen full-length directorial debut); starring Amy Adams and Embeth Davidtz: Snaprating=Cheaper, RE-ORDER theme. Unlike coming-home films set around mandatory attendance rituals like Garden State and Monsoon Wedding, here, we slip back--quietly--into the blissful ignorance of a small-town and a not-so-close family in the deep-Southeastern US almost by mistake, and almost get stuck there.
Flightplan (2005) directed by Robert Schwentke (Tattoo, 2002); starring Jodie Foster and Peter Sarsgaard: Snaprating=WFD, PROBLEM theme. Even though much of the first two acts of this tightly written script were lifted, intact, from Hitchcock's A Lady Vanishes, it's still a well acted, closed-box, mystery/suspense film (better than the WFC: Executive Decision).
Everything Is Illuminated (2005) directed by Liev Schreiber (Directorial Debut; Actor The Manchurian Candidate, 2004); starring Elijah Wood and Eugene Hutz: Snaprating=Keeper, PROBLEM theme (Milieu secondary theme). With a Schultze Gets the Blues vibe, this story is quiet and simple, yet a very intelligent, touching, and humorous 'search for ancestral footprints and self-discovery'.
Serenity (2005) directed by Joss Whedon (Big Screen Directorial Debut; TV Director); starring Gina Torres, Nathan Fillion, and Adam Baldwin: Firefly Series-Fan Snaprating=Keeper, All others=Cheaper, PROBLEM theme (Milieu sub-theme). Although this Harry Potter of samurai space-westerns is not amazingly cutting edge it is a well-edited, tightly scripted, action-thriller, filled with plenty of chuckles and gasps.

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