Wallace and Grommit.. (2005) directed by Steve Box (Chicken Run, 2000); starring the voices of Helena Bonham Carter and Ralph Fiennes: Snaprating=WFD, MILIEU theme (Problem sub-theme). Stop-motion claymation fans, especially those who know and love the three previous W&G short films, will enjoy the antics and not be bothered by the predictably childish plotline.
Domino (2005) directed by Tony Scott (Man on Fire, 2004); starring Keira Knightley and Mickey Rourke: Snaprating=Keeper, PROBLEM theme (Character sub-theme). Fans of Scott's colorful, quick-cut, intense information overload films, will love this edgy, hard-pounding blur. Of special note are the numerous, wonderful, minor-characters and quirky-odd sub-plots.
2046 (2004) directed by Kar Wai Wong (director of many films released outside the US); starring Tony Leung Chiu Wai and Takuya Kimura: Fans-who-don't-hate-operatic-cinema-Snaprating=Cheaper, Opera-haters Snaprating=WFT, CHARACTER theme. Disregard the trailer, this is not an SF Film! It feels like Barton Fink melded - confusingly - with a slow-paced, 50's gumshoe-story (but set in late-60's Asia) AND because it's a need-to-concentrate, think-film, don't leave for three minutes or you'll lose the thread.
In Her Shoes (2005) directed by Curtis Hanson (Wonder Boys, 2000); starring Toni Collette and Cameron Diaz: Snaprating=Cheaper, RE-ORDER theme (Character secondary theme). This funny-touching film will be enjoyed by mothers and daughters everywhere. A mix of Return to Me, Playing by Heart, and - maybe - (with sisters and grandmothers instead of sons and mothers) Igby Goes Down .
Touch the Sound (2004) directed by Thomas Riedelsheimer (Rivers and Tides, 2001); starring deaf percussionist Evelyn Glennie: Artist and lovers-of-art Snaprating=Cheaper, Non-Artist Snaprating=WFT, MILIEU theme. This intense documentary about hearing with one's body will soon be available on IFC and The Sundance Channel.
Good Night and Good Luck (2005) directed by George Clooney (Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, 2002); starring David Strathairn and George Clooney: PPBOATS* Fans Snaprating=Cheaper, All others Snaprating=WFC, MILIEU theme. This near-historically-accurate film is quasi-documentary (but not too quasi, like an Oliver Stone film). Fans of The Downfall: Hitler and the End of the Third Reich will enjoy this glimpse of 1950's McCarthyism.
The Weather Man (2005) directed by Gore Verbinski (The Ring, 2002); starring Nicolas Cage and Michael Caine: Snaprating=WFD, CHARACTER theme. This poignant, slightly unsettling, well-acted, story (with the humor of: Me, You, and Everyone Else We Know) is similar to About Schmidt only the focus is on a self-absorbed, angsty, middle-aged man, instead of a retired one.
Capote (2005) directed by Bennett Miller (big-screen directorial debut); starring Philip Seymour Hoffman and Catherine Keener: Snaprating=Cheaper, CHARACTER theme. Hoffman is incredable in this BPBOATS*, which is plotted like Girl With a Pearl Earring, since it's more about the 3 years he wrote In Cold blood, than his entire life.
MirrorMask (2005) directed by Dave McKean (big-screen directorial debut); starring Stephanie Leonidas and Gina McKee: Snaprating=WFC, MILIEU theme (Problem sub-theme). Although the simple, non-musical, plot may be compared to The Wizard of Oz (even thought it's more of an after-school special) this wonderfully drawn, poorly-scripted, and terribly-acted construct fails to make audiences care about it's characters or outcome.
Elizabethtown (2005) directed by Cameron Crowe (Almost Famous, 2000); starring Orlando Bloom and Kirsten Dunst: Snaprating=WFD, CHARACTER theme (Problem and Milieu sub-themes). This Lost in Translation set in middle-America, maybe had potential for greatness during pre-production (great script and director) but over-reached with: poor casting, esoteric music, and tacked-on subplots, which all fail in this patchwork-quilt-of-quirkyness.
Jarhead (2005), directed by Sam Mendes (American Beauty, 1999); starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Jamie Foxx: Snaprating=Keeper, CHARACTER theme (Milieu secondary theme). The Vietnam war has Full Metal Jacket, WWII has Saving Private Ryan, now Desert-Shield and -Storm have this humorous-yet-poignant, exceptionally acted, directed, and edited masterpiece.
Memory of a Killer (Zaak Alzheimer, De) (2003) directed by Erik Van Looy (Shades, 1999); starring Jan Decleir and Koen De Bouw: FFF* Snaprating=Cheaper, All Others=WFC, PROBLEM theme (Character secondary theme). Fans of the Korean film Tell Me Something will enjoy this pro-antagonist 'hit-man with a heart' (who's losing his memory).
Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang (2005) directed by Shane Black (directorial debut, screenwriter); starring Robert Downey Jr. and Val Kilmer: Snaprating=Keeper, PROBLEM theme (Character sub-theme). Downey is wonderful in this enthralling and hilarious 'unwitting-PI, murder-mystery-gone-awry', which has the look and feel of The Pink Panther meets Jackie Brown with an Elmore Leonardesque smell and taste.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005) directed by Mike Newell (Four Weddings and a Funeral, 1994); starring Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint: Snaprating=WFD, PROBLEM theme (Milieu sub-theme). If cramming a book (twice as thick as the first ones) into 2 hours: A - Cut a lot out. B - Uniquely tie together fifty slices of information and action. or C - Use a massive amount of CGI and hope the shitload of poorly fitting, choppy scenes will be overlooked. Newell failed at A, never tried B, and accomplished C.
Unleashed (Danny the Dog) (2005) directed by Louis Leterrier (The Transporter, 2002); starring Jet Li and Bob Hoskins: Snaprating=Cheaper, Problem theme. This 'marial arts film with a heart' will be mostly enjoyed by Jet Li fans.
The Girl in the Cafe (2005) directed by David Yates (Big Screen Directorial Debut); starring Bill Nighy and Kelly Macdonald: Snaprating=WFD, Character theme. This made-for-TV film blends two interesting character studies, and humor, packaged into a strong geo-political guilt-trip-heavy message.
Imaginary Heroes (2004) directed by Dan Harris (Big Screen Directorial Debut); starring Sigourney Weaver and Emile Hirsch: Snaprating=WFC, RE-ORDER theme. This Ordinary People-Chumscrubber mixture is interesting because of plot twists, but we never grow to care about the shallow characters and when the twists become resolved, we end up with a handful of whogivesafuck.*PPBOATS = Period Piece Based On A True Story *BPBOATS = Biographical Picture Based On A True Story *FFF = Foreign Film Fan