|FRESH FROM THE THEATERS|
"Bennett Miller's first feature and first collaboration with longtime friend actor Dan Futterman is an artistically fruitful one, a remarkably assured and near-flawless film that manages to hone in one seminal period in the titular writer's life while also capturing the gist of his career arc," wrote Craig Phillips in his end-of-the-year top-ten list at GreenCine Daily as he put Capote right at the top of it. "It's hard to imagine anyone else in the lead than Philip Seymour Hoffman, who captures the oft-imitated writer with complete dimensionality, a long way from caricature."
And of course, PSH has just picked up an Oscar for that performance. Back in September, Craig interviewed Bennett Miller as well.
Paradise Now (2005).
Paradise Now is about suicide bombers like Brokeback Mountain is about gay cowboys. In other words, there's far, far more to the film than its immediate reputation. "Politics aside, the movie is a superior thriller whose shrewdly inserted plot twists and emotional wrinkles are calculated to put your heart in your throat and keep it there," wrote Stephen Holden in the New York Times.
Be sure to check out John Esther's interview with director Hany Abu-Assad as well.
The Squid and the Whale (2005).
#2 on Craig Phillips's best-of-05 list at GreenCine Daily: "Noah Baumbach's inevitably compared to his cohort Wes Anderson but this sharply written, darkly funny work digs deeper and feels less controlled than even Anderson's best work. One of the best films ever about the pains of a divorce, with biblically-bearded Jeff Daniels splendid as the narcissistic, bitter professor/writer father and Jesse Eisenberg his near-equal as the parroting son."
Everything is Illuminated (2005).
Elijah Wood stars in Liev Schreiber's adaptation of the bestselling novel by Jonathan Safran Foer.
"Wonderfully quirky," wrote Preston Jones for DVD Talk, "a hyper-real fable about the importance of history and discovering one's roots, no matter what the cost."
Fun With Dick and Jane (2005).
Watch Fun With Dick and Jane as a double feature with Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room to see why it's one of the most subversive Hollywood comedies in recent years. This dark yet funny remake of the playful original stars Jim Carrey and Téa Leoni.
"Derailed has the plot of an archetypal 1940s film noir," notes Phillip French in the Observer: "Discontented family man meets femme fatale, an affair starts, a blackmailer moves in, things go from bad to worse as the hero sinks into a quicksand of guilt and turpitude." Most importantly: "It held my attention."
Buffalo Boy (2004).
"Set in the haunting watery wilds of Vietnam shortly before north and south were violently parted, when the country was still part of the French imperialist dream and known to the larger world as Indochina, Buffalo Boy tells a deceptively simple tale in a deceptively simple fashion," wrote Manohla Dargis last March in the New York Times. "Ostensibly a coming-of-age story, this languorous, beautifully shot feature debut from Minh Nguyen-Vo, a writer and director, centers on a teenager whose journey from innocence to knowledge is also a twinned meditation on both the natural and very unnatural state of things."
Lodge Kerrigan's third feature, appearing over a decade after his remarkable first, Clean, Shaven, has been a festival favorite and features an intense performance from Damian Lewis as the title character.
"As he tugs at passers-by and grills ticket agents, Keane comes across as a man possessed, a father engulfed by tragedy, the linchpin in some evolving thriller," wrote Manohla Dargis for the New York Times in September. "That he may be all three things at once is what gives this discomforting film its torque as well as a jolt of deep feeling."
The Dying Gaul (2004).
"A Hollywood morality play that less recalls the through-the-looking-glass dreamscapes of Sunset Boulevard and Mulholland Drive than those eerie mid-90s existential nightmares set in the strangulating claustrophobia of Los Angeles like Robert Altman's Short Cuts and Michael Tolkin's wondrous, unheralded The New Age, [playwright-turned-screenwriter, turned-director Craig] Lucas's film is a refreshingly cerebral and enthrallingly melodramatic workout that both plays off of its three principals' best acting traits and also pushes them all to new realms of expression," wrote Michael Koresky for indieWIRE last fall.
Slant's Ed Gonzalez finds Loggerheads "a minor-key Short Cuts that bends over backwards to connect the birthing ritual of the loggerhead turtle to the crisis of abandonment that characterizes and conjoins each of its narrative threads, but while [director Tim] Kirkman's metaphor-building may be strenuous, his take on the relationship drama resonates nuance and precision. Not only is the film distinguished by its very fine performances and lovely detail work but also by its fascinating timeline of events."
Stalag 17 (2000).
In this top-notch classic, Billy Wilder directs William Holden, Peter Graves and Otto Preminger in a winning mix of comedy and drama set at a German POW camp during WWII.
Paul Mooney: Analyzing White America (2002).
A concert performance from the man who's written for Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy, In Living Color and more.
Bukowski: Born Into This (2002).
[Director John] Dullaghan's documentary portrait of the legendary underground writer full of balls, fury, booze, and poetry is the result of seven years of research, filming, and over 150 interviews," notes Kevin Curtis for Reverse Shot. "A surprisingly tender tribute to Bukowski's humanity and analysis of the wild man legend that he cultivated, the film documents his years wandering the country as a common laborer, the 14 years he spent working at a Los Angeles post office, and his final success as a writer." All in all, "an excellent introduction to one of the most important and underappreciated voices in all of American literature."
Breasts: A Documentary (1996).
22 women, ages ranging between 11 and 84, talk about, yes, their breasts. "Both funny and profound," wrote Premiere.
Chicken Little (2005).
A light entertainment for the kids from Disney featuring the voices of Zach Braff, Steve Zahn, Joan Cusack and Amy Sedaris.
Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd Gig Volume 4 (2005).
"A much better offering than the 1st season/gig," writes Ursus of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd Gig: "better writting, and music (Yoko Kanno is the Bee's Knees Baby!!!) with incredible CG animation. Very high production values, great v. actors and dub. Good, Good, Good."
Daphne in the Brilliant Blue Volume 7: Regenesis (2004).
"When duty calls... the girls strip down to their revealing uniforms!" exclaims NLee. "How do those 'techno-panties' stay in place? Inquiry minds want to know."
Mind of Mencia The Complete First Season (2005).
Opening his first show for Comedy Central, Carlos Mencia promises he'll "make fun of anybody." A promise he makes good one for twelve full episodes here.