Recent Reviews

Recent Reviews

Anchorman, Before Sunset, Carandiru, Catwoman, Fahrenheit 9/11, Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, and all the rest…

Dir. Adam McKay; writ. Will Ferrell & Adam McKay; feat. Will Ferrell, Christina Applegate, Paul Rudd, Steven Carell, David Koechner (PG-13)
Ferrell plays anchorman Ron Burgundy, whose all-male, fraternity-like news team is thrown into disarray when the station hires a woman who takes her job very seriously. The two fall madly in love, but professional jealousy gets in the way. Will Ferrell with wounded pride is enough to hang a movie on, but Will Ferrell with wounded pride and a Burt Reynolds moustache is a reason to go online and buy advance tickets. It is roughly the era of Starsky and Hutch, and the atmosphere that middling flick worked so hard to capture is evoked effortlessly here; the difference is æ as is true so often with Will Ferrell æ that you get the feeling the movie is doing this for its own pleasure, with no thought of mocking the '70s for the benefit of smug 21st Century hipsters. JD

Before Sunset
Dir. Richard Linklater; writ. Richard Linklater, Kim Krizan; feat. Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy (R)
Nine years ago, in Before Sunrise, Jesse (Hawke) and Celine (Delpy), two strangers off a train, spent one romantic evening exploring Vienna and each other. In Before Sunset, the American man and French woman renew their acquaintance, this time in Paris. Linklater flouts the conventions of movie drama; despite powerful sexual undercurrents, the film is all talk and no action, or rather the action is in the conversation, often insipid but authentic. "I'm relieved to hear you're not one of those 'freedom fries' kind of Americans," Celine tells Jesse. Though not an anti-French jingoist, Jesse is one of those stubbornly monolingual kinds of Americans. It is unclear why Celine feels drawn to him, once every nine years. SGK

Dir. Hector Babenco; writ. Babenco, Fernando Bonassi, Dráuzio Varella (book); feat. Luiz Carlos Vasconcelos, Ivan de Almeida, Ailton Craça, Gero Camilo, Lázaro Ramos, Caio Blat, Wagner Moura (R)
Brazilian filmmaker Hector Babenco is known for championing civilization's unwanted citizens, bringing a distinctive empathy to the material that makes his movies class-conscious in a particularly human way. Here, Babenco looks at one of Brazil's most infamous prisons through the eyes of a doctor who worked there just before things really went to hell. In some of the most appalling scenes of police brutality put on film, we see the real-life massacre that took the lives of 111 inmates even though no policemen were killed. In a flash of blood and smoke, Carandiru turns from a curiosity to a dignified statement of outrage. JD

Dir. Pitof; writ. Bob Kane and Theresa Rebeck; feat. Halle Berry, Benjamin Bratt, Sharon Stone, Lambert Wilson, Frances Conroy, Alex Borstein, Michael Massee (R)
Halle Berry plays Patience Phillips, a sensitive, insecure artist schlepping away in the advertising department of a cosmetics giant. Too meek to speak up to her boss, too timid to get her noisy neighbors to quiet down, through a series of events Phillips gains inner strength along with the powers of a cat: agility, dexterity, sensitive hearing, night vision, and a fondness for catnip. Catwoman is the latest in the recent string of comic book-inspired characters to hit the big screen; unfortunately, like the bulk of the current slate this one's better off in its original incantation. This cinematic Catwoman shares little with her four-color counterpart other than her name. Everyone else - consider yourself warned. AP

Fahrenheit 9/11
Dir. Michael Moore (R)
To the popular, manipulated, mind, the deadly attacks on New York and Washington committed by al Qaeda transformed an executive slacker into a cross between Churchill and Roland. Moore dissents. His post-9-11 Bush is an Orwellian monster who exploits public fear for partisan advantage and fosters ceaseless war in order to consolidate control. Fahrenheit 9/11 is not "balanced." Its antecedent is not those tedious documentaries whose voice-of-God narration soothes us into submission, but rather Emile Zola's "J'accuse." The imperial president, says Moore, has no clothes, except a Navy flight jacket he never earned. Fahrenheit 9/11 saddens, infuriates, informs, and empowers. SGK

Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle Dir. Danny Leiner; writ. Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg; feat. John Cho, Kal Penn (R) The title recalls Dumb & Dumber. The director brought us Dude, Where's My Car? But audiences may be surprised to find this update on the classic stoner movie funnier than expected. The movie tries to confront minority stereotyping by casting ethnic actors as prototypical American college students, and these latter-day Odysseuses suffer from easy-to-identify-with problems. Even the most cliché of the gags had an extra naughtiness that prompted exclamatory and even tear filled-laughter. Not to say that this movie will be a life-changing experience, but it may be a couple of weeks before you can get the phrase "Thank you, come again," out of your head. EB

Films reviewed by:

EB: Eric Bradshaw
JD: John DeFore
SGK: Steven G. Kellman
SDP: Susan Pagani
AP: Alejandro Pérez
RP: Rich Perin
LS: Lisa Sorg
JW: Joe Weiss
EW: Elaine Wolff