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There's a lot you can do inside a wooden coffin, as it turns out. As one-room storytelling goes, Spanish director Rodrigo Cortés takes 'Buried' to a horrific new extreme. Taking place entirely inside the confines of a wooden crate, Buried is equal parts thriller and spectacle; the kind of filmmaking that smacks of invention – but with genuine purpose, not just as an exercise in gimmickry.
Ryan Reynolds' character, Paul Conroy, is in an unfortunate position. He's a contract truck driver working in a province of Iraq and now he's buried in a box somewhere in the desert – and that's all he knows. What follows is a tense and occasionally shocking story that relies almost entirely on clever sound design and carefully manipulated lighting elements to provoke reactions from the audience.
For this critic, reviewing a movie like April Showers is very difficult. I often think that movies made this recently about a tragedy as deep and damaging as what happened at Columbine High School ten years ago this month veer dangerously close to exploitation. It turns out that a label like that would be too easy a way to write off this accomplished, harrowing, and deeply, deeply personal film. Writer/director Andrew Robinson was actually there on that day in that school. A Columbine grad, a decade later he has become a filmmaker with something to say about how people heal and attempt to cope after unimaginable tragedy. I was concerned that April Showers would be nothing more than an exploitative TV movie of the week. (I actually requested the screener mistakenly thinking that it was a documentary and felt my stomach drop when I realized that it was not.) It's not exploitation. And it's not a TV movie. It’s (mostly) not melodrama. April Showers is a moving, well-made piece of work with daring and genuine performances from a talented young cast. It's not a perfect film, but it's also not what you'd expect and a story that feels like it's told in a way that only someone with personal knowledge of what happened that day could possibly have made.
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I saw Gigli for much the same reason that a good portion of the movie's eventual audience will see it. Jen and Ben? No. Morbid curiosity? Yes. After all, it had become fashionable to rip Gigli. The advance word on this film was so vicious that I had to see for myself if it's as bad as its early reputation suggested. The verdict: Gigli doesn't live up to (or should that be down to?) its hype. The worst film of all time? Give me a break. Gigli isn't even the worst film of the summer, and won't come close to the year's Bottom 10 list. I'm not going to defend the movie. I don't recommend it and, for the most part, it's an example of inept filmmaking, but it is watchable. I have to wonder if those who are coming down so hard on the motion picture have a secondary agenda. Are they reviewing Gigli, or are they making a comment on the tabloid supersaturation associated with the Jen & Ben show? (As a side note, I am unable to determine why anyone but their friends and family care what's going on with these two. What difference does it make to your life?)
The cinematic landscape of early 2000 is littered with the carcasses of disappointing dinosaurs presented by respected, or at least recognizable, filmmakers: John Frankenheimer and What Planet Are You From?, Danny Boyle and The Beach, Brian De Palma and Mission to Mars, and Roman Polanski and The Ninth Gate. Finally, with Erin Brockovich, Steven Soderbergh has at least temporarily halted the trend. Erin Brockovich is a source of unimpeachable entertainment - a breath of fresh air in an arid, lifeless desert of studio dumps and throwaways. An intelligent and involving thriller featuring a strong performance from lead actress Julia Roberts and scene-stealing work from Albert Finney, Erin Brockovich represents the first enthusiastic recommendation I can make for a 2000 motion picture.
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It is not an easy thing to walk into a theater and willingly open oneself to being transported back to the blackest day (at least thus far) of the 21st century. There are those who believe this movie should not be released, that it is "too soon." I will admit to having believed there was merit to this position - until I saw Paul Greengrass' vision brought to the screen. United 93 is its own most compelling defender. There's not a whiff of exploitation to be found. This is an honest, fact-based account that exists for two reasons: to assure that we do not forget the events of that day and to remind us that amidst all the horror and tragedy, there was still room for heroism. If not for the actions of the doomed passengers of United Flight 93, the United States might not have a Capitol Building.
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It's lighter, brighter, funnier, faster-paced, and a whole lot more colorful than before. There's a new actor underneath the cape, a new girlfriend on his arm, and a new partner by his side. The director is different and the composer has changed. The villains -- Jim Carrey decked out in a neon question-mark jacket and Tommy Lee Jones with a face out of The Elephant Man -- are making their debuts. Yet somehow, perhaps because of the costume, it still feels like the same Batman we've gotten to know in two previous films. The same, yet different -- and much better.
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In the Line of Fire
In 1963, Frank Horrigan was among the "best and brightest" of the Secret Service, the personal choice of President Kennedy. On November 22 in Dallas, an afternoon that Horrigan will never forget, he became one of the few living agents to lose a president. Now, decades later and only months before a presidential election (perhaps 1992 or 1996 - we're never told exactly), Mitch Leary (John Malkovich) is stalking the President. Believing there to be an intangible bond between himself and Horrigan (he says they were both betrayed by a government they had once loved), Leary makes contact with the Secret Service agent to discuss his intentions. Following his conversation with the potential killer, Horrigan acts quickly to get himself posted to protection duty. This time, he has no intention of failing and believes that, given the opportunity, he will take the bullet. But Leary has everything on his side -- time, opportunity, and a group of pig-headed behind-the-scenes men at the White House who refuse to alter the President's itinerary no matter how grave the apparent danger is. And, as the election draws closer, Horrigan's chances of averting a second tragedy seem progressively less likely.
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The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio
The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio is based on the true story of housewife Evelyn Ryan, who helped support her family by winning entries in jingle-writing contests.
Evelyn's husband, Kelly, failed to support his family in part due to apparent alcoholism. He had dreamed of being a singer but lost his singing voice in a car accident, and was often cruel and abusive.
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The Way Back
The film begins with Janusz (Jim Sturgess), a Polish POW, being interrogated by a Soviet officer. Janusz refuses to admit his guilt. His wife is brought in to the room and forced to make a statement condemning Janusz. Janusz is sentenced to 20 years in the Gulag.
At the camp in Siberia, Janusz meets Mr. Smith (Ed Harris), an American Metro engineer; an actor named Khabarov (Mark Strong); Valka (Colin Farrell), a hardened Russian criminal; Tomasz, an artist and the group's cook; Kazik, a Pole who suffers from night blindness; Voss, a Latvian priest; and Zoran, a Yugoslav accountant. Khabarov confides to Janusz that he has a plan for escaping. Khabarov's proposed route is south to Mongolia, passing Lake Baikal. Mr. Smith tells Janusz that Khabarov is fantasizing about his desire to escape in order to improve his own morale, and that, in his opinion, escape is impossible. Janusz maintains his resolve.
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John Skillpa, a quiet bank clerk living in tiny Peacock, Nebraska, prefers to live an invisible life. This might have to do with Johns secret he has another personality no one knows about, a woman who each morning does his chores and cooks him breakfast before he starts his day. Then, in a moment, everything changes...
Larry Burrows is unhappy and feels powerless over his life. He believes his entire life could have turned out differently had he not missed that shot in a baseball game when was a kid. One night he meets this mysterious man, who could change his fate by offering him that alternative life he always dreamed of. But as Burrows embarks on this journey of self discovery he realises that even this new life has its problems and drawbacks..
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Hysteria grips California in the wake of the bombing of Pearl harbour as an assorted group of defenders attempt to make the coast defensible against an imagined Japanese invasion in this big budget, big cast comedy. Members of a Japanese submarine crew scout out the madness.
Green Eyed Monster
David convinces his friends that there is money-for-the-taking buried at his uncles Ranch and that he can lead them to it. His cousin Ashley warns them that the place has a grim history, but the promise of riches is all too enticing. In trying to find the money, they uncover something buried within us all and one by one they mysteriously disappear.
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Jack is leading a double life. As an undercover cop infiltrating a notorious gang of criminals, hes walking through the shadows of no mans land. His task is to bring down The Guvnor, but there are a few things he didnt see coming. Like his friendship with gang member Nathan blurring the line between ally and enemy. Or that Nathans beautiful sister would turn his life upside down. Or that The Guvnors psychotic daughter Natalie would have a dangerous agenda of her own. Suddenly Jack finds himself in the midst of a perilous and volatile situation, one which threatens to explode into disaster at any moment.
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When Dan OGrady returns to the U.S. after stealing some Irish leprechauns pot of gold, he thinks he can settle down and enjoy his newfound wealth. He thought wrong. The leprechaun followed him and OGrady barely gets away with his life, having locked the little monster in his basement. Ten years later, J.D. and his spoiled daughter Tory move in. By accident, the leprechaun is released and almost immediately the annoying creature starts to look for his gold, not displaying any respect for human life.
A group of Ghost Hunters discover a powerful force that puts one of their members in great danger.