Ten
The Ten is a comedy about the unlikeliest of subjects: The Ten Commandments. When I use the term "comedy," I do so loosely. This is one of those films where the humor is of the hit-and-miss variety, and it misses more often than it hits. The jokes are transparent. It's not difficult to divine what's supposed to be funny. It's just that a lot of the time, I wasn't laughing. Like a bad Monty Python or Saturday Night Live skit, there's no absence of irreverence and the viewer can sort-of understand what the performers are aiming for, but they miss the target. Sometimes it's timing and/or execution and sometimes it's that the gag isn't as funny as the filmmakers think it is, or that it runs too long, or both.

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Blindness

Blindness
It has been said that one of the greatest fears expressed by human beings is to be suddenly struck blind - plunged into a blankness into which sound but no light can penetrate. Imagine this happening not to one person but to an entire population. Those who are blind from birth or lose their sight over time develop means of coping. In a case where vision is suddenly stripped away en masse, the result would be widespread panic. The degree to which society would crumble and fall into oblivion is a matter of individual interpretation, but this is the underlying premise of director Fernando Meirelles' Blindness, a dark, intellectually challenging adaptation of the novel by Jose Saramago. A meditation on isolation and primal urges, Blindness could loosely be classified as a post-apocalyptic story, but the "event" that occurs in this scenario isn't something as prosaic as a nuclear holocaust or a lethal plague. Instead, it's a sickness that renders everyone in the world blind except one woman. To quote Erasmus, "In the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed man is king."

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Fahrenheit 9/11

Fahrenheit 9/11
The primary goal of Fahrenheit 9/11 is obvious: offer evidence that President George W. Bush is an incompetent moron and that his administration is corrupt. One might argue that filmmaker Michael Moore does an adequate job of this, except that, to anyone who follows politics, there's nothing new about those charges. Bush has often shown that, as president, he's in over his head. He has never hidden his lack of intelligence. (How else to explain his constant mispronunciation of "nuclear" as "nucular?") And corruption goes along with politics like peppermint canes go with Christmas trees. One expects more from Moore than the mere regurgitation of well-documented material. We want insight, not surface-skimming. The Supreme Court decided the 2000 election? We know that. Bin Laden's family members were flown out of the United States at a time when planes were grounded? That has been reported in magazines and papers, and is general knowledge. There's strong evidence of a financial connection between Bin Laden's family and Bush? We first heard about that shortly after 9/11. Bush's real goal in the so-called "War on Terrorism" was to force a regime change in Iraq? No surprise.

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Bad News Bears

Bad News Bears
Bad News Bears may be the most entertaining remake of the year (thus far), but that's less a statement of praise than it is a condemnation of this class of movies. With a script co-credited to Bill Lancaster, who penned the original 1976 screenplay, Bad News Bears is true to its source, rarely diverging from the earlier film's storyline, and occasionally re-creating entire scenes. There is, however, a difference in tone. The '70s edition of the film was more family friendly than Richard Linklater's one. Gleefully profane and un-PC, Bad News Bears earns its PG-13 rating, and may cause more conservative parents to shy away from bringing younger children to screenings.

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Ghost World

Ghost World
Ghost World could easily be considered an "anti-Hollywood coming of age story". Although it follows the contours of the genre, the path is different enough to make the movie seem fresh, non-formulaic, and occasionally surprising. Of course, for some viewers, this will represent a down side, since, by choosing not to play by the "rules", Ghost World is not constrained by the necessity to have a happy, unambiguous ending that wraps everything up into a neat little package. Personally, I like open-ended movies - they have more of a "real life" feeling to them - but I recognize that some people can't stand them (at a screening I attended of John Sayles' Limbo - arguably the most open-ended film of all time - distressed audience members threw things at the screen when the closing credits began to roll). Those who are unhappy with open-to-interpretation conclusions may feel cheated by Ghost World.

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RV
A sample of questions that floated through this reviewer's mind while watching RV... Is the name "Big Rolling Turd" supposed to apply to the RV or the movie? Where's Chevy Chase when you need him? And, considering all the movies not being shown to critics this year, why did the studio choose this one to subject us to?

Have you ever been at a party where a guy starts telling a long-winded, unremarkable story? He thinks it's so hilarious that he guffaws his way through it. The problem is, he's the only one who thinks it's funny. One or two moments might be worth a chuckle, but the thing as a whole is a bore. You want nothing more than to find a reason to get away from this guy and look for someone - anyone - else to mingle with. RV is that story, and Barry Sonnenfeld is the storyteller.

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All Over Me

All Over Me
Welcome to Hell's Kitchen: a part of New York City that's not on many visitors' tour maps. Hell's Kitchen the quintessential inner city: no one has any money, crime is rampant, and everyone dreams of getting out. It makes a great backdrop for a motion picture, provided that you want your story to be set against a world of poverty, violence, and drug abuse. Since that's precisely what first-time film makers Alex and Sylvia Sichel were after, Hell's Kitchen is the perfect setting for their debut, All Over Me.

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Les Miserables

Les Miserables
Claude Lelouch's Les Miserables is one of the year's motion picture triumphs: an epic drama that takes the themes of Victor Hugo's novel and transplants them to the twentieth century. Rather than merely re-telling a story that has previously been brought to life in a variety of different incarnations (including a hugely popular musical), Lelouch has chosen to take ideas, plot strings, and themes from the novel and apply them in a unique and tremendously effective manner to the greatest tragedy of this century: World War II and Hitler's Final Solution.

The film centers around four people whose lives are inextricably entwined. They come together, offer redemption and salvation to each other, then are ripped apart. The outsider is Henri Fortin (Jean-Paul Belmondo), a former middleweight boxing champion-turned-truck driver who has agreed to aid a Jewish family in their flight from Nazi occupied France to Switzerland. The refugees are Andre Ziman (Michel Boujenah), a renowned defense attorney; Elise Ziman (Alessandra Martines), a premiere ballerina; and their young daughter, Salome (Salome Lelouch).

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Fargo
Fargo takes the usual "caper gone wrong" storyline and applies a new twist. Based on a supposed series of "true events" from 1987 (a tongue-in-cheek claim made by a screen caption), the film examines what can happen when the police and criminals are equally dim-witted. The product of the Coen brothers' fertile (and twisted) minds, Fargo represents one of their least ambitious screenplays to date. Even so, the finished product still bears several of their unmistakable trademarks, including atypical humor and an unmistakable visual flair.

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Heavenly Creatures

Heavenly Creatures
"All the best people have bad chests and bone diseases. It's all frightfully romantic."
- Juliet Hulme, Heavenly Creatures

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Warriors of Terra

Warriors of Terra
A headstrong animal-rights activist group plans a raid on a bio-tech company to stop the cruelty. They discover the true nature of the experiments that are really taking place. As they break into a biotech lab only to have their idealism crushed by the terrifying things they find inside. But when a genetically mutated human with a taste for human flesh gets released, they all struggle to survive!

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Pictures of Hollis Woods

Pictures of Hollis Woods
After running away from her last foster placement with the Regan family, twelve year old Hollis Woods is placed with a new foster mother, the loving, retired art teacher, Josie Cahill. Hollis is a talented artist and her life stories unfold through her pictures. One revealing picture is the W picture Hollis drew for a first grade class assignment on the letter w. Hollis drew her Wish, her Want. She drew a picture of a family. Hollis had that family in the Regans, but fear of attachment and motional turmoil caused her to run away. As Josies forgetfulness grows worse, Hollis is forced into the role of caretaker. Through her artwork and her care of Josie, Hollis Woods finds her family. Based on the Newberry Honor award winning book with the same name.

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Cadillac Man

Cadillac Man
Brooklyn car salesman Joey O'Brien (Robin Williams) must deal with the ever-increasing pressures in his life: he has an ex-wife demanding alimony, a daughter who's missing, a married mistress (Fran Drescher) and a single mistress (Lori Petty) who are both desperately in love with him, and a two-day deadline to either sell twelve cars or lose his job. In addition, he has an outstanding loan to a Mafia Don which he must either quickly repay, or lose his life.

On the day of the big dealership car sale (and the final day of O'Brien's deadline), the car dealership is taken hostage by an AK-47-toting motorcyclist (Tim Robbins) (on a Kawasaki H2) who believes his wife (Annabella Sciorra) is cheating on him. Joey manages to talk the man out of doing any harm to the other hostages, as police surround the dealership. After most of the hostages are released, the police wound the assailant due to belief that his gun was still loaded. Joey promises to stick with him while he recovers. In the end, he gets back together with his wife and drives off as the hero of the day.

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Amadeus

Amadeus
Antonio Salieri believes that Mozarts music is divine. He wishes he was himself as good a musician as Mozart so that he can praise the Lord through composing. But he cant understand why God favored Mozart, such a vulgar creature, to be his instrument. Salieris envy has made him an enemy of God whose greatness was evident in Mozart. He is set to take revenge.

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King Ralph

King Ralph
When an accident obliterates the British royal family and most of its branches, a desperate geneological search discovers the next king Ralph, a sleazy American lounge singer. Can Ralph measure up to the job, even with the help of loyal aristocrat Willingham?

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Maid of Honor

Maid of Honor
While driving in the road, Richard Wynn crashes his car and his beloved wife Carrie Wynn dies. Along two years, his sister-in-law Laci Collins moves to his house and helps Richard to raise his son Danny Wynn and his teenage daughter Molly Wynn. When Richard decides to get married with Nicole Harris, the deranged and psychotic Laci that is in love for Richard, tries to force Richard to call off the wedding with malevolence against Nicole and manipulating Danny.

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