Reviews

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Grizzly Man (2005)

B- | *** | +1-1| Adults

Who was Timothy Treadwell, the “grizzly man” whose thirteen-year love affair with Alaska’s brown bears came to a tragic end in the fall of 2003 when a hungry brown killed and partially ate him and his girlfriend? Read More >

Match Point (2005)

D | *** | -3| Adults*

The first shot in Woody Allen’s Match Point is meant to serve as a metaphorical master-image for the film as a whole: a freeze-frame shot of a tennis ball suspended in space over the net after striking it, poised between falling on one side of the net or the other. Read More >

Brokeback Mountain (2005)

F | ***½ | -4|

In the end, in its easygoing, nonpolemical way, Brokeback Mountain is nothing less than an indictment not just of heterosexism but of masculinity itself. Read More >

King Kong (2005)

B | *** | +0| Teens & Up*

Peter Jackson’s King Kong is one of those mad movies, like Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge! or Tim Burton’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, that fully justifies and deserves all the best and worst that can be said for or against them. Read More >

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005)

B+ | *** | +3| Kids & Up*

One of the most magical effects in Andrew Adamson’s The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe isn’t rippling computer-generated fur, ice castles, or battle scenes. It’s the wide-eyed wonder and delight on the face of young Lucy Pevensie (Georgie Henley) as she passes beyond the wardrobe for the first time into the winter wonderland of the Narnian wood. Read More >

Witness to Hope: The Life of Karol Wojtyla, Pope John Paul II (2002)

A | ***½ | +3| Kids & Up*

In the crowd of TV documentaries on the life of Pope John Paul II, there is Witness to Hope, and there is everything else. Read More >

Pope John Paul II (2005)

B+ | *** | +3| Teens & Up

Not to be confused with the identically named 1984 Herbert Wise film starring Albert Finney, Pope John Paul II is the first — so far the only — dramatic presentation to do anything like justice to the life and reign of the 20th century’s most popular pope. Read More >

Confession (2005)

C+ | **½ | +2| Teens & Up

Reverent, well directed, and well acted by a respectable cast including Bruce Davison, Tom Bosley and Peter Green, Confession’s weakness is also its promotional gimmick: Meyers directed the film at 24, but wrote the screenplay ten years earlier as a student in a Catholic boarding school. Read More >

Walk the Line (2005)

B+ | *** | +2-1| Adults

More than other recent biopics such as Ray and Kinsey, which made a show of “warts and all” even-handedness even as they softened the reality, Walk the Line dares to allow its protagonist to be genuinely unsympathetic. Read More >

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005)

B | *** | +1-1| Teens & Up

The fourth of seven projected films based on J. K. Rowling’s ongoing adventures of the boy wizard, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire represents the midpoint of the series and of Harry’s schooling at Hogwarts School of Wizardry and Witchcraft. Read More >

Zathura (2005)

C+ | *** | +1-2| Teens & Up

Light on plot and story logic but strong on narrative thrust and fantastic imagery, it’s the most effective of the three films… Alas, Zathura is also a family film of the contemporary family as well as for it. Read More >

Pickpocket (1959)

B+ | ***½ | +2| Teens & Up

Does Michel want to be caught? Does he taunt the inspector because he feels untouchable, or is there another reason? As always, Bresson examines actions but offers little attention to motives, an approach that here seems to suggest that Michel’s choices may be a mystery even to himself, his threadbare theorizing only rationalization. Read More >

Wind in the Willows [Hall/Taylor] (1983)

B+ | *** | +0| Kids & Up

For atmosphere, for style, for the best evocation of the spirit and feel of The Wind in the Willows, you can’t do better than the Hall/Taylor version. Read More >

The Gold Rush (1925)

A | **** | +0| Kids & Up

New from the Criterion Collection, Charlie Chaplinís comedy classic The Gold Rush is now available on Blu-ray and DVD in a single edition that includes both the original 1925 silent film and Chaplin’s 1942 reworking of the film in a quasi-sound edition, with humorous, documentary-like narration replacing the intertitles. Read More >

Apollo 13 (1995)

A | **** | +0| Teens & Up

In an age when we rely on computerized directions and GPS devices to drive to the next town, it seems an almost mythic scenario: brilliant men calculating outer-space trajectories on the fly with pencils and slide rules, keeping life and limb together literally with duct tape, flying to the moon and back simply because they could. Read More >

Jaws (1975)

A | **** | +0| Teens & Up*

Steven Spielberg’s breakout hit is a perfect storm of primal fears (man-eating predators, the unseen, the ocean), shrewd, emotionally riveting direction combined with sympathetic lead performances, and that classic two-note theme from John Williams’ edgy score. Read More >

A Night to Remember (1958)

A- | ***½ | +2| Kids & Up

Based on the 1955 bestseller by Walter Lord, Roy Ward Baker’s 1958 British-made docudrama A Night to Remember remains the clearest, most honorable cinematic depiction of the Titanic disaster, easily eclipsing the earlier 1953 Hollywood melodrama Titanic as well as the much later blockbuster of that same name by James Cameron. Read More >

Twentieth Century (1934)

B+ | ***½ | -1| Teens & Up

Often credited as the first screwball comedy, Howard Hawks’s Twentieth Century is an acerbic satire of show-business ego and superficiality starring John Barrymore and Carole Lombard. Read More >

The Legend of Zorro (2005)

D+ | | +1-1| Teens & Up

More precisely, it’s a “funny family action film” in the Fantastic Four mold — that is, a movie whose key qualification as kid entertainment is that it isn’t good enough for grown‑ups. Too bad. Our kids deserve better. For that matter, so do we. Read More >

The Mask of Zorro (1998)

A- | ***½ | +2| Teens & Up

Thrilling, heartbreaking, witty, romantic, and largely family-friendly, The Mask of Zorro is possibly the best swashbuckler of its decade, a film at once true to the spirit of the classic period actioners and also thoroughly of its own time. Read More >

Batman (1989)

C | **½ | -2| Teens & Up

Critics adored Batman for its eccentric, Burtonesque take on a pop-culture icon, for its moody, noirish gothic art-deco Gotham City, and of course for Jack Nicholson’s showy performance as the Joker. Comic-book fans, meanwhile, appreciated the film for rescuing the Dark Knight from the over-the-top camp comedy of the 1960s series and making him suitably dark and brooding. For all that, though, the film’s flaws are hard to overlook. Read More >

Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella (1965)

B+ | ***½ | +1| Kids & Up

There may be no dethroning the Disney cartoon as the definitive musical retelling of the story of Cinderella in the popular imagination; but for my money Rodgers & Hammerstein’s made-for-TV musical is a better take on the timeless fairy tale set in stone by Charles Perrault, and a better introduction to the story for children. Read More >

Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella (1957)

B+ | *** | +1| Kids & Up

Despite the formidable star power of no less than Julie Andrews, this original version of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s made-for-TV musical Cinderella has been astonishingly neglected, overshadowed by the 1965 version starring Lesley Ann Warren. Read More >

Cinderella (1950)

B | *** | +1| Kids & Up

Coming in the wake of a string of early classics — Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Pinocchio, Fantasia, Dumbo, Bambi — Disney’s Cinderella represents, alas, the early stages of Disney-itis. Read More >

Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005)

B+ | ***½ | -1| Kids & Up*

Stop-motion animation cult heroes Wallace & Gromit, the brainchildren of British animator Nick Park of Aardman Animations, may not be unchanged in the transition from their charmingly dotty, wildly funny shorts to their first feature-length film, but they’re still recognizably themselves. Read More >

The Greatest Game Ever Played (2005)

B+ | *** | +2| Kids & Up

The Greatest Game Ever Played is perhaps the most visually and emotionally dynamic film ever made about a game of golf — perhaps the most visually and emotionally dynamic possible film about a game of golf. Read More >

Serenity (2005)

B+ | ***½ | +1-2| Adults

For long-suffering “Firefly” fans, Serenity is at last a precious opportunity to find out what happens next, not to mention to learn the answers to nagging questions left hanging by the series’ abrupt demise — a journey that is at once thrilling, rewarding, heartbreaking, and wistful. For non-fans, Serenity is a delirious excursion into a world whose setting, characters and relationships are richer and more elaborate than any one-shot movie is likely to be. Read More >

The Three Musketeers (1921)

B- | **½ | -1| Kids & Up*

Danny Kaye in that classic swashbuckling satire The Court Jester may well have been thinking of the great Douglas Fairbanks when he described his own character with the words: “He never walks when he can leap, he never flees when he can fight. He lives for a sigh, he dies for a kiss, he lusts for a laugh!” Read More >

Forbidden Planet (1956)

B+ | *** | +2| Teens & Up

At once intelligent and campy, Forbidden Planet is an intriguing, perhaps overrated sci-fi classic that borrows plot points from Shakespeare’s The Tempest and strongly anticipates “Star Trek” in its sci-fi milieu — but its driving fears are the “monsters from the id,” the wayward, concupiscent passions of our own hearts. Read More >

Corpse Bride (2005)

B+ | ***½ | +2-2| Teens & Up

As imagined by Tim Burton in stunning, wildly stylized stop-motion animation overtly reminiscent of The Nightmare Before Christmas yet technically far beyond it, this macabre fairy tale becomes, variously, a poignant meditation on the daunting weightiness of the vows of marriage, a raucous danse macabre in jumping jazz rhythms and florid colors, a visually rich celebration of Edward Gorey Gothic-Victorian and Charles Addams grotesque, and, perhaps most surprisingly, a touching portrait of tragedy, doomed love, empathy, and sacrifice. Read More >

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