While this plot easily falls into the "underdog comes from behind" genre, it's raised up a notch or two by the gritty, naturalistic direction of Curtis Hanson (L.A.Confidential) However, as an actor, Eminem is just not present. Even when he's in his element at the MC battles, his eyes barely flicker. And this is where the real problem with 8 Mile lies. Eminem is an amazing rapper, and we don't really get to see him strut his stuff until the climax of the film. By then, we're so uninterested in whether the character succeeds or not, we're robbed of the emotional high that comes with the ending of, say, The Karate Kid. (Wm. Steven Humphrey)
Listen closely to the sound of my voice: 10 seconds after this film is over, it will disappear completely from your memory. Even though it was much funnier than you hoped it would be, you'll only remember how hard you laughed when Billy Crystal drooled sushi all over the table. Actually, you'll forget it even without hypnosis, because Analyze That, the second film about the shenanigans of an anxious mobster (Robert De Niro) and his shrink (Billy Crystal), is inherently disposable. MATT FONTAINE
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Children of the Century
A chronicle of the affair between cross-dressing female novelist George Sand and Alfred de Musset, which took place in the 19th Century.
Rarely do freshmen make the drumline, but thanks to his phat chops, my man Devon makes the cut. Of course we all know that you can take the boy out of the 'hood, but you can't take the 'hood out of the boy. What this film presupposes is, maybe you can? Does this ruff 'n' tumble protagonist have heart enough to overcome the obstacles? Will he and the band take top honors at the BET Big Southern Classic, or will he let his dreams and the girl slide through his fingers? I probably needn't tell you that Drumline is so predictable that it's over before you even walk into the theater, but if for some reason you make it that far, I won't say that it's unwatchable. (Johnathan Mahalak )
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Far From Heaven
From the lavish font of the main titles and the sweet sweeping strains of Elmer Bernstein, we are clued in that this is a major transport piece--one that will remind us of movies no longer produced. Todd Haynes has reinvented the melodrama, yet infused it with a new life that is subtle, touching, and entertaining. Returning to the home-as-prison theme he mastered in Safe, our femme du jour, Cathy Whitaker (Julianne Moore), smiles her way through domestic disturbance, racial tension and personal crisis. (Brian Brait)
Selma Hayek is traditionally gorg, and while her portrayal of Frida is bursting at the seams with joie-de-fricking-vivre, the film version shows her as relatively moustache-less, as you probably already know from Feminist Film Geek Monthly. But regardless, this is Julie Taymor's film, all the way, and the images she paints across the screen are an enthusiastic, vivid homage to Frida's art and spirit. (Julianne Shepherd)
Gangs of New York
As an orphaned Irishman driven for vengeance, Leonardo DiCaprio delivers a Method acted, closed-off performance (there's also the nagging fact that he looks downright beefy, for playing a street urchin raised on gruel). Daniel Day-Lewis, on the other hand, owns every frame he's featured in as the gleefully sadistic leader of the reining anti-immigrant gang. It's a showy, hambone part, replete with stovepipe hat and a Snidely Whiplash 'stache, and Day-Lewis makes the most of it. The backdrop soars, at the expense of the foreground. The awkward placement of needless flashbacks and voiceover narration suggests that this discord may be due more to studio-mandated jitters than anything else. (Apparently, a longer, more sure-footed cut exists.) The final result is a bet-hedging misstep of the sort that only a master filmmaker can make. (Andrew Wright)
Harry Potter 2
The delightful saga of a boy and his wand continues. Attendance is mandatory. Thankfully, this second milking of J.K. Rowling's cash cow is significantly more relaxed and less helplessly reverent this time around, although the 160-plus minute running time really pushes the outer limits of magical enchantment. The returning cast is in tip-top form, but newcomer Kenneth Branagh commits effortless theft as a hilariously poncy warlock. Still no substitute for the imagination of the deservedly beloved book, but leagues better than the standard demo-pandering blockbuster. The climactic high-decibel CGI onslaught may be a bit too intense for the younger tykes, though. Sit on the aisle, arachnophobes. (Andrew Wright)
The Hot Chick
Tamara: While the audience around me rollicked with uncontrolled mirth at the racist, sexist, homophobic and deeply stupid non-jokes, I literally began to weep with despair. Maybe I'll get a nice burqua and raise goats on the side of a rocky mountain. Matt: You're just offended because the fat girl was grotesquely devouring foodstuffs in every scene. American moviegoers have spoken, and they say: gay people make us want to puke, Rob Schneider! So show us a scene where one character's implied homosexuality makes another character literally vomit with disgust! (Tamara Paris & Matt Fontaine)
Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
The Two Towers starts where Fellowship left off, of course: Sam (Sean Astin) and Frodo (Elijah Wood) make off towards Mordor with the ultimate task of throwing the One Ring into its fires (the only way to prevent the total destruction of Middle-Earth). The rest of the Fellowship--Aragorn, Gimli the dwarf, that dude who looks like Mark-Paul Gosselaar--have left so as not to be seduced by the ring's awesome power, and begin battling the utter shitload of Uruk-hai that Saruman has sent to obliterate all that is living. There are battle scenes galore, and the three hours go by super quick, leaving you longing for more! (Julianne Shepherd)
Maid In Manhattan
Cinderella, of course, was a gentleman's daughter forced to act as a scullery maid, whose essential nobility was outed by her fairy godmother; Jennifer Lopez's Marisa, who is actually a maid, is similarly smart and (ethically) noble, which is why Ralph Fiennes' conservative-but-big-hearted politician falls ass over teakettle for her when he sees her in borrowed finery. (Tamara Paris)
A pet project of the uniquely polarizing Roberto Benigni (Italy's idiot son acts as writer, director, and star), the live action version of Italy's most beloved fairytale about engorging appendages.
Rabbit Proof Fence
The most striking aspect of Rabbit-Proof Fence is its simplicity; its bald setting in Western Australia's bush, its story, and its characters. It relates the true tale of Molly, a 14-year-old Aborigine, her sister, and their cousin. Part of the Stolen Generation, they were forcibly seized and placed in a racial assimilation compound. Their escape and journey back home is heroic, but the impassive representation of it undermines a fulfilling sense of sympathy. (Marjorie Skinner)
Things that can be praised without reservation about Solaris include the dazzling production design, Cliff Martinez's percussion-rich score, and the luminous Natascha McElhone as Clooney's semi-estranged wife. Less tangible, but equally undeniable is the director's skill at illuminating the many ways regret stains memory (similar to what he accomplished with The Limey, but far less reliant here on showy Mixmaster editing). Any other enjoyment or significance may depend upon your personal feelings about love and loss, and how well they synch up with the filmmaker's. (Andrew Wright)
Star Trek: Nemesis
Shinzon, a slave from Romulus's hellish mining colony, Remus, ascends to power via a violent coup. Captain Picard and the starship Enterprise are brought in to forge an alliance with the new leader. There are, however, two sticking points: (1) Shinzon has a chip on his shoulder the size of O.J. Simpson's best fitting glove, and (2) Shinzon, inexplicably, is Picard, only 30 odd years younger. All the characters, save for Picard and Shinzon, by this point are virtually relegated to window dressing status. As a result, this action-heavy sequel's narrative is cleaner and more efficient than most of its predecessors. (Kudzai Mudede)
Two Weeks Notice
Sandra Bullock plays a sharp as a tack lawyer and Hugh Grant is her boss. When she calls it quits, he realizes he might just like women with upper lip hair.