fernandorafael's Movie Ratings - Rotten Tomatoes

Movie Ratings and Reviews

Changing the Game

Drawing inspiration from Niccolò Machiavelli's "The Prince" and "Sun Tzu's The Art of War", THE classic, go-to books for strategists, be they salespeople, stockbrokers or sports coaches, "Changing the Game" finds the connection between the mean streets of Philly and the cutthroat world of Wall Street and spins a tale of a smart man's rise to the top of the ladder, achieving financial success with its share of intrigue, deception and danger, and tells it with a little bit of 80's flair. The acting's not going to set the world of fire, but the work of this certainly talented cast of unknowns is good and well-suited to the material. Tighter, seamless editing would've helped, as well as a more polished script, but all in all, "Changing the Game" is an interesting analogy between two worlds that seem different but are more alike than you might think.

The Help
The Help(2011)

The big reason The Help isn't already sweeping up awards and probably won't make much of a dent at February's Oscars is that it's not poignant enough. The subject matter is a sensitive one (racism and segregation), and it's been covered countless times on the big screen, but this film's treatment of it remains a little superficial and lightweight. It's a testament, then, to the strength of Kathryn Stockett's characters (she wrote the novel on which this movie is based) that despite these issues, The Help is still very touching (and funny). Visually, it's much more appealing. The bright pastel colors captured by cinematographer Stephen Goldblatt pop beautifully. But mainly, The Help is a master class in acting, a plethora of incredible performances, three of them worthy of Oscar recognition: Viola Davis in her first starring role since her show-stopping breakthrough in 2008's Doubt, Octavia Spencer's hilarious and heartbreaking Minny and a delicious Jessica Chastain in full Amy-Adams mode. Bryce Dallas Howard, clearly enjoying her time as the ultimate stuck-up bitch, Emma Stone and Cicely Tyson round out the finest ensemble of 2011.

A Better Life
½

A Better Life is director Chris Weitz's (Twilight: New Moon; About a Boy) and writer Eric Eason's take on the life of illegal immigrants in Los Angeles, their work and the upbringing of their bicultural offspring. Weitz, an American with the smallest hint of Hispanic heritage (his grandmother was film actress Lupita Tovar), should be commended for turning in a realistic portrayal of Mexican people. The film's best asset, though, is Demián Bichir, a star in Mexico and part of an established acting dynasty. His slow-burning, understated, heart wrenching performance is already generating Oscar buzz. Breakthrough actor Josà (C) Julián provides great support as his volatile son.

Win Win
Win Win(2011)

The latest film by indie darling Tom McCarthy (The Visitor, Up) is, to borrow a word from the title (and Charlie Sheen), "winning"Â?. Win Win is at the same time wholly original and refreshingly familiar. This sweetly comic independent dramedy features fantastic acting from Paul Giamatti, Amy Ryan, Bobby Cannavale (hilarious) and Melanie Lynskey. It could've gone the sappy Blind Side route (a film with similar themes) but thankfully it didn't.

The Celebration (Festen)

Simple, stripped-down film by Danish auteur Thomas Vinterberg, made under the Dogme 95 manifesto which, among other things, promotes shooting with a handheld camera while restricting the use of artificial lighting. The realistic, almost home-video style and look of the film makes it feel natural, organic, unrehearsed. Having seen a stage adaptation a few years ago, the film's main revelation did not come as a shock to me, but it wasn't any less devastating, thanks in great part to Ulrich Thomsen's work, a restrained performance that stands out even more when compared to some of his costars' overacting.

Beginners
Beginners(2011)
½

As I've stated times before, I'm not a big fan of using the word "cute"Â? when it comes to describing films but I cannot accurately review Beginners without employing it. Mike Mills' semi-autobiographical first feature is sweet and poignant. Christopher Plummer and Ewan McGregor share great chemistry as father and son; their relationship is the core of the film and the most emotionally rewarding. French actress MÃ (C)lanie Laurent (Inglourious Basterds) and Goran Visnjic give them good support. However, the brightest star in the film is the extraordinary writing by Mills, an inventive, Oscar-worthy script that's been earning accolades throughout the awards season.

Melancholia
Melancholia(2011)

Lars Von Trier. He's kind of psycho, isn't he? He's always trying to shock and provoke and when he's not doing that, he's working hard to put across his dark perception that humankind as a whole is a horrible and vile thing. As any serious film viewer might attest, a Von Trier film (or at least his more recent ones) is not a pleasant experience (although after Antichrist, this seems totally tame). Melancholia is an unsettling tale told with visual flair and excellent music. Somehow, this head case of a filmmaker always manages to attract serious acting talent and his latest cast is at the top of their game. Kirsten Dunst (a winner at Cannes) plays Justine in a mixture of aggression, depression and repulsion. Charlottes Rampling and Gainsbourg are memorable. Melancholia is really very long (or at least feels like it), but it helps if you watch it with someone (which I rarely do) or have a phone with Internet access.

Attack the Block

Attack the Block is electric, youthful and brimming with energy. The alien design is a particular triumph. Sadly, its teen protagonists are obnoxious, dimwitted thugs, an unshakable fact that makes it hard to root for these kids and even harder to like this modern British offering. Jodie Whitaker plays Sam, the sole sympathetic character in the film. Continuing the 2010-2011 trend of predominantly electronic scores (The Social Network, Hanna, Drive, Contagion, among others), duo Basement Jaxx supplies the music for this action comedy. This, along with the quick pace and swift camerawork, makes Attack the Block sufficiently fun, but it would've been much more engrossing if we actually cared whether these idiots die or not.

The Fall
The Fall(2006)

The Fall is the graphic representation of the vivid imagination of a little girl (Catinca Untaru), inspired by the tales told by a Hollywood stuntman who dreams of being a movie star and getting the girl (a remarkable Lee Pace). The narrative is all over the place but visually, this film is a masterpiece. This majestic picture deserves to be watched, to be seen.

Get Him to the Greek

Moderately enjoyable comedy from Nicholas Stoller, spun off the far better Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Funny enough to not qualify as a waste of time, but the tonal shifts and the sheer unlikability of its characters weigh Get Him to the Greek down. The performances are great, however. Russell Brand was born to play obnoxious Aldous Snow; Jonah Hill and Elisabeth Moss are memorable, but it's Rose Byrne and (quite surprisingly) Sean 'Diddy' Combs who steal the whole show.

The Cutting Edge: The Magic of Movie Editing
½

Fascinating documentary about a field that, at first glance, doesn't seem very interesting (it is). The Cutting Edge demonstrates the importance of an editor, the unsung hero of the film industry, without overly glorifying the profession. Kathy Bates narrates and movie icons such as Spielberg, Scorsese, Tarantino, Jodie Foster and Sean Penn share their point of view. Goes to show that a documentary that's, in a very big way, educational, can also be very entertaining.

Double Indemnity
½

Even when they reveal the ending right after the initial credits stop rolling, Billy Wilder and Raymond Chandler manage to keep the suspense high. Double Indemnity might seem slow and talky, because it is, but I really can't complain. The cast, particularly Barbara Stanwyck and Edward G. Robinson, delivers. Besides, this film features some of the best dialog I've ever heard! I'm so in love with the script.

Contagion
Contagion(2011)

An engrossing and powerful thriller, far scarier than the average horror flick, Contagion inspires real terror with a worldwide pandemic that's not too far from reality. The all-star cast is solid, with Jude Law, Matt Damon and Jennifer Ehle standing out. The electronic score by Cliff Martinez (Drive) goes perfectly with the somber tone and austere look of the movie. My only issue with the film is the pace. It flows at breakneck speed (for me at least; I've read comments saying it's unbearably slow) and it's nearly impossible to identify with the characters, especially those who drop like flies.

Jesus Camp
Jesus Camp(2006)
½

Jesus Camp has the unique power to be hilarious (that song, "Who's in the House" by Carman, is funny as hell) but also utterly enraging: the indoctrination, the shunning of traditional education over close-minded homeschooling, the claim that global warming is a lie! Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady let their subjects and their actions speak for themselves and what they've captured is incredible.

Moneyball
Moneyball(2011)
½

Moneyball starts off a little rough but (and I never thought I'd say this) it improves significantly once Jonah Hill steps into the picture. From that point on, it's a fun, profoundly entertaining film that escapes the restraints of a "sports movie". I found it funny and moving and surprisingly engrossing, especially since I don't know the first thing about baseball (nor I care). Brad Pitt gives another winning performance (I dare you not to be touched as he listens to his daughter's singing), with extraordinary supporting work by Hill and Philip Seymour Hoffman (another of the year's omnipresent thespians). The ending is as anticlimactic as they come, though.

The Tree of Life

The Tree of Life follows the upbringing of three boys in 1950's Texas by a domineering father and a nurturing mother. It leaps from there to a brilliant chapter where we see the wonders of Nature: cells dividing, volcanoes erupting, dinosaurs walking the Earth. Those images are stunning, yes, but they don't really connect seamlessly with the main story. Apparently, they don't have to. These scenes have been described as not "narratively connected" but "thematically complementary". I don't exactly agree with that idea, since I felt I was watching two completely separate films.

A pair of general notions can be extracted from this dazzling albeit pretentious experiment by Malick, one of them being that every living creature on this planet has a tendency for violence. A second one, the most evident (and one which many other works of art have dealt with) is that each and every one of us, despite how highly we think of ourselves, are minuscule compared to the scope of the Universe.

Tree of Life is grandiloquent and overreaching, but it's also the most visually arresting film I've ever seen. Props go out to Mexican cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki and special effects supervisor Douglas Trumbull. The acting is very impressive, as well. Next-big-thing Jessica Chastain and newbie Hunter McCracken are great in their breakthrough roles but it's Brad Pitt who renders the best work in this unique film.

Cuchillo de palo (108)

Even though the narrative builds momentum and the discoveries pop up slowly, the story is told in a very straightforward way, so it feels closer to journalism than to cinema. Director and "star" Renate Costa is not a particularly gifted filmmaker, but her take on the oppressive Stroessner regime in Paraguay and the way its witch-hunt for homosexuals affected (and continues to affect) her conservative family is engrossing enough.

We Are What We Are

Stunning Mexican horror film, heavily influenced by LÃÂ¥t den rätte komma in. A family of cannibals struggles after the death of the father, who was in charge of getting the...well, food. Minimalistic setting and score compliment this drama favorably. Outstanding cinematography and a top-notch cast make Somos Lo Que Hay the best Mexican film in recent years to slip under the radar. Writer/director Jorge Michel Grau manages to throw in some important commentary on how cynical and cannibalistic we can be as a society.

HappyThankYouMorePlease
½

Josh Radnor, better known as "Ted" from sitcom How I Met Your Mother, directs, writes and stars in happythankyoumoreplease, a beautiful dramedy with a pleasant, offbeat soundtrack. Already a winner at Sundance, Radnor shows real promise as a director and even more so as a writer. I loved how his characters are fully relatable but just a little bit twisted. They're brought to life in great performances by Radnor, Malin Åkerman, Zoe Kazan, Pablo Schreiber, Kate Mara and especially Tony Hale.

The Purple Rose of Cairo

Funny, charming and lighter than air, The Purple Rose of Cairo is the quintessential Woody Allen comedy. As per usual, the cast is a delight: a perfectly cast Mia Farrow, Jeff Daniels and Danny Aiello. The visuals and the music are enchanting; the ending, perfect. I actually preferred the similar Midnight in Paris but I thoroughly enjoyed Purple Rose as well.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

I don't know why the studios and filmmakers feel it's their responsibility to dumb down and oversimplify every piece of summer entertainment but, as Rise of the Planet of the Apes shows, it's still common practice. This film does not do justice to the terrifying and riveting concept of an ape uprising. It's tame and it's boring. Not scary enough, not bold enough, not original enough or smart enough. It's funny, though, but it shouldn't be.

As hard as I tried to take this movie seriously, I couldn't. The acting's campy and the narrative clichéd. There's only one properly developed character among a sea of caricatures. That is, of course, Caesar, a truly compelling character, halfway between complete innocence and pure evil. If there's something to be praised about this film, it's Andy Serkis's masterful, heartbreaking, Chaplinesque performance, which should earn him an Oscar nod, the first ever rendered from motion capture. Aside from that, I definitely wasn't impressed by what I saw.

Friends With Benefits
½

A pleasant surprise. Friends with Benefits is not deep, insightful or intense. It's simply entertaining, like a fresh, delightfully self-referential romantic comedy starring two impossibly attractive people should be. The quick banter between Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis carries the movie; it's irresistible. Seriously, it's amazingly agile, just like a game of tennis (using the annoying metaphor from the movie). The supporting and bit players are almost as fun. There's a subplot regarding Dylan's (Justin Timberlake) Alzheimer's-stricken father (a wonderful Richard Jenkins) that seems deliberately thrown in there to up the drama a little bit, although that doesn't make it less affecting. All in all, Will Gluck's latest is superior to the similarly themed, early-2011 release No Strings Attached.

Bridesmaids
Bridesmaids(2011)

Maybe the far-from-great week I'd been having put me in a very vulnerable place, but until Bridesmaids I'd never met a comedy that was as hilarious as it was depressing. Some of Annie's (Kristen Wiig) failures felt like my own and affected me in ways I never expected from a film produced by Judd Apatow. Gloom aside, this is a relentlessly funny film, expertly written by Wiig and Annie Mumolo and finely acted by an incredible cast.

The star here, obviously, is Wiig. If this doesn't put her on the map, nothing will. Her innate talent for comedy has been terribly underrated for years now. A few days ago, 'Saturday Night Live' producer Lorne Michaels even said she's among the "top 3 or 4" performers in the history of the long-running show. In Bridesmaids, she absolutely owns the screen.

Melissa McCarthy, of Gilmore Girls and Mike & Molly TV fame, is equally game in her portrayal of Megan, the wildest element among the titular bridesmaids. Kristen's SNL costar Maya Rudolph (another comic goddess getting no love) is also of note. The ensemble is so strong I could go on praising each actor: Wendi McLendon-Covey, Rose Byrne, Jon Hamm and Chris O'Dowd deserve a mention too. Some sequences, namely the dress fitting and the airplane fiasco, are among the funniest I've ever seen.

Cowboys & Aliens
½

Starting up, everything seems fine. Daniel Craig looks and moves and sounds like a worthy successor to Clint Eastwood. The introduction has a way of making all the Western clichés feel like new ideas. But then you slowly start to realize the movie's a joke and so are its characters. The star cast struggles to make do with the material; Harrison Ford is particularly (and quite unusually) weak. The narrative is boring and uninvolving, even during the action sequences, which are few and far between.

The visuals are another story; the film's neatly photographed by Matthew Libatique. For some reason, the two styles mesh perfectly: the dusty, brown hues of the Old West and the sleek, clean, silver and blue tones of the future. But, as much as I want to find something else to praise about Cowboys & Aliens, there's just no way around it: this movie should've been better but it ended up wasting an innovative concept. It pains me to accept that this is one of the worst films of the year, and to say it was disappointing would be a crass understatement.

Dogville
Dogville(2003)

Like nothing you've ever seen before (although you could say the same thing about any Lars Von Trier film). The mise-en-scène is fresh, original and challenging, but it ultimately doesn't work well on the screen. More drama and character development (and less philosophical mumbo jumbo) would've worked wonders. Dogville raises a question: can a film be too experimental? If so, this would be the perfect example. The cast is a dream, though, particularly Nicole Kidman, Paul Bettany, Stellan Skarsgård and eljko Ivanek.

Crazy, Stupid, Love.

Smart, Nancy-Meyers-with-an-edge romantic comedy is a huge step up from Glenn Ficarra and John Requa's somewhat disappointing last film, I Love You Phillip Morris. Praise for this film is in order, though it doesn't come without flaws. There are some minor pacing issues and it ultimately succumbs to the genre's conventions (how many times have we seen the corny-speech-at-the-auditorium scene?)

There's a great amount of sheer joy in this story, but also a great deal of pain. They're adequately balanced and feel real. The best thing about the film, though, is its high-caliber cast, which includes prestige actors (Julianne Moore, Ryan Gosling, Marisa Tomei), new comedic icons (Steve Carrell, Emma Stone) and up-and-coming talents (Jonah Bobo, Analeigh Tipton).

Midnight in Paris
½

Woody Allen is, perhaps, along with Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg, the most important living American filmmaker, still active in the business and art of making movies. A legend both on and off-screen, Woody, born Allen Stewart Konigsberg 75 years ago in New York, a place that has enamored him, continues his recent European phase with Midnight in Paris, which takes place (as the title states) in the "City of Light".

This removal from the "Big Apple", which is a muse as important as Diane Keaton, Mia Farrow or Scarlett Johansson, has been a period of highs (Match Point, Vicky Cristina Barcelona), lows (Scoop, Cassandra's Dream) and in-betweens (You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, his most star-studded cast since Deconstructing Harry). I dare to say that with Paris, Woody Allen is pretty much back to his Annie Hall/Manhattan glory days. This pleasant collection of Parisian postcards grabs you from the start with impeccable shots of what has to be the most beautiful city in the world, and set to jazz music, no less; specifically Sidney Bechet's Si tu vois ma mère, an exquisite tune.

The film's running time amounts to 94 minutes, but the experience is not limited to an hour and a half. This is one of those movies that tend to stick with you for at least a week; a film so appealing to the senses it's intoxicating. Woody's latest film is reminiscent of Manhattan in its sophisticated dialog and a few character traits but this is, by far, the most visually arresting piece in his filmography. It's so striking that glossy Nancy Meyers films look like they were shot with a cellphone camera in comparison.

The comedy in Midnight in Paris is restrained, subtle; a tone that benefits this particular story and that perfectly fits its look and its sound. Allen is no stranger to using unorthodox techniques to enrich his stories, like the animated sequences in Annie Hall, for example. In here, he resorts to time travel that is less sci-fi and more magical realism as he transports Gil (Owen Wilson) to 'Jazz Age' Paris. References to writers (Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, F. Scott Fitzgerald), painters (Picasso, Braque, Modigliani, Matisse, Degas, Gauguin), musicians (Cole Porter) and other legends (Luis Buñuel, Hénri de Toulouse-Lautrec), as well as famous places (the Moulin Rouge) abound.

Wilson shines in the lead role. He's all kid-in-a-candy-store as he sees himself surrounded by his idols and thrust into a time period that bewitches him; his euphoria is almost palpable. He shares the spotlight with Oscar-winner Adrien Brody, in a memorable (and hilarious) turn as Salvador Dalí. Rachel McAdams, Corey Stoll, Allison Pill, Tom Hiddleston, Kathy Bates, Marion Cotillard and Michael Sheen round out the strong ensemble, which even includes First Lady of France, crooner Carla Bruni-Sarkozy.

This film goes beyond the tribute and it's more a love letter to the French capital and its icons. It doesn't follow a definite plot (it's more a series of gorgeous vignettes) and it also isn't particularly deep. What it is is profoundly enjoyable. If the film has a message, it'd be something like "we're never satisfied with what we have". But I am satisfied with Midnight in Paris. It's the closest thing to a perfect movie I've seen in 2011.

3-Iron
3-Iron(2004)
½

Proof that you don't need dialog when your characters and their actions are interesting enough. Of course, there is pleasure in talky scenes à la Tarantino, but this Korean film, directed by Kim Ki-Duk, driven by body language and nuance, does so well without them. There are a few plot inconsistencies, but this near-silent drama (which surprisingly enough doesn't shy away from some light comedy) is still effective, thanks in part to Lee Seung-yeon's fierce performance.

The Lion King

This animated flick holds a special place in my heart. It's the first film I remember watching on the big screen. That was back when I was 4. Now, as it gains second life in a special 3D run, I'm rediscovering it 17 years later. The Lion King was a part of my childhood as important as coloring books or pizza parties so, out of pure nostalgia, I found myself misty-eyed during a considerable amount of running time. The voice work is not impressive (I'm talking about the Mexican dubbing here); the visuals are more vibrant, but it has the same Disney charm and melodrama and the same pristine animation.

Horrible Bosses

The laughs in Horrible Bosses are far from scarce but not exactly consistent. They're, in fact, scattered freely throughout the film like the cocaine on Bobby Pellitt's (Colin Farrell) rug. Everyone seems to be giving it their all, especially Charlie Day, Jennifer Aniston and Kevin Spacey, but the film doesn't quite gel. It's not as funny as it should be, as dark as it should be, or as original as it should be, but it's definitely an excuse to watch a bunch of talented people behaving badly. Not a disaster, but nothing special either.

Super 8
Super 8(2011)
½

Super 8 is an unbelievably exciting 80's throwback, a dedicated homage (not a rip-off, as you may have heard) and a fantastic fusion of Steven Spielberg and JJ Abrams, a match made in cinematic heaven. It is also an intriguing amalgam of suspense, mystery, heavy drama and absolute balls-to-the-wall action, with a big heart, and set to an evocative score by Michael Giacchino (Ratatouille), one of Abrams' most frequent collaborators.

There is an abundance of things blowing up, yet those sequences are not gratuitous. They're an exhilarating dance of rubble and metal. The acting is superb: Elle Fanning, Joel Courtney, Riley Griffiths, Kyle Chandler and Ron Eldard are the best among the strong, relatively unknown cast. Super 8 doesn't let up (or down, for that matter). It's easily the best movie of 2011, so far.

Captain America: The First Avenger
½

First of all, let me just state that whenever someone criticizes this film for being patriotic to the bone, it shouldn't be taken as a valid argument. Of course it's going to be patriotic; it has the word "America" in the title, for God's sake! And it's about a nice kid killing Nazis!

This underdog story is inevitably campy, but a film like Captain America couldn't be cynical with such a wholesome hero at the helm. After the underwhelming Thor, this one really builds momentum for 2012's The Avengers. What could go wrong when a superhero movie gets the vintage treatment? Not much, actually. Captain America is humorous, accompanied by a rousing score (as it should) and its cast is so much better than it needs to be: Chris Evans, Hayley Atwell, Hugo Weaving, Dominic Cooper and a fatherly Stanley Tucci shine in their perfectly cast roles.

The first hour is wonderful, as we watch "Steve Rogers" undergo a transformation into full-fledged superhuman weapon. His physique is a new one, but he remains the shy, innocent, all-American young man. The action is not always engaging or meaningful; it's kind of a seesaw, but the visuals never let down. Captain America doesn't ask for much. It's exciting, old-fashioned summer fun.

Insidious
Insidious(2011)

Maybe you have to possess a certain sensibility for this type of film, but I've never been one to enjoy horror movies much. However well-executed they might be, I've always found them sort of laughable. It's not that I have a negative reaction to them, most of the time I don't react to them at all. Insidious is well acted, shot, edited and paced. The writing's terrible, though, and I just don't think it brings anything new to the table or if I'll even remember it in a few days.

Barney's Version

There's enough material ripe with drama, and even more of it is evidently aimed at getting laughs, but the switch between genres is violent and renders Barney's Version a complete tonal misfire. Besides, the characters in the film are pretty much impossible to empathize with: deeply flawed and with hardly any redeeming qualities, not to mention underdeveloped. The film revolves around a stunning performance by Paul Giamatti, which is aided by extraordinary (and most importantly, convincing) makeup by Adrien Morot and supported by an appealing cast that includes Rosamund Pike, Dustin Hoffman, Scott Speedman, Rachelle Lefevre and Minnie Driver.

Winnie the Pooh

Winnie the Pooh is overwhelmingly cute, constantly funny and, surprisingly enough for an animated film aimed almost completely at children, inventive. There's clearly a lot of talent going into this terribly short animated flick, particularly in the visual aspects, the music and the nearly celebrity-free voice work, but it's hard to get rid of the feeling that you've seen it all before or could see it any given day on the Disney Channel.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2
½

The buildup is extremely exciting, even if you've already read the novel, but the payoff is pretty much nonexistent. The cast brings their A-game, particularly the lead trio of Radcliffe, Grint and Watson, as well as Maggie Smith, but their obvious talents and those of director David Yates and screenwriter Steve Kloves cannot make up for J.K. Rowling's lazy, condescending and ultimately cowardly ending for the beloved saga. You see, what didn't work in the book (namely the climax and epilogue), doesn't translate well onto film, but the action set pieces alone are enough to place Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part II among the top four films in this legendary franchise.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
½

A tad more stylish than the previous outings, but with significantly less substance and no plot. Under these circumstances, one would think it nearly impossible to procure some real drama, but it happens somehow. The film is strangely powerful. Sadly, it's also very dark, literally. You can barely see anything. Michael Gambon is noteworthy in a key movie for his character, Albus Dumbledore. Daniel Radcliffe as the titular hero is more likeable than ever and as Lavender Brown, Jessie Cave is delightful.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
½

With each outing, the cast of Harry Potter grows more and more interesting. Three memorable characters and performances enter the picture: Evanna Lynch as 'Luna Lovegood', Imelda Staunton as 'Dolores Umbridge' and Helena Bonham Carter as 'Bellatrix Lestrange'. Staunton is the best of the three, playing the ultimate bitch with gusto. Harry Potter and the Order of The Phoenix is the first Potter movie directed by David Yates, who would remain at the helm of the saga for the remaining three films, bringing his unique, dark vision; a vision that would define the Harry Potter aesthetic for all time. Exciting stuff. Prisoner of Azkaban remains my favorite because it's closer to my heart, but Phoenix is certainly the one with the strongest writing and the most brilliant acting.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Stylistically, it's well developed and the story that served as basis for this film is perhaps the richest and most engrossing. We've learned by now that that is not vital for a film to be captivating, though. Prisoner of Azkaban worked with a very thin tale, and the result was mesmerizing. Brendan Gleeson, Miranda Richardson and, of course, Ralph Fiennes are the latest (great) additions to the legendary cast. Mike Newell's rom-com touch is evident.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

I may be a little biased, since I'm an Alfonso Cuarón fanboy, but this is probably the best "Harry Potter" film. The editing's improved, as well. Part Three is where the franchise really started to go darker and more mature. The themes and the cinematography reflect that. Emma Thompson joins the cast as Sybil Trelawney and Gary Oldman does as Sirius Black. Both amazing.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Now that they're done establishing the basis of the story and its characters, we get a far more interesting plot. On the other hand, one of the new characters, house-elf "Dobby" is extremely irritating. Jar-Jar Binks irritating. Alan Rickman is still deliciously over-the-top and the addition of Kenneth Branagh as an idiotic rockstar teacher remains one of the highlights of the series. At the climax, though, there is no real threat. Everything unfolds and gets solved easily and systematically.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

The first two installments were the most kid-oriented of the series. Naturally, they're less nuanced and a lot cheesier but visually arresting as ever. Chris Columbus's lack of attention to detail is evident, though, and the film lags quite a lot around the middle. The cast is a delight, although they hadn't fully submerged into their roles, occasionally looking forced (except for Alan Rickman; he was born to play Snape). It's always nice to revisit the first chapter in what would become the most succesful movie franchise of all time.

Source Code
Source Code(2011)

Riveting sci-fi actioner, reminiscent of Groundhog Day in themes and of Inception in its execution. Pleasing, fast-paced and, most importantly, smart, Source Code is Duncan Jones's (aka Zowie Bowie) first film after his breakthrough Moon. The inventive, original story is gripping, and the cast is up to par with the intriguing storyline: Jake Gyllenhaal and Michelle Monaghan are solid, Jeffrey Wright plays Dr. Rutledge with retro flair and Vera Farmiga steals the whole show (which is no small feat, considering she's sitting in front of a webcam for most of the film). The mistake? Code's generic happy ending. Cut the last two to three minutes and the conclusion would've been so much stronger.

Howards End
Howards End(1992)

Howards End is so stunningly beautiful it's like looking at a 140-minute long postcard. It's also just as slow-paced, though. And quite talky. But watching these incredible characters talk, quarrel and love is what makes this film a pleasure. The cast is impeccable: Emma Thompson, Helena Bonham Carter, Vanessa Redgrave, Samuel West, Nicola Duffett and Anthony Hopkins deliver top-notch performances.

Four Weddings and a Funeral

As a pleasant Saturday-afternoon diversion, it succeeds. As a comedy, it doesn't. Not to the point where it's annoying or uncomfortable, but Four Weddings and a Funeral is simply not funny. But it's cute enough, and very well-constructed and written. Quirky wedding hijinks are amusing, but it's the cast that makes this film a classic. For the first (and last) time, Hugh Grant does something that remotely resembles acting. James Fleet, Kristin Scott Thomas and Charlotte Coleman do a nice job. But the best performance is that of John Hannah. The funeral from the title is incredibly moving thanks to Hannah's award-worthy performance. On the other hand, Andie McDowell is the blandest actress I've ever seen (and a terrible casting mistake).

Hanna
Hanna(2011)
½

Second collaboration between director Joe Wright and actress Saoirse Ronan, after the young Irish actress nabbed an Oscar nomination for her haunting turn as Briony in Wright's Atonement. Since that career-making role, Ronan has steadily cemented her status as one of the best (if not the best) actress of her generation. Roles in films like The Lovely Bones, I Could Never be Your Woman or The Way Back shine a deserved spotlight on this wunderkind. In Hanna, Saoirse plays the titular character: a teenage girl with superhuman strength and agility, no mercy, and the social skills of a toddler. Ronan is seriously good in her first lead role; both tender and menacing.

The main cast is excellent. Cate Blanchett is deliciously evil as Marissa Wiegler and Eric Bana is up to par as Hanna's father. Besides the humongous acting caliber, the movie is a visual and auditive treat. Alwin H. Kuchler shoots the film with a striking, cold palette of blue, gray and white. The cinematography, along with the Chemical Brothers' score, renders Hanna's imagery coolly futuristic, even when showing a broken-down Moroccan inn or an old amusement park. Joe Wright's knack for style is still evident, but his last film is more Lola Rennt or Bourne Identity than Pride & Prejudice (which isn't necessarily a bad thing). Even though there are some issues with character development, Hanna's riveting action sequences are enough to win you over.

Deconstructing Harry
½

One of the director's darkest, the funny Deconstructing Harry has an incredible script (by Woody Allen, of course) and, as it's customary with his films (and more so with his comedies), an incredible cast. Allen, Hazelle Goodman, Caroline Aaron, Judy Davis and Eric Lloyd stand out in an ensemble that also features Stanley Tucci, Demi Moore, Tobey Maguire, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Billy Crystal and Kirstie Alley.

Rushmore
Rushmore(1998)

Not quite up there with Wes Anderson's best (The Darjeeling Limited, Fantastic Mr. Fox) but still a pleasantly offbeat comedy. Rushmore, like all of Anderson's films, is not laugh-out-loud funny but subtly comedic. Jason Schwartzman takes an incredibly pretentious 15 year-old who's way in over his head at everything he attempts, and renders him absolutely likeable. His extremely elaborate school plays are amazing, too. Anderson's breakthrough wasn't as satisfying as I hoped, though. It sort of never truly takes off.

Following
Following(1999)
½

A deserving preview to the massive amount of talent Christopher Nolan would display in the following years to this 1998 first work. Memento was his breakthrough and Following resembles that film's structure but in a simpler, much more modest way. Shot in 16mm and on a $6,000 budget, Following is tense, exciting and unpredictable, albeit a little short at just 69 minutes. Alex Haw and Lucy Russell are devilishly good in this neo-noir.

Last Chance Harvey

I actually thought this was going to be a very light, breezy comedy in the vein of Nancy Meyers, so imagine the disappointment when I find Last Chance Harvey is incredibly uncomfortable. Dustin Hoffman plays Harvey, a loser who's ignored and pushed aside at work and by his family, but he's a loser you can't root for or empathize with since he's so bitter and obnoxious. You even start to wonder if the world is just punishing him for his terrible attitude.

But director and writer Joel Hopkins is a clever guy. As soon as Emma Thompson enters the picture (literally), everything changes. The mood's lighter, funnier, warmer. That's certainly a nice touch that mirrors all that Harvey feels upon meeting Kate.

Last Chance Harvey also has a fantastic script and two incredible actors in the lead roles. Thompson is such an illuminating presence. I am a little biased, though; she reminds me of my mother. Hoffman's wedding speech is one of the most touching scenes I've seen in a long time. Eileen Atkins and Bronagh Gallagher are great in bit parts that offer comic relief.

It's a Wonderful Life
½

A "wonderful", touching film, and a holiday classic!

IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE is perfect for Christmas day, but it's a fantastic movie that can be viewed anytime.

Frank Capra directs, and who better than Jimmy Stewart, a true movie star and a very talented actor, to portray the film's hero, George Bailey, while giving the best performance of his career.

I won't deny that at the end, I had some tears in my eyes.

Ziegfeld Follies
½

As it says in the movie, "Ziegfeld never cared so much about villains, plot, stories. The Ziegfeld Follies was itself a story of an era". So, while it doesn't offer anything in terms of narrative, this is a priceless document that gathers some of the biggest stars of the 40's, luminaries who have become celluloid icons. Sadly, the real star power (Judy Garland, Gene Kelly) appears too late into the picture, after an hour and a half of random musical numbers, dance sequences and comedic skits. So much style and so little substance does get tiresome after a while and, while the film's visually dazzling, it's also unbearably campy and over-the-top. Of course it didn't seem that way 60 years ago, but some bits are incredibly racist and/or offensive. See only for Garland's "The Great Lady Has An Interview" number and the amazing pairing of two of dance's biggest legends, Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire in "The Babbitt And The Bromide". Then again, you could watch those two clips on YouTube and save yourself the boredom.

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest
½

The closing film in the Millennium series is a movie on auto-pilot. The director, the writers, the cast (with the exception of Aksel Morisse and Annika Hallin): nobody makes an effort, everything and everyone is so lifeless. Nothing happens, at least nothing remotely interesting and, by now, we've stopped caring about Mikael Blomkvist, Lisbeth Salander or their (nonexistent) relationship. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, as it's known in America, picks up the pace for the last half hour but it doesn't make up for the 110 minutes that came before, now wasted. I personally can't wait for David Fincher to bring his unique vision and revive the series, which has become boring and inconsequential.

The Way Back
The Way Back(2011)
½

Peter Weir's latest film tells the man-against-the-elements story of a group of prisoners who walk 4000 miles to India after escaping a Siberian gulag, facing harsh weather. Harsh is probably an understatement. Freezing cold, searing heat, snowstorms, sandstorms, bugs; the effects of these conditions are showcased masterfully with the Oscar-nominated makeup by Edouard Henriques, Greg Funk and Yolanda Toussieng. The cinematography is also remarkable. Spectacular wide shots of the snow-covered Russian landscape, or the sandy, hot-as-hell Gobi Desert show that the journey was definitely not an easy task. Despite the tragic circumstances (and the appealing imagery), The Way Back is mostly uneventful and never really involving. The cast is underwhelming, and their accents dodgy. At times, that last thing doesn't matter. Jim Sturgess speaks with his eyes, for example. On the other hand, usually stellar Colin Farrell is laughably bad. Saoirse Ronan is the best among a predominantly male cast. And I don't know what it is about Ed Harris, but he never impresses me. I know he's a good actor; he's just never blown me away. At 133 minutes, the film is very, very long, yet some sequences still feel rushed.

The Lincoln Lawyer
½

Managing to be both glossy and gritty, The Lincoln Lawyer is one of the most exciting (and stylish) films of the year so far. Retro-meets-modern thriller is engrossing and unpredictable. Matthew McConaughey puts the bland rom-coms on hold for a minute to play Mick Haller, a man so charismatic and confident it's scary. Besides McConaughey, the film boasts a terrific male cast that includes Ryan Phillippe, Josh Lucas, Michael Peña and John Leguizamo. This doesn't mean The Lincoln Lawyer is without flaws. Funky soundtrack gives off a nice LA vibe but the awful flashbacks make this look like Miami. CSI:Miami, that is (or any of those terrible police procedural shows). The last act is completely rushed and it features one twist too many. Coming just a couple of minutes before the end, said twist is pointless and doesn't move the plot forward in any way.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
½

On Stranger Tides, the fourth installment in the Pirates of the Caribbean series, is still fun. How could it not be? But at the same time, it's instantly forgettable. Johnny Depp offers more of the same, Penélope Cruz does what she can with a filler role, Geoffrey Rush feels... different, like he's playing another part and Richard Griffiths, in a minor role, is ghastly. There's also a completely unnecessary (but fun) cameo from screen legend Judi Dench. The fourth film in the saga is possibly the most visually striking and, like its predecessors, it's action filled. Only this time, it's not very engaging.

Everyone Says I Love You

Everyone Says I Love You is one of those movies you can't help but fall in love with. This slightly farcical throwback to the old time musicals is impossibly charming. Everyone...is my favorite type of Allen movie: light, funny and warm. The Woody Allen we know and love plays the Woody Allen we know and love. Other standouts are the devilish Tim Roth, the sultry Drew Barrymore and the elegant Goldie Hawn. This film is the very definition of star-studded (the cast also features Natalie Portman, Edward Norton and Julia Roberts) and features some impressive cinematography, particularly in the breathtaking Parisian sequences. Everyone Says I Love You's main selling point are musical numbers by non-singing actors, which give the proceedings more of a down-to-earth feel.

X-Men: First Class

A decent kickoff to both the X-Men saga and the summer movie season. Still, it can't compare to the quality of other comic-book adaptations such as The Dark Knight or Wanted, also starring James McAvoy. Stylish film takes the cool 60's look and sound and uses it as a backdrop for exciting action sequences and a compelling origin story. Erik Lensherr's (Michael Fassbender) motivation is having lost his mother during the Holocaust at the orders of Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon). That's an affecting situation and one that gives First Class the adequate dramatic heft. However, yet another subplot, one involving the Cuban Missile Crisis, is unnecessary and needlessly confusing. Besides the drama among the mutants, their imminent debacle against humans would've been enough material for a film.

For a big-budget flick like this ($160 million), the visual effects and makeup are pretty bad. Even by 2011, CGI technologies haven't yet allowed characters like "Azazel" or "Emma Frost" to look believable. When it comes to the cast, James McAvoy is the obvious star of the film, rendering a smart and most importantly charismatic "Charles Xavier", very different from what Patrick Stewart did in the previous trilogy. Among the youngsters, Nicolas Hoult of About a Boy and A Single Man fame stands out, and the Oscar-nominated Jennifer Lawrence of The Burning Plain and Winter's Bone is sadly, nowhere to be found. Bill Millner, as a young Lensherr is terrible and effectively ruins a scene that could've been much more powerful. Kevin Bacon's performance and Sebastian Shaw, the character he portrays, are weak, boring and ridiculous. This is a guy who can absorb any form of energy, even from bombs and bullets, and still come off as unmenacing. After being bogged down by cliché dialog and shots, minor plot holes and an overall lack of agility, X-Men: First Class' climactic scene is a breathtaking display of both serious drama and riveting action that helps end the film on a great note.

The Hangover Part II

I can say, without hesitation, that this is one of the worst movies I've ever seen. As anyone with an ounce of movie-watching experience can attest to, sequels are seldom an improvement over their predecessors. There are, of course, notable exceptions such as Spider-Man 2, for example. The original Hangover was a stomachache-inducing, physically-exhausting laugh riot (at least upon first viewing). For this second outing of the franchise, I didn't expect a comedy on the same level as Part I, but I certainly wasn't ready for this underwhelming, disastrous chapter.

If I hadn't gone to the movies with a friend (which I almost never do), I would've walked out of the theater. So, out of respect for her, I stayed and watched this piece of kee (that's "crap" in Thai; see what I did there?) The Hangover Part II has led me to two important discoveries: first, that never before had I actually meant it when I used the term "painfully unfunny", until now. Also, I now know that the average moviegoer will laugh at anything. Seriously, a display of comic talent is not necessary anymore. Only an unconventional (i.e. not particularly attractive) look will suffice. Anytime Ed Helms' or Zach Galifianakis' face would pop up on screen, the audience would erupt in laughter. That same thing, of course, didn't happen when Bradley Cooper appeared.

What director Todd Phillips (who has a serious Kanye West fetish, by the way) and his team of writers accomplished with the first Hangover, has been lost with this sequel. What was fresh, unpredictable, hilarious and even refined is now lazy, stupid, vulgar and trite. In fact, lazy is the key word when describing The Hangover Part II. Everything is so blatantly recycled: the gags, the soundtrack, even the shots. It's as if they took the script from the last film and replaced "Vegas" with "Bangkok". The actors, they don't even make an effort anymore. Galifianakis is incredibly irritating.

The film's most memorable sequence, perhaps, is a completely predictable (and unnecessary) twist à la Crying Game; a sad, crass cry for attention from a movie that, by then, has lost the interest of any self-respecting cinephile. I wish I was exaggerating, but I didn't laugh a single time; barely smiled. One final note: why is nobody addressing the missing finger? There is not a party in the world so amazing that makes up for the loss of a digit. It cannot be dismissed as mere collateral damage and, in reality, it absolutely wouldn't be assumed as breezily as it was in the film. The Hangover Part II is a cinematic tragedy and the only reason I'm awarding it half a star is its stunning cinematography.

The Mechanic
The Mechanic(2011)
½

The Mechanic, Simon West's 2011 remake of the 1972 film starring Charles Bronson, has style and grit and violence to spare. Starting off with a bang, this hit man flick is surprisingly emotional and stunningly well-photographed. With decent writing, fantastically over-the-top fight sequences and more interior design porn than a Nancy Meyers movie, The Mechanic places itself just a notch above the actioners we're accustomed to. Jason Statham plays 'Bishop' as a cross between concerned parent and cold-blooded killer, while Ben Foster, as usual, steals the movie. But, despite the wildly exaggerated violence and frenetic pace, the last act of this film is very weak. Here, the film takes an inexplicable leap, where a rookie (Foster) becomes an expert cleaner in the blink of an eye. The choppy, clumsy editing doesn't help, either. From there, it's all downhill for The Mechanic, culminating in a thoroughly unsatisfying (and stupid) fashion.

Kung Fu Panda
½

Yet another movie exploring the "from zero to hero" storyline; but this time, told in an original way, standing out for its great comedy.

KUNG FU PANDA features flawless animation, backed by an effortlessly funny script, brought to life via an impressive voice work by an A-list cast.

Biutiful
Biutiful(2010)

Gripping poem on the inevitability of death, grief and love. A masterpiece and director Alejandro González Iñárritu's best work to date. Guess his public breakup with writer Guillermo Arriaga didn't hurt his career at all.

Biutiful is the Mexican entry for the "Best Foreign Language Film" category at next year's Academy Awards. Javier Bardem's tour-de-force performance receives excellent support from Maricel Álvarez (who plays his bipolar, alcoholic wife) and Guillermo Estrella (his son Mateo).

Antichrist
Antichrist(2009)

We all have our own personal reasons to watch movies. I love being moved and stirred and touched by film, but what I ultimately search for is entertainment. I mean, isn't that the whole point of film-watching? Antichrist provides very little in way of entertainment, but it still holds a strange, hypnotic power, while redefining the word "harrowing".

The Prologue to Antichrist is a gorgeous, devastating silent short film but this art-house take on torture porn, as a whole, is by no means an enjoyable experience. Willem Dafoe is solid, but Charlotte Gainsbourg is truly terrifying in one of the finest displays of talent in recent years. Easily the most disturbing film I've ever watched.

The Squid and the Whale
½

At first glance, everything is sort of light and funny, but once it gets going, it's a really painful and heavy movie. The characters aren't exactly likeable (and you know they aren't when you find yourself siding with a 12-year old who curses, drinks beer and masturbates in the school library and his cheating mother), but the talented cast presents them as strangely sympathetic. Jeff Daniels, Jesse Eisenberg and especially Laura Linney and Owen Kline are superb.

The Hours
The Hours(2002)
½

A heavy (very heavy) but contained drama, The Hours is an acting tour de force. Nicole Kidman excels in her career-defining portrayal of Virginia Woolf and Meryl Streep does not disappoint (she never does, obviously). Proof that Julianne Moore is at her best when she's subtle (I still have an issue with the way she cries, though). Toni Collette and Ed Harris are also noteworthy. The score by Philip Glass is the perfect complement for this subtle, austere drama.

The Truman Show
½

Stunning blend of sci-fi, drama and dark comedy depicts the ultimate reality show: the life of unwitting TV star, Truman Burbank, surprisingly played with restraint by Jim Carrey (who should stick to dramatic roles, in my opinion). With expert camerawork by director Peter Weir as well as Andrew Niccol's deft screenplay, The Truman Show is a masterpiece. I've been reading a lot of praise for Ed Harris's performance, but it just didn't resonate with me as much as Carrey or Laura Linney's. Instant favorite.

Water for Elephants
½

Lush, good-looking drama set upon a traveling circus during the Great Depression. Based on the bestselling novel by Sara Gruen, Water for Elephants is melodramatic, but we let it, since it's an amazing 30's throwback (and how could that not be melodramatic?) Robert Pattinson is as stiff and monotone as "Jacob Jankowski" as he was as "Edward Cullen". Reese Witherspoon does a decent job as 'Marlena', but an older, grittier actress would've been the ideal choice for the role. Christoph Waltz, however, is splendid as 'August', yet another villain. He walks the line between magnetic and repulsive all through the film, giving us a smart, driven bussinessman who we admire, as well as a violent monster who we fear. Like As Good as It Gets's brussels griffon 'Verdell', 'Rosie' the elephant raises the question: ¿could this sad-eyed pachiderm actually have acting ability? Director Francis Lawrence, backed by a solid script from Richard LaGravenese, gives us a film that's far from perfect but possesses an undeniable charm and genuine emotion. The story's climax is one of the most exciting I've seen in a long time and worth the price of the ticket.

Blue Valentine
½

You always hurt the one you love, indeed. With the realistic and heartbreaking Blue Valentine, Derek Cianfrance swims against the current and shows us a couple falling out of love instead. The film is painful, but also surprisingly funny and it has a very voyeuristic quality to it. Everything feels so close, so intimate, it's like you're intruding in Dean and Cindy's life. Michelle Williams got the Oscar nomination, but it's Ryan Gosling who's the most mesmerizing. His evolution from a sweet, likable guy to an alcoholic, erratic monster is stunning; he's such a star. Come to think of it, he's terribly underrated.

Thor
Thor(2011)
½

Unfunny (when it tries to be a fish-out-of-water comedy) and inconsequential actioner. Tom Hiddleston's performance practically saves this film from being a complete failure. He's the only one among the cast who renders an, at least, interesting performance. As Thor, Chris Hemsworth just doesn't have the talent or charisma for a role of that stature. Instantly forgettable.

The Girl Who Played with Fire (Flickan som lekte med elden)

With a change of director (from Niels Arden Oplev to Daniel Alfredson), the franchise has lost its dynamism and its ground on reality and has exchanged its arthouse charm for generic action formula. Lisbeth Salander gets reduced to a much smaller role (and separated from Mikael), favoring a series of new (but nearly irrelevant) supporting characters. It's not the worst film, and it's somewhat entertaining, but compared to its predecessor, it feels like a joke. It's clear that this is a trilogy and that there's yet another film after Flickan som lekte med elden, but the incredibly abrupt ending gives no closure on this episode.

Network
Network(1976)
½

Network is an engaging look at the cutthroat world of television, with an amazing (if somewhat overwrought) script by Paddy Chayefsky. It's great to see that a film with so much real drama can also have impeccable comic timing. Peter Finch, Robert Duvall, Ned Beatty, Marlene Warfield and especially Faye Dunaway are incredible, despite the fact that it's nearly impossible to identify with any of the characters they portray.

Magnolia
Magnolia(1999)

Magnolia is proof that Paul Thomas Anderson is one of the best directors working today. P.T.A. achieved not only an impressive film, but he managed to put together an undisputable classic. He made two otherwise ridiculous scenes work, and actually made them seem necessary (they're, of course, the singing bit and the frog rain).

Beautifully shot and scored, by Robert Elswit and Jon Bryon, respectively, Magnolia flows smoothly, while it successfully moves you with its strong portrayals of diseased and troubled lives.

The film is a beautiful work of art on so many levels: the cinematography, the score, the editing, Anderson's master-class direction, and of course, its most popular asset: the unbelievable ensemble cast. Tom Cruise gives his best performance here, but other actors stand out too, especially Philip Seymour Hoffman, John C. Reilly, Julianne Moore, Melora Walters, Philip Baker Hall, Jason Robards, William H. Macy and April Grace.

Mean Streets
Mean Streets(1973)
½

Gritty, realistic urban drama on the Italian-American underground. The camera work and direction by Martin Scorsese are outstanding, a sign of the legend he would become in the years after Mean Streets, his breakthrough. Basically, the film follows no plot, but the stunning performances by Harvey Keitel and Robert De Niro make it gripping enough.

Limitless
Limitless(2011)

Engrossing, fast-paced modern thriller about the effects of a yet untested new drug called "NZT 48", which boosts brain function from a supposed 20 percent to a full hundred. Bradley Cooper is mesmerizing in his first big leading role, showing considerable range in his transformation from scruffy writer wannabe to dapper, unnaturally smart executive. Cooper, along with Leslie Dixon's fantastic screenplay and some sleek imagery are the reasons Limitless is such an exhilarating film. My only complaint: Morra (Cooper) going all vampiric on a Russian gangster (you'll understand when you watch), a sequence that almost ruins the whole experience. Still, it's one of the best films of the year in progress.

How Do You Know
½

James L. Brooks, of Terms of Endearment and As Good as it Gets fame brings us his latest film, the painstakingly long (and painfully unfunny) How Do You Know. Romantic "comedy" is forced and nearly devoid of laughs (I must've laughed about three times). The promising cast didn't entirely deliver: Jack Nicholson plays it exactly the same as he's done for the last ten years and usually stellar Paul Rudd is lackluster. On the other hand, Reese Witherspoon is amazing and Owen Wilson makes for a terribly endearing douchebag; their work deserved a better script. The closing scene is brilliant, but it's too little too late. Definitely one of the worst films of 2010.

Pleasantville

Satire, drama, symbolism and social critique converge beautifully in the dreamlike Pleasantville. Gary Ross takes a jab at the conservative American society, as well as segregation, and succeeds.

Twins David and Jennifer get sucked into Pleasantville, a 50's TV show David's a fan of. Ironically, as soon as they leave the 90's and enter this fictitious world, the film starts to feel real.

Pleasantville achieves perfection in every technical aspect. Visual effects, cinematography, art direction and score are all excellent. An equally impressive cast graces us with extraordinary performances.

The Shawshank Redemption

As a friend put it, Frank Darabont is the best at adapting Stephen King's work, and I couldn't agree more. I hate when people describe a film as "beautiful", but there's really no other way to put it. The Shawshank Redemption is a beautiful film.

The movie is visually striking despite the lack of a rich palette, lavish sets or big costumes, and the camera work is perfect. I suppose it was a very inspiring story since it was penned by Stephen King, but it gains even more power with Frank Darabont's great script and directorial skill.

A flawless film and a classic, anchored by great performances from its two leads: Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins.

The King's Speech
½

Make no mistake, The King's Speech is what it is for two reasons: one, Colin Firth's mammoth, heartbreaking performance and two, Danny Cohen's extraordinary work behind the lens. Firth as King George VI is, simply put, perfect. Helena Bonham Carter renders some of the finest work in her career, and Guy Pearce and Geoffrey Rush round out the Firth-centric cast nicely. The cinematography by Cohen is just beautiful (shades of blue are particularly striking). But what this film has, visual and performance-wise, it lacks in overall power. Is it good? Yes. 12-Oscar-nominations good? Absolutely not. Overrated? Very much so.

The Tourist
The Tourist(2010)

I would've preferred (and thought I was getting) a thriller that was both stylish and cerebral. I got a lot of the first, and none of the second. In the dumbed-down, dull The Tourist everything is so over processed and digested, it's like you're watching CliffsNotes for a better, far more interesting film. Even with a good (but mostly good-looking) Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp, as well as gorgeous Venetian scenery, The Tourist is practically charmless.

Clueless
Clueless(1995)

Good work from Alicia Silverstone, Brittany Murphy and Breckin Meyer, as well as a few clever one-liners scattered here and there are not enough to consider a film a "classic". Incredibly dated and as shallow as the lead character, Clueless is a miss more than it is a hit.

Red Eye
Red Eye(2005)
½

Formulaic but effective thrill ride. Wes Craven's direction is spot-on, and his attention to detail is evident after a second viewing. Red Eye receives great support from Marco Beltrami's score. Both leads render impressive performances: Rachel McAdams and Cillian Murphy are two of the best young actors in the business.

It may not be a groundbreaking premise, but Craven, McAdams and Murphy form a great team that delivers an exciting, fast-paced adventure.

But seriously, what about the airline's name? Fresh Air? Come on!

Country Strong

Beautiful country music and a charming cast are paired with cheesy, poor writing (although quite charming and touching at times). It's a little sad to see such a talented cast struggle against the god-awful script by Shana Feste, where plot holes abound. The cast is certainly impressive: while Gwyneth Paltrow is inconsistent, country superstar Tim McGraw proves he's also a pretty good actor. Garrett Hedlund steals the show (after being utterly wasted in TRON: Legacy) and Leighton Meester shines both as an actress and a singer. The soundtrack is way better than the muddled, flaky story.

The Adjustment Bureau

An alluring blend of sci-fi, action and romance, The Adjustment Bureau is based on the short story by Philip K. Dick (Blade Runner). Expertly written and directed by George Nolfi, Bureau is a refined, often funny breath of fresh air among all the formulaic actioners. Our hero, David Norris (Matt Damon) is actually a smart, charismatic man who we can't help but root for. We want him to get the girl (Emily Blunt), a well-rounded character; a savvier, sassier variation on the damsel-in-distress type. Blunt finally gets a role of the magnitude she deserves, after mostly supporting turns in mild comedies. The chemistry between her and Damon is almost palpable. You start to wonder why no one came up with the idea of pairing them before this film. The titular "bureau" is a stylish posse of sharply-dressed, fedora-wearing agents/angels/aliens, led fantastically by Mad Men's John Slattery. The visual aspect of the film is just as good as the cast and the script (maybe even better). John Toll makes apparently meaningless shots memorable and works real magic from behind the lens. Definitely, the best film of 2011 (so far).

Fair Game
Fair Game(2010)

Engrossing political thriller in the vein of State of Play and Syriana, with an impressive cast led by the always excellent Naomi Watts and legendary actor Sean Penn. Interesting account of the post-9/11 period leading to the Iraq war explores issues of paranoia, misinformation and national security. Riveting performances and a brisk pace allowed me to enjoy this film, even though I didn't fully understand all the legal and governmental mumbo-jumbo.

Moulin Rouge!

Moulin Rouge! would have been perfect if Baz Luhrmann didn't try to get all comic. The "funny" parts were verging on ridiculous, along with most of the screen time of Jim Broadbent and Richard Roxburgh.

That being said, this film is absolutely breathtaking and innovative. The idea of placing 20th-century hit songs in a 1899 setting is genius, and the casting of two great, attractive actors, as well as phenomenal singers, proved to be the recipe for the success of this movie musical.

Great turns by Nicole Kidman, the underrated Ewan McGregor and John Leguizamo, as well as perfection in technical and aesthetical aspects such as cinematography, editing, costume and set design, choreography, lighting and visual effects.

Milk
Milk(2008)

For a film of this type, in the times of Prop 8, it lacked impact. Maybe I had my hopes up too high, but I was kinda disappointed in Milk. It's a decent film, but I think other '08 movies like "The Dark Knight" or "WALL·E" are more deserving of the nomination for Best Picture, since this one lacks that "punch" for a biopic to work the way it should. I felt the film move at a slow, flat pace, almost never picking up, with each scene feeling the same as the last one. But what makes it shine is the cast.

Sean Penn became Harvey Milk, and was charming and funny as the late politician. Josh Brolin finally got some Oscar recognition for his work as Dan White; his haunting performance left me wanting more. Other highlights include James Franco (in what's been a great acting year, after Pineapple Express), Emile Hirsch (definitely a surprise) and Alison Pill. Shame on Diego Luna, he was terrible.

I haven't seen enough Gus Van Sant films to have a solid opinion, but I think a different director could've taken this Dustin Lance Black script to another level. Great score, by the way.

Pineapple Express
½

Thank God for comedies like this. Once again, Seth Rogen proves he's not only a decent actor, he's a very talented writer, too. Penned by Judd Apatow, Evan Goldberg, and Rogen, Pineapple Express is a hilarious, thoroughly entertaining and surprisingly violent film. Quotable lines and solid performances, especially from the underrated Danny McBride and a career "high" from James Franco.

Dog Day Afternoon

Incredible thriller, with real characters (literally) and massively entertaining. Sidney Lumet's work is impressive, as he lets the camera speak in Dog Day Afternoon. Don't even get me started on Al Pacino's performance. To sum it all up in one word: legendary.

Brazil
Brazil(1985)

The first half hour is great, but the rest is terribly boring and hard to follow. Jonathan Pryce and Robert DeNiro are very good; every other performance is bad or overdone. The best thing about this film is the set design/art direction (fantastic); the score is nice too. Loved the reference to Eisenstein's "Bronenosets Potyomkin"...

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

A gripping tale of a man's terrible illness, Le Scaphandre et Le Papillon, is a beautifully photgraphed and very well-written piece of art. Julian Schnabel makes this film work in a fantastic way, and definitely lets you become 'Jean-Do' with his great style and vision. This film explores (and causes) a wide array of emotions, especially in the scenes with Jean-Do and his father or with his ex-lover, Céline. The relatively unknown cast was great: Mathieu Amalric, Emmanuelle Seigner, Anne Consigny, Marie-Josée Croze, Olatz López Garmendia, and Max Von Sydow. The scene where they sew Jean-Dominique's eye shut is fantastic.

All Good Things

Modest, well-shot drama worth watching for its three lead performances. Ryan Gosling is haunting and profoundly unsettling. As his domineering father, Frank Langella leaves a mark with significantly less screen time than his costars. Kirsten Dunst goes through a mostly physical change throughout the film but nevertheless renders a decent performance (although the role deserved someone with a little more range). Great score helps set the eerie tone of All Good Things and the remarkable makeup work convincingly ages Gosling, but it's here where his otherwise flawless performance falters. At the courtroom scenes, his character has aged around 30 years, something we can easily see in his facial features and his hair, now grey and scarce. But Gosling's David Marks has only changed in appearance; his mannerisms and voice remain exactly the same as when he was a young man. Actually, from that point on, everything sort of falls down; it's like a whole different movie, dangerously giving in to its cheesy, overdramatic side.

The Talented Mr. Ripley
½

Darkly beautiful film; everything works so well, from the cinematography, the music (which fits the amazing style perfectly) to the performances. One of the best ensembles in recent history (or ever), where Jude Law, Cate Blanchett and Philip Seymour Hoffman stand out. A story about a sick man. A jazz compilation. An Italian travelogue. The Talented Mr. Ripley is all those things and also the kind of film Alfred Hitchcock might've made if he lived right now.

Sucker Punch
Sucker Punch(2011)

The plot is paper-thin, the characters are underdeveloped, the ending is rushed and a little weak but, somehow, miraculously, it all works. It's no surprise that a movie featuring five gorgeous women with big weapons can be entertaining, but it really is. The film works, mainly, on an audiovisual level, as narrative is not Zack Snyder's strong suit, but the Asian-inspired, futuristic-yet-retro aesthetic is magnificent. Carla Gugino and Oscar Isaac are terrific in their roles, as well.

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Mike Nichols's (Closer) film debut, adapted from Edward Albee's play, is an intriguing mazelike mess of marital troubles. In this tense movie, George (Richard Burton) and Martha (Elizabeth Taylor) compose the ultimate screwed-up relationship. Incisive, extraordinary script by Ernest Lehman (West Side Story, North by Northwest) allows for some stunning performances to erupt. Taylor is at her scenery-chewing best, Burton is even better in a restrained, ice-cold turn. George Segal is certainly impressive as morally ambiguous Nick and Sandy Dennis is devastatingly perfect as naïve Honey. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf is like a dinner party thrown by a dysfunctional family: intermittently entertaining but ultimately uncomfortable and a little too long. Though unpleasant it may be, you cannot look away.

Please Give
Please Give(2010)

Delightful dark comedy by Nicole Holofcener. Please Give is so rewarding because there's real pain behind the humor. The characters are very well layered: they're not the most likeable bunch (Amanda Peet's is just plain evil), but Holofcener somehow managed to make an affecting yet enjoyable film out of these obnoxious people. As was the case with the director's previous film, Friends With Money, the cast is superb. Frequent collaborator Catherine Keener, perpetually underrated Rebecca Hall and Ann Guilbert shine.

Bram Stoker's Dracula

The opening scene of Bram Stoker's Dracula is as close to cinematic perfection as you could possibly get. The whole film is both an homage to the horror classics of the 20th century, as well as the manifestation of Francis Ford Coppola's unique vision as a filmmaker. Set design and costumes are exquisite. Sadly, the film fails to fulfill its potential. Coppola renders a visually stunning but hollow product. The storyline is weak and unengaging. The cast is hit-and-miss: Gary Oldman and Anthony Hopkins are impressive while Winona Ryder is terribly miscast. The lowest point? Keanu Reeves is spectacularly bad and his British accent even worse.

Voy a Explotar (I'm Gonna Explode)
½

Even though it features some great dialogue, especially as Maru (María Deschamps) narrates, this darkly comic Mexican take on teen angst makes for a really dull, self-important film. I was a teenager too, not so long ago, but I really can't identify with the "issues" of the protagonists. They're not troubled souls, as the film desperately wants you to believe, they're just whiny and immature brats. Frankly, a whole movie about Román's (Juan Pablo de Santiago) parents, played by Daniel Giménez Cacho and Rebecca Jones, would have been much better. Their presence, along with the strikingly beautiful cinematography, are the only worthy aspects of this so-called drama. In the end, I was almost tired from rolling my eyes so much. And they criticize me for not believing in Mexican cinema...

Planes, Trains and Automobiles
½

A bit dated (OK, a lot), but far better than 2010 rip-off Due Date. This is light, funny fare but also very human and unexpectedly touching. Del Griffith (John Candy) plays who has to be the worst travel companion ever in the history of vehicles; he's not specially endearing or anything, in fact, he's extremely irritating, but you can't help but sympathize with the way Candy portrays him. Steve Martin is even better. His tirade at a car rental desk is a celebration of the word "fuck" (the word and its derivatives are uttered an astounding 18 times during the one-minute sequence). Planes, Trains and Automobiles deserves a watch just for that hilarious breakdown. Dylan Baker is also memorable in a very brief but extremely funny turn: probably the biggest laugh in the film.

12 Angry Men (Twelve Angry Men)

Even though it's slightly dated and starts to feel just a tad contrived towards the end, 12 Angry Men is nevertheless riveting and, most importantly, smart. The fantastic script by Reginald Rose is matched in its intensity by a remarkable cast, where Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb, Jack Warden and Ed Begley stand out.

Unknown
Unknown(2011)

Prestige actor Liam Neeson's career has been taking an interesting turn as of late: action star. Starting with 2008's Taken and continuing with Jaume Collet-Serra's Unknown, Neeson is, at 58, as believable an action hero as men and women half his age (or younger). Making use of timeless Hitchcockian themes, but also every action movie cliché, Unknown echoes Memento and is weirdly reminiscent of The Da Vinci Code. Sure, there a few plot holes here and there and, sure, January Jones is incredibly robotic and the pace is not entirely consistent, but its classic premise and stunning cinematography make it worthwhile. Every time I wanted to give up on it (and I wanted to give up on it a few times), it swept me back in.

Battle: Los Angeles

I have a love/hate relationship with apocalyptic fare such as World Invasion: Battle Los Angeles. Love because I thoroughly enjoy watching the world being violently blown to pieces (in film, anyway). And hate because, like the terrible 2012 and the disappointing War of the Worlds, these flicks always miss the mark. This is not the exception: Battle Los Angeles is plotless, video-gamey, needlessly dizzying and, for an action movie, not particularly exciting. Besides, it's far too long. Of course, this is not the material that could elicit fine acting, but the performances, especially the one by Ramón Rodriguez, are terrible. Aaron Eckhart replays "Harvey Dent", now as a cranky Marine. Adding insult to injury, this movie keeps cruelly teasing you with apparent endings, only to continue with its never-ending orgy of bullets. Why do I keep watching films like this?

Mulholland Drive

I like to think of myself as an intelligent person, so it was a little embarrassing to admit that I didn't "get" this movie. A few hours of research later, I could understand it, and really comprehend the greatness of this dark thriller.

Mulholland Drive feels like a dream (or nightmare?) and deserves a second viewing on my part. I will get to that when I have the time but, right now, I just want to praise David Lynch for taking risks, and making a weird, but incredibly appealing and memorable movie; Naomi Watts for her perfect portrayal of Betty/Diane, definitely the best performance of her career, and Rebekah del Rio for that amazing, unforgettable, gorgeous, creepy, mind-fuck scene!

* Will definitely update after second viewing.

Presumed Guilty (Presunto culpable)

Presunto Culpable is a Mexican documentary that, since its release a couple of weeks ago, has been sweeping the nation and creating all sorts of controversy. Its projection on Mexican screens was even suspended for a few days due to a lawsuit by one of the film's unwilling "stars". Stripped-down and nicely edited account of the harrowing plight of Antonio Zúñiga. It only helps that he's such an engaging personality, allowing us to identify even more with him and the terrible situation he's been thrown in.

Eye-opening investigation on the country's shady judicial system, where the accused is guilty from the beginning and has to prove his innocence, not the other way around. As moving as it is inflammatory, Presunto Culpable is a thoroughly engrossing documentary that teaches us that the worst villains exist not on paper or on film, but lurk among us. My only objection is the use of staged phone calls, which the film could've definitely done without.

Rango
Rango(2011)
½

Rango has been tremendously mis-marketed. Not that I mind, but I really can't see anyone under the age of 16 enjoying this. Its plot is much more intricate than the average animated movie and, I wish I was exaggerating, but nearly every character is so ugly that they're nearly unwatchable. The animation department makes up for those eyesores with a beautiful desert landscape. Biggest achievement: the voice actors are excellent, especially Johnny Depp, Abigail Breslin and Bill Nighy. As a film buff, I found spotting the film references and nods to Chinatown fun but, in the end, I just wasn't charmed by the film, nor did it resonate with me.

No Strings Attached

As we know by now, this film wound up not being Natalie Portman's Norbit. Just wasn't bad enough. It's actually a pretty enjoyable sex romp, classed-up by the presence of the talented and gorgeous Portman. No Strings Attached parts from a rather interesting premise that will be further explored in July's Friends with Benefits starring Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake.

The corniness is surprisingly controlled, but the balance between the raunchy jokes and the romance is a little off. And, with the exception of rapper Chris 'Ludacris' Bridges, some of the crass one-liners don't fit the cast's personae. The cast, on the other hand, is delightful: Natalie Portman shows comedic talent, looking stunning in the process and, despite possessing a very, very limited acting range, Ashton Kutcher is eminently likeable. Supporting players like Bridges, Greta Gerwig, Abby Elliott, Lake Bell, Jake Johnson and Ophelia Lovibond enliven the film when it starts to lose steam after the first hour.

Funniest scene in the movie is a sequence that involves three roommates (Portman, Gerwig, Mindy Kaling) sharing menstrual cycles and Adam (Kutcher) taking care of them.

The Sea Inside (Mar Adentro) (The Sea Within)

Mar Adentro is a beautifully shot and scored drama; its intensity matched with simple European charm. Now that I mention drama, Ramón Sampedro's existence after an unfortunate diving accident is as hard a life as it gets, but the film's treatment of his condition is at times overly melodramatic. As quadriplegic Sampedro, Javier Bardem gives a towering performance and is supported by an outstanding female cast (Lola Dueñas, Belén Rueda, Mabel Rivera and Clara Segura). Ultimately, what could've been a poignant observation on life and death is bogged down by the unconvincingness of it all, the underdevelopment of every character (except Ramón) and the marathonic length.

Twelve Monkeys (12 Monkeys)

12 Monkeys is a surreal and crazy tale, with magnificent directing and writing. The art direction is remarkable and the lead actors (Bruce Willis and Madeleine Stowe) are great; but it's Brad Pitt who gives the best performance in the picture (and of his lifetime)...

Manhattan
Manhattan(1979)
½

Not a bad movie, by any means, just not my favorite type of Woody Allen film. The caricaturesque Woody makes the screen shine every time he's in front of it, and from behind, he elicits wonderful performances from the incredible Diane Keaton and the underused Meryl Streep. Manhattan is based on a terrific, subtle script (albeit incredibly pretentious at times) and marked by the beautiful music of George Gershwin. The stunning black-and-white photography is the single greatest aspect of this classic film.

Big
Big(1988)

Before I watched BIG (which totally exceeded my expectations), I was a mild Tom Hanks hater. I'm happy to announce I'm finally cured.

Tom Hanks is incredible as Josh Baskin, a 13 year-old kid who, after making a wish on a machine at a carnival, wakes up as a thirtysomething guy. Hanks is so damn adorable. Impressive directorial work from Penny Marshall, as well as outstanding score and editing (Howard Shore and Barry Malkin, respectively).

The iconic keyboard scene is as great as I had imagined. Perfection.

Frailty
Frailty(2002)

Sloppy B-movie trying to pass as sophisticated horror. Even though its script is seriously bad and repetitive, Frailty does manage to hold your attention. Actor/director Bill Paxton offers a lackluster performance, but Matt O'Leary, Jeremy Sumpter and Matthew McConaughey make up for that. The film also features some outstanding camerawork and editing, but ultimately fails due to awful writing.

When Harry Met Sally
½

You're reading the initial credits and you see names like "Rob Reiner", "Nora Ephron" and "Barry Sonenfeld". With that kind of talent, you know you have a good movie before you. Even though it's about 95 minutes long, for some reason it feels much longer, but it's superbly written and features some great banter between Billy Crystal (he's perfect) and Meg Ryan. Romantic comedy classic.

Waking Sleeping Beauty

Engrossing account of the men who saved Disney's animation branch and brought it to a second "Golden Age" from the late-eighties to the mid-nineties (and all the drama that arose between them). Touching film is filled with interesting trivia and little-known facts about the biggest name in family entertainment ever. Waking Sleeping Beauty incorporates testimonies old and new, vintage video footage, animated clips, and, most importantly, the opinions of everyone that matters. The many different points of view prevent it from becoming a one-sided account. Essential viewing for Disney junkies.

Pour elle (Anything for Her)
½

Pour Elle is a well-constructed French thriller that's, at the same time, a pleasing, exciting actioner and a harrowing drama. Excellent cinematography by Alain Duplantier and outstanding work from leads Vincent Lindon and Diane Kruger make the experience all the more powerful. Remade recently as The Next Three Days with Russell Crowe and Elizabeth Banks.

The Brothers Bloom

The Brothers Bloom possesses nearly every attribute I search for in a film: it's whimsical, quirky and visually arresting. It features fantastic costume design and score. It's very funny in an offbeat manner, and it's brought to life by a magnificent cast: apart from Rinko Kikuchi (who basically prolongs her mute character from Babel), Rachel Weisz hits a career high and, if he hadn't been nominated for this year's Oscars, it would be safe to say that Mark Ruffalo is the most underrated actor ever. Now that I think of it, this film bears a resemblance to now-extinct TV show Pushing Daisies. But, as much as I love originality and beauty and great acting, I couldn't bring myself to love this movie. Maybe it's the overly intricate plot, I don't know.

Girl, Interrupted
½

Although it boasts a killer script, adapted from the memoir by Susanna Kaysen, Girl, Interrupted's iconic female cast is what makes this film so riveting. Winona Ryder as Kaysen, Angelina Jolie in her scene-stealing (and Oscar-winning ) role of Lisa, Brittany Murphy (a humongous talent we lost recently), Clea DuVall, Elisabeth Moss, Whoopi Goldberg: all deliver excellent performances and originate a very interesting dynamic between them. Jared Leto is solid as the only male element among the cast worth mentioning. Veers a little toward melodrama in the end, but it's still a classic.

The Company Men

Realistic, poignant film on the volatility of the economic system, jobs, money and security, with spectacular cinematography by Roger Deakins and a first-rate male cast, where Chris Cooper, Craig T. Nelson and particularly Ben Affleck shine, the latter giving a fantastic performance that suits his fantastic character, the most important achievement of the script penned by John Wells, who also directs. The most overlooked film of the year.

You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger

His latest film may not be one of his best, but it's still very Woody Allen. Sort of a lighter follow-up to Vicky Cristina Barcelona, You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger is Allen's fourth film set in London. With characters that are sad and desperate, some splendid dialog and lines with rapid delivery, but also a few loose ends and underperforming actors who don't usually underperform (see Naomi Watts, Anthony Hopkins), YWMATDS shouldn't be taken too seriously. Gemma Jones is the best element among the cast; Lucy Punch stands out, too. Anna Friel should be given more work, not only in this but, you know, in general.

Let Me In
Let Me In(2010)
½

Matt Reeves's version of Swedish arthouse hit Låt den rätte komma in. This American version possesses an even creepier atmosphere, and from the beginning you know it's much more entertainment-oriented. Although their visuals are similar, this one takes a much more violent approach to what the original did so subtly. The cast is top-notch, with some of the finest child actors working today: Chloë Moretz (Kick-Ass), Kodi Smit McPhee (The Road) and as a much more menacing villain, Dylan Minnette. Let Me In is actually longer than its predecessor, but flies by in comparison.

Let the Right One In

Moody horror/romance hybrid features rich cinematography and score. Although it deserves praise for its uniqueness and for not giving in to any of the genre's conventions, it's incredibly slow and does what a supernatural drama (or any film, for that matter) shouldn't even dare to do: bore.

A Single Man
A Single Man(2009)

I bet every review out there probably says the same thing, but this film is really good-looking. I mean, it's just ridiculously stylish. Tom Ford's expertise in the realm of fashion translates beautifully into film. Underrated drama features some sharp editing and score, which go perfectly with the film's fashion-campaign looks. Colin Firth in the main role is stunning, and should've won the Oscar last year too (as I'm sure as hell he will this year).

I Love You Phillip Morris
½

Enjoyable romp despite the irritating presence of Jim Carrey, although his performance here is much more restrained than his usual work. I love You Philip Morris is based on a terrific script; Ewan McGregor is just as good. Fun retro soundtrack is a nice touch. Steven Jay Russell: what a life!

Get Low
Get Low(2010)
½

An exercise in subtlety (at times too subtle, if that's possible) and expectedly slow-paced (at times too slow-paced), Get Low is heartwarming and funny. The beautiful music and the cast are the highlights: Robert Duvall shines and receives great support from Sissy Spacek, Bill Murray and Lucas Black, a dream cast for first-time director Aaron Schneider. Though he did a good job, a film like this would've fit the Coen brothers better than True Grit did.

Some Like It Hot

Some Like it Hot is just... fun. An incredibly enjoyable, sexy, funny film. The cinematography, especially in the opening scenes is eye-popping. The cast is impressive, with a genius performance by Jack Lemmon.

The Illusionist (L'illusionniste)

One of the three nominees this year for 'Best Animated Feature' at the Academy Awards, Sylvain Chomet's L'Illusionniste is a near-silent film, partially based on filmmaker Jacques Tati. Funny, heartfelt as well as heartbreaking, this practically dialog-free film features both the best animation and one of the best scores (also by Chomet) in recent years. Not the most entertaining film ever, but not exactly boring. Just quiet and contemplative. Exquisitely stripped-down.

Hereafter
Hereafter(2010)
½

Hereafter's opening scene (the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami) is incredibly stunning. This is the sequence that earned the film an Oscar nomination for 'Best Visual Effects'. There's not much use for them in the rest of the picture, although it is splendidly shot. This Clint Eastwood-directed supernatural drama comes the same year as Biutiful, a far superior film dealing with similar themes. As opposed to Alejandro González Iñárritu's modern masterpiece, Hereafter is cold, rigid, and emotionless. The cast offers nothing extraordinary, except for the McLaren twins' utter lack of acting ability. An unsatisfying experience.

Devil
Devil(2010)

Claustrophobic and riveting horror film. It comes as a surprise that M. Night Shyamalan could lately be associated with anything remotely good. Mindless (truly) fun. The score by Fernando Velázquez is another good aspect of this modest horror flick. Thought I wasn't really scared, but found myself not being able to sleep peacefully.

Burlesque
Burlesque(2010)

Its cliché-laden script borrows heavily from every musical, comedy, romance and rags-to-riches tale ever put on film, but Burlesque is a nice little breather among the heavy dramas and intricate stories we saw in 2010. In other words, it's old-fashioned, dumb (and incredibly well-choreographed) fun. Cher might look like a ventriloquist dummy but, acting-wise, she's still got it (sort of). Her voice is as awful as ever, though. In her first movie role, it's pretty obvious Christina Aguilera is not the best actress in the world, but she's good enough for this, and her singing is impeccable. Stanley Tucci is at his most charming. However, it's all sort of lukewarm: the sex, the rivalries, the struggles. Pretty, but hollow.

Due Date
Due Date(2010)
½

I can't even begin to describe how far below the standards set by The Hangover this is. A huge step down for Todd Phillips. Both Robert Downey Jr. and Zach Galifianakis are excellent on their own, but they don't work as well as a couple. The biggest problem here is the awful script, though.

Splice
Splice(2010)
½

Although it occasionally suffers from terrible dialogue, it's still a brave and exciting sci-fi/horror hybrid (pun intended). A surprisingly touching film, Splice raises some interesting questions about ethics, the future (or present) of science and responsibility. Also surprising: great work from Sarah Polley and Adrien Brody. Delphine Chanéac is magnetic in a very silent-film-star kind of way. I'm not saying that Splice is light viewing, but the climactic scene is really disturbing and doesn't go in the same direction the whole film had gone before it.

Catfish
Catfish(2010)
½

Does it really matter if the events in this film actually happened or if they were deliberately staged? I guess if the end result is as intriguing and engaging as Catfish, it doesn't. It got my heart pounding, which had never happened to me while viewing a documentary and Yaniv "Nev" Schulman is an interesting enough personality to watch. Catfish's climax reveals a truth we hardly consider as an actual problem, letting us know the effects frustration, loneliness and conformity can have in one person's psyche.

Rabbit Hole
Rabbit Hole(2010)
½

A sad film, yes, but not the sort of devastating experience I had expected. The characters are in deep pain, which they channel so beautifully, but to which I cannot relate on most levels. A few dashes of simple humor here and there make everything a little bit lighter. Rabbit Hole shows there is no one way to grieve, but that each of us must learn to cope with loss in the best way we can. Becca (Nicole Kidman) and Howie (Aaron Eckhart) take two very different and unorthodox approaches, and it's not our job to chastise them for it, only to understand them and hope we're never in that situation.

This is John Cameron Mitchell at his most stripped-down (in a completely different sense from Shortbus), and it helps that he's backed by David Lindsay-Abaire's great script and one of the best ensembles of the year. Kidman is incredible in her Oscar-nominated role, managing to make Becca sympathetic when she's not entirely likeable. Aaron Eckhart is solid as Howie, albeit a little too over-the-top. Dianne Wiest, Miles Teller and Sandra Oh are excellent in small but crucial parts. I loved that, even with a huge star among the cast, you know Rabbit Hole's intentions, and it truly has the heart of an indie film.

The Messenger

2009 will go down in history as, among other things, the year when Iraq War movies were good. Oren Moverman's debut is the gut-wrenching (but occasionally humorous) THE MESSENGER. As Sergeant Montgomery, the criminally underrated Ben Foster is assigned to the army's Casualty Notification service, a.k.a. one of the worst jobs ever.

Foster is simply brilliant as Montgomery. Oscar-nominee Woody Harrelson is solid, but definitely not at the same level as Foster, who should've gotten the nomination instead. Speaking of Oscar snubs, Samantha Morton is stellar (as always) and a brief appearance by Steve Buscemi will leave you open-mouthed.

Never Let Me Go
½

Quietly affecting (and visually stunning) dystopian drama. A sad, sad movie, effective due to the outstanding performances it features. A solid child cast, with kids that even look strikingly similar to their adult counterparts, who are so much better. Carey Mulligan, Andrew Garfield and especially Keira Knightley are amazing as a trio of friends who share a very special destiny. Sally Hawkins is noteworthy in her brief role, as well.

The Town
The Town(2010)
½

Part of Ben Affleck's Bostonian saga that started three years ago with Gone Baby Gone. This time, Affleck works in front of the camera, as well as behind it. Set in Charlestown, MA, bank-robbery capital of the United States, The Town is a violent, realistic film that bears resemblance (style-wise) to other crime epics like Mystic River and The Dark Knight. Exciting film goes beyond the "forbidden" relationship between Doug (Affleck) and Claire (Rebecca Hall); their love is merely an ingredient thrown in for good dramatic measure and not what moves the plot.

Oscar-buzzy film features a strong ensemble cast, powered by Affleck, recent nominee Jeremy Renner, underrated Rebecca Hall and Blake Lively. Jon Hamm sounded like a great element among the cast, but his role (as well as his performance) is incredibly clichéd. The action sequences are so effective, that when they're not happening, you feel their absence and the film loses a little heat. However, the final act breathes new life into it.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

This film is practically begging to be remade by David Fincher. I'm actually surprised he wasn't approached in the first place, but seeing what Niels Arden Oplev has done, I'm satisfied. Still, it'll be interesting to watch what this legendary filmmaker can contribute to the story. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is somewhat of a slow starter, but its great look and engaging story make it one of the best thrillers in recent years. Dark and violent, this film also boasts a breakthrough performance by Noomi Rapace. She's stellar as flawed heroine Lisbeth Salander and receives great support from Michael Nyvqist and Peter Haber.

Unstoppable
Unstoppable(2010)
½

At first, Unstoppable felt more tedious than exciting. The film simultaneously elicited two different answers from me: my mind was telling me I was getting tired of it (and of all the train lingo), while my heart was beating increasingly faster, racing even. But this above-average action thriller steadily won me over, what with its vivid cinematography and fast pace. The clumsy camerawork is a bit of a turnoff, but old-fashioned entertainment prevails.

True Grit
True Grit(2010)

Not the overwhelmingly entertaining flick I had come to expect, but it's nonetheless a funny and hearty Western take on karma, with a decidedly old-Hollywood feel and a lush score by Carter Burwell. The highlight of the film is, of course, Hailee Steinfeld in her breakthrough role as 'Mattie Ross', a firecracker of a young woman. She has the brio and confidence of an actress three times her age (and on her first movie role, no less). The fact that most awards have gone to scenery-chewing Melissa Leo (from The Fighter) instead of Steinfeld further proves there's still considerable ageism in Hollywood. Hers is one of the best performances of the year so far. People need to forget she's just 14 and embrace her for the fine actress she is. I mean, it's no small feat stealing a movie from Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon and Josh Brolin, who also shine here.

Buried
Buried(2010)

An even more suspenseful counterpart to 127 Hours, although Buried is much more brazenly entertaining. One of the best 2010 films to slip under the radar, Buried starts off with some cool credits set to a Hitchcockian score (director Rodrigo Cortés cited Hitchcock as a main influence in the making of this film), and features a hell of a performance by Ryan Reynolds. We share his immense frustration as he deals with the increasingly stupid/useless people he talks to on the phone, as if being buried alive weren't a huge problem already. Buried is as engrossing as it is exasperating. Its utterly depressing finale will certainly please haters of the 'fairy-tale happy ending'.

127 Hours
127 Hours(2010)
½

I bet the writers decided to name this film 127 Hours because it actually feels like you've been watching it for more than 5 days. In all seriousness, this is truly difficult to watch. An emotional rollercoaster that plays (marvelously, I might add) with your feelings. You'll experience disgust, shock, empathy and relief in equal, intense measures throughout the film. The opening sequence somewhat echoes Slumdog Millionaire but, taking Aron Ralston's inspiring true story, Danny Boyle has given life to something entirely different from the film that won him an Oscar a couple years ago. Stylish film has the look of an upscale car commercial (and that's a good thing) and vibrates with a lively score by A.R. Rahman. God bless Aron Ralston for having the strength to carry on and Danny Boyle for having the balls to make this movie. James Franco carries the full weight of the film on his arms (no pun intended). What a performance! It only makes this suspenseful movie much more compelling, all the way to its climactic scene, which I got through thanks to a series of strategically placed pauses and by chewing desperately on a plastic cup. Man, did this film have an effect on me! Shaky, sweaty hands and teary eyes. Like Elizabeth Gilbert says, "it just unstitched me". At the end, I was left, quite literally, sobbing. Gasping for air just so I could continue crying like a child that has just been stripped of his favorite toy. Never had I felt so touched, so moved by a motion picture. A tour de force and, for me at least, a life-changing experience.

The Age of Innocence

Of course, this film doesn't allow for the usual Scorsese violence, but coming from him, I expected something a little more...intense. The look of this movie is amazing, with its gorgeous cinematography, it's as if you are watching a 2-hour long painting. But, apart from the aesthetic aspect, it also resembles a painting in the fact that nothing happens. Sadly, The Age of Innocence is terribly boring. I never thought I'd see Daniel Day-Lewis in such a plain role, he did what he could with what he was given. Winona Ryder was good in her own, puppy-like way. The film's best was Michelle Pfeiffer. Her performance was flawed, but she was the one who kept your interest alive. Loved the narrator. Martin Scorsese should stick to what he does best: blood.

Conviction
Conviction(2010)

A (true) story about perseverance if there ever was one, Conviction has "awards-bait" written all over it. That, as we know by now, it's almost never a bad thing. Usually that plea for attention and accolades is backed by a compelling story and solid performances, which is precisely what this film offers so selflessly.

The heart of Conviction is the beautiful relationship between Betty Anne Waters (Hilary Swank) and her deeply troubled brother Kenny (Sam Rockwell). Swank is stunning as usual, but it's Rockwell who's flawless. He's definitely the highlight of the film and Academy members would be crazy not to nominate him this year.

The first half of the movie felt a little Lifetime-ish for my taste, but for the second half, it decided to grow a pair. Betty Anne's unwavering and even unsettling persistence grows with each second and it's even more evident by now. She's determined, yes, but her eyes are open and she's not willing to take anybody's crap anymore. A brief (but key) scene that includes a completely transformed Juliette Lewis takes place during this act as well, and it's amazing. Melissa Leo continues a remarkable streak with the portrayal of an outright detestable police officer.

The Concert (Le concert)

Undeniably good-looking, at times funny, always loud and very (and I mean very) over-the-top. Valeri Barinov, Anna Kamenkova and Dimitry Nazarov are the standouts among the cast. Sadly, this film disappoints terribly. It's incoherent, it's oh-so-melodramatic, it has plot holes the size of the Eiffel Tower and it relies heavily on Aleksey Guskov's performance, which is pretty damn bad. Basically, it starts off great but, halfway, it starts to go downhill at an alarming pace.

Black Swan
Black Swan(2010)
½

Darren Aronofsky outdoes himself with Black Swan, which is saying a lot, since he's the one who gave us Requiem for a Dream and The Fountain. A mesmerizing, hardcore, in-your-face thriller that works as a testament to the sacrifice that goes into ballet, as well as a study on the psychological collapse, moral decay and sexual awakening of Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman). Aronofsky has taken something light and stylish, something that could seem as foreign to him as ballet, and rendered something truly dark, visceral. Ballet is the vehicle through which the filmmaker portrays the havoc wreaked by an incessant and unbridled quest for perfection. The cast is just as great. Barbara Hershey and Winona Ryder are both chilling as Nina's overprotective mother and a "has-been" dancer, respectively, and Vincent Cassel is solid as Thomas. Gone are the days when all Mila Kunis could brag about was being the best thing about That 70's Show. Her work as sexy, mysterious Lily (and an imminent Oscar nomination) will definitely solidify her film career. However, it's Natalie Portman's tour de force performance that carries the film. I can practically see the Academy Award in her hands.

Animal Kingdom
½

Shocking and tastefully violent film follows emotionally detached 'J' (James Frecheville) as he tries to avoid the criminal path that almost his whole family has taken. Animal Kingdom is anchored by an excellent cast, where Sullivan Stapleton, Joel Edgerton and Jacki Weaver stand out. The disturbing way 'Grandma Smurf' (Weaver) behaves with and around her family of men-children is an interesting dynamic to behold. Nicely accompanied by Antony Partos's haunting score, which somewhat echoes Gustavo Santaolalla. Still, it's bewildering how someone as mind-numbingly stupid as 'Pope' (Ben Mendelsohn) could run a criminal organization. Then again, it has a hell of an ending, so it evens out.

Greenberg
Greenberg(2010)

Greenberg features some decent work from Ben Stiller. This type of material is what he should be doing. Despite this, it all feels rather pointless. There isn't any reward for putting up with this terrible douche. On the other hand, I think I'm getting over my aversion to Jennifer Jason Leigh. Oh, another thing: I don't get what the fuss is about with Greta Gerwig. She's like a hipster Alicia Silverstone. Does someone agree with me? Am I just not "getting" it?

Letters to Juliet
½

I honestly thought I would be getting something a bit classier, substantial, fulfilling. Instead, what I got was a dumbed-down, cheesy and formulaic romantic comedy. Still, it's a little charming thanks to Amanda Seyfried, Vanessa Redgrave and the gorgeous Italian scenery. One-note actor Gael García Bernal is terrible (so is his awful character). An example of a great concept that ultimately fails due to poor execution. Despite all of this, Sophie, Seyfried's character, is an inspiration for budding writers (such as myself).

Julie & Julia

A delight that's bound to please film buffs as well as foodies. Nora Ephron's funny, witty script and the marvelous cast are a match made in heaven. By now, everyone can count on Meryl Streep to deliver a great performance; she doesn't disappoint. Amy Adams, Stanley Tucci, Jane Lynch and Chris Messina round out one of the best ensemble casts of '09.

The food, obviously, plays a major role in "Julie & Julia". Exquisitely shot, Julia Child's (Streep) and Julie Powell's (Adams) tasty creations will surely get your mouth watering. The French sequences are particularly stylish.

The A-Team
The A-Team(2010)

I love it when a film comes together, especially blockbusters, which tend to underperform. This is good, old-fashioned, mindless fun. An authentic thrill ride that grabs your attention from minute one and doesn't let go. And it's funny, which I didn't expect at all. Its four main actors (Liam Neeson, Sharlto Copley, Bradley Cooper and Quinton Jackson) are each great in their own way, and Patrick Wilson rounds up the cast nicely as the villain.

Going the Distance
½

Enjoyable (and just a little bit raunchy) romantic comedy. The best thing about Going the Distance is its charming, charismatic cast. The lead couple's (Justin Long and Drew Barrymore) chemistry is evident, but the colorful supporting characters, played by Jason Sudeikis, Charlie Day and Christina Applegate, steal the show. The whole unemployment subplot further demonstrates the fact that this film is nicely grounded in reality. Very appropriate for our times.

Mother and Child

Directed by Rodrigo García (son of revered writer Gabriel García Márquez) and produced by Alejandro González Iñarritu (whose influence is evident in this film), Mother and Child explores concepts of race, adoption and, most importantly, the importance of a mother. It only helps that García is Colombian, a culture (like all Latin-American cultures) that deeply values the role a mother plays in the family dynamic.

During their introduction, the actions by García's female characters are inexplicable. If Karen (Annette Bening) likes Paco (Jimmy Smits), why does she keep pushing him away with her obnoxious comments? Or, why does Elizabeth (Naomi Watts) get mad when her boss invites her to an intimate dinner, only to then come on to him aggressively? On top of that, it seemed like the film's writer/director was making an effort to make his characters unlikeable. At one point, I even asked myself: "why is everybody a bitch in this movie"?

But to see this characters evolve, influenced in different ways by motherhood, is a delight. The interconnected stories in this film, woven together beautifully by García, are very moving and I felt them as if they were mine in a way I can't even explain. Also, this is one of those movies where truly every actor in every part is outstanding. Naomi Watts, a terrific actress who definitely deserves more recognition, is incredible as sexually dominant Elizabeth. Annette Bening, Kerry Washington, Shareeka Epps and many more turn in some great work.

Shutter Island

An enviable cast, impressive cinematography, nods to Alfred Hitchcock, and an unexpected ending (at least by me, but I tend to suck at predicting twists) compose Martin Scorsese's latest, SHUTTER ISLAND. As some of you may know, Scorsese's a huge Hitchcock fan, and it shows here. This stylish thriller will remind you of classics like 'Vertigo' and 'North by Northwest'.

I may be a little (or a lot) biased when I say Leonardo DiCaprio is stellar here, but then again, when's he not lately? On the other hand, Mark Ruffalo is underused. Jackie Earle Haley's brief appearance is chilling. All in all, it's entertaining, fun and worth the money, but does not rank up there with Marty's best. He sort of chose style over substance with this one. Forgettable eye candy.

Tron Legacy
Tron Legacy(2010)
½

A neon dream. Stunning, unique visuals carry the film more than its shallow, pretentious plot can. Seriously, the visuals are so good, you won't really care about all the things this film has done wrong, including Jeff Bridges' reinterpretation of 'The Dude' as a digital deity. The score by Daft Punk is worth mentioning too, even if it's not 100% electronic or entirely original. At times it even sounds strangely similar to Hans Zimmer's work for The Dark Knight and Inception. Still, it's a great accompaniment for the film's futuristic aesthetic. Battle scenes are great, too. And Cillian Murphy's cameo is completely unimportant, but it was enough to make this fan excited.

Schindler's List
½

The most "palpable" achievement of this film is its stunning black and white cinematography by Janusz Kaminski; truly some of the finest work behind the lens I've ever witnessed. Schindler's List is very restrained, very simple, very non-Spielberg. An extremely painful story but, at the same time, a thing of beauty. Liam Neeson, Embeth Davidtz, and especially Ben Kingsley and Ralph Fiennes are all excellent.

Easy A
Easy A(2010)

A funny, witty and entertaining mess. Easy A is somewhat of a cross between Superbad and Mean Girls and, despite its pretty obvious flaws, it's actually the best teen comedy since both of the classics it so resembles, mainly because of Emma Stone's unrelenting charisma and presence. Stone has been doing a pretty good job at comedies like the aforementioned Superbad and Zombieland, but this is the film that will finally make her a star (if it hasn't already).

A great addition: prestige actors Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson as Olive's (Stone) fun, quirky parents. Dan Byrd and Amanda Bynes are quite good in their roles, too. On the other hand, that Cam Gigandet is an extraordinarily bad actor, isn't he?

The Holiday
The Holiday(2006)

I'm a sucker for a Nancy Meyers film. There's truly not another current filmmaker that can make a romantic comedy as well as she can. Her movies are light and strikingly beautiful from top to bottom. Plus, she knows how to assemble a great cast. That's exactly what she did with The Holiday, where Cameron Diaz is her usual bubbly self, Jack Black is (at last) tolerable and brits Jude Law and Kate Winslet are stellar, especially the latter.

Despite the fact that she has less screen-time than Diaz or Law, this is Kate Winslet's movie. Meryl Streep for the Internet generation, Winslet is an exciting, gorgeous and supremely talented leading lady. As per usual with Meyers, the choice of music and the visuals are excellent. The Holiday has "cute" written all over it but, in this case, it's actually a good thing.

Tropic Thunder
½

The usual Stiller elements are present (stupidity, most of all), but luckily, genuine comedy prevails in Tropic Thunder. Ben Stiller has grown into a better director, and even a decent actor. Not common in big-budget comedies, the film has some stunning visuals. The list of players is great: Ben Stiller, Jack Black, Nick Nolte, Steve Coogan, Jay Baruchel, Danny McBride, Brandon T. Jackson, Bill Hader and Matthew McConaughey, all of which make for a solid ensemble cast. The movie certainly belongs to 2 guys you never thought you'd see in a movie like this: Robert Downey Jr. and Tom Cruise. Both give amazing performances worthy of award recognition (yes, they're that good). The stupid dance at the end was too much, though.

The Kids Are All Right

Another independent film that deals with a dysfunctional family, yet The Kids Are All Right, with all its simplicity, seems fresh. Works both as a parade of beautiful people and as a study on relationships and love in all its forms. Light, but realistic dramedy perfectly captures the tension and awkwardness that a new component added into (what seemed as) a solid-as-a-rock family can cause, as well as the comedy that can come out of such situations. Annette Bening and Juliane Moore, two of the best actresses of their generation, are particularly good, especially the former. The titular "kids", Josh Hutcherson and Mia Wasikowska, are decent supporting players and, as their father, perpetually underrated Mark Ruffalo is solid. This is the indie of the year.

Love Actually

Although its plot is clichéd and often preposterous, Love Actually is such enjoyable holiday fare that what we would normally see as flaws, actually make the experience a little more fun. Unbelievably charming, expectedly funny and surprisingly touching, Love Actually is a great romantic comedy that just happens to be set during the holidays. The eclectic soundtrack blends traditional Christmas songs and British hits, both of which go perfect with the film's predominantly light tone. The ensemble cast is a "who's who" of Britain's stars, where Emma Thompson, Martine McCutcheon, Liam Neeson, Thomas Sangster, Bill Nighy and (American) Laura Linney stand out.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas

I'm not gonna lie: some of the names that Dr. Seuss has created for the items, places and activities present in his most famous oeuvre, "How The Grinch Stole Christmas", truly get on my nerves. Still, this classic has proven to endure the test of time and really cement its reputation as one of the best TV specials for the holiday season. Also, consider that nostalgia plays a big part in my love for this charming little gem.

Winter's Bone

Something we don't see often: a drama that seems real, that sounds and looks and feels authentic. The characters are frightening and everything seems to have an air of imminent danger around it. Jennifer Lawrence plays Ree Dolly, an incredibly brave teenager, forced to grow up fast, after her mother's mental illness and his father's criminal ways leave her in charge of her family. Lawrence's work is outstanding but, to me, it actually pales in comparison to her astonishing performance in The Burning Plain. Anyway, as a chilling drama, it works. Trailer trash has never been scarier.

The Social Network
½

Enthralling story about the creation and the fights over Facebook, today's most influential social network. The drama and betrayal that surrounds the popular site is astounding. Aaron Sorkin does a fantastic job at adapting Ben Mezrich's "The Accidental Billionaires". His biting script is a sure bet for the Academy Award. The director in charge of this incredible true story is the one and only David Fincher. His assured direction makes this a more impressive and involving tale with each minute of screentime.

In keeping with Fincher's traditional dark look and feel, the film's score is the work of Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor, with the collaboration of Atticus Ross. Jeff Cronenweth, who also worked with Fincher in Fight Club, is the best match for the director's characteristic visual style. The assembling of the film's talented young cast is its crowning achievement, though. Jesse Eisenberg tackles the fascinating role of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, the world's youngest billionaire, with all his might.

Eisenberg comes out of his shell and plays Zuckerberg like an over-caffeinated geek with enough IQ and self-esteem to behave like a complete asshole. Andrew Garfield is magnificent as Mark's former best friend and associate, Eduardo Saverin, expertly capturing his disappointment-fueled wrath. Every role and every performance is memorable: Rooney Mara, Max Minghella, Armie Hammer and Justin Timberlake turn in some decent supporting work. A solid contender for the 'Best Picture' Oscar, and a fine example that reality trumps fiction. Somebody give David Fincher a damn statuette already! God knows it's overdue.

I Am Love
I Am Love(2010)
½

Incredibly stylish ode to Italian beauty. Gorgeous European scenery, exquisite costumes, an impressive score by John Adams and fine performances are some of the good things this sexy yet undeniably elegant Luca Guadagnino film has to offer. The best aspects, of course, are its extraordinary visuals: the Italian countryside, the streets of London and the Recchi mansion are beautifully captured by Yorick Le Saux. You could truly take any frame of this movie and hang it on your wall.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

Inventive, wildly original and just a little bit crazy, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is different to anything you've ever seen before. It's Kill Bill meets Sin City meets Judd Apatow comedies meets an afternoon of playing videogames. Edgar Wright crafts an extraordinary cinema/comic-book/videogame hybrid and injects it with energy and velocity. Funny, fast and, most importantly, creative, SPVTW is a mind-blowing experience. Excellent work by writer/director Wright, editors Jonathan Amos and Paul Machliss and its pitch-perfect young ensemble cast.

SPVTW favors style over plot, that's kind of a given. But fret not, the style is so fascinating, you're not going to miss a good ol' intricate story. A lot of the action doesn't make any sense but, frankly, that kind of thing doesn't really matter in films like Scott Pilgrim (if there's even any other like it). After a while, the movie's fast pace and over-stylized imagery may be a little tiring, though.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1

Being a hardcore Harry Potter fan, I was completely overwhelmed by this film's perfection upon watching it the first time. A second viewing, after all the anticipation and curiosity had worn off, helped me to see "Deathly Hallows" is far from perfect, and is actually just a decent movie; a nice little preview of what the final chapter might be like. The seventh entry in the boy wizard's canon boasts riveting action sequences, outstanding visual effects and some fine work by Rupert Grint and Jason Isaacs.

The addition of an animated sequence is a welcome change of pace for what has become a very dark and somewhat formulaic franchise. On the other hand, over-the-top performances and unnecessary comedic moments sort of spoil the dramatic rhythm.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show

A film in which nothing makes sense and almost every song sounds the same; The Rocky Horror Picture Show is the very definition of camp. This undoubtedly bad film is strangely fascinating and sexy in a "guilty pleasure" sort of way. Vivid, colorful cinematography is a strong asset of this film where terrible acting (except for Tim Curry, of course) and terrible voices thrive.

The Box
The Box(2009)

This Richard Kelly (Donnie Darko) flick's main flaw (sitting atop a bunch of many other little flaws, like awful visual effects and high doses of camp and cheese) is its drastic and unpleasant change from psychological thriller to alien invasion film. The Box, even at its climax, provides no tension whatsoever and, in the end, it's just a weird (not "good" weird) experience. Cameron Diaz's scared face is awesome, though.

Red
Red(2010)

Action comedy depicting the antics of a squad composed by several senior CIA agents. RED is actually an acronym for "Retired, Extremely Dangerous". An ingenious concept, like Watchmen, but funny and with even older heroes. This stylish and explosive adaptation of Warren Ellis and Cully Hamner's "Red" comic book series works thanks to its A-list cast, where Mary-Louise Parker and Karl Urban stand out. Bruce Willis plays Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman's appearance is all-too-brief, John Malkovich is all sorts of crazy as paranoid Marvin Boggs and Helen Mirren looks glamorous as ever, even when sporting a machine gun. Terrible work by Richard Dreyfuss, though. Sadly, in the end, this satire is totally conventional and frequently ridiculous.

Inception
Inception(2010)
½

An effective summer blockbuster "for the thinking man". A smart action thriller. It may sound clichéd, but 'Inception' is a film that really makes you think, that provokes the intellect; therefore, it is not for the average movie watcher. Intellectually demanding, but just as exciting.

Inception's original concepts come from the creative mind of Christopher Nolan. They seem fresh, not ridiculous or far-fetched. Even inside of imaginary worlds, dreams within dreams, and the tricky human subconscious, everything seems to make sense.

Parallel to the film's interesting ideological offerings, are great visuals. Outstanding special effects find their zenith in a breathtaking, gravity-defying sequence shot in a real rotating set (with the help of CGI, of course). Perfectly restrained use of slow-motion, which enhances the actions and the striking cinematography by Wally Pfister.

It wouldn't be a Christopher Nolan film without an attractive and talented set of actors. The filmmaker directs an outstanding cast, bound to be one of the top ensembles of the year. Leonardo DiCaprio, Marion Cotillard, Ellen Page, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Cillian Murphy and Tom Hardy are some of the big
names present in Inception, where the first three stand out.

300
300(2007)
½

Review pending.

28 Days Later
½

A thrilling, mature zombie movie. Relatable characters, stunning action sequences, top-notch suspense and just the right amount of gore and camp. Brits Cillian Murphy and Naomie Harris are solid while Megan Burns is incredibly robotic.

'28 Days Later' actually benefits from a poorer image quality. Shot in DV, the lesser resolution and grainy look do wonders for the post-apocalyptic atmosphere. The film does get a tad self-indulgent during the climactic sequence, but sort of picks up right before the ending.

A.I. Artificial Intelligence

Modern retelling of "Pinocchio", originally helmed by Stanley Kubrick. The story, adapted from Brian Aldiss's "Super-toys Last all Summer Long", showed tremendous potential for a really dark cinematic experience, but Steven Spielberg's characteristic style rendered it a little cheesy (albeit slightly creepy). Kubrick's vision would have helped the film a lot more.

Nevertheless, it's one of those films you can't help but call "beautiful". The performances by Haley Joel Osment and Jude Law are great, as well.

Eat Pray Love

This Ryan Murphy-directed film should've just been titled "Eat", since that segment of the movie is the only thoroughly enjoyable part. This ode to gluttony and "cucina italiana" is food porn at its best, plus it's light and surprisingly funny.

Somehow I imagined Elizabeth Gilbert to be this incredible new heroine for the 21st-Century woman (and man, why not?), but all I got was an immature, needy, whiny drama queen! Needless to say (it's a chick-flick, after all), she finds her perfect man in Felipe (Javier Bardem) since he's even more of an obnoxious cry-baby.

Despite the weak character she was given, Julia Roberts looks stunning at 43, even besides much younger James Franco. Glee's underrated Mike O'Malley, Oscar nominee Viola Davis, Billy Crudup and the scene-stealing Richard Jenkins round up a pretty solid cast, made even better by a late (very close to the end of hour #2) appearance by one of the best actors around, Javier Bardem.

Colorful, exquisitely shot and appropriately sound-tracked film is one that will certainly appeal to the senses instead of the intellect (I truly mean that). Sadly, the excessive length of 'Eat Pray Love' (more evident during the India and Bali episodes) ends up almost spoiling the whole experience.

Dinner for Schmucks
½

First of all, at the theater where I watched Dinner for Schmucks, they showed the trailer for Little Fockers first. Let me just say I was offended by it: they managed to do not one, but two incredibly lame references to Hollywood classics, show a child projectile-vomiting and Ben Stiller slicing his finger while carving a turkey and bleeding like there's no tomorrow all over his guests. My question is: why does Robert De Niro agree to that garbage? He certainly doesn't need the money.

After an adorable opening sequence, Dinner for Schmucks started. This adaptation of Francis Veber's Le dîner de cons boasts an incomparable concept: a bunch of corporate bigwigs gather for dinner and arrange a competition to see who could bring the biggest idiot to the banquet. The characters are rich, especially the titular schmucks. Most of them, sadly, only appear towards the end of the film, inducing out- loud laughs, whereas until that point all we got were barely chuckles. Zach Galifianakis and Octavia Spencer are the two funniest guests to the infamous "Dinner for Winners".

The forever underrated Paul Rudd is solid as Tim, and the slightly overrated Steve Carrell is certainly impressive as impossibly stupid Barry, a certifiable loser with a heart of gold. The female cast did a decent job as well: Stéphanie Szostak, adding maturity to the film as Tim's girlfriend, Julie; Lucy Punch, hilarious as crazy bitch Darla, Tim's stalker, and Kristen Schaal as Tim's assistant.

Flight of the Concords's Jemaine Clement is a weak link in an otherwise strong ensemble, playing eccentric painter Kieran as an annoying cross between Aldous Snow and Borat. Ron Livingston's work as Caldwell is good; however, the development of said antagonist wasn't sufficient, so the character doesn't make enough of an impact.

What surprised me about this film is that, underneath all the humor, lie some strong points on hypocrisy, loneliness, guilt and forgiveness, and how these affect our relationships. However, thanks to poor writing, the movie crashes and burns very close to the end (you'll know the exact moment I'm talking about when you watch the movie), followed by a silly and completely necessary epilogue.

The Ghost Writer

Neo-noir political thriller with themes and appearance resembling those of Tony Gilroy's Michael Clayton and State of Play but, most importantly, a Hitchcockian influence from the music, the rhythm of the plot and the tone, to the twists. Adapted from Robert Harris's novel "The Ghost", Roman Polanski's The Ghost Writer sees each and every one of its characters surrounded by a thick air of mystery, ensuring the viewer's devoted attention. The film's a little slow, but the enigmatic characters help keep the interest.

Polanski assembled a very eclectic cast for his most recent film. Ewan McGregor as the titular "ghost", Kim Cattrall playing British (her actual nationality) for a change, the underrated Olivia Williams as icy, Tilda Swinton-y and perpetually angry Ruth, and in a very impressive performance, Pierce Brosnan as Adam Lang, a Tony Blair doppelgänger.

Also in the cast are Tom Wilkinson, Timothy Hutton and even a bald Jim Belushi (yeah, I was shocked to see him not only in a film, but in a Polanski film, no less). Outstanding cinematography by Pawel Edelman is perfect from the beginning up until the fantastic and shocking end.

Daybreakers
Daybreakers(2010)

In these times so saturated with vampires, we now get Daybreakers, a film by the brothers Spierig. The filmmaking duo shows a dystopian society in the near future, in which vampires have become the predominant species. Ethan Hawke plays the main character, Edward (a character that shares a name, but not much more, with the hero from the inferior vampiric saga, Twilight). It's actually nice to watch Ethan Hawke onscreen since he's been mostly absent from it for a while.

Portraying a vampire yet again is Willem Dafoe. Sadly, his "Elvis" is such a loathsome, clichéd, weak character you can't help but feel sorry for the talented actor forced to utter his strange lines, which is even sadder because Dafoe rarely disappoints. Ben Nott's cinematography, along with all the futuristic visuals is a strong asset of Daybreakers, vaguely reminiscent of Timur Bekmambetov's Nochnoy Dozor and Dnevnoy Dozor.

Despite the numerous plot-holes and some poor performances, Daybreakers is very entertaining, especially in the gory, violent action sequences, perfectly set to Christopher Gordon's score. The film sometimes overstates the obvious, while failing to fully explain other more complex aspects, which may confuse the viewer. The orgiastic final scene is just plain ridiculous.

The Burning Plain
½

The first film by Guillermo Arriaga since his public breakup with professional partner Alejandro González Iñárritu, a collaboration that rendered such lauded projects as Amores Perros, 21 Grams and Babel. Fire is a recurring theme that appears all through the plot of The Burning Plain. Like in other stories by Mexican-born writer Arriaga, the story follows a non-linear narrative.

The strength of the film is found in its female cast: from Charlize Theron (who also executive-produced) and Kim Basinger to newcomers Tessa Ia and Jennifer Lawrence, the latter giving the best performance in the film as "Mariana". Lawrence is already gathering considerable Oscar buzz for her role in another drama, Winter's Bone. Also of note is the cinematography by Robert Elswit (There Will be Blood), which is particularly stunning when showing the chilly Portland shore.

Guillermo Arriaga's one and only big mistake is his inability to really capture the essence of Mexico and its people which, frankly, is a mistake no Mexican filmmaker should make. Most of the Mexican (or Mexican-American) characters that appear in the film feel fake and artificial, even stereotypical, which isn't something unheard of in the world of cinema, but one would definitely expect more authenticity from a director that's portraying his own culture.

Seven (Se7en)
½

Review pending.

Psycho
Psycho(1960)

Review pending.

Step Up 3
Step Up 3(2010)

Predictable from start to finish, the corny and generic plot and script of "Step Up 3-D" would've been perfect for an ABC Family TV movie or an MTV teen series. Most of the cast is either bland or personality-less. The film sometimes abuses its 3-D technology and randomly throws stuff at the viewer, instead of using it to enhance depth, color, and shape; the mind-blowingly cheesy sound effects seem taken straight from a cartoon.

It's easy to see why Rick Malambri was chosen as the lead: the man is unnaturally good-looking. Sadly, that's about all Malambri can offer, since his moves are never as dazzling as the ones by his co-stars. All of these flaws quickly disappear during the stunningly well-choreographed, shot and lit dance sequences, which benefit greatly from 3D.

Adam G. Sevani makes for a supporting player that's equally parts annoying and charming (and oddly reminsicent of Michael Jackson).

Eagle Eye
Eagle Eye(2008)
½

Utterly absurd orgy of destruction is based on an elaborate but completely ludicrous script. 'Eagle Eye' is too long for the type of film it represents and a romance between the two leads appears at the end, out of nowhere. Nevertheless, it's very entertaining (the first hour is, at least) and it presents new and original contexts for the action to be developed in.

Evil computer ARIIA is like a younger sister of HAL 9000. The best part? Finding out, during my post-watch research, that ARIIA is played by Julianne Moore.

Hidalgo: La Historia Jamás Contada

An incoherent mess with zero continuity, where Spanish accents appear, disappear and reappear several times in the course of a scene. Unintentional humor and weak/clichéd antagonists further stop 'Hidalgo' from ever taking off, a terrible film made solely to cash in on the Bicentennial-of-Mexican Independence-frenzy, under the excuse of demystifying a national hero.

Anachronistic in its characters, as well as in the music. While the latter works (in an "A Knight's Tale" sort of way), the former doesn't. The personality of the characters, especially the titular priest's, is definitely more 21st century than 19th. Miguel Rodarte and Cecilia Suárez stand out in brief roles and at least the set design is not as bad as in 'El Atentado'.

The Attempt Dossier (El Atentado)
½

You know you're in trouble when the opening montage is far more interesting than the movie, and that's the case with 'El Atentado', adapted from the novel by Álvaro Uribe. I truly can't find a reason for this movie to be made, except to cash in on all the fever surrounding the Centennial of Mexican Revolution and the Bicentennial of Independence.

Everything about it is pointless, from the majority of its characters to the acting, which is no better than the one found in a telenovela. 'El Atentado' is the most expensive film in the history of Mexican cinema, and it does not show. The art direction looks flawless and marvelously detailed, but just look closer: the scenes in the back are blatantly hand-painted (I'm not kidding).

Some of the finest working Mexican actors are completely wasted, especially Daniel Giménez Cacho, thanks to a far too simple, redundant, even stupid script. The use (or abuse) of a sequence comprised of imaginary scenarios, which normally works perfectly in comedies (like it did in 'Superbad'), doesn't help this drama, to which it adds an element of unintentional hilarity.

One of El Atentado's biggest failures lies in its depiction of one of the most important political figures in the history of Mexico, Porfirio Díaz. In the film, Arturo Beristáin presents Díaz as a mere caricature. The flick's only achievements are its stunning cinematography and costume design, as well as the equally stunning presence of breathtaking Irene Azuela.

The Final Cut

God, I hate Robin Williams! One of the world's most overrated actors is terribly pouty and rigid in THE FINAL CUT. He's not alone, though. Most of the top players in this film are awful as well.

Between the script's huge deficiencies, the many plot holes, the underdeveloped characters and Fletcher's (Jim Caviezel) fake beard, the film fails miserably, even more so considering its alluring concept. The score by Bryan Tyler is incredible (and that's about it).

Thelma & Louise
½

Well shot, accompanied by an enchanting score by Hans Zimmer, THELMA AND LOUISE is a complete classic. Features powerhouse performances from Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon, as well as a breakthrough turn from one of the brightest stars of our time, Brad Pitt. Equally hilarious and heart-wrenching, this dark comedy is one for the ages.

The Crazies
The Crazies(2010)
½

A remake of the 1973 horror classic, Breck Eisner's "The Crazies" manages to be fun and tense, despite being somewhat clichéd and formulaic. Chilling tale on the effects a mysterious toxin has on a small town's inhabitants holds your attention throughout. No specially outstanding performances, except for Timothy Olyphant's extremely over-the-top turn as Sheriff Dutten.

GoodFellas
GoodFellas(1990)

A treat for the eyes, but not for the soul. Didn't feel a connection to the story but, at the same time, found myself with a dropped jaw a few times. Guess it's one of the movies you know it's good and can't explain exactly why, while not being able to cite its flaws. Cast is solid, but not mind-blowing. Everything about this film is sort of overrated. For great mob flicks, watch "The Godfather". For great Scorsese, watch "Casino".

Cell 211 (Celda 211)
½

Scarier than any recent horror film, as violent as a Tarantino one, tense and chilling. Tragic thriller on life's drastic, sudden changes for the worse. Luis Tosar is splendid as Malamadre, the prison's "king thug", supported by an outstanding cast. Goya winner 'Celda 211' stays with you long after the picture's over.

Salt
Salt(2010)
½

Utterly implausible all the way through. Incredibly fun, though. Fast, loud, exciting, dizzying, 'Salt' epitomizes the term "summer blockbuster". Angelina Jolie and Liev Schreiber are impressive. Jolie is, without a doubt, the greatest female action hero of our generation, and one of the main action icons ever.

Quiz Show
Quiz Show(1994)

Carefully recreates the 50's atmosphere. A visual treat. The performance by John Turturro is astonishing, and it deserved, at least, an Oscar nomination. Great supporting turns from Ralph Fiennes and Rob Morrow. Actually, the whole cast is solid, no matter how small or big the part. Great effort from director Robert Redford.

Boogie Nights
½

Unflinching portrait of the 70's and 80's porn industry. Hardcore (no pun intended), violent and depressing, with a bit of humor thrown into the mix. Strong ensemble cast portrays converging lives filled with sex and drugs, not so much rock and roll.

Before Sunrise
½

Impossibly charming, offbeat romance set in Vienna. The writing by Richard Linklater (who also directed) and Kim Krizan is genius. The honest, organic, realistic performances by Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy make this love story relatable.

Rosemary's Baby

Roman Polanski perfectly captures the true horror of a threat inside your own home (and body). The buildup is long and a bit tedious, but once the revelations start, 'Rosemary's Baby' is truly, truly chilling. Ruth Gordon is unsettling as neighbor-from-hell Minnie, while Mia Farrow is stellar as Rosemary.

The Godfather, Part II
½

The first one is an untouchable masterpiece. This sequel/prequel is still very good, but definitely not flawless as its predecessor. Camera work and cinematography are splendid. The cast is once again at the top of their game, especially Al Pacino. Robert De Niro, Lee Strasberg and John Cazale.

Visually stunning and emotionally involving. Dark, moody and full of surprises. Only flaw is its astonishingly long 200-minute running time, which may cause the viewer's interest to wander at times.

In & Out
In & Out(1997)

Stereotypical and sometimes plain absurd, IN & OUT does manage to cause a few laughs, mostly due to Kevin Kline and Joan Cusack's performances. Debbie Reynolds and Matt Dillon have their moments as well.

For its climactic scene, the film demands a suspension of disbelief and, if you do just that, you will certainly enjoy an inspiring (but utterly implausible) sequence.

Clash of the Titans

Terrible visual effects (except whenever Hades [Ralph Fiennes] is onscreen), and terrible acting. Everything happens too fast, sometimes for no reason at all, and it's still boring and lifeless. Clichéd to an extreme. Sam Worthington is like a better looking but far less talented Russell Crowe; he sure can leap, though. Gemma Arterton is beautiful, but incredibly robotic. I'm tired of the movie industry pimping these two actors like there's no tomorrow. They're NEVER going to be big.

Knight & Day
Knight & Day(2010)
½

Incredibly ludicrous but just as entertaining (at least during the first half, anyway). Comedy/action hybrid is directed by James Mangold, taking a detour from the films he usually makes (dramas, biopics), and who's surprisingly good at directing action sequences. Light summer flick that balances fast action with lots of humor.

Putting aside the questionable choices in his personal life, Tom Cruise's charisma is still intact, as is Cameron Diaz's unavoidable charm. Both actors' comedic timing is excellent. The rest of the varied cast: Jordi Mollà is laughable and caricaturesque; Peter Sarsgaard, Viola Davis and Paul Dano are solid, but underused.

John Powell's score goes perfectly with Knight and Day's action sequences, while Phedon Papamichael's cinematography is at its best in a sequence where the turquoise in Cameron Diaz's eyes, Tom Cruise's shirt and the sea water shine with a hypnotizing glimmer.

Midnight Cowboy
½

Bold choice for a 'Best Picture' (1969) winner. The editing in MIDNIGHT COWBOY's flashback/imaginary sequences may make the film appear incredibly dated, but the performances by Jon Voight as naive "cowboy" Joe Buck and, especially, Dustin Hoffman's as pathetic and, at the same time, endearing sleazeball Enrico 'Ratso' Rizzo make this film timeless.

Kick-Ass
Kick-Ass(2010)

Ultra-violent albeit hilarious film is expertly directed by Matthew Vaughn (Layer Cake, Stardust). This emotionally honest summer blockbuster also offers an eye-popping saturated-color aesthetic. The action sequences are certainly impressive and the over-the-top performances, especially that of Nicolas Cage, add to the fun.

Chloë Moretz is stellar in the potentially disturbing role of Hit-Girl, sort of a young Beatrix Kiddo (Uma Thurman in the "Kill Bill" movies). Kick-Ass has the look and feel of a comic book, as well as a believable and solid performance from Aaron Johnson, considering he's too good-looking to appear vulnerable. Johnson may also remind the viewer of a younger Cillian Murphy. Mark Strong is excellent as the main antagonist.

The Book of Eli

The type of movie you watch on a lazy Saturday afternoon at a friend's house, which was exactly what I did. Stylish, violent lesson on religion is somewhat entertaining, especially during the well-choreographed action sequences. Denzel Washington, at 55, is still a veritable action hero. Gary Oldman as Carnegie, the film's main villain, is great. However, the ending seems to have been chosen at random, as it doesn't really bring closure to the story.

Mystic River
Mystic River(2003)

What a difference seven years make. Last time I watched the dark 'Mystic River' I was about 13, so I couldn't fully comprehend just how great this movie really is. At a more mature, appreciative age of 20, I am absolutely stunned at the cinematic marvel that is Clint Eastwood's 'Mystic River'. Its power is almost palpable. Eastwood's restrained, patient directing lets the actions unfold slowly, drawing you in a little bit more with every second of running time.

But, as an actor himself, what Eastwood does best is extract great performances from his cast. Mystic River's ensemble is truly one of the best in the history of cinema. These people project so much with a look, a quiver, a sigh. Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Marcia Gay Harden and Tom Guiry stand out in a legendary ensemble cast that also includes Kevin Bacon, Laurence Fishburne, Laura Linney and Emmy Rossum.

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

Messy, trippy odyssey is chock-full of Terry Gilliam weirdness, which is not always a good thing. The visuals are attractive, it's quite funny and most of the players are excellent, particularly Christopher Plummer, Heath Ledger, Andrew Garfield, Colin Farrell and Jude Law.

However, THE IMAGINARIUM OF DR. PARNASSUS is somewhat of a seesaw. Mesmerizing at times, boring and rambling at others. Maybe it's better to consider Heath Ledger's Oscar-winning role as "The Joker" in 'The Dark Knight' as his last.

Toy Story 3
Toy Story 3(2010)

A franchise that keeps getting better. Toy Story 3 has been released 11 years after the last one, and it shows. A bigger budget, wider array of characters, a better look. Thanks to the screenplay penned by Michael Arndt (Little Miss Sunshine), it has considerable emotional depth and two of the most tear-jerking moments in recent history. Phenomenal voice work and big laughs are present, too. Preceded by the newest in a line of amazing animated shorts, Night and Day. Plus, it's overwhelmingly cute. That's gotta count for something, right? A heavy dose of nostalgia for those who, like me, grew up alongside Andy.

I would also like to share a review whose author I really identified with. It basically explains my point of view on TS3 and, practically, the whole franchise: "I appreciate it as an efficient, effective machine - even a thing of beauty. But you can't make me love it. And it scares me just a little that so many of you love it so loudly." (Philip Martin)

Toy Story 2
Toy Story 2(1999)
½

An improvement over the first film in almost every way. Toy Story 2 has better jokes and a bigger heart. Decidedly more fun, interesting, and action-packed. Better developed characters and a meaner villain, too. Still don't get what all the fuss is about, though.

Toy Story
Toy Story(1995)

A timeless classic. The film that started the new age of animation and introduced what's arguably the most successful studio in recent years, Pixar. Funny, fast, well-written and visually appealing. Like every animated film should be.

Still, I honestly don't understand why Toy Story is as beloved as it is. Lately, it has developed a pretty strong cult following that I just can't explain. Anyways, Pizza Planet should be a real place. That, I would like to see.

To Catch a Thief
½

A lesser effort by the Hitchcock machine, but enjoyable enough. Light, sexy and (sadly) low on suspense. Visually stunning, from the French Riviera scenery to the amazing costumes by Edith Head. Cary Grant plays Cary Grant. Grace Kelly lights up the screen every time. The revelation of the villain was indeed surprising, just not very interesting.

On a side note, the sequence where Grace Kelly's being chased down the road is positively creepy, considering how her life came to an end.

Abel
Abel(2013)
½

The drama lies in everyday situations for adults, but dangerous ones for children. The comedy presents itself in the hilarity of kids acting as grownups. John Malkovich-produced Mexican dramedy is sort of reminiscent of 'Lars and the Real Girl' in the way those who surround a character with severe mental issues act and react.

Strong performances from first-time actor Christopher Ruiz-Esparza, Karina Gidi and Diego Luna's friend and frequent collaborator, 'Chema' Yázpik. Unfortunately, in the end, the film doesn't wrap up neatly, it just finishes.

The Secret in Their Eyes (El Secreto de Sus Ojos)

Utterly winning Argentinean film has been setting records from the get-go. First Argentine film to be released on Blu-Ray, second biggest-selling film in that country, as well as the second entry from Argentina (and Latin America) to win the 'Best Foreign Film' Oscar. Veteran actor Ricardo Darín's performance, in his 4th collaboration with director Juan José Campanella, is excellent, just as Soledad Villamil's as Irene Menéndez Hastings, Benjamín Espósito's (Darín) boss and love interest and Guillermo Francella's as his alcoholic assistant and friend, Sandoval.

Too bad language can sometimes be a barrier. I have no doubt that if El Secreto de sus Ojos had been filmed in English, it would already be (or would be close to becoming) a classic. It has everything to be one. A dramatic, unpredictable and involving story. A believable romance. Unexpected (but gratifying) moments of humor. It's easy on the eyes and contains great performances and impeccable directing. A thrilling action sequence.

A chilling and tense scene in which Benjamín and Irene share an elevator with the main villain is up to par with Hitchcock's best suspense sequences. Excellent job by the makeup department, believably aging and rejuvenating the main characters in a story that spans 25 years. An unexpected and stunning finale is the perfect ending for this new masterpiece.

Blade Runner
Blade Runner(1982)

Striking visuals, just gorgeous. Great work by Harrison Ford and Rutger Hauer. But boring as all hell. Verging on painful. Sorry, fans. Not my cup of tea.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Totally bat-shit crazy. Sadly, not as fun nor funny. Martin Freeman and Mos Def are excellent, though. Wild, but instantly forgettable ride. For fans of the novels only.

The Godfather

The Godfather is epic. Tastefully violent. Grand. Deeply involving. Its cast is legendary. And, most of all, it's not about the Mafia. The Mafia's merely a vehicle. It's about family.

Seriously, what can I say that hasn't already been said about what's probably the most respected film of all time?

Out of Sight
Out of Sight(1998)
½

OUT OF SIGHT has Steven Soderbergh written all over it. From the editing, the shots, the music, the style to the overall coolness, the movie is undeniably his, even if it's not original material (the film's based on Elmore Leonard's novel).

Sexy, fun flick is infinitely enjoyable and boasts a very strong cast, where George Clooney, Steve Zahn and, I never thought I'd say this, but Jennifer Lopez too, are the stand-outs.

Meet the Head of Juan Perez (Conozca la cabeza de Juan Perez)

Fun enough, but incredibly uneven. The film goes from comedy to drama, back and forth so many times, it's dizzying. If you choose to ignore all that, it's well written, photographed and acted, especially by Silverio Palacios and María Aura.

Looking past the fact that it's unbelievably racist and stereotypical towards Chinese people, the movie's actually pretty funny. Just don't expect for it to grab your complete attention, because it won't.

The Game
The Game(1997)
½

I'm usually not good at this type of thing, but I completely predicted the ending. Actually, the whole story is predictable. Not David Fincher's finest, but still enjoyable.

For me, it wasn't engaging enough, nor suspenseful enough. But in Fincher's defense, there aren't a lot of ways you can make the action suspenseful when you know it's all a game, and everything will turn out okay in the end.

Fine work by Michael Douglas, in an update of his 'Gordon Gekko' character from "Wall Street", as well as by Sean Penn.

Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief

Even though it's incredibly cheesy, brimming with plot holes, and making terrible use of pop culture references, "Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief" is so damn fun. Not a 'Harry Potter' clone (as it's been made out to be), Percy... stands on its own as an entertaining action/adventure flick, especially for Greek mythology geeks.

After '3:10 to Yuma', Logan Lerman keeps establishing himself as a decent actor with a bright future. Rosario Dawson is smoldering as Persephone. It's sort of fun to see Uma Thurman as Medusa but, at the same time, it's a little sad to remember that's the same actress that filled the screen in Tarantino masterpieces. Her career has certainly gone downhill, hasn't it?

The Invention of Lying
½

The concept is genius, there's no doubt. Ricky Gervais and Matthew Robinson managed to concoct a believable lie-free world, and their attention to detail is admirable. But they forgot to make their characters appealing, and rarely does a film work if the characters don't appeal the viewer in any sort of way. Most of them are utterly detestable, and that's not entirely due to the fact that they're brutally honest.

The main characters, at least, do have their shining moments, and both Gervais and Jennifer Garner do a great job at breathing life into them, but what promised to be a controversial comedy, didn't push enough buttons neither induce out-loud laughter. Barely chuckles. Also, it doesn't exactly benefit from an array of cameos, including two of my absolute favorite actors (Philip S. Hoffman and Edward Norton).

Alice in Wonderland

ALICE IN WONDERLAND walks above the fine line between "kind-of-boring" and "entertaining enough". The writing's a mess. On top of that, it made me forget completely that I was watching a Tim Burton movie (that's, obviously, not a good thing). And Johnny Depp's "Mad Hatter" is basically a mixture of Jack Sparrow and Willy Wonka with the great addition of a lisp! Embarrassing. The casting of Mia Wasikowska in the pivotal role of Alice left me a bit cold, but it could've been worse (Lindsay Lohan lobbied for the role).

On the bright side, ALICE... is, as you may have heard by now, a visual treat. But, for me at least, the most striking scenes were those that happened in the 'real' world, as opposed to Wonderland, which looks pretty similar to a videogame. Helena Bonham Carter as the Red Queen and Anne Hathaway as her over-the-top sister and nemesis, the White Queen, are a joy to watch. They are almost completely responsible for the fun that the film offers.

The Road
The Road(2009)
½

When the human condition has deteriorated and personal barriers, shame and morality have fallen, the world becomes a battlefield where survival is only for the fittest. The Road is a post-apocalyptic thriller, but said apocalypse remains a mystery, which allows to think a situation like that is not far from our reality.

Depressing like few others have been, but just as touching, The Road is based on the novel by Cormac McCarthy, whose No Country For Old Men was successfully taken to the screen by Joel & Ethan Coen, sweeping the 2007 award season, including a 'Best Picture' win and a 'Supporting Actor' prize for Javier Bardem.

One of the most underrated films of 2009, even with a strategic release in November, just in time for it to be considered by the critics' associations and the Academy, The Road is sort of a dramatic counterpart to another 2009 movie, Zombieland. In both films, a pair of men, from different generations, travel across the U.S. after a catastrophe. However, The Road's gray, bleak tone couldn't be farther away from the fun, hilarious Zombieland.

That's director John Hillcoat's greatest achievement. Perfectly placing, amongst all the gray and depressing conditions, a genuine story of love. The catastrophe is universal or, at least, national. But in the film, we get to witness it through the eyes of a father and his son (Viggo Mortensen and Kodi Smit-McPhee), two characters that are undeniably human, with virtues and flaws, but mostly a deep, mutual love.

Hillcoat also makes great use of flashbacks, contrasting with vivid colors the sadness and despair of the present with the happiness and simplicity of life before disaster. Animal and almost all human life have disappeared, so the main characters have to search for canned food to survive. They find something that, right now, could be found in almost every home in the world: a can of Coca-Cola. What could've been a terrible case of product placement, becomes a tender scene that demonstrates what we easily take for granted.

The impressive post-apocalyptic aesthetic is the work of Basque cinematographer Javier Aguirresarobe, who previously did wonders with the lens in films like Arráncame la Vida (Tear This Heart Out), Vicky Cristina Barcelona and The Twilight Saga: New Moon.

Without a doubt, a film with great emotional force, occasionally hard to digest. It's worth mentioning that most of The Road's strength lies in its excellent performances. The experience of Viggo Mortensen, who deserved an Oscar nomination more than half the candidates this past year. The proven talent of Charlize Theron, making the most of her limited screen time. Kodi Smit-McPhee, a true revelation, as well as a virtually unrecognizable Robert Duvall and a brief, but key, appearance by Guy Pearce.

Everybody's Fine

Earnest, but deeply flawed film is a remake of 1990's "Stanno Tutti Bene", directed by Giuseppe Tornatore. Especially during the first half of the film, there's a latent artificial feel, and the "comic" situations feel forced, awkward.

The cast is first-rate: Robert De Niro as the Goode patriarch, and Drew Barrymore, Sam Rockwell and Kate Beckinsale as his somewhat estranged children. However, the characters are a bore. De Niro's 'Frank' is incredibly annoying, while the children are basically a bunch of liars who the film wants you to love despite their terrible personalities.

Putting aside its obvious problems, EVERYBODY'S FINE is well structured, impeccably shot, and in the end, it ties everything up quite nicely.

Whip It
Whip It(2009)

This sports movie for the hipster set may be predictable, but what it lacks in originality, it makes up for in pure, unadulterated fun. Drew Barrymore's debut as a director is satisfying and competent, but, just like in another Ellen Page-vehicle, "Juno", the writing's the real star.

Empowering action/comedy, aside from a pleasant 80's feel, boasts a juggernaut of a cast, where Ellen Page. Alia Shawkat, Marcia Gay Harden, Drew Barrymore, Kristen Wiig, Juliette Lewis and Ari Graynor stand out, and where the painfully untalented Jimmy Fallon is pointless.

Faubourg 36 (Paris 36)

Oniric fantasy set in 1936 Paris. Costume design, cinematography and music are top-notch. Borrows themes from "Cinema Paradiso" and "Moulin Rouge!" and is indelibly and undeniably influenced by THE French film of the last 20 years, "Le Fabuleux Destin d'Amélie Poulain".

FAUBOURG 36, or Paris 36 (as it's known outside of France), is evidently clichéd, but beautiful nonetheless. Gérard Jugnot, Clovis Cornillac, Kad Merad and Nora Arzeneder are outstanding in the four most prominent roles in the Christophe Barratier (Les Choristes)-directed film.

The rushed, and unnecessarily tragic ending is a dark spot on an otherwise bright film.

Date Night
Date Night(2010)

Delightful action/comedy hybrid balances both genres very well. DATE NIGHT relies on the comedic brilliance of the incredible pairing of Steve Carell and Tina Fey. The writing by Josh Klausner fits both stars perfectly, especially the latter. If I didn't know the screenplay was written by Klausner, I could've bet it was the work of the '30 Rock' star.

Supporting roles and cameos from a diverse cast that includes Mark Wahlberg, Taraji P. Henson, Common, Mark Ruffalo, Kristen Wiig and the scene-stealing couple of James Franco and Mila Kunis add to the fun.

However, it's Carell and Fey's believable chemistry as a marriage what sets DATE NIGHT apart from the usual comedic actioner. Together, they're absolutely hilarious, sweet, and even sexy. The utterly implausible ending, ridiculous performances by William Fichtner and Ray Liotta, as well as J.B. Smoove's presence, are not terrible enough to spoil this enjoyable movie.

Coco Before Chanel
½

Coco Chanel is definitely one of the most important female figures to come out of France in recent years but, honestly, her life before founding fashion house Chanel isn't very interesting.

With COCO AVANT CHANEL, we are treated to a series of bland (but exquisitely shot) vignettes, ocassionally splashed with Coco's creativity and a few flashes that show just what a genius Chanel was. It's sad when the movie ends, because with that last, glorious scene, you feel like it was just starting to take flight.

The Informant!
½

2009 was, among other things, the year Matt Damon roles were overrated. As François Pienaar in "Invictus" and Mark Whitacre in THE INFORMANT!, Damon's work is competent, but not extraordinary.

Whitacre's voice over dialog is pretty funny, but somehow the film in general is not. It's as if these were two separate entities. None of the other actors in this predominantly boring movie make enough of an impact to mention. Cinematography's top notch, though.

Crazy Heart
Crazy Heart(2009)

In a nutshell, CRAZY HEART is pretty damn boring, but the superior performances make it worthwile. Jeff Bridges IS "Bad Blake", an alcoholic, hasbeen country musician. Bridges's nuanced, restrained performance is a work of art. He peels layer after layer of this rich character, making the viewer hate him, love him, be identified with him, without ever losing our devoted attention.

Maggie Gyllenhaal is the catalyst in Blake's life. Her minor role is poignant, and few times has she shined like this. But, I think, the most important component of CRAZY HEART is the music. It's simply beautiful and, most importantly, it's perfect in the context of the movie but it also has that "hear-it-in-your-car-with-the-windows-rolled-down" kind of quality.

Invictus
Invictus(2009)

Invictus, or "How Nelson Mandela united South Africa through rugby", somewhat continues the winning streak director Clint Eastwood started last year with two of his best movies: "Changeling" and "Gran Torino". A sports movie is not an easy task, it can easily turn into cheese or try to shove sentimentality down our throats, but Clint manages to deliver a solid, inspiring (although light) film. The director makes excellent use of the camera, restrained and engaging, telling us more than he ever could with sappy lines filled with 'motivational' crap.

On the downside, Invictus is terribly long, and might be fairly boring for non-sports (and especially non-rugby) fans. And even though you know the events in the film actually took place, the feeling of implausibility cannot be shaken off of one's head. Oscar winners Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon have done better work.

An Education
An Education(2009)
½

Solid, albeit boring, coming-of-age story set in the "swinging sixties". Aesthetically pleasing (the scenes in Paris are so beautiful I could cry), AN EDUCATION benefits from the presence of breakthrough actress Carey Mulligan, a beautiful young woman that will, no doubt, remind the viewer of Audrey Hepburn. Her performance is great, especially considering most characters in this film are not so appealing.

As the film starts, Jenny (Mulligan) is a fresh, buoyant character, with such joie de vivre. As it progresses, she turns into a bitter woman who makes stupid decision after stupid decision. Her money-driven father (Alfred Molina) is shown to be iron-willed but, as soon as the charming David (Peter Sarsgaard) enters the picture, both Jenny and her parents are inevitably wooed. It's incredible how easily that happens to this supposedly smart people.

Who isn't a little stupid? Especially when you're 16. But the playboy's presence in Jenny's life renders her unable to make any decision, and her parents just stand and watch as David sucks the life out of her. Despite all of this, the film manages to be pretty funny at times, and the soundtrack is just exquisite.

On a different note, did anyone else think that, if this were another time, Rosamund Pike would've been a perfect "Hitchcock blonde"?

The Fountain
The Fountain(2006)
½

After the provocative "Requiem for a Dream", Darren Aronofsky demonstrates he's quite the interesting auteur, one who's not afraid to go all out and give you his unadulterated vision of love, death, life and grief.

Aronofsky ally Clint Mansell sets the mood with yet another beautiful score. Director of photography Matthew Libatique makes use of sepia and gold to compose the visual masterpiece that THE FOUNTAIN is. Hugh Jackman gives a first-class performance (his finest ever) and shows the film didn't suffer from the loss of Brad Pitt.

Nine
Nine(2009)

It's nice to start watching a movie with your expectations inevitably lowered: you can be pleasantly surprised. The first 6 minutes are pure bliss; I was in complete awe. Then the songs started, a lot of them terrible. "Guido's Song" and "A Call From the Vatican" are embarrassing to hear.

Daniel Day-Lewis is not bad, but he's definitely under the standards he's set with previous roles like the mesmerizing Daniel Plainview in "There Will Be Blood". On the other hand, it makes me glad to see the incredible female cast not being wasted here: Penélope Cruz shines and makes the most of her few moments onscreen. Sexy and funny, Cruz is one of NINE's best assets.

Marion Cotillard is sublime as Luisa Contini, both in acting and in song. Her rendition of "My Husband Makes Movies" is heartbreaking.

One of the smartest decisions by Rob Marshall was to not make Saraghina a speaking part. Someone with dubious film experience, such as Fergie, could've ruined the role. Instead, we get to hear her sing and watch her dance, nothing more, and it's powerful. "Be Italian" is one of the highlights of the film.

Since I heard it for the first time, I've been a huge fan of "Cinema Italiano". However, the version used in the movie sounds nothing different from a demo. Nevertheless, the sequence works thanks to some great choreography and Kate Hudson's charm.

Ironically, it is Judi Dench who injects energy to the picture. Her "Folies Bergère" may not be the best song, but the performance is delightful. If there's anyone NINE could do without, it's Nicole Kidman. She feels out of place whenever she's onscreen, as does her song "Unusual Way".

Even if NINE slows down around the middle, it deserved a Best Picture Oscar nomination more than "The Blind Side" or "Avatar". The superb ending restores the feeling of religious experience you get with the opening scene.

Run Lola Run
Run Lola Run(1999)
½

A single mission, told in three different (but equally compelling) stories that show how the slightest change in one's decisions can alter the future. Exciting soundtrack is a crucial part of this all-too-short film. I rarely use the adjective, but this movie, besides from being original, is definitely very cool.

Zombieland
Zombieland(2009)
½

ZOMBIELAND is a riot. I can vividly remember the times I've laughed the most at watching a movie: this was one of them. I'm talking huge, stomach ache-inducing, physically exhausting, tear-jerking laughs.

Jesse Eisenberg plays Michael Cera... wait, sorry, Columbus, a lonely geek who, in his run from zombies, teams up with the trigger-happy Tallahassee (a great Woody Harrelson). After being conned by a pair of sisters (Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin), they join them on their quest towards a Californian zombie-free theme park.

Sisters Wichita and Little Rock (Stone and Breslin) are two of the best characters 2009 offered and the not-so-secret cameo by Bill Murray is definitely something special.

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs
½

CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS had a terrific concept, which was lost to poor execution, namely sub-par voice work and uninteresting characters. Like Mr T.'s "Earl", which bothered me in a big way.

Silly, forced comedy, sprinkled with few (very few) truly funny lines. I seriously can't picture anyone over the age of 14 completely enjoying this picture. Luckily, the film features some of the best visuals animation has offered in recent years.

The Blind Side
½

The moment has come: Sandra Bullock finally stops being just "nice" and "likeable" and displays the insane amount of talent she'd been holding in for about 20 years (although she was outstanding in minuscule roles in "Crash" and "Infamous").

Bullock, an Academy-Award nominee as of today, was born to play "Leigh Anne Tuohy", a southern interior designer who, along with her painfully perfect family, takes in Michael Oher, a poor, neglected African-American teen who becomes a football star.

THE BLIND SIDE is often cheesy, but making a movie of this type without it being cheesy would be practically impossible. The "nice" nature of the Tuohy family can sometimes be overwhelming, but the sincerity of the actors makes it quite touching.

Excellent work by Jae Head, an extremely endearing, and not annoying, child actor (like, say, Jaden Smith).

Fantastic Mr. Fox
½

The endlessly funny FANTASTIC MR. FOX proves that old-fashioned animation is still able to mesmerize.

Add Wes Anderson's talent and quirks and an incredible cast that offers superior voice-work (George Clooney and Meryl Streep are the standouts) and you get a charming, captivating film (and one of the year's best). This 'Fox' has a lot of heart.

The Hurt Locker

THE HURT LOCKER is not the perfect movie it's made out to be, but its portrayal of the Iraq War from the American perspective is intense and absorbing.

Tense, nail-biting and expertly shot action sequences fill the screen in this drama, which doesn't seek to glorify the U.S. or make it seem like they're saviors, it merely shows soldiers as human beings: flawed and gifted, with insecurities and, most importantly, personalities.

Outstanding work from Jeremy Renner and Anthony Mackie carries the film, while more familiar faces like Ralph Fiennes, Guy Pearce and David Morse make appearances.

Sherlock Holmes

Guy Ritchie reinvents "Sherlock Holmes" in the eponymous 2009 film. Focusing on Holmes's brawn but never forgetting his brains, Ritchie renders the year's definite "guy movie".

Action-packed (but not dumbed-down), SHERLOCK HOLMES is immensely entertaining. The excellent chemistry between Robert Downey Jr. (Holmes) and Jude Law (Dr. Watson) propels the movie; their performances, particularly the one by Downey Jr., are solid.

Aside from a few jokes falling flat, and Rachel McAdams's complete inabilty to sustain the role she was given, the film is a triumph. Hans Zimmer's excellent score makes the ride even more fun.

Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire
½

A harrowing experience. "Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire" is unrelenting and very difficult to watch. Director Lee Daniels displays such themes as incest and abuse in a realistic, raw light: a little too real, in my opinion.

Mo'Nique is absolutely stunning as the title character's mother, a disgusting entity (cannot be called a human being), in a completely unglamorous, devoted performance. Surprisingly solid work by music icons Mariah Carey and Lenny Kravitz.

Even after watching everything 'Precious' has been through, it's difficult to sympathize with a character that's as filled with self-loathing as she is. Not a pleasant experience: this is as real as it gets. And frankly, at the movies, I want "Hollywood" real, not "real" real.

A Serious Man

After achieving Oscar glory with "No Country For Old Men" and praise for their star-studded "Burn After Reading", Joel & Ethan Coen present their most personal and simple film: "A Serious Man", a film that's too low-key for its own good, even boring.

This uneventful dramedy is mildly funny and never sufficiently tragic (except for the bleak ending). However, the Coens must be thanked for introducing Michael Stuhlbarg. He plays Larry Gopnik, a doormat and a pushover who tries to deal with all the problems that fill his unlucky life. As Gopnik, Stuhlbarg is exceptional and award-worthy.

The Graduate
The Graduate(1967)
½

Dustin Hoffman is "Benjamin Braddock", an anti-hero of sorts, with no clear direction in life, torn between Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft) and her daughter Elaine (Katharine Ross).

As the bumbling and clumsy Braddock, Hoffman is perfect. It's easy to see why a young, naive man as him could fall prey to Mrs. Robinson, a powerful tower of a woman who, despite her strong exterior, is just as immature as Braddock.

Even though Elaine (Ross) is a weak, clichéd female character, Braddock falls madly in love with her, sending Mrs. Robinson into a fit of rage, culminating in a classic way. Achievements in editing (Sam O'Steen) and soundtrack (Simon & Garfunkel) complete this funny (in a tragic sort of way) film.

Casino
Casino(1995)

Exciting, ultra-violent noir thriller about the mob's influence in Vegas's casinos. Excellent film is marked by Martin Scorsese's impeccable direction, as well as for three marvelous performances, courtesy of Robert De Niro, Sharon Stone and Joe Pesci.

What makes the characters so rich and compelling is the fact that they are based on real-life figures. Superior dialogue by Scorsese and Nicholas Pileggi and impressive costume design make CASINO a feast for the ears and eyes.

They just don't make 'em like this anymore.

It's Complicated

Nancy Meyers, the queen of the adult romantic comedy (and master of old-people sex), brings us her latest: "It's Complicated". After exploring romance between supposedly incompatible sexagenarians (Something's Gotta Give) and between Brits and Americans (The Holiday), Meyers now delves into the troubled relationship of divorced couple Jane and Jake Adler (Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin, in outstanding turns, especially by the former).

Hilarious, breezy comedy adds maturity, complexity and sophistication to the roster of recent Hollywood rom-coms, just like previous Meyers-helmed projects have done. As it's become custom with Meyers's films, the art direction and soundtrack are superb. Also of note, is "Office" actor John Krasinski as Harley, the richest character outside of the lead triangle. Steve Martin is not particularly impressive, but he is at least likeable (which he hasn't been in many years), opting for nuance and subtlety after several exaggerated performances in stinkers like "Cheaper by The Dozen".

Up in the Air
½

UP IN THE AIR is a fresh dramedy, brilliantly written and directed by Jason Reitman (Juno, Thank You for Smoking). Rather slow film is elevated by a pitch-perfect cast: George Clooney as Ryan Bingham, the tough but vulnerable loner, Vera Farmiga as sexy and mysterious Alex and breakthrough actress Anna Kendrick as Natalie in the best performance of the film.

Depressing but, at the same time, so uplifting. The character development is outstanding and Reitman cements his reputation as one of the best new directors of the aughts. His writing skills (adapting, in this case) are at full display, getting rid of Diablo Cody's forced quirkiness in favor of a more sophisticated, poignant style of writing. Fulfilling, feel-good movie is one of the best of the year.

The Lovely Bones

THE LOVELY BONES' main misstep are its drastic shifts in tone. Uneven film goes from intense, chilling thriller to cheesy melodrama several times during its 120 minutes. Those clashing elements obviously don't fit together well.

THE LOVELY BONES should've been pitched as "Hitchcock meets chick-flick". Peter Jackson's interpretation of Alice Sebold's best-selling novel is so restrained, violence-wise, it almost feels censored.

Stanley Tucci's haunting performance as creepy George Harvey is truly remarkable. Congratulations are in order for wunderkind Saoirse Ronan, as well. As Susie Salmon, Ronan demonstrates why she's destined to become the best actress of her generation.

In the end, Salmon's ultimate quest proved to be a superficial one, and the story was resolved in a way that wouldn't have been difficult at an earlier stage of the film.

Bruno
Bruno(2009)
½

Sacha Baron Cohen's latest project, Brüno, shares many similarities with his Academy Award nominated breakthrough "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan" (Borat, for short).

They're both mockumentaries, even though 'Borat' felt genuine, whereas 'Brüno' is so obviously staged. They're both about a foreigner making people uncomfortable. They're both crass and offensive, but while "Borat" is hilarious, "Brüno" is not.

Baron Cohen's dedication to the role is evident, but the laughs are far too scarce. Thankfully, it only lasts less than 80 minutes.

Star Trek
Star Trek(2009)

Fast, thrilling, sleek, and even funny: STAR TREK is everything a blockbuster should be. The film manages to entertain and involve newbies to the franchise (such as me), without alienating the faithful "Trekkies".

Although the time-travel storyline was unnecessary, gifted director J.J. Abrams shares his vision of the STAR TREK universe and it's nothing short of breathtaking. The costumes, the art direction and the ensemble cast represent a great makeover for the saga.

Chris Pine stands out among the eclectic ensemble, as arrogant and rebellious James T. Kirk.

Avatar
Avatar(2009)

I can get the hype part. James Cameron's previous film (Titanic) was a critics' darling, as well as the biggest box-office hit since "Gone With the Wind". On top of that, AVATAR had been in the making for more than 12 years, even developing new cameras and technologies strictly for the realization of said movie, which promised to be "groundbreaking", "revolutionary" and "defining".

If no one told me this was one of the most expensive movies ever made, I wouldn't have guessed it. The effects are outstanding, especially when uniting the colorful world of Pandora with the inhabitants of Earth, but they're not consistent. It's as if two separate teams worked on them and then united the footage; at times it's cheap-looking and B-movie-ish, even applying a lame subtitle font to boot.

I may be one of maybe 5 people who feel like this, but AVATAR is not any of the adjectives it or its fans claim it to be. It's your regular, overhyped, overrated, sci-fi/action blockbuster of summer (only in December). The tried-and-true formula, the political references (imperialism, in this case), the "hot new star", the power ballad, the love story, the ripping off of "Pocahontas", "Dances with Wolves" and "Jurassic Park", among others: they're all there.

To sum up, this unintentionally funny, painfully long, poorly written, not-so-entertaining film is visually striking, but not, by any means, history-making.

Sólo quiero caminar (Just Walking)

The sharp, sleek artwork of the posters, positive hype and Goya nominations promised a great time at the movies. Sadly, this Spanish thriller disappoints terribly.

José María Yazpik's ruthless "Félix" is, by far, the only interesting character among all the other robotic, under-developed ones. Clichéd, boring, unrealistic; the actresses cannot pull off the whole "tough chick" persona.

As usual, Diego Luna is average, but the cinematography certainly isn't. Paco Femenia's work is wonderful.

500 Days of Summer
½

(500) Days of Summer is a magnificently unconventional story of unrequited love. Occasionally hilarious, occasionally heartbreaking, always unique to its core.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Chloe Moretz render winning performances in this "Annie Hall" for the 21st century. A new classic!

Postcards from the Edge

Unfocused film lingers between comedy and drama without ever really deciding where it should stand. Boring, talky and misleading, POSTCARDS FROM THE EDGE stars Shirley MacLaine and Meryl Streep as mother and daughter Doris and Suzanne, respectively. As it's to be expected, both leads deliver great performances, although nothing really extraordinary. A brief appearance by Annette Bening is the highlight.

Elf
Elf(2003)
½

ELF definitely appeared to be a Christmas classic for the new millenium. That disappeared when it chose to dramatically change from an enjoyable, fresh comedy, to sappy, preachy cheese.

Despite this awful turn of events, Will Ferrell's funny performance, as well as a great soundtrack, make ELF (or at least the first half, anyway) a decent enough Christmas flick.

The Princess and the Frog

Disney's return to traditional animation, THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG, is appallingly disappointing. The film lacks the soul and pure magic of classics as "Aladdin", "Hercules" or "The Little Mermaid".

This minor entry in the Disney repertoire introduces a slew of characters that, despite being brand-new, seem recycled. A bland, generic plot overshadows the movie's visual achievements. You watch the film, and hear the subpar songs and you can't help but feel anyone could've done it.

Flawless
Flawless(1999)
½

Philip Seymour Hoffman's master-class performance as troubled drag queen Rusty sadly goes to waste in this laughable film. "Rusty" stands as the lone well-written character in this pathetic "drama".

FLAWLESS's terrible directing, editing and writing, as well as its inappropriate soundtrack (a peppy samba for chase scenes/gunfights, really?) and a forgettable turn by Robert De Niro are no match for Hoffman's insane talent as a character actor.

Broken Embraces
½

Almodovar's masterpiece, Volver, is surely a tough act to follow but the Spanish director certainly held his own against himself with LOS ABRAZOS ROTOS.

Almodóvar treats us to a stylish noir that, despite losing steam towards the end, entertains and moves. The cinematography by Rodrigo Prieto is exquisite.

Among other things, Pedro's famous for obtaining great performances from his cast. "Broken Embraces" is not an exception. Penélope Cruz, Blanca Portillo, Ángela Molina and Rubén Ochandiano all shine, while Lola Dueñas and Carmen Machi provide excellent comic relief.

If LOS ABRAZOS ROTOS fails at anything, it's at showing the undeniable, almost tangible quality that makes a film an Almodóvar film. While all the usual elements are there (the colors, the shots, the actors, the tone), it somehow doesn't quite feel like an Almodóvar picture.

Singin' in the Rain

A bit dated, but SINGIN' IN THE RAIN is definitely the quintessential movie musical. Catchy songs, funny (if over-the-top) gags, impressive choreography and a multi-talented cast make for a perfect rainy-day experience.

Gene Kelly exudes charisma as Don Lockwood and forms a classic threesome along Donald O'Connor and Debbie Reynolds. Jean Hagen's hilarious as THE dumb blonde/diva Lina Lamont.

The Twilight Saga: New Moon

After months of being very vocal about my rejection of anything related to "Twilight", it took one trailer to get me interested in "New Moon". Finally accepting that I wanted to watch it was a difficult process that took a lot of courage on my part (seriously).

Yes, "New Moon" is just as laughable, corny and poorly written as its predecessor, but it entertains despite a long running time and the presence of Taylor Lautner, who looks like a young, ethnic Matt Damon without the acting chops. Most of the picture focuses on him and the slightly improved (and gorgeous) Kristen Stewart.

The cinematography by the great Javier Aguirresarobe is breathtaking, upstaging Chris Weitz's accidented and dizzying directing. The scenes in Italy are particularly beautiful, with the color red popping off the screen in a vibrant way.

The most talented cast members (Michael Sheen and Dakota Fanning, of course) are criminally underused, especially Fanning.

2012
2012(2009)

I'm not going to write about the unplausibility of the events that take place in "2012", that's a given. You should be prepared for that when you walk into a theater to watch this picture, as well for it to be incredibly cheesy and downright absurd. Although "2012" is certainly entertaining, the almost 3-hour running time is difficult to bear. The presence of respectable actors (and there are plenty) could be attributed to the economic crisis.

Still, it's a little painful to watch John Cusack, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Thomas McCarthy and Woody Harrelson make such fools out of themselves, especially the latter. I would say the same thing about Thandie Newton, but that bitch was dead to me the minute the pen touched the paper on her "Norbit" contract.

Twilight
Twilight(2008)
½

My expectations for this film couldn't have been any lower. I was practically forced to watch this film, which I'd been hating ever since it was announced. So, having no choice, I sat down and started to watch TWILIGHT, and, I must admit, it wasn't entirely bad.

The story is cheesy, the effects are some of the worst I've seen, the makeup is terrible and the dialogue is awful (I guess that's Stephenie Meyer's fault: I can only imagine how terrible the books might be). But, TWILIGHT exceeded my expectations, it's not the total piece of garbage I had imagined, but an entertaining film, with an impressive soundtrack and gorgeous scenery.

Tais-Toi
Tais-Toi(2004)
½

Although it tends to be quite oversimplistic at times, in general "Tais-toi!" is hilarious. Its main star, Gérard Depardieu, is flawless.

The Proposal
The Proposal(2009)
½

As good as you can expect a romantic comedy starring Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds to be. Predictable and formulaic, but somewhat enjoyable.

Bullock and Reynolds do a good job, but I keep reading about their great chemistry, which I personally didn't witness at all.

Gorgeous Alaskan scenery and a hilarious dance scene, courtesy of Bullock and Betty White, are a delight. Oscar Nuñez's presence is irritating. He's a walking Hispanic stereotype, and an unfunny one at that.

Backyard (El traspatio)
½

Wow! Did Mexico choose the wrong film to submit for the 2009 Academy Awards or what?

It has to be a pretty shitty year in movies to think BACKYARD's the best our country has to offer, especially after the incredible ARRÁNCAME LA VIDA ("Tear This Heart Out", last year's submission).

Clichéd, filled with plot holes and cartoonish characters, BACKYARD turns one of Mexico's worst crises (female murders in Ciudad Juárez) into a joke. Revered writer Sabina Berman fails, providing a laughable script.

Carlos Carrera might just be Mexico's most overrated director, so I expected more disappointing work from him (after EL CRIMEN DEL PADRE AMARO). I was right: everything but the first and last scene is garbage. Amid all this waste of celluloid, Ana de la Reguera's sublime performance is a breath of fresh air. The girl can act.

Michael Jackson's This Is It
½

We all knew THIS IS IT was nothing but a shameless studio ploy to make more money out of Michael Jackson's tragic death. I still think it is, but it also works as a testament of the great artist Jackson was. THIS IS IT shows Michael as the perfectionist, philantropist, and all-around nice guy we rarely see behind the talent and unforgettable moves.

Expertly edited, TII will only appeal to loyal fans and die-hards, as it mostly compiles footage of Jackson singing and dancing (or half-singing and half-dancing) and lacks insight on other aspects of the preparation for the concerts.

Highlights include an incredible, "West Side Story"-inspired "Way You Make me Feel" and a revamped, all-new "Thriller" sequence that was to be shown in 3D.

Overall, the film's mildly entertaining, often funny, but low on energy; it left me wanting more.

Freaks
Freaks(1932)

Touching, effective and ocasionally creepy, FREAKS's controversy and banning can be understood. The film poses a harsh critique to the human condition and our treatment of disabled people. Ahead of its time, powerful and entertaining. The scene with the titular "freaks" in the rain is chilling.

Angels & Demons
½

After a second viewing about 5 months since the first, I'm able to update my review with my excitement level at 0% and my mind clear. ANGELS & DEMONS, although entertaining, is just as cheesy as THE DA VINCI CODE (maybe even more) and everything is explained so thoroughly that any trace of a challenge is eliminated.

Dan Brown's incredible novel deserved a better adaptation, as well as better performances from a disappointing cast. Cinematography was top-notch, though.

The Witches of Eastwick
½

ABC's crappy spots for "Eastwick" motivated me to give "THE WITCHES OF EASTWICK" a chance. I found it almost by accident at Blockbuster and decided to rent it, and a few minutes into the movie, I was kinda mad at myself for not doing so before.

The cast is simply incredible. Big name after big name. Huge talent after huge talent, with Jack Nicholson and Veronica Cartwright standing out. The dialogue is brilliant. Even though sometimes it's a campy mess, the exchange between actors, as well as the cinematography, are splendid.

District 9
District 9(2009)
½

Who knew that a nation so under the radar, cinema-wise, as South Africa, would deliver one of this year's best and most entertaining films to date?

DISTRICT 9 eliminates all the Hollywood pretension and turns in a rich, exciting and intense sci-fi film. Apartheid and segregation references abound, resulting in a more profound experience. Surprisingly, the alien refugees or "prawns" are expressive and able to convey emotion. Think of "WALL·E", but heartwrenching, instead of cute.

Sadly, the film's third act is way too noisy and gives in to conventionalism. It was even reminiscent of "Transformers" and, as you might know, that's never a good thing. Sharlto Copley is incredible in a no-holds-barred performance.

Inglourious Basterds
½

I won't say I was disappointed, since I never expected a lot in the first place. INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS is not a bad movie, by any means. It's actually a pretty good one, but what in other films Tarantino did so well (dialog-driven sequences) can't help but bore you in "Basterds".

The titular, blood-thirsty posse is the least interesting part of the film. Almost everyone upstages Brad Pitt, who underachieves as Lt. Aldo Raine, especially Christoph Waltz, in his American cinema debut. Waltz's winning performance at Cannes is an incredible breakthrough and practically carries the whole movie. An Academy Award nomination should be expected.

Another highlight of the film is Mélanie Laurent. Her storyline and final revenge are delightful; so is her performance.

As with any Tarantino flick, the music is superb. A bigger budget allowed for some impressive costumes and sets. The eye-popping cinematography is remarkable as well: swastikas never looked so pretty.

Keep your eyes open for a hilarious scene involving Brad Pitt trying to seem Italian, as well as a new, twisted take on Cinderella.

I was actually offended at the sight of Mike Myers in "Basterds". Could that guy be any less talented?

The International

Most of the time you may not know what the hell is going on on-screen, but it sure is fun. THE INTERNATIONAL succeeds as an action film thanks to exhilarating, heart-pounding action sequences, splendid cinematography and a decent cast.

The shoot-out at the Guggenheim is absolutely epic. THE INTERNATIONAL deserves a viewing solely for that scene.

Saving Private Ryan

"If you enjoy war movies then you'll find this a 5/5 flick; I don't, so go figure. "
- Garth Franklin, darkhorizons.com

I allowed myself to borrow this quote from Garth Franklin since I feel about the same.

SAVING PRIVATE RYAN is off to a cheesy start (after all, it's a Spielberg movie) and tends to give in to cheese several times in this "eternal" (almost 3 hour) film.

The war scenes are impeccable, especially the first one. But from that point on, the film starts its own, dragging death. Many credit SPR for its cast, but I didn't find any performance extraordinary. Maybe, just maybe, Matt Damon, but he's featured way too little. The cinematography by Janusz Kaminski is a huge reason to watch SPR. Simply perfect.

Gossip
Gossip(1999)

The great concept of GOSSIP nearly got killed by a weak execution, poor performances and a juvenile, lightweight plot that tries to pass as dense. Nevertheless, it doesn't fail completely. I may be biased, but James Marsden's performance as evil Derrick Webb is quite amazing. Add an impressive soundtrack by Graeme Revell and an incredible twist ending, and you almost forget everything this flawed little film did wrong. Almost.

What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?
½

Watching WEHTBJ is the weirdest thing. Director Robert Aldrich expertly builds tension, but fails to create a real interest in the outcome of the actions he depicts.

Maybe that was the point, but this dark comedy/psychological thriller is way too over-the-top and campy for someone looking for a chilling thriller. Joan Crawford is excellent. Bette Davis's performance is uneven, but when she's good, she kicks ass.

Rebel Without a Cause
½

Insightful film about teen angst and dysfunctional families, well ahead of its time. James Dean's performance elevates a decent film into classic status almost all by itself.

The image of Dean in his red jacket is incredibly striking, even to this day. Sal Mineo is remarkable as troubled "Plato".

Delicatessen
Delicatessen(1992)
½

Set in a foggy, devastated, livestock-lacking town, DELICATESSEN is a delectable dark comedy by the incredible minds of Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro. The creative team behind DELICATESSEN make up for a somewhat weak plot with impressive character development and visual perfection.

Dominique Pinon stands out among the impressive cast, but the real reason to watch this film is because it's a feast for the eyes. Cinematography, lighting, direction, costumes and performances are all stupendous.

El Día de la bestia (The Day of the Beast)

Exceptional dark comedy from Almodóvar protegé, Alex de la Iglesia. Shocking, violent and hilarious, EL DIA DE LA BESTIA is endlessly entertaining. De la Iglesia takes a classic formula and sets it in Madrid to interesting results.

Alex Angulo, Santiago Segura and Armando de Razza play a triad of unique characters that compliment each other perfectly, bringing the amazing story by De la Iglesia and Jorge Guerricaechevarría to life.

Drag Me to Hell

If I plan on watching a horror movie, I want to be scared. If I want to laugh, I'll watch a comedy. But actually, what I thought were unintentionally funny scenes, didn't really cancel out the sense of enjoyment DRAG ME TO HELL provides. It's not laugh-out-loud funny, but the campy and over-the-top nature of the film actually adds to the fun.

Nevertheless, DMTH elicits chills and thrills aplenty. Having only known Sam Raimi for the less-than-impressive "Spider-Man" trilogy, it's great to see him in top form helming a horror movie. His work is exceptional.

Alison Lohman makes for a decent "scream queen", but the most interesting performance is that of Mexican actress Adriana Barraza as Shaun San Dena. Why this woman doesn't get more work is beyond me.

The Hangover
The Hangover(2009)
½

Surprisingly classy. Yes. I just called THE HANGOVER, a movie about a bunch of reckless drunk guys and their antics in Vegas, classy.

The fun in THE HANGOVER lies in the extremely comedic situations and weird personalities of the characters, not in the stupid stuff, like you might expect from this type of movie.

With spectacular work by director Todd Phillips and writers Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, as well as an interesting, very fitting soundtrack, THE HANGOVER is an incredibly funny, expectation-exceeding, above-average comedy, and one that makes you leave the theater happy and a little tired from all the laughing.

Congratulations are in order for the casting director, whoever that might be. 3 very different actors portraying 3 very different lead characters, all amazing, especially Zach Galifianakis.

I Love You, Man
½

I LOVE YOU, MAN is a hilarious, pleasing "bromance" in the vein of Judd Apatow. Director John Hamburg borrows some of the cast and a lovable-loser storyline from Apatow (minus the raunchiness) to great results.

Impressive character development and all-around good performances, especially from the very underrated comic prodigies that lead this film, Paul Rudd and Jason Segel. The chemistry between them is incredible, and the "realness" of the relationships, as well as the awkardness are perfectly captured.

While I identified the most with Peter (Paul Rudd), Sydney Fife (Segel) is a gem of a character. Couldn't believe when I read that Jason Segel based his performance of Fife on that douche, Russell Brand.

Terms of Endearment
½

I have to admit I was expecting something completely different. The name and the cover led me to believe I was in for a schmaltzy chick flick. Thankfully, it wasn't. TERMS OF ENDEARMENT is a funny comedy with its dose of heartache. The real merit of the film lies in James L. Brooks's ability to interweave such clashing elements.

Shirley MacLaine is pitch-perfect as neurotic mom, Aurora. Dysfunctional mother-daughter duo is complete with a fantastic performance by Debra Winger. As usual, Jack Nicholson is pretty darn awesome, this time as retired astronaut/womanizer Garrett. MacLaine and Nicholson's banter is pure gold.

North Country

Even though it's a little too melodramatic at times, NORTH COUNTRY is poignant and intense, mainly because of its incredible cast, whose performances make the film even more powerful.

While I watched this, I couldn't help being amazed by how vile, disrespectful and discriminatory people can be. Surprisingly engaging, since I only planned to watch about an hour before I went to sleep, and I stayed up for the whole thing.

After "Monster", Charlize Theron tackles another big role and NAILS it. The always great Frances McDormand, the underrated Michelle Monaghan and Richard Jenkins are great as well.

Cape Fear
Cape Fear(1991)

Wow! I never thought I would be so disappointed in Martin Scorsese. A remake is (almost) never necessary, but Scorsese just made a fool of himself trying to revive this 1962 thriller. Although he added a few interesting elements, his and Wesley Strick's reimagining of Max Cady is absolutely terrible. Different from the cool, smart killer from the original, the 1991 edition of Max Cady is downright ridiculous.

There's homage, and then there's CAPE FEAR: blatant ripoff. Every angle, every light, every shot, even the use of Bernard Herrmann and Saul Bass screams Hitchcock. That's unacceptable, especially coming from an exceptionally talented director as Scorsese. Terrible tribute.

Unintentionally funny, incredibly cheesy and highly unplausible events mark this low point in Marty's career. CAPE FEAR is saved solely by the good performances by Robert DeNiro, Nick Nolte, Jessica Lange and especially, Juliette Lewis.

Cape Fear
Cape Fear(1962)
½

Robert Mitchum is an intriguing villain in CAPE FEAR, the original (and better) story of Max Cady, an ex-con in search of revenge on the lawyer who got him in prison, and his family.

As Cady, Mitchum is cunning, smart, mysterious and strangely alluring. He carefully creates an evil scheme, confident in his newfound freedom. His performance in CAPE FEAR is what makes the film special. Max Cady is such a rich character and Mitchum plays him perfectly. Hitchcock collaborator Bernard Herrmann contributed with the iconic score.

Gran Torino
Gran Torino(2009)

Clint Eastwood is the ultimate triple threat. Not only is he a legendary actor, but also a very respected (and awarded) writer and director. 2008 was a year graced with the presence of two great (and greatly underrated)Eastwood-directed films: "Changeling" and "Gran Torino".

While Clint didn't write GRAN TORINO (that was Nick Schenk), he doubled as director and lead actor, managing to pass both tests with flying colors.

In his last acting role, Clint Eastwood excels. Mr. Eastwood plays Korean War vet Walt Kowalski, a bitter, prejudiced old man who spews racial epithets like there's no tomorrow. His terrible attitude and limited views of the world are somewhat softened by his good intentions and heroic nature.

Initially reluctant to even look at his Hmong neighbors, a car hijacking gone bad brings him closer to siblings Thao and Sue, developing friendships with both of them. Sue and Thao gain a new father figure, while Walt learns about Hmong culture and slowly morphs into a caring benefactor for the community, even making the ultimate sacrifice so that Thao doesn't carry the same burden Walt has all his life.

On a different note, I think I'm falling in love with Ahney Her.

Coraline
Coraline(2009)
½

There's no arguing that Disney·Pixar is the king of animation; everything that studio churns out is a lesson in quality. Nevertheless, independently produced CORALINE may be giving the mouse a run for his money.

Henry Selick (the classic "Nightmare Before Christmas") delivers yet another fun, creepily beautiful animated film that is much more than kiddie fare.

CORALINE's vivid colors are a perfect companion to the dark, eerie tone of the film. Excellent stop-motion animation and great voice work by Teri Hatcher might not guarantee "classic" status for CORALINE, but that doesn't mean it doesn't deserve it.

As with animated masterpieces of late, like WALL·E or RATATOUILLE, a slower pace and focus on the story and flawless animation work wonders.

8 1/2
8 1/2(1963)

Like a friend pointed out a few days ago, movie reviews should be subjective. A film can be aesthetically or technically perfect, but if it doesn't impact you on some level, it doesn't really matter how great it is. Still, after watching 8 ½, I'm trying to brace myself for the boatload of crap I'm going to get from some of the people on here for screwing with a classic.

I really wanted to like 8 ½ (I even purchased it, which is not something I usually do), especially now that "Nine" is coming out (if that one disappoints me, I think I will kill myself).

"Otto e Mezzo" is a self-indulgent, overly long, incredibly boring and uninvolving story about an asshole. And not a "cool" asshole (if that's even possible) like Rhett Butler in "Gone With the Wind" or Rick Blaine in "Casablanca". This douchebag is a self-absorbed, womanizing liar, surrounded by a slew of women just as unlikeable.

8 ½ excels in technical aspects such as cinematography, art direction and costume design, but this Fellini indulgence is a challenge to endure. A frustrating experience, due to the fact that there's not a clear distinction between reality and imagination, present and past.

Some directors can make long dialog scenes work (see Quentin Tarantino), but in 8 ½, the characters just talk, talk and then talk some more, but always about some pointless crap.

The Fugitive
The Fugitive(1993)

An Oscar and a pair of highly respected actors in its cast led me to believe this was something worth watching. Sadly, I was disappointed. I really don't understand the praise this film has received.

THE FUGITIVE is a run-of-the-mill action movie, complete with unplausible events and a heroic lead character that dodges every bullet thrown his way. Let me remind you, the "fugitive" in question is a doctor, not an experienced criminal, but that doesn't stop him from jumping off a waterfall and leaving unscathed, all the while evading dozens of (armed) policemen across miles and miles (and on foot!).

Although the film features some great work by Harrison Ford and Jeroen Krabbe, their performances alone aren't worth the watch. Tommy Lee Jones joins Gwyneth Paltrow, Alan Arkin, Tilda Swinton and countless others in the list of people least deserving of their Academy Award.

A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints

I didn't think it was possible for one movie to have such terrible, underachieving writing and incredible, creative directing, but that's the case with A GUIDE TO RECOGNIZING YOUR SAINTS. To top it all off, it's written and directed by the same person, Dito Montiel (the lead character). Confused already?

Montiel penned a memoir called "A Guide to Recognizing your Saints", which he later adapted for cinema. Clearly, Montiel started as a writer, but his true talents lie in the world of film. Maybe it was the emotional connection to the material (after all, it's HIS story), but his inventive direction grabs the attention the crappy screenplay fails to.

Brilliant casting (except for Eric Roberts, WTF?) is another one of AGTRYS's accomplishments. Channing Tatum (yes, him), Rosario Dawson and Robert Downey Jr. shine. Chazz Palminteri's performance was terribly uneven, though.

Gone With the Wind

Grand, majestic, and over the top, GONE WITH THE WIND is the ultimate Hollywood extravaganza. Everything in the film is gorgeous, from the lavish sets, to the eye-popping costumes to the legendary cast. Scarlett O'Hara may be a selfish and immature little bitch, but all the layers of her personality, as well as the transformation she suffers through the film, make her one of the best characters to ever be captured on celluloid.

Vivien Leigh's performance somewhat mirrors Scarlett's transformation. At the beginning of the film, when Ms. O'Hara is flirtatious and carefree, Leigh's performance feels sort of fake and childish. As the movie progresses and the problems in Scarlett's life shape her into a responsible, hard-working woman, that's when Leigh is at her best, turning a backstabbing gold digger into a sympathetic character.

However, it's Clark Gable and Olivia de Havilland who deserve the most accolades for their work in GWTW. Their restrained performances stand out against the overall theatricality of the film. The film is incredibly long, but a movie of this magnitude can get away with a running time of 222 minutes.

This classic melodrama turned a little too tragic for my taste towards the end, a fact that may have influenced my liking of this picture, along with one of the servants, Prissy. Butterfly McQueen is annoying as all hell.

The Green Mile

Further proof that the union of Stephen King and Frank Darabont is a marriage made in Hollywood heaven. THE GREEN MILE, joins THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION and THE MIST on the list of incredible Stephen King adaptations by Darabont.

THE GREEN MILE is an emotional rollercoaster of a movie, in which Darabont depicts the comedic as well as the tragic aspects of prison. His simple, controlled direction makes a 3 hour long film feel shorter.

Outstanding cast delivers great performances, especially David Morse, Doug Hutchison and Michael Clarke Duncan, who simply breaks your heart.

The English Patient
½

Epic, tragic, superb love story. This modern "Casablanca" achieves greatness on so many levels.

First of all, the cinematography. John Seale's work is truly remarkable, especially in the desert scenes; nothing short of spectacular.

Secondly, the score by Gabriel Yared. His music provides THE ENGLISH PATIENT of a feeling of grandeur that not many composers are able to give to the films they're scoring.

Last but not least, my favorite part: the cast. Even though Juliette Binoche was the only one to actually win an Oscar for her performance, her work was simply alright and didn't merit an Academy Award. Criminally overlooked was Willem Dafoe. His short (but key) role as Caravaggio is definitely among Dafoe's finest work.

Ralph Fiennes is solid as quiet, mysterious Almásy, an unlikely but intriguing leading man. His leading lady, Kristin Scott Thomas, is equally impressive as Katherine. Thomas is reminiscent of old Hollywood, due to her unique beauty and classic glamour.

Though it might feel a little too long, the film's last hour is cinema at its best, and any shred of boredom vanishes instantly.

Public Enemies

While it's still better than a lot of movies released in 2009, PUBLIC ENEMIES is greatly disappointing. This visually stunning flick feels like a gorgeous, but empty, piece of art.

Director Michael Mann's work is competent through the film, but almost every action sequence is a mess. Interesting is the fact that, even though there's a lot of action, the movie feels long and dull.

As it was to be expected, Johnny Depp is excellent as charismatic bank robber John Dillinger. Depp finds his match in French actress Marion Cotillard, who portrays Dillinger's love, Billie Frechette. She's great as well.

I'm actually a little concerned about one of my favorite thespians, Christian Bale. Lately, he seems to be making poor career choices, being overshadowed by his co-stars or, as seen in PUBLIC ENEMIES, giving a performance so weak to even notice. He needs to get his act(ing) together!

In conclusion, a very promising trailer became boring, messy eye candy.

Erin Brockovich
½

Erin Brockovich has got to be one of the greatest screen characters ever: loud, sassy, opinionated, bitchy, smart and driven. The best part? She's actually real! Julia Roberts is incredible as the title character in this underrated indie gem.

Attention usually falls on the Oscar-winning turn by Roberts (and deservedly so), but Albert Finney and Aaron Eckhart are certainly impressive as Erin's boss and boyfriend, respectively. Incredible writing by Susannah Grant.

The Last Temptation of Christ
½

Martin Scorsese brings Kazantzakis' controversial novel to life in THE LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST. The film's portrayal of Jesus as a human is very effective. and its polemic claims make a lot of sense, making for a cinematic experience that's both unsettling and endearing (and spectacularly photographed).

Willem Dafoe tends to overact in some sequences, but ultimately his performance is great. Harry Dean Stanton makes his mark as Saul/Paul, if only for a few minutes. Harvey Keitel was absolutely terrible.

Chinatown
Chinatown(1974)
½

Strong, twisted, dramatic, stylish; CHINATOWN is a great film in every sense of the word.

Visually striking, very well-written and directed; expertly acted by Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway and John Huston.

The Greatest Show on Earth
½

Although I've only seen 22 of them, I seriously doubt "The Greatest Show on Earth" is the worst "Best Picture" Oscar winner ever.

TGSOE only suffers from a slightly long running time and some overacting by Betty Hutton and Charlton Heston. The rest is really fun and enjoyable, just as the circus should be.

Solid work by the cast and director DeMille, as well as a very special appearance by the great Jimmy Stewart.

Shadow of the Vampire

A complete disappointment. SHADOW OF THE VAMPIRE is an exercise in ridiculousness, from the terrible script to the caricaturesque performances. Utter waste of time, even at 92 minutes.

Kramer vs. Kramer
½

A hurricane of emotions shatters the screen in KRAMER VS. KRAMER. A simple, yet engaging story, with brilliant casting. Dustin Hoffman is just perfect.

The Orphanage

Horror has never been my cup of tea and EL ORFANATO is not good enough to turn me into a fan of the genre. It sure is well directed, splendidly shot and features some great work by Belén Rueda and Geraldine Chaplin, but the plot is so generic.

How many more dead kids in old houses do we really need?

17 Again
17 Again(2009)
½

Sure, we've seen the same concept played out a thousand times before but, if it's as fun as 17 AGAIN, does it really matter if it's not really groundbreaking?

Zac Efron oozes charisma and demonstrates he's more than a Disney teen sensation. A long, successful career is imminent. Oddly, Efron and much older Leslie Mann share great chemistry. Thomas Lennon is hilarious as Mike's geeky best friend, Ned.

Bullets Over Broadway

BULLETS OVER BROADWAY is filled with good, but overrated performances. It's surprisingly slow-paced (and I say surprisingly, because nobody expects a crime comedy to be this slow) and, at only 100 minutes, it feels so long.

On the bright side, the art direction and costume design are superb. Not a great Woody Allen flick, but his work in BOB is pretty decent.

Evil Angels (A Cry in the Dark)
½

A CRY IN THE DARK is an extremely well told, deeply involving drama.

Director Fred Schepisi is excellent in the directors' seat, as is Meryl Streep in the lead role, proving once again why she's an acting legend. Her portrayal of Lindy Chamberlain is chillingly perfect.

Sam Neill brings good support to this Streep-centric film.

The Deer Hunter

Long, random and mostly useless shots fill the first hour of THE DEER HUNTER. What comes next is so different, it's like you're not even watching the same movie.

Raw, chilling, realistic war sequences. Great performances by Christopher Walken, John Savage and Meryl Streep; and an excellent one by Robert De Niro make for a heartbreaking, thought-provoking classic.

THE DEER HUNTER would've benefited from a shorter running time and a broader view of the Vietnam War, not just the American perspective.

Friends With Money

Very interesting; simple yet satisfying character study. The film's biggest achievement is the fact that it's very well grounded in reality. Everything feels so genuine.

Competent writing/directing by Nicole Holofcener, but this little indie gem is all about its strong female cast, led by a wonderful Frances McDormand. Jason Isaacs stands out amongst the men.

Wall Street
Wall Street(1987)

My total lack of understanding of the stock market may have affected my overall enjoyment of WALL STREET, but the movie is interesting enough to keep us brokerage ignorants watching.

Oliver Stone's camera work and use of light is certainly impressive, and Michael Douglas's performance as greedy Gordon Gekko is nothing short of perfect.

Mississippi Burning

In the movies, violent doesn't mean powerful, and that's exactly the problem with MISSISSIPPI BURNING. Hate crimes on film are always hard to watch, and at times it feels as if that's all this movie has to offer. Weak and/or unrealistic characters further keep the film from becoming a true, poignant statement.

Amazing cinematography and score, as well as a solid performance by Gene Hackman are the better aspects of this overrated thriller.

Up
Up(2009)
½

UP is, at the same time, childish and mature; a blend of funny gags and powerful scenes. Its impeccable, colorful animation is incredibly expressive. This film is like the ice cream the main characters enjoy at the end: sweet and satisfying. And yes, I cried a little.

State of Play

Along with "Michael Clayton" and "Duplicity" (all involving the awesome Tony Gilroy in some way), STATE OF PLAY is a great example of the dark, modern espionage thriller.

SOP makes perfect use of the camera and relies on the performances of an amazing ensemble cast that includes Russell Crowe, a surprisingly solid Ben Affleck, Rachel McAdams, Helen Mirren, Robin Wright Penn, Jason Bateman and Jeff Daniels.

Great work by cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto and composer Alex Heffes. State of Play's only significant fault is that last big twist. The film would've worked a lot better without it.

The Secret Life of Bees
½

In the hands of a more talented writer/director, "The Secret Life of Bees" could've been another "The Color Purple"; instead, it's a cheesy, forgettable movie.

Watch solely to witness the awesomeness of Dakota Fanning's mature performance, as well as the great supporting turns by Queen Latifah, Jennifer Hudson, Sophie Okonedo and Paul Bettany.

Once
Once(2007)
½

Simple and unconventional, ONCE's concept is very appealing, but it falls short of its goal: change the musical as we know it.

This very low-budget flick works fantastically as an "unplugged" special, but as a film, it feels like a not-so-interesting home movie.

All in all, ONCE is a nice little experiment by two musicians, with incredible songs, but not much apart from that.

Get Shorty
Get Shorty(1995)

GET SHORTY is a cool, funny and, most of all, stylish mob flick.

Barry Sonenfeld does an excellent job at the director's seat, bringing along a solid cast, consisting of John Travolta (stellar as "Chili Palmer", an incredible character in its own right); Gene Hackman, René Russo, Danny DeVito, Dennis Farina and Delroy Lindo.


Chili Palmer: Now I've been shot at three times before. Twice on purpose and once by accident. And I'm still here. And I'm gonna be here for as long as I want to be.

Mermaids
Mermaids(1990)
½

MERMAIDS is what you'd call an enjoyable film. Simple as that.

It's really funny, and it features an incredible cast that includes Cher, Bob Hoskins, Christina Ricci and Winona Ryder, the latter stealing the whole movie in an amazing turn as nun-wannabe Charlotte.

Persepolis
Persepolis(2007)

Although it's cleverly directed and gorgeously animated, PERSEPOLIS fails to entertain through most of its (short) running time.

Still, the film has an impressive impact that's certainly not softened by its subtle comedy. Again, worth watching for the incredible animation.

Boys Don't Cry

Incredibly powerful, heartwrenching film. BOYS DON'T CRY slowly builds its momentum right until the shocking end.

Hilary Swank's Oscar-winning performance only improves as the movie progresses, with magnificent support by Chloë Sevigny and Peter Sarsgaard (it's their show, too).

Happy-Go-Lucky
½

Thanks to Mike Leigh and Sally Hawkins for letting us witness the adventures of "Poppy", an incredible character with an average life, whose optimistic outlook on life turns any normal activity, such as taking driving lessons or getting drunk with your friends, into a fascinating worth-watching experience.

Sally Hawkins is absolutely delightful as Poppy, a British "Amélie" of some sort, equally likeable, but a lot funnier. Eddie Marsan is spectacular as the troubled driving instructor with road rage, "Scott".

Duplicity
Duplicity(2009)
½

A thoroughly engaging comedy/thriller from the mind of Tony Gilroy, the genius behind MICHAEL CLAYTON, a movie to which DUPLICTY is very similar, but at the same time, incredibly different.

DUPLICITY is faster, sexier, more entertaining, but both have that distinctive, kind-of-dark Gilroy touch; he's at his best with his work as director and writer in this film.

James Newton Howard's score goes perfectly with the sleek, modern atmosphere of the film, and the 4 lead characters couldn't have been better cast.

Best movie of 2009 so far!

The Philadelphia Story

Watching three legends (Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant and Jimmy Stewart) "battle" onscreen is pure cinematic glory.

The fact that this "Philadelphia Story" is pretty funny is due, in large part, to the amazing trifecta of Grant-Hepburn-Stewart, each giving an impeccable performance, but also to the script by Donald Ogden Stewart.

Monsters vs. Aliens
½

MONSTERS VS. ALIENS is an uninspired animated film with few funny moments scattered throughout 94 minutes, mostly delivered by the only appealing character, B.O.B.

You should see this in 3D, the colorful, realistic visuals are incredible. Otherwise, I doubt it's worth the price of the ticket.

Day Watch
Day Watch(2007)
½

DNEVNOI DOZOR (Day Watch), the follow-up to 2004's NOCHNOI DOZOR is a highly stylized, exciting, fun, cheesy, and ultimately, very entertaining mess.

The love stories were a little unnecessary. But, God, that scene with the car on the side of the building is EPIC.

Night Watch
Night Watch(2006)
½

As with WANTED, his English language debut, "Nochnoi Dozor" is proof that Timur Bekmambetov is, most of all, a unique director. NIGHT WATCH may not be a masterpiece or really entertaining (at least not for someone who's not a fan of horror/fantasy, like me), but it's certainly creative and a visual achievement.

NIGHT WATCH makes up for a long, dragging story with inventive visuals and impressive effects.

Bolt
Bolt(2008)

Take a look at this year's nominees for "Best Animated Feature" at the Oscars. In there, you got 2 Disney films. One is the eventual winner, "WALL·E". The other one is the movie in question, "Bolt". It's astonishing how these two films are different from one another. Not only in terms of theme, technology, characters, but also in quality.

A great score, above-average animation and some pretty good voice work by John Travolta, Susie Essman and whoever voiced the pigeons, did not guarantee a memorable film for Disney. Too bad.

Who else hated that hamster thingy?

The Dreamers
The Dreamers(2004)

THE DREAMERS is a feast for the eyes in every sense of the word, but it doesn't make much of a statement. However, it's a movie about film buffs for film buffs, and should not be left unwatched.

Twins Theo & Isabelle are two trainwrecks you need to see to believe, and the performances by Eva Green and Michael Pitt are the highlight of a somewhat dull (but incredibly sexy, if you look past the incest, and that scene with the blood) film.

Watchmen
Watchmen(2009)

Snyder, wake up! This is not "300", so please tone down the slo-mo!

Okay, after that weird rant, I just want to express my total disappointment in this film. I probably got my hopes up way too high, like I sometimes do, but the almost 3 hour running time was torture.

Aside from visual perfection, an incredible opening-credit sequence and a great performance by Patrick Wilson, WATCHMEN is monumentally boring.

Maybe if I even touched a comic book at some point in my life, I would've appreciated it more, but I couldn't help the feeling of sadness as I left the theater, my soul crushed from the horrific disappointment.

Too bad WATCHMEN wasn't what the trailers promised, maybe a 3-hour long credit sequence would've been better.

Role Models
Role Models(2008)

Definitely the best comedy of 2008. ROLE MODELS is a hilarious film, thanks to its great script and excellent comedic timing.

The cast is certainly impressive; actors with undeniable comedy chops bringing unforgettable characters to life, and delivering amazing quotes.

Paul Rudd and Elizabeth Banks, two of the greatest comedians working today shine, while Seann William Scott impresses with his talent (who knew he had any?). The best lines are delivered by Jane Lynch, her character is absolutely hilarious, while the young actors (Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Bobb'e J. Thompson) are pretty solid.

He's Just Not That Into You
½

I wanted to see HE'S JUST NOT THAT INTO YOU merely for its cast, but wasn't expecting anything truly remarkable. It wasn't, but, at the same time, it wasn't terrible. It was actually mildly enjoyable and surprisingly not cheesy.

In a cast filled with pretty faces, Jennifer Connelly and Justin Long stand out with above-average performances. And, I have to say, she might not be a really good actress, but is Ginnifer Goodwin the cutest girl or what?

Blue Velvet
Blue Velvet(1986)

BLUE VELVET is as beautiful as it is unsettling. A lot of both, actually, and that's the best way I can describe it.

Incredible directing, weak acting; except, of course, for Dennis Hopper. Not only does he deliver an amazing, legendary performance, he creates an enduring and memorable villain.

Frank Booth: Heineken? Fuck that shit! Pabst Blue Ribbon!

Changeling
Changeling(2008)

Even though people keep trashing this film, I just want to state that CHANGELING is one of the best and most entertaining films of the last year. Clint Eastwood brings us the fascinating story of Christine Collins, portrayed incredibly by Angelina Jolie. Collins tries to fight injustice and corruption in the L.A. Police Dept. while looking for her missing son.

Jolie's performance carries the film and totally earns that Oscar nomination. Jeffrey Donovan and Amy Ryan make for good supporting players in the "Angelina Jolie Show".

The film is intense, heartwrenching, and some scenes are even difficult to watch. Clint Eastwood not only did a great job at directing CHANGELING, but he also composed the beautiful score. Outstanding art direction, cinematography and costume design.

The Reader
The Reader(2008)
½

THE READER is practically begging for an Oscar (or a couple of them); it mixes a Holocaust theme with courtroom drama and a "forbidden" relationship, taken from a book and brought to life by established actors and directed by an Academy favorite. That doesn't exactly mean "THE READER" should go home with any awards, except, of course, for its leading lady.

It's not hard to see why the Academy picked Kate Winslet's performance in "THE READER" over her role in "REVOLUTIONARY ROAD". Winslet took risks, she not only plays an older woman who sleeps with a 15 year-old boy, but she also happens to be a Nazi guard. Those risks will likely pay off tomorrow, when she'll finally (fingers crossed) receive that long awaited Oscar. In a film that's totally dominated by Kate's performance, David Kross did a remarkable job as well.

The film could've done well without the last 10 minutes and it feels slow at times, but other than that, it's a decent film.

The Wrestler
The Wrestler(2008)
½

2008 was definitely an actors' year. A lot of the films that found success last year, were able to do so by a particular (or a few) outstanding performances. Most of the films were not exactly masterpieces, some were even mediocre. That's the case of THE WRESTLER. An OK film, but lacking the vision and quality previous Aronofsky films, like "REQUIEM FOR A DREAM" and "THE FOUNTAIN", possess. It seems as if Darren Aronofsky is more comfortable with weird, trippy films, than when he's shooting a "normal" story. Maybe that's the problem. The movie is too normal, overwhelmingly ordinary.

Mickey Rourke stars as Randy "The Ram" Robinson, a washed-up wrestler looking for success one more time. Although he gives a good performance, it's somehow lost in his almost expressionless face. Sean Penn deserves that Oscar over Mickey. Marisa Tomei shed her usual, annoying self to portray Cassidy, an aging stripper. She did a wonderful job, while looking absolutely stunning.

All in all, THE WRESTLER is not boring. It's just terribly common.

Rachel Getting Married
½

RACHEL GETTING MARRIED is one mess of a movie. Please leave the shaky camera for documentaries or for scenes that really demand it. By now, anyone that uses the pretentious "shaky cam" is practically screaming: "Look at me; I'm like, SO indie".
Even worse than the way it's shot, is the editing. Also, there are, at least, 3 sequences that hang on too long. I mean, the film feels like a home movie most of the time, and not in a good way.

If there's one thing that saves Rachel Getting Married, it's the cast. Academy Award-nominated Anne Hathaway bares her soul in a totally unglamorous, breakthrough performance as the troubled "Kym". Strong turns by the rest of the family: Bill Irwin, Rosemarie DeWitt (the title's "Rachel") and Debra Winger as their estranged mom. Jenny Lumet wrote a great script that, unfortunately, sank in the deep waters of Jonathan Demme's pretentiousness.

Frost/Nixon
Frost/Nixon(2008)

Engaging, dialog-driven film. FROST/NIXON features remarkable direction from Ron Howard, and some great visuals provided by Salvatore Totino.

Nixon (Frank Langella) starts off strong, intimidating, charismatic, and to see his fall towards the end, defeated by Frost (Michael Sheen) is a glorious experience.
Everyone seems to be praising Langella for his acting, and while he's outstanding, it's Michael Sheen who delivers the best performance in the movie. Matthew Macfadyen and Sam Rockwell bring some more talent to the table.

Watching David Frost and Richard Nixon go at it, is one of the best things cinema has offered in '08.

Slumdog Millionaire

SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE, a splendid, exciting, rags-to-riches story with Bollywood charm; an explosion of color and energy.

Its music: a fantastic blend of hip-hop and Indian rhythms. Its actors: a strong (and, most of all, not annoying) child cast, as well as impressive performances from Anil Kapoor, and especially, this year's biggest breakthrough, Dev Patel.

The way Danny Boyle joins Jamal's past experiences with the answers at the game show is genius. Also, I think it was a great idea to place the romantic story as a secondary plot, it certainly made the film enjoyable and not too corny, which is how all films should handle romance. That dance number at the end is the cherry on top.

I seriously doubt there's a better 2008 film than this one.

Revolutionary Road
½

The pace feels a little too slow at times, and then Sam Mendes surprises you with another monumental, jaw-dropping fight, and you're in love with this film all over again.

The impeccably shot REVOLUTIONARY ROAD was almost completely snubbed at the Oscars, garnering only 3 nods: Art Direction, Costume Design and Supporting Actor for Michael Shannon (all 3, totally deserved). But what about Best Picture?

Also, the fact that Leonardo DiCaprio got snubbed after giving one of his best performances ever, is almost offensive. Kate Winslet gave a rich, nuanced performance and the only Oscar-nominated member of the cast, Michael Shannon stole the show with his stunning turn as John Givings.

Zack and Miri Make a Porno

A hilarious, raunchy and very original comedy, ZACK AND MIRI MAKE A PORNO would've been even better if Kevin Smith toned the romance down a little, because it just doesn't fit well with the tone of the film.

Still, it's a pretty enjoyable experience, mainly by the presence of its leads. If Naomi Watts and Chelsea Handler had a baby, it would be just like Elizabeth Banks. Not only is she beautiful, but a very good actress and a perfect one for comedy. Seth Rogen may not have a lot of acting range, but I still love to watch him in everything he's in. Kudos to this awesome pairing.

Frozen River
Frozen River(2008)

An intense, gripping and very realistic drama that fits perfectly with the economic crisis we're all suffering from.

FROZEN RIVER is proof that you can make a great thriller with a low budget and a practically unknown cast. It offers some interesting characters with a lot of depth and a fantastic script by Oscar-nominated writer/director Courtney Hunt in her feature debut.

A pretty solid performance from Melissa Leo and, I can't believe nobody mentioned this before, but Charlie McDermott was very impressive as the mature, concerned T.J.

What Have I Done to Deserve This? (Qu he hecho yo para merecer esto!!)

Not a bad movie by any means, just not very interesting. It's also one of the first Almodovar films where you can actually notice his mark.

QUE HE HECHO YO PARA MERECER ESTO! suffers from a few plot holes and sensitive subject matter treated incorrectly. On the other hand, the score is great, as well as the cast, where Carmen Maura and Verónica Forqué stand out.

Doubt
Doubt(2008)
½

DOUBT boasts what has to be the best ensemble cast in recent years. Every performance in the film is outstanding (and, deservedly, Oscar-nominated).

Meryl Streep stars as Sister Aloysius, in a turn that is nothing short of perfect. Philip Seymour Hoffman, as always, gives a pitch-perfect performance. The surprise is definitely Viola Davis. A relatively unknown actress makes the most of her little screen time and delivers an excellent performance.

Still impressive, but definitely the weakest of the cast is Amy Adams, playing innocent, which is pretty much all she's done since breaking out with "Junebug". It's amazing how she can play these characters that seem the same in their innocence and naiveness (Ashley in "Junebug", Giselle in "Enchanted" and Sister James in "Doubt"), and still manage to make each role different from the other.

At times, the movie felt a little too slow, but the cast saves it from ever becoming boring. Well written and accompanied by a haunting score, DOUBT is an actors' movie, and a great one at that.

The Wizard of Oz
½

I'm probably gonna get a lot of heat for screwing with a classic, but what the hell: I HATED The Wizard of Oz!

This dumb, dumb, dumb movie is filled to the brim with dreadful songs (except OVER THE RAINBOW and IF I ONLY HAD A BRAIN/HEART), campy attitude and a very bad set design that, instead of looking all magical, looks cheap and artificial.

Excluding great turns by Judy Garland and Ray Bolger, the acting was terrible, and whenever Bert Lahr was onscreen, it was actually painful to watch.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
½

David Fincher wows again! This time with the absolutely beautiful and breathtaking depiction of an unusual human being.

Benajmin Button ages backwards, and David Fincher, along with screenwriter Eric Roth and cinematographer Claudio Miranda, do a magnificent job at telling his strange story.

THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON relies on a blend of CGI/makeup to succesfully create the illusion of age. Every aspect of this film is so well executed, from the art direction, to the costume design, the cinematography and the score.

As usual with a David Fincher film, TCCOBB has an amazing cast. Frequent collaborator Brad Pitt is perfect as the title character, with strong performances by the graceful Cate Blanchett and the lovely Taraji P. Henson. An interesting unique story that's also so wonderful to look at.

A Walk in the Clouds
½

An OK film that doesn't offer anything much, besides stunning visuals and a great performance by the late Anthony Quinn.

As we all know, Keanu Reeves can't act, and all the other actors, excluding Quinn, were very forgettable. The direction could've been better, especially in those awful war scenes. Overall, A WALK IN THE CLOUDS is a sappy but entertaining film.

Kudos to one of my favorite cinematographers, Emmanuel "El Chivo" Lubezki for achieving the absolutely beautiful, dream-like look for this film.

Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist

A refreshing indie comedy that's more mature than it looks. The dialogue is smart and funny, never sounding unrealistic like "Juno's" witty one-liners.

NICK & NORAH'S INFINITE PLAYLIST features a great soundtrack that fit the movie's scenes perfectly.

NICK and Norah are brought to life by two wonderful actors that just keep getting better and better. Michael Cera proves he's leading man material and Kat Dennings, who looks a lot like a young Kate Winslet, gave a great performance.

Padre Nuestro

I hate when Americans do this type of movies and try to label them "Mexican", especially when it's such crap.

An immigrant movie in which is really easy to not sympathize with the terrible characters. Basically, every character in this film is either an asshole or impossibly stupid. And then you got "Magda", one of the most unlikable people ever to be put on screen. She's supposed to be, but it was definitely too much. Besides, who talks like that?

SANGRE DE MI SANGRE, or PADRE NUESTRO, had a good concept but it was lost to poor writing and the awful cast. The fact that actors like Jesús Ochoa, Ernesto Derbez and Armando Hernández still get parts puzzles me.

I don't see this film appealing to any Latin filmgoer, or at least Mexicans. The only good thing about this film is its interesting, minimalist score.

Entre tinieblas (Dark Habits) (Dark Hideout)

A strange B-movie, that's also a satire of religious life.

Amazing cinematography, a nice cast and few glimpses of a mature Pedro Almodóvar ultimately lose out to its god-awful dubbing, which made me take out the DVD.

Funny Games
Funny Games(2008)

I had wanted to see FUNNY GAMES for a long time, and, sadly, the wait wasn't worth it.

Sure, the movie is well written, the villains are interesting and complex, the cast is solid, but it just didn't do it for me.

I find Michael Haneke's directing style very irritating, and those long shots that show nothing made it even worse. It was great when the character of Paul broke the "fourth wall" and talked to the audience, but the whole "rewinding" bit was unnecessary.

The horror in FUNNY GAMES lies in its realism. Somehting similar to what happens in the movie could take place any day at any home, and that's what makes it scary.

In Bruges
In Bruges(2008)
½

A good dark comedy, that could have been great if it wasn't for its dramatic fall towards the end, where it passed from funny to stupid.

Colin Farrell makes a comeback with the best performance of IN BRUGES, and possibly of his career. Brendan Gleeson and Ralph Fiennes also delivered good performances.

The score is really beautiful, but it didn't really fit the movie well. On the other hand, the spectacular shots elevated the movie's beauty.

Sangre De Mi Sangre

I hate when Americans do this type of movies and try to label them "Mexican", especially when it's such crap.

An immigrant movie in which is really easy to not sympathize with the terrible characters. Basically, every character in this film is either an asshole or impossibly stupid. And then you got "Magda", one of the most unlikable people ever to be put on screen. She's supposed to be, but it was definitely too much. Besides, who talks like that?

SANGRE DE MI SANGRE, or PADRE NUESTRO, had a good concept but it was lost to poor writing and the awful cast. The fact that actors like Jesús Ochoa, Ernesto Derbez and Armando Hernández still get parts puzzles me.

I don't see this film appealing to any Latin filmgoer, or at least Mexicans. The only good thing about this film is its interesting, minimalist score.

The Visitor
The Visitor(2008)

A beautiful film, in which the camera flows smoothly.

Smart direction by Thomas McCarthy, showing mere glimpses of Walter's activities to center on the important aspects of his life.

The best thing abouth THE VISITOR is Richard Jenkins' sincere performance, quite an opposite to the loud, intense roles the Academy favors. Good supporting performances by Danai Gurira and Hiam Abbass. Beautiful shots and sounds complete this simple indie, which will most likely be forgotten.

The Bank Job
The Bank Job(2008)
½

THE BANK JOB is not what you'd expect from a film that stars Jason Statham. It's actually a classy, sophisticated heist movie.

THE BANK JOB draws you in from start to finish, with a magnificent "true" story, that's superbly written and beautifully shot. Extra points: the costume design.

Rain Man
Rain Man(1988)

A fine film powered by two very different, but very good displays of talent.

Dustin Hoffman shines in his Oscar-winning role, while Tom Cruise, though underrated, gave a flawless performance as well.

Well written and directed, sometimes funny, and the fact that the characters are not exactly likeable, makes it more interesting.

Wanted
Wanted(2008)
½

In the year of the "Good Blockbuster", WANTED follows "IRON MAN" and "THE DARK KNIGHT", pictures that have managed to appeal to several types of audiences, make lots of ca$h and achieve high levels of quality.

A fantastic action movie, with stunning and inventive visuals. Timur Bekmambetov amazes again with his unique style; he's definitely one of the best and most creative directors working today.

James McAvoy is amazing in his performance, and very convincing as an American. Angelina Jolie is just sexy and tough, her role didn't give room for her to show her acting skills. Morgan Freeman is great as always. Nice music.

The Day the Earth Stood Still

I love watching the Earth being destroyed. Don't get me wrong, I just love when films toy with that notion. But, why does this type of movie always have to be so bad? Is there an actual impediment that keeps directors from giving us a good sci-fi/invasion film?

THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL has a great concept, but it's poorly executed. The film's too busy with its terrible screenplay, the pathetic product placement, Christian allegories, or the bad performances to even take itself seriously.

Keanu Reeves, who has to be one of the worst actors living today, gives another "blah" performance. Jennifer Connelly was weird and annoying, but certainly not as much as Jaden Smith, the king of annoying, and a very bad "actor".
(We all know that, of course, Jaden gets his roles thanks to daddy Will).

Vicky Cristina Barcelona
½

A sexy, well-written dramedy, with spectacular locations, interesting story and an impressive international cast.

Javier Bardem and Scarlett Johansson were very good, but definitely overshadowed by Rebecca Hall and Penélope Cruz.

As Bardem's character "Juan Antonio" says in the film, Vicky is the antithesis of Maria Elena. That same thing can be said for the actresses who portrayed them.

Rebecca Hall gives a subtle performance, while Penélope Cruz's "Maria Elena" is intense and practically shouts her way through life. Two very different performances, both excellent.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST is so well done that I have trouble finding what's wrong with it. I know it's there, but I just can't put my finger on it.

Even though the film has its moments of brilliance, they're scattered through more than 2 hours of, dare I say, boredom?

The cast is pretty solid, especially for William Redfield, Danny DeVito, Brad Dourif, and Sydney Lassick. I was expecting a little more form Jack Nicholson and Louise Fletcher since they both got Oscars, but still, they were very good.

It's well written and funny, but I wish the characters would've been a little more sympathetic. Besides, in my mind I pictured "Nurse Ratched" as the ultimate evil hag. She is mean, but any Mexican bureaucrat or high school teacher would kick her bitchy ass ANY DAY.

Rudo y Cursi
Rudo y Cursi(2009)
½

A funny, but very unrealistic rags-to-riches story.

It's entertaining, but not much more. I don't like to compare, especially between siblings, but Carlos Cuarón doesn't have the talent his brother Alfonso has for directing and writing.

There are a lot of plot holes, and few truly funny moments. Cuaron's writing style is very unsophisticated. It's a shame to see Mexico's "dynamic duo", Gael García Bernal and Diego Luna almost gone to waste in RUDO Y CURSI, even though they managed to give decent performances.

WALL-E
WALL-E(2008)

When I thought Disney/Pixar couldn't possibly do anything to top Ratatouille, they come up with WALL·E. I still love Ratatouille and consider it to be a masterpiece, but with WALL·E, Disney/Pixar raised the bar in animated films to astonishing heights. WALL·E is a fantastic film that, with simple elements such as electronic noises, little dialogue and a pair of binocular eyes, can convey a million emotions and, most importantly, keep your attention for the whole 90 minutes. A very original story, matched with a great soundtrack, genuine comedy and a silent-film feel, make for an unforgettable movie-watching experience. A fantastic film that blends pure Disney magic with excellent filmmaking with a little Al Gore thrown in there.

Bad Santa
Bad Santa(2003)

A very, very black comedy; I've read some reviews that say you practically have to be a "Grinch" to enjoy this, and they're so wrong. Ask anyone who knows me, and they'll tell you no one loves the holidays more than I do, but that didn't keep me from enjoying this hilarious film. BAD SANTA works as well as it does, mostly because of its awesome script and laugh-out-loud lines. Billy Bob Thornton is amazing as what has to be one of the worst human beings ever to "grace" the screen, and Tony Cox delivers each line with impressive skill. The late John Ritter is great in his brief role, and the kid is so annoying, but he certainly grew on me.

Quantum of Solace

The film starts with a very irrelevant, even boring action sequence. It seems as if that's all QUANTUM OF SOLACE has to offer: mindless, and some, even unsatisfying, (but very well-choreographed) action sequences.
Daniel Craig reprises his role as Bond, and again, he delivers a really great performance. That cannot be said for the rest of the cast: Olga Kurylenko was terrible, Matthieu Amalric was a huge disappointment after giving an amazing performance in LE SCAPHANDRE ET LE PAPILLON, and, most of all, Joaquín Cosío. Of all the fine Mexican actors they could pick, they choose that. Great to see they gave "M" more screen time; it was almost a crime to waste one of the best actresses out there, Judi Dench. QOS is almost sex-less, and although I'm not down with gratuitous sex scenes, this is freakin' James Bond! Anyways, the movie had a few cheesy lines, especially the ones in Spanish, and what has to be the worst Bond theme ever. Great scenery, cinematography, costume design, bla bla bla. Don't bring Marc Forster for the next one, ok?

Bridget Jones's Diary

The heart and soul of this film is Renée Zellweger. She gives a great, hilarious performance, and has never looked so beautiful. BRIDGET JONES'S DIARY is a pleasant romantic comedy, with a great script and an (unexpectedly) impressive direction from Sharon Maguire, as well as an enjoyable soundtrack. Colin Firth also gives a good performance, and Hugh Grant, as usual, doesn't (I love his voice, though). Watch it for lots of laughs!

High School Musical 3: Senior Year

First of all, please stop expecting another "Citizen Kane" and enjoy HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL 3 for what it is, a fantastic piece of entertainment! The third installment of Disney's most succesful franchise is definitely the best, as Kenny Ortega's growth as a director (and, of course, a bigger budget) helped turn a fun kiddie flick into an exciting, more mature musical. Of course, you can't get rid of all the cheesiness, but they certainly toned it down a bit for the cinematographic version. The songs aren't as good and catchy like the ones from the first 2, but combined with some amazing choreographies and beautiful set design, they're a joy to watch. Expect a lot of eye candy, ranging from awesome sets to the beautiful costume design. And don't forget the talented cast, especially Zac Efron, Ashley Tisdale and Lucas Grabeel (still the best voice). Vanessa Hudgens is kinda annoying, but she is very beautiful, so I don't completely hate her. Most of all, this movie is PURE FUN. As soon as it ended, I wanted to see it again.

The Usual Suspects
½

After literally YEARS of searching for this film on every Blockbuster in the city, I finally got my hands on it. THE USUAL SUSPECTS is a great thriller; a beautiful mystery film with an attractive film noir style. The script by Christopher McQuarrie receives great support by the amazing direction from Bryan Singer, and one of the best scores I've ever heard. Still, I think the film lacked a little bit of development, but I really enjoyed it, especially for the brilliant cast: Stephen Baldwin, Gabriel Byrne, Benicio Del Toro, Chazz Palminteri, Kevin Pollak and last, but not least, Kevin Spacey, whose subtle but wonderful portrayal of Verbal Kint gained him his first Oscar (although, as with many actors, I had a problem with his crying). I had heard a lot about the twist ending, but I hadn't actually heard what was it; all I can say is one word: GENIUS.

Gosford Park
Gosford Park(2001)
½

Stylish depiction of a 1930's rich people party, GOSFORD PARK is, above all, a visual achievement. The beautiful cinematography by Andrew Dunn and perfect camera work by Robert Altman are the soul of the film. The film achieves excellence in every technical aspect, from lighting, to art direction, to costumes, to the great music. The ensemble cast is simply marvelous, with Maggie Smith, Kristin Scott Thomas, Helen Mirren, Ryan Philippe, Emily Watson, Richard E. Grant, Clive Owen and Kelly Macdonald standing out in that long list of actors. The film is quite long, but manages to keep you interested until the end. Great mystery film.

An American Crime

AN AMERICAN CRIME had all the elements to be a powerful drama. Its torture scenes are still very hard to watch, but you stop caring about them as soon as they're over. The movie does not possess the "haunting"quality a film of this kind should have. It's absolutely forgettable, and besides, in this kind of film, you're supposed to identify with a character (preferably the "good" one), but it's so difficult with AN AMERICAN CRIME since everyone is so damn stupid (or a crazy bitch). The direction doesn't work very well; the story is told in a very superficial way. The performances were irrelevant, especially those by the kids/teens, and Ellen Page didn't impress me much, which supports my belief that she's one of the most overrated actresses working today. Catherine Keener was good, but I expected more from her. Nice cinematography.

Burn After Reading

First of all, BURN AFTER READING is so different from NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, so don't bother to compare them. BURN AFTER READING is a black comedy with lots of laughs, but also some pretty intense moments that are even more powerful since they are unexpected. I must say the trailer was misleading, showing BURN AFTER READING as a happy comedy of some sort; it's definitely funny, but it's also incredibly violent and dark. As usual with the Coens, the script is great, smart and witty (although, I wish Brad Pitt's character didn't say "shit" that much). Carter Burwell brings another great score. Definitely, the most notorious thing about this film is its impressive cast, where the hilarious George Clooney and Brad Pitt stand out. John Malkovich was great ;Tilda Swinton was good but she wasn't really funny, maybe her character didn't demand it. I was a little disappointed in Frances McDormand, one of my top 3 favorite actresses. Her performance here was so fake; she wasn't a total disaster, she was still pretty funny, but I just didn't like her acting. The scene with the chair is awesome, so funny and unexpected, and, continuing with the Coen tradition of WTF? endings, this one finishes so abruptly and at what felt like an hour. Overall, BURN AFTER READING is very entertaining, despite being a structural mess.

Blindness
Blindness(2008)
½

BLINDNESS manages to achieve a chilling, apocalyptic portrayal of an unidentified city, haunted by a horrible epidemic of blindness, driving everyone (and everything) into total chaos and desperation. The film is visually stunning, with some out of focus or white shots to actually make you feel the experience of blindness. The score is amazing, as well as the cast, led by a great Julianne Moore and again, a perfect Mark Ruffalo. Strong supporting performances by Danny Glover, Alice Braga and Gael García Bernal. Now, the tough part. The script could've been a lot better, and there were some unnecessary comic moments (unintentional?). The graphic scenes of sex and violence are tough to watch, but this movie would've been too mellow without them. Scary film, not in the screaming sense, but in a "I can't believe people are capable of this" sense. Fernando Meirelles gets an A for effort. He accomplished a pretty good film out of an inconsistent script.

Step Brothers
½

Of course I knew this was gonna be stupid, but it definitely was too much. I used to think Will Ferrell was talented, but he's the same shrieking mess as in every movie he's been in lately . John C. Reilly is one of my favorite actors, he's great here, but I kept thinking this movie didn't deserve him. Please return to making good movies! For God's sake, you are an Oscar nominee! The script is terrible, the humor is cheap (there's even fart jokes! SERIOUSLY!). Some funny moments scattered throughout the film, especially when Adam Scott or Kathryn Hahn are on screen. Their characters are amazing and hilarious! LOVED the Seth Rogen cameo.

Harvey
Harvey(1950)

What a touching movie! James Stewart is at his best as the naive and ultra-nice Elwood P. Dowd. He's already my favorite actor, but I think this film made me appreciate him even more. HARVEY is funny, but with a little bit of drama and lots of heart. Josephine Hull is great; solid performances by Peggy Dowd and Jesse White.

Arrancáme la vida

Lately, there haven't been a lot of Mexican films worthy of bragging about, but thankfully, ARRANCAME LA VIDA is here to fix that. The most expensive film in the history of Mexican cinema, and one of the best of the last decade, this amazing period piece is very close to becoming a classic. The music, costumes and visual elements are exquisite. The script is sharp, and it's also very funny when it has to. Which brings me to the highlight of the film, one of my favorite actors, Daniel Gimenez Cacho. His performance is great, successfully blending General Ascencio's charismatic exterior with his shady, mean personality. Ana Claudia Talancón is stunningly beautiful and also gives a strong performance. Her transition from naive teenager to a powerful woman is very convincing. The style of the film reminded me a little of another favorite film of mine, Atonement.

Baby Mama
Baby Mama(2008)

Very light comedy, something that could go under the radar if it weren't in the hands of this comedy goddesses. Tina Fey and Amy Poehler once again demonstrate why they are two of the best comedic actresses ever. Their amazing talent just can't be denied. Plus, Tina Fey is hot! She's kind of funny looking, but in this movie she brings it on! (great legs, by the way). Back to the review: the movie is really funny, it features its share of laugh-out-loud moments (a lot, actually). Great reminder that women can also do great comedy. The film obviously belongs to Fey and Poehler, but Sigourney Weaver, Greg Kinnear and Romany Malco are really good, too. Steve Martin: unfunny as always (ugh! I HATE him)...

Mamma Mia!
Mamma Mia!(2008)

If I hadn't heard so many crushing reviews, I would've been really disappointed, but I was prepared to be savagely attacked by an avalanche of CHEESE. The critics were right, this film is ultra-cheesy and clichéd. It's certainly enjoyable and the songs are great and infectious, but as a film, it sinks. The single best aspect of the movie is the BEAUTIFUL cinematography, which, in my opinion, is one of the best ever. Another achievement of MAMMA MIA! is its great cast: the awesome Meryl Streep, who has a very powerful moment with "The Winner Takes It All"; Amanda Seyfried (wonderful, amazing voice, and super sexy while singing "Lay All Your Love On Me" in a bathing suit), Colin Firth (although, I HATED the "twist" to his character). Julie Walters and Christine Baranski, as Donna's friends, bring the only laughs; Dominic Cooper was nice, and I stopped hating Pierce Brosnan (and he CAN sing). Stellan Skarsgård was totally irrelevant. The dancing numbers are TERRIBLE, with an awful choreography and the total stiffness of Meryl Streep (thank God she's a wonderful actress). The ending is crap, as crappy as a film ending can be.

Ed Wood
Ed Wood(1994)

So ironic! An excellent movie about the "worst director ever", and definitely, the best film by the awesome Tim Burton. ED WOOD transports you back to the 50's, making use of its stylish look and comic feel. A great script and excellent directorial work by Burton make this film a must-see. As usual, the director managed to assemble an impressive cast: Johnny Depp, Martin Landau, Sarah Jessica Parker, Patricia Arquette and Bill Murray. The classic feel of this movie is so powerful. LOVED IT!

Annie Hall
Annie Hall(1977)
½

Absolutely loved this film! Maybe it's a little late for me to begin discovering Woody Allen's comedies, but after watching ANNIE HALL, it's only fair that I take a long tour into Allen's filmography. The whole film is a wonderful experience. A smart, hilarious comedy, with good writing and excellent directorial work from Woody. Diane Keaton: you gotta love her! She is amazing. Woody Allen gives a great performance, too. The ending is perfect. I almost peed my pants watching that little girl say "I'm into leather". Classic film, and a great example of what a romantic comedy should be (not corny at all).

Solo Con Tu Pareja

Good dark comedy. Alfonso Cuarón's first film shows raw talent, that he would later polish in the awesome Y TU MAMA TAMBIEN and the masterpiece CHILDREN OF MEN. The script is sharp and very funny, presenting a great original story. The camera work is impressive, as well as the exterior shots. Daniel Giménez Cacho, one of Mexico's finest actors, is incredible here. My only complaint is the climax. It seemed as if the movie resolved itself too quickly, and the characters were driven to suicide by something that happened only moments before. The style and comedic tone reminded me a little of early Almodóvar.

Forgetting Sarah Marshall

Judd Apatow strikes yet again! The hottest comedy producer ever brings us another delightful "rom-com for guys". I consider some of Apatow's characters to be my heroes, and I identify with some of them. OK, now to the actual review: FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL is hilarious! Jason Segel makes a big splash, both as the writer, and as the lead actor. Great performance by him, as well as Kristen Bell (great, except for the fact that she can't cry), Mila Kunis (who I fell in love with), Russell Brand and the amazing Jonah Hill. The 2 hours went flying by.

The Sound of Music
½

After many months of pressure by my friend Stephanie, I finally gave in and watched THE SOUND OF MUSIC, and I thank her for introducing me to this magical, heartwarming movie. It's obviously a classic, and has some of my favorite things (no pun intended): beautiful shots, lovely score, some nice songs, great costumes, amazing performances (by the queen Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer), and good writing and directing. The whole Nazi story is an excellent contrast to the overwhelming "niceness" of the film, and the last third is great (reminded me a little of Hitchcock).

Morirse esta en Hebreo (My Mexican Shivah)

It was a nice try, but they didn't quite pull it off. The actors were all terrible, and the script wasn't very good. Occasional laughs, good direction and cinematography save this film from being a total mess.

Chapter 27
Chapter 27(2007)

This movie felt not like an actual film, but as a rehearsal. It's like Jared Leto said "Let's shoot this thing...I'm ready" and the director goes "It's already done". Definitely a weird picture that makes you feel you're watching an unfinished copy. Not a very good job by the director or the writers. Lindsay Lohan was on screen far too little to judge her, and I think her appearance in the movie was there just to fulfill a personal wish of the director, or for CHAPTER 27 to gain notoriety. The highlight of the movie is an above average performance by its average leading man, Jared Leto.

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day

Light and funny, MISS PETTIGREW LIVES FOR A DAY is a delight to watch and there's never a dull moment. Two of my favorite actresses, FRANCES MCDORMAND and AMY ADAMS, shine, each in her own way; both give amazing performances. The guys were great, too: Lee Pace and Ciarán Hinds, as well as Shirley Henderson. Also, the film is a feast for the eyes: excellent cinematography and costumes, along with nice music and a beautiful duet by Adams and Pace.

Kika
Kika(1993)

Irreverent and hilarious, KIKA is Pedro Almodovar's craziest film. Back are the usual Almodovar elements: colors, dramedy, sexual deviation, murder. The film works thanks to the funny script by Pedro, and the amazing performance by Veronica Forqué as the title character. The rest of the cast is very good too: Peter Coyote, Rossy De Palma, Victoria Abril (in a marvelous role) and Àlex Casanovas.

West Side Story

Visually, it's gorgeous. The cinematography, the vibrant colors, the great costumes, the breathtaking choreography. But, on the other hand, you have the awful songs (95% of them), the Puerto Ricans that can't speak Spanish (excluding Rita Moreno) and act Italian, the cheesiness and the implausibility of the love story. The direction is amazing, and the movie demanded a better script. Rita Moreno was the best, Natalie Wood followed. George Chakiris and Richard Beymer weren't very good, but had their moments of brilliance. All this being said, I still liked it, and I love that whistling at the beginning in an unexplicable way.

House of Sand and Fog

Powerful and very sad, HOUSE OF SAND AND FOG is a tragic film, brilliantly directed by Vadim Perelman, in his debut. Both Jennifer Connelly and Ben Kingsley are amazing in their performances. Sir Ben would've been flawless if it wasn't for the whole hospital moment, which I found very fake. Shohreh Aghdashloo was very good, too. The beautiful cinematography contrasts with the heavy, gloomy tone of the film.

Vertigo
Vertigo(1958)
½

Universally regarded as Hitchcock's masterpiece, but I beg to differ. As with any of his movies, there are stunning visuals and photography and cool opening credits. Sadly, the characters here are not likeable, and don't make up for their mental issues with other qualities. James Stewart is amazing, and Kim Novak is just OK. Barbara Bel Geddes is very good as Scotty's best friend. Interesting score. The last 40 minutes are superb and very different from the boring first hour.

Strangers on a Train

Not as visually stunning or as entertaining as other Hitchcock films that I've seen, but it's definitely interesting and has some pretty thrilling sequences. Farley Granger's performance was a little bit irregular. Sometimes he was good, but most of the time he was terrible. Robert Walker was great and scary. The character of Barbara was COMPLETELY unlikeable. The climax scene with the carroussel was very impressive.

Awakenings
Awakenings(1990)

Monumentally touching. The beautiful score and cinematography help set the heartwarming mood of this lovely film. Well written and directed (Steven Zaillian; Penny Marshall). Robert De Niro gives one of the best performances I've ever seen, innocent and vulnerable, as well as tough and smart. He nailed this role completely. Robin Williams, who, after seeing this, I no longer hate (I guess I hate him whenever he does comedy, but he's a fine dramatic actor). Penelope Ann Miller and Julie Kavner complete the impressive cast with their sincere performances.

Something's Gotta Give
½

A delightful romantic comedy for a more mature audience. The chemistry between Jack Nicholosn and Diane Keaton is amazing. Beautiful cinematography and score by Michael Ballhaus and Hans Zimmer, respectively. The cast is pretty good. You got Jack Nicholson, great (as he always is), Amanda Peet (adorable), Frances McDormand (one of my favorite actresses; I get SO happy whenever I see her on screen), even Keanu Reeves was good. Obviously, the film's greatest performance is that of Diane Keaton. She is absolutely perfect (although, I hated the crying part). Hilarious and romantic movie. The best part was Frances McDormand dancing and singing "Let's Get It On".

Paper Moon
Paper Moon(1973)

A wonderful and hilarious film. Beautifully shot and relying on a sharp script and a cool soundtrack, PAPER MOON is a marvelous achievement from Peter Bogdanovich. A 70's movie that looks and feels like a 30's movie (that's a good thing). The couple formed by Moses Pray (Ryan O'Neal) and Addie (Tatum O'Neal; real life father and daughter) is what makes this a classic. Both of them gave realistic and funny performances. Madeline Kahn and P.J. Johnson are the cherry on top. Fantastic movie.

Taxi Driver
Taxi Driver(1976)
½

A great movie that achieves ultimate beauty while depicting serious filth and madness. The score by Bernard Herrmann is absolutely wonderful, and the direction by Martin Scorsese is truly the work of a genius. Robert De Niro and Jodie Foster impress with amazing performances that were later rewarded with Oscar nominations and certainly showed the world the enormous talent these superstars had to give. Great script. Classic film.

The Dark Knight
½

My judgment was partially blocked by the MASSIVE excitement brewing inside me for this film. After giving it a deserved second viewing, I found it not to be the flawless gem I had considered, but still, a really good movie.
A successful blend of entertainment, brains, mass appeal, talent, horror, drama, crime, beauty, darkness and most of all, quality. This is definitely the best superhero movie of all time (Close competitors: Spider-Man 2, Batman Begins), and an excellent film altogether. It's definitely a work of art to be taken seriously, with amazing visuals (again by Wally Pfister, who, with Chris Nolan has made one of my favorite director-cinematographer teams), powerful story and script (that manage to keep your interest for the full 2.5 hours of length), a ridiculously great cast (watching the poster, I couldn't find a name I didn't admire): Christian Bale (my favorite actor, great as ever), HEATH LEDGER (and I'm not saying this because he's dead), he became "The Joker", in a creepy, intense performance that should give him a posthumous Oscar nomination and I found his performance a surprise. I had considered him a decent (but not great actor, and this film made me change my mind); Gary Oldman, Michael Caine, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Morgan Freeman (great work from them) and finally, the other star, Aaron Eckhart, was really good and I would love to see his character return. Speaking of comebacks, I was so happy watching Cillian Murphy reprise his part as "Scarecrow", even if it was just for a minute. In any way you see it (a crime movie, a superhero movie, summer movie) it's an unforgettable experience. Some scenes at the beginning didn't match the level of quality that defined this film (script mistakes that sadly made me remember the Schumacher films; thankfully, after a minute, that notion left my mind for good).

Cinema Paradiso (Nuovo Cinema Paradiso)

Truly beautiful film in many ways. The score is lovely, and the performances by Salvatore Cascio, Marco Leonardi and Philippe Noiret are really good. Emotionally powerful, this film is constantly pulling on your heartstrings. My only problem was the dubbing, it made the movie feel sort of fake. The scene with the projection on the building and the one with the montage at the end are breath-taking.

Rope
Rope(1948)
½

Intriguing film about murder, social status and betrayal. Jimmy Stewart is, as always, great; so is John Dall. On the other hand, Farley Granger was terrible. Joan Chandler did a good job, and I wish her character would have been explored further. As with all of Hitchcock's films, the directing, writing and cinematography are awesome. Perfect length.

A Very Long Engagement

UN LONG DIMANCHE DE FIANÇAILLES is a dream. One of the most (visually) beautiful films I've ever seen; exquisite cinematography by Bruno Delbonnel. This movie is very similar to "Amelie", and while the style works with AMELIE, it doesn't quite work with this one. Sometimes you doubt the scene you're watching is meant to be serious or not. That's the main flaw of this war/romance movie, directed by the brilliant Jean-Pierre Jeunet. Audrey Tautou is wonderful. Jodie Foster, Marion Cotillard, Jean-Pierre Darroussin, Albert Dupontel, Jérôme Kircher, and Dominique Pinon are a very good supporting cast.

Batman Begins

A breath of fresh air after seeing the crap that was Joel Schumacher's BATMAN films. This movie is special, sometimes you even forget you're watching a superhero flick. Visually stunning, thanks to the cinematography by the always great Wally Pfister; all of the technical/artistic aspects of this film such as art direction, set and costume design, props, are excellent. Christopher Nolan manages to blend indie and mainstream into a kickass mix; his writing and directing skills are more than evident here, achieving a movie that's realistic, smart and entertaining. He also managed to get one of the best ensemble casts of movie history, all of which made a fantastic job: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Liam Neeson, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman and Cillian Murphy (his performance being my favorite). Even Katie Holmes was decent. The only negative aspect is that it falls too deep into summer blockbuster territory at the end.

Batman & Robin

Cheesier, and even MORE stupid than "Batman Forever"; BATMAN & ROBIN is defintely one of the worst (if not THE worst) movies I've seen. It also features dialogue so dumb and cheesy, It made me sorry for the actors, even Arnold. Not a single good performance here, and that's terrible, since both George Clooney AND Uma Thurman appear. Clooney's performance was flat, Alicia Silverstone's was awful, Arnold Schwarzenegger was terrible (but he always is), Uma Thurman was fake and over the top (but amazingly sexy), and Chris O'Donnell was bad, and his character was even worse. I can't remember seeing a superhero that was so unlikeable. As with the previous Batman films, the achievements are art direction/ set design, lighting and costume design (excluding, of course, the nipples).

Y Tu Mama Tambien
½

Sexy, intelligent, funny, touching. Y Tu Mamá También follows one of the best scripts ever to hit the screen, coming from the incredible minds of the very talented Carlos and Alfonso Cuarón. The photography (by Cuarón's frequent collaborator, Emmanuel Lubezki) is beautiful. Gael García Bernal and Maribel Verdú give strong performances, and Daniel Gimenez-Cacho is the life of this film, as the narrator.

Memento
Memento(2000)

A film that manages to keep your interest for the whole 2 hours. Perfectly shot and cut to match Leonard's confusion. The film and its characters keep changing, and so does your perception. Guy Pearce, Carrie-Anne Moss and Joe Pantoliano perform very well, guided by the great Christopher Nolan.

Batman Forever

Joel Schumacher did a really crappy job with this. Batman became "camp" again, and was sort of a dumbed-down version of what Tim Burton had achieved with his previous Batman films. Unbelievably cheesy, this film's true power lies in its flawless art direction/ set design and eye-popping cinematography and lighting. Val Kilmer did a decent "Batman" and a better "Bruce Wayne". Nicole Kidman was hot but forgettable, as was Chris O'Donnell. Jim Carrey was good as the gaytastic "Riddler", but he was too, well, Jim Carrey. Tommy Lee Jones was great. Nice costumes. Drew Barrymore was SUPER hot!

Batman
Batman(1989)
½

Tim Burton set out to erradicate the 'camp' image that Batman had from the TV show, but he didn't exactly succeed. The film contains several campy elements. I also felt the film was funny at some moments where it really wasn't supposed to be. Very cheesy at first, the film slowly "matures" towards the middle of the film, where it gets very entertaining, only to become uninteresting at the end. The script is decent, and the work by Tim Burton is OK. The real beauty of this film lies within its precious set design/art direction, and other aesthetic aspects like costumes and makeup. The 3 leading actors did a great job: Kim Basinger was beautiful and smart, Michael Keaton was dark and powerful and Jack Nicholson was both funny and scary, but I thought his performance was going to be more impressive. Let's just wait and see how does Heath Ledger do as the new "Joker"; he certainly has got A LOT of buzz lately.

Batman Returns
½

Definitely better than the first one, almost free of the "campiness" of the previous one, too. You can actually see and feel Tim Burton's work in this dark, twisted film. The villains here are far more interesting than Nicholson's "Joker". Again, the photography, set design/art direction, makeup and costume design are amazing. Michael Keaton delivers again, while the new "bad guys", Danny DeVito and Michelle Pfeiffer (Penguin and Catwoman, respectively) are the best thing in this sequel. Christopher Walken is good and creepy, too.

Misery
Misery(1990)
½

Terrific film, mostly for Kathy Bates' amazing portrayal of the ultimate crazy bitch, Annie Wilkes. She is truly scary in that role, but, she's also oddly endearing in several moments throughout the film; you ALMOST feel sorry for her. All the noise you hear from this film belongs to Kathy Bates' Oscar-winning psycho fan, but James Caan was really good, too. Kudos to Rob Reiner, who, with all that camera work, made Annie Wilkes seem even freakier than Kathy Bates already had. This fantastic thriller kept me on the edge of my seat and biting my nails, especially the last 45 minutes. Beautiful cinematography and decent script.

Amélie
Amélie(2001)
½

Le Fabuleux Destin d'Amélie Poulain is an amazing, dream-like film. With gorgeous visuals, vibrant colors, remarkable cinematography and direction and a great script, Amélie is a wonderful story brought to us by the very talented Jean-Pierre Jeunet. Audrey Tautou plays the title role perfectly, in a truly enchanting performance. Jamel Debbouze, Isabelle Nanty and the score by Yann Tiersen are the other shining stars of this film. Gets a little slower towards the end, where it's mostly silent.

Camp Rock
Camp Rock(2008)
½

Another attempt from Disney to match the phenomenon that was High School Musical (and still is). It may have gotten close with the ratings, but it's still miles away in quality (not that HSM is such a great movie). Bad script, totally dumb and/or unlikeable characters, not so many good songs, cheesy and corny. At least we know now that the Jonas Brothers can actually act and newcomer Demi Lovato is really talented.

North by Northwest

Thrilling, funny, sexy, entertaining, smart, quotable lines, likeable characters, classic scenes, NORTH BY NORTHWEST embodies everything an action movie (or any movie) aims to be. Cary Grant is great and exudes "movie star" appeal. The supporting actors were good, and Martin Landau stands out. As always, great cinematography, writing and directing.

O Brother, Where Art Thou?

Another proof of the Coen Brothers' awesomeness, O BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU?, is visually stunning, with cinematography by Coens' favorite Roger Deakins and a great soundtrack that became even more succesful than the movie. Really funny and well-written. Fantastically performed by Tim Blake Nelson, John Turturro, and especially George Clooney.

The Man Who Knew Too Much

Another accomplishment from 'Hitch', THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH is an engaging thriller with great photography, direction and writing, that never lets you lose interest in it. James Stewart and Doris Day are very impressive as the "McKennas", and while the rest of the cast was good, there was no one extraordinary. The climax is one of the best I've ever seen and the ending is very clever and funny. Great song.

My Life Without Me
½

This film seems like a 2-hour long close-up from the way it was shot (very "in your face"). Apart from that, the movie works beautifully, especially for its wonderful script. The cast is also applaudable: Sarah Polley, Deborah Harry, Scott Speedman, Amanda Plummer, Leonor Watling, and the amazing Mark Ruffalo. Even the brief appearance by Alfred Molina. A beautiful movie that aims at your heart, not so much your brain.

True Romance
True Romance(1993)
½

This film would have worked a lot better if it was made by a different director, and if Quentin Tarantino had written it 3 to 5 years later. Ultra-violent film with no depth and little brains. Slater, Arquette and Oldman are amazing, though.

Trainspotting

Extremely well-written and directed. Really funny and very intense. It incorporates the elements of gross-out, violence and heartbreak perfectly. Ewan McGregor and Jonny Lee Miller are great, Robert Carlyle's acting was really exaggerated and I hated Spud (the character, as well as Ewen Bremner's performance).

My Left Foot
My Left Foot(1989)
½

Didn't like the look or style of the film. Worth watching for Daniel Day-Lewis' ASTONISHING performance and Brenda Fricker's tender turn as the mom. Funny, sad, heartbreaking, heartwarming.

I'm Not There

This film had so much potential, but i think it was nearly wrecked by Haynes' directing style and his overly philosophic script (clearly, I'm not a Haynes fan). The photography and editing are wonderful, the film is eye candy and the actors are amazing. Here are the Dylans in order of awesomeness (in this particular performance):
1. CATE BLANCHETT,
2. CHRISTIAN BALE,
3. BEN WHISHAW,
4. HEATH LEDGER,
5. RICHARD GERE,
6. MARCUS CARL FRANKLIN.

Charlotte Gainsbourg (not as Bob Dylan), was great, too.

The Savages
The Savages(2007)
½

I was expecting more of a laugh-out loud comedy, but still, I was very pleased with the film. The script and direction are great; the score, though it doesn't appear until almost an hour into the movie, is very good. The photography is nice and LAURA LINNEY and PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN (both in my Top 10 Favorite Actors/Actresses) give amazing performances, that were definitely overlooked. Philip Bosco was pretty good too.

Law of Desire
½

It's not that bad, but it's the worst Almodovar flick I've seen... It's shot in a weird way, and sometimes the script gets too silly. Eusebio Poncela is terrible, but Carmen Maura and Antonio Banderas shine.

The Mist
The Mist(2007)
½

Not a fan of sci-fi, aliens, horror (or a combination of the 3), I rented "THE MIST" out of curiosity and was blown away. The direction and photography are great. The scene where the monster appears for the first time lacks seriousness, but makes up for it with an intense fight with an equally intense Thomas Jane. Thankfully, the film doesn't stumble anymore after that. It takes a very good cast to support a film like this, where almost all the action happens in the same place, and the actors truly deliver (and make it look believable). Marcia Gay Harden gives an astonishing performance as a deranged religious fanatic; one of the best performances i've seen (and it's even more impressive since it appears in a sci-fi film). The script wasn't exceptional, but the film works, mostly because of Frank Darabont's skill and the great cast. It delivers true chills, the monsters are amazingly gross, the scenes with the angry mob are terrifying and the ending is one of the most depressive and devastating scenes ever.

25th Hour
25th Hour(2003)
½

Spike Lee masterfully directs one of the best scripts ever to hit the screen... The highlight is definitely the mirror monologue. Edward Norton, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Barry Pepper, Rosario Dawson and Brian Cox are all great. Anna Paquin doesn't measure up to them. Really nice score and photography.

The Cooler
The Cooler(2003)

The Cooler is not that cool... The direction is terrible, thank God there's a good script to save the day. William H. Macy is very good, and it's too bad that Maria Bello wasn't. Ron Livingston was really bad and the ending, unplausible (even for this film). Shawn Hatosy and Estella Warren were OK, and ALEC BALDWIN was terrific as the ultimate asshole, Shelly.

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (Mujeres al Borde de un Ataque de Nervios)

Colorful and dark at the same time, MUJERES AL BORDE DE UN ATAQUE DE NERVIOS is a fantastic comedy, with exceptional writing and directing from the genius PEDRO ALMODOVAR. It's pretty funny, with excellent cinematography and a good soundtrack. Carmen Maura is amazing as Pepa; Antonio Banderas made me stop hating him while María Barranco and Julieta Serrano also gave good performances. Loles León and Chus Lampreave: HILARIOUS.

Working Girl
Working Girl(1988)

Funny film, with smart casting. Melanie Griffith, Harrison Ford, Joan Cusack and Sigourney Weaver were SO good, and Kevin Spacey's appearance was awesome (duh, its Kevin Spacey!). Definitely surprised with Griffith's acting, Ford's charisma and Weaver's comic talent. Very good writing.

Under the Same Moon

A surprise (for me anyway) cause i thought this would be total garbage (which it isn't) and I regret my initial comments about this film. The film could use some better writing and directing, and it's filled with clichés. Also, it depicts some aspects of Mexican culture in a wrong way (WTF with the pop-tart and jalapeños??!!) and the soundtrack is terrible. But, the performances totally save the film: Adrian Alonso and Kate del Castillo are REALLY good, and Ernesto D'Alessio did a nice job. Eugenio Derbez and Carmen Salinas were their usual selves (not a good thing) and America Ferrera's appearance was good, but definitely unnecessary. The ending is perfect and it (ALMOST) made me cry...

All About Eve

A truly wholesome film... everything works! The script, the direction, the cinematography, the amazing cast: Bette Davis (in one of the best performances i've ever seen), Anne Baxter (great as well), Celeste Holm, Hugh Marlowe and Thelma Ritter were pretty good. Gary Merrill certainly made an effort but didn't measure up to the rest of the actors, and George Sanders, the only one in the cast to get an Oscar for his performance here, didn't do it for me. Anyway, it's a terrific experience, with a very good (though very small) part from Marilyn Monroe.

Rear Window
Rear Window(1954)

Fantastic thriller with great direction by Alfred Hitchcock. You find yourself being a part of the film and identifying with Jefferies in many ways. The way he sees his neighbors from his wndow gives the impression you're the one sitting in that wheelchair. The writing and cinematography are excellent, so are the performances by James Stewart, Grace Kelly and Thelma Ritter... Real chills, absolutely wonderful movie. My only complaint is that all the action happens in the second half, while the first one is a little slow.

The Hudsucker Proxy

Visually enchanting, terrific art direction and photography. The writing and directing are great. Tim Robbins and Paul Newman give very good performances. Jennifer Jason Leigh's was too over the top.

Charlie Wilson's War

Philip Seymour Hoffman is the only reason to watch this film... He was, as always, amazing... Tom Hanks wasn't bad, but I still can't stop hating him... Julia Roberts was awful. Amy Adams did everything she could do with her diminutive role and Emily Blunt was such a waste of talent (they couldn't have given her a worse part)... The film is terribly un-interesting, totally boring and incredibly un-funny.

Lars and the Real Girl
½

Nice photography, remarkable direction and very good writing. Craig Gillespie did such a good job making a story that otherwise would seem really dumb, look believable. I still got issues with the fact the doctor never disclosed the disease, though.
Ryan Gosling is terrific as Lars, while Emily Mortimer and Paul Schneider shine in their roles as well. Good work from Kelli Garner too. Sweet film and funny (not laugh out loud funny, but still).

You Can Count On Me
½

The direction doesn't work throughout the whole film, but in few scattered moments...The writing is great, though... The main reason this picture works are the performances by Laura Linney (amazing in everything she does) and Mark Ruffalo (always underrated). Matthew Broderick was good and Rory Culkin showed great talent that'll hopefully be polished over the years. Funny and heartbreaking, all in one.

Almost Famous

A great film, that is as funny as it is endearing... The direction and script were great (both by Cameron Crowe) and the cast is really impressive: Kate Hudson (great, but I think the Oscar nomination was too much), Frances McDormand (amazing as always), Philip Seymour Hoffman, Michael Angarano, Patrick Fugit, Fairuza Balk, Billy Crudup and Jason Lee (wasn't as good as the others but he was OK)... Zooey Deschanel was flat and Jimmy Fallon was terrible.

Syriana
Syriana(2005)
½

Syriana is a complicated film, with a style reminiscent of Steven Soderbergh's "Traffic" and the work of Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu (Clooney's role reminds me a little of Amores Perros' "El Chivo")... The direction and writing are great, so are the photography and the score. George Clooney was good, but definitely not Oscar-winning good (he was far better in 2007's "Michael Clayton", a film very similar, plotwise, to Syriana)... Kudos to George Clooney, who gained a lot of weight for this role and finally separated from his "hunk" status to be considered as a serious actor...Matt Damon and Chris Cooper also give strong performances.

Capote
Capote(2005)

The photography couldn't have been any better... the direction and writing are magnificent. Good score and costume design; a performance by Philip Seymour Hoffman that was kind of disappointing for me. Hoffman blends Capote's ridiculous voice and strong demeanor with success, but I thought it would've been so much better. Clifton Collins Jr. didn't receive the attention he should've gotten for his great performance. I don't know why Catherine Keener was nominated for an Oscar for her role in this movie. Her performance was average, nothing remakable. INFAMOUS is definitely better.

In the Name of the Father

A true chameleon, Daniel Day-Lewis plays the part of Gerry Conlon to almost perfection ( i have issues with the way he cried)...Pete Postlethwaite and Emma Thompson did a nice job. The writing and directing are very good, and the beginning and ending sequences are just PERFECT.

Before the Devil Knows You're Dead

The only bad aspects of this film are the editing (which included some weird scene changes) and Albert Finney's lazy acting. Everything else flows perfectly: the simple score, the great photography, the smart writing, the direction by Sidney Lumet... Marisa Tomei is just OK, Ethan Hawke did good, but Philip Seymour Hoffman couldn't have been better. His intense performance is amazing, and the ending, a classic. Great, engaging thriller.

Wonder Boys
Wonder Boys(2000)
½

A very interesting dramedy, that gets too tragic at times, but never unrealistic. The writing is excellent, so is the direction by Curtis Hanson. Michael Douglas is really good, Tobey Maguire has yet to convince me of his acting skills, since I didn't find his performance here to be anything but average. Frances McDormand (one of my Top 3 favorite actresses) and Robert Downey Jr. were great in their small roles and even Katie Holmes did a decent job.

Enchanted
Enchanted(2007)

Totally magical! The whole movie is a great experience... Really funny, filled with color, the art direction is great... The animated bit is not so good, and some of the elements from Disney's animated films don't translate well into the real world (like a talking dragon, or a bad guy becoming a good guy)... The cast is amazing: Amy Adams (wonderful performance, and she should have been nominated for an Oscar), Patrick Dempsey (really good in a role different to his weepy "McDreamy"), James Marsden (great, and really funny). Timothy Spall and Susan Sarandon were pretty good too. An enchanting film !

La Vie en Rose (La Mome)
½

Due to its non-linear style, the movie is a little confusing and since it focuses just on the character of Edith, it doesn't let you understand the other characters or who they are... The direction could have been better, but it wasn't bad... The photography and art direction are beautiful... The Oscar-winning makeup is great... Emmanuelle Seigner is really good in her brief role as "Titine", but the main reason to watch this, and it's one hell of a reason, is Marion Cotillard's perfect, Oscar-winning performance as Edith Piaf; all the time I was watching the film i kept thinking "This is something legendary", her acting is so good, she nailed the walk, the talk, the mannerisms, the flawless lip-synching, she deserved every gram of that Oscar!

Scent of a Woman
½

An amazing picture with a great, smart script, filled with clever lines... Al Pacino's performance is mind-blowing, while Chris O'Donnell and Philip Seymour Hoffman did a really good job...Funny moments, sad moments, inspiring moments, this film is a wonderful experience, and Pacino is just perfect.

August Rush
August Rush(2007)
½

Really corny and terribly sweet, but that's the whole point, AUGUST RUSH would be nothing without it...The score and the songs are great, with good photography and direction... Freddie Highmore, Keri Russell and Jonathan Rhys Meyers give really good performances... Terrence Howard was nice and, I still hate Robin Williams... Jamia Simone Nash is really talented and i would like to see her succeed in movies or music... It's a moving film, perfect for family viewing, but the story resolves itself too easily and really quickly; also, it was so funny watching a one-night stand turned into a fairy tale, and the way it portrayed child exploitation as if it was something good... Not a classic, but definitely entertaining.

Romance & Cigarettes
½

John Turturro's project, that suffered distribution issues (opened 2 years after it was made) and i can see why... It relies on a poor script, the direction is fine, but doesn't save the movie... Features some good songs and one of the best ensemble casts i've seen in my life, all of them did a very good job: James Gandolfini (finally, a performance different from Tony Soprano), Susan Sarandon, Kate Winslet (great, and super sexy), Mandy Moore, Mary-Louise Parker, Aida Turturro, Bobby Cannavale and Steve Buscemi... It was definitely a waste of talent, since the movie didn't measure up to the actors... It gets serious towards the end, but doesn't make up for the ridiculousness of the rest...

Margot at the Wedding
½

Too dark... I didn't get some of the comedy, but it was funny at times... Nicole Kidman is great... John Turturro is good in his brief role... Jack Black and Jennifer Jason Leigh were pretty good, but i noticed something about their performances: they can't cry! The scenes where they cry are SO fake! Anyways, the kid playing Margot's son is really BAD and he's so sexually ambiguous it's frightening...The direction and editing could have been better... The writing was OK... Weird movie, and the character of "Margot" is too fucked up, i mean, it's too much!

There Will Be Blood

A true masterpiece (and definitely better than No Country For Old Men)... The cinematography and score are flawless... Daniel Day-Lewis scored another Oscar with this performance, and, boy, did he deserve it! He brings Daniel Plainview to life in an astounding, intense manner... Not so far behind, Paul Dano, who i loved in Little Miss Sunshine, but was far better here... his performance went under the radar, except at the BAFTA's... A fantastic movie overall, can't miss it! And the final scene, CLASSIC!

As Good as It Gets

JACK NICHOLSON + HELEN HUNT + GREG KINNEAR= One of the best casting choices ever! The three actors were perfect and did a tremendous job... Shirley Knight was good, too... Hell, even the dog could act! The film is funny, has some great, memorable lines, it's moving... Great score, a very good film!

Just Like Heaven
½

Great chemistry between the leads... Both Reese Witherspoon and the heavily underrated Mark Ruffalo give amazing performances... Jon Heder gives us "Napoleon Dynamite revisited" and that's not good... The film has great comedic timing and a good script with pretty funny lines... The story is a little simple (or at least it's portrayed that way), but the film works because it's moving, not too sugary and because of Mark Waters' directing...

The Darjeeling Limited
½

HOTEL CHEVALIER (PART ONE): GREAT PHOTOGRAPHY, GOOD PERFORMANCES BY JASON SCHWARTZMAN and NATALIE PORTMAN, LOVELY MUSIC, EYE CANDY (in many ways), SEXY....

THE DARJEELING LIMITED (PART TWO):
AN AMAZING RIDE, COLORFUL, REALLY FUNNY, WITH AN EXCELLENT SCRIPT AND MASTERFULLY DIRECTED BY WES ANDERSON... OWEN WILSON and ADRIEN BRODY ARE GREAT, JASON SCHWARTZMAN NOT SO MUCH, BUT THE THREE OF THEM SHARE REALLY GOOD CHEMISTRY... ORIGINAL AND BEAUTIFUL...

La Zona
La Zona(2007)

LA ZONA is more an accomplishment of writing and directing (by newcomer RODRIGO PLA), than of acting, since most of the film's performances are dry and mechanic, with the exceptions of Daniel Giménez Cacho, Maribel Verdú and Daniel Tovar. A very interesting story about violence and corruption that tells us that the worst dangers could be in our own neighborhood.

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

The Assassination of Jesse James by The Coward Robert Ford is just as its title, a little too long (slow, also), nevertheless, it's a great movie. The cinematography is GORGEOUS, the colors, the shots... Well written and directed... The cast is brilliant : Sam Rockwell, Paul Schneider and Mary-Louise Parker were great... Brad Pitt was amazing, and Casey Affleck was like WHOA!

Maldeamores (Lovesickness) (Maladies of Love)

Maldeamores (Lovesickness) was Puerto Rico's official submission to the Best Foreign Language Film Category of the 2008 Academy Awards... I got the chance to see this at the San Diego Latino Film Festival, and I was expecting a GREAT movie (which it isn't) but it's decent and entertaining, especially for the acting... Every member of the cast does a wonderful job, and i'd never seen or heard about any of them (except for Luis Guzman). The film is funny, but sometimes, it tries too hard... The beggining and end sequences are totally stupid and unnecessary.

My Beautiful Laundrette

A decent script and direction. Good performances by Gordon Warnecke and Saeed Jaffrey. Daniel Day-Lewis was great. The music was awful. The movie, a little boring. Great photography.

The Devils
The Devils(1971)

I DIDN'T LIKE THIS AT ALL, IT'S TERRIBLE, WEIRD, TWISTED, LOOKS LIKE HORROR PORN... AN UNSETTLING EXPERIENCE.

I Could Never Be Your Woman
½

Not as bad as you would consider a movie that went straight to DVD (as it did in the U.S.) but the direction and the timing were very bad. The script was decent though, and there were some funny moments. Michelle Pfeiffer was good, but the VERY underrated Paul Rudd and the Oscar-nominated (and AMAZING) Saoirse Ronan steal the show. The character of "Mother Nature" was unnecessary and Tracey Ullman wasn't any good in it. Stacey Dash (Clueless) was sooo bad and Jon Lovitz and Fred Willard were really unfunny. Special appearance by Graham Norton in the very challenging role of a gay designer!

Across the Universe

A wonderful, colorful ride! Across The Universe brings great songs, A M A Z I N G cinematography, and excellent art direction. It also introduced a big talent, Jim Sturgess, but the best voice is definitely Joe Anderson's. I didn't like Evan Rachel Wood's performance at all. The movie was really corny and/or silly at times, but it still was thoroughly entertaining. HATED the circus bit. LOVED Salma Hayek and Bono.

Mary Poppins
Mary Poppins(1964)

Pure Disney magic! The blend of live action and animated footage is great...Some great songs... Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke are perfect in their roles. Glynis Johns and David Tomlinson deliver good performances too. Some really boring bits and crappy songs prevent this film from being GREAT... The "Step on Time" sequence is fantastic!

Casablanca
Casablanca(1942)

A great, timeless movie... Very stylish, with exquisite photography, a fantastic script and great acting by Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman and Paul Henreid. Good supporting performances from Dooley Wilson, Peter Lorre and Joy Page. Loved the character of "Rick", he's just the anti-Hollywood hero. Classic...

Elizabeth: The Golden Age
½

Not as good as the first one, ELIZABETH: THE GOLDEN AGE has a lot of accomplishments, but fails to work as a whole. The Academy Award winning costume design and the art direction are amazing, so is the original score. Blanchett is again, perfect, in the title role. Geoffrey Rush was good, but not as the last time. Samantha Morton is fantastic. Clive Owen's performance could've been better (but then again, so could the role). One of my favorite spanish actors, Jordi Molla, is a total disappointment here. Abbie Cornish and Rhys Ifans did an OK job. The writing was not very good. The movie felt at times, like a comedy, which is not very good for a period drama. It was flat and the ending too easy.

Elizabeth
Elizabeth(1998)

The movie is a little confusing, but makes up for it with dazzling sets and costumes. Cate Blanchett's performance is amazing, and i can't believe that Gwyneth Paltrow (who i find talentless) took the Oscar from her. Great performances by Christopher Eccleston, Geoffrey Rush, Joseph Fiennes, Vincent Cassel and Fanny Ardant. Very talented actors also appear in small roles (Emily Mortimer, Daniel Craig). The directorial work by Shekhar Kapur is reall good, so are the script and the performances, but, for some reason that i can't explain, i didn't think this movie was great.

Donnie Darko
Donnie Darko(2001)

A good indie thriller, with fantastic directorial work from Richard Kelly and perfect editing. Jake Gyllenhaal is so amazing in the title role, and the other actors complete a very interesting cast: a mix of 80's legends (Patrick Swayze), TV stars (Noah Wyle), superstars (Drew Barrymore) and breakthrough talents as Jena Malone and Maggie Gyllenhaal, who, in the subsequent years, proved to be great actresses). The movie coulde be better, specially script-wise, bt it's definitely not a failure. Watch out for (now famous) Seth Rogen and Ashley Tisdale...

Atonement
Atonement(2007)
½

Another one of the best movies of 2007, ATONEMENT brings a GREAT story to the screen, with Christopher Hampton's adaptation of Ian McEwan's novel. It features one of the best scores ever, a mix of piano and typing machines, by Dario Marianelli. Beautiful costumes and amazing photography add a lot to this film's undeniable quality. The best performances are those of James McAvoy and Academy Award nominee, 13 year old Saoirse Ronan. Keira Knightley, Romola Garai, Vanessa Redgrave and Juno Temple did their thing in strong supporting roles.

The Devil Wears Prada

THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA's main attraction is Meryl Streep's performance of course, she is perfect in the role of MIRANDA PRIESTLY, the ultimate BITCH, and will certainly go down in history as one of the greatest villains ever. The soundtrack and costumes are great. The performances by the very underrated Stanley Tucci and Emily Blunt were not as great as Streep's, but great nevertheless. Anne Hathaway is OK. The film as a whole, could've been better, specially for its script.

The Illusionist

This movie is far from a classic, but it's entertaining from minute one. The direction, the twists, the costume and set design, the stylish look and the performances of Edward Norton (good, but could have been better) and Paul Giamatti (spectacular) make THE ILLUSIONIST a gorgeous film; The Prestige, which was WAY better, stole its thunder...

Into the Wild

The best aspects of this film are the way it depicts nature's beauty, and also the great original music by EDDIE VEDDER, who decided this film's soundtrack would be his first solo album. INTO THE WILD, shows SEAN PENN's other artistic skills. Besides from being a terrific actor, he is a good director and a better writer. An amazing ensemble cast with Emile Hirsch (good, but not great) in the driver's seat, and HAL HOLBROOK (heartbreakingly good), Catherine Keener, Kristen Stewart, Marcia Gay Harden, William Hurt and Jena Malone in the back...

American Gangster

The two and a half hours of this movie passed flying by...AMERICAN GANGSTER is one of the best films of 2007, with its excellent direction and writing, great costume design and soundtrack (although, they failed to include Jay-Z's "Heart of the City (Ain't No Love) which was in the film's trailer). Strong performances by Russell Crowe and Denzel Washington, specially the latter, and the supporting cast is fabulous: Ruby Dee (who got an Oscar nomiantion), Josh Brolin (in another great 2007 performance, along with No Country for Old Men), Chiwetel Ejiofor, T.I. and Roger Bart...

Cloverfield
Cloverfield(2008)
½

The campaign for this movie led me to believe the film was gonna be a classic, which is not. I thought the length of the film was perfect, but at the same time it was inconclusive, it should have a sequel... For me, watching this movie was a bittersweet experience, it was entertaining, but all the motion made me sick and, if it weren't for that Coke, i would've thrown up. The effects and editing are great, and the performances convincing. Nothing remarkable, though...

The Aviator
The Aviator(2004)

This film is total eye candy...Magnificently directed by an icon, Martin Scorsese, THE AVIATOR is super-stylish, and though it reaches a dull point at about 2 hours into the film, it gets back up. The art direction, and set and costume design are remarkable. A beautiful and talented ensemble casts perform amazingly toa great script: LEONARDO DICAPRIO, CATE BLANCHETT, John C. Reilly, Kate Beckinsale and Alec Baldwin. I loved the special appearances by Gwen Stefani and Jude Law, and found Alan Alda's performance overrated.

The Big Lebowski

Another extraordinary film by the Coen Brothers (Ethan & Joel write, the latter directs), THE BIG LEBOWSKI, has a genius script, great soundtrack, amazing performances by the lead actors, JEFF BRIDGES as "THE DUDE" and JOHN GOODMAN as Walter, Nice supporting role by PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN and fantastic direction...
A CLASSIC!

The Hoax
The Hoax(2007)

Directed by Lasse Hallström, THE HOAX is a movie that stands out because of its clever, rich script and its classic look. The cast is fine (but could've been better) with Alfred Molina and Stanley Tucci being the best, closely followed by Marcia Gay Harden and Richard Gere..

Junebug
Junebug(2005)
½

JUNEBUG, a 2005 dramedy with excellent writing and directing, by Angus MacLachlan & Phil Morrison (respectively), that explores the complicated process of accpeting an in-law into your family. Nice photography work and the blend of funny and sad make this film worth watching. The parents (played by Celia Weston and Scott Wilson) are alright. Ben McKenzie is somewhat good, if you compare it to his dry acting on "The OC", Alessandro Nivola is barely on screen, but i LOVED his singing scene. Embeth Davidtz is great, and Amy Adams is TOP NOTCH at playing the naive, curious and LOUD Ashley, who is the heart of the movie and lights up the screen everytime. She should've won that Oscar!

Live Flesh (Carne trémula)
½

Finally, I got the chance to see CARNE TREMULA, by one of my favorite directors, PEDRO ALMODOVAR. It's a fantastic drama/erotic thriller, with great writing and directing, gorgeous color and terrific music. The best performances are by the guys: JAVIER BARDEM and Liberto Rabal. The other members of the cast are just OK: Francesca Neri, Angela Molina and José Sancho. Special appearance by Penélope Cruz.

Surf's Up
Surf's Up(2007)
½

I wasn't interested in this movie beacuse i thought the premise was too dumb, and the trailer was misleading. But, since it just got an Oscar nomination, i decided to rent it and, what a surprise! SURF'S UP is a great, funny movie, with astounding voice work and direction. The soundtrack gives it a modern touch and the animation is magnificent! Definitely better than HAPPY FEET...

Fargo
Fargo(1996)

A truly great film, FARGO, directed by Joel Coen, but produced and written along his brother Ethan, mixes drama with a touch of comedy, great music, amazing cinematography and marvelous performances by a magnificent cast. Steve Buscemi and Peter Stormare are really nice as the hitmen, William H. Macy is super and Frances McDormand reminds us why she's one of the best actresses alive (and why she took the Oscar for this film). Great direction by Joel Coen...CLASSIC!

Juno
Juno(2007)

JUNO, a comedy that's taken a spot in every critic's "best of 2007" list, and it certainly earned it. JUNO, directed by Jason Reitman, is a great comedy, with big laughs, but also heartbreaking moments that will have you on the verge of tears. It's quirky, witty, original and hilarious. JUNO owes its success to 2 factors: Ellen Page's performance (please nominate her for an Oscar) and Diablo Cody's script (as Juno says, "It's boss", and i'm gonna be very mad if doesn't win for Best Original Screenplay). The cast is another accomplishment of this little indie film that could, each and everyone of these actors give a great performance (even if they don't have a lot of screen time): J.K. Simmons, Jason Bateman, Olivia Thirlby, Allison Janney MICHAEL CERA, JENNIFER GARNER and ELLEN PAGE (i typed these last 3 names on uppercase simply because they deserved it). Thanks to Jason Reitman and Diablo Cody for bringing us such a jewel, and to Ellen Page for bringing Juno to life; she will definitely go down in history as one of the greatest characters ever...

Shattered (Butterfly on a Wheel)

Due to the bad title and poster art for this movie in Mexico, I entered the theater expecting a cheap action film with bad acting and writing. Despite a flawed script, the movie is good, entertaining, it keeps you on the edge of your seat, but also makes you wonder some of the characters' choices, since they are stupid. Gerard Butler gives an amazing performance, Maria Bello is great too, Pierce Brosnan isn't (as always)... The twists are incredible; a little predictable though...

Primal Fear
Primal Fear(1996)

Off with a rough start, the film gains power toward the middle of the film where it turns into a riveting courtroom drama/thriller with an (unnecessary) love story, but great performances by an all-star cast: Richard Gere (just fine), Laura Linney (great) , Edward Norton (MARVELOUS in his academy award nominated debut role), Alfre Woodard and Frances McDormand (really good in a brief role). Smart, nail-biting thriller directed by Gregory Hoblit...

Empire of the Sun

I'm not a fan of Steven Spielberg films (with the exception of The Color Purple) but i liked this movie. It's terribly heartbreaking, sometimes funny, remarkable art direction, and a wonderful performances by John Malkovich, even a brief role by then newcomer Ben Stiller. Sadly, the bad thing is that is really cheesy at times. Though Christian Bale's acting chops were not fully developed as they are now, the boy certainly had a gift, and he took the entire movie on his back and nailed it! Great performance!

Before Night Falls

Although, during the first 45 minutes, Julian Schnabel's BEFORE NIGHT FALLS looks just like a movie about being gay and boning every guy that comes your way, it develops into a heartbreaking drama about the troubled life of REINALDO ARENAS, a Cuban writer in the times of the Revolution and Fidel Castro. Beautifully shot and directed. It was filmed in Mexico and there are cameos by some of its most famous actors: Diego Luna, Ofelia Medina, Patricia Reyes Spíndola and Francisco Gattorno (he's not mexican though). There are also special appearances by two of the best actors in the world: Sean Penn and Johnny Depp (their performances are not as good as they always are, but they're nice anyway). Subtle performance by Olivier Martinez. But this is Javier Bardem's movie, and he gives an extraordinary portrayal of the cuban writer, virtually appearing in the whole movie, he even scored an Oscar nomination!

Hairspray
Hairspray(1988)
½

Since i first saw the 2007 version, i'm gonna base my review on it. The original, John Waters-directed version is not a musical (i didn't know that), it's darker, dirtier, weird, not so happy, and it contains foul language, BUT it's funny and the dance sequences and art direction are great. Ricki Lake and Sonny Bono are awesome, while Ruth Brown, Debbie Harry, Leslie Ann Powers, Shawn Thompson and Joann Havrilla give notable performances. Divine is just creepy.

Paris Je T'aime

An incredible collection of short films, set in the most beautiful city of all, Paris, PARIS JE T'AIME unites some of the best and critically acclaimed filmmakers in the world, and an amazing cast too. It combines comedy, drama, gorgeous cinematography and art direction, charisma, heartbreak, music, touch and most of all, LOVE. My favorite shorts were: Quais de Seine, by Gurinder Chadha; Tuileries by the Coen Bros.; Bastille by Isabel Coixet; Place des Victoires by Nobuhiro Suwa; Tour Eiffel by Sylvain Chomet; Place des fêtes by Oliver Schmitz; Quartier de la Madeleine by Vincenzo Natali; Père-Lachaise by Wes Craven; and i saved the best for last... Faubourg Saint-Denis by Tom Tykwer. My favorite performances were by: Juliette Binoche, Gaspard Ulliel, Natalie Portman, Cyril Descours, Leila Bekhti, Sergio Castellitto, Miranda Richardson, Seydou Boro, Emily Mortimer, Rufus Sewell and Melchior Beslon.

I Heart Huckabees
½

I didn't HATE this movie, but i certainly didn't like it. I found it weird, not good weird (as in Michel Gondry) but BAD weird (as in hrad to follow, boring, not funny, etc.). The only good thing was Mark Wahlberg's performance (AMAZING)... by the way, i hated Dustin Hoffman's.

Gone Baby Gone

Gone Baby Gone is a great directorial debut for Ben Affleck. The script (also by Affleck) is great. The twists are awesome and the actors are brilliant: Casey Affleck (the real star of this picture, not Amy Ryan, who has won or been nominated to virtually every award; she's alright, though but not GREAT, she just does a thick Boston accent); Michelle Monaghan (surprisingly good), Morgan Freeman (as always), Ed Harris, Amy Madigan and Titus Welliver. GREAT DEBUT!

Away From Her
½

Fantastically directed and written by young actress/filmmaker Sarah Polley (in her directorial debut), Away From Her it's a little slow paced, but it's touching and heartwarming, specially for Julie Christie (who gives an amazing performance as a woman with Alzheimer's disease; and i must add that she is really beautiful, despite her 66 years of age) and Gordon Pinsent (the heartbroken husband). Kristen Thomson and Oympia Dukakis did a nice work too.

Eastern Promises

A movie that's certainly generating a lot of awards buzz, is David Cronenberg's drama/thriller EASTERN PROMISES. Intense, ultra-violent and elegant, Eastern Promises brings great twists, good performances by Naomi Watts, Armin Mueller-Stahl and Vincent Cassel and a sauna fight scene that will definitely become a classic. But, the best thing about the film, is Viggo Mortensen's performance, which will pick up some awards in a few weeks...

Rescue Dawn
Rescue Dawn(2007)
½

As Kam Williams from Newsblaze says (and i could't agree more) Christian Bale is the greatest actor never nominated for an Oscar. His performance in Rescue Dawn is so good, it would be a crime for the Academy to not nominate Bale (my favorite actor) once again. Just as good as Bale (in this film) is Steve Zahn, who plays Duane; Jeremy Davies is good too, as Eugene. Werner Herzog's RESCUE DAWN is a captivating war drama with gorgeous photography and really good acting.

Hitman
Hitman(2007)
½

an empty, dumb film, that will certainly satisfy people in need of a blockbuster with things blowing up and hot girls getting naked for no reason, but not for serious movie watchers, as i consider myself...the acting is bad, Timothy Olyphant doesn't quite pull the action hero thing off, the script sounds as it was written by a 13 year old, the good thing about this film is that is visually beautiful in its film noir style

Waitress
Waitress(2007)
½

A delightful experience of a romantic comedy (often mistaken with chick-flick). It's a smart, lovely experience filled with color. As you're watching the pies that Jenna (Keri Russell) makes, i swear you can almost taste them. Written and directed by the late Adrienne Shelly (who did a great job on her farewell film), Waitress is a feast for the senses, and ot features great performances by Keri Russell, Nathan Fillion, Jeremy Sisto, even Shelley herself. The movie worked; it was touching, funny, romantic and the clever names for the pies were great (I Hate My Husband Pie, Earl Murders Me Because I'm Having An Affair Pie, I Can't Have No Affair Because It's Wrong And I Don't Want Earl To Kill Me Pie, Pregnant Miserable Self Pitying Loser Pie)...

Talk to Her
Talk to Her(2002)
½

i add to my list, one more reason to love Pedro Almodovar, and my wish to visit Spain grows more and more... this 2002 film which won an Oscar for best Original Script is a delightful and emotional film... makes you cry, makes you laugh, colorful like all Almodovar flicks, well written of course, with amazing performances by Javier Cámara, Darío Grandinetti and Rosario Flores. I loved the special appearances by some of Spain's (and Almodovar's) best actors: Fele Martinez, Chus Lampreave, Marisa Paredes, Cecilia Roth, Lola Dueñas, Paz Vega... a masterpiece by PEDRO

Super Size Me
½

a great documentary film, written, direcyed and "starring" Morgan Spurlock, who completely changed his lifestyle (and his body) and compromised his sanity for this film that went on to grab an Oscar nod. It's funny, but also serious and informative, even scary... good film, maybe a little exaggerated...

Natural Born Killers

Natural Born Killers, an ultra-violent 1994 film by director Oliver Stone is a wonderful, surreal, imaginative trip. Crazy, fun, colorful, bloody, witty; NBK has great effects, the writing's awesome, the actors really shine: Woody Harrelson, Juliette Lewis, Tom Sizemore, Robert Downey Jr. and Tommy Lee Jones, they were all great. Impressive directorial work by Oliver Stone. A great film, a classic!

Planet Terror (Grindhouse Presents: Robert Rodriguez's Planet Terror)

Robert Rodriguez's part of this year's collaboration/homage to B-movies and exploitation films, along with Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof, a zombie film in all its glory... it's fun, gruesome, funny, well-written, great cast, Freddy Rodriguez is great as EL WRAY... the film is a little over the top and too disgusting, but it has a great look and a decent score...still, Death Proof is better...Nice work by Robert Rodriguez...

Knocked Up
Knocked Up(2007)
½

One of the funniest films i've ever seen (if not the funniest) and one of the best movies of 2007, KNOCKED UP is a festival of laughs, a great rom-com for guys (and girls too, why not?) different from the usual Hollywood romantic comedy... Directed by Judd Apatow and starring Seth Rogen and Katherine Heigl (both are great), so is Apatow's wife and daughter, Leslie Mann and Maude Apatow... great script, nice performances, huge laughs
:)

Eyes Wide Shut
½

One of th greatest film directors ever, Stanley Kubrick's (A Clockwork Orange, Dr. Strangelove...) final motion picture is an intriguing tale about sex, betrayal and pity... a little slow paced and really long, but it's masterfully directed by Kubrick, and as in most of his films, the music plays a really important part, great photography and amazing performances by the lead actors, specially Nicole Kidman... great film to say goodbye with!

10 Items or Less
½

10 Items or Less, a delightful 2006 indie comedy, directed by Brad Silberling is a light, joyful experience. The chemistry between Paz Vega and Morgan Freeman is great, plus, they give really good performances. Funny, heartwarming, really nice... LOVED IT

:)

Superstar
Superstar(1999)

not a great picture, it should have stayed in SNL, the script wasn't good and there's bad timing, but it's still funny (at times) and Molly Shannon is amazing, great comedic talent! special mention for Elaine Hendrix, she was good too...

A Mighty Heart

A Mighty Heart, one of the strongest contenders for next year's Oscars is a wonderful drama shot in a documentary style, masterfully directed by Michael Winterbottom and really well cut, but, the most impressive thing about this film, and the thing that's got everybody buzzing, is Angelina Jolie's performance. Intense, tough and at the same time tender, just great. She''l definitely be getting her second Oscar later next year.

Queer Duck: The Movie

Funny, but too gay for my taste... i don't even know why i rented it in the first place.. few big laughs...

The Lookout
The Lookout(2007)

The Lookout, a 2007 drama/thriller directed by Scott Frank is about a promising athlete who, after a car accident tries to maintain anormal life and takes a job as a janitor for a bank, where soon he finds himself trapped in a planned robbery. Well cut, great script, exquisitely acted: Joseph Gordon-Levitt (one of the most underrated young actors now), Isla Fisher, Matthew Goode, Jeff Daniels and Sergio Di Zio... love the combination of intense action sequences, drama and heartwarming scenes

The Ex
The Ex(2007)

BAD timing, LOUSY script, few funny moments, too much falling and/or crashing, neither Zach Braff nor Amanda Peet were especially good, the best part of this film is JASON BATEMAN (Hilarious) and the kid Lucian Maisel (really funny and talented)...no wonder it flopped

Dr. Strangelove Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
½

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, a 1964 film, directed by Stanley Kubrick, that's featured in virtually every "Best Film" or "Best Comedy" list in the world...
GREAT PERFORMANCES by Peter Sellers and George C. Scott, nice script, REALLY FUNNY, specially for its title character...

A Prairie Home Companion
½

robert altman's last picture, A PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION, tells the story of a radio variety show broadcast live from a theater, where people go to have a good time not knowing it will be the last show... written by Garrison Keillor, who also stars and is the voice of the "real" Prairie Home Companion, it's a smart, charming, funny, heartwarming film that, for some reason, made me feel like it was Christmas (??), nice camera work, loved the music, great cast: Maya rudolph (her role could have been a lot better), JOHN C. REILLY (one of my favorite actors), Woody Harrelson (great), Tommy Lee Jones (great, as always, in his brief role), Garrison Keillor (surprise), Virginia Madsen (so-so), Kevin Kline (good), Lindsay Lohan (really good) as well as Lily Tomlin and last, but certainly not least MERYL STREEP (AAWESOME :)

Match Point
Match Point(2005)

MATCH POINT, written and directed by Woody Allen is a 2005 british film... a really interesting tale that revolves around lies, sex and murder... an amazing drama/erotic thriller that keeps you interested until the end... the script is great! creative, smart, rich, it's well shot and cut and the leading roles are wonderfully portrayed by Scarlett Johansson, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers and Emily Mortimer... Matthew Goode is nice too... Great film by Woody Allen :)

Big Fish
Big Fish(2003)

a masterpiece by one of Hollywood's most visionary filmmakers, Tim Burton... this movie is just amazing and so different than the ones Tim Burton ususally does (not saying the other ones are bad)...beautiful film with a great look, nice score/soundtrack, the cast really delivers: Ewan mcGregor, Albert Finney, Billy Crudup, Alison Lohmann, Steve Buscemi, Helena Bonham Carter, Danny DeVito and Matthew McGrory as the giant... really lovely film, creative as hell, crazy even... if you look close you can see miley cyrus...

The Science of Sleep
½

another great, creative, crazy, beautiful, intense film from director Michel Gondry, he is such a genius! the film is well written, well directed, well acted, with a nice soundtrack... Gael García and Charlotte Gainsbourg were amazing

Moonstruck
Moonstruck(1987)
½

what i have to say about this movie: REALLY overrated... it's somewhat funny, it made me hate Nicolas Cage a little bit less, it gave us a great catchphrase (SNAP OUT OF IT!) and Cher's performance was amazingly good, but that's it...

The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada
½

a film from 2005, that was really underrated, with the exception of the Cannes Film Festival, where it took the prize for Best Actor (Tommy Lee Jones) and Best Screenplay (Guillermo Arriaga); it was also nominated for the Palme d'Or (Cannes' Best Picture Award). This movie's poor luck at the box office and/or the award shows was probably due to Arriaga not working with his usual director (and former friend) Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu, but Lee Jones' work is just as impressive. They made one great movie, with a lot of heart and beauty, but, at the same time, violence and evil, that ended up being a wonderful mix. The actors weren't bad either: Tommy Lee Jones, Barry Pepper, Dwight Yoakam, January Jones, Julio Cedillo and Vanessa Bauche were all reaally good, especially the actor/director Jones. A good way to show the audience that Arriaga CAN work without Gonzalez Iñarritu...

Duck Season (Temporada de patos)

this super funny 2004 movie, produced by Alfonso Cuarón and directed by Fernando Eimbcke went under the radar a little bit, but it definitely is one of the best mexican films of the decade... everything in this movie revolves around boredom, but the result is anything but boring... flama and moko, two 14 year old boys have everything planned out for a great weekend without parents, but this plans are quickly ruined by a power outage, so they have to find out something to do... it's nicely shot, it has great writing and a really good cast, especially Diego Cataño (Moko), Danny Perea (the baking neighbor) and Enrique Arreola (pizza delivery guy)... great mexican film!

The Crime of Padre Amaro
½

EL CRIMEN DEL PADRE AMARO, Mexico's contender for Best Foreign Film at the 2002 Academy Awards is definitely overrated.. it's not a bad movie but it definitely didn't deserve all the awards or the title for highest grossing film ever in Mexico, there are a lot of holes in the script.. Gael García Bernal is not that good, the camera work and the photography could be better also, but the performances by the women Ana Claudia Talancón (who btw is also gorgeous), Angelica Aragon and Luisa Huertas are REALLY good...special mention to one of Mexico's greatest acting talents (if not THE greatest) Damian Alcazar; his performance, though brief, it's awesome. El Crimen... delivers really intense drama sequences and very shocking moments, other than the aspects i already mentioned, it's a so-so film...

The Namesake
The Namesake(2006)

a movie that shows the importance that lies within something as simple, and at the same time crucial, like someone's name...a beautiful picture directed by mira nair, it tells the story of two indian inmigrants who settle in NY and build their family there... gorgeous photography and soundtrack, the script and the direction are very good, and the actors really stand out: Kal Penn (Kalpen Suresh Modi) is AMAZING in a serious role, but, let's face it, he''ll always be Kumar; Tabu and Irrfan Khan are great as well... i loved how this movie depicted cultural differences... it is a great drama, even funny (when it has to be).. LOVED IT!

Anchorman - The Legend Of Ron Burgundy

this 2004 movie, is a good comedy, directed by Adam McKay and written by Will Ferrel and McKay...it's really funny and it feautures a lot of great actors, some of the best comedic talents today: WILL FERRELL (great), Christina Applegate (awesome), David Koechner, Vince Vaughn, the underrated Paul Rudd and Steve Carrell (the best one in this film, amazing) it also includes cameos from Ben Stiller, Seth Rogen, Jack Black, Luke Wilson, Tim Robbins and Danny Trejo...anyway, a really nice movie with lots of big laughs!

Amores Perros
½

AMORES PERROS (or Love's a bitch, in english), the film debut of one of Mexico's (and the world's) most important directors, Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu, almost took the oscar for Foreign Language Film in 2000...it's Gonzalez Iñarritu's best film, done in his trademark interlocking style, it's dirty. gritty, tough, but at times it's also tender, even funny...script by Guillermo Arriaga, the most lauded mexican film writer ever (and he deserves it) and it features some of Mexico's finest actors: Gael García Bernal, Alvaro Guerrero, Emilio Echevarría, Vanessa Bauche, Adriana Barraza (who i was lucky enough to meet), Jorge Salinas, Marco Perez, Rodrigo Murray, Dagoberto Gama, and Gustavo Sanchez Parra...great drama, great writing, great actors, a little too gory for my taste but it's an amazing picture :)

Waiting
Waiting(2005)
½

there's something about this movie that made me wanna rent it, even though it looked so bad.. so i popped it in my dvd player and found out it wasn't THAT bad, i enjoyed it, it's really funny and it even has its moments of brilliance.. good (or at least decent actors) like Ryan Reynolds, Justin Long and the AMAZING Anna Faris (although i like Samantha James better)...but still, not that bad...

The Crying Game

i made a promise to my friends that my reviews weren't gonna be that long, so i'll try to make it quick...The Crying Game, a great movie from director Neil Jordan (Interview With The Vampire, Breakfast on Pluto)...it's a great mixture of drama, thriller and romance that takes over you right from the start...it has a nice script and photography and really good performances by Jordan's signature actor, Stephen Rea, Forest Whitaker, Miranda Richardson and Jaye Davidson...great movie, and about that "twist", it wasn't a real shocker, i mean, you could see miles away it was a gut (oops!) haha.. get over it, this movie is really old ( i was 2 when it came out) haha

Hairspray
Hairspray(2007)

I LOOOVED THIS MOVIE!! it was an absolute delight and such a joyful experience, i enjoyed every minute of it, and the two hours went really fast... first of all the soundtrack is amazing, everyone in this film is really talented, it has a great look and feel to it, it's really funny, filled with color, PURE ENTERTAINMENT! the cast is wonderful: John Travolta, Michelle Pfeiffer, Christopher Walken, Queen Latifah, James Marsden, Brittany Snow, Amanda Bynes, Allison Janney, Zac Efron and the newcomers Nikki Blonsky and Elijah Kelley; each and everyone of them did a fantastic job...kudos to Adam Shankman for making such a jewel of a movie :)
i strongly RECOMMEND IT!

Panic Room
Panic Room(2002)
½

this is a great movie, obviously, beacuse its directed by DAVID FINCHER, it's a good thriller that keeps you on the edge of your seat, great cast: Jodie Foster, Forest Whitaker and Jared Leto are great

David Fincher rules!

Dreamgirls
Dreamgirls(2006)
½

this marvelous 2006 musical started its run as the front-runner for all the award shows, and it was doing so well, until the Oscars, where it got terribly snubbed... i was so sad, beacuse this movie is pure greatness, first of all, the look, it transports you to a different era, the soundtrack is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G, the writing's good, the art direction, the costumes, the cast is great : Beyonce did a terrific job, Jamie Foxx was okay and so was the really overrated Eddie Murphy, Anika Noni Rose and Danny Glover were good, too, but undeniably, this film's star is Academt Award Winner (and American Idol LOSER, but who cares?) Jennifer Hudson, with such a great performance, and her voice is so powerful, the girl is here to stay...

Volver
Volver(2006)
½

I get such joy by watching this movie... This great Almodovar flick follows three generations of Spanish women: the grandma (Irene, played by Carmen Maura), her daughters (Raimunda, played masterfully by Oscar nominee Penélope Cruz and the underrated Lola Dueñas, who portrays Sole) and Paula, Raimunda's teenage daughter, who is also her sister (she was raped by her father; played by newcomer Yohana Cobo). These wonderful actresses, along with Blanca Portillo and Chus Lampreave (who makes a brief stint as Sole and Raimunda's senile aunt) shared the Best Actress award at Cannes Film Festival last year. Penelope Cruz got nominated for an Oscar with her performance as Raimunda (she should have won, i mean, her performance is so good, i went from absolutely hating her guts to LOVING her, also, i was a bit dissapointed that this masterpiece wasn't nominated for Best Foreign Film at the Oscars. Anyway, this dramedy is a must-see!
SUPPORT HISPANIC CINEMA!

Kill Bill: Volume 2
½

For review, see Kill Bill, Vol. 1

Kill Bill: Volume 1
½

i actually think of Kill Bill as one movie, the way it was intended so im gonna place all my comments right here...this movie is FUCKIN' AWESOME!... Uma Thurman was made to play this character, partially because she co-created it, but it;s such a joy seeing a gorgeous woman chop arms off...Quentin Tarantino is an excellent director, and this was his most ambitious project, he definitely made it work....Uma Thurman was amazing as The Bride, but she was snubbed at the award shows, Daryl Hannah was mean and sexy, Lucy Liu was great, too... David Carradine did okay...loved the soundtrack, the look, the sensations of this movie and i'm definitely waiting for a third installment!

Fight Club
Fight Club(1999)

THREE WORDS... BEST. MOVIE. EVER. !! wonderful adaptation from Chuck Palahniuk's book, Fight Club is the journey of two men (or one?) toward self-destruction... Brad Pitt, Edward Norton and Helena Bonham Carter are magnificent in this movie... it's funny, it has its dose of drama and action, great photography and style, a nice soundtrack, the movie is FILLED with great quotes...anyway, David Fincher did a really good job...a classic!

Lonely Hearts
½

lonely hearts....a really nice crime movie, that went under the radar this year, the writing is good, but what really grabs you from this film are the way the great salma hayek (mexican pride!!) and jared leto portray their parts, they are so convincing and really really good, the movie is very intense and full of drama, there are some really creepy moments, the soundtrack is nice, so is the photography and i just loved the sick love that hayek's character had for leto's
john travolta was okay, dan byrd was good for the little time onscreen he had, same thing with laura dern, and james gandolfini....that dude acts the same way in everything he does.. awesome movie...

Driving Lessons
½

thank God i didn't give up on this movie, because at the beginning it was really boring and i almost take it out of my dvd player, but i decided to hang in there and boy, am i proud of that decision! this lovely film suddenly turned in one of my favorite movies ever, combining a brilliant script with great actors, photography, soundtrack, with a mixture of drama and comedy that you should NOT miss, Rupert Grint and Julie Walters have great chemistry, and it shows in this movie, cause in the Harry Potter movies you can't really see it...great performances by these two english actors, and also by Laura Linney!

No Reservations

just opened worldwide, NO RESERVATIONS is a really nice film, just like i said with RATATOUILLE, it's destined to be food-film classic. the story is about a successful chef (zeta-jones), whose sister dies and she gest her kid Zoe (abigail breslin), she takes a week off from work, there is a new, loud, weird chef (eckhart) taking over for her, a war begins but it turns into something else...good performances from the 3 main characters, nice photography, soundtrack, the way they depict the food is just gorgeous....really nice romantic comedy

Bad Education
½

another great film from PEDRO ALMODOVAR, one of the best directors in the business. LA MALA EDUCACION stars mexican actor GAEL GARCIA BERNAL, mexican-spanish actor Daniel Gimenez-Cacho, Fele Martinez and Javier Camara. It tells the story about two boys (ignacio and enrique) that meet at school and fall in love, the principal of this school, father manolo, knows about this and he also wants Ignacio. Enrique and Ignacio reunite several years later, when ignacio wants enrique to direct a film he wrote and wants to star in as Zahara, a drag queen.....gael garcia is really convincing in drag, and he gives one hell of a performance, plus he can do a really good spanish accent, great performance by daniel gimenez cacho, great writing, look, etc.

Ratatouille
Ratatouille(2007)
½

i have a new favorite animated movie, and it's disney-pixar's RATATOUILLE...this movie is such a delight, a true joy, i enjoyed every single moment of it, it's funny, it's not dumb, it's truly for kids and adults, the animation is sooo good, at times you'll think you're watching a live action film, it has a good soundtrack, great design, look, style, i really liked it, for me, it's not only the best disney-pixar film so far, it's my favorite animated movie, destined to be a food-film classic... deserves 08' oscar for best animated film... :)

Ocean's Thirteen

this is, by far, the best blockbuster of the summer of 07. Steven Soderbergh's third installment of the remake turned trilogy, is obviously better than the 2nd, and it ranks right up there with the first, i loved the look and style soderbergh gave to already super-stylish Vegas, this movie is full of flare and beauty, elegance and glamour, it;s hard not to like it, but that's not all, you know actors like Pacino, Andy Garcia, Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Don Cheadle and Matt Damon, but there are also good performances by Casey (the other) Affleck, who just like his older brother, speaks good Spanish, Eddie Jemison, Ellen Barkin and Scott Caan, also, one of the best things in the movie are the scenes with Elliott Gould, it's funny without being stupid, it's clever, it's sexy, it's amazing! great way to end the trilogy! :)

Todo sobre mi madre (All About My Mother)

Todo Sobre Mi Madre, another one of Pedro Almodovar's great movies and odes to women, this one, talks specially about mothers. it uses his very known tragicomedy style, and has a handful of powerful, intense performances by Cecilia Roth, Marisa Paredes, Antonia San Juan (who i'm not sure if it's a guy or a girl) and the oscar-nominated Penelope Cruz, it's a really beautiful, heartbreaking film, and i love how Almodovar uses colors. You should definitely watch this oscar winner for best foreign film...

Curse of the Golden Flower

this movie was the Chinese entry for the "Best Foreign Film" category at this year's Oscars, though it didn't receive a nod, it got one for costume design.
"Golden Flower's" gift and curse is its spectacular beauty, because the director wanted to represent the beauty and opulence of the royal class in China, he forgot a little about the script, still the great Gong Li is the best performance of the movie (this woman is one of the world's best actresses and prettiest women). Could've been better, but visually, it is stunning and the most gorgeous film i've ever seen

Infamous
Infamous(2006)
½

This biopic/drama, directed by Douglas McGrath is based on the book "Capote: In Which Various Friends, Enemies, Acquaintances and Detractors Recall His Turbulent Career" by George Plimpton, and it covers the same timeline and subjects as Bennett Miller's CAPOTE (with Oscar winner Philip Seymour Hoffman). It stars relatively unknown british actor Toby Jones, romantic comedy queen Sandra Bullock (in a great performance as Harper Lee, Truman's childhood friend) and the new James Bond, Daniel Craig (here as the murderer Perry, in a brilliant performance, very different to his usual action roles, he was nominated this year for an Independent Spirit Award for best supporting actor; anyway, his was the best performance in the movie, very raw and real and believable. Jeff Daniels and Sigourney Weaver also star. This indie with A-List actors is great!

The Painted Veil
½

i'm starting to believe that i love every fiilm that stars edward norton..that dude rules!! but this film's stellar performance goes, hands down, to the very underrated oscar-nominee aussie beauty Naomi Watts, it's a wonderful mixture of great performances, gorgeous photography and style, amazing score, a nice script that wonderfully describes the story between a love triangle, set to 1920's, cholera-struck, but still ravishing China. This movie totally transports you, and it almost made me cry (i'm a rock), but it's a marvelous flm you shouldn't miss and i'm mad at mexican cinemas for not showing this. Thank God for Blockbuster, right?
fernando :)

Music and Lyrics

at first, i had absolutely no interest in this film and thought "this is gonna be total crap"... gradually, i started getting interested so i rented it and i got a really nice surprise as the movie is actually good, i mean, it's not the best picture of the year, but it's not bad; it features an amazing performance from Drew Barrymore as a hypochondriac plant lady turned songwriter next to hugh grant's role as a 80's has-been (of his performance, i can only say that it's the same one as in all of his movies, seriously, with this guy, the roles are different but he plays them all exactly the same, it's funny, not corny or cheesy, makes you feel good, with a decent soundtrack. I really think (and most of you are gonna hate me) that Drew should get nominated for some kind of award (not the Razzies) for her acting in this movie
is that good!! how come nobody has noticed her enormous talent before, her time has come!!
i adore her! she was my first on-screen crush... i was 11 and i went to see charlie's angels, and after the movie all i could ever think about was drew
DREW, WILL YOU MARRY ME??!
i'm starting to sound like a weirdo, so i'll end here
anyway, a feel-good romantic comedy that you need to rent
byebye
:)

Stomp the Yard

this movie is good, is even better than i had imagined, it is not your typical hip-hop/dancing movie, it really has some "substance", good script and performances, especially by the newcomer columbus short, amazing choreography and soundtrack

The Violin (El Violin)

This mexican film, winner at the 2005 CANNES Film Festival, "Un Certain Regard"- Best Actor: Angel Tavira, follows Plutarco (amazing actor Don Angel Tavira), his son Genaro (played by another great actor, Gerardo Taracena) and his grandson Lucio, who lead a double life, as musicians, and as supporters of the guerrilla movement against the government. When the army invades their town, the rebels decide to escape and leave the ammo behind, so, Plutarco, taking advantage of his "inoffensive violinist" looks, treats the captain to violin music everyday, so he can go to his corn field to pick up the ammo he has hidden days before. This low-budget independent movie was filmed in its entirety in black&white and features amazing and heartwrenching performances by Don Angel Tavira, Dagoberto Gama and Gerardo Taracena, it is directed by newcomer Francisco Vargas Quevedo, whose other work include a short film, that served as base for this one, also called "El Violin". Although it opened in 2005 and 2006 around the world, it didn't open until April 2007 in its country, Mexico, because no company wanted to release it and not one theater chain wanted to show it, because of its low-budget and beacuse it wouldn't appeal to larger audiences that seek blockbusters. Like its director, Francisco Vargas said, they know more of "El Violin (Le Violon)" in France, that they do in Mexico and that's sad... Guillermo del Toro approached the mexican senate and urged them to promote films like El Violin, but they've done nothing. Luckily, Cinepolis (LatinAmerica's biggest movie theater chain) picked it up and released it in limited theaters around the country, one of hose located in Tijuana, so yesterday i got the chance to see this marvelous mexican film and it was a wonderful, raw, real experience i'll never forget and i wish for all of you to see it.
Following the tradition of my friend Vince Flores, the best snack to watch this movie with is LifeSavers Gummies
Bye, and support mexican cinema!
Fernando :)

Pirates of the Caribbean: At Worlds End
½

too many twists and turns it got out of hand, this movie is a mess most of the time, too silly, it still has solid performances from depp, knightley, rush, nighy, and even keith richards and bloom

Fracture
Fracture(2007)
½

this is a great movie drama with a few hints of black comedy, great performances, photography, score, etc.
worth the wait and the money, great experience, could've been longer, but it was allright

United 93
United 93(2006)

this movie is good, great drama, but it was definitely overrated, maybe it would have been better if there was less screen time from the military and airport offices

Bandits
Bandits(2001)

i love this movie, it combines comedy, drama, action, an amazing cast, including bruce willis, billy bob thornton, my favorite actress cate blanchett and troy garity, great road movie!

Hard Candy
Hard Candy(2006)

this movie is great, it keeps you in the edge of your seat, it makes you sweat, it even makes you sorry por the pedophile, played by patrick wilson, while he's being tortured by haley, played by ellen page, excellent acting from both, especially the very underrated page

Closer
Closer(2004)

i love this movie, the script is wonderful and the performances are great, especially clive owen and natalier portman, thius movie has inspired songs for two of my favorite bands, fall out boy and panic! at the disco..

Stranger Than Fiction
½

amazing movie, will ferrell is great in drama, maggie gyllenhaal is impressive too

Open Season
Open Season(2006)
½

i looved this movie!! best animated picture of the year (for me anyway)

Efectos secundarios
½

SO FUNNY, but it also makes you think... A LOT!

S.W.A.T.
S.W.A.T.(2003)
½

BAAAAD & BOOORING

Along Came Polly