Movie Titles: B

The Babadook

The Babadook

If there's such a thing as "Australian Gothic", this is it. Essie Davis, who looks like a cross between Laura Linney and Isabelle Huppert, plays a young widow named Amelia. Noah Wiseman, an amazing little actor who could be Damien from The Omen as played by Mick Jagger, plays her son Samuel, days away from his seventh birthday – which… read more!

Babel

Babel

The third feature by Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu closely follows the same theme and structure of his first two, Amores Perros and 21 Grams: A tragic accident has occurred, and Iñárritu follows the various strangers whose lives have been affected by it. Amores Perros played with different characters who never meet; 21 Grams plays with time. Babel plays with… read more!

Babies

Babies

This documentary about four newborns from around the world is about as cute as you would expect it to be. It's also an essentially pointless movie. Balmès took his camera and crew to four different countries to track the first year of life, from birth to walking, of two boys and two girls. The boys - one from Namibia, one… read more!

Bad Education

Bad Education

I should learn a few publicity tips from Pedro Almodóvar. When a movie of mine comes out, I tend to downplay it, saying "I just hope you like it" and such. Comparatively, Almodóvar raves about Bad Education as "my darkest film since [1986's] Matador." I beg to differ. The director's previous feature Talk to Her is much darker, and on… read more!

The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call – New Orleans

The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call – New Orleans

This is one of those movies that, on the surface, sounds like one of those straight-to-video sequels of hit movies that feature none of its original stars. Except that this in-name-only sequel/remake of Abel Ferrara's infamous 1992 release Bad Lieutenant, which starred Harvey Keitel as a dirty cop and fallen Catholic, stars an A-list cast headlined by Nicolas Cage, high… read more!

Bad Santa

Bad Santa

Billy Bob Thornton plays a mall Santa who, along with his "elf" (Tony Cox), robs department stores blind each Christmas Eve. Bad Santa! But if that weren't bad enough, this Santa is an alcoholic misanthropist who, other than booze and anal sex, has nothing to live for. Enter a lonely little boy, the sort you usually see in these "sad… read more!

Batman Begins

Batman Begins

At first, it seems surprising that this would be one of the few actual successes during Hollywood's worst box office summer on record. First of all, there hasn't been much interest in the Batman character after Joel Schumacher's horrible Batman Forever and Batman and Robin frittered away the goodwill that Tim Burton's first two Batman movies earned. (In retrospect, Burton's… read more!

Battle Royale

Battle Royale

Veteran crime director Fukasaku's sixtieth(!) feature has been met with great controversy in its native Japan for its subject matter, and with good reason: The story takes place in an alternate-reality Japan where, as a response to growing teenage violence, the government has set up a system wherein high school students chosen at random are sent to a remote island… read more!

Beasts of the Southern Wild

Beasts of the Southern Wild

On the surface, an indie movie about an adorable little moppet named Hushpuppy living in a tight-knit Southern community known as The Bathtub sounds twee beyond repair. But Beasts of the Southern Wild, a drama about what happens to this girl, her father, and their community after a Katrina-like storm floods them out of their ramshackle homes, has a lot… read more!

A Beautiful Mind

A Beautiful Mind

This was one of those movies I wasn't excited about seeing, but I'd seen everything else, and it was a boring Sunday afternoon, so I thought "what the hey". I'd heard some critics call it lyrical and moving; others, mawkish and manipulative. I should have listened to that latter group. Okay, A Beautiful Mind isn't that bad. But it's just… read more!

Before Midnight

Before Midnight

When Before Sunrise came out way back in 1995, I skipped it. Even though I was part of the film's so-called target demographic, it just didn't seem like my cup of tea. Two young actors saying clever things to each other for a whole movie? I gave it a pass. In 2004, I gave Before Sunset a pass as well… read more!

Before Night Falls

Before Night Falls

A biopic about the dissident Cuban novelist Reynaldo Arenas (Javier Bardem), who alternately triumphed and suffered through Fidel Castro's revolution because of his homosexuality, Before Night Falls is entertaining if shapeless, with Spanish actor Bardem's convincing, low-key performance agreeably dominating the film. Of course, there are problems. For one, director Schnabel's notorious arrogance seeps into his film. Though Before Night… read more!

Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead

Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead

Pitch black family drama about two loser brothers (Philip Seymour Hoffman and Ethan Hawke) who, both in desperate need of money, agree on Hoffman's plan to pull off a simple heist of a suburban jewelry store - a store owned and operated by their own parents. As we quickly find out, the robbery goes horribly wrong, and the brothers and… read more!

Beginners

Beginners

I'm one of the few people who really liked - or even bothered to see - graphic designer/music video director Mike Mills's feature debut Thumbsucker. Though it was a little self-conscious, I think it showed promise for the filmmaker. So I was somewhat disappointed that his sophomore effort, the semiautobiographical Beginners, toned down the imaginative visuals in exchange for that… read more!

The Believer

The Believer

The Believer falls into that weird, tiny category of films that, because nobody is interested in distributing them theatrically at first, wind up going straight to cable - and then, a year later, get that limited theatrical release after all. A hit at the 2001 Sundance Festival, The Believer tells the story - allegedly based on fact - of Danny… read more!

Best

Best

I caught this drama at a film festival, which is probably the only place in America that one will see it, being as it is all about George Best, the Northern Irish soccer player whose rise and fall as Manchester United's superstar forward in the 1960s is hardly a household name to those outside the UK. In the title role,… read more!

Best in Show

Best in Show

The folks who brought you Waiting for Guffman are back with another mockumentary, this one on dog shows and the people who enter them. Nearly the entire cast from Guffman returns, mostly in fine form, and once again Christopher Guest directs from a script he wrote with costar Eugene Levy. It's cute, but it's no Guffman, and it's certainly not… read more!

Better Luck Tomorrow

Better Luck Tomorrow

This much-hyped indie film about a group of affluent, college-bound Asian-American teenagers who get sucked into a life of crime plays out like a junior version of GoodFellas. It's still entertaining, especially for anybody who knew the National Honor Society kids back in high school. You know the type: speech and debate team, Academic Decathlon, all that business. Perhaps it's a uniquely Californian… read more!

Big Eden

Big Eden

I swear, I thought I was going to a free screening of Moulin Rouge! when I got stuck watching Big Eden instead. I was a little apprehensive about sitting through a gay romantic comedy, but I had a free evening, so I thought, what the hell. In the end, I wound up halfheartedly enjoying myself. Big Eden is the name… read more!

Big Eyes

Big Eyes

A year ago, Exene Cervenka, singer for the LA punk band X, sold off some of her old junk online, and I noted that she collected the same wacky '50s/'60s/'70s kitsch that my old CalArts roommates did. Little wonder: my roomies were born in 1961; Cervenka in 1956. They belong to a specific generation of artist-hipsters that have long both mocked… read more!