Wong Kar Wai is one of the few directors whose films are actual events: as it's been almost five years since the release of his masterpiece In the Mood for Love, the excitement over his next project has been palpable. In this context, some critics can't be blamed for finding Wong's ambitious follow-up, 2046, a bit of a let-down. It's hard not to… read more!
Movies Released in 2005 (in alphabetical order)
The 40-Year-Old Virgin
Though I heard nothing but good things about this film, I only finally went to see it when my old friend Rob caught it – the day after his own fortieth birthday, in fact – and told me that the main character struck him as a combination of both of our own personalities. I'm not a 40-year-old virgin, but I… read more!
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 and Robin frittered away the goodwill that Tim Burton's Batman movies earned. (In retrospect, Burton's films weren't that good either.)… read more!
Born Into Brothels
A colorful, well-meaning documentary that comes to theatres after picking up nearly every single film festival award possible over the previous year, Born Into Brothels tells the story of a young photographer (codirector Zana Briski, sporting an indiscriminately Englishy accent) who spends several months in the red light district of Calcutta, teaching photography to a handful of children whose mothers… read more!
While I wish I could avoid jumping on the Brokeback Mountain bandwagon – when everybody and their sister starts raving about how great some movie is, I get skeptical – this film is so well-made, and contains such depth, that it's hard not to. By now everybody knows about "The Gay Cowboy Movie", and you can't get much more high-concept… read more!
An aging lothario (Bill Murray) receives an anonymous letter from a woman who claims that he had fathered her son twenty years earlier, and that the son would soon be looking for him. Reluctantly following the advice of his goodhearted but meddling Ethiopian neighbor (the always-welcome Jeffrey Wright), Don Johnston - Murray's character's name, a play on the "Don Juan"… read more!
Let me begin my review of Brothers by giving praise to the Danish film industry. Currently, no other nation on Earth exports, per capita, as many movies to the US as Denmark does. Indeed, while there might be more titles from France or Japan that get released here, the Danes could very well be the third top exporter, especially if… read more!
Creepy drama about an upper-middle-class couple (played by Daniel Auteuil and Juliette Binoche) who start receiving, on their doorstep, mysterious videotapes taken of their home. (Shades of David Lynch's Lost Highway, only without the surrealism.) While innocuous enough in and of themselves, the tapes convince the couple that they are being stalked. Moreover, the tapes are often accompanied by crude… read more!
Cape of Good Hope
Amidst the crowd of studio blockbusters and Oscar-hopefuls released in December 2005 is this modest charmer from South Africa, about the multi-ethnic employees of a Cape Town animal shelter and their relationships with their families and romantic partners. It's refreshing to see so many unknown actors - unknown to these American eyes, anyway - who take to their roles with… read more!
At first, the title of this film seems inaccurate: This biopic doesn't encapsulate Truman Capote's entire life, from cradle to grave. It's solely about the five years in which the famous writer (played by Philip Seymour Hoffman) wrote his true crime masterpiece In Cold Blood. But on second thought, the film isn't about the creative process or the relationship between… read more!
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
For two months I worked on the DVD for this film (should you ever buy it, I designed all the "Search for the Golden Ticket" games). While that doesn't make me biased in favor of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, it definitely got me interested. I'm not sure if I would have otherwise gone to see it. But staring at… read more!
The Constant Gardener
The producers of The Constant Gardener, saddled with one of the least exciting titles for a thriller ever (thanks to John Le Carré, who invented the title for his novel on which the film is based), did the smartest thing they could have done by hiring Brazilian director Fernando Meirelles to helm this Africa-based story of murder and corporate conspiracy.… read more!
(Technically the title is Tim Burton's Corpse Bride, but I hate it when movies do that. So I'm filing it under C for "Corpse".) A visually astonishing stop-motion animated feature with a formulaic but amusing script, Corpse Bride is the story of a nervous young Victorian man (voiced by Johnny Depp) who, on the eve of his arranged wedding, practices… read more!
Dot the i
Although Dot the i debuted at Sundance in January 2003, it took two years before its producers finally wrangled a US theatrical release for it (after it played in dozens of other countries first). One must blame some bad distribution deal for that, especially since its star, Gael García Bernal, was already white-hot art house box office material by then.… read more!
I suspect that, to fully understand the significance of Downfall, you have to be German. Not only because Germans continue to deal with the Nazi legacy, but because for decades, it's been essentially verboten to not only feature Hitler as a central character in a German film, but to depict him as a sympathetic character. Downfall, which chronicles the last… read more!
Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room
Everybody knows about the corporate disaster known as Enron. But not many people, myself included, really know just what the scandal was about, outside of a giant company ripping people off and then folding. Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, based on the bestselling book, is as informative as it is entertaining. It's important viewing material for anybody who… read more!
Severely flawed thriller about an airplane designer (Jodie Foster) who, after the sudden death of her husband, flies home to New York from Berlin with both his coffin and their 6-year-old daughter on the biggest jumbo jet you've ever seen. When Foster awakes from a nap in mid-air, she realizes the daughter has vanished - and yet nobody on the… read more!
Good Night, and Good Luck.
Low-key drama about crusading television journalist Edward R. Murrow, who in 1954 decided (with the producer and staff of his proto-60 Minutes news program See It Now) to confront bullying Communist witch-hunting senator Joseph McCarthy. It's interesting that this film was released at the same time as Bennett Miller's Capote. Though on the surface the two stories have nothing in… read more!
Timothy Treadwell was an amateur filmmaker and animal lover who, for thirteen summers, would go up to the Alaskan wilderness in order to film the local grizzlies and bond with them. In 2003, he and his girlfriend were killed and eaten by one of their subjects. Veteran director Werner Herzog somehow was allowed access to Treadwell's 100-odd hours of video… read more!
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Another lengthy but entertaining entry in the ongoing Harry Potter saga, Goblet of Fire succeeds mainly thanks to J.K. Rowling's ever-engrossing storyline. Director Newell, the first actual Englishman to direct a Potter film, doesn't have much of a background in visual effects, but he seems very comfortable with them here. In fact, Goblet of Fire far outdoes its predecessors in… read more!