Movie Titles: S

Stoker

Stoker

This thoroughly loopy family drama is the first English language film for Korean director Park (Oldboy). Those expecting an ordinary thriller will either be turned off or entranced by Park's remarkable visual stylings and the intentionally demented performances of the cast. Prison Break actor Wentworth Miller's debut screenplay isn't much to speak of; in the hands of a hack director, Stoker would be… read more!

Storytelling

Storytelling

This was my reaction to Todd Solondz's previous feature Happiness: It was well-written, well-directed, well-acted... and I didn't like it. In interviews, Solondz repeatedly insists that he does have sympathy for his characters – wretched losers behaving wretchedly and having wretched things happen to them – but he's so defensive that there's a bit of "he doth protest too much" about him. I… read more!

The Straight Story

The Straight Story

The "G" rating has had a tortured history. When it was first introduced in the late '60s, it was awarded to such films as Planet of the Apes, with its bare-buttocked men, its scenes of torture and violence, and its climactic cry of "God damn you all to hell!" Today, in these supposedly more progressive times, something like Apes could… read more!

The Suicide Squad

The Suicide Squad

It's hard to watch The Suicide Squad without thinking about the situation its writer/director James Gunn was in at the time he made it. In 2018, the Guardians of the Galaxy filmmaker had been fired – temporarily, as it turns out – by Disney/Marvel, after right-wing activists dug up some purposefully offensive old tweets of his, written during an era… read more!

Sully

Sully

I'm happily surprised that such a low-key biopic like Sully would debut as a #1 film. Perhaps everybody just felt like going out and seeing a good movie. Although the 2009 "Miracle on the Hudson" incident, in which Captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger safely landed a damaged passenger jet on the Hudson River, seems tailor made for the big screen – you've got a… read more!

Sunshine

Sunshine (2000)

Epic tale of one Jewish Hungarian family's journey through the first half of the twentieth century, as seen through the eyes of three central characters - grandfather, father and son, all played by Ralph Fiennes (though thankfully not at the same time; this isn't The Klumps). It's also a very complex moral and political portrait - indictment, really - of… read more!

Sunshine

Sunshine (2007)

In the vaguely distant future, the sun is dying and Earth is becoming uninhabitable. So it's up to a small band of astronauts to carry a nuclear bomb the size of Manhattan literally all the way to the sun, in hopes that the resultant explosion will recharge the sun's batteries, as it were. All this is established early on with… read more!

Sunshine Cleaning

Sunshine Cleaning

I was actually looking forward to Sunshine Cleaning for over a year since it debuted at Sundance 2008, chiefly because it has my old Claustrophobia star Mary Lynn Rajskub in a featured role, but also because I thought it had a very intriguing premise: two struggling sisters (Amy Adams and Emily Blunt) decide to go into business cleaning up the… read more!

Super

Super

The latest in an array of caped crusader spoofs, the gruesome comedy-drama Super is a decidedly mixed bag. Yet I can't quite get it out of my head. The Office's Rainn Wilson stars as a certified loser who, after his indifferent wife (Liv Tyler) leaves him for a sleazy strip club owner (Kevin Bacon), has a religious vision that tells… read more!

Super 8

Super 8

It's the summer of 1979, and a group of aspiring filmmakers just out of middle school are shooting a zombie movie around their home of Lillian, Ohio when they witness a horrific train crash. They soon discover that the crash was intentionally caused by their old science teacher, that the incident involved an Air Force train carrying dangerous cargo, and… read more!

Super Size Me

Super Size Me

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the latest trend in filmmaking: The High Concept Documentary. Much has already been written about Super Size Me, but if you've been hiding under the sink for the first half of 2004, the pitch is this: Director Morgan Spurlock decided to eat a McDonald's-only diet for 30 days in 2003 - just to… read more!

Superman Returns

Superman Returns

While watching Superman Returns the other day, I felt guilty for allowing that Brett Ratner didn't muck up the X-Men movie franchise after Bryan Singer left to make this film. Since Ratner proved to be only mediocre instead of godawful, I had basically tolerated his work, forgetting how good Singer's direction in the first two X-Men films really was. While… read more!

Superstar

Superstar

Stupid but harmless vehicle for Saturday Night Live star Molly Shannon, taking her ongoing skit about a bizarre Catholic school girl named Mary Katherine Gallagher and adapting it to the big screen, with expected results. Directed by another alumnus of TV sketch comedy, Kids in the Hall's Bruce McCulloch, Superstar is a mercifully short account of Mary's attempts to get… read more!

Suzhou River

Suzhou River

Imagine Hitchcock's Vertigo as directed by Wong Kar Wai and you'll get a feeling of Suzhou River, a dreamy, infinitely romantic drama set in contemporary Shanghai that tackles nothing so much as the bottomless mysteries of love. Our unseen narrator, a freelance videographer who wanders the city looking for work, taping weddings and such, tells us about his love for… read more!

Sweeney Todd

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Tim Burton's ambitious cinematic adaptation of the cult Stephen Sondheim Broadway musical has been hailed as a "return to form" for the spooky director, whose output has been erratic in terms of the quality of their screenplays. So Burton + Sondheim + star Johnny Depp + adaptation of a classic musical = Formula for Success, right? Well, yes and no.… read more!

Sweet Home Alabama

Sweet Home Alabama

Reese Witherspoon plays a successful New York fashion designer who, after her sudden engagement to a JFK Jr.-like socialite (Patrick Dempsey), hightails it to her backwater home in Alabama in order to secure a divorce from her white trash husband (Josh Lucas, who comes across as an angry Matthew McConaughey). And already we're being asked to like a character who… read more!

Swimming Pool

Swimming Pool

Lacking a Hollywood studio's multimillion marketing campaign and the resources to open on 2,000 screens across the US, independent and foreign films depend almost entirely on word of mouth to make any decent money. So I finally gave into peer pressure and saw Swimming Pool based mainly on how well it was doing at art house theatres, even though I… read more!

Synecdoche, New York

Synecdoche, New York

It's funny. When Paul Thomas Anderson's breakthrough film Boogie Nights came out, everybody loved it – except me. When Magnolia came out, everybody loved it even more – except me. And then when Punch-Drunk Love came out, everybody ignored it – except me, who loved it. My relationship to the output of Charlie Kaufman is similar. Being John Malkovich? Didn't… read more!

Syriana

Syriana

Mercilessly complicated thriller about oil, politics, money, terrorism, and how they all relate. At the core of this patchwork quilt of a story is a merger between two major US oil companies, a squabble over the rights to oil drilling in Kazakhstan, a conspiracy to "liberate" Iran, and a plot to assassinate the heir apparent to an anonymous oil-rich nation… read more!