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Fahrenheit 2004

Remembering the movies that heated up cinemas this year

Open Water Just because Blanchard Ryan does full-frontal nudity doesn't make her a good actress. Especially since, while she's suffering from sunstroke, dehydration, hunger, seasickness and jellyfish stings, she still looks like a million bucks. Applaud the actors for swimming with real sharks, but don't applaud the lack of drama that ensues.

Bright Leaves Director Ross McElwee seems to have no idea how boring he and his family history are. Understandably, those who liked Sherman's March wanted to find out what happened to its director-protagonist; the answer turned out to be not much.

Red Lights If you want good reviews, make your film in French. American critics will hail films on that basis alone -- even this tonally inconsistent hodgepodge about an obnoxious drunk who drives badly.

The Aviator Of all the figures in cinematic history I'd be willing to spend three hours watching, Howard Hughes ain't one. If you genuinely think the special effects here are good, you might be on crack.

Mean Creek Angry kids on an unsupervised boat trip? Constant ominous music? Gee, wonder what's going to happen next.

Garden State You mean to say that depressed people can snap out of their funk after sex with Natalie Portman? Never woulda guessed.

Shrek 2 Using "Livin' La Vida Loca" as a setpiece musical number should be grounds for an automatic thumbs-down. Stealing an entire song from Footloose for the climax ought to clinch the deal. Mostly, though, depending upon a stale pastiche of recycled gags from other movies is pure cinematic laziness, and needs to be labeled as such. -- Luke Y. Thompson

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