Short Subjectives 

Capsule reviews of films by CL critics

Page 4 of 4

SHARK TALE (PG) A too-obvious message movie about keepin' it real and accepting "different" children, this computer-animated undersea comedy has its share of laughs but is no Shrek or Finding Nemo. It lands all the fish puns Nemo threw back, some in the name of product placement. (Kelpy Kreme Doughnuts, anyone?). Amid such fine voice actors as Will Smith, Renee Zellweger and Jack Black, Martin Scorsese, of all people, turns out to be the breakout talent. -- SW

SHAUN OF THE DEAD (R) A put-upon English bloke (co-writer Simon Pegg) gets so caught up in his girlfriend and roommate problems that he scarcely notices the apocalyptic zombie crises happening around him. Writer-director Edgar Wright rises above the undead genre's schlocky traditions with a first act of comic genius. The intensity of the zombie-siege sequences runs contrary to the film's deadpan comedy, but its rapid pace, hilarious ensemble and inventive action scenes make it a splatter classic. -- CH

SILVER CITY (R) A law firm investigator (Danny Huston) tries to link a deceased John Doe to the Colorado gubernatorial campaign of a dim-witted politician (Chris Cooper). Director John Sayles' sprawling story provides a step-by-step primer on corrupt American politics, but so seriously pursues his serious themes that he looses his sense of humor. Cooper and Daryl Hannah provide sharp supporting roles, but Sayles brought more punch to Lone Star's suspiciously similar story. -- CH

SKY CAPTAIN AND THE WORLD OF TOMORROW (PG) When giant flying robots attack cities around the world, Gwyneth Paltrow's sassy reporter teams with Jude Law's heroic mercenary to find the suspected evil-doer. Filmmakers shot actors in front of blue screens and digitally filled in all of the stunningly detailed backgrounds. But Sky Captain falls into the trap of the Star Wars prequels by paying more attention to the digital effects than the slow-moving story and underdeveloped characters. -- Heather Kuldell

TAXI (PG-13) See review.

TAE GUK GI: THE BROTHERHOOD OF WAR (NR) South Korea's most expensive and highest-grossing film of all time depicts the relationship of two brothers as they face the horrors of the Korean War.

TYING THE KNOT (NR) First time filmmaker Jim de Sève offers an at times heartrending, but more often routine, examination of gay marriage. This highly traditional documentary is unlikely to change opponents' minds, or offer fresh angles on the issue for gay marriage supporters. The film does present powerful examples of the cruel outcome of anti-gay marriage laws for two individuals -- a Tampa police officer and an Oklahoma farmer -- devastated by the deaths of their partners and then viciously denied their inheritance by the state. -- FF

VANITY FAIR (PG-13) Director Mira Nair (Monsoon Wedding) weaves some crafty insights about the soul-killing effects of class in 19th century England into her skillful, witty adaptation of William Makepeace Thackeray's beloved novel. But Thackeray's heroine, Becky Sharp (Reese Witherspoon), who uses guile and charm to rise from poverty to the heights of English society, seems most inspired by the sunny, all-American ambition of Legally Blonde's Elle Woods. Nair updates post-feminist Becky to make her palatable to a modern audience, and in the process, her heroine loses some of her bite. -- FF

WHAT THE #$! DO WE KNOW? (NR) This head-scratching hybrid of philosophical documentary and narrative feature proves to be about everything and nothing. As a framing device follows a divorced photographer (Marlee Matlin) on her daily routine, intercut with talking-head interviews with physicists and other heavy thinkers about quantum science, human perception and positive thinking. Grating, silly animation accompanies the persuasive section about how people can get addicted to negative emotions, while much of the film's deep thoughts embody New Age spirituality at its most squishy. -- CH

WOMAN, THOU ART LOOSED (R) Bishop T.D. Jakes plays himself in this inevitably preachy adaptation of his bestselling inspirational book. The Manchurian Candidate's Kimberly Elise stars as an oft-jailed former drug addict on death row who recalls the pressures to succumb to a life of crime. Elise's watchful, cagy performance provides a center to a film that goes in too many directions -- including flashbacks-within-flashbacks and characters who "testify' to the camera - to integrate its spiritual message with its heavy-handed plot. -- CH

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