Page 2 of 4
· BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN - 5 Stars (R) Ang Lee's heart-wrenching Western one-ups the male tenderness and isolation of the traditional oater by basing this film on Annie Proulx's short story of two cowboys (Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal) who fall in love in 1963 Wyoming. Lee's film is lovely to look at and profoundly moving, touching on both the economic and spiritual isolation of the ranch hand's life and also the more universal alienation of being a man. Ledger is superb as an archetype of male interiority, an emotionally contained man who finds his slim fragments of happiness in short, infrequent meetings with Jack, who dreams of an impossible future for their doomed love affair. -- Felicia Feaster
· BUBBLE - 3 Stars (R) Hollywood playa Steven Soderbergh goes lo-fi in this working class tragedy about a pair of emotionless doll factory workers in Ohio whose humdrum lives are altered when a pretty single mother arrives on the doll-painting floor. A film founded on routine lives and repressed emotions, Bubble captures in Soderbergh's minimalist tone, the feel of its depressing milieu (thanks in large part to its cast of nonprofessional actors). But this first of six films Soderbergh has agreed to direct for HDNet films, which in a novel exhibition strategy will release on DVD, in theaters and on TV simultaneously, doesn't seem like an especially passionate or visionary break from Hollywood. -- Feaster
· CACHÉ - 5 Stars (R) Devastating and creepy, this Best Director Cannes Film Festival award winner from Michael Haneke concerns a Paris family, Anne (Juliette Binoche) and Georges Laurent (Daniel Auteuil) and their 12-year-old son (Lester Makedonsky), who are being terrorized by an unknown person sending them disturbing videotapes and drawings. Haneke's usual critique of the European upper middle-class's blindness to the dis-ease and trauma of the world around them is enriched by intentional and coincidental allusions to French history, the country's miserable track record in Algeria, and the recent violence in the poor banlieues of Paris. -- Feaster
· CAPOTE - 5 Stars (R) Shrugging off the limitations of the usual biopic story arc, Bennett Miller's absorbing, thought-provoking, extremely well-crafted first fiction film (he directed the documentary The Cruise) focuses on a small but significant portion of Truman Capote's life during the researching of his groundbreaking work of true crime nonfiction In Cold Blood, and the unhealthy mutual dependency that develops between the writer and one of the killers (Clifton Collins Jr.) of a Kansas farm family. -- Feaster
· CASANOVA (R) After his risky role as Brokeback Mountain's gay cowboy, Heath Ledger renews his hetero credentials by playing one of history's most famous seducers in this frothy period romance directed by Lasse Hallström.
· THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE - 2 Stars (PG) Four plucky English youngsters step through an enchanted wardrobe and take sides in a magical kingdom's war between good and evil. Initially charming, the lavish adaptation of the C.S. Lewis book struggles to balance the source material's blend of English whimsy, epic violence and Christian allegory (complete with a cameo appearance from Father Christmas). Despite plenty of elaborately memorable images, Narnia feels more sterile than spiritual. -- Holman
· GARÇON STUPIDE - 3 Stars (Not Rated) Swiss director Lionel Baier's portrait of alienation and loneliness follows Loïc (Pierre Chatagny), a gay Bulle factory worker, on his afterwork pursuits, cruising the streets of big city Lausanne for pickups or meeting men on the internet for anonymous sex. Baier initially distracts from Loïc's angst with his explicit keyhole views of his uncensored bedroom activities. But when he settles down and focuses on Loïc's desire for connection in an alienated world, his film profits immeasurably. -- Feaster
· GLORY ROAD (PG) Hollywood's efficiency at cranking out fact-based, Hoosiers-esque sports films can be a wonder to behold. In 1966, a coach (Josh Lucas) at Texas Western leads the first all-black starting line-up for a college team to the NCAA basketball championship.
· GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK - 5 Stars (PG) In the early 1950s, Edward R. Murrow (David Strathairn) used his CBS show "See It Now" to take on U.S. Sen. Joe McCarthy's "witch hunt" tactics. Every creative decision pays off in George Clooney's second film, a black-and-white homage to the "greatest generation" of broadcast journalists, whose courage in the face of enormous pressures makes the Bush administration press corps look timid by comparison. The film succeeds enormously well at getting you under the skin of Murrow's reporters and anticipating the increasing influence of entertainment on broadcast news. See it now. -- Holman
· A GOOD WOMAN (PG) This adaptation of Oscar Wilde's play of the same name features Helen Hunt as a seductress who attracts the husband of a younger woman (the ubiquitous Scarlett Johansson).