2000’s

[8] Writer/director Alexander Payne (Election, About Schmidt) takes us on a trip through California wine country with two middle-aged college buddies in Sideways, based on a novel by Rex Pickett. Paul Giamatti plays a divorced junior high school teacher suffering from depression and anxiety whose dream of becoming a published author is about the only thing keeping him going. Thomas Haden Church is a somewhat …

[5] Chris Pine, Lou Taylor Pucci (Thumbsucker), Piper Perabo (Coyote Ugly), and Emily VanCamp (Everwood) roam the empty western United States after a plague has killed most of the population. They do their best to avoid desperate stragglers, but have a harder time not turning on each other when the disease finally catches up with them. Carriers is well acted and captures a compelling post-apocalyptic …

[6] After seeing trailers for this movie, I decided I didn’t want to feel stuck in a jelly bean tornado for a whole two hours and fifteen minutes. But for whatever reason, I finally decided to take a chance on Lilly and Lana Wachowski’s big-budget, big-screen adaptation of a Japanese cartoon. It’s just as ugly as I expected, but under that garish surface, there’s a …

[4] Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman play terminally-ill cancer patients who decide to make one last go at their ‘bucket list’ — a list of things to see and do before they die. I usually trust director Rob Reiner (When Harry Met Sally, The Princess Bride) to deliver the goods, but this one’s a misfire for me. The opening act is naturally a sad one, …

[6] Embeth Davidtz (Army of Darkness) and Alessandro Nivola (The Art of Self-Defense) play married Chicago art dealers who stay with Nivola’s North Carolina family while Davidtz negotiates to represent a controversial painter who lives nearby. Nivola’s parents and brother put up a wall of quiet disapproval to Davidtz, but it slowly comes down as they realize she’s not the ‘elitist’ they fear. In contrast, …

[7] Colin Farrell stars as a free-spirited young man who enters into a romantic triangle with a woman (Robin Wright) and his boyhood friend (Dallas Roberts). A Home at the End of the World, based on the novel by Michael Cunningham (The Hours), takes us through three decades in these characters’ lives. The first quarter of the movie shows us how Farrell’s character was shaped …

[7] Steve Martin and Queen Latifah star in this farcical comedy about a prison escapee who elbows her way into an uptight lawyer’s life so he can help her overturn her wrongful conviction. Most of the laughs in Bringing Down the House come from the black/white culture clash, as Latifah tries to make Martin ‘cool’ and Martin tries to help Latifah pass through racist white …

[6] Frequent X-Files director Rob Bowman helms this action-packed monster movie about the last remaining humans on Earth battling dragons in post-apocalyptic England. Christian Bale plays the cautious leader of a colony of survivors who have taken up residence beneath an old castle. Matthew McConaughey plays a confident American dragonslayer who throws in with them. The two men have differing philosophies about how best to …

[4] Samuel L. Jackson stars as a homeless man trying to solve the murder of a young gay man who was the muse for a famous New York City photographer. Jackson’s character has a hard time getting anyone to take him seriously — not just because he’s homeless, but because he’s delusional. He believes an all-powerful man lives at the top of the Chrysler Building …

[6] A selfish senator forces his closeted gay son to be the poster boy for his re-election campaign. Meanwhile, an AIDS activist plans to publicly ‘out’ the son during a college campaign stop. Trouble is, the senator’s son and the AIDS activist start to really fall in love. Poster Boy is ambitious in its storytelling, juggling multiple characters and subplots. While it loses focus a …

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