2000’s

[8.0] RenĂ©e Zellweger gives an Oscar-worthy performance as Hollywood legend Judy Garland in this film about the decline of her life and career, based on the stage play “End of the Rainbow”. Despite inherent potential for doom and gloom in a story about a woman suffering from alcoholism and drug abuse, Judy is actually a hopeful story of perseverance. The painful flashbacks about her childhood …

[6.5] A nice young dude with an obsession for Mad Max and the Apocalypse falls in love with a cool young chick. But when he catches her with another dude, he and his best bud consider going medieval on some people’s asses. Bellflower is a genuine love story that takes some dark turns, supported by an unknown cast who give surprisingly good performances. Writer/director Evan …

[7.0] Nicolas Winding Refn (Drive, Only God Forgives) serves up this meditative drama about a mute, one-eyed, pagan strong man (Hannibal‘s Mads Mikkelsen) who fights for the entertainment of his Norse captors way back around the year 1000 AD. He finally escapes and brings a young boy along with him. The two soon take up company with a small band of Crusaders looking for their …

[3.0] Maybe Alice Sebold’s novel is a different and more worthwhile experience. But not having read it, I’m pondering what the hell I’m supposed to take away from Peter Jackson’s film adaptation of The Lovely Bones. The movie is about a dead 14-year-old (Saoirse Ronan) who is stuck in some sort of purgatory where she can look in on her grieving family, as well as …

[6.5] Kirsten Dunst and Jay Hernandez star in this teen drama about a rich but troubled white girl and a poor but hard-studying Latino boy who fall in love. Before long, her party attitude begins to clash with his determination to succeed, especially after secrets are revealed about Dunst’s past. When her congressman father (Bruce Davison) encourages Hernandez not to see her anymore, Hernandez must …

[6.0] Director/co-writer Alexandre Aja hit the horror scene with this taut, gory French thriller about a young woman staying with a classmate’s family when a home invader attacks. The invader murders the friend’s parents and little brother, then kidnaps the friend. Our young heroine pursues them and eventually confronts the villain… and that’s when High Tension pulls some M. Night Shyamalan-style shenanigans. I love that …

[7.0] Larry Clark (Kids) directs this adaptation of a true story involving a group of Florida teenagers who conspire to murder a mutual friend. Bobby (Nick Stahl) is the object of everyone’s scorn. He’s a complicated, twisted character in the film. You can feel that he’s under the pressure of his father, and is probably fighting homosexual desire (he watches gay porn while having sex). …

[7.0] Mike White (The Good Girl, Orange County) wrote and stars in this disturbing but poignant drama about an emotionally stunted young man named Buck who develops an obsession for an old childhood friend named Chuck (Chris Weitz). After Buck’s mother dies, the two men are reunited after years of estrangement and you can immediately tell Chuck is uncomfortable with old pal. While he and …

[5.0] Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo, and Robert Downey, Jr. star in David Fincher’s film about the investigation of the so-called ‘Zodiac’ killer in the late ’60s through the early ’80s. Downey and Gyllenhaal’s characters work for the San Francisco Chronicle, which begins receiving letters from the killer. As he seeks fame in the press, Ruffalo and Anthony Edwards are the cops who try for years …

[7.5] Angelina Jolie stars in this gripping true story about a woman in 1920s Los Angeles whose young son vanishes without a trace one afternoon. When the L.A.P.D. notify her they’ve found him, she’s shocked to discover the returned boy is not her son. Despite teachers and doctors agreeing with her about the new boy’s mistaken identity, the police won’t continue the search for her …

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