Chris Cooper

[6.5] Visionary director Julie Taymor (Titus, Across the Universe) brings Shakespeare’s The Tempest to the big screen, with the lead role of Prospero played not by a man, as per tradition, but by Helen Mirren. Mirren’s Prospera is raising her daughter (Felicity Jones) on a barren, mystical island where she can practice the magic that got her banished from society. The film opens with Prospera …

[7.0] Tom Hanks plays Fred Rogers, the famous host of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, a children’s program that ran on PBS for over thirty years. But this movie isn’t just about Fred Rogers. It’s also the true story of journalist Tom Junod (named Lloyd Vogel in the movie), and the life-affirming friendship he developed while interviewing Rogers for an article. In the beginning, Vogel (played admirably …

[8.0] If someone is going to pick up Louisa May Alcott’s much-loved literary classic, dust it off, and serve up a retelling, let it be the Oscar-nominated writer/director of Lady Bird. Greta Gerwig is respectably faithful to the material, but bold in her decision to dice the story up and deliver it in non-linear fashion. In Gerwig’s adaptation, we experience the aftermath of the March …

[6.0] This film, along with What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, both released the same year, made young Leonardo DiCaprio a star. DiCaprio holds his own against the formidable Robert DeNiro, here playing an abusive step-father. The performances are good, but the story (based on the memoir of author Tobias Wolff) is predictable and protracted. Ellen Barkin is good in a thankless role. Look for Tobey Maguire, …

[6.5] Ben Affleck stars in and directs this drama/thriller about a bank robber who falls in love with the manager at a bank he recently took down while he plans his next heist and evades the FBI. Affleck is a solid director, especially in the film’s heist and chase scenes, but The Town lacks a bit of the tension and thrill found in his earlier films …

[7.0] I can’t imagine a harder franchise to revive than The Muppets. They’re so innocent, so low-fi, so much a product of the 70s and 80s… is it possible for them to garner new fans, or are kids today just too busy and cynical to give felt a chance? The verdict is out (at least until the weekend box office results are in), but as …

[6.5]  [Warning: This review contains spoilers.]  Spike Jonze directs this meta tale of a screenwriter losing his mind trying to adapt a book called The Orchid Thief. While his twin brother moves in and begins mirroring him in many ways, he decides he needs to find the author of the book to excavate its meaning. If you can’t already tell, Adaptation is a very hard …

[7.0] The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was better than I was expecting. Unlike nearly all the Batman movies, the Spider-Man movies — both the Sam Raimi ones and these new ones from Marc Webb — succeed in keeping the hero upfront and interesting, the star of his own movie, you know? So I gotta give Spidey credit there. In fact, a lot of people are probably …

[4.5] SPOILER REVIEW I really liked American Beauty when it was first released. Maybe I was wooed by its quirky introspection and aesthetic achievments. Or maybe it was screenwriter Alan Ball’s fresh new way of blending the real with the surreal. Or even the meditative lilt of Thomas Newman’s trend-setting score. But whatever the reason(s), watching the film ten years later, I realize — American …