2000’s

[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 …

[8] Naomi Watts and Laura Harring star in this dreamy David Lynch film that almost defies summary, but I’ll do my best. Watts plays a young actress fresh in Hollywood who meets Harring, a woman who just escaped a car crash and has amnesia. Trying to figure out Harring’s identity, the two uncover an unsettling mystery and fall in love. Meanwhile, Justin Theroux plays a …

[5] After his little brother discovers a dead dog and a scary old man on a wooded shortcut, a new-teen-in-town (Drew Seeley) invites his friends to investigate the trail and the legend behind the mysterious old man who patrols it. The opening act of The Shortcut fails to generate any excitement for the story that lies ahead, one that’s a little less obvious than big …

[6] Liam Neeson stars as an ex-CIA operative who pursues sex traffickers in Paris to rescue his kidnapped daughter. Taken opens with twenty minutes of clunky, expository screenwriting before Neeson is allowed to kick things into high gear. He single-handedly rescues this formula potboiler with a performance of fierce determination. Not since the likes of Clint Eastwood has an actor threatened to find and kill …

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