Monday, April 10, 2006

Friends with Money (***)

Friends with Money is a terrific character piece, featuring excellent performances from its four female leads and an exceptional script by writer-director Nicole Holofcener. If you've seen Holofcener's Lovely & Amazing (also starring Catherine Keener), you know that she writes very well, and particularly, she writes for women very well. There should be more like her out in Hollywood. Here, we have four strong roles for women. They're complex and interesting and dynamic and funny, and usually all at the same time. Jennifer Aniston shows the kind of acting chops she hasn't displayed since The Good Girl, and Frances McDormand shines as a successful woman who may have just reached the end of her rope. Though it doesn't have much have a story, that didn't bother me too much. I savored the witty dialogue and insightful relationships on screen.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Inside Man (***1/2)

Inside Man is one of the best studio films to be released in years, and certainly the best bank heist film since Quick Change. If you haven't seen that Bill Murray gem yet, go rent it now. I was surprised by how deft and comic this film was. Make no mistake, this is definitely a Spike Lee movie, but it's probably his most accessible and enjoyable film to date. He really nails the heightened atmosphere of a post-9/11 New York City, and all of the lead actors: Denzel, Jodie, and Clive have meaty, substantial roles to chew on. Kudos to the writer as well for fashioning some clever twists and a refreshing take on the genre. Exciting and intelligent, Inside Man is well worth a trip to the theater. Highly recommended.

Slither (***)

You know whether you want to see Slither just by looking at the poster. This is a really fun B-flick that's the kind of movie you find on USA after flipping through the channels and just kind of leave on. In the vein of Tremors and other horror comedies, this is an imaginative, fast-paced, and really funny pastiche of zombies, aliens, bugs, and other things that go bump in the night. It features really gross special effects, but it's not all that bloody, just a lot of bug guts and such. I had fun with it.

Thank You For Smoking (***)

I liked Thank You for Smoking, but found it kind of hit and miss. It's got a great concept and a stellar cast, but it wasn't as funny as it should have been. Don't get me wrong. It's entertaining and breezy, but I kind of wanted more. It's nice to see Aaron Eckhart get a lead role worthy of his talents, and I have to admit that The O.C.'s Adam Brody stole the show as a Hollywood assistant to uber-agent Rob Lowe. The Hollywood sequences are probably the best part. Worth a look though.