Daniel Craig explodes in ‘Layer Cake,’ a smart, slick flick that rarely stops moving

Daniel Craig and Colm Meaney in 'Layer Cake'
Daniel Craig and Colm Meaney in ‘Layer Cake’

[rating=3]Starring: Daniel Craig, Colm Meaney, Kenneth Cranham, George Harris, Louis Emerick, Tom Hardy
Director(s): Matthew Vaughn
Writer(s): J.J. Connolly

I’m not sure why, but the Brits seem obsessed with fast-paced, super edited crime thrillers where there are no real good guys, just a bunch of bad guys trying to one-up each other.

That’s pretty much the concept behind Layer Cake, but that doesn’t mean it’s not entertaining. In fact, it’s actually a pretty good movie.

Read moreDaniel Craig explodes in ‘Layer Cake,’ a smart, slick flick that rarely stops moving

Birol Ünel and Sibel Kekilli are great together in ‘Head-On’

Birol Ünel stars in 'Head-On'
Birol Ünel stars in ‘Head-On’

[rating=3]Starring: Birol Ünel, Sibel Kekilli
Director(s): Fatih Akin
Writer(s): Fatih Akin

Cahit (Birol Ünel) is a 40-year-old self-destructive drunk. To pay the bills, he picks up empties at a nearby club — often finishing the abandoned beers himself. He snorts coke when he can, he looks like a grungier version of Benicio Del Toro, and his apartment in Hamburg reaches levels of filth I never saw in four years of fraternity life. So it’s not much of a surprise when, during one bender, he totals his car by driving it into a brick wall.

Read moreBirol Ünel and Sibel Kekilli are great together in ‘Head-On’

‘Finding Neverland’ is the rare film which has pitch-perfect acting and writing

Johnny Depp and Dustin Hoffman in 'Finding Neverland'
Johnny Depp and Dustin Hoffman in ‘Finding Neverland’

[rating=4]Starring: Johnny Depp, Kate Winslet, Julie Christie, Dustin Hoffman
Director(s): Marc Forster
Writer(s): David Magee, based on the play by Allan Knee

Ahh, Los Angeles in January… It is a most glorious time of year when our attentions turn collectively to Awards Season©. It is a time when Variety and The Hollywood Reporter do their best work, serving as mere staples for a throng of “For Your Consideration” studio ads.

Read more‘Finding Neverland’ is the rare film which has pitch-perfect acting and writing

Clint Eastwood’s ‘Mystic River’ is richly performed, beautifully executed

Kevin Bacon in 'Mystic River'
Kevin Bacon in ‘Mystic River’

[rating=3]Starring: Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Kevin Bacon, Laurence Fishburne, Marcia Gay Harden, Laura Linney
Director(s): Clint Eastwood
Writer(s): Screenplay by Brian Helgeland; Based upon the novel by Dennis Lehane

Deeply nuanced performances breathe reality into the film’s somewhat tried plot devices, and ultimately overshadow a director’s visible manipulation and a studio’s heavy handed marketing to deliver an intensely satisfying film.

Read moreClint Eastwood’s ‘Mystic River’ is richly performed, beautifully executed

‘The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou’ has intriguing characters, beautiful dialogue and nuanced performances

The cast of 'The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou'
The cast of ‘The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou’

[rating=3]Starring: Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Cate Blanchett, Anjelica Huston, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum
Director(s): Wes Anderson
Writer(s): Wes Anderson and Noah Baumbach

Recently I went on a couple of dates with a beautiful blonde who may or may not have been out of my league. We got along well, I made her laugh, and I thoroughly enjoyed the making out (and the potential for more). But abruptly, after the second date, my phone calls went unreturned. Now, I’m not one to bear ill will at such an early stage, so the experience left me with nothing to say but a declarative “Huh”. I enjoyed the time that we had, but I ended up feeling like there was something that I missed.

Read more‘The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou’ has intriguing characters, beautiful dialogue and nuanced performances

Brad Bird makes Pixar’s ‘The Incredibles’ simply incredible

Pixar's 'The Incredibles'
Pixar’s ‘The Incredibles’

[rating=4]Starring: Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Samuel L Jackson, Jason Lee, Elizabeth Peña
Director(s): Brad Bird
Writer(s): Brad Bird

It would have been easy for this latest Pixar/Disney outing to pander to the cynical nature of a lowest common denominator movie audience. Easy to poke fun at its source material with an air of hindsight superiority. Easy to look down on the super hero/spy-fi efforts and styles of generations past. Easy to present us with a dysfunctional family that derides rather than supports, bickers rather than communicates. All for the sake of comedy. But this would have been the cheap and easy laugh. And there isn’t a mocking bone in this whole film.

Read moreBrad Bird makes Pixar’s ‘The Incredibles’ simply incredible

‘Uncovered: The War in Iraq’ is more propaganda than sincere discussion

'Uncovered: The War in Iraq' takes a hard look at President George W. Bush and his administration
‘Uncovered: The War in Iraq’ takes a hard look at President George W. Bush and his administration

[rating=3]Director(s): Robert Greenwald

What can I say about this film? It presents a rather compelling dissection of the case for war in Iraq and its fallacies that the Bush Administration laid out in the days and weeks leading to the invasion. It features a collection of experts, from Robert Baer, a former CIA operative who worked in Iraq and Lebanon for more than 20 years; to Graham Fuller, the former Vice Chairman of the National Intelligence Council at the CIA.

Read more‘Uncovered: The War in Iraq’ is more propaganda than sincere discussion