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The 50's never looked so good or so insidious as in Todd Haynes' "Far from Heaven."

The 50's never looked so good or so insidious as in Todd Haynes' "Far from Heaven." Julienne Moore plays a stereotypically Women's-League do-good mother of 2, Cathy, whose life starts the deep descent into hell with the revelation that her husband, Frank (Dennis Quaid), is gay and she is attracted to her black gardener.

Sony Pictures Classics Rated R

The success of the film, then and now, rests with the leads, and they failed.

"8 Women" is eight women short of the brilliant turn by one woman last year, Charlotte Rampling, in Ozon's superior "Under the Sand."

The film is filled with regular people making Asses of themselves about guns.

Michael Moore ("Roger & Me") knows no shame. In this funny, flawed, and ultimately important documentary about guns in America, "Bowling for Columbine," Moore's greatest moment is when he corrals poor Charlton Heston, president of the NRA, into an interview.

Pfeiffer does her best work here...

"White Oleander," adapted from Janet Fitch's best-selling novel, is hard and edgy about the bond between single mother and daughter, letting us see the reality of a strong artistic mother (Michelle Pfeiffer) tyrannizing her gifted daughter (Alison Lohman). After murdering her lover, mom goes to prison and daughter goes on an odyssey of self discovery in foster families, reminiscent of Burt Lancaster's episodic journey in John Cheever's "The Swimmer."

The story is slow, the dialogue trite, and nothing new has been added to the themes of father/son relationships and Mafia honor.

"Derivative without wit" is what I would call "Knockaround Guys." Blood, yes. Redemption--yes. Caring about anyone in this movie-No.

Four mobster sons descend on a small Montana town to locate a bag of cash meant for one of their fathers. Problem is, corrupt sheriff (Tom Noonan of "Manhunter's" Tooth-Fairy fame) plans to keep the $500K for himself and his deputy.

This "Red Dragon" is a second-rate "Silence" imitation and a poor remake of "Manhunter."

Director Brett Ratner's remake of Michael Mann's "Manhunter" is a vain attempt to capture the wide-eyed horror of the original and marry it to the genius of Jonathan Demme's "Silence of the Lambs." Because there is no better serial-killer story than "Lambs" in cinema history, Ratner's version is a lamb sacrificed silently on the altar squarely dominated by Demme and Anthony Hopkins.

...I witnessed one of the great comic satirists of our time.

Margaret Cho is a standup comedienne of surpassing talent, an American born to Korean parents. Her first theater release, "I'm the One That I want," treaded relatively softly on her bisexuality and established the imitation of her mother as a signature bit.

"Some Cupids kill with arrows, some with traps, " the poet once said.

The compilation of the eleven films, then screened, covered the full range of human emotions.

It was a somber evening in Toronto, the air heavy and moist with heat. The voices of those waiting outside Roy Thomson Hall were muted and subdued. The usual buzz of excitement anticipating the arrival of the limos full of world famous directors and stars was conspicuously absent.

Gabriele Muccinio's "The Last Kiss" is a rapidly paced bedroom romp...

...when people follow their hearts, much as their heads resist, everything will turn out happily.

Reese Witherspoon does a Meg-Ryan imitation in this typically-American romantic comedy about a successful NY fashion designer who must choose between a glamorous marriage to a handsome patrician or staying married to a charming redneck back home in sweet Alabama.

See this documentary to find out what the title means...you may never be sure you are getting the true story.

We can talk about Hollywood endlessly from our experience with its movies and the endless gossip in our media. Some of us even have family members in the business, but we haven't completed our education until we've seen the documentary of mogul Robert Evans's life, "The Kid Stays in the Picture."

"The Four Feathers" is old-fashioned moviemaking at its best.

"Rules of Attraction" proves romance just isn't what it used to be.

Roger Avery's "Rules of Attraction" has taken Brett Easton Ellis's social satire and not only depicted a degenerated privileged class at a fictional New England college in the '80's, but he has also ironically idealized the students' search for love and identity.

Sex and drugs are rampant while class attendance is rare. The parties are called pre-Saturday night, dressed-to-get-screwed, or the end of the world.

The film's ending will delight social anthropologists, and parents lose their grip on tradition,...

Ever the social realist and humanist, John Sayles ("Lone Star," "Matewan," for example) in "Sunshine State" has his most-balanced treatment today on the impact of time, history, and environment on the evolution of human habitation.

...it's not quite Shakespeare but close.

How many times have you heard this philosophy in film: "All I have is memory"? "The Fast Runner" is just such a memory film of the Iglooik people telling a 1000 year-old story of feuding brothers, unfaithful wives, and patricide most foul. The beginning voiceover says, "I can only say this story to someone who understands it."

Not even her much-watched body and his Chandler-Bing attitude can save this piece of Hollywood junk...

When is a movie worse than last year's David-Duchovny "Evolution"? When it's "Serving Sara," starring Matthew Perry and Elizabeth Hurley.

Not even her much-watched body and his Chandler-Bing attitude can save this piece of Hollywood junk probably no one but Paramount would take.

Yes, a surfing movie with some weight easily glides over the lame "Ya Ya."

Could teen flick "Blue Crush" actually crush "Divine Secrets of the YA YA Sisterhood" by saying more about the need of young women to strike out on their own? Yes, a surfing movie with some weight easily glides over the lame "Ya Ya."

At the crossroad of new traditions and old superstitions, here's a look at the history of Halloween.

Eye of newt, and toe of frog
Wool of bat, and tongue of dog
Adder's fork, and blind-worm's sting
Lizard's leg, and owlet's wing
For a charm of powerful trouble
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.

"Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one."

Responding to my recent web review of "The Emperor's New Clothes," in which I praised the cinematographer's shot of a sunrise, a crew member gently wrote to me he and some other special effects people had worked a few weeks to create that shot. I felt like Michael Bay, director of "Pearl Harbor," who allegedly couldn't tell the difference between his original footage and the digital ones.

"The Good Girl" and Anniston do a remarkable job of depicting the lost life,...

There's a moment when I hoped for a memorable line, but it left without a trace.

In "Blood Work," Clint Eastwood's retired FBI profiler has a new heart from a woman whose murderer he is determined to find. While it is painful to watch an aging Eastwood worry about his heart throughout the film, it is comforting to know his symbolic heart is in great shape as he wins the love of a woman almost half his age.

XXX

"Filmmakers now realize that action doesn't have to be dumb. . . .

Miramax PG-13

All right already-we get the point about reality and fiction,...

My two children working in Hollywood could verify that Steven Soderbergh's "Full Frontal" captures some of the neurotic self-indulgence and egocentrism of that powerful colony. But then David Lynch did a much more challenging analysis of Hollywood actors and the relationship to their roles in "Mulholland Drive," and Tim Robbins just plain had more fun skewering the motion-picture process in "The Player."

...nothing is as it seems and no one can be trusted.

I have never seen a film as relentlessly uncompromising about the allure, power, and banality of the con game as I have seen in the Argentine "Nine Queens." From the opening sequence where small-time grifter Juan pulls a $20 switch at a convenience store to the final scam that looks like "House of Cards" and "The Sting" welded onto "Hard Eight," nothing is as it seems and no one can be trusted.

"Signs" is a cautionary tale about believing in powers greater than ourselves whose signs are all around us...

"Signs," directed by M. Night Shyamalan of "The Sixth Sense" and starring Mel Gibson, echoes "War of the Worlds," "Field of Dreams," and numerous "B" Sci-Fi's whose message about fate and faith is more important even than scaring the bejesus out of us.

This is good old-fashioned romance, history, and fiction all in one small but unforgettable film,...

In 1821, on St. Helena, Napoleon loyalists switch the emperor with a look-alike ship hand and send the little tyrant secretly off to Paris to revive the Old Order. I love improbable movies like "The Emperor's New Clothes," especially the docudramas that feed our lust to know the insides of great figures.

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