I'm honored to be asked by Stephanie Allain - whom I've long admired - to add to the scope of my programming purview at Film Independent. I salute David Ansen for his work with the festival and look forward to continuing to follow his example.
Spending time with Mexican-born writer and director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, you'd never guess that he's the filmmaker behind a series of movies known as the 'Death Trilogy.' The way he dotes on his children and talks about his wife makes it clear that he has a crackling passion for life.
What we're most aware of in 'Eight-Legged Freaks' is how similar it is to other movies, a recombinant mutated species itself, the product of the crossbreeding of the suffering-from-gigantism movies of the 1950s and the 1990 B-picture classic 'Tremors.'
When Bruce Lee gets his cameo in 'The Green Hornet' - as one of the drawings in Kato's notebook - it clarifies what the film is: an unrealized sketch. A sketch can afford to allude to a point of view. Moviemakers need to show their point of view, something this shrug of a movie never gets around to doing.
Like his countryman, Kiefer Sutherland, Seth Rogen has a voice that's 10 years older than he is - a combination of world-weariness and exuberance, an instrument that he's mastered for specific comic shadings.
Justin Lin, the writer and director of the teenage-wasteland drama 'Better Luck Tomorrow,' a shrewdly tense piece of storytelling, recognizes that sometimes it's good for a filmmaker to stir up trouble.
Music is a big part of the director's life; Ms. Coppola's previous feature, a screen adaptation of 'The Virgin Suicides,' was informed more substantially by the score by the group Air than by the narrative.
Before he became 'a working actor,' as he now proudly calls himself, Jamie Dornan initially caught the public's attention as a model - you may remember him from those greasy underwear ads with Eva Mendes, among many others.
I saw Berry in concert a couple of times in the late '70s - and like almost every North American male of a certain age, I went because a friend was hired by Berry that very day to be part of the legend's backup band.
The picture is being promoted as Disney's 'Spirited Away,' although seeing just 10 minutes of this English version of a hugely popular Japanese film will quickly disabuse any discerning viewer of the notion that it is a Disney creation.
In 'Windtalkers,' the director John Woo is meticulous in melding his own intimate style into the cliches of a large-scale war movie, paying homage to all the tired conventions of the genre. But it's an honor that these cliches don't deserve.
Tina Fey, a performer and head writer for 'Saturday Night Live,' has deftly adapted Rosalind Wiseman's nonfiction dissection of teenage girl societal interaction, 'Queen Bees and Wannabes: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends and Other Realities of Adolescence.'
The documentary 'Certifiably Jonathan' has engrossing moments in it. How can it not? It's got a great subject - the extraordinarily voluble comedian Jonathan Winters, whose constant rush of words can be like a blizzard: beautiful, maddening, exhausting, and finally beautiful again. But it's not a great film.
What makes 'Pootie Tang' the motion picture enjoyable is its no-brow ambitions; it's a joke action film. It slides through enough African-American pop culture signifiers to raise laughs out of those who will appreciate the references; it revels in more cheese per square inch than a soul food diner.
It's so funny: whenever there's a new technology introduced, there's always this fear it's going to end entertainment as we know it. When records came around, they were going to be the end of live music. Nobody would ever want to go see live music again.
'Infernal Affairs' uses a vibrating terseness usually found in the writer and director Michael Mann's work. Thematically, this film deploys the techniques Mr. Mann brought to bear on 'Heat,' right down to using a similar cold-blooded electronic score.
I thought that, as a black audience member, I would like to see something that reflected an experience that's not normally exhibited in documentaries, or is so much about black people as victims in this country, and black people not taking control of their own lives and their own destinies.
His work isn't all glower. Even though he hasn't smiled in a movie since the underrated 'Proof' in the early 1990s, Mr. Crowe is given to a hurt swallow when he's uncomfortable and to a look of suffering in his eyes.
The pleasantly crude 'Hall Pass' reminds us of what's been missing from movies: Those squirm-inducing moments in comedy that produce enough discomfort that, at points, what we're watching is half a heartbeat away from a horror film.