February 2005 Archives

The Prettiest Actors

The 10 greatest actors of “our” generation? (Whatever “our” means.) According to GQ, those great arbiters of cinema, it’s these boys: Nicolas Cage, Jim Carrey, Don Cheadle, Russell Crowe, Benicio Del Toro, Johnny Depp, Leonardo, DiCaprio, Gael Garcia Bernal, Clive Owen, and John C. Reilly.

It’s a very pretty list, Cage and Reilly excepted. (Via Salon.)

Boilerplate Biopic

There’s nothing wrong with Ray that a little less hype couldn’t fix. As biopics go, it’s pretty good. Jamie Foxx is convincing as the iconic Ray Charles. Writer James L. White and writer/director Taylor Hackford employ a clumsily expository flashback structure that actually pays off beautifully at the end with a startling and unexpected moment of transcendence and vision. Two and a half hours clip by briskly. And there’s plenty of Charles’ music.

Birth is the perfect antidote for anybody who thinks reincarnation is a romantic notion, allowing for a reunion with the spirit of a loved one who has died. By mining the practicalities of the situation, the movie becomes a rare work that humanizes and seeks to understand the effects of reincarnation instead of merely employing it for cheap horror or cheesy romance.

Illini Fever

My beloved Illinois men’s basketball team is very, very good, but this is ridiculous. It’s almost as bad as the anchor at ESPNEWS who asked Tuesday after Illinois won at Michigan State where the Fighting Illini rank among the greatest college-basketball teams ever. Sheesh.

A key reason Dirty Pretty Things works so well is that the audience can never be sure in what direction it will go. It might be a sober exploration of issues related to immigration, or it might be a romance, or it might be a humanistic thriller, or it might be a Lynchian mystery, or ... . It’s all those things, actually, and at least pretty good at all of them. The movie is nimble, and just when you think you’ve nailed it, it swerves in another direction.