Report Card

Movies

November 03, 2005

STAFF CRITICS GIVE YOU THE LOWDOWN ON TEN TOP MOVIES, POPCORN NOT INCLUDED!

Capote

What It's About: New Yorker writer Truman Capote researches the murder of a Kansas farm family and gets in over his head with one of the killers.

Rated: R

The scoop: Forty years from now, people will still be talking about Philip Seymour Hoffman's performance the way we are still talking about In Cold Blood.

Grade: A+

Dreamer

What It's About: A girl, her dad and a racehorse bond in ways guaranteed to warm every heart.

Rated: PG

The scoop: Stars Dakota Fanning and Kurt Russell are wonderful, even though the film is too precious by half.

Grade: C+

Good Night, and Good Luck

What It's About: CBS news pioneer Edward R. Murrow (David Strathairn) takes down the Wisconsin demagogue Sen. Joseph R. McCarthy at the height of McCarthy's anti-Communist witch hunt.

Rated: PG

The scoop: It's a brilliantly entertaining picture, as personal as it is political - both a tribute to a master reporter and a reverie on his Bogart-like code and glamour.

Grade: A

Legend of Zorro

What It's About: Zorro fights to save his marriage and help California achieve statehood - all at the same time!

Rated: PG-13

The scoop: It's got the same sterling cast (Antonio Banderas and Catherine Zeta-Jones) but a leaden family-friendly script removes their luster.

Grade: C+

North Country

What It's About: The first class-action sexual harassment suit emerging, improbably but factually, from the northern Minnesota iron mines.

Rated: R

The scoop: Charlize Theron and Frances McDormand act up a storm, but the movie devolves into a courtroom drama that's part Perry Mason, part Norma Rae.

Grade: B-

Prime

What It's About: Meryl Streep is a therapist whose son's much-older girlfriend (Uma Thurman) is also her patient. Oy!

Rated: PG-13

The scoop: Thurman is radiant and Streep is wonderful (who knew she could play such a convincing Jewish mother?) in a slight romantic comedy that spends too much time sticking to established Hollywood formula.

Grade: B

Saw II

What it's About: The Jigsaw Killer tortures those he deems unworthy of the lives they've been given, challenging them to beat him at his own sadistic games.

Rated: R

The scoop: Far better than the average slasher film, but take to heart its tagline, "Oh yes, there will be blood."

Grade: B-

Serenity

What It's About: Five hundred years in the future, a group of space rebels, for whom conformity is not an option, exult in being a pain in the side of the ruling Alliance, for whom conformity is everything.

Rated: PG-13

The scoop: This big-screen adaptation of Joss Whedon's cult TV series Firefly should delight those already familiar with its world and pique enough interest in everyone else to keep the franchise humming.

Grade: B

Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit

What It's About: The highly excellent dog Gromit and the dim yet upbeat human inventor Wallace take on a hulking monster who's devouring their town's veggies.

Rated: G

The scoop: Animator Nick Park has a genius for creating whimsies that are robust, hilarious and magical.

Grade: A+

The Weather Man

What It's About: The professional life of a Chicago weatherman (Nicolas Cage) skyrockets while his personal life fizzles.

Rated: R

The scoop: Despite some funny bits, the movie is so depressing, it feels far longer than its 102 minutes.

Grade: C+

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