Report Card

November 10, 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+

Chicken Little

What It's About: A little chicken insists the sky is falling, and not even his own dad believes him.

Rated: G

The scoop: Believing traditonal animation is too passe, Disney jumps into the computer-animated fray with that hoariest of cartoon cliches, the cute animal pic. If it does nothing else, this wan effort makes Pixar's continued brilliance (from Toy Story to The Incredibles) seem even more amazing.

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

Jarhead

What It's About: Jake Gyllenhaal enlists in the Marine Corps, suffers boot camp and gets ready to chuck it all when he's made a scout/sniper and ships off to the Gulf War.

Rated: R

The scoop: Every generation needs its comic and sadistic military epic, and judging from the box office, this is the one for now.

Grade: C+

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+

Mirrormask

What It's About: A girl wants to run away from the circus - and winds up in a magical netherworld where she proves her mettle.

Rated: PG

The scoop: Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean, creators of the Sandman graphic novels, team with the Jim Henson company for this lyrical, transporting fantasia.

Grade: A-

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-

Shopgirl

What It's About: A Saks counter girl (Claire Danes) with a self-image problem attracts two men, a perpetual adolescent without a penny to his name (Jason Schwratzman) and a rich smoothie (Steve Martin), then has to decide who's better for her.

Rated: R

The scoop: Excellent acting, especially from Danes, but a dishonest script undercuts the movie's believability, not to mention its supposed insight.

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+

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