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hitman said:
I will mark down Road to Perdition, then. Thanks for the tip.
I guess we will see Harry Potter 2 tonight. Im not sure yet.
hitman, I'll try to find the NYTimes review of it that I posted in one of the threads on Henman Hill. It was very good :)

Road to Perdition, I mean. I could also post the Harry Potter one, I guess ;)

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An Older, Wiser Wizard, but Still That Crafty Lad

Back to wizard school: Daniel Radcliffe, right, stars in "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets," the second installment of the series.


ABOUT an hour into "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets," Harry (more often referred to as Mr. Potter or the Famous Harry Potter) discovers, much to his amazement, that he can speak the slithery, sibilant language of snakes, which is called Parseltongue. For the audience, a similar shock arrives much earlier, the very first time Daniel Radcliffe, the young English actor who plays everybody's favorite English schoolboy wizard, opens his mouth. Though Mr. Radcliffe remains smooth-faced and wide-eyed, his voice (like that of Rupert Grint, who plays Harry's pal Ron Weasley, and Tom Felton, as the odious Draco Malfoy), has begun to break, and he speaks in the unmistakable, awkward tongue of adolescence.

But "Harry Potter and the Onset of Puberty" may have to wait for the next installment, when Alfonso Cuarón takes over the franchise from Chris Columbus, who directed this episode and its predecessor, "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone." Mr. Cuarón, whose most recent film was the moving and irrepressible teenage sex comedy "Y Tu Mamá También," may be the perfect man for the job, though parents worried about an unrated, sexually explicit "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" should remember that Mr. Cuarón also directed a superb adaptation of "The Little Princess."

In any case, Mr. Columbus, once again working with the screenwriter Steve Kloves and a cast of talented children (especially Emma Watson, who plays the brainy and intrepid Hermione) and grown-up British luminaries, has acquitted himself honorably. "Sorcerer's Stone," while far from a great movie, was good enough. Mr. Columbus (who is also an executive producer of the films) has faced the unenviable and unusual challenge of adapting books most of the audience will have read closely and recently. And a very demanding audience it is. My fellow critics and I may occasionally fault a movie for departing, in detail or in spirit, from its literary source, but the grousing of a few adult pedants is nothing compared to the wrath of several million bookish 10-year-olds.

Their presumed demands, and the hovering spirit of Harry's creator, J. K. Rowling, inhibit this movie as it did the first Potter film. Near the end of this one, Albus Dumbledore (Richard Harris, in his last screen performance) sternly notes that Harry and Ron have broken at least a dozen rules in the code book of their school, Hogwarts, and then gives them a special award for service to the institution. Until the filmmakers absorb this lesson and show themselves willing to risk getting into trouble, no special awards are likely to be forthcoming for them. But passing grades will at least earn them their allowances. Because it is based on a richer, more interesting book -- so far Ms. Rowling's novelistic skills have grown, along with her ambitions, with each successive volume -- and partly because the director shows more dexterity and imagination of his own, "Chamber of Secrets," which opens nationwide today, is a little better than "Sorcerer's Stone."

And at 2 hours 41 minutes, quite a bit longer. Ms. Rowling has been loudly praised for sparking the younger generation's renewed interest in reading, and Mr. Columbus may soon be credited with curing its notoriously short attention span. At this rate "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire," the 752-page fourth volume, is likely to spawn the highest-grossing seven-hour film epic in history. (Too bad Erich von Stroheim isn't around to direct it.)

But for now the length is less of a problem than the pacing. Much of the fun in the books comes from how swiftly they move, and how much detail and information they carry along in their eddying, tumbling narrative currents. Ms. Rowling is capable of remarkable shifts in tone, gliding from comic observations of daily life at Hogwarts to tremors of absolute evil with a sure, deft touch.

Mr. Columbus, in contrast, is a master of the obvious and the emphatic. After the boisterous clowning of the opening set piece -- which involves the ritual humiliation of the Dursleys, Harry's swinish Muggle guardians -- the picture settles down into a plodding, heavy rhythm. Don't get me wrong: many of the sequences are thrilling. The digital editing of the high-flying Quidditch match is notably improved, and the monstrous special effects, including an angry tree, a swarm of spiders and a giant, slimy basilisk, are vividly creepy.

There is also an anarchic, rubbery computer-animated elf named Dobby, who steals every scene he appears in from the more restrained flesh-and-blood cast members; a shrill ghost named Moaning Myrtle (Shirley Henderson); and a very scary haunted diary. The visual environment is beautifully conceived and skillfully rendered by Stuart Craig, the production designer, and Roger Pratt, the director of photography: more than in "Sorcerer's Stone," Hogwarts has begun to seem like a real place.

But the movie's scenes feel cut to uniform length and arranged in plodding, unvarying rhythm. Every speech and incident is blown up into a big effect, and as a result the quieter, quirkier aspects of Ms. Rowling's world are pushed to the edge of the frame, or left out altogether. The sense of a dramatic crescendo is lost, so that by the end, instead of feeling stirred to a high pitch of anxiety and excitement, you may feel battered and worn down.

But not, in the end, too terribly disappointed. I did wish that Alan Rickman and Maggie Smith -- who return as the rival housemasters Severus Snape and Minerva McGonagall -- had more to do, but their absences are compensated for by Kenneth Branagh as a self-adoring teacher of defense against the dark arts, and Jason Isaacs as the viperous Lucius Malfoy, father of Draco. Mr. Harris, who died last month, gives us a last taste of his whispery, mischievous wisdom, and Robbie Coltrane, as the doting, bumbling Hagrid, has a welcome Falstaffian vigor.

The story would be hard to ruin. It moves, as always, simultaneously backward and forward, toward the mysteries of unfinished wizard history and through the passages of Harry's coming of age, tripping us up with the subtle differences between ordinary bad behavior and true evil. It does, however, remain more lively, and more at home, on the page.

"Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" is rated PG (Parental guidance suggested). It has some very frightening scenes, especially for viewers who are afraid of snakes and spiders.


Directed by Chris Columbus; written by Steve Kloves, based on the novel by J. K. Rowling; director of photography, Roger Pratt; edited by Peter Honess; music by John Williams; production designer, Stuart Craig; produced by David Heyman; released by Warner Brothers Pictures. Running time: 161 minutes. This film is rated PG.

WITH: Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter), Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley), Emma Watson (Hermione Granger), Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy), Kenneth Branagh (Gilderoy Lockhart), John Cleese (Nearly Headless Nick), Robbie Coltrane (Rubeus Hagrid), Warwick Davis (Professor Flitwick), Richard Griffiths (Vernon Dursley), Richard Harris (Prof. Albus Dumbledore), Jason Isaacs (Lucius Malfoy), Alan Rickman (Prof. Severus Snape), Fiona Shaw (Petunia Dursley), Maggie Smith (Prof. Minerva McGonagall), Julie Walters (Molly Weasley) and Shirley Henderson (Moaning Myrtle).

The New York Times

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A Hell for Fathers and Sons

EARLY in "Road to Perdition," a period gangster film that achieves the grandeur of a classic Hollywood western, John Rooney (Paul Newman), the crusty old Irish mob boss in a town somewhere outside Chicago, growls a lament that echoes through the movie like a subterranean rumble: "Sons are put on the earth to trouble their fathers."

Rooney is decrying the trigger-happy behavior of his corrupt, hot-headed son, Connor (Daniel Craig), who in a fit of paranoid rage impulsively murdered one of Rooney's loyal lieutenants. The ear into which Rooney pours his frustration belongs to Michael Sullivan (Tom Hanks), his personal hit man, who witnessed the killing. An orphan whom Rooney brought up as a surrogate son and who has married and fathered two boys, Sullivan is in some ways more beloved to Rooney than his own flesh and blood. He is certainly more trustworthy.

But as the film shows, Rooney's bitter observation about fathers and sons also works in reverse: fathers are eternal mysteries put on the earth to trouble their sons as well as teach them. The story is narrated by the older of Sullivan's two boys, 12-year-old Michael Jr. (Tyler Hoechlin), who in a prologue establishes the movie's tone and setting (most of the events take place over six weeks in the winter of 1931) and invites us to decide, once his tale has been told, whether his father was "a decent man" or "no good at all."

"Road to Perdition," which opens today nationwide, is the second feature film directed by Sam Mendes, the British theatrical maestro who landed at the top of Hollywood's A-list with his cinematic debut, "American Beauty." The new movie re-teams him with Conrad L. Hall, the brilliant cinematographer responsible for that film's surreal classicist shimmer. With "Road to Perdition" they have created a truly majestic visual tone poem, one that is so much more stylized than its forerunner that it inspires a continuing and deeply satisfying awareness of the best movies as monumental "picture shows."

Because Sullivan is played by Mr. Hanks, an actor who invariably exudes conscientiousness and decency, his son's question lends the fable a profound moral ambiguity. "Road to Perdition" ponders some of the same questions as "The Sopranos," a comparably great work of popular art, whose protagonist is also a gangster and a devoted family man. But far from a self-pitying boor lumbering around a suburban basement in his undershirt, Mr. Hanks's antihero is a stern, taciturn killer who projects a tortured nobility. Acutely aware of his sins, Sullivan is determined that his son, who takes after him temperamentally, not follow in his murderous footsteps. Yet when driven to the brink, Sullivan gives his son a gun with instructions to use it, if necessary, and enlists him to drive his getaway car.

In surveying the world through Michael Jr.'s eyes, the movie captures, like no film I've seen, the fear-tinged awe with which young boys regard their fathers and the degree to which that awe continues to reverberate into adult life. Viewed through his son's eyes, Sullivan, whose face is half-shadowed much of the time by the brim of his fedora, is a largely silent deity, the benign but fearsome source of all knowledge and wisdom. An unsmiling Mr. Hanks does a powerful job of conveying the conflicting emotions roiling beneath Sullivan's grimly purposeful exterior as he tries to save his son and himself from mob execution. It's all done with facial muscles.

Yet Sullivan is also beholden to his own surrogate father, who has nurtured and protected him since childhood. Mr. Newman's Rooney, with his ferocious hawklike glare, sepulchral rasp and thunderous temper, has the ultimate power to bestow praise and shame, to bless and to curse. The role, for which the 77-year-old actor adopts a softened Irish brogue, is one of Mr. Newman's most farsighted, anguished performances.

What triggers the movie's tragic chain of events is Michael Jr.'s worshipful curiosity about his father. Desperate to see what his dad actually does for a living, he hides in the back of the car that Sullivan drives to the fatal meeting at which Connor goes haywire. After the boy is caught spying, Connor, who hates and envies Sullivan, decides without consulting Rooney that the boy can't be trusted to keep silent and must die. He steals into Sullivan's house and shoots his wife, Annie (Jennifer Jason Leigh), and his other son, Peter (Liam Aiken), mistaking Peter for Michael Jr., who returns on his bicycle as the murders are taking place.

Arriving home, Sullivan finds his surviving son sitting alone in the dark, and as the camera waits downstairs, Sullivan climbs to the second floor and discovers the bodies. As his world shatters, all we hear is a far-off strangled cry of grief and horror. Minutes later he is frantically packing Michael Jr. into a car, and the two become fugitives, making one deadly stop before heading toward Chicago where Sullivan hopes to work for Frank Nitti (Stanley Tucci), Al Capone's right-hand man. For the rest of the movie, Sullivan plots his revenge on Connor, who remains secreted in a Chicago hotel room, protected by Rooney. Sullivan's plan involves a Robin Hood-style scheme of robbing banks but stealing only mob money.

The film, adapted from a comic-book novel by Max Allan Collins with illustrations by Richard Piers Rayner, portrays the conflicts as a sort of contemporary Bible story with associations to Abraham and Isaac, and Cain and Abel. The very word perdition, a fancy term for hell, is meant to weigh heavily, and it does.

True to the austere moral code of classic westerns, the film believes in heaven and hell and in the possibility of redemption. In that spirit its characters retain the somewhat remote, mythic aura of figures in a western, and the movie's stately tone and vision of gunmen striding to their fates through an empty Depression-era landscape seems intentionally to recall "High Noon," "Shane" and "Unforgiven." When the characters speak in David Self's screenplay, their pronouncements often have the gravity of epigraphs carved into stone.

A scary wild card slithering and hissing like a coiled snake through the second half of the film is Maguire (Jude Law), a ghoulish hit man and photojournalist with a fanatical devotion to taking pictures of dead bodies. When he opens fire, his cold saucer-eyed leer and bottled-up volatility explode into frenzied seizures that suggest a demonically dancing puppet. And just when you have almost forgotten the character, he reappears like an avenging fury.

The look of the film maintains a scrupulous balance between the pop illustration of a graphic novel (Michael Jr. himself is shown reading one, "The Lone Ranger") and Depression-era paintings, especially the bare, desolate canvases of Edward Hopper. The camera moves with serene, stealthy deliberation (nothing is rushed or jagged), while the lighting sustains a wintry atmosphere of funereal gloom. Mr. Hall embraces shadow as hungrily as Gordon Willis in the "Godfather" movies, but where the ruddy palette of "The Godfather" suggested a hidden, sensual, blood-spattered twilight, "Road to Perdition" comes in shades of gray fading to black.

Those shades are matched by Thomas Newman's symphonic score, which infuses a sweeping Coplandesque evocation of the American flatlands with Irish folk motifs.

In the flashiest of many visually indelible moments, a cluster of gangsters silhouetted in a heavy rain are systemically mowed down on a Chicago street in a volley of machine-gun flashes that seem to erupt out of nowhere from an unseen assassin. But no shots or voices are heard. The eerie silence is filled by the solemn swell of Mr. Newman's score. It is one of many scenes of violence in which the camera maintains a discreet aesthetic distance from the carnage.

Although "Road to Perdition" is not without gore, it chooses its bloodier moments with exquisite care. The aftermath of another cold-blooded murder is seen only for an instant in the swing of a mirrored bathroom door. Another is shown as a reflection on a window overlooking an idyllic beach on which a boy frisks with a dog. Here the overlapping images evoke more than any words the characters' tragic apprehension of having to choose between two simultaneous, colliding worlds. One is a heaven on earth, the other hell.

"Road to Perdition" is rated R (Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian) for a lot of violence, including some gory moments.


Directed by Sam Mendes; written by David Self, based on the graphic novel by Max Allan Collins; produced by Richard D. Zanuck, Dean Zanuck and Mr. Mendes; director of photography, Conrad L. Hall; edited by Jill Bilcock; music by Thomas Newman; production designer, Dennis Gassner; released by DreamWorks Pictures. Running time: 119 minutes. This film is rated R.

WITH: Jennifer Jason Leigh (Annie Sullivan), Tom Hanks (Michael Sullivan), Paul Newman (John Rooney), Ciarán Hinds (Finn McGovern), Dylan Baker (Alexander Rance), Stanley Tucci (Frank Nitti), Tyler Hoechlin (Michael Sullivan Jr.), Jude Law (Maguire), Daniel Craig (Connor Rooney), Liam Aiken (Peter Sullivan).

The New York Times

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It appears the only thing I can add to this thread are reviews, so if you have a movie, I'll post its review by the crack NYTimes team. And lookit what I just found :D:D:D:D:D:D:D

A Time When Loyalty Overrides Love

Like all great doomed affairs, "Talk to Her," the closing-night presentation of the New York Film Festival, is full of lovely, sweet suffering. And when it's over, the realization of how much the movie means to you really sinks in; you can't get it out of your heart.

Pedro Almodóvar has created a tragic comedy about need, its liberating and shackling powers. Movies haven't been so rapturous about characters plummeting to an awful end at least since the last Almodóvar film, "All About My Mother" (1999). But he doesn't mine the comic strip soap opera mystique so extravagantly here; everything falls into place with an almost surreal delicacy. The dense and deeply touching "Talk to Her" makes one think he has been listening to a lot of songs by the Smiths, those former post-punk potentates, particularly the band's classic, "Girlfriend in a Coma."

Benigno (Javier Cámara) is a nurse who sits patiently at the side of his unconscious girlfriend, Alicia (Leonor Watling), attending to her needs. What he does is talk to her, moving slowly, gently; his honeyed voice is a part of his physicality, going along with his meticulous, deliberate movement. He's a delicate, strangely assured stuffed animal of a man. And as in the compelling peculiarity of the Smiths -- a sensibility that links the director and the band -- the film takes fascinatingly soigné turns.

Initially the picture is about sympathy; Marco (Darío Grandinetti), taken by Benigno's lead, ministers to his own girlfriend, Lydia (Rosario Flores), who is also in a coma. Both women were intensely physical: Alicia was a dancer, and Lydia, a bullfighter, was gored.

With his placid face and caramel speaking tones, Benigno is the very center of the film, literally and spiritually. In terms of visual schemes, Mr. Almodóvar uses a dark, sweet richness and camera movements as deliberate and generous as Benigno. And we learn very slowly what depths of benign malice this apparently bland, kind man -- and this superb filmmaker at the grown-up peak of his powers -- is capable of. It is revealed that Benigno is an obsessive with no real ties to Alicia; she has become his after falling into unconsciousness, and the depth of his devotion becomes both a love story and a horror story. By the end of his story we're left as stunned and loyal as Marco.

By the end Mr. Almodóvar flips the script and demands not just sympathy but empathy for someone who you wouldn't think deserved it. It's a movie about being trapped in various kinds of prisons, spiritual, physical and finally literal. (His "All About My Mother" and the 1997 "Live Flesh" were also about being imprisoned.) And we see that "Talk to Her" is not about sympathy but about loyalty, and the picture with its crafty twists of fate earns our loyalty as well.

It's the most mature work this director has ever brought to the screen. His fearlessness used to lend itself to bizarre, wild plot turns that suggested he was out to tickle himself, a practical joker who loved giving his own pictures a hot foot.

The jabbering neuroses of his chattering characters grew out of Mr. Almodóvar himself; there was something lovable about his compulsive desire to entertain. Now the movies have the freakish, elegant calm of early Tennessee Williams, and the dramatic information is slipped into the movie with devastating panache: a love tap delivered with the force of a speeding car.

Mr. Almodóvar's purview started out as a lewd, slapstick version of the heightened melodrama of the 50's director Douglas Sirk: if "Magnificent Obsession" had starred a sexual Lucille Ball. But the director has moved past candy-colored Fassbinder with a sense of humor.

His plot turns are no longer as sharp and cruel, which was fun. (It's probably fitting that Marco Bellochio, who must also have influenced this director, was in the festival this year with "My Mother's Smile.") Mr. Almodóvar couldn't be more unhurried and assured about what he's doing; "Talk to Her" is evidence of his own evolving sensibility.

His movies have not lost their ability to startle, but the wayward ingenuity no longer gives vent to wild, delirious shocks. His metabolism has slowed; he doesn't cram in the lively excess for its own sake.

Yet the slippery mischievous streak remains, and "Talk to Her" shows how reliable he has become at marrying suspense, comedy and tragedy. He has become more capable than ever of not only shifting tones but also balancing several tones at once, answering questions and simultaneously deepening the mystery.

Mr. Almodóvar's appreciation of flesh -- no other director photographs skin so lovingly -- itself becomes a plot point. Benigno generously strokes Alicia, and the director evokes and subtly parodies movies like "Love Story." Skin, and sex, are the heart of the trouble, and there's a grandly ludicrous scene about how deeply unavoidable sex is and the troubles it can raise. "Talk to Her" is totally in love with passion, and with love as we are -- more than may be good for it.


Written (in Spanish, with English subtitles) and directed by Pedro Almodóvar; director of photography, Javier Aguirresarobe; edited by José Salcedo; music by Alberto Iglesias; production designer, Antxon Gómez; produced by Agustín Almodóvar; released by Sony Pictures Classics. Running time: 112 minutes. This film is not rated. Shown with a 13-minute short, Esther Rots's "Play With Me," tomorrow at 8:30 p.m. at Avery Fisher Hall, as the closing-night film of the 40th New York Film Festival.

WITH: Javier Cámara (Benigno), Darío Grandinetti (Marco), Leonor Watling (Alicia), Rosario Flores (Lydia), Geraldine Chaplin (Katarina), Mariola Fuentes (Rosa) and Lola Dueñas (Matilde).

The New York Times
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