While the plot and message are a little too manipulative and heavy-handed, and the characters remain largely two-dimensional, the high production values are obvious. Two hours pass quickly in what amounts to a generally riveting, beautifully filmed, WWII courtroom drama.
|A Room for Romeo Brass
Shane Meadows’ brash and deeply unsettling coming-of-age film follows the ambling adventures of two 13-year-old boys with a whimsical tone – until they meet Paddy Considine, a quirky man-child with a beat-up van and a peculiar sense of fashion. On a dime, the scenario turns grave and incredibly tense, resulting in an urban fable with an unlikely bogeyman.
|A Beautiful Mind
Russell Crowe’s performance as Nobel Prize winner John Nash – a mathematical genius tormented by paranoid schizophrenia – grabs your heart from the first frame and refuses to let go. Ron Howard’s inspired direction follows the highs and lows of Nash’s career and marriage, as he tries to succeed at both despite his illness.
If you need any evidence that we’re living in a sort of renaissance of movie animation, look no further than the latest example of Japanese anime. Here is a film of dazzling technical and visual virtuosity, filled with utterly amazing images, that’s entertaining and engaging for children and adults on several levels.
|Mount Florida – Arrived Phoenix
On their first full-length release, this duo from Glasgow, Scotland presents a captivating arsenal of heady electronic tunes. Fusing elements of dub, ambient noise, trance, world, soul and lounge into an original and ominous sound, the pair has created one of the year’s most intriguing albums.
|Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
Finally, the most-bootlegged record of 2001 gets its proper introduction to the masses. Producer Jim O’Rourke allows Tweedy and company to find a voice for their beautifully strange mix of organic textures and oblique poetics, all of it gently pulsating with a backwoodsy tech-head glimmer.
|Ectasy of St. Theresa – Slowthinking
The latest by one of Prague’s finest marks the blossoming forth of a brilliant band. Sheer sonic bliss: grinding, urgent, woozy guitars; nearly-inaudible breathy vocals; and frenetic drumming. Jan Muchow’s “sound design” yields tracks that shimmer out of your stereo, slamming you right back into the aural glory of the shoe-gazing ’90s.
|Costes – Etage 3
The third in a series helmed by DJ-mixer Stéphane Pompougnac, this is without a doubt one of the best deep-house compilations on the market at the moment. Gorgeous packaging, coupled with a thoughtful selection of tracks, unobtrusively blended, add up to a CD that oozes style and sophistication.