|The Passion of the Christ
Mel Gibson sparked one of the biggest controversies in motion-picture history by producing and directing this graphic and emotionally powerful depiction of the final hours of the life of Jesus, which makes extensive use of the Aramaic and Latin languages. Those who normally watch religious-themed videos casually should be cautioned that this is far from casual viewing.
Big green ogre Shrek and his bride Fiona learn that her snobbish father and a scheming fairy godmother want to ruin their marriage. This fun-filled sequel is definitely darker, prior to the “happily ever after” finale. Further kudos to Dreamworks for casting Antonio Banderas as the swashbuckling Puss-in-Boots.
|Le Frere du Guerrier
In the 13th century, two brothers long separated must do battle; one chooses weapons of war, the other weapons of knowledge. Who will win, and who will conquer the woman? The medieval France of Pierre Jolivet’s agreeable adventure story is superficially convincing and excellently served by its cinematography.
|This Property is Condemned
This Southern-fried Tennessee Williams melodrama centers on a young woman with big dreams and nowhere to go, who falls for a new-in-town boarder. As the romantic Alva, Natalie Wood sparkles onscreen, while Robert Redford plays the perfect foil as the cold hard realist. The local boardinghouse will never be the same.
|Leonard Cohen – Dear Heather
Produced with a trio of female collaborators, these dozen new cuts find the 70-year-old vocalist in typically sombre form, ruminating on lost love and 9/11. The musical support for Cohen’s gravelly musings is markedly improved from his last outing, with understated jazz, folk, blues, and country arrangements. Smooth, seductive and soothing.
|The Timeout Drawer – A Difficult Future
Completely without vocals, this Chicago-based band finds ways to make its variety of instruments and synthesizers speak. Using abstract constructions, TTD communicates loss and pain, but also ultimate beauty, as it takes listeners along an engaging aural journey.
|Jazzhole – Circle of the Sun
Looking for something to bridge the gap between your Chet Baker and Thievery Corporation albums? This veteran band plays a smooth hybrid of nu-jazz, hip-hop, and ’70s-style soul, easily segueing from sultry urban pop to rapid-fire funk beats. Jazzhole achieves this magical mix with the inimitable skill of its players, as well as a sweet and sturdy vocal mix from Marlon Saunders.
|Joss Stone – The Soul Sessions
Only 16 years old when this disc was released in 2003, this British vocalist has been compared to everyone from Dusty Springfield to Alicia Keyes. Composed mostly of well-rendered covers, Stone’s debut CD is worthy of more than novelty status, as she sings old-school soul with an emotional depth and conviction that defies her age.