|Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Screenwriter Charlie Kaufman, who delved into the twisted world of self-reference in Being John Malkovich and Adaptation, has created a poignant love story that defies standard chronology and twists back on itself in unexpected fashion. In the hands of music-video-veteran Michel Gondry, subtle science fiction becomes both art and life-lesson. Multiple viewings recommended.
A hip fish named Oscar has a debt to loan “sharks” that lands him in hot water. As one thing leads to another, Oscar becomes unwittingly known as the “Shark Slayer”, but not without a price – on his head. Is this 80-minute underwater romp, studded with celebrity voice roles, Pixar’s somewhat hackneyed answer to Dreamworks’ Finding Nemo? You decide.
Although more like a typical Will Smith cop movie than a film version of the benchmark sci-fi novel, top-notch special effects, high-octane pacing and (arguably cliché) humor make I, Robot worthwhile as an action flick, circa Chicago 2035 . Director Alex Proyas does the best he can with a plot that’s “Asmovian” in name only.
|The Lost Weekend
Billy Wilder pulls no punches in this honest, dark, and brutal tale of one man’s battle with the bottle over a long and lonely weekend. We literally get under the skin of Don Birnam (Ray Milland), someone unable to resist his disease, even with the love of a good woman (played wonderfully by Jane Wyman). Though the film has some heavy-handed moments, it is a gripping portrayal of alcoholism.
|The Bees – Free the Bees
On their second release, the Isle of Wight’s greatest export since Matthew Le Tissier has expanded their musical range in unexpected and delightful directions. If the Beta Band did ’50s and ’60s style psychedelic rock a la Phil Spector, it might sound something like this joyous and energetic celebration of a bygone canon.
|Heather Headley – This Is Who I Am
Best known for her Broadway stage roles (The Lion King and Aida) this Tony-winning Trinidad native has turned her talent to a slow-burning and funky debut album. While many of us are wondering where all the “real” R&B singers are, along comes Headley, with a honeyed voice and Venus-Mars meditations, making heartbreak her ace-in-the-hole.
|Sufjan Stevens – Seven Swans
On his fourth album, the Detroit-raised Brooklynite deals directly with his spiritual faith, but never allows it to exceed his form. Stevens rarely steps foot in the mire of pedantic preaching, and the raw simplicity, coupled with the stripped-down, banjo-led instrumentation, lends these 12 tracks a particularly high degree of intimacy and beauty.
|Beth Gibbons & Rustin Man – Out of Season
Far from her ’90s lament, “Nobody loves me,” on the first Portishead album, comes Beth Gibbons’ semi-solo effort, conceived with former Talk Talk member Paul Webb (operating as Rustin Man). Out of Season showcases just what the vocalist can do, as she morphs from sultry jazz ingenue to wistful folksinger to torch song bearer.