Lexi Feinberg
Former Contributor

WRITTEN BY Lexi Feinberg

Talk To Me

The movie plays like a spunkier Good Morning Vietnam with a Motown twist. Don Cheadle, generally cast as the earnest do-gooder in films like Hotel Rwanda and Crash, taps into his hilarious, no-holds-barred side and demonstrates why he is easily one of the best actors around. He’s a little less Denzel here and a little more (!) Ice Cube.

Fierce People

Fierce People is a vile movie about rich people behaving badly. And poor people, for that matter. In fact, nearly everyone with a pulse in this ugly, mean-spirited picture acts in a way that doesn't warrant any pats on the back or nods of approval.

Evening

Evening is, to put it mildly, not an easy movie to sell to men. It’s told from the perspective of Ann (Vanessa Redgrave), a woman on her deathbed recalling a pivotal moment in her life 50 years earlier. When she randomly blurts out, “Where’s Harris?” her grown daughters (Toni Collette and Natasha Richardson) have no idea what she is talking about. And there’s no reason they would--in her near-death state of delirium, she is letting them in on a secret.

Sunshine

Danny Boyle has done it again: Sunshine is a rare example of an end-of-the-world film that gets it right. There are characters to care about amid the destruction, snappy dialogue to parallel the striking visuals, and a sense of tension to match the excitement. Rarely has the apocalypse been so inviting.

Joshua

The movie’s title, Joshua, may bring to mind the biblical figure, but the runt-sized star of this modern horror story is far from holy. Jacob Kogan plays the eponymous character, a 9-year-old prodigy from a yuppie, New York City family who is none too pleased when his baby sister, Lily, is born. All hell breaks loose, which is fitting since he could probably be found in the same sandbox as The Omen’s Damien. Or Macaulay Culkin’s character from The Good Son, if you remember that ‘90s kids-gone-wacky tale.

A Mighty Heart

In January 2002, Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl traveled to Karachi with his pregnant wife, Mariane, in pursuit of the truth. He was investigating a possible tie between “shoe bomber” Richard Reid and Sheikh Gilani, a Pakistani cleric who dabbled with radical Islamic groups in the past. “Meet him in public” everyone warned Daniel, fearing for his life. But it didn’t matter. He was brutally murdered after being abducted by jihadists who, in a bitters twist of fate, had nothing to do with the lead he was pursuing.

Becoming Jane

It’s a shame that Jane Austen wasn’t around to write the not-quite-autobiographical movie Becoming Jane, or it might have been filled with the charming insights she injected into her novels. What made the sharp-witted author so brilliant and timeless is strangely absent here; instead, we’re served up another bland, passionless costume drama as stuffy and oxygen-depriving as its corsets.

Steel City

Steel City is a film that takes the “less is more” credo a little too far. While there’s nothing wrong with a nice dramatic pause or a lingering shot of a person’s face, sometimes you just want to see a little spark--or, better yet, a climax that warrants the slow-paced buildup to that point. Not the case here. Steel City never really figures out where it wants to go and so it ultimately goes nowhere. It’s about as exciting as a Friday night spent folding laundry and listening to Light FM.

Day Zero

Regardless of where you stand on the issue of war, it’s hard to imagine the men we know, the ones who may hesitate before killing a spider or trip on a crack in the sidewalk, being uprooted and forced to be soldiers. But this was the case for many years, and is still the case in many countries. Could the draft come back to the U.S.? It’s anybody’s guess, but Day Zero gives a scary glimpse into what it could be like. And why we should prepare ourselves.

Waitress

It’s impossible to think or talk about Waitress without recognizing the tragic fate bestowed on its creator, Adrienne Shelly. The 40-year-old indie-actress-turned-filmmaker was murdered in her apartment this past November, an event that grabbed the attention of even the most detached, self-involved movie fans. And while it’s true that fewer people would know of its existence otherwise, it doesn’t change the fact that this is a wonderful little movie.

In The Land Of Women

In The Land Of Women attempts to be a chick flick that revolves around a sensitive male lead, something that distinguishes it from the droves of other pseudo-romantic movies. But there is nothing about it that rings true--it’s a huge misfire that falsely parades around like something important. You know you’re in trouble when Sarah says, "I don’t want to look back on my life and wonder which part belonged to me," and it’s intended to be wildly profound.

The Hoax

There is something strangely alluring about liars, cheats and sneaks. Perhaps it’s that they appeal to our dark side, inviting us to root for them even as they deceive those closest to them and duck beneath the law. There have been a few successful portraits of dishonest men in recent years, including Stephen Glass in Shattered Glass and Frank Abagnale Jr. in Catch Me If You Can, and here’s a new one to add to the why-do-I-like-this-guy list: Clifford Irving in The Hoax.

Eagle Vs. Shark

There is an alarming drought of good romantic misfit movies, which is why Eagle Vs. Shark should come as a pleasant surprise to those who are wearing out their copies of Ghost World and American Splendor. Give Seymour and Enid and Harvey and Joyce a week off, and meet Lily and Jarrod, the latest pair of awkward, fumbling outcasts to be struck by Cupid’s off-kilter arrow.

Reign Over Me

The movie is mainly about their friendship and how they help each other reclaim their zest for life. It all sounds awfully hokey, but Binder is smart enough to keep the tone light for most of it, showing them hanging out and doing guy things in between Sandler’s spontaneous fits of rage in clubs or office lobbies. He's blocked out his old life, and if someone dares to bring it up to him, he goes all kinds of ballistic.

Zodiac

Who are these people outside of their obsessive-compulsive desire to nail this guy? There is plenty of opportunity to flesh them out, but by the time the film ends, all we know is that Toschi likes animal crackers, Avery doesn’t like people to loom by his desk and Graysmith marries a woman (Chloe Sevigny) after the worst first date in history. Beyond that, they are nondescript people, the types you’d pass in the mall on the way to the food court and promptly forget.

The Prisoner or: How I Planned to Kill Tony Blair

What would you do if you were mistaken for a terrorist and shipped away on a mandatory vacation to Abu Ghraib prison? Chances are you would be more than a little pissed about it, and looking to vent your frustrations to the world. The documentary The Prisoner or: How I Planned To Kill Tony Blair is that cathartic outlet for Yunis Khatayer Abbas, an Iraqi journalist who was falsely accused of plotting to assassinate the long-standing U.K. Prime Minister.

The Namesake

Though it's a flawed effort, The Namesake is worth seeing for its unflinching depiction of family hardships and stunning cinematography. Director Mira Nair (Monsoon Wedding), turning in her most personal film to date, captures so many gorgeous shots of India that it plays like the country’s greatest tourism commercial. After seeing the Taj Mahal and then having the lens zoom onto the umpteenth icicle dangling from a New York tree, it’s hard not to empathize with Ashima and dream of a one-way ticket back.

Starter For 10

The setups for romantic comedies are all the same, so the magic relies on how well they're done. In the case of Starter For 10, written by David Nicholls and directed by Tom Vaughan, it’s done exceptionally well, mainly because Brian is very relatable: he’s cute without being too cute; smart without always making wise decisions; and sweet in a totally oblivious way.

Music and Lyrics

It’s an ominous sign when the best part of a film happens within the first five minutes. From there on, Music and Lyrics is a downward slide without a bottom. The movie, which pairs Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore for the first time, opens with a pitch-perfect ‘80s-style music video for a catchy tune called “Pop! Goes My Heart,” featuring Grant sporting a bad Flock of Seagulls hairdo. It’s clever, playful and appealing… everything that the rest of the film is not.

Air Guitar Nation

Air Guitar, also known as the trademark gimmick from the goofy Bill & Ted movies, has been sweeping the world for nearly a decade. There is, surprisingly, an Air Guitar World Championship held every year in Finland. The 2003 East Coast tryouts at the Pussycat Lounge in New York City quickly sold out. Fake air-strumming rock stars have appeared on CNN and several late-night TV shows.

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