Some movies we’ve seen recently, with links, ratings, and brief comments.
The Illusionist – 4 out of 5 stars – An excellent, thoroughly riveting (if predictable) movie about a misunderstood magician that proved to be genuinely satisfying in its conclusion without being trite or needlessly confounding. And of course, Ed Norton and Paul Giamatti were both great.
Beerfest – 2.5 out of 5 stars – We keep waiting for comedy troupe Broken Lizard to rival the classic Super Troopers, but unfortunately we found Beerfest, while much funnier than their Club Dredd, to be nonetheless a let down compared to Troopers. While this movie had some laugh-out-loud moments, it felt endless and lacked some of the same genuine camradarie that made Super Troopers more accessible.
Stranger than Fiction – 4 out of 5 stars – I expected to dislike this one. I truly enjoyed it. It captured the right mixture of whimsy, fun, and seriousness. Kudos to Will Ferrell, Dustin Hoffman, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Emma Thompson, and the Queen (among many others) for worthy performances and thanks to all involved for a fine ending.
The Prestige – 3 out of 5 stars – Wow, two really excellent films about magicians were released in 2006. This one earned more acclaim, but I didn’t quite like it as much as The Illusionist. Although I think it’s still quite excellent. I especially enjoyed the mixture of historical drama with fantasy, the twists and turns in unexpected ways, and the endlessly untidy ending.
Casino Royale – 4.5 out of 5 stars – We watched this again after I called it my favorite movie of 2006. And I still feel that way after a second viewing of this outstanding film. Watch for the amazing action sequences, classic Bond homages, new twists, clever touches, smart writing, and one of the best endings ever for an action movie. I can’t wait for the next one.