Every Friday, I like to sit back in my chair at the office, crack open an ice-cold Coca-Cola and reminisce about the coolest things in movies that I've seen, heard and experienced over the past week. In a perfect world, I'd be able to cut footage from all the things I liked most into a movie trailer so that I'd have a very succinct, powerful way of presenting it to you, my fellow movie fans. The trailer would have some really kickass music in the background and, of course, voiceover narration to tie everything together. Hopefully, I'd be able to get that guy who does the voiceovers for pretty much every movie trailer out there -- you know, the dude with the really smooth, deep voice like rich, buttery maple syrup -- but I'm not sure he'd be available on such short notice. He's probably too busy rolling around in 50-foot-high piles of money in a room marked "I Made All This Cash Just by Reading From a Piece of Loose Leaf." Unfortunately -- and you've probably guessed this already -- I can't do all of that. Instead, you'll just have to bear with me as I count down the five coolest things in movies this week ...
5.Biggest Shock of 'World Trade Center': No Controversy!
Oliver Stone resists the urge to cry "Conspiracy!" in his latest flick, 'World Trade Center.' On the contrary, the usually incendiary director presents a poignant, patriotic depiction of the heroism Americans displayed on 9/11.
4.Watching 'Conversations' Is Fun
As an erstwhile couple who reunite at a wedding, Aaron Eckhart and Helena Bonham Carter keep audiences enthralled for the duration of the indie gem 'Conversations With Other Women' -- despite the fact that the entire film consists of them talking. Oh yeah, there is that one sex scene. In the words of Borat, "Niiiiiice."
3. Ryan Gosling Puts a 'Half Nelson' on an Academy Award
An inspirational white teacher (Ryan Gosling) schools Brooklyn kids in dialectics -- doesn't exactly sound like the freshest of concepts ('Dangerous Minds,' anyone?). But in 'Half Nelson,' opening in limited release today, things are much more complex: The charismatic and beloved teacher's extracurricular activities include smoking crack and engaging in some pretty kinky bedroom antics. And things get even more complex when Teach strikes up a friendship with a promising young student (Shareeka Epps) who is privy to his secret. The film shows the profound impact that something so simple as friendship can have on two people, and its greatest strengths are the performances of its two stars. We can expect big things from newcomer Epps, and Ryan Gosling continues to amaze with his ability to effortlessly inhabit his characters and the universe in which they live. It may be a bit premature to cede the Best Actor Oscar to him, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say that he'll get a nomination at the very least.
2. High School Gets a Movie Makeover
That kid from 'Third Rock From the Sun' (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) proves he's one hell of an actor and has leading man potential to boot. Don't believe me? Pick up 'Brick,' now out on DVD. This neo-noir, about a teenager investigating the murder of his girlfriend (Emilie de Ravin of 'Lost'), paints high school as a foreign battlefield peppered with land mines. Everything -- from the invented jargon ("blow" means "go away," "burg" is how the kids refer to "town") to a high-rolling drug dealer named the Pin (Lukas Haas) who takes a break from tough talking to drink OJ in his mom's kitchen -- presents this teenage universe as something hyper-real and utterly unique to anyone looking in from the outside. This flick will knock your socks off.
1. 'Little Miss' Shines
The indie masterpiece that is 'Little Miss Sunshine' is hands down my favorite film of the year, so I'm happy to report that it continues its expansion to more theaters this week. If you're lucky enough that it's playing near you, seize the opportunity to check out this tale of a superdysfunctional family -- motivational speaker dad (Greg Kinnear), voluntarily mute brother (Paul Dano), heroin-sniffing grandpa (Alan Arkin), unlikely beauty pageant contestant daughter(Abigail Breslin), gay suicidal Proust scholar uncle (Steve Carell) and glue-holding-everyone-together mom (Toni Collette) -- on a road trip to a kiddie beauty pageant. Filled with priceless moments, a pitch-perfect soundtrack and exceptional acting all around, 'Little Miss Sunshine' is a simple little film about how the love-hate relationships we have with family members are pretty much the most rewarding relationships we'll ever have. I don't want to get your expectations up or anything, but this is the funniest, most poignant film I've seen in a very long time. You'll walk out of the theater with a smile on your face, or I'll reimburse you for the ticket. OK, not really -- but see it anyway.
Tags:World Trade Center, Oliver Stone, Little Miss Sunshine, Half Nelson, Brick, Conversations With Other Women, Summer Movies