(Photo by Sony/courtesy Everett Collection)
Before he would get to utter the words “Bond, James Bond” to the delight of millions, Daniel Craig built up a durable if not spectacular resume, showing up in a range of films from the first Angelina Jolie Tomb Raider to A Kid In King Arthur’s Court. As the sniveling son of mob boss Paul Newman in Road to Perdition, Craig was able to make an impact with a broad audience in a film that already had plenty for us to look at, including Conrad L. Hall’s rain-drenched cinematography and a rare anti-hero turn from Tom Hanks.
By 2005, Craig was on the cusp of a major breakthrough with a co-starring role in Steven Spielberg’s Munich, and crime flick Layer Cake, essentially a stylish and gritty feature-length audition tape to play Agent 007. The following year, he and GoldenEye director Martin Campbell launched Casino Royale, a rousing and hard-nosed crowdpleaser revealing a James Bond for a new cynical generation. He’s since reprised the role three more times with Quantum of Solace, Skyfall, and Spectre, and when he returns in 2020 with No Time to Die, Craig will have the longest consecutively tenured Bond in film history.
Of course, when you’re James Bond, every non-Bond role you take becomes something of an automatic sensation. Some roles, like Logan Lucky or David Fincher’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo really demonstrate Craig’s range. Other films, like Dream House or The Invasion, are spectacular bombs. And the rest, along the lines of Cowboys & Aliens and The Golden Compass, are right in the mushy middle.
We know on which end of the spectrum Craig’s latest film, the Rian Johnson whodunit Knives Out, lands. (Hint: It’s his best-reviewed movie ever.) With No Time To Die‘s April 2020 November 2020 April 2021 October 2021 release now behind us, take a look back as we rank all Daniel Craig movies by Tomatometer! —Alex Vo
Her rise to fame in the mid 1990s was followed by a box office drought so profound that it was hard not to wonder if she’d ever find her way out of it – but the 21st century has been pretty good to Sandra Bullock so far, granting her successes both commercial (Miss Congeniality, The Proposal) and critical (Crash, Gravity). To celebrate that resurgence, as well as the arrival of her latest release, the political dramedy Our Brand Is Crisis, we decided to devote this week’s Total Recall to a look back at 10 of Ms. Bullock’s most essential films!
The year before Speed turned her into a household name, Sandra Bullock scored a supporting role in Demolition Man, a future-set, Joel Silver-produced action extravaganza that pitted Sylvester Stallone against Wesley Snipes in a battle so big that even Sting showed up for the soundtrack. (Possibly just for the opportunity to repurpose an old Police tune as a solo track, but still.) As corrections officer Lenina Huxley, Bullock gave Stallone his most adorably diminutive co-star since Estelle Getty in Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot — and her character’s fascination with icky 20th-century culture helped inject a touch of relatability (and, let’s face it, sex appeal) into what would otherwise have been just your garden-variety blockbuster about two impossibly built dudes blowing stuff up as they try to kill each other with the fate of the world hanging in the balance. While not a classic by any stretch, Demolition Man lived up to the mayhem implied in its title, increased Bullock’s profile at the box office, and earned begrudging approval from critics like Chris Hicks of the Deseret News, who wrote, “with Snipes giving his role everything he’s got — a considerable amount by any measure — and with some amusing bits tying together the action scenes, there is plenty of eye candy at work here, which should satisfy action fans.”
It shouldn’t have worked, really. Six years after Die Hard, audiences had been subjected to variations of its wildly successful theme that transplanted the action everywhere from a boat (Under Siege) to a mountain (Cliffhanger), and by the time Speed came along, the news that it was “Die Hard on a bus” should have kept moviegoers away in droves. But a funny thing happened instead: Speed turned out to be a lot of fun, not only for the audiences who bought $350 million in tickets, but most critics, too. One of the year’s most successful films, Speed acted as a cinematic coming-out party for Bullock, who stars as a bus passenger roped into helping SWAT explosives expert Jack Traven (Keanu Reeves) figure out how to outwit a maniac (Dennis Hopper) who has wired the vehicle with a bomb that will detonate if the bus dips below 50 mph. Though not a few critics were quick to point out the film’s various plot holes, the direction (courtesy of Die Hard cinematographer Jan de Bont) and script (featuring work from an uncredited Joss Whedon) were set to run with such mechanical precision that the movie only needed a pair of charismatic leads to make it work. Reeves and Bullock worked so well together that the leftover goodwill they generated was enough to sell over $100 million in tickets to The Lake House eight years later — but instead of blaming them for that mess, let’s focus on the words of Peter Travers, who counted himself as an early Bullock supporter in his review of Speed: “The smart and sassy Bullock is a knockout. She makes us believe the impossible things Annie is doing and, better, makes us care.”
When you’re hot, you’re hot — and in the mid 1990s, Sandra Bullock was on a roll, going from 1994’s Speed to While You Were Sleeping in 1995, and vaulting herself into something like Meg Ryan/Julia Roberts status in the America’s Sweetheart sweepstakes. Though many of the script choices she’d make immediately following this period slowed her career momentum considerably, Sleeping was an enjoyably frothy, perfectly timed scoop of romantic comedy that did such a fine job of highlighting Bullock’s strengths that it might as well have been written for her. Though critics hastened to point out the relatively mindless nature of the script (Janet Maslin of the New York Times murmured that it “has the kind of good cheer and fine tuning that occasionally give slickness a good name”), Bullock’s winsome turn as a lovelorn fare collector on the Chicago el was too much for them to resist — even when packaged with the silly plot and oh-so-Hollywood happy ending. As the Chicago Reader’s Jonathan Rosenbaum put it, “The film’s casual warmth may make you tolerate some of the shortcomings — especially since Bullock seems to be having such a fine time with her first starring role.”
Bullock was given top billing in this 1996 adaptation of John Grisham’s first novel, but that was just a ruse; the film’s true star, future noted bongo enthusiast Matthew McConaughey, was a virtual unknown when he was cast, and although a mountain of buzz piled up around him before A Time to Kill was released, it’s easy to understand why Warner Bros. chose to emphasize Bullock and Samuel L. Jackson in the movie’s marketing materials. And okay, so Sandra Bullock isn’t really the star of A Time to Kill, but she is rather integral to the plot; she does, after all, play the young, passionate law student who strong-arms McConaughey’s character into letting her help him represent Samuel L. Jackson against the double murder charges he faces after gunning down his daughter’s rapists in the county courthouse — and it’s her character’s predilection for wearing relatively immodest garb that gives Kill a little distaff eye candy to supplement McConaughey’s baby blues and toned pecs. It’s a pretty good movie, too, at least according to 67 percent of Tomatometer critics; though the praise wasn’t universal (TV Guide called it “craven offal”), for the most part, Kill fared better with scribes than you’d expect for a Grisham adaptation. Despite a racially charged premise that some found troublesome (or even offensive), the movie’s sheer entertainment value was prized by writers like the New York Times’ Janet Maslin, who wrote, “if the film doesn’t add up to a cogent legal argument, neither does it have trouble delivering 2 hours and 20 minutes’ worth of sturdy, highly charged drama.”
The late 1990s weren’t particularly kind to Sandra Bullock’s filmography. Although many of her movies made money, critical praise proved increasingly hard to come by as she wavered between big-budget misfires like Speed 2 and well-meaning failures like 28 Days, and when she signed on for Miss Congeniality to play an FBI agent who infiltrates a beauty pageant in order to bust up a bomb threat, it seemed like she might have finally reached her nadir. But in the capable hands of Mystic Pizza director Donald Petrie — and bolstered by a generally impeccable cast that also included Michael Caine and Candice Bergen — the final product proved just the sort of well-assembled, cheerfully undemanding fare that audiences were looking for over the Christmas holiday in 2000. Miss Congeniality wasn’t exactly a critical hit, but it earned more than $200 million at the box office and netted Bullock a Golden Globe, signaling that while the pundits weren’t always on her side, she was very much still a star. “Sandra Bullock is in a class of her own and it’s only partly a matter of beauty,” wrote Jules Brenner for Cinema Signals. “Perhaps the larger part is that shining, irresistible personality that lights a room, a runway, a silver screen. She can get you interested in the phone directory.”
A decade after rising to prominence as the adorably perky star of perfectly undemanding action movies and romantic comedies, Sandra Bullock tested her dramatic mettle as a member of the ensemble cast of Paul Haggis’ Crash, a drama whose depiction of race relations in 21st-century Los Angeles sparked almost as many debates as it won awards. Hopscotching between seemingly disparate storylines, Haggis utilized a long list of actors — some of whom were familiar to fans of thought-probing indie fare (Don Cheadle, Terrence Howard), and some who… weren’t. Landing squarely on the latter list was Bullock, who appeared as the racially prejudiced wife of the L.A. district attorney (played by Brendan Fraser). It would ultimately go down as one of the more controversial Best Picture winners in Oscar history, but before all the awards and the controversy, Crash helped Bullock break out of a long career rut — and helped prove she was still capable of holding her own against thespians known more for their acting than their ability to provide a pleasant distraction on date night. Though many critics were less than impressed with Crash (Andrew Sarris waved it off as “too facile”), the majority opinion was echoed by Roger Ebert, who wrote, “Haggis writes with such directness and such a good ear for everyday speech that the characters seem real and plausible after only a few words. His cast is uniformly strong; the actors sidestep cliches and make their characters particular.”
Like Volcano and Deep Impact before it, Douglas McGrath’s Truman Capote biopic Infamous suffered from poor timing, arriving in the shadow of a better-known film about the same subject. The better-known film, in this case, was Capote, which had already earned Philip Seymour Hoffman a Best Actor Academy Award by the time Infamous debuted in the fall of 2006 — and since both films told roughly the same story, revisiting Capote’s relationship with accused murderer Perry Smith, critics were more or less bound to compare the two. On that front, it’s safe to say Capote emerged the victor, earning a 90 percent Tomatometer rating to Infamous‘ 73 percent — but Infamous collected plenty of positive reviews of its own, including a number that compared the cast favorably to its Capote counterparts. Christy Lemire of the Deseret News singled out Bullock in particular, calling her “the real discovery here — or rather, the rediscovery,” while the Wall Street Journal’s Joe Morgenstern went further, writing that “the film benefits from three splendid performances: Toby Jones as Capote, an aggressively gay elf exuding a tosspot charm; Sandra Bullock as Nelle Harper Lee, a novelist who uses spoken words with quiet precision, and Daniel Craig as Perry.”
Make movies long enough, and you’ll get your shot at starring in an inspirational sports drama; with 2009’s The Blind Side, Bullock took that ball and ran with it all the way to more than $300 million at the box office — as well as an Oscar, a Golden Globe, and a SAG Award. Inspired by Michael Lewis’ nonfiction book about the evolution of the offensive left tackle position — particularly the portion focusing on future NFL player Michael Oher’s poverty-stricken upbringing and subsequent adoption by a married couple who helped him along the way — The Blind Side overcame generally lukewarm reviews while snowballing into a relatively slow-building word-of-mouth success that shattered records for football films, sports dramas, and movies toplined by a sole female star, definitively opening a new chapter in Bullock’s career along the way. While its real-life accuracy has been called into question, and the overall narrative hews uncomfortably close to “white savior” stereotypes for many viewers, The Blind Side wields its formula as expertly as any movie in the genre; as J.R. Jones argued for the Chicago Reader, “As a fable about the power of giving, it hits pretty hard.”
We’ve seen so many buddy-cop comedies that it’s easy to assume there are no longer any fresh twists for filmmakers to wring out of the concept, but with 2013’s The Heat, director Paul Feig added a veneer of originality by performing a gender swap on the traditionally male-dominated genre. Of course, any buddy-cop adventure is only as good as its buddies, and Feig had a couple of ringers — The Heat paired Bullock (playing the uptight, by-the-book partner) with Melissa McCarthy (playing the loudmouthed slob she’s saddled with), creating what looked on paper like it had to be the mismatched comedy duo of the year. That stellar casting, coupled with the welcome distaff twist, may have cursed the movie with unreasonable expectations; although most critics enjoyed the end result, many couldn’t help wishing for more subversive laughs and a little less formula. “There’s no getting away from the fact that The Heat is lightweight and derivative, but its formulas have been freshened just enough to make it fun,” wrote Forrest Hartman for the Reno Gazette-Journal. “With Melissa McCarthy and Sandra Bullock on board, that’s enough.”
It takes incredible amounts of luck, hard work, and talent to land a starring role in a movie. To score a gig where you’re pretty much alone on screen for the duration of the film? That’s really special. Bullock entered that elite club with Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity, playing an astronaut who finds herself horrifyingly marooned in space after a series of mishaps sends her mission spiraling further and further out of control — a role that allowed her the opportunity to deliver a masterclass in solo dramatic acting while serving as the audience’s constant companion in a film that runs the gamut from big-budget visual thrills to quiet moments of one-on-one (or one-on-none) drama. A critical and commercial smash, Gravity earned almost universal acclaim while racking up more than $700 million at the box office — and an impressive 10 Oscar nominations (including Best Actress for Bullock). Wherever her career goes from here, Bullock can stay secure in the knowledge that she was offered an incredible chance to carry a film almost completely on her shoulders, and she pulled it off with aplomb. “Believe the hype,” wrote Christy Lemire, adding, “Gravity is as jaw-droppingly spectacular as you’ve heard — magnificent from a technical perspective but also a marvel of controlled acting and precise tone.”
Moviegoers were in the mood to be spooked this weekend as the horror sequel The Grudge 2 scared its way to a number one opening after its release on Friday the 13th.
Last week’s chart-topper, the mob thriller The Departed, remained strong in its second weekend taking the runnerup spot while the new Robin Williams political comedy Man of the Year finished third in the polls with a respectable voter turnout. The weekend’s other new releases, the action film The Marine and the historical epic One Night with the King, generated low-to-moderate ticket sales. Overall, the North American box office remained vibrant with one of the best October showings in recent years.
With Halloween around the corner, teens and young adults were craving a good scare and powered the horror flick The Grudge 2 to the top of the charts with an estimated $22M in its opening weekend. Averaging a creepy $6,851 from 3,211 locations, the PG-13 film gave Sony its 12th number one opener of 2006 even though it debuted far below the $39.1M launch of its predecessor two years ago. Sarah Michelle Gellar, who anchored the first Grudge, only appears briefly in the sequel which instead stars the lesser-known television actress Amber Tamblyn as the sister who comes across a supernatural curse. Takashi Shimizu, the director behind the first Grudge as well as the Japanese Ju-On pics which inspired it, once again helms.
After the 2004 surprise smash went on to gross $110.2M from a measly $10M production budget, a sequel was developed. Once again, young women led the way in buying tickets. Studio research showed that 52% of the audience was female and 54% was under the age of 21. The PG-13 rating of the $20M sequel was key to bringing in the high school set, but arriving in the marketplace just seven days after the R-rated horror pic The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning made it a bit difficult to get the college crowd. Fall’s fright film festival continues on its merry way with the October 27 launch of Saw III and the November 10 arrival of Gellar in a full starring role in the supernatural thriller The Return.
Enjoying a powerful second weekend was Martin Scorsese‘s crime thriller The Departed which slipped from first place grossing an estimated $18.7M. Dropping only 31%, the Warner Bros. hit posted a terrific hold thanks to strong word-of-mouth and lifted its cume to an impressive $56.6M after ten days. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, and Jack Nicholson, The Departed looks to be on course to become the director’s top-grossing film ever as it should beat the $102.6M of 2004’s The Aviator. The vicinity of $110M could be reached domestically for the $90M production with much more on tap overseas. Asian cinema inspired both of the top films in North America as Departed is a Hollywood remake of the Hong Kong blockbuster Infernal Affairs.
Robin Williams returned to making mainstream comedies for adults with his political satire Man of the Year which debuted in third place with an estimated $12.6M. Playing in 2,515 sites, the Universal film about a popular talk show host who runs for president averaged an encouraging $4,990. For the Oscar winning funnyman, it was his second best opening this decade for a non-family film after the $20.9M bow of 2002’s cop thriller Insomnia. Williams scored recent hits with last spring’s RV which grossed $71.4M and last year’s animated film Robots which took in $128.2M. Man of the Year did not fare well with critics and The Departed continued to pull away adult audiences. But the Barry Levinson-directed comedy performed well as the only funny option for grown ups in the current marketplace.
In its third weekend, Sony’s hit toon Open Season eased only 30% and grossed an estimated $11M pushing the 17-day total to a solid $59.2M. The horror prequel The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning tumbled an understandable 58% to an estimated $7.8M in its second weekend. New Line’s $16M fright flick has grossed $30.5M in ten days and should finish with $40-45M. Its predecessor, 2003’s remake of Chainsaw, held up better dropping 49% in its sophomore frame on its way to a $80.1M final.
Wrestling superstar John Cena made a quiet debut on the big screen as his action film The Marine opened in sixth place with only $7M, according to estimates. Averaging a mild $2,750 from 2,545 theaters, the PG-13 pic appealed mostly to the entertainer’s core audience of young males. The Fox title about a discharged jarhead who sets out to save his kidnapped wife suffered horrendous reviews.
The Ashton Kutcher–Kevin Costner Coast Guard adventure The Guardian continued to play well slipping 39% to an estimated $5.9M. Cume stands at $41.1M. Lionsgate’s Jessica Simpson comedy Employee of the Month fell 51% in its second weekend to an estimated $5.6M. With $19.9M in ten days, the PG-13 pic could reach $28-30M.
Connecting with Christian audiences in moderate national release was the historical epic adventure One Night with the King which bowed to an estimated $4.3M from 909 theaters. The 8X release averaged a good $4,759 per site. The PG-rated film about the rise of the Queen of Persia stars Tiffany Dupont, Omar Sharif, and Peter O’Toole and was given a church-based marketing campaign. King ranked ninth but had the fourth best per-theater average in the top ten.
Rounding out the top ten was a film not targeting churchgoers. Former number one Jackass: Number Two grossed an estimated $3.3M in its fourth outing falling 49%. Paramount has captured $68.4M thus far.
Opening to weak results in limited release was the indie drama Infamous which grossed an estimated $435,000 from 179 theaters for a disappointing $2,430 average. The Warner Independent release about writer Truman Capote failed to generate interest with arthouse moviegoers who recently spent $28.8M on Capote which went on win an Oscar for Best Actor for Philip Seymour Hoffman earlier this year. Toby Jones, Sandra Bullock, Daniel Craig, and Gwyneth Paltrow star in Infamous which will not be given a wider release.
Still generating muscular numbers in limited release was Miramax’s acclaimed drama The Queen which expanded from 11 to 46 locations and grossed an estimated $1M. Jumping into the Top 20, the Helen Mirren film averaged a sensational $22,174 and boosted its sum to $1.9M with more markets set to open in the weeks ahead.
Another world leader pic, The Last King of Scotland, also expanded into more cities this weekend while in its third conquest. The Fox Searchlight film grossed an estimated $605,000 from 104 locations for a solid $5,817 average. Total is $1.3M.
Four films dropped out of the top ten this weekend. Leggy hit The Illusionist witnessed another of its under-30% drops in its ninth weekend of release. The Edward Norton drama slipped only 24% to an estimated $1.4M giving Yari Film Group a respectable $36.3M to date. A final tally of $40-42M could result. MGM’s comedy School for Scoundrels crumbled 63% to an estimated $1.3M giving the Billy Bob Thornton pic $16.3M. A $18M final gross is likely.
Also falling hard were the male-skewing action films Fearless and Gridiron Gang with weekend estimates of $969,000 and $800,000, respectively. Jet Li‘s martial arts epic dropped 58% and has grossed $23.5M for Focus – a solid figure for a subtitled film. $25M may be reached. The Rock‘s football flick stumbled 64% and raised its cume to $38M. Sony’s final take should fall into the $39-40M range.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $98.1M which was up a stellar 48% from last year when The Fog debuted at number one with $11M; and up 14% from 2004 when Shark Tale stayed in the top spot for a third consecutive weekend with $22M.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com
This week at the movies, we’ve got comedians in the White House ("Man of the Year," starring Robin Williams), continued creepy curses in Tokyo ("The Grudge 2, starring Amber Tamblyn and Sarah Michelle Gellar), a marine with a missing wife ("The Marine," starring John Cena), and a dramatization of the Book of Esther ("One Night with the King," starring Tiffany DuPont). What do the critics say?
It’s an election year, so it seems like a pretty good time to satirize our cherished democratic process, right? Perhaps, but the critics don’t believe "Man of the Year," starring Robin Williams and Laura Linney, is the movie to do it. Williams plays a late night talk show host who runs for president as a joke — only to find the electorate is more receptive to his campaign than he thought. Critics say the film benefits from some good performances — including Linney and Christopher Walken as Williams’ manager — but writer-director Barry Levinson‘s script doesn’t know whether it’s a satire, a thriller, or a romantic comedy. Worse, this political send-up lacks bite when it comes to, well, politics. At 21 percent on the Tomatometer, "Man of the Year" is dipping in the polls.
It seems it is a momentous time to be a wide-release movie. This week, not one, not two, but three films were not screened for the scribes!
First up, we’ve got "The Grudge 2," starring Amber Tamblyn and Sarah Michelle Gellar in a sequel to director Takashi Shimizu‘s 2004 remake of his own Japanese-language horror flick, "Ju-On." The first "Grudge" garnered 40 percent on the Tomatometer; go ahead and guess how the pale-faced little ghost boy and his frighteningly hirsute mother will fare this time around.
Next, there’s "The Marine," WWE Films’ fourth release starring pro-wrestler John Cena as an Iraq vet who must rescue his kidnapped wife from bad guys. The last WWE release, "See No Evil," scored a miniscule Tomatometer of 6 percent. If it helps to Guess The Tomatometer for "The Marine," the freestyling Cena was known back in his WWE days as the "Marky Mark of wrestling."
And finally, completing the trifecta of this week’s releases not screened for critics, we have "One Night With The King," Fox Faith’s second theatrical release geared toward the Christian set. In this retelling of the Book of Esther, a young Jewish girl (newcomer Tiffany DuPont) grows up to save her people; screen greats Omar Sharif, Peter O’Toole and John Rhys-Davies fill out the cast. As does Tommy "Tiny" Lister (AKA Deebo from "Friday"). Guess away.
Also opening this week in limited release: "Deliver Us from Evil," a searing documentary about a convicted pedophile Catholic Priest, is at 100 percent on the Tomatometer (check out Jen Yamato’s review from the Toronto Film Fest here); "So Much So Fast," a documentary about a man with ALS and his family’s response, is at 100 percent; "Driving Lessons," a coming-of-age Brit-com starring Rupert Grint and Laura Linney, is at 73 percent; "Infamous," starring Toby Jones and Sandra Bullock and based on Truman Capote‘s experiences writing "In Cold Blood," is at 58 percent (See Tim Ryan’s Toronto Review here); "Nearing Grace," about a family coping with the death of their wife and mother, is at 40 percent; "Alex Rider: Operation Stormbreaker," the tale of a teen secret agent, is at 37 percent; and "Tideland," Terry Gilliam‘s perverse take on "Alice in Wonderland," is at 21 percent.
Recent Movies Starring Pro Wrestlers:
6% — See No Evil (Kane) (2006)
16% — Grandma’s Boy (Kevin Nash) (2006)
53% — The Devil’s Rejects (Diamond Dallas Page) (2005)
29% — The Longest Yard (Stone Cold Steve Austin, Goldberg, Kevin Nash, The Great Khali) (2005)
27% — Blade: Trinity (Triple H) (2004)
Authors: Tim Ryan and Jen Yamato
Looks like someone’s cast a nasty disappearing spell (written outum scripto!) on "Harry Potter" creature Dobby, since the CGI-powered timid house elf won’t be seen in "Order of the Phoenix."
"I know that the filmmakers have a problem with each new film because the books are getting longer — there’s so much to include in them," Jones remarked."
Although it’s looking like Dobby won’t be back in "Harry Potter" movie-land anytime soon, fans of the J.K. Rowling super series will meet a new house elf in next summer’s "Order of the Phoenix" when the decidedly un-Dobby-like Kreacher graces the big-screen.
Meanwhile, if you really miss the sound of Dobby’s voice, you can check out Jones live-acting as Truman Capote in this month’s limited release, "Infamous."
"Rescue Dawn" is a thrilling movie, an old-fashioned tale of survival that may be the closest Werner Herzog has come to fashioning his obsession with the struggle between man and nature into a mainstream film. Christian Bale stars as Dieter Dengler, an eccentric Vietnam-era Navy pilot whose first allegiance is to flying, his country second (and mainly because the U.S gave him a chance to fly). After crashing in Laos, he is captured and sent to a P.O.W. camp; it’s there that little Dieter steels himself into a man determined to escape and navigate the treacherous jungle to freedom. Bale and Steve Zahn (as a P.O.W.) give remarkable performances, and Herzog creates an air of beauty and peril in the jungle. "Rescue Dawn" (a narrative treatment of Herzog’s documentary "Little Dieter Needs to Fly") is another triumph for the great German director.
You don’t have to be a dyed-in-the-wool George W. Bush supporter to find "Death of a President" a troubling proposition on several levels. Mind you, anti-Americanism and artistic provocation do not necessarily a bad movie make. However, despite the fact that "D.O.A.P." is reasonably impressive on a technical level, the film is not strong enough to be particularly enlightening or insightful, and that’s deadly to an enterprise that imagines the death of a sitting world leader. This not the how-to that some have made it out to be (without seeing the film), and there is a certain palpable dread in the buildup to the assassination. The actual shooting is a blip in the film. But then the film shifts gears; it becomes a murder mystery, and not a particularly interesting one at that, since none of the fictional characters are particularly compelling. Nor does the film answer several fundamental questions it raises. Like, what was the reaction of the American people to the president’s death? Was the economy destabilized? What are the details of Patriot Act 3, the homeland security bill pushed through congress in the wake of the assassination? The fact that these issues are never resolved keeps the film from being particularly useful as the warning it intends to be, and the smugness that permeates throughout doesn’t help, either. "D.O.A.P." leaves an ugly aftertaste.
Truman Capote is good company, and for much of "Infamous"’ running time, that’s enough to hold our attention. Toby Jones does a good job as Capote, playing the character for all its singular eccentricity and charm. "Infamous," like last year’s "Capote," tells the story of the events surrounding the creation of "non-fiction novel" "In Cold Blood." Capote is seen charming the pants off the New York society crowd and slowly but surely ingratiating himself to the good citizens of Holcolm, Kansas, where the shooting of a prominent family has left the community shaken. Unfortunately, the film loses steam in its second half, as Capote interviews Perry Smith (Daniel Craig), one of the accused killers; the depths of Capote’s motives aren’t explored to a satisfying degree. Despite solid performances from Jones, Sandra Bullock as Harper Lee, Craig, and Gwyneth Paltrow (whose single scene is a knockout), "Infamous" doesn’t do much beyond providing some entertaining moments. "Infamous" currently stands at 33 percent on the Tomatometer.