Peter Rainer

  1. Prescient TenseRe-creating the carnage of fifties Algeria—bombings, assassinations, police torture—The Battle of Algiers is as relevant toda […]
  2. The Grape EscapeRunning from commitments and failures, two college buddies romp through California, sampling the local wine—and women—in Sideways.
  3. Tea and SympathyAnd abortions. That’s what Vera Drake offers working-class girls in distress, in Mike Leigh’s realist portrait of postwar London.
  4. Charming BillyAs London’s greatest Desdemona, Billy Crudup gets in touch with his masculine side (and finds true love) in the gender-bending Stage Beauty.
  5. Love-LessDavid O. Russell’s star-studded comedy about “existential detectives” is strictly for the McSweeney’s set. Plus: In Going Upriver, a po […]
  6. Che Sera SeraGael García Bernal’s South American road trip turns him into the revolutionary of everyone’s dreams. Plus: A Dirty Shame is a misnomer.
  7. The CandidateDubya gets a noir makeover in John Sayles’s Silver City, but the movie can’t compete with the reality-show drama of the campaign itself.
  8. Smoke and MirrorsRoss McElwee reflects on his family’s tobacco-growing past—and its fleeting future—in the raw and lovely documentary Bright Leaves.
  9. Vile Bodies, OurselvesEvelyn Waugh’s classic satire of soirées and scandals is luridly familiar (if a bit overwrought) in Stephen Fry’s adaptation, Bright Young […]
  10. Cheat Drink Man WomanTwo couples struggle through a bitter cycle of anger, adultery, revenge, and friendship in We Don’t Live Here Anymore.
  11. Top GunmanFor once, Tom Cruise plays the bad guy—a coolly domineering hit man on an all-night killing spree in Michael Mann’s intense Collateral.
  12. Three on a MatchIn a bohemian twist on family, two men and a kooky ex-hippie attempt an unusual and affecting ménage à trois. Plus, Spike Lee does his worst.
  13. Different DrummerDespite his tragic final years, Marlon Brando left a legacy of brilliantly novelistic acting. Plus, Jeff Bridges’s flamboyant turn as a sloshe […]
  14. Everyday SuperpeopleA tentacled evildoer! A devastated city! A lovelorn wall-crawler! Yes, it’s Spider-Man 2, here to let us know: Even superheroes get the blues.
  15. Burning BushMichael Moore is hot for regime change—and if his caustic documentary Fahrenheit 9/11 helps sway the election, what’s wrong with that?
  16. Extreme MakeoverThe robotized Über-wives of Stepford, Connecticut, return to the screen in a silly, dull remake that goes no further than skin deep.
  17. Joint AccountTo prove his love for his struggling-actress wife, a TV producer finances a play for her. That’s when things go horribly, hilariously wrong.
  18. Fright of PassageAs Harry Potter hits adolescence, the boy wizard gets a new director (Y Tu Mamá También’s Alfonso Cuarón), a new depth, and a new darkness.
  19. Holy High School!In Saved!, born-again students cope with surprise pregnancy, homosexuality, a horny pastor, and a Jewish classmate. The results are devil […]
  20. Con AnimaToday’s animated features have more style, wit, and soul than most live-action films. But Shrek 2 makes the mistake of going Hollywood.
  21. War of the PosesHomer’s Greeks battle—vainly and in vain—for epic grandeur in the $175 million Troy. Strayed nails the dreadful […]
  22. Where’s the Beef?After gorging on Big Macs for 30 days in Super Size Me, director Morgan Spurlock winds up full—of himself. Mean Girls has a […]
  23. Mixed MarriageShe’s icy, he’s charming, they’re both divorce lawyers—and despite their utter lack of chemistry, they get hitched in
  24. Stress RehearsalStick Nick Nolte and Sean Penn on a Sam Shepard set, and the sparks should fly, right? Not in this even-tempered documentary.
  25. Blood SportFor all their smoking shotguns and crimson-drenched samurai swords, Quentin Tarantino’s epics of mayhem tell us nothing about real violence.
  26. Things Fall ApartIn Dieter Roth’s disorderly art, the ideas sometimes fare about as well as the rotting fruit and other detritus that formed his palette.
  27. Force of NatureThe tranquil beauty of a Korean Buddhist monastery is no match for human cruelty in the stunning Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter … and Sprin […]
  28. Low CountryWith Tom Hanks as a charming southern con man, the Coen brothers slip a whoopee cushion under a comedy of manners in The Ladykillers.
  29. Top 5 Restaurant SedersRestaurant riffs on passover seders, semi-traditional and otherwise.
  30. Memory LaneDespite its tangled plot and avant-garde style, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind harks back to classic, romantic screwball comedies.
  31. Wag the CogA staunch soldier gets caught up in conspiracy in David Mamet’s noirish Spartan; Hidalgo is Seabiscuit with sand (a […]
  32. Rerun-of-the-MillThe unfunny Starsky & Hutch is the latest—but undoubtedly not the last—seventies TV series to get the big-screen treatment.
  33. Passion PloyMel Gibson’s imagining of Jesus’ last hours is a gory bloodbath worthy of a Jacobean revenge tragedy.
  34. Pet ProjectAdopting a circus camel is one thing, but persuading a Polish town to love it is a comic challenge eagerly taken up by the heroes of The Big […]
  35. Science of BachelorsThe Scandinavian single men under observation in Kitchen Stories make classic comic fodder; The Code is a French thriller that ask […]
  36. Paris Is YearningBertolucci’s The Dreamers may be rated NC-17, but its cinephilic ménage à trois is more sweet than scandalous.
  37. Colder MountainCrippled and frostbitten, Joe Simpson was left to die in the Peruvian Andes. How he survived is the harrowing subject of Touching the Void.
  38. Persian GulfRich and poor live uneasily together in Crimson Gold, Jafar Panahi’s revealing tale of a Tehran pizza deliverer driven to murder.
  39. Best Films of 2003Our critic names his favorite flicks of the year.
  40. Off PointeThe Company gets ballet life right, but stumbles when it comes to character; Ben Kingsley rules House of Sand and Fog.
  41. Down-HomerCold Mountain is a Civil War Odyssey that drenches the South in blood and beauty. Lord of the Rings restores our faith i […]
  42. Acting Her AgeEven in a comic cop-out like Something’s Gotta Give, Diane Keaton proves she’s not too old to be a star (or to bed Jack Nic […]
  43. Zen PaletteDirector Edward Zwick gives The Last Samurai a coat of deep-thought spirituality—and turns Tom Cruise into a haunted swordsman.
  44. Ode to JoieThe Triplets of Belleville is a jazzy celebration of animated action. Tommy Lee Jones and Cate Blanchett enliven a generic Wild West in < […]
  45. Naval GazingIn the winning Master and Commander, Peter Weir and Russell Crowe keep the action contemplative. The Matrix Revolutions goes boom.
  46. Candy CornLove Actually drenches British wit in Hollywood treacle. Elf is a Hallmark card, too—but at least it has the dependably funn […]
  47. Identity CrisisIn The Human Stain—adapted from Philip Roth’s book—Anthony Hopkins plays a professor who has hidden his race from his f […]
  48. Cheap ShotsIn Elephant, Gus Van Sant aims for an objective look at teen shootings in America, but his art-house approach is way too cool for school.
  49. Holiday ReunionPieces of April, about a dysfunctional family that reconciles over Thanksgiving dinner, breathes life into a tired premise.
  50. No Pain, No GainClint Eastwood’s Mystic River is suffused with lives ruined by violence; in Kill Bill, Quentin Tarantino looks violence in t […]
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