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Bruce Newman, San Jose Mercury News

  1. Mr. Bean's Holiday 2007 The Wikipedia page on gurning lists Atkinson right behind Jim Carrey as one of the world's leading practitioners of grotesque face-making. And this is his ghastly masterpiece. full review
  2. Nanking 2007 Anyone who sees Nanking should know going in what a brutal story it is, but no one should miss it because of a restrictive rating. full review
  3. Year of the Dog 2007 There's a lot of truth and beauty in Year of the Dog, and most of it radiates from the performance of Molly Shannon. full review
  4. Rent 2005 The scourge of rock-opera, a musical mutation that manages to combine the least savory elements of both with the advantages of neither. full review
  5. Secuestro Express 2004 So relentlessly violent and grim that it makes you yearn for a purifying shower.
  6. White Chicks 2004 Much of what passes for humor in White Chicks derives from such charming plot devices as the lactose intolerance of one of the brothers.
  7. The Battle of Shaker Heights 2003 An inoffensive, if somewhat bedraggled, little movie.
  8. Cold Mountain 2003 It is a promontory of undeniable beauty and occasional power, but Cold Mountain remains so dark and distant on the screen -- shivering in a wintry gloom -- that it hardly casts an emotional shadow.
  9. Punch-Drunk Love 2002 Manages to be both heartbreaking and happy, while managing to look like nothing you've ever seen before. full review
  10. The Sweetest Thing 2002 A bunch of intermittently amusing sketches that collectively don't add up to much of a picture. full review
  11. Baran 2001 Majidi is an unconventional storyteller, capable of finding beauty in the most depressing places. full review
  12. Love the Hard Way 2001 [The story] is often overly simplistic when it is trying hardest for emotional complexity. full review
  13. Waking Life 2001 Like My Dinner with Andre and other appallingly smart movies, this one reminded me that I need to read more books and watch less television.
  14. The Emperor's New Groove 2000 Feels like some lame, focus-grouped attempt by a bunch of people who have grown hopelessly middle-aged to make themselves hip with the kids.
  15. Godzilla, King of the Monsters! 1956
  16. Gojira 1954 Political charge elevates Godzilla far above its reputation for cheesiness, but not so far that it should be mistaken for political satire.
  17. /titles/197186 As fondly remembered as [The Bill Chill and The Decline of the American Empire] are, Arcand's Barbarian Invasions surpasses them both. full review
  18. /titles/197505 Brother's Shadow is an admirable first film. full review
  19. /titles/199790 Cast Away has a marshmallow middle that feels empty at the core. full review
  20. /titles/197180 Freaky Friday triumphs by successfully striking comic notes when it could be making loud screeching noises. full review
  21. /titles/197497 Mac and Kutcher have proved themselves better comics than actors, but both give charming, subtle performances here. full review
  22. /titles/199852 By the time it arrives at its final kite-flying scene back in the Bay Area, The Kite Runner has soared occasionally, but remains too grounded for its own good in the book from which it was supposed to spring. full review
  23. /titles/197826 ... to have seen either the original movie, or Lane and Broderick on Broadway (I saw both) is to be reminded what a lamentable knockoff this is. full review
  24. /titles/197207 Shooter won't win any Oscars, but it has blood and brains, and even some heart. They're splattered all over the screen. full review
  25. /titles/199849 Water runs deep because Mehta is an able -- if somewhat gloomy -- storyteller. full review