by Inlander Staff & r & Jarhead--Spend some time in hot Middle Eastern sand with the Marines during Operation Desert Shield. Under the direction of Sam Mendes (American Beauty), it was funny and harrowing and boring and could drive a guy nuts. Jake Gyllenhaal plays a Marine who goes through tough emotional times with his fellow soldiers. The film concentrates more on them than on the politics of the time. Gyllenhaal, as Swoff, and Peter Sarsgaard, as Troy, are terrific. (ES) Rated R
Shopgirl--It's gotta be cool for Steve Martin, the kind of guy with enough clout to (a) write a prize-winning novella, (b) adapt it into a screenplay, (c) sell it to a studio and, finally, (d) star in the resulting film. Business people call that "vertical integration," kids, and Martin's done it. Claire Danes is getting adulatory press for her turn as the shop girl, Mirabelle. (LB) Rated R
Good Night and Good Luck--An elegant scolding frames George Clooney's meticulous and stirring account of the duel between broadcast journalist Edward R. Murrow (David Strathairn) and Red-baiter Senator Joseph McCarthy (played by himself, via archival news footage). Celebrated at a fete in 1958 for his career achievements, Murrow turns on the network-news broadcasters honoring him. "This will probably do no one any good," he begins, and concludes by condemning the new medium for selling out its potential and folding to political and commercial pressure. (Peter Keough) Rated PG.
Chicken Little--Wasn't the original Chicken Little story about the dumb and directionless power of the mob mentality? The "sky is falling" trope was a brilliant absurdist way to underscore the sheer power of paranoia. Chicken Little himself -- an idiot who is incredibly influential -- is the perfect mascot for our times. But Disney went and ruined the whole damn thing. See, in their version, the sky actually is falling. Yawn. (LB) Rated G
Get Rich or Die Tryin'--At first glance, this seems like the most honestly titled film ever. The producers are being so forthright about this shameless product tie-in that they've put one of their core corporate values right in the title. Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson, former thug and dealer turned platinum-selling rap star, plays Marcus, thug and drug dealer who might someday become a platinum-selling rap star? Pretty much screams "let's piggy back on Fiddy's album sales." But GRoDT is directed by Jim Sheridan, a six-time Oscar nominee who helmed 2003's In America. So it might be well received and still score billions of dollars in merchandising. Probably not though. (LB) Rated R