by INLANDER STAFF & r & & r & BURN AFTER READING & r & & r & I've figured out how Joel and Ethan Coen do it -- how they move so effortlessly from comedy to drama. It's that they don't think about tone or genre, at least not at the beginning: They just think about a character, and let him have his lead, and see where he takes them. A brilliant but heartless killer like Anton Chigurh is naturally going to take them in one direction, and so we get No Country for Old Men. And a bubble-headed knuckleknob like Chad Feldheimer is naturally going to take them in another direction, and so we get Burn After Reading, which is as gloriously zany as Country was brutally vicious. (MAJ) Rated R
This came out of left field. Five not-at-all connected vignettes about what it means to be an American circa 2008. From a Caribbean refugee who comes to America only to be derided for her origins to a community that must confront skinheads to a soldier sent to war, it all seems like a propaganda piece. (LB) Rated PG
Pacino and DeNiro as cops. That's all you really need to know. DeNiro does his smoldering crazy thing, Pacino does his "hoo-HAW" over-the-top crazy thing. Partners, best friends, they get framed for (serial) murder and have to shoot their way out of it. (LB) Rated R
Mathew McConaughey in the part he was born to play: a stoner, surfer and sex symbol who tries to circumvent financial woes and bad waves by agreeing to move into a McMansion and have his life digitized. How this solves the no-waves problem isn't exactly clear, but we're sure it seemed like a good idea at the time. (LB) Rated R
TYLER PERRY'S THE FAMILY THAT PREYS
Centers on a black family, half laborers, half business people, and their relationship to a white family -- multimillionaires, Kathy Bates as the matriarch -- which begins to sour as a daughter flirts with using the rich white guy's feelings for her as a way to climb the corporate ladder. (LB) Rated PG-13
Based on the 1939 George Cukor film, which was based on the Clare Boothe Luce play about a group of very close female pals who try to help one of them through her husband's cheating. The Women starts off with some annoying overacting, mostly from Annette Bening, but smoothly transitions into a bright and moving portrait of a woman (Meg Ryan, perky as ever) trying to put her life back together. The rat-a-tat dialogue becomes almost endearing, the friendships are believable, and small parts by Cloris Leachman and Bette Midler make it all even better. (ES) Rated PG-13.