by Inlander Staff & r &


Mel Gibson's abhorrent behavior can't take away the fact that he knows how to make an epic film. This is set in a Mayan forest where a peaceful tribe is attacked by ruthless marauders who take prisoners. One man tries to find his way back, through all kinds of obstacles. The film is reverent toward nature, superbly photographed and scored, and brimming with decapitations. It also, oddly, has bright flashes of humor. Completely enthralling for a fast-paced 140 minutes. (ES) Rated R


This is really two films. There's the sober and horrifyingly proximate view of the conflict diamond situation. You have warlords and government officials, land rich but cash-strapped. You have the common folk -- like Mende fisherman Solomon Vandy (Djimon Hounsou) -- who are raped, mutilated, tortured and enslaved to mine the diamonds. You have the global diamond cartels eager to snap up those diamonds cheaply and quietly. Somewhere in the middle of this mess, you have Danny Archer (Leonardo DiCaprio), the amoral Afrikaner smuggler who makes sure certain men get their diamonds while other men get their guns. On the other hand, you have all the running and ducking and shooting and hiding of good, brainless action-- all the explosions, supernatural combat skills, dizzying coincidence, improbable bullet geometries and narrow, inexplicable escapes that make it, well, an action movie. Blood Diamond is disjointed but effective -- and occasionally poignant. (LB) Rated R


The chick-flick auteuress responsible for What Women Want and Something's Gotta Give gets the glossy leading ladies she's always wanted: Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslett. Left loveless for the holidays, these two decide to swap stylish homes (one in L.A., the other across the pond) and before you know it, they're engaged in picturesque romancing with the likes of Jude Law and Jack Black. Rated PG-13



A father travels across Japan to see his dying son, only to find that the man, deeply wronged by his father in the past, doesn't want to see him. Then the father, as an act of penance, embarks on a journey to record a particular Kabuki performance that his son once loved. Director Zhang Yimou is best known in America for his Wire-Fu epics Hero and House of Flying Daggers. Here he returns to his quieter, more contemplative roots. Rated PG


When Swingers became a thing, everyone started going around, drunkenly, stupidly, quoting it. "Vegas baby, Vegas," they'd say. "You're so money, baby." Hearing meatheads and morons reinforce their gambling habits and self-centrism with a film I really liked made me angry. That anger was always washed away upon sitting down to watch the film on DVD, which I did almost weekly for throughout 1999, 2000 and two-thirds of 2001. Those two quotes are the single least funny lines from the film, and skew the real point of view, which is to document losers creating their own rigid (swing revival?!?! Still can't believe that one) counter-culture to be cool, only to become exactly the same kind of fascist cool kids that excluded them in the first place. At the Garland, Friday and Saturday midnights. (LB) Rated R


This is a Brat Pack movie made with genuine, real-life little brats. Or maybe it's trying to be Home Alone, Only With a Bunch of Other Kids in a Big Airport. Either way, the originality rating is low and the sell-out factor is high, with grouchy Lewis Black and effeminate Wilmer Valderrama overseeing parent-less kids stranded in a terminal on Christmas Eve. When the second joke on your trailer is a kid doing a four-second belch, you know the next 1,173 jokes will go downhill like Black on an out-of-control sled (which is Joke No. 897). Rated PG

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