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On the Screen

****: Inspired brilliance

***: Solid filmmaking

**: Mild entertainment

*: Embarrassing dreck

****Brokeback Mountain

Ang Lee’s gritty and realistic film has been called revolutionary for being a mainstream movie about cowboys who fall in love with each other, but the story is in truth incredibly simple. At its heart, “Brokeback” is a beautifully crafted film that tells a story strikingly similar to some of the oldest tales of love in our society. (Andrew Guerra)

*** The Chronicles of Narnia:

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

C.S. Lewis wrote a story about the triumph of good over evil (and yes, the Second Coming and the importance of faith), and the loyalty of four brothers and sisters to each other and their friends. Lucy Pevensie steps through a wardrobe of fur coats and finds herself in Narnia, a magical land with talking animals and mythic beasts, and a White Witch who’s covered the land in eternal winter. But there’s no need to look for religious underpinnings when the fantasy easily stands alone. “Narnia” is a wonderful escape within an escape; like the old professor who owns the wardrobe, I can’t wait to go back. (Rosa Cao)

* Firewall

Boasting equivocal baddies, a potboiler script, and cookie cutter performances, “Firewall” is a film that’ll see the second-run theaters by Valentine’s Day. Harrison Ford plays Jack Stanfield, a bank security expert whose life and family are threatened when robbers force him to commit electronic theft from his own employers. A great deal of acting talent is wasted on this picture, and unless something great comes along, Ford’s career is essentially over. (Kevin Der)

***Glory Road

In sports movies, the important thing is often not the destination, but the journey. This is true in “Glory Road,” the Hollywood retelling of the 1966 Texas Western College basketball team. Texas Western played all black players against the all-white national power Kentucky in the 1966 finals and won. The win inspired a generation of black basketball players like Magic Johnson and Bob McAdoo, who went on to revolutionize the game. The real focus of the movie is on the players on the team, the racial obstacles they overcame, and how the journey changed them personally. (Brian Chase)

*** Match Point

This film deviates from the usual Woody Allen offering. It boasts young, sexy stars and is set in upper-class London instead of his beloved New York. Jonathan Rhys-Meyers plays a young tennis coach who marries into an upper-class British family but falls in love with his brother-in-law’s fianc e, Nola (Scarlett Johansson). The biggest surprise is that this film is a thriller, with each scene building unbearable tension. (Kapil Amarnath)


Inspired by the very real events of the 1972 Olympics, when eleven Israeli athletes were killed by Palestinian terrorists, this perfectly executed film advocates peace and wisdom. With this film, Spielberg intends to show that any conflict affects the globe, and that events in the Middle East are as relevant to our country’s future as those within our own borders. (Kevin Der)

** Syriana

Writer and director Stephen Gaghan, who penned “Traffic,” discusses the energy crisis and the war for oil in this new drama. Part of an ensemble cast, Bob Barnes (George Clooney) is a CIA operative in the Middle East who must protect U.S. interests in oil, but he starts to question his government’s motives. Though Gaghan presents a convincing, albeit pessimistic world view, he does not provide an artistic vision. Ultimately more enjoyment comes after the final reel, from thinking about the questions that the film raises. (Kapil Amarnath)

*** Why We Fight

Director Eugene Jarecki paints a convincing portrait of how hidden backroom deals turn the government into an oligarchy of elite interests. This political documentary ties together a coherent narrative from a set of perspectives, key facts, and historical contexts. The movie features an NYPD cop who lost a son in 9/11, neoconservative leader William Kristol, a disaffected Pentagon analyst, the pilots who fired the first salvo in the Iraq war, and more. (Beckett Sterner)

Compiled by Kevin Der, Jacqueline O’Connor, and Nivair H. Gabriel