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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)

**Curious George

The question is whether we, as adults, can sit through an hour and a half of watching a non-talking monkey and a man in a bright yellow suit voiced by Will Ferrell. The answer, surprisingly, is an emphatic yes. What really sells the movie to adults is the amount of emotion generated with such a simple plot, although the most delightful aspect by far is the music. Before long, you may find yourself buying the soundtrack to a movie that is quite funny and enjoyable, even to those over the age of five. (Yong-yi Zhu)

**Eight Below

“Eight Below” is a nature movie riding the waves of last year’s successful “March of the Penguins” and “Grizzly Man.” Disney decided to hop on the bandwagon, but had to bastardize the genre with their requisite gag-inducing scenes. I am happy to say that even Disney can’t completely ruin a good thing; if you need an escape and some brain candy, not to mention beautiful scenery and some terrific canine acting, you could do worse than this Antarctic adventure film. (Alice Macdonald)

* 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)

**A Good Woman

Set in the 1930s, Mike Barker’s “A Good Woman” addresses the issue of what defines a good woman relative to rules of societal morality. Based on Oscar Wilde’s play “Lady Windermere’s Fan,” it is a movie with an interesting premise, but one that could have been far better presented. Helen Hunt is only given a few obvious attempts to develop her character, and Scarlett Johansson delivers an average performance — disappointing, considering her reputation. The film falls into the Hollywood trap of building up conflict and then giving every character an easy way out. (Parama Pal)

*** 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)

****Munich

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)

Something New

It’s the story of a Kenya McQueen (Sanaa Lathan), the driven black businesswoman who can’t seem to find time for love, and Brian the Landscaper (Simon Baker), the gentle white gardener who can’t help but love everything he touches. Despite playing the race card, this plot is as conventional as any other romantic comedy; the film includes the awkward boy-girl meeting, the falling-in-love-to-music montage, the other man, and the inevitable marriage at the end. “Something New” brings little new material to the conversation on race in America, and may even degrade the debate with its cast of utterly one-dimensional characters. (George S. Zaidan)

** 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 on 9/11, neoconservative leader William Kristol, 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