The devil in this story is Uday Hussein, the notoriously decadent and monstrous elder son of Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein. The story’s double is Latif Yahia, a valorous Iraqi soldier whose recently published memoir about his experiences serving as Uday’s body double provides the source material for this film. Grade: C.
Superlative performances and a restrained directorial touch elevate this French drama from a schematic outline into a compelling story about a woman who gradually discovers horizons where previously she had seen none. Grade: B.
Versatile director Chris Weitz's latest rarely transcends its programmatic structure and predictable character arcs, although its immigrant, working-class milieu is drenched in realism and heartache. Grade: D-plus.
On the Oregon Trail in 1845, a wagon train of three families led by the mountain man Stephen Meek (Bruce Greenwood) is perilously lost, even though none are yet fully aware of that fact. It’s here that director Kelly Reichardt’s film begins. Actually, Meek’s Cutoff opens in silence, or, more accurately, with the sounds that become prominent in the absence of conversation.
Producer-turned-first-time-director Jim Kohlberg is unable to wrench much life or visual flair from this music-infused medical mystery, although it will elicit some tears from those sensitive to its emotional tugs. Grade: C.