Author and screenwriter Alex Garland knows how to create tension and an almost existential sense of dread from nothing more than the thoughts inside one’s head. So a film collaboration with director Mark Romanek based on an acclaimed novel by Kazuo Ishiguro should be a surreal and dramatic vision. Romanek's film is undeniably artful but airless and lacking both a heartbeat and true soul. Grade: C-.
Oliver Stone makes a winning attempt at staying true to his original 'Wall Street' storytelling about the warped mentality of the center of the economic universe. In keeping with the energized rhythms of his 1987 film, when greed was "good" (now it's "legal"), Stone masterfully applies stylistic, narrative and character details. Michael Douglas, Shia LaBeouf, Carey Mulligan, Frank Langella and Susan Sarandon impeccably fulfill their dream-team roles. Grade: B.
Lone Scherfig's 'An Education' is certainly that for the film's central figure, Jenny (newcomer Carey Mulligan), a gifted student from the London suburb of Twickenham in 1961 who dreams of studying English at Oxford University. Based on the memoir of British journalist Lynn Barber and adapted for the screen by novelist Nick Hornby, it's effective on a variety of levels, none more obvious than Mulligan. Grade: B plus.