Art School Confidential
Director Terry Zwigoff and comic artist/writer Daniel Clowes explore post-adolescent ennui in this adaptation of Clowes' frequently hilarious (and uncannily accurate) satire of art school pretension. I spent the first half of the movie thinking that this would certainly be the best comedy of 2006—and then, the second half struck. There's no accounting for how far off the tracks Confidential gets; instead of hilarious satire, Clowes and Zwigoff serve up bad subplots and histrionic protagonists. Seems like these two need to go back (wait for it) to the drawing board! (Chas Bowie)

The Birds
My mom showed me this 1963 Hitchcock flick when I was a kid as an attempt to show me and my sister what a "real" scary movie was like. Since usually she kept me from watching anything interesting at all—for about 10 years, I was on a pretty strict audio/visual diet of PBS, in particular Marty Stouffer's Wild America—I was like "Oh, shit. Killer birds?! This is going to be scary!" Which it wasn't. Hitchcock is no doubt talented, but ever since that afternoon, I've considered him somewhat overrated—I mean, dude couldn't even scare a wimpy little kid who'd never seen a scary movie before. Also, I remember thinking that a lot of the birds looked fake. There's nothing scary about fake birds. (Erik Henriksen)

The Blood of My Brother
See review this issue.

The Break-Up
The Break-Up is being marketed as a bubbly romantic comedy­—as a date movie, sure, but one masquerading as an anti-date movie. From the film's ads, one gets the sense that—despite its title, and despite its stars' bickering­—The Break-Up is made for those on dates, or those who want to be. But that's sneaky and kind of mean—turns out that The Break-Up isn't that bubbly, nor is it that romantic. That isn't to say it's a lousy movie, because another thing that the ads will trick you about is the film's quality. Sure, The Break-Up is being sold as another crappy, predictable romantic comedy—when really, it's a thoughtful, surprisingly competent dramedy. (Erik Henriksen)

Brick
A film noir set in a high school, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt from 3rd Rock from the Sun. Brick-ville's a hardboiled wonderland; senior year is fulla dead dames and double-crossers, but instead of the coppers, we've got vice principals, and instead of smoky jazz clubs, we've got the basement in some kid's house. First-time director Rian Johnson never lets up on the tough-guy tone or the pace, and for a while, it's fun to see 'roided-out jocks play the dumb muscle, and to watch teenager Nora Zehetner as a femme fatale with a great pair of getaway sticks. After the first 45 minutes, though, you'll begin to feel like you're watching the cast of Peanuts trying to act cooler and smarter than they'll ever be in real life. (Chas Bowie)

Cars
Cars' greatness isn't due to its story, which is pretty rote: A hotshot racecar, Lightning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson), gets stranded in the podunk town of Radiator Springs, and, after some initial whining, learns Important Life Lessons. No, Cars' success is due to its vibrant, jovial personality; the film's visceral sense of fun, heart, and adrenaline starts in the first scene and never quiets down. Plus, the film's gorgeous. (Erik Henriksen)

Click
Click is a movie about what happens when Adam Sandler gets a remote control that lets him control his life—he can fast-forward through fights with his wife, or turn down the volume on his barking dog. I can hear critics' lame swipes already: "You'll wish you could fast-forward through this movie!" "If only we could rewind to when Adam Sandler was in good movies!" "You'll want to change the channel as soon as this movie starts!" Stupid as they are, all those comments are true. (Erik Henriksen)

The Devil Wears Prada
First, the clothes: The Devil Wears Prada's costume designer, Patricia Field, sails in on her Sex and the City cred to whip up a populist but appealing parade of sartorial eye candy (which, interestingly, turns out to be very much in the vein of what Teen Vogue was doing in last year's "Back to School" issue, but with higher heels). As for the film itself, it's as fresh faced and middling as you would imagine, given its basis in a chick-lit story by Lauren Weisberger, whose novel is a pseudo-biographical tell-all about Condé Nast-y's queen bee, Vogue Editor Anna Wintour (Meryl Streep). (Marjorie Skinner)

District B 13
France's District B 13 is probably the first film to combine George Orwell, parkour, and kung fu, but what's more surprising than that unlikely amalgamation is how well it works. (Erik Henriksen)

The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift
Tokyo Drift is a giggly videogame of a flick, with hot CG, tight direction, Sonny Chiba as a menacing Yakuza boss, and plenty of sweet cars and sweet ass. (Wm. Steven Humphrey)

Harakiri
Masaki Kobayashi's 1962 samurai flick starring Tatsuya Nakadai.

The Heart of the Game
The Roosevelt Roughriders—a Seattle high school girls' basketball team—spent seven years under quirky new coach Bill Resler, trying to win the state championship. They faced plenty of adversity along the way: A tough cross-town rival, the Garfield Bulldogs, crushing first round losses in the championship tournament, intra-team squabbles, and a state interscholastic association that tried to bar the team's star player, Darnelia Russell, from rejoining the team after she skipped a year of school to have a baby. A sports documentary that bears a striking resemblance to Hoop Dreams, The Heart of the Game is amazing, thanks to the obvious dedication of Resler and the talented band of kickass young women he inspired. (Amy Jenniges)

An Inconvenient Truth
An Inconvenient Truth is workmanlike and clumsy at times—but it's also hugely invigorating. Tracking Al Gore's global-warming lecture as he schleps his Apple laptop across the country and to China, it's a collection of scientific facts and correlations made urgent through human drama and low-tech slide-show magic. It should be required viewing for every American citizen. And if it kicks up a storm of speculation regarding Al Gore's political prospects in 2008? So much the better. (Annie Wagner)

Kill!
A funny, smart, and incisive send-up of/tribute to the samurai genre. Part spaghetti western, part comedy, and part samurai flick, Kill! follows a couple of clichéd characters—a farmer turned wannabe samurai, a disgraced former samurai, a group of rebellious, confused samurai (who, not coincidentally, are seven in number, natch)—and ends up being one of the most engaging, humorous, and personable films of its genre. (Erik Henriksen)

The King
See review this issue.

Lady Vengeance
Perhaps my favorite quote about film comes from director Park Chanwook: "I don't feel enjoyment watching films that evoke passivity," he said. "If you need that kind of comfort, I don't understand why you wouldn't go to a spa." Watching Park's films, it's easy to see the fruits of that mentality: Violent, dark, and funny, all three parts of his revenge trilogy are pointedly provoking—of thought, of emotion, and of gag reflexes. What's more, they've gotten progressively better: 2002's Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance was striking but uneven; 2003's Oldboy had some of the most phenomenal and disturbing moments I've ever seen on film, but had weak links in its plot; Lady Vengeance, those films' thematic successor, has an operatic, surreal storyline, paired perfectly with Park's meticulous visuals and captivating tone. (Erik Henriksen)

The Lake House
Based on the 2000 South Korean film Siworae, The Lake House follows Alex (Keanu Reeves) and Kate (Sandra Bullock), both of whom live in a beautiful, Frank Lloyd Wright-esque house that's made almost entirely of glass, and sits, perched on stilts, above a lake. Weird thing is, Alex and Kate aren't living there at the same time—they communicate through letters, and as far as they can tell, Kate's living in 2006, while Alex is in 2004. The Lake House's first act is surprisingly solid and interesting, something that the filmmakers desperately try to remedy halfway through by turning the thing into an embarrassingly stupid and syrupy mess. (Erik Henriksen)

Look Both Ways
The Australian Look Both Ways deals with matters of life and death in a thought-provoking way: The film charts a weekend in the life of a community affected by a tragic train crash, dealing with the role of artists and the media in interpreting such events, but also skewing things onto a deeper level through the eyes of one character who finds out he's dying of cancer. With this plot, the film could easily be melodramatic—but it's expertly done, so it's not. (Matt Davis)

Loose Change
Loose Change writer/director/narrator Dylan Avery claims, "I think what happened to the World Trade Center is simple enough. It was brought down in a carefully planned controlled demolition. It was a psychological attack on the American people and it was pulled off with military precision." Avery asserts the 9/11 attacks were perpetrated by the US government to (A) steal gold stored in the towers, (B) garner public support of the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, and (C) allow massive amounts of money to be made by connected parties. Yeah, whatever, right? This is the same conspiracy talk spouted in countless books, films, and websites. But unlike a lot of the more wackadoodle shit, Loose Change presents its evidence in an organized, coherent, digestible way, with plenty of mainstream news, government, and scientific substantiation. I've never given much time to most 9/11 conspiracies, but I've got to say this is the first that's made me want to seek more information. Which I did—and found a good many qualified sources that say this film is full of holes, half-truths, and plain ol' wrongheaded inaccuracies. Still, some of the bigger questions raised remain unanswered. Go see this film. Make up your own mind. The truth is there somewhere, buried beneath a whole lot of red tape, blood, and rubble. (Adam Gnade)

Mission: Impossible III
The sort of fun you're going to have whether you want to or not, even if you think you're too hip or smart or cultured for something this big and loud and show-offy. (Erik Henriksen)

Nacho Libre
Napoleon Dynamite's director, Jared Hess, teams up again with his wife, Jerusha, and Mike White for Nacho Libre, in which everything feels exactly like Napoleon Dynamite: There's the semi-retarded but loveable titular character, the semi-retarded but loveable sidekick, the constant tone of deadpan weirdness, and—just as in Napoleon—one's never sure if the Hess duo is mocking or sympathizing with their protagonists. Scene by scene, Nacho feels like a south-of-the-border version of the tired, annoying Napoleon, a formula that could be a lot worse, but could also be a lot better. (Erik Henriksen)

Neil Young: Heart of Gold
This is Jonathan Demme's first concert film since the Talking Heads' Stop Making Sense, one of the greatest live music movies ever. But Sense was a visual film, with amazing slideshows, props, and a singer who pioneered the post-punk spaz out. Heart of Gold? A bunch of old dudes standing in place, singing harmony. (Chas Bowie)

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
See review this issue.

Poseidon
If you like watching people bonk their heads and drown for 90 minutes, then stop reading now, race to the theater, stuff your fat face with popcorn, and enjoy the shit out of Poseidon. (Wm. Steven Humphrey)

A Prairie Home Companion
Back when The Simpsons was funny, they had a great gag about PBS' A Prairie Home Companion, hosted by Garrison Keillor. Homer, et al., were sitting on the couch, watching Keillor tell his supposedly comedic stories. Stone-faced, the Simpsons couldn't figure out why the TV audience was in fits over Keillor; finally, Homer stood up and banged on the TV: "Be more funny!" he shouted, confused and angry. So let's give Homer the benefit of the doubt: If broken technology is why A Prairie Home Companion is so dull on PBS (and equally so on NPR), then that means there are a whole bunch of lousy projectors in America's movie theaters—because Robert Altman's A Prairie Home Companion film is even duller. (Erik Henriksen)

The Puffy Chair
An amalgamation of Garden State and... well, any road-trip movie you've ever seen, The Puffy Chair is a late-20s quarter-life crisis journey. Which, I know, sounds like it'd be awful to sit through. Okay, let me start over: This film is cute, yet bittersweet, pulling off 20-something angst in a genuine, lighthearted (yet not irreverent) fashion. (Amy Jenniges)

Say Uncle
Peter Paige should never make another movie, unless it's a hundred million million times better than the "not-quite black comedy" Say Uncle—which he directs and stars in as a gay man who likes children. The film thrashes the moral "Not all gay men are pedophiles" to death for 90 minutes with all the ham-fisted subtlety of a preschool puppet show. Sadly, it was filmed in Portland—switching off is a bit harder knowing you might miss another shot of the Burnside Bridge. Dear Peter Paige: Jump off it! (Matt Davis)

Strangers with Candy
See review this issue.

Superman Returns
There are some unforgettable, breathtaking moments in Bryan Singer's mega-expensive, mega-hyped redux of the Man of Steel—all the pieces are here, and in bits, Superman Returns works quite well. But when Singer combines these elements, his film never manages to gel: The script ebbs and flows with lame plot devices and needless characters; it's easily 15 minutes too long; and it ends with an unsatisfying whimper. And, when all's said and done, Superman remains a distant, untouchable outsider—like Singer's film, he fails to summon much enthusiasm, in spite of all his unforgettable, breathtaking feats. (Erik Henriksen)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
The year is 1988. Ninja Turtle-mania is sweeping the nation, all the way to the swamps of Louisiana, where your faithful author was but a Nintendo-loving seventh grader. The town's first videogame store was opening in the mall, and I was asked to play a starring role in the TV commercial. The premise: I was to enter the store, look around in amazement, when WHAM!—a flash of light sizzles over my body, and I am transformed into a living, breathing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, replete with green face paint, foam shell, and plastic nunchucks. The 30-second spot, which aired on all the local channels, made me a short-term homeroom hero in my small, country school. Fast forward to 1990: It is the first day of high school, and I am intimidated to my turtle core, awash in a sea of 2,000 strangers. Until, that is, a cry floated down the hall that haunts me to this day: "Yo! Ain't that the dude from the TV commercial? Dang—What up, ninja turtle?" Your author has no further memories of his high school years. (Chas Bowie)

Transformers: The Movie
The cast includes Orson Welles, Eric Idle, Judd Nelson, Leonard Nimoy, Robert Stack, and Scatman Crothers. The story involves Autobots battling the evil Decepticons. The soundtrack includes the song "The Touch," which was covered—and subsequently immortalized—by Mark Wahlberg in Boogie Nights. The film, in a word, is amazing. (Bradley Steinbacher)

Waist Deep
Tyrese Gibson plays an ex-con whose son gets kidnapped. I swear to god: I tried to send like 15 different people to review this movie, but nobody would touch it. Maybe that's because this movie looks retarded. Maybe my writers are lazy. Maybe I'm a horrible editor. I don't know. What I do know is that Waist Deep is giving me way more grief than it should, and thus I have grown to hate it. (Erik Henriksen)

Wordplay
There's no other way to say it: Crossword fanatics are some of the biggest nerds to ever walk the Earth. Which makes them the perfect subjects for a documentary. And that documentary is Wordplay, a shockingly entertaining film about the phenomenon of crossword obsession—featuring celebrities, puzzle writers, and world champions. (Scott Moore)