Who doesn’t like a clever crime drama? Throw in Spike Lee as director and Denzel Washington as the lead detective, and you have great potential. A brooding Clive Owen is completely likeable as the master-mind behind this perfect bank robbery, and the heist his character dreams up will have you scratching your head until the very end. It’s much more cerebral than the typical action flick, without a single car chase and very few discharged bullets. This wouldn’t be a problem if the movie wasn’t bogged down by a contrived and vague side plot, centered around Jodi Foster who plays, not quite believably, a tough mercenary with a reputation for “getting things done.” But in the end the challenge of keeping up with the criminals and detectives proves a rewarding endeavor. In fact, you’ll probably want to watch it over again to see what you missed.—Kirsten Vala
This movie is everything you might expect: funny enough, with predictable characters and a cliché plot. But hey, it sort of works. Robin Williams logs in an unremarkable performance as a father who (surprise!) is having trouble relating to his teenage daughter and pre-teen son. Work problems force him to change their planned family trip to Hawaii into a RV vacation to Colorado. The RV itself steals the show, a large “rolling turd” that is inexpertly driven over, around and through everything in its path. It even speaks, with the lovely voice of “Lola” the GPS lady, and has a habit of rolling away at the worst possible moments. The family meets up with some ultra-traditional RV-ers, pulls together in times of trial, and realizes that family bonding is all they really needed to make everyone happy. How nice. The biggest laugh? When they conclude RV traveling is better than any Hawaiian vacation could have been.—Kirsten Vala
Filter U.S., 2006
The latest EP from Icelandic post-rock outfit Sigur Ros offers three new tracks alongside the title track, which appeared on the long-awaited 2005 release, Takk… A wistful swirl of ambience, the shimmering orchestral sounds of Saeglopur provide catharsis again and again. Nearly discomfiting in its epic grandeur, the accompanying DVD punctuates the listening experience with videos for three of the four tracks. Surreal imagery that looks like it’s pulled from a childhood dream, or in the case of the weird, discomfiting undersea escapade in “Saeglopur,” a nightmare. Frigid depictions of the Nordic countryside do wonders to emphasize the paradox of a disc both beautiful and mournful.—Matthew Stern
Jesus and Mary Chain
The world of indie-rock is lucky that all of the Jesus and Mary Chain albums have recently been re-released. Though the pioneering Psychocandy often gets all the attention, the inimitable Darklands is sadly often overlooked. The blasé Lou Reed-inspired swagger of William and Jim Reid is rarely more nihilistic than on this album, originally released in 1987. The existential entreaties and romantic reaches for something transcendent and passionate are still as poignant as they were 20 years ago, and the fuzzed-out, slowed down Phil Spector pop-undertones still as influential. The re-issue also features JMC videos on DVD, so you can see the impressively-coiffed band rock.