Cleveland Browns great Jim Brown, since his unilateral domination of the football field, has been almost as successful as a movie star and outspoken activist. Spike Lee’s documentary seeks to take ESPN’s "SportsCentury" to the next level, though it feels a tad too adulatory to be truly balanced.
Portuguese director Manoel de Oliveira’s narrative strategy relies heavily on indirectness. When he says of his latest film that it's "almost a nonstory," he's to be taken literally, although it deals with the final days of an actor who has suffered a devastating late-in-life tragedy.
Todd Haynes’ takeoff on Douglas Sirk’s overwrought, color-saturated 1950s melodramas rises above its camp roots and converts artifice into art. With Julianne Moore as a housewife who might be bored if she wasn’t so busy pasting on smiles for her friends and neighbors, the film explores two loves that dare not speak their names, homosexual and interracial.
Director Chris Columbus avoids overly replaying the visual wonders of his first episode, and as the shadows of J.K. Rowling’s fairy-tale allegory of white supremacy close in on Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, the true scare here is how far beings — be they human or wizard — will go to defend the myth of racial purity.
You'd never guess that co-writer Gianni Romoli had a hand in writing the zombie cult classic, Cemetery Man, which seethes with humor. His Secret Life allows death and deception to weigh every moment down (even those meant to be positive emotional breakthroughs) like an anchor tied around our necks.