Film Capsules

Dir. Fernando Meirelles

Justin Quayle (Ralph Fiennes) is a John Le CarrÈ hero through and through. The British diplomat (and part-time gardener) is soft-spoken and self-effacing to a fault. One day, a bold young woman, Tessa (Rachel Weisz), enters his life. “You’re scary,” he admits, pleasure mixed with awe. She convinces him to let her accompany him to Kenya. She’s interested in his work and wants to help. They marry. She becomes pregnant. Then it all starts to fall apart. Tessa, he discovers, is up to something. She’s been going behind his back, using his connections in England and Africa to investigate some kind of drug-related conspiracy. She’s also been cheating on him. Then she turns up dead. This is revealed minutes into the film, which will continue to move back and forth through time. With skill and sensitivity, Fernando Meirelles (“City of God”) proceeds to track Justin’s increasingly dangerous mission to solve Tessa’s murder. If Danny Huston’s British accent is a little shaky, it’s a minor flaw in a film so adept in every other way. Oscar nominations for Fiennes and Weisz are assured, while the supporting cast shines just as brightly in one of the year’s most intelligent and moving films.—Kathleen C Fennessy

Dir: Terry Gilliam
Image of an ugly old bitch

Disappearing maidens and a sinister forest of walking trees are at the heart of Terry Gilliam’s latest film, “The Brothers Grimm.” Gilliam’s dark humor and brilliant art direction is still visible, but little of the storytelling magic found in films like “Brazil” or “The Fisher King” remains. Seven years after “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote” died in production it seems as though Gilliam has lost much of what made his work unique. While reminiscent of Stephen Sondheim’s wonderful fairytale anthology “Into The Woods,” “The Brothers Grimm” is a far less competent handling of similar material. The film does have its share of frightening and beautiful moments: the enchanting but cursed Mirror Queen high in her moldering tower, the image of a floating Ophelia-like beauty and a young girl swallowed whole by a web-spinning horse, but overall this film is a tremendous disappointment.—David Jeffers