The Smiling Lieutenant (Ernst Lubitsch) ***1/2 - Due to a series of lies and misunderstandings, a horny military officer finds himself unwillingly married to a sexually repressed, plain Jane princess but he's still in love with a sexy, liberal concert violinist. This film is, I believe, pre-Code so it's quite racy despite being a black & white '30s film. And it's quite funny too and despite some long stretches of silence at times, the dialogue scenes are very witty and crisp and the film is also more surprising than any sex comedy or rom-com of today. Maurice Chevalier, as the title character, is terrific so are the two women who's involved with him. Though it is technically a musical, most of the musical numbers are forgettable and extraneous but it's still an excellent film.
Paris, Texas (Wim Wenders) **** - A man resurfaces after disappearing for four years in order to put things right with his estranged son and wife. This is a film whose concept could have easily have been played for either cheap laughs or cheap sentiment. But script by Sam Shepard and the direction by Wim Wenders gives us a film that's genuinely moving and even sweet at parts but never feeling the least bit manipulative or phony. Harry Dean Stanton and Natassja Kinski both deliver great performances especially at that climactic scene in the end. Extra points for Robby Muller's great cinematography.
The Big One (Michael Moore) **1/2 - Probably the weakest I've seen from filmmaker Michael Moore. In this one, he uses his book tour to expose corporations downsizing their employees despite gaining record profits. His heart is definitely in the right place but the film is all over the place and lacks focus.
Rise of the Planet of the Apes (Rupert Wyatt) *** - I have quite a few problems with this prequel (underwritten characters, lack of depth, still dwarfs when compared to the original etc.) but they're few and far in between. Overall, the film does quite a damn good job of rebooting the franchise series after the cinematic abomination that was the Tim Burton "reimagining". The human characters are by and large merely serviceable (with the exception of John Lithgow who shines with his material, even in his relatively limited screentime). The real star here though is Caesar played by Andy Serkis, truly a remarkable marriage of great visual effects (the CGI mo-cap) and great acting. It features a very rousing climactic action scene as well.