Picks and Pans Review:
A History of Violence: Canadian director David Cronenberg (Dead Ringers) scores mightily with History, a superb thriller starring Viggo Mortensen and Maria Bello. Tightly constructed and beautifully acted, it's about a small-town diner owner who may have a hidden past. It opens in the U.S. Sept. 30.
Match Point: Just when most critics (moi aussi) had written off Woody Allen as having nothing left to say, the writer-director turns in a beaut: the witty drama Match Point. It's about a ruthless London social climber (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) who two-times his socialite wife (Emily Mortimer). Scarlett Johansson plays an American actress.
Last Days: A self-indulgent bore. Director Gus Van Sant's dramatically inert look at the final days of a Kurt Cobain-like rocker features numbingly long takes of star Michael Pitt (The Dreamers) stumbling about and mumbling incoherently.
Broken Flowers: Bill Murray continues his onscreen exploration of middle-age melancholia in an enjoyable road movie from director-writer Jim Jarmusch. Sharon Stone, Jessica Lange, Tilda Swinton and Frances Conroy appear as his ex-girlfriends. Opens Aug. 5.
Factotum: Matt Dillon buoys his mid-career renaissance with a strong turn as a down-and-out writer based on cult author Charles Bukowski.