Friday Movies: 'Mission: Impossible III'

Tom Cruise in 'Mission: Impossible III.'

Tom Cruise does a lot of sprinting in the latest chapter of Mission: Impossible. Paramount Pictures hide caption

itoggle caption Paramount Pictures
Sophia Myles and Matt Keeslar in 'Art School Confidential.'

Sophia Myles, above with Matt Keeslar, captures the heart of art student Max Minghella in Art School Confidential. United Artists/Sony Pictures Classics hide caption

itoggle caption United Artists/Sony Pictures Classics

On All Things Considered today, Bob Mondello is talking about an eight-disk DVD boxed set: The Tennessee Williams Film Collection. But not on the blog... here are his latest movie reviews:

Mission: Impossible III: Phillip Seymour Hoffman's icy villain is the one good reason to see the latest installment in a franchise that's never made much sense on screen, and that certainly isn't starting now. Tom Cruise does a lot of sprinting, Ving Rhames mostly scowls at computer screens. Stuff blows up, but the plot of M:I 3 makes about as much sense as the punctuation in that abbreviated title they're using to hawk it. And I know American high-schoolers are supposed to be geographically challenged, but is it really necessary to specify the countries on screen when labeling cities as "Rome, Italy," "Berlin, Germany" and "Shanghai, China"?

J.J. Abrams shoots so many scenes in close-up, he sometimes seems to be making Lost:Alias:3 for the small screen. Still, as summer escapism, it's certainly passable. My 14-year-old nephew emerged underwhelmed, but pronounced it "OK," and I'd say he got it about right.

Art School Confidential: This often funny, but seriously disjointed picture starts out as a cute high-school comedy, morphs into a smart art-school satire, swerves into blander romantic comedy territory, takes a couple of side-steps into gross-out farce, then negotiates a hairpin turn and becomes a serial-killer thriller. The fact that it works at all is pretty remarkable. Max Minghella, whose dad made The English Patient, brings thick brows, enormous eyes, and pillow lips to the part of an art student who's madly in love with life-model Sophia Myles, but who's too shy to tell her. John Malkovich is a hoot as an art teacher who can only draw triangles, Jim Broadbent is sleazy fun as an art-school grad who's not quite living up to his potential, and there are understated cameos by Angelica Huston and Steve Buscemi. If director Terry Zwigoff and screenwriter Daniel Clowes (who also wrote the comics on which this film and their previous Ghost World were based) had chosen a genre and stuck with it, the film would feel a lot smarter, but there's plenty here to savor as is.

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