The Tale of Despereaux
Pros: An adorable children's movie with cute mice and even cute rats. Despereaux is about as cute as Nemo from Pixar-vehicle Finding Nemo. Once the film gets rolling, things really set into place and it becomes an entertaining and thoughtful visualization of madness and the need for forgiveness (but in a lighter manner, not ram-morality-down-your-throat). Overall a good film, although if you children are easily disturbed, consider something else. Someone dies in the beginning (no blood, just a rather humorous death, a la the Frog King in Shrek 3).
Cons: The beginning, while chronologically consistent, unhinged the flow of the film. The first two major sections should have been switched for a better, more cohesive film. Perhaps they were keeping with the book. Also, for some reason the very beginning did not feel real enough, i. e. the voices didn't seem to fit the characters. This levels out soon enough, though. Some more explanation about certain aspects of the mouse and rat worlds could have helped, I think.
Pros: Brilliant visuals. Almost no CG at all, which I think is something other film makers should be paying attention to. A testament to the fact that you can make a beautiful film without sticking computer visuals into every scene. Rather interesting concept--not an original one, though--and a set of entertaining fist fights and car "chases."
Cons: The ending left something to be desired. I think it came too quick or it seemed too easy, like there wasn't a lot of thought in it.
Pros: Depending on how you visualize the purpose of this film, the overall effect is that of terror. This film is frakking horrifying. If you want to see how religion can turn into child abuse, then watch this film.
Cons: I think a film that tried to have a more direct purpose would have proven more interesting to the masses. This film doesn't do much other than show you what is going on in fundamentalist Christian homes. True, what it shows you is disgusting and morally reprehensible, but if it had tried to infuse history, politics, and other aspects in a more meaningful way, I think the film could have been better.
Rating: 1/5 or 4/5 (depends on the purpose: if it's propaganda for the Right, then the first score, if it's an attempt to show the insanity of fundamentalist Christianity, then the second one)
Pros: Absolutely brilliant. Maher is known for his vocal criticisms of religion and it doesn't stop here. This film, however, is not meant entirely as a criticism of religion, but as a Q&A for those that don't know. The problem is that some groups of religious people do not like to be questioned, even if they're honest questions about faith, the truth of the Bible, etc. I'm surprised he got some of the interviews he got and I applaud him for sitting down and calmly asking people questions (to which he generally doesn't get any good answers for).
Cons: I think the religious will have a hard time stomaching this film. The problem is that Maher isn't afraid to crap jokes about religion or to ask questions that to the skeptic seem easy, but to the highly religious seem impossible or, in a lot of cases, as a direct challenge to their faith.
Burn After Reading
Pros: A clever play on the CIA, blackmail, desperate figures, and pathetic wannabes. This is also one of two movies that I actually liked John Malkovich in (the other was Conair), which is a plus. He's actually expertly cast here, along with Brad Pitt, George Clooney, and others. This isn't a laugh-out-loud comedy, as far as I am concerned, but a different sort of comedy, a la Sideways.
Cons: Might be a little dark for some. Don't watch this if you like idiot comedy (Scary Movie, Disaster Movie, Meet the Spartans). The comedy here is intended to be either subtle or clever (and dark). If you like that sort of thing, I think you will enjoy this one. I think the film could also have done with the one gory scene, as it almost lost me from the comedy (the character could have gotten shot without the need for a lot of blood).