El Vaq Staff Recommends…


A bone-chilling horror flick is a must during summer vacation, and ?From Hell? directed by Allen and Albert Hughes has all the elements that successfully intrigue and disgust a viewer as the anticipation builds throughout each gut-wrenching scene. The old-fashioned mystery is based in Gothic-style London in 1888 as police inspector Fred Abberline (Johnny Depp) is assigned to reveal the identity of Jack the Ripper, who is responsible for the death of Whitechapel District prostitutes. With the help of hooker Mary Kelly (Heather Graham), Abberline finds a conspiracy twist connected to the mutilated bodies that are uncovered. Although the thriller warns of strong violence, gore, sexuality, language and drug content, those make the movie suspenseful and appealing.

? Talynn Soghomonians


With the ?Spider Man? and ?Star Wars? craze going on, it is good to know that at least one movie out there drives the imagination. ?Harry Potter and the Sorcerer?s Stone? is that movie. With wonderful visual effects and a wonderful story line, the imagination is turned into a playground ripe with new possibilities and, yes, even an adventure or two.
Based on the best-selling novel by J.K. Rowling, ?Harry Potter and the Sorcerer?s Stone? takes us into the life of an orphaned 11-year-old Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), who on his 11th birthday begins to find out about the gifts he has been given. However, Harry?s living conditions are less than favorable, given the people he lives with: an evil aunt and uncle who would rather have him thrown out on the street, and a cruel, spoiled, greedy, chubby cousin who relentlessly picks on Harry.
However, things begin to change for the young wizard-to-be. By the delivery of a special letter by a mystical owl, Harry finds out that he has been awarded admission to Hogwart?s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
?Harry Potter? takes audiences to the edge of their seat. A wonderful score and a thrilling cast make this a film worth watching again and again.
?Harry Potter and the Sorcerer?s Stone? is available on VHS and DVD. The second installment of the ?Harry Potter? movies, titled ?Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets,? is scheduled for a Nov. 15 release.

? Michael J. Arvizu


?Legally Blonde? is a must-rent playful comedy for the summer. It is highly acclaimed by critics as a ?feel-good? film. With its combination of girl-power, romance and fashion, who wouldn?t love this movie? Reese Witherspoon stars as Elle Woods, an affluent sorority sister with everything any gal can ask for, except the marriage proposal of the man of her dreams, law student Warner Huntington (Matthew Davis). With the confidence to prove her intellectual strength despite her ditsy persona, Woods charms her way into Harvard Law School and stirs up trouble between Huntington and his new fiancÇe, Vivian (Selma Blair). Following around a California girl is reason enough for any viewer to giggle throughout this blonde?s mission to show that she isn?t the typical Barbie doll.

? Eileen Rasnake


He tattoos facts, names and license plate numbers all over his body. He leaves random notes around his motel room home to ?shave.? He files snapshot photos of friends, enemies and acquaintances with accompanying captions in his coat pocket. He is Leonard Shelby. Driven by vengeance and suffering from a rare, untreatable form of memory loss, Shelby has devoted the rest of his life to finding the man who raped and murdered his wife. However, this mission runs into some serious forms of difficulty, as Shelby?s condition restricts him from forming new memories since the time of the ?accident.? He can?t remember whom he spoke with 15 minutes ago, but he can recall nights in bed with his wife as though they were yesterday. ?Memento? takes viewers on a roller coast ride of facts and fabrications, trying to discern the reality behind Shelby?s life and mission. Meanwhile, Shelby is trying to discern those same facts and fabrications himself, with the knowledge that tomorrow will leave him once again lost in remembering what happened today.

? Tania Chatila


A must-see if you have not already seen it. The movie may be a little out of date (it was released in 2000), ?Miss Congeniality? is one of my all-time favorite movies. Without giving too much away, the movie is about an FBI agent who has to go undercover as a beauty queen to ?save the world.? Well, maybe it is not the world, but she saves something. Now, take a completely masculine/feminist wreck that doesn?t even know where to apply eyeliner and put her in a bra, dress and a pair of four-inch stiletto heels, and what do you get? What you get is an ingenious comedy filled with humorous dialogue and sarcastic portrayals of the beauty queen stereotype. Everyone can find something to enjoy about this movie. On one hand, you have 50 beauty queens prancing around on stage for half the movie, which makes a few boys I know happy. And on the other hand, you have Sandra Bullock defying every rule of being beauty-queen beautiful. So, if you have not rented it yet, make it a priority and have a slumber party or something.

? Ani Asatryan


Starring George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Brad Pitt, Andy Garcia and Matt Damon ?Ocean?s Eleven? is definitely a movie for the summer heat. Danny Ocean (Clooney) is a gangster planning what seems to be an absolutely impossible heist, and he needs eleven people to do it. His handpicked team robs three major casinos: The Mirage, Bellagio and Treasure Island all at the same time and all on the same night ? the night of the Lennox Lewis and Vladimir Kilitschko boxing match. After defeating mazelike security systems and splitting the money, Ocean reunites with his ex-love, played by Roberts. The half-baked heist and its not-so-smooth criminals make this movie fun to watch with friends.

? Nairi Chopurian


By far the best movie to rent this year is ?The Others,? which has been released on VHS and DVD. On my first time watching this movie, I was a bit skeptical. I had heard it was really scary but found myself waiting an unusually long time for those scary parts. The purpose of that is to build the story line, which means you have to pay attention a little bit. But when all is said and done, this one?s a keeper.

? Rosalinda Coronado


?Snow Dogs? may be just the movie for anyone tired of all the violence, sex and vulgar language that seem to be everywhere these days. This slapstick comedy is about a Miami dentist (Cuba Gooding Jr.) who learns of his adoption when his biological mother dies and leaves him a team of Alaskan sled dogs. The fun and adventure starts as he goes back to his roots in Alaska and discovers the identity of his biological father (James Coburn). Directed by Brian Levant, this is the perfect pick for a family movie night.

? Jennifer Bernardo


?Spy Games,? an international political thriller starring Brad Pitt and Robert Redford, is directed by Ridley Scott. The film spans three decades. From Vietnam to the contemporary Middle East, Nathan Muir, a CIA operative on the verge of retirement, played by Redford, effectively narrates his relationship with Tom Bishop, played by Pitt.

Through flashbacks, Muir details Bishop?s background as an ?out there, loner type? in Vietnam, and is chosen by him to assassinate a Middle Eastern dictator. Bishop is then captured by the Lebanese and sent to Su Chou, a Chinese prison.

Suspense is built as Muir uses a diversionary tactic of engaging mercenaries to go in and rescue Bishop.

? Cyndi Kline


In ?Waking Life,? viewers follow a young man on an accidental path to determine if he is ?wake-walking through dreaming life or sleepwalking through waking life.? Director Richard Linklater (?Dazed and Confused?), reintroduces himself as he puts us through metaphysical worm holes via rotoscope digital animation.

Willy Wiggins (?Dazed?) lends his image and voice to the young man, time-warping through the nature of reality, the meaning of life, love and endless human contacts, light and heavy, with lots of heavy talk. The thought-dense script bursts a colorful dreamscape on screen via rotoscope, as the effect of various artists illustrating wildly over previously-shot film is psychedelic and celestial ? a breathing painting.

? Michael Konigsberg