Werner Herzog's "Grizzly Man" is a documentary about self-styled bear advocate Timothy Treadwell, who was eventually killed along with his girlfriend. Before seeing it, I didn't know that Treadwell had recorded about 100 hours of himself talking to the camera as if making one incredibly long show for the Discovery Channel. (Ironically, it was Discovery that eventually produced the Herzog documentary.) "Thank you for these animals," he says at one point. "Before them, I had no life." But as one of the Alaskans interviewed by Herzog suggests, Treadwell may have done the animals more harm than good by making them believe humans are safe.
Clearly, they're not -- as one look at James Woods' show-stealing monster-dad and Evan Rachel Wood's astonishingly cold, amoral manipulator in "Pretty Persuasion," Campbell Scott and Patricia Clarkson's slithery Hollywood power couple in "The Dying Gaul," and Maggie Gyllenhaal's cool, crafty manipulator in "Happy Endings" would confirm.
Which isn't to say the light side hasn't scored any points so far. Mary Kay Place as the relentlessly cheerful mom in Steve Buscemi's sweet but unremarkable "Lonesome Jim," and Tom Arnold as the sweet, trusting Frank in "Happy Endings" make a good case for the idea that sometimes you have to have a little faith in people -- even if a lot of them do walk around chirping "Dude! I'm in Park City!" into their cellphones.