With an amazing turn away from the cynicism of Delicatessen, director Jean-Pierre Jeunet makes no bones about being sweet and charming. A quick-moving narrative about a shy, sexy, and dreamy Parisian who helps friends and strangers fulfill their fantasies while shying away from her own. Cute as a button. Really, you'll love it.
American Pie 2
The original American Pie was a surprise not because it was good, exactly, but because it wasn't as screamingly awful as you assumed it had to be. The story--knowingly based on the Porky's school of blatant vulgarity blended with dewy comings of age (recall the climactic moment, in which the greaser bully tells his abusive dad, "If being a man means being what you are I'd rather be queer!" Nice...)--of a bunch of modern teens trying to pop their cherries before graduating high school managed to sneak a few poignant observations about friendship in among the poo jokes, and offered a number of actually funny lines. This sequel seems destined to try and have it both ways again, milking the gratuitous nudity for adolescent boners and repeating variations on the famous jokes of part one, while waxing nostalgic about growing up and so forth.
Barry Levinson does what he does best: Grown-up themes of love and life-dreams, acted out by characters with the sense of five-year-old boys. Billy Bob Thornton and Bruce Willis, both with extremely bad haircuts, play two escaped inmates (from the Oregon State Penitiery, nonetheless). On the run, the two invent a playful game of kidnapping bank managers and pleasantly robbing vaults. As a hypochondric and self-declared genius, Thornton adds a verve of wry humor to the film.
Behind Enemy Lines
If CNN and Time magazine aren't giving you enough daily dosages of rah rah patriotism, Gene Hackman saddles up the Marines to rescue a downed Navy pilot (Owen Wilson) in Serbia--all at the risk of fracturing world peace. If you can't cheer on Hackman and the dopey but dreamy Wilson as he outsmarts an evil Serbian sniper, then perhaps it is time to move to Canada. See review this issue.
This masterpiece of the British new wave stars a young Tom Courtenay as a young man whose life is so drab, he opts to live in elaborate fantasies--until all his lies converge and paint him into the corner of growing up.
Martin Lawrence plays Jamal Walker, a brother who toils all day at a decrepit ghetto theme park known as Medieval World. While cleaning Medieval World's polluted moats, he happens upon a medallion that transports him back in time to eighteenth century England. The locals don't really know what to make of Lawrence's clothes, language, or mannerisms. And well, anyway, in an exercise of isolating exactly just what the world wasn't waiting for, Black Knight picks us up just where other "fish out of water" classics such as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3: Turtles in Time left us: tunneling out of the theatre with a spoon. (Kudzai Mudede)
Clash By Night
A woman returns to her home town jaded, marries a guy, pops out a kid and then realizes she wants to get busy with his buddy. Starring Barbara Stanwyck and Marilyn Monroe.
An accountant at a condom factory realizes he's about to be fired. Divorced, alienated from his 17-year-old son, he contemplates suicide, but is instead given the rather odd advice: Announce that you are gay at work, and the powers that be will be too frightened to fire you, lest they get slapped with a lawsuit. How well you like The Closet will depend on just how high Three's Company ranked on your laugh-o-meter. (Bradley Steinbacher)
An Afghani boy living in Iran faces discrimination from the locals and falls in love with a local girl.
John Travolta is the dad, and Vince Vaughn is the stepdad. One of them is a nasty murderer and one of them is an underdog hero. It's up to the kid to decide. How droll is this movie? Even the orthodonic nightmare Steve Buscemi can't make it creepy!
It's October 1988, and the era-defining campaign between George Bush I and Michael Dukakis is entering the stretch run. Meanwhile, Donnie Darko (Jake Gyllenhaal) is quite possibly going insane. The teenaged son of a functional-but-unpleasant upper-middle-class family, Donnie starts having visions of a six-foot-tall demonic-looking bunny named Frank, who warns him of an impending apocalypse. Is Donnie's medication simply not working, or is there something else going on? Can Donnie's English teacher (Drew Barrymore) help? First-time director Richard Kelly has a sure visual sense and concocts an ending that, remarkably, doesn't cop out. At times funny, eerie, and intense, Donnie Darko could be the cinematic square peg you've been looking for. (Marc Mohan)
Everything Put Together
A woman loses her newborn to SIDS and deals with the subsequent horror. See review this issue.
You're a naughty one, saucy Jack. A Jack the Ripper tale from the brothers responsible for such crap as Menace II Society and Dead Presidents, Allen and Albert Hughes. Johnny Depp and Heather Graham star.
* Ghost World
Fans of Daniel Clowes' epochal comic novel about the listless inner teen life have been awaiting this adaptation by Crumb director Terry Zwigoff for years now, and the film delivers, though not in the direct way you might have anticipated. Clowes' super-detached geek queens Enid (Thora Birch) and Rebecca (Scarlett Johansson) have graduated from high school, and, bored, they answer a personals ad placed by über-dork vinyl junkie Seymour (an R. Crumb surrogate played brilliantly by Steve Buscemi) responds. As an experiment, Enid decides to educate Seymour in the ways of love, and her world begins to crumble. (Sean Nelson)
Going to see Mariah's movie, Glitter, is like being invited to a crazy booby rainbow train wreck. Set in early '80s NYC, this movie rips off heavily from Purple Rain, A Star is Born, and many other rags to riches movies. If anything, it should have been a campy romp with bubble gum music, but instead, Miss Thing tries to act and (big surprise) fails miserably. Sorry Mariah, but leave the acting to J-Lo, and honey, prepare your frail mental state for the onslaught of much meaner reviews than this! (M. Lon Free)
Oh gawd. Now all those snivley whiners that cried and cried when Jerry kicked the bucket have another excuse to get all emotional. A documentary of Jerry's life, his friendship with mandolin player David Grisman, studio sessions, and interviews with friends and family.
Harry Potter & the Sorcerer's Stone
Rumor has it that the kid who plays Harry went through puberty in the middle of filming and they had to dub over some other kids voice. Entertain yourself by listening for the diff.
* Hedwig and the Angry Inch
John Cameron Mitchell wrote, directed, and starred in this Rocky Horror-cum-Velvet Goldmine-esque opus about a big-haired megalomaniac singing his/her way across the US. With 40-plus costume changes and songs that you will be singing for days, this is pure rock and roll candy which should be see on a big screen with big audio. (M. Lon Free)
Much like in The Spanish Prisoner, playwright and filmmaker David Mamet explores "the long con," in which Gene Hackman, Delroy Lindo, and Danny Devito entangle themselves in a plan to hijack a shipment of gold. With thinly veiled nods to The Maltese Falcon, the script is loaded with clever, repeatable lines, and a twisty-turny plot in which no one can be trusted. While it's never easy to identify with any of the characters, the story clips along at a nice speed, and is involving for at least three-quarters of the picture. Alas, as is often the case, Mamet spins such a tangled web that by the end he loses grasp of the plot, and the denoument is somewhat less than satisfying. Regardless, Heist is still lots of fun for the thinking person who hates having to think too much. (Wm. Steven Humphrey)
Carl and Vicky, husband and wife, have commited a murder. When Carl's homeboy Jeff comes into town, he falls for Vicky. Carl gets jealous but can't blow up because Jeff knows incriminating details.
* Iron Monkey
The recently re-released Iron Monkey features almost a two-to-one ratio of awesome fight scenes vs. people standing around blabbing. This includes tons of director Ping's famous "wire fu" antics, where heroes and villains alike fly over rooftops and smash through walls. And while the comedy is broad--to say the least!--the mechanics of the martial arts scenes are thrillingly precise, and often gasp-inducing. (Wm. Steven Humphrey)
* The Journey
Nineteen chapters on the effects of war, focusing on the arms race and how it affects hunger, gender inequities, and the media throughout the world. Personal antecdotes from Hiroshima and Hamburg surviors from WWII as well. Monday will be episodes 5 and 6, Tuesday will be episodes 7 and 48.
Jurassic Park 3
Sam Neill returns as Dr. Alan Grant who, along with a hunky assistant, is tricked into returning to dinosaur island to search for the missing son of William H. Macy and Tea Leoni. A few mercenaries (read: lawyer chum) come along for the ride and are quickly bitten and stomped within the first 20 minutes. That means our heroes have 50 minutes left to run around the island, avoid the bite-bite and the stomp-stomp, and somehow keep our interest with a script that's thinner than Charleton Heston's hairpiece. (Wm. Steven Humphrey)
Cliche plot about a (crazy) person (or is he an alien?) who has a wonderful effect on the patients around him. See also, Powder or Patch Adams.
Life as a House
Kevin Kline has cancer, but he hasn't told his ex-wife (Kristin Scott Thomas), who's too busy letting herself be an emotional doormat, or his son (Hayden Christensen), who's too busy huffing Scotchguard, wearing makeup, and masturbating with a rope around his neck. Rather than come clean, he decides to fix everything by making his dysfunctional son help him build his dream house. In the process--surprise of surprises!--he does fix everything: the son wipes away the mascara and stops giving head to rich men for cash (hooking up with a nubile hottie in the process), the wife realizes she's still in love with her ex, and Kline gets to die the heroic death of a saintly drop-out. Histrionic folderol aside, this film is a guilty kind of good. (Sean Nelson)
The Man Who Wasn't There
The Coen Brothers have their heads stuck firmly inside their own asses--but at least they do a nice job of it. Ed Crane (Billy Bob Thornton) is a bored barber who finds an opportunity to invest in a dry cleaning partnership, but he must come up with $10,000 he doesn't have. So, he concocts a plot to blackmail the wealthy lover of his wife (Frances McDormand). Naturally, a litany of Coen brothers-style complications ensue, including death, thinly veiled pedophilia, and a trip to the electric chair. Unlike most classic film noir, which clips along at a breakneck, suspenseful pace, The Man Who Wasn't There stumbles along like a lame horse. (Wm. Steven Humphrey)
Sully (John Goodman) is one of Monsters, Inc.'s top Scarers, meaning that he excels at getting kids to scream in fright-and bottled screams are the fuel upon which Monstropolis, his hometown, depends. Kids, however, are supposed to be highly contagious, so when Sully accidentally brings a little girl back to Monstropolis, he's got a lot of nervous running and hiding to do. The first two-thirds of this film are pleasant to watch, though the narcotizing currents of confused cultural allegory that run through modern Disney films course just as strongly through this one. In Monsters, Inc. this includes a truly uncomfortable fetishizing of the sleeping American child, and the assumption of a world benevolently owned and operated by a private corporation. But the final third of the movie is excellent and beautiful, arriving suddenly at one of those gorgeous imaginary landscapes that legitimately become a part of a child's dream fabric. (Evan Sult )
David Lynch doing his usual contorted mystery.
Steve Martin stars as a dentist who becomes embroiled in a murder fiasco straight out of pulp fiction in this charming, if self-satisfied noir update. Martin and his girlfriend (the hyperbolically fastidious Laura Dern) live a sanitary existence until saucy little junkie, Helena Bonham Carter and her incestuous brother (Scott Caan) enter their lives by force, demanding such things as medical cocaine and sex in the dentist chair. Soon, someone is dead, and someone is blamed, and someone has to fight to clear his name. This would be a fully smug and frustrating exercise in genre resuscitation if it weren't peopled by a game cast of excellent actors. The presence of pros like Martin and Carter (and Elias Koteas in a glorified cameo) elevates matters considerably. (Sean Nelson)
* The One
Needless to say, this "Terminator Lite" packs every minute with terrific special effects, groan-inducing shots of people getting smashed by thrown motorcycles, and fights, fights, FIGHTS. However, that's not to say The One is simple splash 'n' dash comic book fun. It's also clever, and manages to always keep the audience one step behind the plot. Ah, Jet Li. I wish there were 100 more just like him-and happily, in this movie, there are.
Stoner/snowboarding movie about bad guy Lee Majors trying to buy the snowboarding frat boys favorite mountain and oh no, put a Starbucks on it. The assheads think about saving their fav. resort from corporate domination, but forget everytime a pair of tits walk by.
* The Pink Panther
Peter Sellars returns as the heeeee-larious Inspector Clouseau in this sequel to A Shot in the Dark. And if you think Monty Python and the Holy Grail is funnier, you're an idiot.
An almost-crazy 16-year-old discovers that she's actually a princess in a small European country. ohmigod?! WHAT SHOULD SHE DO? Stay in San Francisco or move to Europe?!
A Vegas hotshot starts a race for money, so he can make some his damn self.
Riding in Cars with Boys
A film for 40-year-olds of all ages. Drew Barrymore plays a Connecticut-townie bad girl, who gets knocked up at age 15, then spends the rest of her lapsed Catholic life negotiating the disappointments and joys of a life lived in service to an accidental baby. Because the film is directed by Penny Marshall, it is very very bad, indeed painfully so. It does have one saving grace, however: The great Steve Zahn, proving once again that he is to contemporary film what Robert Downey Jr. was to '80s film--the very best and often only good thing in a series of truly awful movies. (Sean Nelson)
Rocky Horror Picture Show
Jesus Christ, can you just shut up? I'm trying to watch a fucking movie here! This is not the Life of Brian, people.
Rush Hour 2
Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan reteam as a black cop and a Chinese cop, their racially charged antics infuriate multiculturalists on two continents. This sequel to the occasionally funny original (beware: the trailer offers exactly zero laughs) features the very attractive Zhang Ziyi, from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
This film is hokey, as expected, relying on over-dramatized coincidences. You know: John Cusack comes out of an elevator just as the doors are closing behind Kate Beckinsale. In another one, she loses her jacket and he just happens to find it, etc. Oh, isn't love magical! How serendipitous! And so on. I sometimes embarrass myself by getting teary-eyed over this type of crap, but not once did I so much as bite my lip or chew my nails during this film. (Marjorie Skinner)
The new film by the Farrelly Brothers looks like it might be even crappier than their other films, which seems like it should be impossible, as anyone who sat through Me, Myself, and Irene can aver. The presence of the great Jack Black-playing a superficial man who becomes cursed (or is it blessed?) with the ability to see only inner beauty-oughtn't fool you. The Farrellys have been squandering brilliant comic performers for years. Yes, they made Kingpin. Yes they made Dumb and Dumber. But those are the only reasons they haven't been brought up on charges.
With fart and poop jokes aplenty, this computer animation flick is like a little boy's dream come true. Mike Myers puts on his Irish accent as the misunderstood Ogre Shrek, and Eddie Murphy ceaselessly yaks as his over-zealous, donkey sidekick. The most horrible actress in the world, Cameron Diaz, succeeds in making her character an inflamed, bloody ear sore that one would rather see squished than find true love and happiness. I found this movie kinda cute, but pretty annoying, while my boyfriend was doubled over in hysterics. Dads, take your sons, but be prepared for a lot of tooting and snickering afterwards. (Katie Shimer)
Sidewalks of New York
A great movie for the relationship-obsessed. Stanley Tucci is a big horny ho that sleeps with any chick who'll let him, despite the fact that he's married to hotty-licious Heather Graham. Edward Burns (so cute) is unlucky in love, but searching for a woman to settle down with. Young people break up and fall in love again-even though they never thought it was possible. A lot of relationship stereotypes play out stereotypically. For those of you who need to be reassured, alas, there is hope of finding "the one." (Katie Shimer)
Robert Redford is hard up for cash-obviously, since he's in every movie opening this season. Redford must save Brad Pitt, who is being held for espionage in China. On his journey, the last before his retirement, he reflects back on his training of a younger, more studly Pitt, who at that time had rounder and softer ass cheeks.
Richard Linklater bats two for two with this nervy character study that indicts all three of its subjects (played by Robert Sean Leonard, Ethan Hawke, and Uma Thurman) by way of exploring questions of memory, friendship, and truth. Highly recommended.
Based upon the true story of the forming of the Texas Rangers. James Van Der Beek (Dawson's Creek) and Usher (You got it, you got it bad, when your on the phone, hang up, and you call right back) dress up in cowboy clothes, throw dirt on their faces, and act like tough guys.
The Great Dictator
Done before the discovery of German concentration camps (1940), Charlie Chaplin satirizes Adolf Hitler and plays a Jewish barber who is often mistaken for the dictator.
Time Regained is Chilean director Raúl Ruiz's brilliiant adaptation of the final volume of Proust's Remembrance of Things Past and arguably the best adaptation of Proust to date. Starring John Malkovich and Catherine Deneuve.
Two Can Play that Game
Vivica Fox is gonna fix your man problems. "Ladeez, I don't know why mens gotta do the wrong thing and show they ass, but I know hat to do about it: the 10 Day Program!" Settle in for The Rules for black women--with better houses, cars, hair, clothes, and make-up! The power of the 10 Day Program is 3 measly days. Just stretch out that tired 7 day plan out--and voila! Witchcraft! You'll have to suffer through the "oops, just wrecked the movie" ending, and aside from Velvet Vivica, the female performances are weak. But my lady and her sizzling Program victim, Morris Chestnut, along with hilarious friend-apist Anthony Anderson, sort of pull this shit off. Whether it's just that I'm a cracker voyeur, or the super-fine leading men that lull me into a forgiving fog when it comes to Afro RomComs (romantic comedies), I may never know. But I'm not dumb enough to care! Bring it! (Sara Daley )
Director Jaques Rivette examines love and the theater as couples with all sorts of issues switch partners, drudge up old problems, and create new ones. Oh, and they do some acting.
* Vampire Hunter D
See My What a Busy Week, page 13.
* Vertical Ray of the Sun
Tran Anh Hung shows a serene dream-ife for three sisters painted against a difficult and undiscussed real life of infidelity and in one sister's case, a near incestuous relationship with her brother. A visual stimulant with a pretty good story.
* The Virgin Suicides
The most consistent element of The Virgin Suicides is a steady stream of images that echo the feminine-hygiene commercials of the 1970s. Considering the material-five teenage sisters growing up in a repressive home and headed for funerals rather than graduations-the lightness of touch is surprising. But to juxtapose suicide with buoyant innocence might be uniquely appropriate; if the film has a message, it seems to be that a mythologized purity of youth can't survive into adulthood. (Monica Drake)
* Waking Life
Richard Linklater's monologue-heavy, beautifully animated opus about the quest for lucid dreaming and active living is one of the coolest, most interesting movies you'll ever see. Or you might hate it and think it's talky and pretentious. If you liked Slacker, however--wait, not if you liked it... if you GOT Slacker--and have been waiting for Linklater to return to philosophical quandary mode, don't wait another second. Go see Waking Life. (Sean Nelson)
Just as the laughs from Next Friday had begun to subside from the collective belly ("Damn, I can't believe such a big poo came out of such a little dog!"), now comes the new comedy from writer DJ Pooh. Pooh makes his directorial debut with this vehicle for Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg, who play a couple of hoodied miscreants who get a job at a car wash (hmm... ) to pay the rent. And that's when all hell breaks loose! I haven't seen the film, but I have a hunch that the wise words of Ice Cube (one of America's best movie stars) will prove prophetic: "Uh, yo Dre, stick to proDUCIN'!"
If this film starred anyone other than Stiller (and his brilliant co-star, Owen Wilson), this would be very bad news. But the two are so adorable (they really look like supermodels) and the script so ridiculous, that it works perfectly as an afternoon stoner flick.