Suffering from a breakup, Josh Hartnett vows to remain celibate for 40 days, but during that time discovers the love of his life and is therefore unable to bone her. And that's the complete plot. However, there are a few surprises along the way. For example, all the women in the movie are shameless sluts, who wear extremely short skirts and fishnet hose to work, and have nothing on their minds except demonstrating their power over men via screwing. That's fairly surprising (unless of course, you're a misogynist pig). It's also surprising that, in an attempt to seduce Josh, Shannyn Sossamon bites her lower lip 27 more times than Molly Ringwald in Pretty in Pink. Equally surprising is the utter joy the characters exhibit while shaking their fists in that extremely clever way of denoting masturbation. (Wm. Steven Humphrey)
All About the Benjamins
Ice Cube plays a bounty hunter in Miami who repeatedly chases down a small-time crook played by Mike Epps. They stumble upon a 20 million dollar diamond heist and team up to get the loot. The action-comedy genre is perfect for Cube, whose raps have largely been action-comedies, and Mike Epps has some really funny lines. The funniest thing, though, is the variety of ethnicities assigned to each character: The heroes are black American, the bad guy is Scottish, his underling is Mexican, the super bad lady is Chinese, but negotiates the diamond deal in French with the Scot's white American girlfriend. Cube's boss is Cuban, Epps' girlfriend is Puerto Rican, and while he's a small time crook, Epps' accomplices are old Jewish ladies. Something for the whole family. (Brian Goedde)
Blade II: Bloodhunt
This sequel to the 1998 original is directed by Guillermo del Toro and stars Wesley Snipes as human/vampire warrior Blade, based on the Marvel Comics character. It features plenty of bloodlust, world domination, the Shadow Council, and the Bloodpack. See review this issue.
Brotherhood of the Wolf
It's not just that the plot (about a superwolf laying waste to the French countryside in the 1700s and a scientist with amazing fighting prowess sent to track it down) grows less and less sensible; not just that the lead actor is a second-rate Christopher Lambert; not just that the sex scenes are lurid and yet untitillating; not just that everyone (including a transplanted Iroquois and skuzzy French mercenaries) knows kung fu--Brotherhood of the Wolf is all of this and more, a special French fusion of the pretentious and the inane. Were it not so long, this would be camp fun. But it is long. So very long. So very, very, very long. (Bret Fetzer)
If you are a fan of photographer Bruce Weber's hauntingly homoerotic pictures, which have graced countless fashion magazines and galleries, then prepare to forget about being a fan. His new documentary Chop Suey is a mind-crushingly boring tribute to himself and his interests, that contains little to no regard for the people who are paying to watch. In loose, scrapbook fashion, Weber waxes dully on his varied obsessions which include young hunk/protegee Peter Johnson, singer Frances Faye, Robert Mitchum, and even a Brazilian jujitsu expert. And while this may sound interesting, Weber's never-ceasing monotone drags the flick down into a head-throbbing miasma that just makes you want to scream "Stop it! Stop It! STOP IT!!!!" I'm sorry, but I was in a really good mood before this movie, and now I'm really pissed. Thanks a lot, Weber. You jerk. (Wm. Steven Humphrey)
* Count of Monte Cristo
Kevin Reynolds' rendition of The Count of Monte Cristo is a zippy little piece of entertainment masquerading as a mini-epic.
A "supernatural thriller" that recedes from memory faster than Kevin Costner's hairline. The story (such as it is): After Costner's wife is killed, she begins to haunt him through various "creepy" (and often unintentionally hilarious) means. Why is she trying to contact him? What secret does he need to unravel? The answer is: Zzzzzzzzzzzzz. Directed by Tom Shadyac (of Patch Adams fame), Dragonfly commits the biggest sin of all as a major motion picture: It forces you not to care. (Bradley Steinbacher)
E.T. (20th Anniversary)
Check out Drew Barrymore at the height of her drug use and alcoholism. She can hardly remember her lines. See review this issue.
A documentary of our new favorite tragic failure of a sea voyage, Sir Ernest Shackleton's 1914 quest for Antarctica.
* Female Trouble
Female Trouble is said to be John Waters' personal favorite of all his films. If you dig his brand of raunch, then this director's cut is a must-see. If anything, it's a guarantee that if you start looking, you probably won't want to stop. The film follows the life of one fucked-up poobah by the name of Dawn Davenport, played by the incomparable Divine. "Her" exploits include shooting liquid eyeliner, killing her annoying Hare Krishna daughter, prostitution, fucking nasty fat drunks, marrying hippies, and cutting off the hand of her aunt-in-law while kidnapped in an over sized bird cage in her living room. Oh, the funny thrills abound in this flick. After Devine takes a glass of acid in the face, shit starts to get really weird, skirting around issues of fashion and beauty. Oh, the sordid world of fashion and art--clashing so gloriously, so sickeningly. Disfiguration, man. Go see it. At the very least you will develop opinions. (Marjorie Skinner)
* Harrison's Flowers
Like nearly every war correspondent film, Harrison's Flowers tells the story about the search for a lost comrade. Andie MacDowell plays her typical victim role; this time suffering after her Pulitzer winning photographer husband vanishes into the Bosnian War. Only Andie believes that he (Harrison, of course) is still alive. So, it is off to Bosnia we go. Sure, there's grittiness and uncomfortable glimpses into the human soul (i.e., ethnic cleansing; mounds of corpses; Andie even smokes a cigarette!). But mostly the film is a love story that happens to be set against the Bosnian War. (Phil Busse)
This visually energetic picture is encumbered mostly by a lack of focus. Bruce Willis phones in a stiff performance, and everyone else is just okay. (Sean Nelson)
* In the Bedroom
A langorous, beautifully acted film about erotic and familial entanglements in a small Maine fishing town.
* The Independent
Morty Fineman's lifelong work consists of making 427 movies with cheesy T&A, explosives, and titles like "Tora! Tora! Toga!" and "Twelve Angry Men and a Baby." Jerry Stiller and Janeane Garafalo portray a fairly believable father-daughter business team, who only barely manage to keep Fineman Films afloat, even after being offered the insulting $6/lb. for Morty's entire catalogue. The Independent is an entertaining B-movie mockumentary. (Kate Mercier)
The brilliant British writer and philosopher Iris Murdoch (Judi Dench, Kate Winslet), a woman who lives most decidedly in the world of ideas, succumbs to the dementia of Alzheimer's, "sailing into darkness" as she so rightly puts it. The story, as constructed by director Richard Eyre (who wrote the screenplay with Charles Wood, based on two memoirs by Murdoch's husband, John Bayley, played by Jim Broadbent), flips back and forth between past and present, evidently mimicking the erratic thread that memory becomes in the hands of the disease. (Emily Hall)
* Italian for Beginners
The characters of Italian for Beginners begin in a state of despair. This being a romantic comedy, their lives begin to intersect through a series of coincidences--coincidences that could feel contrived, but due to the rough integrity of the script, performances, and direction (shaped in part by the monastic rigors of the Dogme 95 ethic), they feel like the organic waywardness of life. (Bret Fetzer)
John Q is a problem film. Not in the race conflict sense but in the class warfare sense. The movie represents Hollywood's first attempt to address the failure of the healthcare system. Denzel Washington plays the American worker, and Anne Heche plays Enron. Enron in this instance takes the form of a healthcare corporation, with its expensive drugs and operations, and its affluent doctors and administrators. The film, of course, is timely. The layoffs and deepening recession in the real world are expressed by the part-time factory worker's frustration with the system. Though I agree with John Q's politics, it's dull and tendentious. (Charles Mudede)
Kandahar tells the story of Nafas, a female Afghan expatriate, now living in Canada and working as a journalist. Her sister is still trapped in the title city, maimed by a land mine and unable to tolerate the subhuman conditions for women, which are enforced under Taliban rule. When the sister writes of her intention to commit suicide, Nafas decides to return to Kandahar and intervene. The beauty of this film is confusing, even sinister, because of the implicit suffering that it generates, but painfully worth seeing. (Sean Nelson)
* Kissing Jessica Stein
With the dumb title and no name actors, you wouldn't think this would be a good film, but it is. Sex fiend Helen places ad in the paper because she wants to try getting her lesbian freak on, and uptight girl, Jessica, is so taken by the ad that she decides to give it a chance. The gals end up trying it out together for a while, and Jessica overcomes a lot of issues, including, whether she's gay or not. The peripheral characters are hysterical, and the relationship between Jessica and Helen makes you question how easy it would be to go gay or to be gay without realizing it or to be unhappy without seeing the solution. (Katie Shimer)
The talents of six of the finest British actors alive (Tom Courtenay, Bob Hoskins, David Hemmings, Michael Caine, Helen Mirren, and Ray Winstone) are squandered by this moist little movie about a journey to deliver a dead man's ashes to the seaside. (Sean Nelson)
* Lord of the Rings
Remarkably true to the epic book by J.R.R. Tolkien. Though enhanced by computer animation, and certainly made in the post-Xena/Beastmaster era, this first installment promises to launch Lord of the Rings into the Star Wars strata. (Julianne Shepherd)
Metropolis is a beautiful and stylish hybrid--one of those future worlds imagined from the distant past, where above ground looks like an Ayn Rand dream, below ground is pure Blade Runner, and the characters are retro in the style of Hergé's Tintin. The malicious but helpless President Boon presides over Metropolis, and the true power lies with the Roarkian Duke Red, builder of the Ziggurat and the muscle behind Tima, a gorgeous android (looking uncannily like Haley Joel Osment) who will someday rule the world. What makes Metropolis--which has a production pedigree that includes much of anime's royalty--feel like something truly new is the animation (combining the most up-to-date CGI with old-fashioned cels and the occasional live-action background), the mood (speakeasy 1920s, complete with Dixieland Jazz and gumshoe detectives), and its refusal to divide the world into absolute good and evil. Mostly, yes, it's eye candy, but everyone's eyes should be so lucky. (Emily Hall )
* Monsoon Wedding
At first, it seems like Mira Nair is just doing family drama. The film is stylish, brisk, witty, and beautifully filmed (marigolds are so vibrant they would leave bright orange dust on your fingers if you touched them). But within the patchwork of marriage melodrama, Monsoon Wedding presents a subversive argument about the insidiousness of progress and its fluid relationship with tradition. Of course, it all comes out right in the end, but in getting to its satisfying resolution, it passes through so many uncomfortable revelations and unthinkable confrontations that it almost feels like watching history unfold. (Sean Nelson)
Monstrous Balls is more like it. Hank is a racist prison guard (Thornton, perfect), son of a retired racist prison guard (Peter Boyle, who doesn't even try an accent), and father of a young, non-racist prison guard (Heath Ledger, who tries his hardest) in a Georgia State Penitentiary death row. Hank falls into a desperate affair with Leticia (Halle Berry, semi-plausible), a black woman, after both of their sons die. Also, Hank executed her husband (Sean Combs, Puffy). Hank's dad says "nigger" and "porch monkey," and Hank fires a shotgun at some black kids, so we know that the film is about breaking the cycle of bigotry. A few nice notes are struck, but too many coincidences motorize this melodrama; its morality is tinny and safe. Via their affair, Hank is cured of racism, and Leticia is cured of grief. She even gets a truck! "I thank we're gone be all right," Hank says at the end. I thank I'm gone puke. (Sean Nelson)
* The Most Terrible Time in My Life
The Most Terrible Time in My Life is a wonderful film composed of the most basic elements. It has a young, handsome private detective who specializes in tracking down people and drives around a big city in a cool convertible. Then we have a gangland war, a sidekick who drives a taxi and walks and talks in a clumsy manner, and a struggle to the death between two brothers who are hit men for the mob. But what is most impressive to me is the glorious style of this film: It's simply gorgeous! See review this issue. (Charles Mudede)
In a feat more remarkable than the movie's $160 million bank heist, Soderbergh manages to keep the egos of the blockbuster actors under their hats and lets the plot tell its own story. (Phil Busse)
* Pepe Le Moko
An extremely thrilling film noir, directed by Julien Duvivier. See review this issue.
* Resident Evil
If you're going to be foolish enough to make a movie out of a video game, this here is the way to do it. While Resident Evil the movie may not live up to its gaming origins, it nonetheless does exactly what it's supposed to do: entertain, disgust, and turn 13-year-old-boys on--hence Milla Jovovich and Michelle Rodriguez. (Bradley Steinbacher)
Return of the Secaucus seven
Director John Sayles will be in attendance at the screening of his first feature, which is about the seven college friends, arrested on the way to an anti-war demonstration. A decade later, Sayles interviews them about what has changed in their lives.
Dennis Quaid's hopes of being a major league baseball player were dashed by shoulder injuries and now, he's a high school baseball coach. After the heal up of his final shoulder surgery, however, he realizes he can pitch better than ever before. He makes a bargain with his team that if they'll try and win the next two games, he'll try out for the majors again. Yipee!
* Royal Tenenbaums
This movie is great, go see it. A family of geniuses reunite from their separate, but equally fucked up lives.
* Sexy Beast
Gal Dove (Ray Winstone) is a retired gangster, living high on a hill in the Costa del Sol, enjoying a lethargic existence. But he is as out of place here as the heart-shaped ceramic tiles on the floor of his pool. Bad news arrives in the shape of Don Logan (Ben Kingsley, so great), there to coax Gal back to England for a job. Gal resists, but Don won't take no for an answer, setting in motion a verbal boxing match so artful and intense, it turns the sprawling Spanish vista into a pressure cooker. One of the finest films in recent memory. (Sean Nelson)
Eddie Murphy and Robert DeNiro star in this unlikely-buddy-cop film that satirizes reality cop shows on TV. Also featuring Rene Russo, William Shatner, and Kadeem "Dwayne Wayne" Hardison. Ker-snooze.
To save money three frat boys go undercover in drag at a sorority, Delta Omicron Gamma (that's D.O.G.), and discover their sensitive side as they walk unsteadily in high heels and struggle with falsetto speaking voices. It's Bosom Buddies with nudity featuring the heartthrob without a pulse from Seventh Heaven.
The brilliant "giant ants on a rampage" film.
The Time Machine
In this remake of H.G. Wells' The Time Machine, Alexander Hartdegen (Guy Pearce) has is a science geek and tremendously unsatisfied with his lot in life. However, when his fiancée meets an untimely death, he builds a machine designed to take him back and set things right. That doesn't work. So he travels to the future to answer the age-old question, "Why can't we change the past?" Naturally, when he arrives--800,000 years later--he learns what any grumpy sci-fi author could have told him: humans have fucked everything up and the world is a big shithole. But what makes this particular world a shithole are the "Morlocks," who are a race of well, I don't know what they are, but they look like a cross between Jack Palance and the monsters from The Dark Crystal. Anyway they're kicking the crap out of peaceful surface dwellers, and Hartdegen must decide to either stay and help, or return to a time when they didn't have indoor toilets. (Wm. Steven Humphrey)
We Were Soldiers
Scrawny little bastard Mel Gibson stars in this jingoistic turd of a Vietnam War film about 400 American soldiers in an elite combat division who get blasted to bits by the Viet Cong. They try and save themselves and each other, their heroism is unparalleled, blah blah blah.