Part of the drink-fueled Mercury Movie Megathon, Breakin 2 is a breakin' movie with a message. See Destination Fun pg 15
* Charlotte Sometimes
A psychological romance that isn't delivered in a neat package. A lonely auto-mechanic, Michael, rents an apartment in his inherited house to a pretty actress, Lori. Even though she's screwing another guy, she consistently turns to Michael for companionship. When he meets another woman out at the bar, shit gets all fucked up. (Katie Shimer)
* The China Syndrome
Part of the Bush-Blair Boycott Dog Days of Summer Film Fest, Jane Fonda, Michael Douglas, and Jack Lemmon star in this film about a fictional nuclear incident.
Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star
If Saturday Night Live has taught us anything, it's that there's a fine line between "comedy" and "beating a dead horse into the ground, picking its pulp-like carcass back up, and finely filleting the remains." Wait, did I say fine line? I meant GAPING CANYON. Deeply grating SNL alum David Spade explores this expanse with his latest--a fairly self-explanatory one note, sustained for an hour and a half.
Dirty Pretty Things
An African illegal immigrant works as a cab driver by day and a hotel desk clerk by night, despite his training as a doctor. When he does sleep, it's on the couch of a Turkish illegal immigrant (Tautou from Amelie). He soon discovers an illicit kidney-selling scheme that is praying on fellow immigrants. Frears' London is engaging in that it is a place where corruption is taken for granted, but unfortunately the plot resolves itself mechanically. Tautou, however, remains feisty and adorable throughout. (Andy Spletzer)
* The Good, The Bad & The Ugly See review this issue
I Capture the Castle
Taking back the English period piece from those Merchant-Ivory hacks, this is one girl's coming-of-age film that anyone can enjoy. Two sisters live with their family in a remote castle, and their romantic prospects are severely limited until two American brothers inherit the land they are living on. The star of the movie is good, old-fashioned repression, and it is refreshing to see the more traditional happy ending replaced by unresolved longing. (Andy Spletzer)
Jeepers Creepers 2
The story for Jeepers Creepers 2 goes like this: a high school basketball team on the way home from a big game gets attacked by the monster. Chaos ensues. Director Victor Salva sticks at least 30 kids into team bus, and develops none of them. Some talk is made about how the monster is "choosing people," as if this little factoid might come into play at some point. It doesn't. There are no characters to connect with and no story to follow. There is an utterly un-scary monster killing people on a bus. (Justin Sanders)
This movie wants Naomi Watts' divorce to change her and her sister's lives forever. It wants Kate Hudson to sleep with everyone under the sun, but then fall in love with an ultra-sleazy, twice-her-age, politician and have her heart broken when he (surprise!) ditches her for a new waify 20-something. It wants to show endless, agonizing amounts of footage of rich, white people eating fancy food and talking about how much money they're going to make off their rare painting. It wants to be a... suspense thriller with a Hitchcockian ending atop the Eiffel Tower!!? It wants to be a lot of things, but what it ends up being is the dullest, most muddled big-budget star vehicle you'll see all year. It does, however, manage to bestow Hudson with the single worst haircut ever, which is entertaining. (Justin Sanders)
The Magdalene Sisters
Serious as a heart attack, this unabashedly enraged lapel-grabber focuses on a trio of young women unjustly confined to an Irish convent/slave labor camp. Director Peter Mullan gives absolutely no quarter, placing shivery moments of genuine power and beauty within long stretches of cranked-to-11, Legion of Doom villainy. Provocative to a fault, helplessly moving, and a definite conversation piece for those with the fortitude to ride it out. Based on true events, and condemned by the Vatican. (Andrew Wright)
In 1955, the small heartland of Northfork is about to disappear, a casualty of a newly constructed hydroelectric dam. In an attempt to move every resident out, an evacuation committee has been assembled. These men make their way through the eerie and near-empty area, trying to coax the few remaining holdouts from their land. Northfork moves at a deliberate pace, holding your attention by only offering explanations when they are absolutely needed. From the opening shot, of a dark lake that is curiously sprouting coffins from beneath its surface, the Polish Brothers have crafted a film that is gorgeous, confusing, and occasionally sad. A film that does what all the best films do: inspire argument. (Bradley Steinbacher)
The new Kevin Costner picture is not long enough. Am I high? That depends on just when you're reading this, but as I write this review the answer is no--Kevin Costner's new Western, Open Range, is indeed not long enough. Still, this doesn't mean that the picture is a good one (it's not)--just that one notices while watching it that Costner, after the three-hour debacle that was The Postman, is a little gun-shy when it comes to opus length this time around. Hence Open Range's 110-minute span--a span that is certainly reasonable, but here, given what Costner wishes to show us, comes up rather meager. Part standard Western, part attempted romantic epic, Open Range starts patiently and solidly, but ends up rushing through its climax; the romance, such as it is, takes it in the teeth, and what was meant to be big and important is instead messy and clumsy. Which is too bad, because it has one of the best shootouts in years. (Bradley Steinbacher)
The Vatican and ritualistic murder. You know, the usual.
* The Rapture See review this issue.
* The Secret Lives of Dentists
The laughing gas gets turned way up when a dentist (Scott) suspects his wife of having an affair and his maniacally misogynist patient (Leary) encourages him to drill down to the root of the problem. Based on Jane Smiley's novella The Age of Grief.
* Step into Liquid
Step into Liquid is directed by Dana Brown, the son of Bruce Brown, who's best known for The Endless Summer. Liquid is a sequel of sorts, focusing on a myriad of obsessive wave-riders and what makes them tick. Brown features a charismatic cast of daredevils and oddballs; though big wave rider Laird Hamilton exhibits steely-eyed nerve while navigating monster-sized swells, Liquid isn't just about tanned surfer gods. There's also an older group of fun-seekers tackling the two-foot waves of Lake Michigan, and a Texas trio who surf the wakes of oil tankers. However, cinematography makes or breaks a surf flick, and Liquid certainly delivers. Shot from inside, overhead, and underneath the waves, viewers get a visceral sense of their thundering power. (Wm. Steven Humphrey)
* Stone Reader
Throughout his wonderful documentary, Stone Reader, filmmaker Mark Moskowitz's camera lingers lovingly over shelves and stacks of books. He carries boxes of books with him everywhere he goes, touching them, flipping through them, and moving them back and forth like a child with his favorite set of Tinker Toys. He is obsessed with books; so much so that when he becomes enamoured with a long out-of-print, tome-like novel called The Stones of Summer, he embarks on a two-year search for its creator, Dow Mossman, who seems to have literally disappeared in the 30 years since its publication. It's a fascinating premise for a documentary, and it pays off probably beyond even Moskowitz's expectations. Mossman turns out to be excruciatingly difficult to track down, and Moskowitz gets to play private investigator, interviewing nearly everyone he can think of who had even a remote chance of coming into contact with the reclusive novelist. (Justin Sanders)
Thirteen See review this issue.
In attempting to essentially bottle the entire early gay rights struggle into a single relationship, director Swain both succeeds and fails. The Trip feels authentic, for the most part, even if its characters often reek of glaring fabrication. At least most "types" are avoided, which certainly places it above most queer films. (Bradley Steinbacher)
Under the Skin of the City
A family of four teenage to adult children, a disabled father, and a mother who works in a factory struggle to get ahead socially and economically in contmeporary Tehran, Iran.
* Where Are You?
A smattering of audio video at Pacific Switchboard. See movies, animation, and performance by the likes of Alicia Love McDaid, Amos Lattieir, Charles Salas Humara, Kaetlin Kennedy, Angela Campbell, Tanya Smith, Jeff Gardner, and Zak Margolis. Music by Mathematics.