In a world of destruction, a young boy is captured and subjected to military experiments. He gains psychic powers that he uses against the oppressive forces, but shit, he's out of control. Who can save, or rather, destroy, Tokyo? You guessed it: Akira.
I just have some questions: Isn't Billy Crystal famous for having a razor-sharp wit? Why then, does his script for this latest Hollywood schlock-fest resort to the lowest levels of comedy, including a man getting hit in the head with a golf ball, and another man getting his balls licked by a doberman? And why is uber-celebrity Julia Roberts cast in the role of the Ugly Duckling? Why has Catherine Zeta-Jones played a despicable bitch in every movie she's been in? Type-cast, perhaps...? Why are bad movies that make fun of movies still getting made when the genre is as stale as old bread? And why, for God's sake, is John Cusak in this bad, bad movie? Why are tender doves aflight invariably brought back to Earth, burned down by the fires of capitalist whorishness? Why, why, why? (Justin Sanders)
Every generation needs a Young Guns, but this one, featuring twentysomething hunk slabs Scott Caan (who looks about as old West as a Volkswagen Bug), Will McCormack, Gabriel Macht, and Colin Farrell as the James-Younger gang, looks particularly shabby. Also featuring Ali Larter, Timothy Dalton, and Ronny Cox.
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.
An American Rhapsody
We've all done it: You're sneaking across the heavily-guarded border of Communist Hungary on your way to refuge in America, and in the heat of flight you suddenly notice something's missing--whoops!--I thought you brought the baby. Young Suzanne grows up Hungarian, while her family basks in the full glow of '60s capitalism before retrieving her a few years later. But Budapest beckons her back, despite the lure of TV, hula hoops, and Coca-Cola. Stars Nastassja Kinski, Tony Goldwyn, and Scarlett (Ghost World) Johannson.
* Apocalypse Now Redux
Francis Ford Coppola returns to the film that almost killed him, re-adding a bunch of boring parts. Yet somehow, it's still worth it!
Bridget Jones's Diary
Bridget Jones is a cow. She desires a boyfriend, so she sets her sights on the office cad (Hugh Grant), and then moans when he dumps her. Why do we keep coming back to these romantic comedies? Is it that we secretly hope the Jerk will change into a Good Guy so we can justify our bad choices in life? Is the office cad actually a misunderstood prince? Does this ever happen in real life? Fuck no. And I've got a long line of sisters who can back me up on that: the very same sisters who'll be standing next to me in the ticket line when the next romantic comedy comes along. (Kathleen Wilson)
It's a comedy rule: There's nothing funnier than a kid with a rare terminal disease engaging in broad slapstick farce. Jake Gyllenhaal plays the comedic cousin of John Travolta's career-sparking cipher, a kid whose lack of an immune system can't keep his libido at bay. Rumor has it there's a sequel in the works: Sickle Cell Sammy and the Magic Hammer.
* A Clockwork Orange
Malcolm McDowell stars in this brilliant adaptaion of Anthony Burgess' novel about a gang of psychotic punks and their nightly forays in ultra-violence. This film is rumored to have been a big influence for 'N Sync.
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 some rather odd advice from his neighbor, a retired psychiatrist: 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 nasty lawsuit. The accountant takes his neighbor's advice, and, well, hilarity ensues. Or, if not hilarity, at least a few laughs here and there. Actually, how well you like The Closet may in fact depend on just how high Three's Company ranked on your laugh-o-meter. If the answer is 10, then by all means, rush out and see it. If, on the other hand, the number is five (or four, or three), you might want to stay home. (Bradley Steinbacher)
Curse of Jade Scorpion
Helen Hunt plays a part similar to her acadamy-award-winning role in What Women Want. She's the hard-ass insurance agent who's going to take the old-fashioned guy down. Woody Allen, much like Mel Gibson, wants to get back at her, and get in her panties. Ewwwwwwww. See review this issue.
* The Deep End
Though it comes dressed in the icy blue clothes of a suspense thriller, The Deep End is a far more interesting creature. Using its intricate plot as shrewd camouflage, the film serves as an examination of the evolving relationship between a lonely mother and her gifted teenage son, whose sexuality (homo) is such an impenetrable subject that Mom (the ineffable Tilda Swinton) would rather navigate a murder cover-up, blackmail, and death threats than talk to the lad directly. See review this issue. (Sean Nelson)
* The Dish
Sam Neill and Puddy from Seinfeld come this close to screwing up the first televised moon landing in The Dish, a quirky Bill Forsyth-ish comedy about quirky small town folks given a great responsibility. Though almost too cute at times, director Rob Sitch captures the wonder and excitement of that awe-inspiring first trip to the moon. (Wm. Steven Humphrey)
Erotic Tales 7
Can I be your Bratwurst, Please? includes classic porn star Jeff Stryker and his amazing package. He checks into a motel, and everyone wants a piece of his sausage, but will they get it? The Gas Station is all... "you dented my car dickhole," followed by "well you're a dirty bitch, wanna get busy." The third short, Angela, is yet another film about old horney guys who want to get sex. How is that erotic???
Erotic Tales 8
The Summer of My Deflowering will make guys wonder, why can't I meet a horney young thing on the internet? Powers shows what happens when supernatural powers spiral out of control. And I'll let you guess what Why Don't We Do it in The Road is all about, okay?
* 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)
* Ghosts of Mars
Ice Cube and Natasha Henstridge open up a can of whup-ass on the Martians in this latest B-movie from John Carpenter. See review this issue.
The Golden Bowl
The Golden Bowl is, in part, a drama of manners, and Merchant Ivory's production moves neatly upon the joints and hinges of a repressed society. But the filmmakers seem to think that a well-appointed costume drama with the weight of Henry James behind it doesn't need any creative help to succeed, so the neatness is plodding. People enter rooms, whisper to one another, make out passionately behind closed doors while holding lit candles, and glare portentously at photographs--but the movie remains too damp to make a spark.
Guerilla Filmmaking 101
Ground Floor Cinema returns with new indie shorts including White Face, Recipe, The Regular Menu, Hilda Humphrey, and some live-action Spiderman shorts entitled The Making of Green Goblin's Last Stand.
* 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. (Michael Svoboda)
Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back
Kevin Smith is the cinematic equivalent to the Comic Book Store Guy on The Simpsons (or vice versa). He's managed to take his own particular brand of juvenile, dick-and-fart humor (mixed with a dose of ironic self-awareness and a dollop of grandiose delusions) and become an actual auteur of sorts. His movies never look like much, and they're not consistently funny, but when they hit the spot they're goddamn hilarious. This latest (and reportedly last) entry in the Jersey-based Jay and Bob mythos finds our pot-dealing, Quick-Stop-loitering, Laurel-and-Hardy-esque duo on a trip across the continent to stop a movie based on the comic book based on their (fictional) selves. If you haven't seen every other item in the Smith oeuvre, a lot of the humor will seem stupid. If you have, it'll still seem stupid, but it'll also seem humorous. If nothing else, this film probably establishes a new record for mentions of the word "clit" in a feature motion picture. It's the "Scarface" of "clit." Wow. Plus you get a look at Ben Affleck back when he was still drinkin'. (Marc Mohan)
Karma Got Friendly
Joe gets busted for a bad, bad crime, and his buddie Friendly is called in to help reconstruct the events leading up to it. Filmed in Portland and made by local dude, Josh Bovinette.
Film adaptation of David Mamet's play about life through the eyes of a kid working on Great Lakes freight boat. Directed by Joe Mantegna.
Memento has a lot of starch in it; the film sticks with you for days as you rehearse it over and over in your mind. It's also a movie so good, you fear a critical backlash against it. You come out of it feeling almost resentful at how good it is, and given that almost everyone is an aspiring filmmaker these days, this resentment is unvarnished jealousy. But this reviewer is pure of spirit, or at least spite: I may have seen a better film so far this year than Memento, but if I have, I've forgotten it. (D.K. Holm)
Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Although you've seen the movie enough times to memorize the lines, now they've added new footage as the Arthurian troupe heads up the Mekong Delta in Vietnam and, in a hilarious encounter with the French, heap on the "fart in your general direction" jokes. The horror! The hilarity!
A well-executed gothic horror film in a Jamesian vein, starring Nicole Kidman as a post-war mom on a tiny British isle, desperate not to let the new servants (including the great Fionnula Flanagan) expose her "photosensitive" children to daylight. The claustrophobic tension of the incredible house (the film's only set, and its true star) mounts through the eerie film as the truth, like the characters' lives, unfurls methodically in this truly frightening endeavor from Spanish director Alejandro Amenabar. As an added bonus, the always-gripping Christopher Eccleston (Jude, Elizabeth) has a supporting role. (Sean Nelson)
Jim McKay would like you to believe he is our version of Ken Loach--a compassionate, class-conscious intellectual telling overtly political tales. In this film, his second feature after Girls Town, he again focuses on the cliché-ridden trials of inner-city postadolescent girls through a vaguely proletarian lens. The trouble is, where Loach has a deep history of class conscious art to draw on, McKay is howling at the moon--and it shows. This film is simplistic and dull, as was the last. (Jamie Hook)
Planet of the Apes
As promised, Tim Burton's Planet of the Apes is upon us and it stinks like feet. If you like spaceships (first 10 minutes) and screeching apes, this film has 'em, but that's about it. Throw in a bland and predictable ending, and you have the most anticipated letdown of the summer. Sounds like a three-pronged blockbuster to me.
* The Princess and the Warrior
The second collaboration between director Tom Twyker and the stunningly beautiful German actress Franka Potente. This time around, though, the pair has replaced the frenetic Nintendo plot of Run Lola Run with a carefully paced romance. No, we're not talking about a fawning Julia Roberts running around with her estrogen hanging out, but an eerie and tragic fairytale where castles are replaced by an insane asylum, and Prince Charming by a stoic street punk.
A Vegas hotshot starts a race for money, so he can make some his damn self.
* Rocky and Bullwinkle Marathon
The Clinton Street presents the complete, original 1963 14-part Rocky and Bullwinkle adventure, The Search for the Buried Treasure in this week-long event! Along for the ride are all your old favorites, Dudley Do-Right, Peabody's Improbable History, and Fractured Fairytales.
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.
* 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 in which Gal is forced to reckon for his ill-had comforts. A voice buried deep within Gal tells him--and us--that this can't last. Don is that voice, given brutal, relentless human form. In the fallout of their confrontation lies one of the finest films in recent memory.
Anit-government radicals defrost Woody Allen after a cyber revolution. A super funny classic film.
Janet McTeer stars as Dr. Lily Penleric, an early 20th-century musicologist trapped as an associate professor in a man's university. Passed over for professorship, she retreats to the foothills of Appalachia, where her sister (Jane Adams, always great) runs a progressive remedial school with her Gertrude Steinesque mentor. Within minutes, Dr. Lily discovers that the hillbillies can not only sing, but have a vast catalog of pure English folk songs in their repetoire. As she goes about collecting them, her initial academic condescension is overcome by the humble beauty of the melodies and the rubes (Aidan Quinn and the great Pat Carroll, in particular) themselves. The film verges a bit towards the Hallmark Hall of Fame, but a few narrative wrinkles rescue it from the land of cloy. Plus, the music is so great (Iris DeMent and Taj Mahal both appear as musicians), you can't help but sit back and revel. (Sean Nelson)
No, not a story of hot, generation Y fishmongers... this is a baseball movie starring the acharismatic Freddie Prinze Jr. as a minor league pitcher who dreams of the majors while trying to get laid with trashy townies (or richies). Redemption, love, and teenage feel-ups ensue.
* Thomas in Love
This film has the potential to become the greatest computer geek date movie of our time. Thomas In Love concerns an agoraphobic of the future who communicates exclusively via his computer screen. That is, until he decides he wants a girlfriend-a real one. Will love conquer machine?
Through the Olive Trees
A film within a film. A film crew begins shooting in post-earthquake Iran. Houssein, a homeless illiterate is cast in a small roll, and a woman he has the hots for is cast as his wife. Will he win her over?
* Under the Sand
While on holiday at their summer home in western France, Jean vanishes during a swim, leaving his wife Marie, played by the indefatigably beautiful Charlotte Rampling, to be ravished by loneliness. Upon her return to Paris, she is encouraged to begin dating again, but can't shake the feeling that Jean is still alive, refusing to come to terms with the "closure" her friends demand of her.