* Apocalypse Now Redux
Now, at long last, we have an officially sanctioned "director's cut" of Apocalypse Now, title appended with the ridiculous "Redux." Nearly a full hour of footage has been restored under Coppola's watchful eye, perhaps in an attempt to avoid taking jobs like Jack or The Rainmaker to fund his winery. (If so, more power to you, Francis.) So what was restored? Well, as is often the case with newly untruncated editions, there's generally a reason this stuff was cut in the first place. That doesn't mean it's worthless or uninteresting, but it does mean that Apocalypse Now isn't necessarily improved by the reinstatement of this footage.
The myth of the city of Atlantis is super cool, even to a humorless person like myself. The movie, however, is not. A slow-then-fast, and extremely contorted plot are to blame, as is the annoying voice of Michael J. Fox. (Katie Shimer)
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 Thorton and Bruce Willis, both with extremely bad haircuts, play two escaped inmates (from Oregon State Penitiery none the less). On the run, the two invent a playful game of kidnapping bank managers and pleasantly robbing vaults. As a hypochondric and self-declared genius, Thorton adds a verve of wry humor to the film. See review this issue.
Behind Closed Eyes
Four children in war striken countries, dealing with horrible circumstances, try to make futures for themselves.
Thomas takes plenty of pictures of violent scenes, yet has no reaction. When he takes a seemingly innocent picture of a couple in a park, however, he finds something strange, and can't help but get involved.
Shot on a hand-held camera, this film pays homage to the American gangster film. A small time crook is on the run from the Paris police, and his girlfriend could reallly give a crap. Directed by Jen-Luc Godard.
A group of peasants trek towards the Eastern Star. The journey through the harsh terrain serves as a metaphor for the difficulty in maintaining one's religious faith.
Amazon natives find footage of a cannibalistic documentary film crew and are inspired to get just as nasty--if not more so.
Why, oh why, does Hollywood always want to involve comedians with animals? It's kind of getting old, and it's kind of getting sick. Corkey's a loser/vet who has to go undercover for the FBI as a bestiality ring leader.
* The Deep End
This 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.
Don't Say A Word
Michael Douglas plays a New York shrink whose daughter is kidnapped by evil men who want only one thing: the six-number code locked away in the fashionably distressed head of Brittany Murphy, who is one of Douglas' patients. Oh, what I wouldn't give to be a number in Brittany Murphy's head.
Philip Glass scores the 1931 Bela Lugosi masterpiece.
* Driver 23 and Atlas Moth
An obsessive/compulsive inventor named Dan has a dream of making it big with his metal band Darkhorse in Driver 23. His story continues in Atlas Moth, when Dan records and promotes Darkhorse's album Guts Before Glory.
Echos of Erin
Showing of the Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann 50th Anniversary show in Australia.
DUDE! FOUR TOTALLY EXTREME FRIENDS DISCOVER THEIR EXTRMELY DEEP INNER FEELINGS BY DOING TOTALLY RIGHTEOUS X-TREME SPORTS ON THE X-TREME WEST COAST.
* Funny Girl
Babs Streisand belts it out as turn-o'-the-century comedian Fanny Brice, whose rise to stardom is screwed up by that huggable louse of a man she loves, Omar Sharif.
Genesis: The Creation and the Flood
An old sage recounts the story of Genesis to his grandson. Shot in the Moroccan desert and cast with amateurs. All dialogue, besides that between the grandfather and grandson, is taken directly from the Bible. Directed by Ermanno Olmi.
* 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)
* Glass House
A fairly predictable horror flick with some great near-escape scenes and super evil villians. Ruby's parents die in a car crash and she goes to live in a big freaky house with the Glasses. Unfortunately for her though, they're totally psychotic. (Katie Shimer)
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)
Ah, the novelist stuck in temp work-après Kafka, still a fine conceit for comedy. Josh, a perma-temp, finds that every time he accepts a permanent job he becomes a complete fuck up. The requisite epiphany ("I must become an adult") arrives in due course.
Although Steve Buscemi would have made this version of Black News Bears particularly poignant, news flash: Keanu Reeves can actually act! Although he doesn't sustain the edgy character of a hard-on-his-luck gambling loser in every scene, he does manage a rather heart-tugging job as the coach for a little league team of foul mouthed (but, of course, delightfully loveable) housing project babies. In spite of an awkward, abrupt, and predictable ending, like the main character, the movie has some redeemable qualities--a believable underdog baseball team, thumping rap soundtrack, and stylized ebonics. (Phil Busse)
Hearts in Atlantis
Stephen King needs to return to the stuff that made him great, like Christine and Maximum Overdrive. This sappy concoction plays like a potpourri of all his non-horror stuff: There's the wistful evocation of childhood's lost innocence (Stand By Me), the misunderstood outsider character with special powers (The Green Mile), the potentially perverse relationship between a young boy and a older man (Apt Pupil); you get the picture. Here, it's Anthony Hopkins who comes to live in a boarding house with 11-year-old Bobby Garfield. The old guy teaches the kid about life, love, and being a psychic when he should be giving acting lessons (I know it's mean, but child actor Anton Yelchin is awful!). Putting the capstone on the whole Wonder Years feel is that this screenplay (from Oscar-winner William Goldman, fer Christ's sake!) actually includes the line "That summer was the last of my childhood." Crikey!
* 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
Rooftop acrobatics and martial-arts beauty dignify this feature, directed by the man who choreographed The Matrix and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. See review this issue.
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. 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. (Marc Mohan)
A taut, smart thriller directed by John Dahl, the potboiler-switcheroo auteur responsible for such gems as Red Rock West, The Last Seduction, and the very underrated Unforgettable. Steve Zahn (yay) and Paul Walker (zzz) star as two brothers on a road trip who mess around with a CB radio and unintentionally arouse the murderous ire of a psycho truck driver. By the time they pick up Leelee Sobieski (rrr), there's a cross-country chase afoot. Thanks to the gut-churning suspense factor that is Dahl's specialty, the picture seems to be building up to some barely plausible twist. But just when you're trying to figure out who's duping who, the pure modernistic thrill of seeing a big old semi bearing down on some unsuspecting youngsters kicks into high gear. Pure pulpy pleasure. (Sean Nelson)
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. In a script that's thinner than Charleton Heston's hairpiece. (Wm. Steven Humphrey)
L.I.E. (Long Island Expressway) is focused on a teenage boy named Howie, his best friend Gary and "Big John," a pervy, wealthy, ex-marine. The film navigates themes of adolescent apathy and petty crime as well as the sensual side of pedophilia, somehow without demonizing its characters. The dangerous mire of teen disenchantment is captured in Howie and his friends, who rob houses, fuck their little sisters, and prostitute themselves to old men. The plot consists of Howie losing people: His mother is dead, his father is oblivious, and his friend runs away, not to mention the fact that this kid spends most of the movie with at least one black eye. What he gains in exchange is a surprising relationship with Big John (it's not what you think), and a hard-won maturity that isn't candy-colored enough to make it a happy ending. (Marjorie Skinner)
La Belle et La Bete
A surreal and ornate version of the classic fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, scored by Philip Glass.
* Legally Blonde
In Legally Blonde, Witherspoon plays a Southern California Barbie doll named Elle Woods. Legally Blonde is Witherspoon's show. She's committed and bizarre and fantastic, elevating the film's mediocrity into an enjoyably breezy farce without apparent effort.
A humorous and gripping period piece that skewers all that jolly old England would later come to admire: alcoholism, unemployment, and working-class laddism. The titular Liverpudlian suffers through the depression, confronting intolerance and a prideful, bigoted father, without ever losing the glow in his apple cheeks.
Max Keeble's Big Move
When Max learns that his family is moving in a week, he takes the opportunity to wreak havoc on all the bullies that make his junior high a living hell. Then he finds out his family isn't moving after all, goes Zen, and prepares to die. Though it's a Disney movie aimed at kids, the subject matter strikes a deep chord in the hearts of all bully victims, past and future. (Sean Nelson)
Two men in love with the same woman must fight against each other over the fate of the world.
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)
Philip Glass scores. The film shows the mega-city's effect on smaller undeveloped cultures.
* 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.
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.
Philip Glass scores 6 shorts including Evidence--about the effect of television on children and Man in the Bath, about a man having to endure hot and cold water torture.
This much delayed teen horror flick starring Wes Bentley, Casey Affleck, Eliza Dushku, Luke Wilson, and Melissa Sagemiller, is sort of like Jacob's Ladder crossed with a whole bunch of other semi-coherent "psychological" horror movies, with a bit of vague sensuality (courtesy of Dushku's cleavage) thrown in for adolescent hormones. The story, about a girl tormented by the death of her boyfriend in a car crash, is pretty hard to follow, but the ending is actually kind of good. And Wes Bentley is a fox! Weird side note: the film takes place in Boston, but the opening of the movie features a medley of songs by Seattle bands. Curious. (Randy Octogenarian)
* That Obscure Object of Desire
Luis Bunuel's final film. An erotic tale about a wealthy businessman who will do anything to win over the beautiful Conchita. He always thinks he's on the verge of getting her and then she rejects him again.
Denzel is the sage old cop, and Ethan Hawke is the scrappy rooky cop who wants to be just like Denzel. The movie is shot over the course of just one day, and a lot of stuff happens--Denzel and Ethan smoke some pot laced with PCP, Denzel kicks the ass of some crackheads, and Ethan saves a poor, 14-year-old girl who's about to get raped. Then the shit really starts to go down, and I won't give the rest away. The point of this movie is to try to figure out if Denzel is a good cop employing his own form of justice, or if he's a corrupt cop, beating people up just for fun. That question alone, and the fact that it takes you until the end of the movie to answer it, makes the film above average. Beyond that though, there's not much depth.
Focusing on a three day protest of the Vietnam War in 1971, the film documents stories and opinions on the arduous, losing battle.
* Vertical Ray of the Sun
Tran Anh Hung shows a serene dream life 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.
A middle class, murdering couple goes for a Sunday drive and encounters a bevy of horrifying auto accidents. They add to the calamity through their own selfish ways.
Ben Stiller plays a supermodel in what looks like an Austin Powers knockoff. If it were anyone other than Stiller (and his brilliant co-star, Owen Wilson), this would seem like very bad news. Since it is Stiller, it shall--no, must--be funny. Please, someone, be funny.