Irish journalist Veronica Guerin learned just how bad the Irish underworld is during her mid-’90s investigation into Dublin’s heroin traffickers. Joel Schumacher directed this eponymous biopic, which ought to be fair warning for anybody interested in an affecting experience. Cate Blanchett’s Guerin hits all the right notes — but the film can’t allay a curious flatness that runs through the rest of the movie.
This sumptuous mountain of eye candy was directed by a genuine Thai prince, Chatri Chalerm Yukol. An epic tale of historical intrigue set in 16th century Thailand, it’s a visual feast, though dramatically flaccid and confusingly paced. There’s enough cool violence and interesting rituals to keep one watching.
Directed and co-written by Anne Fontaine, HowIKilledMyFather is a bleak little drama about a hardened man who is given a chance at self-examination, if not redemption, when visited by a spirit from the past. It’s AChristmasCarol with only one ghost and no jolly seasonal songs.
Bosnian Specialties is unpretentious in the extreme, with seven round, well-spaced tables up a flight of steps, trying for a homey effect. Little rustic crosshatched roof effects adorn the windows and the corner table sits in a wooden bower twined with plastic grapevines. The food brings to mind Greek and Romanian dishes; gyros are on the menu, as are Greek salad and various shishes. The national food of Bosnia, though, and the most popular dish at Bosnian Specialties, is chevapi, beef ground with “secret ingredients” and made into sausage. It can be served on its own or between slices of lepina — a round, filling bread, sort of like a huge grilled English muffin, but spongier. Another interesting dish is the burek — layers of phyllo pastry filled with ground beef or cottage cheese. The cheese version is comfort food, mild and bland and very filling. Portion sizes are impressive.
Screenwriter Preston A. Whitmore II, a Detroit native, casts the for-profit prison industry as a modern-day plantation. Though a few women get armed and murderous, the prison sewing factory is more a sexually abusive sweatshop than a plantation. Civil Brand should have been found guilty of being a bad B-movie and sent straight to quick video release.
Director Paul Cox’s lack of interest in how porn star Johnny Holmes (aka Johnny Wadd) went from nowhere to the big-time to the skids robs Wonderland of anything a viewer can glom onto emotionally, like character, for instance. Nonetheless, the film — starring Val Kilmer as Holmes-Wadd in his final, druggy downward spiral — is hard to turn away from. With Kate Bosworth, Eric Bogosian, Tim Blake Nelson, Josh Lucas and Dylan McDermott.