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  • Issue of
  • Feb 8-14, 2006
  • Vol. 26, No. 17

News & Views

Arts & Culture

  • The Scene
  • Caché

    Nobody can wring terror out of the mundane like Michael Haneke. In the writer-director’s latest exercise in minimalist dread, the director puts the screws to yet another seemingly happy, upper-middle class Parisian family, and doesn’t let up, not even after the movie’s final credit rolls. Not a whole lot actually happens in Cache: If you’re looking for a booming score, a ridiculous car chase or even a villain, you’d be best advised to wait for the next Harrison Ford film. Haneke replaces the clichés of Hollywood thrillers with something even scarier: symbolic, existentialist horror that evokes the suffering in the world today. The end result is one of the creepiest, most unnerving experiences you’ll have at the movies all year.
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  • The Scene
  • A Good Woman

    Helen Hunt seems miscast from the first shot: Introduced in a shrouded, mysterious profile, she does manage to look like a femme fatale; but as soon as her chirpy voice and birdlike features come into view, the movie loses its footing and never recovers. Her Mrs. Erlynne is a gold-digger first seen fleeing New York for the more hospitable climate of Italy, where she plans on digging her claws into the wealthy, young newlywed Robert Windermere (Mark Umbers). His wife Meg (Scarlett Johansson) is a dewy young innocent who suspects no wrongdoing from her doting husband, even as the other high-society folk in Italy for the holiday begin to gossip about Robert’s dalliances with Mrs. Erlynne. The yacht-owning playboy Lord Darlington (Stephen Campbell Moore), meanwhile, would like nothing more than to reveal Robert’s indiscretions to his wife, in the hopes that Meg will come running into his arms.
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  • The Scene
  • Ellie Parker

    To call this actor Scott Coffey’s four-year labor of love would insinuate that the movie was well-made, possibly exquisitely photographed or even meticulously edited. Ain’t so. Most junior-high class projects have higher production quality. *Ellie Parker* is very much evidence of what one well-connected man can do when he scrapes together a few big names (Keanu Reeves and Chevy Chase make cameos) and a few thousand bucks. Yet, besides the shoddy cinematography, Coffey’s full-length expansion of his 2001 short film by the same title shows he has some promise as a filmmaker — or least a generous friend in star Naomi Watts.
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  • The Scene
  • When a Stranger Calls

    Anyone with the most basic knowledge of horror films — or urban legends, for that matter — should know the secret to this film before they walk into the theater. A distracted teenage girl, babysitting a pair of slumbering kids on a dark and stormy night, gets a crackly phone call: "Have you checked the children?" Whether you know the ending or not, this tame, bloodless "thriller" will bore you silly — that is, if your ears aren’t bleeding first from all the overdone sound effects
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  • The Scene
  • The World’s Fastest Indian

    Anthony Hopkins sports a convincing New Zealand accent in his role as the eccentric and determined Burt Munro. Living in a cinderblock shed and endlessly revamping his custom-built 40-year-old Indian motorbike with homemade parts, Burt saves his pennies for a trip to Bonneville. Saddled with a bum ticker, bad hearing and more gruff charm than you can shake a stick at, he manages to make it as far as big bad Los Angeles. With few resources and fewer friends, Burt relies on determination and opened-faced kookiness to win him the support of various colorful locals (a transvestite motel clerk, a Latino used car dealer) to send him on his way.
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  • The Scene
  • Something New

    Forget the generic title and the opening sequence that looks like a Massengill ad. This film has a lot more to offer than the usual chick flicks churned out by Hollywood’s lily-white starlet machine. This handsomely shot first feature from former Mariah Carey music-video director Sanaa Hamri has the look and feel of a conventional Hollywood romantic comedy, but — by refusing to ignore the issue of race — it has the soul of an indie movie. In a genre where pop-song sing-alongs, Sandra Bullock and fart jokes have become the norm, this movie dares to be contemplative and low-key. It may not always work, but as a sunny, sexy, impeccably acted romance, this flick beats anything that’s out there.
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Food & Drink

  • Table and Bar
  • Buffett, not buffet

    Taking its name, of course, from the Jimmy Buffett munchies anthem, the place is suitably decked out in mass-produced tropical fish art, palm-thatched trellises, seashells and regulation tiki bar stuff. They concoct all manner of fun boat drinks using Hershey’s syrup, lots of flavored vodkas, rums and sticky liqueurs, garnished with baby bananas, pineapple and other fruit sculpted into freaky creatures, including a parrot wearing Ray Bans. As for the food, you can find its like in most cookie-cutter chain links.
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Music

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