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  • Issue of
  • Jun 7-13, 2006
  • Vol. 26, No. 34

News & Views

Arts & Culture

  • The Scene
  • The Lost City

    Girls with pin-curled hair and twirling dresses mix with men in white dinner jackets, black ties and slicked hair; ice clinks and sweat beads on freshly poured cocktails as an orchestra’s horns blare. Havana nights in the 1950s, through Andy Garcia’s lens, look and sound like heaven. The Lost City, however, is not so divine an experience. Garcia stars, produces and directs this homage to his home country, which he left as a kid in 1961. He’s crafted this movie with such faithfulness you can almost inhale the city’s smells and feel its heat and humidity. Despite sunny photography, carefully executed scenes and exquisite imagery, Garcia’s epic telling of Cuba on the brink of revolution is too heavy with nostalgia and longing, so much so that it drags mercilessly through nearly two and a half hours.
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  • The Scene
  • Keeping up with the Steins

    In this film, Jeremy Piven plays Adam Fiedler, a slick-talking shyster with anger management issues, a virtual reprise of his role as Ari Gold on HBO’s hit Entourage. On the tube, Piven is a comedic pit bull in a business suit, undercutting his viciousness with charm and occasional bouts of hugging, and he’s playing almost exactly the same guy here, but with considerably less bite. In fact, just about every nasty instinct in this feature gets declawed by bit actor-turned-director Scott Marshall, who turns a promising satire into a sappy sitcom. Perhaps it’s in Marshall’s blood; his father Garry helmed hit shows like Happy Days and Laverne and Shirley and the ultimate chick flick, Beaches.
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  • The Scene
  • The Break-Up

    You can tell that the creators of the new “anti-romantic comedy” The Break-Up thought they were mining comic gold. In scene after scene, talented actors like Vince Vaughn, Vincent D’Onofrio and John Michael Higgins are allowed the kinds of indulgent close-ups, long takes and pregnant pauses you can only get from hours of shit-shooting improvisations. Maybe they thought they were creating a sweet-and-sour comedy like last year’s brilliant 40-Year-Old Virgin, which traded dark, unpredictable laughs with a bittersweet, sentimental undercurrent. But what’s left on the screen is a nasty, repellent experience: it’s the cinematic equivalent of a big brother who keeps farting in your face and forcing you to smell it.
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  • The Scene
  • District B13

    Hollywood once knew how to make flashy action films that relied on brute strength and minimal special effects. Now, it seems, the tough-guys-with-chips-on-their-shoulders genre seems to be the province of Europe and Asia, where they still churn out leaping, kicking, punching heroes faster than audiences can consume them. Case in point: The slick new sci-fi action flick District B13. Hailing from France and produced and co-written by Luc Besson (La Femme Nikita, The Fifth Element), the movie marks the arrival of at least one potential fists-of-fury international superstar, Cyril Raffaelli. A former stunt director, the sinewy, stubbly Raffaelli has coordinated the action in The Transporter and Ronin, and his square jaw, rippling biceps and lighting-fast moves could give Jason Statham a run for his money. He’s not bad with dialogue, either, although that’s hardly a requirement in this decent rip-off of John Carpenter’s ’80s classic Escape from New York.
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  • The Scene
  • Twelve and Holding

    It’s not quite 13, but Twelve and Holding is another indie flick that digs into muck of preadolescence looking for the darkest bits. Director Michael Cuesta brings us a less-endearing Stand by Me, stripped of nostalgia and a cute sound track, a coming-of-age story that replaces fond remembrances with snide humor and gloomy conclusions. The results waver. At times, Cuesta’s movie is an astute portrait of the limbo between childhood and adulthood; at other points, it rings completely, laughably false. Cuesta’s successful moments are mostly due to writer Anthony Cipriano’s reading of young emotions, played to perfection by a talented young group of unknowns.
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