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  • Issue of
  • Aug 29 - Sep 4, 2007
  • Vol. 27, No. 46

News & Views

Arts & Culture

  • The Scene
  • Resurrecting the Champ

    This is the true story of Denver Times sportswriter Erik Kernan (Josh Hartnett), who, in a career slump, finds his golden ticket in the form of a pitiful homeless man (Samuel L. Jackson) who claims to be a formerly high-ranking boxing champion. Kernan gets the story he wants, impressing his Times editor (Alan Alda) and the editor for whom he duplicitously freelances the story (David Paymer) — but at an unexpected price. Despite an unnecessarily treacly ending, Michael Bortman and Allison Burnett’s screenplay is textbook-perfect. They show a studied reverence for the newspaper industry and how it works, making this as appealing for die-hard newshounds as the average viewer.
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  • The Scene
  • Good show

    In a brisk opening sequence set in rainy London, Mr. Bean wins a trip to the sunny French Riviera in a church raffle. Director Steve Bendelack (The League of Gentlemen’s Apocalypse) knows how to make slapstick that’s not slapdash, and hits on all the essential Beanisms — from his affection for his vintage Mini to the absolutely shameless way he expresses his emotions — before he quickly puts the character in motion. That forward momentum is what makes Mr. Bean’s Holiday such a romp.
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  • The Scene
  • 2 Days in Paris

    Julie Delpy and Adam Goldberg play a couple at the tail end of a European vacation trying to survive a few days in her old Paris stomping grounds, which overflow with her ex-boyfriends and countless one-time flings. Despite some first-time director jitters, 2 Days in Paris is a tiny, fleeting delight, a scenic gem filled with flashes of insight and funny, natural dialogue.
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  • The Scene
  • Rocket Science

    Moving on from the hit doc Spell Bound, filmmaker Jeffrey Blitz has found an equally dorky backdrop for his first narrative feature; the high-stakes world of high school debate. The queen of this nerdy kingdom is Ginny Ryerson (Anna Kendrick), a chatterbox powerhouse with the same laser-beam intensity as Election’s Tracy Flick; she recruits terminally shy Hal, because she sees hidden talent in him. He’s painfully aware of her talents as well, and not just those at the podium, but the ones under her sweater. She awakens all sorts of secret reserves in him. Unfortunately this love boat hits choppy water, with flirting stops and starts — there are clumsy hormonal advances that lead to hurt feelings and a cello flies through a closed window. A climactic “debate” showdown ensues, and Hal recruits Ginny’s old flame as his new partner and de facto life coach.
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  • The Scene
  • The Nanny Diaries

    Despite a schizophrenically bouncy pop soundtrack and some slick daydream-fantasy sequences, Diaries isn’t the escapist fun it so desperately wants to be. There’s no real pleasure to be had in watching two aimless, unhappy women act out their insecurities on each other. The performers give it their best shot, though, and for a while, Diaries is a notch above the usual Dakota Fanning-Britney Murphy chick-flick fare. As the put-upon Upper East Side nanny Annie, she proves adept at physical comedy. The movie needs as much sweetness and light as it can get, considering that the queen bitch here is comic-book villainous: Mrs. X, as played by the razor-sharp Laura Linney, is a shrill, lacquered trophy wife with too much time on her hands and not nearly enough people to blame for it. Pulcini and Berman are obviously talented — they find countless ways to visualize some of the novel’s most tepid prose — but for all their newfound, big-budget trickery, they can’t hide that they’re working on material that’s beneath them.
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  • The Scene
  • September Dawn

    Voight is a sinister Mormon bishop who deeply distrusts the wagon train of Arkansas cattlemen who’re passing through his land en route to California. These humble Christian wanderers are cast in waves of holy light, though they commit unspeakable transgressions such as breeding race horses and allowing some women (welcome back Lolita Davidovitch) to wear pants. Meanwhile, the Mormons sulk about, spouting scripture and prophecies while riding dark horses in dark cloaks and pointy hats, which make them look like Tolkienesque Ring Wraiths. Despite the starry-eyed passions of ill-fated lovers, paranoia wins and slaughter ensues, as the bloodthirsty Mormons and native allies swarm the cattlemen’s camp.
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Food & Drink

  • Table and Bar
  • Staying Power

    How do you explain the staying power of the exceedingly plain Troy establishment at the corner of John R and Wattles? It may have something to do with the deep-dish pizza, commendable burgers, and 16 sides from the deep fryer. As one would expect in a bar and grill, the Gathering Place features an array of drafts highlighted by the Pabst Blue Ribbon ($3).
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