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  • Issue of
  • May 6-12, 2009
  • Vol. 29, No. 30

News & Views

Arts & Culture

  • The Scene
  • Lymelife

    Rory Culkin is Scott, the simultaneously innocent and brooding Caulfield-esque son of a philandering real estate developer (Alec Baldwin) and his stoic but unhappy wife (Jill Hennessey). While his parents’ marriage slowly disintegrates, Scott seeks the company of Adrianna (the wonderful Emma Roberts), the gorgeous and wise-beyond-her-years neighbor he’s always had a crush on. Little does he know that her mom (Cynthia Nixon) is boning his dad, while Adrianna’s sweaty pop (Timothy Hutton) spends his days hiding in the basement, incapacitated by Lyme disease. Things go the way you might expect: Slow, angry family breakdowns, angst-ridden coming-of-age urges and the inevitable gestures toward emotional reconciliation. While there are lots of moment-to-moment truths here, the parts are much greater than the predictable whole.
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  • The Scene
  • Is Anybody There?

    As the Amazing Clarence, an elderly magician facing one final disappearing act, Michael Caine's every nod and grumble offering surprises beyond the limits of the predictable story around him. That story tiptoes on the precipice of treacle, as Caine checks into a creaky English country house, converted into a retirement community loaded with stock elderly eccentrics. There’s the old soldier, the guy who keeps repeating the same phrase, the house busybody, and Rosemary Harris (remember Aunt May?) as a spirited hoofer keen to keep dancing despite her failing legs. The house’s most interesting resident is the most problematic, the bright but morbidly obsessed 11-year-old Eddie (Bill Milner), who records the death rattles of patients and scribbling notes in his ghost journal. All his older pals here keep dying, but he still befriends the gruff and blustery Clarence, who’s secretly grateful for any kind of audience. The old wizard has a trunk full of tricks, and memories, especially of the ex-wife he never got to say goodbye to but never stopped loving.
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  • The Scene
  • Paris 36

    Without an ounce of irony or insight, writer-director Christophe Barratier offers up a 1930s-style tale of a failing theater and the trio of misfits who come together to save it. There’s Pigoil (Gérard Jugnot), the head stagehand who loses his accordion-virtuoso son to a philandering wife, Milou (Clovis Cornillac), a womanizing leftist, and Jacky (Kad Merad), a third-rate impressionist who’s duped into rallying fascist thugs. Toss in a talented ingénue (Nora Arnezeder), a scheming gangster (Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu) and various song-and-dance numbers and you’ve the makings of a postmodern Busby Berkley musical, right? Wrong. There’s no cliché Paris 36 won’t embrace, and this old-fashioned tale of romance, parental love, social strife and (for the Oscar committee) anti-Semitism is as shallow as it is lumbering.
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  • The Scene
  • Ghosts of Girlfriends Past

    Matthew McConaghey plays an aging, self-obsessed but irresistible rogue, one so boyish and playful that ladies can’t keep their paws off him. He’s Connor Mead, a studly celeb photographer who’s so busy bedding one gorgeous actress or model after another that he actually arranges a video conference call to breakup with multiple chicks at once. He takes a brief pause from shameless tomcatting to be best man at his brother’s wedding, where his first love, who keeps getting away, happens to be bridesmaid Jenny (Jennifer Garner). Sooner than you can say Scrooged, various spirits visit our cad — from his first brace-faced ’80s hookup (Emma Stone) to his late Uncle Wayne (Michael Douglas), the creepy playboy role model who coached Connor into a player.
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