Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Wedding Crashers

Posted By on Wed, Jul 20, 2005 at 12:00 AM

This buddy comedy is a throwback to the days in movies when boys could be lecherous, girls could be brainless, booze flowed freely and we called it good fun. Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson play two fast-talking divorce mediators who get their kicks by turning up uninvited to wedding parties and trying to seduce young women. So powerless are these ladies-in-waiting that the mere suggestion of sentiment from these guys gives them estrogen rushes so potent they fall eagerly into the sack. Vaughn is at his hyperactive best, and Wilson plays the perfect laid-back foil.

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Me and You and Everyone We Know

Posted By on Wed, Jul 20, 2005 at 12:00 AM

Don’t believe the hype: Artist Miranda July’s debut feature is cutesy and precious without being particularly meaningful. Borrowing themes from any one of a number of recent indie flicks, July piles on the quirks in the hopes that of creating something unique; but with the exception of John Hawke’s brilliant lead performance, the film is entirely forgettable.

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Happy Endings

Posted By on Wed, Jul 20, 2005 at 12:00 AM

Writer-director Don Roos has a few surprises in his goodie bag — including a right on target performance Lisa Kudrow, and Tom Arnold engaging in a tender love scene with Maggie Gyllenhaal. Packed full of art house up-and-comers and a few Sundance darlings, the movie is set up like a second-rate Short Cuts. The stories and performances are compelling enough, but Roos gets tripped up by employing too many indie film tricks, including running distracting pop-up commentary alongside scenes.

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Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Cut to the chase

Posted By on Wed, Jul 13, 2005 at 12:00 AM

CUTS, a book of writings by minimalist Carl Andre, is as laconic as the floor-bound reductive sculptures the artist creates. Totaling about 250 pages of Andre texts and covering the period from 1959 through 2004, these “cuts” (short-length rather than feature-length writings) include artist statements, letters, postcards, epigrams, poems and...

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Notes from the underground

Hungarian subway is the setting for a tense psychological thriller

Posted By on Wed, Jul 13, 2005 at 12:00 AM

Set entirely underground in Budapest’s labyrinthine subway system, Kontroll is a lush and atmospheric existential thriller with a grimy punk sensibility. A grungy charismatic ticket controller battles rival inspectors, hostile scofflaws, and a shadowy serial killer who shoves random passengers into the path of oncoming trains. Director Nimród Antal combines the high gloss of Hollywood with European art house style to great effect. The film takes you someplace you’ve never been before and offers up a seductively tense film experience.

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March of the Penguins

Posted By on Wed, Jul 13, 2005 at 12:00 AM

In a summer filled with feel-good documentaries, leave it to a group of penguins to steal the show. Luc Jacquet’s documentary follows the annual journey of emperor penguins as they march 70 miles through the unforgiving Antarctic terrain to a remote location to mate. French auteur-writer Jacquet puts a romantic spin on the journey, narrated by Morgan Freeman. The love story may be tenuous, but the penguins are undeniably cute and engaging. Whatever the case, anthropomorphism never looked so beautiful.

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A League of Ordinary Gentlemen

Posted By on Wed, Jul 13, 2005 at 12:00 AM

This documentary about professional bowling follows the 2003 season, including the finals held in metro Detroit’s own Taylor Lanes. Pro bowlers, never having been the world’s sexiest athletes, now try to court the 18- to 35-year-old male demographic, hyping up the sport and playing up lane-side antics like Pete Weber’s signature two-handed "crotch chop" gesture. And yet, one is still painfully aware that it’s just not that interesting to watch people bowl. The best material comes from the personal lives of the bowling vets, who, despite their massive collections of championship trophies, still come off as real people trying to make a living doing what they love.

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Dark Water

Posted By on Wed, Jul 13, 2005 at 12:00 AM

Jennifer Connelly gives an impressive performance as an emotionally shattered mother fighting to retain custody of her daughter after a nasty divorce. Forced to move into a sinister tenement, she struggles to make ends meet while contending with her daughter’s sudden preoccupation with a malicious imaginary friend and a strange, relentless leak from the abandoned apartment above. As a horror film, Dark Water is too predictable to deliver any surprising shocks or scares. As a psychological thriller, however, it stands out with its convincingly complex characters and director Walter Salles’ impeccably creepy sense of craft and taste.

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Undead

Posted By on Wed, Jul 13, 2005 at 12:00 AM

War of the Worlds isn’t the only alien invasion flick in theaters right now. This scruffy sci-fi-horror-comedy hybrid made in 2003 hails from Australia, stealing ideas from the best: Steven Spielberg, Sam Raimi, Peter Jackson. Although it was made for a fraction of what was spent on Tom Cruise’s wardrobe alone, Undead boasts an impressive array of gruesome digital effects, acrobatic stunt work and old-fashioned directorial ingenuity. If its creators were handed a decent script and some better actors, they might actually be on to something.

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Fantastic Four

Posted By on Wed, Jul 13, 2005 at 12:00 AM

The latest Marvel comic book to go through the Hollywood meat grinder, this adaptation is short on action and long on pointless superhero bickering. Fantastic Four borrows heavily from the Spider-Man and X-Men movies, but still fails to create a group of sympathetic heroes, or even an effectively evil nemesis.

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