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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Bisexual healing

Oh, the messiness of personal discovery

Posted By on Wed, May 30, 2007 at 12:00 AM

Look Both Ways: Bisexual Politics Jennifer Baumgardner Farrar, Straus and Giroux 256 pp; $24 "Cringing is often a sign of unfinished political business," according to feminist author Jennifer Baumgardner. She should know. Since 2002, Baumgardner has been spearheading the confessional "I had an abortion" campaign — most recently captured in...

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Juggernaut down

The new Pirates — rock ’n’ roll swagger or played-out hit?

Posted By on Wed, May 30, 2007 at 12:00 AM

World’s End picks up where Dead Man’s Chest left off. Will Turner (Orlando Bloom), Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) and their motley crew have teamed up with Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) and Tia Dalma (Naomie Harris) to rescue Captain Jack (Johnny Depp) from Davy Jones’ Locker after being eaten by the Kraken. Why? Because East India Company CEO Lord Beckett (a monumentally bland villain) is in league with the tentacled Captain Davy Jones (Bill Nighy) and hell-bent on ridding the world of freedom-loving pirates. Mixed into this seemingly straightforward tale, however, are the Nine Lords of the Brethren Court (think an appropriately useless United Nations of pirates), the redemption of Bootstrap Bill Turner (Will’s Dad), a romance between Davy Jones and Tia Dalma (who is actually the Goddess Calypso), the delayed nuptials of Will and Elizabeth and a heavily scarred Chow Yun-Fat who’s wasted as the Chinese pirate lord, Sao Feng. To say the film is overpopulated is an understatement. With so many irrelevant and poorly developed subplots, World’s End becomes an exhausting parade of expository exchanges and unresolved detours punctuated by some impressive action scenes and set pieces.

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Waitress

Posted By on Wed, May 30, 2007 at 12:00 AM

Actor-turned-filmmaker Adrienne Shelly was murdered last fall in her apartment in Manhattan — the victim of a homicidal building worker with a grudge — but she leaves behind one modest, bittersweet reminder of her candy-coated tomboy sensibility. A fairly typical small-town Cinderella story — that is, if Cinderella were knocked up and baking pies in a diner — Waitress has an appealing nasty streak to it, a cold, hard center that ultimately melts away when the film is exposed to the furnace-like warmth of motherhood. Until that moment, when our proud mama Jenna (Keri Russell) gets a glimpse of her newborn “parasite,” writer-director-co-star Shelly and her cast are able to add notes of grace and ambiguity to what is essentially a feature-length episode of Alice, or maybe an unusually sweet, “very special” Roseanne.

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Paris,

Posted By on Wed, May 30, 2007 at 12:00 AM

Even the most Francophobic Yank will find something to enjoy in Paris, Je T’aime, a collage of cinematic flash fiction that caters more to an audience’s taste for sample platters than its hunger for French fare. Featuring 18 vignettes directed by such filmmaking luminaries as Gus Van Sant, the Coen Brothers, Alexander Payne, Wes Craven, Alfonso Cuarón, and Tom Tykwer, Paris, Je T’aime avoids the travelogue trap of savoring the landscape while forgetting the plot (Under The Tuscan Sun anyone?) by focusing on people instead of place.

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Jin

Posted By on Wed, May 30, 2007 at 12:00 AM

With Jindabyne, Australian filmmaker Ray Lawrence (the excellent Lantana) has put all the focus a Raymond Carver story, So Much Water So Close to Home but broadened the scope of its masterfully written 25 pages. A melancholy study of a household fractured by guilt and depression, Jindabyne also examines how family, community and the media can blow miscommunication and lapses in judgment out of proportion. Gabriel Byrne plays Stewart, one of four friends who discover the body of a murdered aboriginal girl while fishing in their secluded “secret spot.” Instead of hiking back to report it to the police, the men decide to tie the body to a log and continue with their weekend of fishing. This questionably callous choice ends up having profound personal consequences. When Stewart’s wife, Claire (Laura Linney), learns what’s happened, the couple’s already damaged relationship begins to crumble.

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From the vaults

Posted By on Wed, May 30, 2007 at 12:00 AM

One night, an airplane’s jet engine crashes into Donnie’s bedroom. The teen survives, however, because he’s sleepwalking, following a voice inside his head. That voice belongs to Frank, a nightmarish re-imagining of Harvey. Frank tells Donnie that the end of the world will occur in “28 days, 6 hours, 42 minutes and 12 seconds.” As their relationship grows and Donnie’s teenage anxieties spill over into acts of rebellion, it becomes unclear whether Frank is a figment of Donnie’s imagination or a visitor from another time.

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

No parking

If it’s satire you want, go rent an old Luis Buñuel film

Posted By on Wed, May 23, 2007 at 12:00 AM

The new farce The Valet is tailor-made for a pack of unruly, Ritalin-doped 13-year-olds. The dialogue is simple and easy to understand, the characters are all easily identifiable Gallic stereotypes, and there’s a slew of juvenile sex jokes and double entendres to keep even the biggest drooling underachievers occupied. To be fair, if anyone’s earned the right to make a hoary, predictable comedy of errors, it’s Francis Veber, his reputation being the reason for the bevy of talented actors who sign on to mug their way through his films. Be warned: If The Valet were any more classically farcical, you’d find a clip of it embedded in the Wikipedia definition of the word.

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Shrek the Third

Posted By on Wed, May 23, 2007 at 12:00 AM

Every fairy tale has a core of hidden wisdom, and the moral of this soggy third adventure of everyone’s favorite Ogre seems painfully clear: Beware of sequelitis. Overstuffed, overloaded and underfunny, Shrek the Third commits every sin in the sequel handbook, a shame; since the hero of this once-subversive series is the kind of lovable malcontent that uses rules for toilet paper. Worst of all are the confirmed sequel ruiners — the babies. Not just slime-spewing ogre tots, but the weirdly fugly-cute offspring of Donkey and Dragon, a coupling still too freaky to imagine. They don’t add much to the storytelling, but they sure make for cuddly dolls, and that adds to the franchises bottom line, which for Dreamworks at least, means a happy ending after all.

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The Princess Bride

Posted By on Wed, May 23, 2007 at 12:00 AM

Though the movie helped solidify Rob Reiner’s career as a director, the real credit goes to William Goldman’s clever and eminently quotable script, which carefully walks the line between satire and sincerity. Adapting his own novel — written for his daughters — Goldman’s fairytale pokes fun at sword and sorcery epics even as it revels in their swashbuckling heroism and declarations of true love. Chock-full of witty repartee and over-the-top conceits, The Princess Bride has real thrills, real romance and a really good time.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Clive talkin’

Posted By on Wed, May 16, 2007 at 12:00 AM

Clive James's essay about G.K. Chesterton in his new book reaches a conclusion that any arts lover could live by: "Either in life or in the mind, there can be no such rigid division of the classical and the fashionable. A work of art has to be judged by its...

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