July 20, 2003
By Lisa Yapp
ON THE SCREEN
MATRIX RELOADED: And the Oracle said, “I’ve seen the future and it’s the movie as videogame” and then she said, “Confuse them and they will come back to figure it out”. Hey! You don’t have to understand something to love it! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED especially in IMAX.
WHALE RIDER: Watch out Hollywood, here comes New Zealand! This moving glimpse into Maori tribal culture tells the story of Pai, a young girl, who never stops dancing to the beat of her own tom-tom even when most of her tribe sees her birth as a curse. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for families and kids packing Kleenex.
BEND IT LIKE BECKHAM: This comedy is doing for Indians what My Big Fat Greek Wedding did for Greeks. The difference is that it’s funny, uncontrived and not packed with silly “Hollywood” moments. A total original! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for anybody, including kids.
CAPTURING THE FRIEDMANS: Directed by Andrew Jarecki, the co-founder of Moviefone, this creepy documentary about a Long Island child abuser is getting a lot of buzz. What’s fascinating is that the oldest son, a professional party clown, videotaped every moment as his family fell apart. SORTA RECOMMENDED if you like difficult films about unlikable people doing despicable things.
X-2: X-MEN UNITED: Truth be told. I can’t whistle. So, the idea of having incredible super powers has a certain appeal. The theatre was packed with nerds who can’t put their lips together and blow – but I may be the only one who liked the first one better. It’s fun, but it’s no Blade, Matrix, or Terminator. RECOMMENDED.
BRUCE ALMIGHTY: If you’ve seen the trailer you’ve seen this one already! Jim Carrey’s latest is just like his last. Not funny. They should give awards for the Best Unrealized Premise. How can you mess up playing God? SKIP IT – it’s not almighty awful – but it’s simply lousy.
NOWHERE IN AFRICA: The recent Oscar winner for Best Foreign Language Film tells the story of a spoiled woman who escapes Nazi Germany by moving to Africa with her young daughter and husband. Being practical, she brings her fine china and fancy ball gowns to live in a shack with mud walls. A great script shows how with strength nowhere can become somewhere. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
AT THE TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL
THE LEGEND OF SURIYOTHAI: Set in 15th Century Thailand and directed by a Thai Crown Prince, this $12 million dollar epic is the most expensive Thai film ever made. The Prince used his royal touch to gain access to museum relics, palaces and even conscripted the Thai army to play extras. SKIP IT – unless you speak Thai.
SEVILLE, SOUTHSIDE: Filmmaker, Dominque Abel, ran away from France to become a Flamenco dancer with a Gypsy troupe living in Seville’s worst ghetto. Not stuck with annoying day jobs, they sing and dance their lives away. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED – like looking into a secret world with a great sound track.
ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA: In 1984, this film was released with two hours cut from Sergio Leone’s vision. So this screening was the first time the original four-hour version was seen in the States. Robert De Niro, Jennifer Connelly, and Tuesday Weld showed up for the debut. It’s out now on DVD. SORTA HIGHLY RECOMMENDED – cause it’s still confusing!
GYPSY: If you have never seen Gypsy…well here’s your chance. Sam Mendes (American Beauty) directs a kinder, gentler version of the musical. Bernadette Peters (Mama Rose) leads the lite brigade by softly warbling the tunes that shook the rafters when Ethel Merman did them. Despite Peters having trouble filling Mama Rose’s pumps, it’s still a great night in the theatre. RECOMMENDED –unless you saw Tyne Daly –then, skip it.
NINE: This show is like poison in a perfume bottle. Good design can’t hide deadly contents. Gorgeous woman slither down spiral staircases and tiptoe thru a set that floods like Venice’s Grand Canal. But, when Antonio Banderas, who sings and dances great, puts a gun to his head you aren’t in musical comedy land anymore! Chita Rivera is at such a charmed age that to see her walk (much less tango) is thrilling! Jane Krakowski steals the first Act and maybe the show! But, I would give NINE a five – SKIP IT!
THE PLAY WHAT I WROTE: This comedy, in the Benny Hill tradition is so British I was transported to the West End! It stars an unknown British comedy duo paying tribute to another unknown British comedy duo. Directed by Kenneth Branagh and produced by Mike Nichols, the audience gets a huge surprise with a mystery guest in the second act. (For me – Roger Moore). RECOMMENDED especially if you can get a discounted ticket.
WHITE OLEANDER: A misguided, selfish Mother (Michelle Pfeiffer) tries to control her daughter from prison. Unique and well acted, it held my attention and left me wanting to read the book. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
24-HOUR PARTY PEOPLE: If you came of age in the eighties with pipedreams of making your fortune in the music business…but somehow ended up working in TV…. then this one could be for you. It sure rang my bell. RECOMMENDED.
EVELYN: This is a movie in search of a writer. SKIP IT – it’s so boring you’ll think it’s 3:00 a.m. when it ends.
COMEDIAN: A fascinating documentary about Jerry Seinfeld returning to small comedy clubs to create a new act where there are nights he doesn’t get laughs or can’t even remember his lines! You gotta love that Jerry! RECOMMENDED.
PERSONAL VELOCITY: Three portraits of women struggling with their relationships. Some strong acting makes the characters less like clichés. Each woman finds an answer to her problem in her own speed, which I guess is the basis of the title. RECOMMENDED.
BIG NIGHT: Actors Campbell Scott and Stanley Tucci teamed up to direct the story of two brothers and their early bankrupt restaurant. Lots of big name talent lend a hand in this small budget film that is touching, well acted and has a cult following. RECOMMENDED even though it left me a tad hungry.
STORYTELLING: Written and Directed by Todd Solondz, this isn’t as good as either Welcome to the Dollhouse or Happiness. The screenplay combines two shorts that might have made a big splash in his college screenwriting class, but left me unimpressed. SKIP IT.?