Film » Film Clips

Film Clips

Mr. Brooks, Nancy Drew, Pirates 3, others

by

comment

Current Releases

AWAY FROM HER Iris would have seemed to be the first and last word on movies dealing with Alzheimer's disease, yet here comes Away From Her to provide it with troubled company. Like that somber drama, this new picture, which marks the assured directorial debut of 28-year-old actress Sarah Polley (The Sweet Hereafter), proves to be a difficult, unsettling watch, all the more so for those who have lost someone to that dreadful disease. Yet what both films also share is a commitment to portraying the ravages of that affliction with clear-eyed honesty, tracking not only the effects on its victims but also on the caretakers who provide support even as their loved ones are fading away right before their eyes. Judi Dench was remarkable in Iris, yet it was Jim Broadbent who walked away with an Oscar. Similarly, most reviews have focused on Julie Christie's superlative performance, but it's really the Canadian veteran Gordon Pinsent who holds the film together. As his character watches his wife place a frying pan in the freezer or bond with a fellow patient (Michael Murphy) because she can't recall that she even has a husband, he draws us in with his stillness, his whispered frustrations, his seething impotence. His character's silence is deafening; you can hear his heart break a mile away. ***1/2

GEORGIA RULE On the heels of Jane Fonda's disastrous return to the screen in Monster-In-Law, it's clear that the career resuscitation isn't going exactly as planned. Fonda's Georgia, a family matriarch who runs her household the way a drill instructor lords over greenhorn recruits, is a one-note shrew, and one of this schizophrenic movie's greatest failings is that it never acknowledges that it's this woman's puritanical behavior which started the chain reaction partly leading to the miserable circumstances that plague her daughter Lilly (Felicity Huffman) and her granddaughter Rachel (Lindsay Lohan). Then again, it's not just Fonda's fault that Georgia is a poorly realized character; blame also must be directed at scripter Mark Andrus and director Garry Marshall. Marshall in particular has no clue how to orchestrate the movie's heavy themes involving alcoholism (Lilly), nymphomania (Rachel) and possible child abuse (Rachel claims she was repeatedly molested by her stepdad when she was 12); after all, he's the director who viewed mental retardation as little more than an amusing character quirk in The Other Sister. Here, he tries to lighten the movie's mood by having Rachel give a blowjob to a nice Mormon boy who's seriously trying to serve God (har har) and then painting the lad's girlfriend and her pals as the story's heavies. Worthy mother-daughter sagas reached their zenith with 1983's magnificent Terms of Endearment; Georgia Rule, by contrast, fails to elicit much in the way of any genuine emotion. If there's not a dry eye in the house when Lilly and Rachel finally hug, it's only because audiences will have cleared out by that point. *1/2

KNOCKED UP Director Judd Apatow's The 40-Year-Old Virgin was unique in that it managed to successfully mix raunch with romance. Knocked Up, which reunites Apatow with Virgin supporting player Seth Rogen, attempts a similar balancing act, only it falls a tad short of attaining the same success as its predecessor. There's a sweet love story on view here as well, only because it's more rushed and not allowed to unfold at a natural clip, it ultimately plays second string to the picture's comedy quota. Fortunately, on that front, the movie's an unqualified hit: It's doubtful another film will be released this summer -- maybe even this year -- that offers as many theater-rumbling belly laughs as this one. Rogen plays Ben Stone, a slacker who meets and has a drunken one-night stand with Alison (Katherine Heigl), who's out celebrating the fact that she has just been promoted to an on-air position at E! Entertainment Television. Alison learns a few weeks later that she's pregnant, and she decides that she and Ben (with whom she discovers she has nothing in common) should attempt to make their relationship work for the sake of the baby. Apatow fails to sufficiently flesh out their courting period between that initial tryst and the birth of the child; still, thanks to the sweet performances by Heigl and especially Rogen, there's plenty of warmth to be drawn from the resultant drama. Yet in this picture, it's comedy that's king, with a nonstop barrage of great lines as well as deft contributions from a capable cast. ***

MR. BROOKS Forget A Tale of Two Cities. What we have here is a tale of two halves, one superior, the other execrable. Assembling three actors whose careers have seen better decades -- Kevin Costner, William Hurt and Demi Moore -- director Bruce A. Evans has crafted an initially intriguing thriller about a beloved philanthropist (Costner) who occasionally moonlights as a serial killer whenever the voice inside his head (personified in the flesh by Hurt) urges him to go hack somebody up. The detective (Moore) who's been on his trail for years feels that she's getting close to breaking the case, thanks to the presence of an eyewitness (Dane Cook) who might turn out to be as certifiable as Mr. Brooks himself. The film's first half is powerful stuff, thanks to the unique setup (presenting Mr. Brooks' alter ego as a physical manifestation shouldn't work, but it does), Evans' moody direction and exquisitely matched performances by Costner and Hurt. It's a shame, then, to see the second part go to hell, as the screenplay by Evans and Raynold Gideon gets out of too many narrative jams by relying on whopping coincidences (these don't stretch credulity, they shatter it in a million pieces) and one ill-advised (and obvious) dream sequence. Like its leading character, Mr. Brooks suffers from a split personality, and it's unfortunate that the wrong one comes out on top. **1/2

Add a comment