Thumbnails June 07
by Tony Medley
Show Business: The Road to Broadway
(10/10): A fascinating,
backstage story of four musicals (including the smash hit “Wicked”) as
they wend their way from auditions to opening night on Broadway through
The Tony Awards at the end of the 2003-2004 season. Cameras followed all
the principals capturing the highs and the heartaches, but mostly the
hard work, creativity, and love that go into a Broadway musica.l While
the camera unobtrusively follows the creators of the plays, the film is
diminished only by four lunches contrived by Director Dori Berinstein among
theater critics. If it weren't for Berinstein these lunches and
their self-serving, calculated conversations would not have taken place.
The critics come across as so
self-important, it draws a telling
dichotomy between these people who
express little but disdain for what they are seeing, and the love and
devotion of the people who are putting on the shows.
(9/10): Another in a
growing line of good sports movies. The hands in this poker movie are
all from famous hands played in tournaments. Good performances by
Eric Bana, Robert Duvall, and Drew
Barrymore highlight a film I hated to see end.
(7/10): While it has all
the ingredients of the worst of the chick flick genre, lots of talk, a
bad male, and women in crisis, this doesn’t degenerate into total
bathos, thanks mainly to the electric Lindsay Lohan, who is as hot as
any actress who has ever appeared on the screen with her clothes on, and
that includes Monroe and Harlow and Tierney. Without Lohan, this would
be a dud.
Rules (7/10): A chick
flick for guys with an unrealistic, sympathetic treatment of the Mob
(but what else is new for Hollywood that has a long history of
glorifying mobsters?). There is a lot of talk, and they are
unmasculinely touchy-feely with one another, even though they use the
“f” word constantly. Bad language doesn’t necessarily keep it from
qualifying as a chick flick. Despite that, however, this was a
well-written, well-directed, well-acted movie that held my attention and
had me caring about the characters.
La Vie en
Rose (7/10): Another
misguided, depressing film that minimizes the music of a legendary
singer, diminutive (4’8”) Edith Piaf (the movie mystifyingly ignores her
height), with a story of her life fictionalized by the omission of the
many characters, like Cocteau and Montand, that made her life so
entrancing, rising, as she did, from abject poverty to become the queen
of Paris. But watch for a scene near the end where a graphic says it is
1955 but they are driving a 1956 Chevy. Oops! A bravura performance by
Marion Cotillard makes it worth seeing, but don’t expect a concert. Two
of her most popular songs, Milord and the title song, are sung as
background to dialogue. Mon Dieu! In French. Opens June 8.
(6/10): An almost A-list
cast, including Kim Basinger, Forest Whitaker, and Tim Roth, along with
director Mark Rydell, present a pretty good dark story about gambling
that loses its nerve and cops out with a Hollywood ending.
the Caribbean: At World’s End (3/10):
It’s said that if you put 1,000,000
monkeys at the 1,000,000 typewriters, one will type Hamlet. The script
for this film (Ted Elliott & Terry Rossio) is what the other 999,999
will produce. This is just the same infantile, unfunny film as the other
two, only at over 2:45 it’s
longer, hard as that might be to believe if you sat through the others.
(1/10): A silly film aimed
at kindergarten-level intellect without any redeeming entertainment
value. Some woman will have to explain to me how Zach Braff can be cast
and recast as a romantic leading man. Am I missing something?