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Thumbnails April 2009

by Tony Medley

Every Little Step (10/10): This story of the casting of a revival of “The Chorus Line” starts with director Michael Bennett calling 18 “gypsies” together in 1974. For 12 hours they told their stories as the basis for what became “The Chorus Line.” Quarter century later we see auditions for each of the major roles, from the first cattle call. We get to know each of the contestants through interviews which are frank, revealing, and often emotional. What is remarkable and admirable is how these people put everything they have into every audition. Dustin Hoffman, for one, has called auditioning “the lowest depths of misery.” It’s awe-inspiring to see them throw caution to the wind and let it all hang out. If you like Broadway, this is a movie you cannot miss. (Opens April 17).

Harvard Beats Yale 29-29 (10/10): The story of this incredible 1968 game is told by showing game films alternating with the players themselves describing the game, their teams, coaches, teammates, and lifestyles. Many people we know today, like Tommy Lee Jones and Meryl Streep, were involved in the game or the environment. They tell it with such a lack of guile that it is often hilarious. Just as one example, when Jones, who was on the Harvard squad, tells how funny his roommate, Al Gore, was, is asked for specifics, and gives them totally deadpan, I was laughing uncontrollably.

Shall We Kiss? (Un Baiser S’il Vous Plait) (9/10): Writer-director-leading man Emmanuel Mouret qualifies as a brilliant auteur with this charming romantic comedy. Julie Gayet meets Michaël Cohen on a trip. They are attracted to one another, although both committed to other people. He wants to kiss her, and she him, but she is reluctant and explains why. The explanation is told in a flashback in which we meet the main protagonists, Viginie Ledoyen and Mouret. Their clumsy, reluctant romance provides the kind of funny, touching movie at which the French excel. (In French; opens April 10).

Duplicity (8/10): The flashbacks are confusing enough to keep you in the dark until the end when it all gets tied together, sort of. Clive Owen, paired with former “Pretty Woman” Julia Roberts, gives another sparkling performance.

Sunshine Cleaning (7/10): No comedy, this skimpy story provides a surprising vehicle for sparkling tours de force by three of this generation’s most accomplished actresses, Amy Adams, Emily Blunt, and Mary Lynn Rajskub. Just watching Adams, whose facial expressions capture every emotion without seeming effort, is worth the price of admission.

The Edge of Love (7/10): Despite wonderful performances by all the actors, especially Siena Miller (arguably the most beautiful woman in movies) and Kiera Knightley, this emotional but historically misleading film barely scratches the surface of what bohemian boors Dylan & Caitlin Thomas were.

I Love You, Man (2/10): This is another Hollywood diatribe that stigmatizes “real men” as boorish dolts, while extolling epicene misfits as the desired objectification. The dialogue throughout the film is ludicrous, to give it the best of it, and often vulgar. I can’t remember squirming more in a movie.

Miss March (0/10): Like this is such an awesome movie, Dude. Like all the chicks are awesome. Like when they talk to us we are all like tongue-tied and all. Dude, this just like captures the way all us high school intellect dudes are. And there’s like a poop joke that runs throughout that is gross and graphic; and Hugh Hefner giving moral advice! That’s like awesome, Dude.