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by Tony Medley
International (8/10): Loosely based on a true story, Clive Owen, who
should have been chosen to play James Bond, is out to bring down a
corrupt bank in this thriller. I
couldn’t figure out why Naomi Watts is in the cast. She adds nothing but
beauty. The anti-climactic shootout at the Guggenheim is preposterous, a
letdown for a film that has established verisimilitude up to that point.
It’s a fun shootout, but so ridiculous that it weakens the film.
New in Town
(7/10): Terrific supporting performances by Siobhan Fallon Hogan and
J.K Simmons bolster fine performances by Renée Zellweger and Harry
Connick, Jr. in this oft-told story but feel-good film. Hogan and
Simmons speak in accents that are enchantingly reminiscent of William H.
Macy and Frances McDormand in “Fargo”
(1996), making their scenes entrancing to watch.
Confessions of a Shopaholic
owes its entertainment value to the outstanding acting by Isla Fisher
(who sparkles), Hugh Dancy (who brings freshness and excitement to a
role that could have been pretty bland), Krysten Ritter (who creates a
bizarre character with aplomb), and the rest of the cast, many of whom I
have admired in the past. First is Wendie Malick. I got to appreciate
her in her scintillating role in “Dream On,” an inventive 1990-96 HBO
sitcom. Then there’s Julie Hagerty, who stands out in my mind for her
terrific performance in Albert Brooks’ brilliant “Lost in America”
(1985). Both can still bring it. Everyone contributes to a surprisingly
(at least for me) entertaining result.
He’s just not
that in to you (7/10 for women; 3/10 for men):
Since this is created by Greg Behrendt and Liz
Tuccillo, who wrote “Sex and the City,” it should come as no surprise
that this is as chick-flicky as chick flicks come. The women, save one,
are all wonderful, tender, thoughtful, and sensitive, while the men are
wimpy or whipped or cruel, guys so stereotyped they would be comfortable
in beer commercials. Peopled by an all-star, A-list ensemble cast, if
these people are typical of today’s 20- and 30-year-olds, I’m glad I was
born when I was. I doubt if I’m alone among men when I say I found the
film annoying. Do these chick flicks really reflect the way today’s
young women are? It’s a depressing thought.
(1/10): Good performances by Isabella Rossellini, Gwyneth Paltrow,
Vinessa Shaw, and even Juaquin Phoenix are pretty much wasted in this
implausible, depressing film about a bi-polar man and his relationships
with two beautiful women, one a druggie, in which entertainment value
was ignored by the makers. Never has a film flunked the watch test as
badly as this one did. More scenes with Rossellini would have improved
it. But watching a 120-minute film like this, even though Gwyneth does
bare her breasts, makes each second seem like an hour.
Panther 2 (0/10): Steve Martin is trying to revive the Peter
Sellers/Inspector Clouseau franchise and his performances are
excruciating. Even though the Clouseau films, created by Blake Edwards,
consisted mostly of relatively unfunny, unentertaining, bland spoofs,
while Sellers played Clouseau as a bumbling fool who didn’t recognize
his ineptitude, he was lovable. Martin’s take is to play him as an
unlikable egomaniac. In effect, Martin is not playing Clouseau, he’s
playing Sellers playing Clouseau and it is a dismal thing to watch, made
worse by the dreadful accents the actors adopt. There is nothing
remotely funny in this film. It’s not a coincidence that
and Columbia waited until
the dead of winter to release this bomb.