NEW THIS WEEK:
Deck the Halls
Suburban optometrist Steve Finch (Matthew Broderick) loves Christmas, but his Yuletide spirit deflates when his new neighbor, Buddy Hall (Danny DeVito), becomes determined to decorate his house with so many lights that it can be seen from space. Squabbling over Buddy’s display turns into an all-out war that threatens to ruin not just the holiday, but the men’s marriages. There is not an original scene in this formulaic, completely predictable family comedy, which further suffers from uneven pacing and dead spots that bring the action to a grinding halt. Nevertheless, it has a few funny moments, thanks to the actors’ energetic performances and DeVito’s truculent charm. Most enchanting of all is the dazzling, if garish, light show that graces the Halls’ home, the movie’s true star.
Kinsey Scale: 1 (There is no real queer content, although Steve goes into a panic when he discovers that the town’s otherwise straight sheriff is a transvestite. Broderick’s queer credits include roles in “The Producers,” “Strangers with Candy,” and “Torch Song Trilogy.” Co-star Kristin Davis was “Sex and the City”‘s Charlotte and guest-starred on “Will & Grace.” Co-star Kristin Chenoweth’s queer-themed projects have included “Running with Scissors.”)
ATF agent Doug Carlin (Denzel Washington) must travel back in time to prevent a terrorist incident. Meanwhile, he’s also trying to save the life of a woman (Paula Patton) who may or may not be indirectly connected with the terrorists. Washington has played a self-important pill so often lately – “Man on Fire,” “John Q.” – that it’s genuinely exciting to see him have fun on screen again in this admittedly silly action-adventure. The time-travel sequences feel like a theme-park attraction, and there’s a “we’re-tired-of-feeling-helpless-about-terrorism” undercurrent to the proceedings, but the movie winds up being an entertaining night at the movies – even by Jerry “let’s blow stuff up” Bruckheimer standards.
Kinsey Scale: 1 (Washington played the homophobic lawyer in “Philadelphia.” Co-star Val Kilmer played gay in “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” and starred in the gay-subtext-heavy action epics “Top Gun” and “Batman Forever.”)
Hugh Jackman plays incarnations of the same man over a millennium in this epic drama. Sixteenth-century conquistador Tomas scours Central America seeking the Fountain of Youth; present-day medical researcher Tom seeks a cure for his wife Izzi’s (Rachel Weisz) terminal cancer; and 26th-century astronaut Tom accompanies the Tree of Life to a far-off nebula to re-enact an ancient Mayan myth regarding the origins of life. Darren Aronofsky’s handsome and sweeping meditation on love and mortality suffers from a few silly moments, particularly in the overly New Age and simplistic futuristic sequences. But Clint Mansell’s shimmering, atmospheric score and Jackman’s committed performance lend the film needed ballast. Especially moving is the present-day story, as Jackman touchingly portrays a grief-stricken man refusing to accept the inevitability of death.
Kinsey Scale: 1 (Aronofsky hired Jackman for this film after catching his Tony-winning performance as queer singer/songwriter Peter Allen in “The Boy from Oz.” Weisz had a small role in “Bent.” Co-star Mark Margolis has several queer credits, including roles in “I Shot Andy Warhol” and “Flawless.”)
Tenacious D in: The Pick of Destiny
JB (Jack Black) and KG (Kyle Gass) meet on Venice Beach and decide they want to rock. In order to fulfill their ambitions, they must travel to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to find a legendary guitar pick, the Pick of Destiny. And that’s pretty much it, although this kooky road-trip comedy offers enough interesting adjuncts to the thin plot to keep you laughing. There’s JB’s mushroom trip, where he goes flying with Sasquatch (John C. Reilly) and imagines himself as a Bigfoot Baby. Amy Poehler briefly steals the movie as a hard-bitten, no-nonsense truck-stop waitress. The whole Tenacious D concept – nerdy guys play metal songs on acoustic guitars – can be flimsy, but if you like watching Black spaz out, and you’ve always wanted to see a movie with a Dio cameo, then you won’t be disappointed.
Kinsey Scale: 1 (Black and Gass played gay ventriloquists in “Cradle Will Rock,” and here they sing a fairly homoerotic ditty called “Dude, I Totally Miss You.”)
ALSO IN THEATERS:
All will be revealed in this latest from Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu; and if the results aren’t up to the standards of his breakout debut, “Amores Perros,” this new movie is at least leaps and bounds above his last dreary-fest, “21 Grams.” Much of “Babel” clobbers you over the head with its seriousness, but the performances – especially Rinko Kikuchi’s – will keep you engaged.
Kinsey Scale: 1 (Gael Garcia Bernal, who plays the maid’s brother, kissed another guy in “Y tu mama tambien” and did even more in out director Pedro Almodovar’s “Bad Education.” Pitt starred in the flagrantly homoerotic “Fight Club” and “Troy,” and played a character who was at least bisexual in “Interview with the Vampire.” Blanchett appeared in the gay-themed “The Talented Mr. Ripley.”)
Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan
While Borat is a racist, sexist, homophobic twit who hilariously mangles the English language – he describes sex as “making sexy-time” – the real joke in this satirical “Candid Camera”-style “documentary” is on the Yanks, who are unfailingly polite in the face of Borat’s weirdness, and ignorant enough about Kazakhstan to take his blatherings at face value. Their discomfort and Sacha Baron Cohen’s brilliant adherence to character result in one of the year’s funniest movies.
Kinsey Scale: 1 (Borat is all about making sexy-time with the ladies, but he does wear one of the craziest thongs you’ve ever seen; he also wrestles naked with his producer. Another of Baron Cohen’s “Da Ali G Show” creations is gay fashionista Bruno. Baron Cohen also played the gay NASCAR driver in “Talladega Nights.”)
Daniel Craig proves himself to be just about perfect as the latest 007, a cold-blooded tough guy who’s both brutish and sexy. Eva Green makes for one of the more three-dimensional Bond girls – she’s actually disturbed after watching him kill an assailant – and the film is smart enough to fool you into expecting one resolution and then spring another. Bond – and Bond movies – haven’t been this exciting in ages.
Kinsey Scale: 1 (Craig kissed Toby Stephens in “Infamous,” the second of the Truman Capote biopics, while Green was the female corner of a pansexual love triangle in Bernardo Bertolucci’s “The Dreamers.” Jeffrey Wright, seen here as one of the poker players, won Tony and Emmy awards for his portrayal of no-nonsense gay nurse Belize in Tony Kushner’s “Angels in America.”)