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Now Playing at the Movies: Evening, Sicko …

By |2018-01-16T09:30:07-05:00October 31st, 2017|Entertainment|

July 9, 2007

NEW THIS WEEK:

Evening

As she lies in bed, slowly dying of cancer and hovering between consciousness and morphine-inspired dreams, Ann Lord (Vanessa Redgrave) drifts back to her past when she was young (played by Claire Danes) and in love with a man named Harris (Patrick Wilson). Ann’s adult daughters (Natasha Richardson, Toni Collette) learn about Harris for the first time, and the resulting conflicts, both internal and external, surrounding that knowledge and the imminence of their mother’s death, unearth years of resentments and unifying bonds. This adaptation based on Susan Minot’s novel delivers too many characters and not enough restraint, substituting visual shorthand and easy emotional cues for real depth. It’s a valiant effort from a gifted writer and an A-list cast that includes Meryl Streep and Glenn Close, but in the end it suffers from a too-heavy touch. C+

Kinsey Scale: 2 (Co-screenwriter Michael Cunningham is gay, and Hugh Dancy plays a vaguely gay young man who adores both Claire Danes’ and Patrick Wilson’s characters. Meanwhile Streep, Wilson, and Close have all played gay characters in their respective careers, Collette has co-starred in multiple gay-themed projects, and Danes starred in the gay-inclusive TV show “My So-Called Life.”)

Live Free or Die Hard

A routine job escorting hacking suspect Matt Farrell (Justin Long) to FBI headquarters in Washington turns into a high-octane, pedal-to-the-metal struggle to save America from cyber terrorists for New York cop John McClane (Bruce Willis). This fourth “Die Hard” installment, the first in a dozen years, reinvigorates the franchise by mixing down-and-dirty action with a suspenseful tale that riffs on post-9/11 paranoia. The special effects are excellent, but the vibe is decidedly old-school, with plenty of adrenaline-pumping stunts, grand explosions, and a symphony of crashing vehicles. As always, Willis excels in a role that perfectly fits his sardonic, “regular Joe” persona. McClane is less action hero than blue-collar, stand-up guy determined to set aside personal safety and fear to get the job done. A

Kinsey Scale: 1 (Among Willis’ co-stars, Kevin Smith in his other guise as a filmmaker made the straight guy/lesbian romantic comedy “Chasing Amy”; Mary Elizabeth Winstead played Warhol actress Ingrid Superstar in “Factory Girl”; Zeljko Ivanek was an “Oz” regular; and Timothy Olyphant played a gay photographer in “The Broken Hearts Club” and a bisexual actor in “Advice from a Caterpillar,” and appeared on “Sex and the City.”)

Sicko

Michael Moore returns with a documentary about the crumbling U.S. health-care system. Filled with personal horror stories of health insurance nightmares that resulted in agony, bankruptcy, and death, the film contrasts the private insurance and pharmaceutical company-run system with government-run systems in Canada, England, and France. And in the film’s most incendiary segment, Moore escorts under-insured 9/11 volunteer rescue workers to the terror-suspect prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba – where there’s free, immediate medical treatment for all detainees – for the help they need. Love him or hate him, this time around Moore has made a film that no side of the political fence can afford to ignore. It’s his most mature film to date and makes an impassioned, reasoned – and, oddly enough, funny – plea for the richest country in the world to finally use its resources to take care of its own. A

Kinsey Scale: 1 (Moore has been an outspoken advocate for gay rights and once included a segment about gay freedom riders on a pink bus on his former TV show, “The Awful Truth.”)

ALSO IN THEATERS:

A Mighty Heart

The film’s strength is in its documentary-like style as it follows the investigation, but John Orloff’s screenplay offers nothing new to anyone who is already familiar with the tragedy. More fatally, the story never connects in any emotionally resonant way, and neither does the miscast Angelina Jolie, who is too self-conscious to sink into this woman’s skin. B-

Evan Almighty

Though clearly aimed at Christian moviegoers, the inane, simplistic story – a follow-up to 2003’s “Bruce Almighty” – and the portrayal of the Almighty as jovial, but mean-spirited are insults to that target audience. What humor there is mostly falls flat; even the usually hilarious Steve Carell is not funny. D

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer

It’s a fairly unimaginative adventure, a semi-slog that would benefit from much more action than it delivers, especially since real suspense about the fate of the Earth is beside the point when the Fantastic Four are in the mix. But children – the target audience of this PG-rated live-action cartoon – will enjoy themselves quite a bit, and parents won’t be too put out by the experience. Here’s hoping the inevitable third film delivers the goods. C+

1408

Assisted by some truly creepy atmosphere and freaked-out jolts, he turns what could have been a by-the-numbers disposable haunted-house film (adapted from a Stephen King story) into a really fun ride into the dark. B+

Hostel: Part II

According to writer-director Eli Roth, it’s political, as the film mirrors real-world realities of Americans causing and suffering death in foreign lands. And if you can accept a gore-filled horror film with aspirations to something more than simple-minded brutality, then this bloody fantasy is an artistic success, more than just the sum of its chopped-up parts. B

Knocked Up

It’s a no-holds-barred adult comedy that maintains a sense of genuine sweetness amidst the R-rated humor, making it the best American comedy of the year so far. A

La Vie en Rose

Olivier Dahan meticulously recreates the time periods he does deign to cover, made more evocative by the real-life Piaf’s passionate vocals on the soundtrack. But mostly the drama succeeds because of the virtually unrecognizable Marion Cotillard’s sensational, moving, and completely committed performance. B+

About the Author:

BTL Staff
Between The Lines has been publishing LGBTQ-related content in Southeast Michigan since the early '90s. This year marks the publication's 27th anniversary.