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BTL Staff
By | 2007-09-20T09:00:00-05:00 September 20th, 2007|Uncategorized|

September 24, 2007

NEW THIS WEEK:

The Brave One

New Yorker Erica Bain (Jodie Foster) finds herself on the wrong side of a mugging when three vicious thugs attack her and her boyfriend (Naveen Andrews). He’s murdered, and in her post-traumatic panic, she buys a gun. Then she uses it. And it’s not just that she’s changed. According to the film, the entire city changes from urban paradise to nonstop murder zone almost overnight. She isn’t imagining it; suddenly everyone “is” out to get her. Trailing the vigilante is a detective (Terrence Howard) who knows what she’s about but is reluctant to stop her. As a pure revenge fantasy, the film succeeds on a gut level, but as a meditation on the morality of that retribution, it gets mired in go-nowhere hand-wringing. With luck, this will end Foster’s run of action-hero films, and she’ll move in a smarter direction. C

Kinsey Scale: 1 (Director Neil Jordan made “Interview with the Vampire,” “The Crying Game,” and the gay-themed “Breakfast on Pluto.” Foster’s Egg Pictures produced lesbian filmmaker Jane Anderson’s TV movie “The Baby Dance.” Howard has made antigay comments to the press.)

Eastern Promises

A diary left behind by a teenager who died during childbirth leads to a world of trouble for London midwife Anna (Naomi Watts). She asks grandfatherly Semyon (Armin Mueller-Stahl) to translate the journal, little realizing that he, his volatile son Kirill (Vincent Cassel), their heavily tattooed driver Nikolai (Viggo Mortensen), and the dead girl are all part of a Russian mob family. Suspense master David Cronenberg has constructed a slick, involving thriller that offers an extra punch through its evocative immersion in this underground world. Anna is a weak link, since some of her actions defy logic, but the rest is so fascinating that it scarcely matters. Nikolai’s tattoos and the story they tell are worth the price of a movie ticket by themselves. A-

Kinsey Scale: 3 (Kirill is gay, though in denial, and that factors into the action driving the story. The chiseled, nude Mortensen has a fight in a steam bath that is fraught with homoerotic overtones. Cronenberg also directed “M. Butterfly” and “Naked Lunch.” Watts’ breakthrough role was in “Mulholland Drive” as part of a steamy lesbian twosome. Mueller-Stahl worked with legendary queer director Rainer Werner Fassbinder on “Veronika Voss.”)

Mr. Woodcock

In school, John Farley (Seann William Scott) was tormented by sadistic P.E. coach Mr. Woodcock (Billy Bob Thornton). Then Farley grew up, moved away, and became a successful self-help author. When he returns home to visit his mother (Susan Sarandon), Farley learns that she’s not only dating Mr. Woodcock, she’s about to marry him. What follows is an intermittently funny series of wacky intervention attempts as Farley and his grudge-carrying school buddies try to break up the happy couple. As throwaway sitcom-level cinema goes, it’s inoffensive and occasionally witty (especially when “Saturday Night Live” star Amy Poehler pops up as a bitter publicist), guaranteed to attract an undemanding audience based on its winking, innuendo-filled marketing campaign alone. But its talented cast deserves better – and so do thinking audiences. C-

Kinsey Scale: 1 (Minor, middle-school-level antigay epithets get tossed around among the male characters. Sarandon famously starred in the lesbian cult favorite “The Hunger.” Scott is notorious for making out on camera with more than one male co-star.)

ALSO IN THEATERS:

3:10 to Yuma

Director James Mangold does not stint on the often visceral action, but the emphasis is on character. Christian Bale’s performance is too timid, rendering Dan Evans as wooden as the character’s prosthetic leg, but Crowe invests Wade with a cocky charm that does not quite conceal simmering rage. B

Balls of Fury

An equal opportunity offender, the movie offers dumb, stereotypical jokes about Asians, gays, women, and portly white guys. Dan Fogler bombs in his first starring role, displaying not an ounce of charisma. Only Walken, with his trademark weird delivery, ekes a few laughs out of the weak material.
C-

The Bourne Ultimatum

Motivation and characterization are sketchy at best, but it scarcely matters, as director Paul Greengrass amps up the adrenalin and suspense in this stylish, globetrotting adventure. The action rarely flags, and Matt Damon is superb, rendering Bourne’s most outlandish actions completely believable. A-

Hairspray

The songs are infectious, costumes and set design are eye-popping, and director/choreographer Adam Shankman leads the ensemble through some wicked dance moves. The entire cast – led by adorable newcomer Nikki Blonsky and a surprisingly endearing John Travolta in the drag role of Tracy’s mother Edna – appears to be having a blast. A

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

That’s not to say the film shortchanges viewers on adventure or action – both of which are in plentiful supply – but the higher the stakes in the war of good vs. evil, the darker the tunnels the maturing characters have to travel. In other words, leave the little ones at home. B+

Mr. Bean’s Holiday

A huge exception to that rule is the hilarious Cannes Film Festival sequence, with Willem Dafoe as a pretentious American director. The film-within-the-film and the havoc Bean wreaks on it are a brilliant satire of art films, their fans, and their makers. B

The Nanny Diaries

There are few laughs to be had in a situation that is absolutely horrifying. Laura Linney and Paul Giamatti are excellent, but they are so convincing as terrible parents and even worse employers that they rob the situation of any humor. C

{BOLD The Nines
}
A witty, involving script keeps the tone light, as each segment explores the relationship between artist and creation. The film is a showcase for Ryan Reynolds, whose trio of appealing and distinct performances proves there’s more to him than a pretty face and a perfect six-pack. A-

Romance & Cigarettes

It’s loose with plot and constantly in danger of spinning out of control (one musical number centers on Gandolfini undergoing adult circumcision), but it’s got a brazen sense of humor. Kate Winslet is especially hilarious, potty-mouthed and sex-starved – an artistic license that’s unlike anything else on movie screens this year. B-

Rush Hour 3

The action sequences are serviceable, and the two leads are a weird, box-office-friendly combination of endearing and embarrassing. It’s definitely a lazy film, in spite of its elaborate action sequences, but at least it’s not offensive. B-

Shoot ‘Em Up

The film hedges its bets by supplying Mr. Smith with a sympathetic past to keep the audience on his side, turning it all into a condescending one-joke marathon of gunfire. C-

The Simpsons Movie

The laughs come steadily, with the “Itchy and Scratchy” cartoon that opens the film and Homer’s interactions with his porcine companion providing particular hilarity. The only downside is that even though the movie is nearly 90 minutes long, many beloved regular characters are relegated to little more than cameos. A-

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 25th anniversary.