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BTL Staff
By | 2007-10-04T09:00:00-05:00 October 4th, 2007|Entertainment|

October 8, 2007

NEW THIS WEEK:

Feast of Love

Unlucky cafe owner Bradley (Greg Kinnear) keeps finding love in all the wrong places. Cafe workers Oscar (Toby Hemingway) and Chloe (Alexa Davalos) are madly in love, but a fortune-teller predicts doom. Elderly Harry (Morgan Freeman) and Esther (Jane Alexander) still love each other after many years, but grief over their recently deceased son threatens to tear them apart. This well-intentioned, if heavy-handed, melodrama means to say something deep about love and relationships, but can never rise quite past the level of daytime soap opera in a story that is entirely dependent on cliche, coincidence, and contrivance. Still, it’s a glossy, handsome production that boasts a handful of fine performances. Freeman, who also narrates, and Alexander are particularly wonderful; their scenes together are genuinely moving. B-

Kinsey Scale: 2 (Selma Blair plays Bradley’s first wife, who leaves him for another woman; but in spite of a semi-steamy scene between her and her lover, the couple serves as little more than a plot device, and they quickly vanish from the screen. Kinnear received an Oscar nomination for playing the queer neighbor in “As Good as it Gets,” and he also appeared in “Auto Focus,” “The Matador,” and “Little Miss Sunshine.” Selma Blair has other queer credits, including roles in “In & Out” and John Waters’ “A Dirty Shame.” Among their co-stars, Radha Mitchell’s breakthrough role was in the lesbian drama “High Art,” and Fred Ward was in “Henry and June.” Queer musician Stephen Trask composed the film score.)

The Jane Austen Book Club

An eclectic group of Sacramento women (Maria Bello, Emily Blunt, Kathy Baker, Amy Brenneman, Maggie Grace), each one with a love life in need of help, decide to soothe their spirits by forming a reading group devoted solely to the works of Jane Austen. They include one lone male newbie (Hugh Dancy), and together the group explores its favorite books while the members’ lives echo the themes of their reading. Feeling like a Lifetime movie that somehow made its way into a theater, this is a sweetly dull, romantically banal film, but it gets points for taking the lives of women as seriously as the characters’ 19th-century literary heroine did. Just don’t expect Austen’s Mr. Darcy to come in and sweep the film off its feet. B-

Kinsey Scale: 3 (Grace plays the lesbian daughter of Brenneman, and her love life is a plot thread here. Co-star Marc Blucas was a regular on the gay-inclusive “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”)

The Kingdom

When a terrorist attack kills hundreds of Americans in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, FBI agent Ronald Fleury (Jamie Foxx) and his team travel to the country to investigate. Neither the Saudis nor the State Department are happy with this development, but Fleury and his local escort, Colonel Faris Al Ghazi (Ashraf Barhom), are determined to solve the crime. This loud, jingoistic, utterly predictable thriller offers a simplistic geopolitical lesson and noxious stereotypes galore as it ekes out extra tension by playing off post-9/11 paranoia. The politics, as well as the committed performances from Foxx, Barhom, and a solid-gold cast that includes Chris Cooper, Jennifer Garner, and Jason Bateman, are only window dressing for a standard action flick that is moderately suspenseful until undone by a ridiculous climax. B-

Kinsey Scale: 1 (There is a single, completely throwaway queer joke. Cooper appeared in “Capote” and played the deep-in-denial neighbor in “American Beauty.” Among the supporting cast, Jeremy Piven was a regular on “Ellen” and guest-starred on “Will & Grace,” Frances Fisher had a role in “Female Perversions,” and Richard Jenkins has multiple queer credits that include roles in “Six Feet Under,” “Flirting with Disaster,” and “And the Band Played On.”)

ALSO IN THEATERS:

3:10 to Yuma

Christian Bale’s performance is too timid, rendering Dan Evans as wooden as the character’s prosthetic leg, but Russell Crowe invests Wade with a cocky charm that does not quite conceal simmering rage. B

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

Casey Affleck and the supporting cast are strong, but Brad Pitt delivers a leaden performance, and his celebrated charisma is missing in action. More disastrous is the voiceover narration that attempts to fill plot holes and enhance James’ legend, but only succeeds in irritating. C-

Balls of Fury

Dan Fogler bombs in his first starring role, displaying not an ounce of charisma. Only Christopher Walken, with his trademark weird delivery, ekes a few laughs out of the weak material. C-

The Bourne Ultimatum

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-

The Brave One

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 Jodie Foster’s run of action-hero films, and she’ll move in a smarter direction. C

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.