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By |2007-11-15T09:00:00-05:00November 15th, 2007|Entertainment|

November 19, 2007

NEW THIS WEEK:

Fred Claus

Fred Claus (Vince Vaughn), Santa’s (Paul Giamatti) ne’er-do-well older brother, needs quick cash, so he agrees to take a job at the toy factory during the holiday rush. Coldhearted efficiency expert Clyde (Kevin Spacey) arrives at the North Pole at the same time, aiming to shut Santa down for good with a little help from the embittered but unwitting Fred. Too adult for kids but too juvenile for most grownups, this sentimental Yuletide comedy is mostly a misfire. Many of the jokes fall flat, and the story’s trajectory is entirely predictable. Yet, despite its flaws, the movie is weirdly entrancing, mostly thanks to the attractive qualities the three leads bring to the party: Vaughn’s rumpled, slacker charm; Giamatti’s warmth; and Spacey’s acid wit. B-

Kinsey Scale: 1.5 (Long the subject of rumors about his sexuality, Spacey played a gay man in “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” and starred in “American Beauty.” Vaughn starred in Gus Van Sant’s “Psycho” remake and also appeared in “Zoolander” and on “Sex and the City.” Giamatti was in “My Best Friend’s Wedding.” Among their co-stars with queer credits are Elizabeth Banks, Miranda Richardson, John Michael Higgins, Rachel Weisz, Kathy Bates, and Allan Corduner.)

Lions for Lambs

Professor Stephen Malley (Robert Redford) tries to engage apathetic student Todd (Andrew Garfield) by spinning the tale of Ernest (Michael Pena) and Arian (Derek Luke), ex-students whose passion led them to join the military. In Afghanistan, the two young soldiers face enemy fire, while in Washington, hawkish Senator Jasper Irving (Tom Cruise) explains Afghan war strategy to skeptical reporter Janine Roth (Meryl Streep). Redford directed this painfully earnest drama that plays like a position paper on current U.S. military entanglements. To call it a “movie” is to be charitable. Nothing moves – not the glacial pace nor little in the frame beyond not-very-credible battlefield scenes. The heavyweight stars are nothing more than talking heads spouting political rhetoric. A short 88-minute running time feels like five hours. C-

Kinsey Scale: 1 (Among Streep’s queer credits are her roles in “Angels in America” and “The Hours.” Pena was in “Star Maps.” Redford had an early role as a bisexual in “Inside Daisy Clover.”)

No Country for Old Men

Llewewlyn Moss (Josh Brolin) has found an abandoned pickup truck surrounded by dead men. Inside the truck is $2 million. And on the hunt for that money is homicidal Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem), a man who is so brutal and hard that he leaves human destruction everywhere he goes. Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones) is the sheriff on the case, but his own disillusionment with justice is exactly the sort that people like Chigurh count on. It’s not a fun movie, but it’s masterfully epic in its approach to good, evil, greed, justice, human nature, and the cold emptiness to which the characters find themselves inextricably bound. But its darkness is necessary and keeps the film from descending into irony and detachment, something its creators, the Coen Brothers, have been accused of in the past. Not this time. They created possibly the best film of their already-acclaimed career. A

Kinsey Scale: 1 (Bardem played a gay man in “Before Night Falls.” Jones co-starred in “JFK.” Co-star Woody Harrelson had a recurring role on “Will & Grace” and appeared in “She Hate Me.”)

ALSO IN THEATERS:

American Gangster

The pace is slow, and director Ridley Scott wastes too much time exploring Richie Roberts’ failed marriage, but electrifying performances from Denzel Washington, Russell Crowe, and a large supporting cast offset those minor sins. A-

Bee Movie

Jerry Seinfeld gets off a few funny jokes, and Matthew Broderick adds an amiable supporting turn as Barry’s best bee buddy, but this is a mostly a leaden affair, boring for kids and grown-ups alike. C

Dan in Real Life

Juliette Binoche shares so little chemistry with her co-stars that the love triangle never rings true; the three young actresses who play Dan’s daughters are shrill; and a veteran supporting cast is wasted in roles that give them little to do except fill space. Steve Carell generates a few laughs, but those are rarities in this bland and mediocre affair. C-

Gone Baby Gone

It’s an opportunity for the younger Ben Affleck to shine in another 2007 film (the other: “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford”). He’ll be one to watch as the awards season rolls on. 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 27th anniversary.