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BTL Staff
By | 2007-01-24T09:00:00-04:00 January 24th, 2007|Uncategorized|
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Cassandra’s Dream
Ian (Ewan McGregor) needs cash to fund an investment that will support the posh lifestyle he imagines with his new actress girlfriend (Hayley Atwell). At the same time, his brother Terry (Colin Farrell) has racked up huge gambling debts. Their rich uncle Howard (Tom Wilkinson) agrees to give them the money, but only if they murder his business partner. Woody Allen’s third British outing is a straight drama with few laughs and little suspense as the morality tale spins not on what the boys actually do, but on how their consciences react. The yarn is tissue-thin and contains only one real mystery: How did Allen manage to take McGregor and Farrell, two of today’s most charismatic actors, and bleed them of all charm and personality?

Grade: C-
Kinsey Scale: 1.5 (McGregor was bisexual in “The Pillow Book” and gay in “Velvet Goldmine”; he also starred in the Rock Hudson/Doris Day homage, “Down with Love.” Farrell played bisexuals in “A Home at the End of the World” and “Alexander.” Atwell appeared in the queer miniseries “The Line of Beauty,” and Wilkinson played transsexual in “Normal.”)

Cloverfield
Rob (Michael Stahl-David) is leaving Manhattan for a new job in Japan. A going-away party is being held in his honor. A friend is holding a video camera to document the party. And then the city is attacked. What happens next is nearly 80 minutes of intense, hand-held camera point-of-view horror and madness. To divulge more plot would cruelly spoil the excitement. But the filmmakers have absorbed all the good lessons of “The Blair Witch Project” and learned from the mistakes of sloppy action directors like Michael Bay and created a blast of explosively horrifying fun. It”s the first summer movie of 2008, thankfully delivered in January, one that the real summer movies are going to have a tough time beating in the thrills-per-minute department. Prepare to come out of your seat. A

Kinsey Scale: 1 (Co-star Lizzy Caplan played “Janis Ian” in “Mean Girls.” Screenwriter Drew Goddard formerly wrote for “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”)

Mad Money
Bridget (Diane Keaton) is an upscale woman whose husband (Ted Danson) has been “downsized” by his well-paying corporate employer. A quarter million dollars in debt and with their home on the block, Bridget takes a job at the Federal Reserve and convinces two co-workers (Queen Latifah, Katie Holmes) to help her steal money that’s about to be destroyed. The comedy should begin here, and Keaton’s presence alone should be enough to carry the movie, but she’s battling a rotten script and limp direction that muzzles her talents. As a heist movie, it’s unimaginative and derivative, as a comedy it’s flat and lifeless, and as a women’s buddy-movie it lacks a strong point of view and interesting characters to make audiences care enough. Only hardcore fans should even bother sneaking in. D

Kinsey Scale: 1 (The movie is directed by Callie Khouri, screenwriter of “Thelma and Louise.” Queen Latifah has played a lesbian in both “Chicago” and “Set It Off.” Holmes co-starred in “Wonder Boys.”)

27 Dresses
Jane (Katherine Heigl) has been a bridesmaid 27 times and is obsessed with the idea of getting married. Into her life walks a reporter (James Marsden) who is simultaneously falling for Jane and also bent on secretly manipulating her into participating in an article that will mock her and rip the lid off the scam that is the wedding industry. Meanwhile, Jane’s self-absorbed sister Tess (Malin Akerman) is about to marry the man Jane loves (Edward Burns), forcing Jane to help. Only-in-movies plot machinations ensue, Jane and Tess are both humiliated, and a bizarre ending where happy fairy-tale resolutions trump female dignity turns this dull, unfunny “chick flick” into a nightmare for enlightened female viewers everywhere. Avoid at all costs. D-

Kinsey Scale: 1 (No queer content, but co-star Brian Kerwin played Harvey Fierstein’s boyfriend in the film “Torch Song Trilogy.”)

ALSO IN THEATERS:

Alvin and the Chipmunks
Young children will love this sort of thing, but adults will most likely be split into different camps: those who grew up on the Chipmunks themselves, disappointed that the beloved cartoon characters have been tampered with at all, and those who clearly remember that the little guys were pretty obnoxious the first time around, so any modern take isn’t going to be that off the mark. In any case, this is squarely a children’s film, neither great nor awful. Adult enjoyment is an afterthought. C+

Atonement
Christopher Hampton has written a literate, haunting script, the handsome period drama getting an extra lift from Keira Knightley and James McAvoy’s wrenching performances as the heartbroken couple. A

The Bucket List
Director Rob Reiner continues to retreat from the wit of movies like “When Harry Met Sally” and set up shop in a world where cheap sentimentality and cliches take the place of real comedic human interaction. Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson seem to be having a good time, but it’s unlikely that you will. C-

Charlie Wilson’s War
Because the movie is based on the true story of real people, starring likable A-listers, it’s a dark comedy that never gets dark or politically pointed enough. Only the hilariously caustic presence of Philip Seymour Hoffman as a disgruntled CIA man keeps this “War” from turning into a total misfire. C+

Enchanted
Disney spoofs itself with this witty, adult-friendly, cockeyed musical fairy tale, albeit shakily at first, as the animated riff on “Cinderella” and “Snow White” is excruciatingly saccharine. But the story soon finds its comic footing as sweet, oblivious Giselle first appalls and then charms Robert. Amy Adams is adorable, James Marsden is hilarious as the dimwitted royal, and Patrick Dempsey is his usual dreamy self. B+

The Golden Compass
The computer-generated images, from imagined cities to floating airships to the animal “daemons” that represent each person’s soul as an entity that lives outside the body are gorgeously rendered and completely bewitching. A

The Great Debaters
Directed by Denzel Washington, this inspirational story is based on real events and packs an emotional punch, so long as it concentrates on the team and the debates. But when the focus widens to include Tolson’s labor organizing activities and a lynching, the tonal shift is jarring, as the drama deflates into a dry, if worthy, history lesson. B-

I Am Legend
Once it becomes a monster movie, the drama loses steam, the suspense and horror inherent in the premise dissipating under an onslaught of creatures that are obviously nothing more than ridiculous computer-generated inventions. B-

Juno
A smart script and standout performances, especially from the immensely talented Ellen Page, lift “Juno” out of the teen romantic comedy heap and make it an engaging, female-centered alternative to “Knocked Up.” A

The Kite Runner
English actor Khalid Abdalla is excellent as a lifelong moral coward who finally learns to transcend fear, but the soul of the movie lies in the moving performances of Afghan children Mahmidzada and Zekeria Ebrahimi, who plays the young Amir. B+

No Country for Old Men
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

P.S. I Love You
It is an odd love story in which flashbacks to the marriage reveal a less than happy union. No surprise there: she’s a shrew, and her grating Irish mate comes across as a strapping, handsome version of the Lucky Charms leprechaun. A talented cast and some beautiful locations are wasted on this dreck. D

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
It’s extremely gory but fiendish fun, a meditation on evil, revenge, irony, and futility that could only be made by a director as willfully weird as Burton. Consider it a twisted holiday gift from both a director and star who were seemingly destined to bring out each others’ strengths. A

There Will Be Blood
Though Daniel Day-Lewis’ performance is overly mannered, the drama provides a searing, unforgettable portrait of avarice – at least until it goes off the rails in its ridiculous final scenes. B+

The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep
This family film’s quality lies in its solid production values and its ability to straddle the expectations of audiences on either side of the generation line – both a sweet fantasy for children and a parable about growing up that adults will find unexpectedly moving. 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.