Now Playing at the Movies

BTL Staff
By | 2006-12-14T09:00:00-05:00 December 14th, 2006|Uncategorized|

December 18, 2006

NEW THIS WEEK:

Apocalypto

When young Mayan hunter Jaguar Paw’s (Rudy Youngblood) village is attacked and destroyed, he is captured by a dying civilization bent on sacrificing him and his fellow villagers. After escaping, he must beat his captors home to save his pregnant wife, while facing perilous obstacles every step of the way. What follows is running, torture, and gore, and then more running, torture, and gore. “Apocalypto” isn’t exactly an art film, but as a tarted-up action flick, it delivers the goods. And if director Mel Gibson’s Mayan-language film fails by thinking it’s saying something important when it’s really just an excuse to revel in bloodshed, at least the bloodshed is wildly entertaining and atmospheric – just not for the weak of stomach.

Grade: B+
Kinsey Scale: 0 (Gibson has made homophobic statements to the press in the past.)

Blood Diamond

In Sierra Leone, mercenary Danny Archer (Leonardo DiCaprio) and fisherman Solomon Vandy (Djimon Hounsou) reluctantly partner to recover a rare pink diamond. While Archer simply seeks a big score, Vandy needs the cash the stone will bring in order to reunite his family in the war-torn region. Edward Zwick’s lengthy drama is part straightforward action adventure; part heavy-handed civics lesson on the diamond trade’s role in financing African conflicts; and part contrived romance, once Archer meets journalist Maddy Bowen (Jennifer Connelly). Hounsou is moving as a desperate man fighting against the odds, and the drama is powerful when it focuses on Vandy’s situation. But it’s too bad that the film is mostly about Archer; DiCaprio’s performance is weak, and his character is mostly unbelievable.

Grade: C
Kinsey Scale: 1 (DiCaprio played queer poet Arthur Rimbaud in “Total Eclipse.” Connelly won an Oscar for playing the wife of probably bisexual John Nash in “A Beautiful Mind.” Co-star Jimi Mistry appeared in the gay romantic comedy “Touch of Pink.”)

Breaking and Entering

Upper-crust London architect Will (Jude Law) has an office that’s constantly being broken into by a Bosnian teen. One day he follows the lad home, meets his mother Amira (Juliette Binoche), and begins having an affair with her. Because, you see, Will may be rich and have a gorgeous home, but his wife is emotionally distant and he can’t relate to his obsessive daughter. Whatever. Even in the capable hands of director Anthony Minghella (“The English Patient”), “Breaking” winds up being just another tedious “upscale pretty white people with problems” movie, despite its stabs at multiculturalism. An able supporting cast – including Robin Wright Penn, Ray Winstone, Martin Freeman (from the original British “The Office”), and the luminous Vera Farmiga – does little to mitigate the tedium.

Grade: C+
Kinsey Scale: 1 (Law had a small role in “Bent,” but his big film break came playing Alfred “Bosie” Douglas in “Wilde.” Minghella also directed Law in the homoerotic “The Talented Mr. Ripley.”)

The Holiday

L.A.-based movie marketer Amanda (Cameron Diaz) and English wedding columnist Iris (Kate Winslet) swap houses over Christmas. Both women are nursing broken hearts, but despite each vowing to spend a man-free holiday, Amanda falls for Iris’ brother Graham (Jude Law), while Iris warms to Amanda’s friend Miles (Jack Black). Writer-director Nancy Meyers seems intent on taxing the patience of all but the most devoted romantic comedy fans with a thin premise, few laughs, unbelievable situations, an absurd length of well over two hours, and characters that are not always likable. And for a romance, it seems odd that the most satisfying relationship in it isn’t either of the love matches, but instead the touching friendship that Iris forms with elderly screenwriter Arthur (Eli Wallach).

Grade: C
Kinsey Scale: 1 (Winslet’s breakthrough role was as a teenage lesbian in “Heavenly Creatures.” Law had early parts in “Bent” and “Wilde,” and co-starred in the homoerotic “The Talented Mr. Ripley.” Black and co-star Ed Burns both guest-starred on “Will & Grace.” Co-star Rufus Sewell appeared in the queer dramas “Carrington” and “A Man of No Importance.”)

ALSO IN THEATERS:

Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan

While Borat is a racist, sexist, homophobic twit who hilariously mangles the English language – he describes sex as “making sexy-time” – the real joke in this satirical “Candid Camera”-style “documentary” is on the Yanks, who are unfailingly polite in the face of Borat’s weirdness, and ignorant enough about Kazakhstan to take his blatherings at face value. Their discomfort and Sacha Baron Cohen’s brilliant adherence to character result in one of the year’s funniest movies.

Grade: A
Kinsey Scale: 1

Casino Royale

Eva Green makes for one of the more three-dimensional Bond girls – she’s actually disturbed after watching him kill an assailant – and the film is smart enough to fool you into expecting one resolution and then spring another. Bond – and Bond movies – haven’t been this exciting in ages.

Grade: A-
Kinsey Scale: 1

Deck the Halls

It has a few funny moments, thanks to the actors’ energetic performances and Danny DeVito’s truculent charm. Most enchanting of all is the dazzling, if garish, light show that graces the Halls’ home, the movie’s true star.

Grade: C
Kinsey Scale: 1

Deja Vu

The time-travel sequences feel like a theme-park attraction, and there’s a “we’re-tired-of-feeling-helpless-about-terrorism” undercurrent to the proceedings, but the movie winds up being an entertaining night at the movies – even by Jerry “let’s blow stuff up” Bruckheimer standards.

Grade: B-
Kinsey Scale: 1

Flushed Away

Furthering its appeal is witty, computer-generated imagery, particularly the rodents’ underground world that re-creates London’s Piccadilly Circus in trash. And while slugs may not sound as if they would make engaging cartoon animals, rendered here as a kind of absurd Greek chorus, they are irresistible.

Grade: A
Kinsey Scale: 1

Happy Feet

Emphasis on predators will frighten young children, while the icky sentimentality may put off grownups. Only when Mumbles cuts loose with his energetic tap routines (courtesy of motion-captured dance great Savion Glover) does this bird-brained saga soar.

Grade: C+
Kinsey Scale: 1

The Nativity Story

The execution suggests the latter, and without any controversy (a factor in “The Passion of the Christ”‘s huge box-office take), the movie’s audience is going to be limited to devoutly religious people who want to feel like they’re in Sunday School.

Grade: C+
Kinsey Scale: 1

Stranger Than Fiction

The entire cast is flat-out wonderful, particularly Will Ferrell. Normally so boisterous in his movies, he is sensational here, cast against type as the introverted, awkward, “quiet” Harold. The ending is a little weak, but until that point, this is a comedy that fires on all cylinders.

Grade: A-
Kinsey Scale: 1.5

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.