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Capsule reviews by Thomas Delapa (TD) as indicated.
Red River was never like this, pardner. I wouldn't call director Ang Lee's gay-themed breakthrough a "metrosexual" Western, but I reckon it would at least cause John Wayne to roll over in his grave. Then again, what was all that funny business about in Red River when Montgomery Clift and John Ireland compared their six-shooters? Potshots aside, Lee has moved a mountain, or at least nudged it out of the closet. He and screenwriters Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana have taken Annie Proulx's preciously short story and branded it with compassion and humanity. But it's the low-key acting of Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal that takes Brokeback to the heights. In 1963, Ledger's Ennis Del Mar and Gyllenhaal's Jack Twist meet as strapping young cowboys on the Wyoming range. With Michelle Williams and Anne Hathaway. Rated R. At Colony Square, FlatIron, Mayan, Chez Artiste, Landmark Crossroads. —TD
Georges (Daniel Auteuil), a French TV talk-show host, receives an anonymous videotape of the exterior of the Paris apartment he shares with his wife (Juliette Binoche) and young son. In the days that follow, he receives more tapes, accompanied by disturbing cards--perhaps threats against his son. Or is the mystery deeper, involving the guilty past that Georges thought he erased? Director Michael Haneke's enigmatic Cache (Hidden) reveals its secrets slowly, so slowly in fact that you almost wish it came with a fast- forward button. Considering the recent riots in France's immigrant enclaves, hidden inside Cache you'll find an impeccably timed political theme about the entrenched consequences of colonialism. You'll also find an arty preciousness that puts the long in longueur. Unrated. At Esquire. — TD
In many contemporary "biopics" the central performance outmuscles the movie. Whether Jamie Foxx in Ray or Philip Seymour Hoffman in Capote, uncanny impersonation has become the Holy Grail. As the novelist who penned Breakfast and Tiffany's and In Cold Blood, Hoffman does an impeccable Truman Capote, capturing his fey manners and high-pitched patter. From a book by Gerald Clarke, Bennett Miller's film underlines the five-year period in which Capote wrote his ground-breaking 1966 "nonfiction novel," In Cold Blood. Capote doesn't pan out as full-bodied biography, but it does spin a cautionary tale of cold-blooded journalism. In Miller's view, Capote made a Faustian bargain with fame that sentenced him to his own private prison. With Catherine Keener. Rated R. At Landmark Crossroads, Mayan. — TD
King Kong gets small, very small, in this cheery big-screen version of the popular series of children's books by H.A. and Margret Rey. Orphaned in Africa, our mischievous monkey hitches a boat ride to New York City, where he's befriended by an absent-minded anthropologist who must save his museum from getting paved over and turned into a parking lot. Sprinkled among the monkey business are a couple of mellow songs by Jack Johnson. Like a lot of human tots, George doesn't say much, but wherever he goes, disaster is sure to follow. Voices by Will Ferrell and Drew Barrymore. Rated G. At FlatIrons, Colony Square. — TD
A spoof of romantic comedies which focuses on a man, his crush, his parents and her father. Rated PG-13. At FlatIron, Colony Square, UA Village 4.
See Screen review. Rated R. At FlatIron, Colony Square.
If I hadn't seen Harrison Ford at his grimmest in Firewall, I would have never found out how you can steal $100 million from a bank simply by using a iPod. Your expressions may equal Ford's as you watch him grimace through another one of his family-in-jeopardy thrillers. Led by a steely eyed Brit (Paul Bettany), a gang invades Jack's Seattle home and takes his family hostage. The crooks' cunning plan: To force Jack to embezzle a fortune from the bank where he's the computer-security chief. Whatever Firewall's smoldering subtext, director Richard Loncraine abandons it for the Ford star download. Forget all the high-tech gadgetry. If brute force is the only thing these creeps understand, then our mild-mannered hero is sure to answer the bell with his fists, not his cell phone. With Virginia Madsen. Rated PG-13. At FlatIrons, Colony Square, UA Village 4. — TD
See Screen review. Rated R. At FlatIron, Colony Square.
You can take Woody Allen out of Manhattan, but you can't take Manhattan out of Woody Allen. Match Point is a rare Allen foray away from his beloved New York City. He takes his game to London for another study of love and death, husbands and wives, and crimes and misdemeanors. If that sounds like a run-on sentence, that's because Allen is a run-on filmmaker. In this game of mixed doubles, Chris (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), a former tennis pro, is the player to watch. Allen makes use of his new milieu, tapping Brit witticisms and an upper-crust ambience. But he also brings some familiar baggage on his trip. Chris' copy of Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment is just one sign that Allen wants to school us in Tragedy 101. With Scarlett Johansson, Matthew Goode and Emily Mortimer. Rated R. At UA Village 4. — TD
In these vengeful times, director Steven Spielberg has made a bold statement about the follies of blind, eye-for-an-eye reprisal. From a book by George Jonas, Spielberg takes us back to the terrible events of the 1972 Olympics, where Palestinian terrorists murdered 11 members of the Israeli team. Soon after, Israel dispatched a covert squad of assassins to Europe to hunt down the Palestinians responsible for planning the massacre. As we watch Avner (Eric Bana) and his team relentlessly go about their grisly business, Spielberg dares to imply that such violence is anathema to religious and ethical beliefs. What this courageous film lacks in narrative dynamics—and factual precisions—it deserves a medal for suggesting a higher law than decreed by the great god of nationalism. With Daniel Craig and Geoffrey Rush. Rated R. At FlatIron, Boulder Theater. —TD
North By Northwest (1959)
"I am but mad north-northwest," says Hamlet, and so too is Roger O. Thornhill (Cary Grant) in Alfred Hitchcock's culminating "wrong man" thriller of his American years. Mistaken for a secret agent, Grant makes his escape from New York City to Mt. Rushmore, trailed by a shifty Ophelia (Eva Marie Saint), a suave mastermind (James Mason) and a fatherly CIA chief (Leo G. Carroll). Hitchcock's direction is a little flabby, but for sheer enjoyment, there's no better primer on the master's methods, from the U.N. frame-up to the classic crop-duster scene. With Martin Landau. At Boulder Public Library. — TD
North Country (2005)
While watching movies "inspired by a true story," we should always wonder what is true and what is, mmm, inspiration. North Country can't make a claim of great veracity, despite being based on a landmark sexual-harassment case. What saves this bracing drama from the slag-heap is its acting, as well as the charged atmosphere that taps a vein of historic truth. Charlize Theron is Josey Aimes, a Minnesota single mom who takes a job at a mining company outside town. A massive open wound in the earth, the mine is strictly the pits. Despite the Midwest locale, Caro digs up a made-in-Hollywood courtroom climax in which the women—including the invalids—must stand up and be counted. With Frances McDormand, Sissy Spacek, Woody Harrelson and Sean Bean. Rated R. At Nederland Backdoor Theater. — TD
The Pink Panther
Trying to fill some huge paw prints, Steve Martin won't make you forget Peter Sellers' Inspector Clouseau, but neither will he make you see red. In a return to his wild and crazy days as the Jerk, Martin confidently bumbles his way through this slapstick semi-remake, mixing pratfalls with mangled Franglish. Martin gets help from Kevin Kline, who gets the thankless foil role as the Chief Inspector Dreyfus. Director Shawn Levy also bumbles along, stepping in a pile of bathroom jokes. But Martin keeps gamely plugging away with his squinty-eyed poker face, tracking down a super-sized diamond, sizing up a sexy singer (Beyonce Knowles) and wrecking hotels with all the enthusiasm of a sixties rock band. With Emily Mortimer and Jean Reno. Rated PG. — TD
Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada
A ranch hand looks to fullfill his promise to a recently deceased friend by burying him in his hometown in Mexico. Rated R. At Landmark Crossroads, FlatIron, Chez Artiste.
A woman playing a man playing a woman, Felicity Huffman is Bree, an L.A. transsexual who goes on a cross-country road trip with the street-hustling teenage son she never knew she had. To make matters even messier, Toby (Kevin Zegers) thinks Bree is a Christian church lady. Duncan Tucker's patchy road movie takes the dysfunctional family to the outer limits of The Twilight Zone. As the deadpan ersatz heroine, Huffman should either should be nominated for an Oscar or given the Hilary Swank Award for best Gender-Bending of 2005. But Swank has nothing on Huffman: In her big breakdown scene, she cries and drools at the same time. Rated R. At Esquire, Landmark Crossroads. — TD
Why We Fight
Eugene Jarecki's documentary explores American militarism and foreign policy. Rated PG-13. At UA Village 4.
World's Fastest Indian
No, it's not the Jim Thorpe story. Nor does it have anything to do with the Calcutta marathon. Writer/director Roger Donaldson's peppy road movie runs on a rich performance by Anthony Hopkins, one of the screen world's greatest actors. For those audiences who only know Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter, here's your chance to see him act without chewing scenery--or anything human. His Burt Munro is 1960s New Zealand eccentric who only wants to ride his Indian "motorsickle" to a land-speed record. Donaldson returns to his semi-native homeland for another crack at Munro's obscure true story--which also inspired his 1971 documentary. But it's Hopkins who kick-starts this movie, transforming it into a affable saga about an aging rebel with a cause. With Diane Ladd and Chris Lawford. Rated PG-13. At Landmark Crossroads. — TD
WEEKLY VIDEO PICK
Pleasantville (1998). Though writer/director Gary Ross works in some heavy-handed strokes, his portrait of stodgy Eisenhower America dazzles with some of the loveliest imagery of any 1990s film. Two modern teens are zapped into 1950s sitcom, a perfectly bland, black-and-white land of mohair sweaters, saddle shoes and Brylcreem. But the new Bud (Tobey Maguire) and Mary Sue (Reese Witherspoon) are catalysts for a change in channels. While Dad (William H. Macy) simmers, Mom (Joan Allen) leaves her kitchen, Bud brings a book to the malt shop and Mary Sue scores with the basketball star. Little by little, tell-tale patches of color erupt around town, leaving the elders flush with paranoia. With Jeff Daniels. Rated PG-13. — T.D.
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