Other Noteworthy Releases
A fine way to beat the heat and be entertained
German director Caroline Link's debut is a touching, engaging exploration of the relationship between deaf parents (Howie Seago and Emmanuelle Laborit) and their hearing daughter, Lara (Sylvie Testud). When Lara, who has served as her parents' link to the world since she was a child, leaves home to attend music school, she finds herself torn between two worlds, the hearing and the deaf. Nominated for a 1997 Best Foreign Film Academy Award, the film tackles issues of family love and interdependence with just a dash of sentimentality. In German and German Sign, with English subtitles.
Warren Beatty's satire on American politics is a refreshing, first-rate film. He plays Sen. Jay Bulworth, a down-and-out politician who revives his career with an unheard of strategy: speaking the truth. His no-bull approach leads to several amusing foot-in-mouth scenarios, but after hanging in the 'hood with homeboys he wins over new constituencies and a new flame (Halle Berry).
Action collides with human interest in Mimi Leder's calamitous tale about a comet colliding with Earth. When the President of the United States (Morgan Freeman) confirms that the comet's impact is going to cause "an extinction-level event," world leaders scramble to come up with a plan to save as many people as possible. Plan A: blow the rock out of the sky; Plan B: run for cover. Meanwhile, people prepare for Doomsday by making peace with family and friends. Because Leder takes the time to create genuine characters, the post-impact action is not just a special effects big-bang, but a shocking portrait of human loss. With: Téa Leoni, Robert Duvall, Elijah Wood, Vanessa Redgrave and Morgan Freeman.
The perfect remedy for Eddie Murphy's image-shattering cruise around town with a transsexual hooker: good-ole-family entertainment. The genre worked well for him in The Nutty Professor. A brilliant but aloof doctor (Eddie Murphy) finds he's more suited walking and talking with the animals than he is with people. A top-rate comic cast (Albert Brooks, Chris Rock, Garry Shandling) provide the voices of Dr. Doolittle's menagerie. This isn't as tame as the original, so be prepared for an overload of fart jokes.
If size matters, why does this giant lizard, whose stomping ground is the island of Manhattan, barely register on the fear barometer when it lumbers across the big screen? Roland Emmerich's special effects just don't measure up. In all the requisite shots of Godzilla crushing cars underfoot and walloping buildings with his gargantuan tail, this awesome monster is more comical than scary. Which would be fine, if the writers had taken advantage of the comic potential. But poor Matthew Broderick isn't thrown a single funny bone to chew on. He's disappointingly bland as Niko Tatopoulos, the scientist trying to outsmart the beast. The film made the list because as unimpressive as Godzilla is on the big screen, imagine how insignificant the brute would appear on television.
The Hanging Garden
A formerly obese gay man named Sweet William (Chris Leavins) returns to his provincial Nova Scotia hometown to confront a troubled childhood. He arrives in the midst of his sister Rosemary's (Kerry Fox) hectic wedding to find his grandmother (Joan Orenstein) ill and crazy, his father (Peter MacNeill) drunk and violent and his mother (Seana McKenna) on the verge of a nervous breakdown. A dark story of family dysfunction, this directorial debut from Canadian Thom Fitzgerald also manages lots of humor and touches of magical realism.
In Lisa Cholodenko's award-winning debut, former Brat Packer Ally Sheedy delivers a charged, career-revitalizing performance as Lucy, a junkie and has-been professional photographer living in a heroin haze in New York. Her neighbor Syd (Radha Mitchell), a talented editor at a glossy art magazine, knocks on Lucy's door one day and finds herself enthralled by Lucy and her work. Syd offers Lucy a second chance at an artistic career, but their relationship turns into a game of seduction. A powerful look at sex, ambition and addiction.
Kurt and Courtney
Nick Broomfield's gripping documentary about the first couple of grunge is a punch in the stomach for fans of Nirvana's singer, Kurt Cobain. The film explores Cobain's 1994 suicide and entertains the chilling notion that his wife, Courtney Love, may have encouraged the singer to kill himself. Not exactly investigative journalism, the bits and pieces Bloomberg digs up from the singer's friends and family (including Love, whose public outcry against Broomfield's assertions and her efforts to prevent a theatrical release of the film is part of the film) are basically mere speculation. But his portrait of Cobain's world does explore why the singer may have felt death was his only way out.
A Perfect Murder
Andrew Davis's remake of Hitchcock's 1953 nailbiter, Dial M for Murder actually outdoes the original. When Stephen Taylor (Michael Douglas), a coldhearted millionaire, discovers that his trophy wife, Emily (Gwyneth Paltrow), is having an affair, he wants her dead. Instead of killing her himself, he hires her lover (Viggo Mortensen) to do the job. The ensuing dance of death between the three makes for slick suspense. Douglas is in his element, flashing diabolical grins. So is Paltrow, as the shaken, stalked wife who proves capable of exacting a revenge of her own.
A Guide to Summer Movies
Upcoming Blockbusters and Indie Gems