Saturday, January 21, 2006

Slamdance and the next batch

Okay, there were five films yesterday, two were seen at the Slamdance festival on Main street and the other three were at the press venue at Sundance. I wasn't able to actually get into Slamdance officially, as the press office is on the other end of Main and closed by the time I got there, but a kindly executive producer had an extra free ticket and I was able to see The Call of Cthulu which is a silent featurette about forty minutes long, and The Devil which is about motherhood and old age. It's Polish and really nasty. It was about 40 minutes long too.

As for Sundance, here's the stuff I saw yesterday:


Directed by
Paul McGuigan

For all of those people who've been wondering whatever happened to Guy Ritchie, keep on wondering. He's got another film coming out eventually, but in the meantime, some guy named Jason Smilovic has managed to write a script that's a really good imitation of “Snatch.”

We begin with lots of people getting shot before settling down in an abandoned airport, where a guy named Nick has an encounter with a certain Mr. Smith(Bruce Willis) who tells him the story of a sure thing gone wrong and a move called the Kansas City shuffle. Needless to say, Nick winds up quite deceased. We then cut to Nick's apartment, where his friend Slevin.(Josh Hartnett) , that's his first name, is getting out of the shower where he's accosted by Nick's wacky neighbor Lindsey(Lucy Liu) enters without knocking to borrow a cup of suger. Snappy banter ensues.

Now this isn't your ordinary snappy banter, as all the characters speak in full paragraphs. I'm sure Ms. Liu managed to speak an entire page's worth of dialogue without breathing. It's really something to behold. In fact her performance is the best she's ever done, breaking from type as the hard hearted kung-fu mama, or something like that there, and is perky as hell. But that's getting ahead of ourselves.

Now just after Lindsey leaves, two very nasty black gentlemen escort Sleven from Nick's apartment, still wearing nothing but a towl, and takes him to meet The Boss(Morgan Freeman), to whom Nick owes $96 thousand. In order to pay him back, our hero has to kill the gay son of the Boss's main rival, Shlomo(Ben Kingsley), aka the Rabbi. Meanwhile everybody keeps on talking in full paragraphs and the two godfathers are beginning to rely more and more on Mr. Smith, who's real name is Mr. Goodkat. Things are getting stranger and stranger, and by the two thirds mark, the plot twists into a pretzel that needs to be seen to be believed. Yes, it all makes sense.

It's a silly movie, but in a good way, See it.


Directed by
Julian Jarrold

Now that we're in the 21st century, family films about transvestism should be old hat. Thus we have a ripped-from the headlines tale of one Charlie Price(Joel Edgerton), who inherited a venerable but failing shoe company who rescues a transvestite named Simon(Chiwetel Ejiofor), who calls himself Lola from some hooligans, and then gets inspired.

The company will now make the sexy boots of the title for men instead of old fashioned stuff that used to sell but no longer does for that price. Of course there are problems….

Charlie's fiancée(Jeminma Rooper) hates the town where they live and finds his efforts to save the company both ridiculous and offensive, The relationships between Lola and Charlie, and Lola and the rest of the company after she becomes the corporation's new chief designer is actually more than just stereotypes. Characters grow and change, and the usual predjudices go by the wayside as the big shoe show in Milan gets nearer and nearer.

Ejiofor, who we last saw in “Dirty, Pretty Things” as a doctor is really good as the muscular transvestite, and the rest of the cast gives it the old college try. Geoff Dean and Tim Firth's screenplay has “feel-good politically correct hit of the summer” mushed all over it, and and while it's maniputative as hell, its entertaining. Typical British sitcom writ large.


Written and Directed
by: Baltasar Kormakur

Everybody hates insurance companies, especially when we need them most. The problem is that insurance companies don't want to pay out, and it makes it even worse when the people making the claim are doing it fraudulently.

This is about that sort of thing. Some poor schnook is murdered by a guy named Frank (Jeremy Renner) and it's made to look like an accident. The reason is made clear when the cops find that the charred corpse, who's name is Kelvin Anderson has an insurance policy for a million dollars and has left to his sister Isold(Julia Stiles) so the insurance company sends it's crack investigator Holt (Forrest Whitaker) to find out if the possible claim is legit.

The film is a bit of a wonder, as Holt begins to circle and pick at his quarry. We find out what we don't want to find, and a bizarre love triangle begins to form between Holt, and Isold, and Frank, or is it Kelvin? The bleak scenery of the country, we're not sure where in the 'States it is, except that it's bleak is it summer or winter? Seasons change in minutes from heat wave to blizzard. What will Holt do, turn them in, or let the claim slide. It's a real mystery.

The acting is really good. Whitaker is always good, even when in lousy movies, and it's nice to see Styles back working after a couple of years off. This is definitely worth a look.

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