Daily Archives: December 16, 2005

The Producers

A Broadway impresario (Nathan Lane) and his accountant (Matthew Broderick) plot to embezzle a million dollars by corralling investors for a show, staging a surefire flop (Springtime for Hitler), and pocketing the leftover funds. Directed by Susan Stroman, this screen adaption of the hit musicalitself an adaptation of the farcical 1967 movie by Mel Brooksis a strange mix of the terrible and the wonderful. Some of the characters are stridently unfunny (Will Ferrell’s Nazi playwright, Gary Beach and Roger Bart’s flaming queens), yet Brooks’s sweetness, innocence, and boundless love of the infantile inform everything from the brassy production numbers (capped by an homage to Jailhouse Rock) to the final credits. Despite the pretense of cynicism, this hokey dinosaur is the precise opposite of Chicago in tone and spirit. With Uma Thurman. PG-13, 134 min. (JR) Read more

Brokeback Mountain

Two cowboys (Jake Gyllenhaal, good, and Heath Ledger, exceptional) share a night of passion while working briefly as sheepherders in 1963, then spend the remainder of their otherwise straight lives tragically concealing their affair. Adapted by Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana from an Annie Proulx story and capably directed by Ang Lee, this is the kind of tasteful tearjerker that’s often overrated and smothered with prizes for flattering our tolerance and sensitivity. Lee focuses on the men’s wasted lives and the heartbreak of their spouses and other relatives, but the movie makes one hanker for the sort of unabashed queer stories found outside the mainstream. R, 134 min. (JR) Read more

The Family Stone

The potential for moral confusion in a liberal-minded family–unpacked so ruthlessly in Noah Baumbach’s The Squid and the Whale–is scrutinized with more ambiguity in this good-natured comic subversion of the holiday get-together. Diane Keaton, in a performance full of unexpected accents and grace notes, presides over a large New England tribe; their open-mindedness is tested when the oldest son (Dermot Mulroney) brings home an uptight girlfriend (Sarah Jessica Parker) for Christmas. All sorts of comic twists ensue, giving most of the characters a good workout. Thomas Bezucha (Big Eden) wrote and directed; with Claire Danes, Luke Wilson, Rachel McAdams, and Craig T. Nelson. PG-13, 102 min. Century 12 and CineArts 6, Chatham 14, City North 14, Crown Village 18, Esquire, Ford City, Gardens 1-6, Golf Glen, Lake, Norridge, Village, Village North. Read more