Daily Archives: May 12, 2006

The Lost City

Andy Garcia’s first feature as director, an abortive anti-Marxist epic about the Cuban revolution, follows the fortunes of a wealthy Havana family, with Garcia as one of the sons, a nightclub owner. The script is credited to the late, great Cuban expatriate novelist G. Cabrera Infante, but the only traces of his wit are in a closing title and the treatment of Che Guevara (Jsu Garcia) and gangster Meyer Lansky (Dustin Hoffman); Infante also appears as a character of sorts, though casting Bill Murray as such a multicultural figure goes beyond grotesquerie to incoherence. Garcia seems to be aping the Godfather movies and Warren Beatty’s Reds, but the movie’s gracefulness is limited to its handling of the music (some of which Garcia wrote). With Ines Sastre, Tomas Milian, and Lorena Feijoo. R, 143 min. (JR) Read more

Just My Luck

Attending a party, a young Manhattan executive with nothing but good luck (Lindsay Lohan) meets a young janitor with nothing but bad (Chris Pine), and when they kiss, they involuntarily exchange fortunes. Whimsical fantasy tends to work best when its premise is used sparingly, but in this case the fantasy element takes over the story, becoming mechanical and often confused (for instance, simple clumsiness is often conflated with bad luck). No less than five people are credited with the pile-driver script, but the two leads hold up the picture and the New York locations are nicely used. Daniel Petrie directed. PG-13, 108 min. (JR) Read more

Keeping Up With The Steins

I wasn’t looking forward to the prospect of a bar mitzvah comedy in which glitzy Brentwood parents (Jeremy Piven and Jami Gertz) try to outdo their neighbors, with voice-over narration provided by the dubious son. But the real focus of Mark Zakarin’s script is the dad’s resentment of his own father (Garry Marshall), a new age hippie who abandoned the family years earlier and now shows up with a girlfriend many decades his junior (Daryl Hannah). Maybe because director Scott Marshall is Garry’s son, he allows his affable father to steal the movie from everyone else, and his performance proves to be a small gift worth having. PG-13, 99 min. (JR) Read more

Down In The Valley

A rebellious working-class teenager in southern California (Evan Rachel Wood) gets involved with an emotionally disturbed if charismatic young man who fancies himself a cowboy (Edward Norton). Both actors work hard to give this disturbing crime story some flavor and substance, but the narrative is overextended and poorly organized. Writer-director David Jacobson (Dahmer) has reportedly recut the movie since its Cannes premiere; it still feels too long. With David Morse and Bruce Dern. R, 114 min. (JR) Read more

Spatial Acrobatics

Chuck Kleinhans, professor of film at Northwestern University, will screen and discuss two essential structural films, both in 16-millimeter, that challenge the viewer’s sense of equilibrium: Michael Snow’s 52-minute Back and Forth (1969) and Ernie Gehr’s 41-minute Side/Walk/Shuttle (1991). (JR) Read more


A program of 16-millimeter experimental films, including at least two essential itemsHollis Frampton’s Nostalgia (1973) and Paul Sharits’s T,O,U,C,H,I,N,G (1968)and two films by the neglected English filmmaker John Smith, Associations (1975) and The Girl Chewing Gum (1976). 67 min. (JR) Read more

The Death of Mr. Lazarescu

The last day and night in the life of a cranky, ailing 63-year-old widower in the Bucharest suburbs, with an ambulance carting him from one overtaxed hospital to another, may sound like an ordeal, but this 154-minute Romanian odyssey is anything but. Both sad and darkly funny, the film is so sharply conceived and richly populated that it often registers like a Frederick Wiseman documentary, even though everything is scripted and every part played by a professional. This is only the second feature of Cristi Puiu, who claims to have been inspired by his own hypochondria, but he’s already clearly a master. In Romanian with subtitles. Music Box. Read more