Daily Archives: April 20, 2007

As Butterflies In The Light

Thanks to a malfunctioning DVD I only saw the first half, but Diego Yaker’s well-acted Argentinean drama (2006) about people employed in Mar del Plata’s fishing industry and their labor disputes looked promising. It concentrates on a 20-year-old planning to move to Barcelona, where his grandfather used to live. 106 min. (JR) Read more


An engineer (Anthony Hopkins) goes on trial in Los Angeles for trying to murder his wife (Embeth Davidtz), and the prosecutor (Ryan Gosling) attempts to push through what appears to be an open-and-shut case but isn’t. With its lavish architecture and Spielbergian lighting, this absorbing thriller has a high-toned look, but director Gregory Hoblit and writers Daniel Pyne and Glenn Gers got much of their training in TV cop shows, which shows in the adroit way they semaphorically abbreviate certain characters and plot developments to slide us past various incongruities. The main interest here is the juxtaposing of Gosling’s Method acting with Hopkins’s more classical style, a spectacle even more mesmerizing than the settings. With David Strathairn and Rosamund Pike. R, 112 min. (JR) Read more

In The Land Of Women

In this first feature by writer-director Jon Kasdan (son of Lawrence Kasdan), a TV writer (Adam Brody) breaks up with a famous actress, runs off to stay with his slightly senile grandmother (Olympia Dukakis) in a Detroit suburb, and finds redemption through the three females of a neighboring familyan unhappy housewife (Meg Ryan) and her two daughters (Makenzie Vega, Kristen Stewart). This comedy drama is capably acted and undeniably touching in spots, although less than two weeks after seeing it, I could remember having been undeniably touched but not much else. PG-13, 97 min. (JR) Read more


A bickering couple (Kate Beckinsale and Luke Wilson) are forced to check into a seedy motel after their car breaks down, and they discover that someone is making snuff videos there, with the occasional guests as victims. How or even whether these videos are marketed is never spelled out, but guess what? The crisis brings the couple back together. Kontroll, the first movie by director Nimrod Antal, has some reputation; I wouldn’t have guessed this on the basis of his second. Then again, 80 minutes of formulaic unpleasantness isn’t even close to my idea of a good time, and I doubt that Hitchcock himself could have done very much with Mark L. Smith’s script. With Frank Whaley. R, 80 min. (JR) Read more


Adrienne Shelly, best known for her roles in Sleep With Me and Hal Hartley’s Trust and The Unbelievable Truth, wrote and directed half a dozen films, three of them features, but this tangy, resourceful comedy drama is the first I’ve seen. Keri Russell plays a gifted pie baker and abused housewife who waits tables at a diner along with two romantically frustrated coworkers (Cheryl Hines and Shelly) and unexpectedly finds herself pregnant. The film isn’t averse to reaching for Hollywood fantasies, but there’s a lot of what seems to be hard-earned wisdom here about women in bad marriages. The men tend to be either idealized (hunky Nathan Fillion, patriarchal Andy Griffith) or monstrously geeky (Jeremy Sisto and Eddie Jemison), and Shelly clearly had fun with all of these caricatures. PG-13, 104 min. (JR) Read more


The fifth feature from Iranian master Jafar Panahi (The White Balloon, Crimson Gold) is in many ways his most entertaining and accessible–a comedy about a group of girls in Tehran who get busted posing as boys so they can watch a World Cup qualifying soccer match between Iran and Bahrain. To some extent it’s a happier and less arty version of The Circle, which also deals with female oppression and concludes inside a police van, but here Panahi treats the guards who must enforce the law, as well as the girls, as comic victims. The director shoots largely on location–parts were filmed at Azadi Stadium during an actual match–and mixes fiction and documentary so deftly we can’t tell which is which. In Farsi with subtitles. PG, 93 min. Reviewed this week in Section 1. a Music Box. Read more