Archive for April, 2004

Nothing attractive about “”Laws””

April 30, 2004

Watching gifted actors play against type can be amusing when there


Give “”Dogville”” a bone

April 30, 2004

Frontier America

“”Mean Girls”” bear their teeth

April 30, 2004

In my day we called them Heathers, based on the dependably dark Winona Ryder-Christina Slater comedy of the same name.

“Laws of Attraction”

April 30, 2004

“Laws of Attraction” is a pleasant, lightweight romantic comedy. A good date movie. An attractive cast goes through the motions.


“Laws of Attraction” Does Not Have Irish Luck

April 29, 2004

Romantic comedies tend to make a habit of pitting would-be lovers initially against each other. What most romantic comedies- good ones, anyway- do not tend to do is interject a flow of events so utterly incomprehensible they might as well wear red signs that read “plot device.”

Unfortunately, “Laws of Attraction” does just that. Saddling light, enjoyable material with a string of silly debacles that include multiple visits to a foreign country (Ireland), Aline Brosh McKenna’s screenplay turns an already flimsy concept into chemistry-less mishmash. The most disappointing thing about “Laws” isn’t the lack of sparks between leads Pierce Brosnan and Julianne Moore- or the failed attempt at recreating incomparable screwball comedies from the 1940’s. It’s that the completely unnecessary scenes in Ireland are, by far, the most entertaining moments in the movie.“Laws of Attraction” stars Moore as Audrey Woods, a brilliant divorce lawyer with a predilection for junk food (hastily eaten pre-trial in a bathroom stall), and an even stronger aversion to dating. Supposing that mutual self-absorption and plenty of alcohol are sure formulas for romance, the screenplay introduces Daniel Rafferty (Brosnan) a charming, if slightly rumpled, fellow lawyer representing Audrey’s client’s soon-to-be ex. Audrey’s never lost a case, but then again, neither has Daniel. As Moore’s neurotic character struggles to maintain her composure, Brosnan’s takes it upon himself to charm her silly.Directed by Peter Howitt (of the much more ingenious “Sliding Doors”), “Laws of Attraction” starts out strong, introducing charismatic characters with quirks aplenty, and setting them up for an instant, hearty fight. When Audrey and Daniel abruptly have sex and even more abruptly get married, the film swiftly goes downhill, losing sight of its nimble direction and resorting to juvenile gags (the least funny involving Daniel flashing Audrey’s underwear in court.) After Daniel’s client wins, an infuriated Audrey is left whining to her mother (Frances Fisher), who is far more interested in her daughter’s love life than in law. Things take a spin for the absurd when divorcing celebrity clients (Michael Sheen and Parker Posey) hire the reluctant lovebirds and send them packing off to Ireland, where Daniel and Audrey accidentally tie the knot. Why Ireland? The couple, grungy rock star Thorne Jamison (Sheen) and spoiled clothes designer Serena (Posey) both insist on custody of a “fairy tale castle” nestled in the Irish countryside, and their respective lawyers dutifully fly to record depositions from the castle’s staff.There are several problems with this. 1) Lawyers would NEVER be allowed to argue a divorce case, of all things, after marrying each other. Yes, it’s a film and clearly fictional, but this is a bit much; and 2) Why do they have to go to Ireland to “interview the help”? Whatever happened to a telephone? The scenes in Ireland are, admittedly, a lot of fun to watch, and Moore and Brosnan look marvelous against the sprawling countryside. But this is such a darn unsubtle plot device it makes the screenplay lose all credibility. Moore, a two-time Oscar nominee, and Brosnan, perhaps the classiest male movie star alive, are far too accomplished for the shallowness of this material. They seem to wander through their scenes on autopilot, adding none of their usual uniqueness to increasingly one-dimensional roles. While Moore is brilliant in dramas like Louis Malle’s little seen “Vanya on 42nd Street” and the recent “Far From Heaven”, comedy isn’t her strong suit. Channeling Thomas Crown, Brosnan fares better, but their bicker-banter antics are more annoying than amusing. Several laugh-out-loud moments- mostly involving Fisher’s portrayal of Moore’s exercise-obsessed, collagen injecting mother, as well as Sheen and Posey in top form as the fickle celeb couple- serve more as misplaced randomness than as relevant jokes.Ultimately, “Laws of Attraction” is a harmless but forgettable would-be Hepburn/Tracy comedy that tries, with minimal success, to spice things up in several Ireland sojourns. I’m hoping that the chance to visit pubs and four leaf clovers were the sole factors enticing all involved to sign on to this fluffy, unmemorable affair.Grade: CEM ReviewBy Jenny Halper

Community Service: Sean tackles the “”Police Academy”” box set

April 28, 2004

Can you believe there were seven different

“Man on Fire”

April 27, 2004

“Man on Fire” is a long, edgy vengeance movie with lots of violence, mayhem, murder, and pyrotechnics. Performances are good; photography is all over the map; plot leaves a lot to be desired.

GRADE = “B-“

“Raising Helen”

April 27, 2004

“Raising Helen” tells the story of the youngest of three sisters who is the only single but inherits another sister’s three school-age children. A two hour L-O-N-G sitcom from Garry Marshall. Do yourself a favor and see the trailer but skip this movie.

GRADE = “C-“

DVD Format Versions

April 26, 2004

Back in the day when DVD’s were relatively new, most that I bought had the option to watch the movie in widescreen format or full screen format. For awhile now I’ve wondered why we now have to make a choice on which version to purchase. Personally I like the widescreen version, eventhough I currently do not own a widescreen tv, because I want to see the true theaterical version. The widescreen formats seem to out-sell the general full-screen version anyway, so why create two types? It seems that it would be more costly to create both rather than just one with both on the same DVD set. Anyone know why the industry went in this direction?

The one thing I’m quite happy about is the packaging. They seem to all be in plastic cases now rather than the flimsy cardboard ones. 🙂

TV on DVD: MI-5

April 23, 2004

Has anyone seen MI-5 ? A friend just loaned me the DVD set and I must say, its incredible ! The cast is terrific and the storytelling is – in a word – gripping. I mean it grabs you by the lapels and roughs you up a little bit. When watching only the second episode of the series, I wanted to jump through the screen and throttle the villain with my bare hands.

A phenomenal cast headed up by Matthew MacFayden(Tom) and Keeley Hawes(Zoe) takes the source material and runs with it. There is not a cast member on the program who is not making a fine contribution to the program. The thrills and action of a James Bond film in bite-size, hour-long format.

Not sure when A&E airs it, but you should really check it out. One caveat, the Brittish version runs darn near the full hour time limit, which means A&E is slicing out nearly 15 minutes of program to bring it to us. But try a taste and then get your hands on the first season of MI-5 on DVD. You won’t regret it.

My Grade: A+