Friday, April 08, 2005

Movies opening this week

Millions (Alex Etel, Lewis McGibbon, James Nesbitt, dir. Danny Boyle)
My review in Las Vegas Weekly
I expected to really like this movie and I just...didn't. I mean, I liked it okay, but it wasn't nearly as good as I had hoped from seeing the trailers and reading the glowing reviews. I think smart, complex kids films, especially live action ones, are one of the rarest commodities in cinema, so I was looking forward to this adding to that small canon. It doesn't quite get there, and I honestly wonder how well kids will appreciate it. Still, it gets points for trying, and Boyle's visual style is fascinating as usual. Opened limited Mar. 11; in Las Vegas this week

Off the Map (Joan Allen, Sam Elliott, Valentina de Angelis, dir. Campbell Scott)
This movie is so slow and low-key that it might as well be asleep. Actually, at times Scott's camera kind of aimlessly drifts across the scenery as if the cameraman did fall asleep. One of those films that mistakes the lack of dialogue for meaningful silence. The script, adapted from a play and boy does it feel like it, is way too mannered, pretentious and ponderous to produce anything other than a stagy, too-precious drama. There are only two things that save this from being a complete mess, and they are the actors and the landscape. Set in rural New Mexico and showcasing the natural beauty of the land, the film follows a sort of hippie family in the 1970s who live without electricity, running water or phone service. Allen is the best thing about nearly every movie she's in, and this is the second movie of hers in as many months that I haven't liked but have been unable to fault her for. She's just an amazing actress. Even de Angelis, who plays the completely unbelievable precocious kid, is great, and the annoying nature of her character is never the fault of her acting. I wish this cast and setting could get a better script and a director who could stay awake. Opened limited Mar. 11; in Las Vegas this week

Sahara (Matthew McConaughey, Penelope Cruz, Steve Zahn, dir. Breck Eisner)
My review in Las Vegas Weekly
I have nothing to add about the film itself, but I think the dispute between the studio and Clive Cussler, the author upon whose novel the film was based, could be something interesting. There's not a lot of press on it, mainly because Cussler hasn't done any interviews, but I've read that not only does the film change details of the book's plot - which, let's be reasonable, is something that happens in nearly every adaptation - but it also excises the serious conservative and jingoistic side of Cussler's writing, which is something that's barely been talked about. I'm actually surprised conservative commentators haven't brought it up as some example of liberal Hollywood squashing other points of view - for all I know it's exaggerated anyway, since I haven't actually read the book. But I'd be interested in learning more (without, of course, actually reading the book). Wide release

No comments: