Friday, April 22, 2005

Movies opening this week

The Interpreter (Nicole Kidman, Sean Penn, Catherine Keener, dir. Sydney Pollack)
My review in Las Vegas Weekly
This has been getting a lot of middling to poor reviews, although some critics really seem to like it, and I think my own approval of it is due mostly to the general paucity of good thrillers. Not that this is a bad thriller, but it's kind of slow and ponderous, with moments of excellent suspense. I think a lot of critics are disappointed less with what the film does than with what it doesn't do, i.e. really hit head-on the political issues that it kind of dances around. It's very tasteful and restrained, which isn't necessarily always good, but I think it's unfair to expect real nuanced political commentary from such a big, mainstream thriller, and, moreover, from a middlebrow director like Pollack. Slate has a very interesting analysis of Pollack's career, which makes him out to be one of the great hack directors along the lines of people like Arthur Miller and Norman Jewison. Not that people like that can't turn out great movies; it's just that they do so almost by happy accident than anything else. And The Interpreter isn't a great movie, but it's a pretty good one, and worth a look. Wide release

Kung Fu Hustle (Qiu Yuen, Wah Yuen, Stephen Chow, dir. Stephen Chow)
My review in Las Vegas Weekly
I'm in the extreme critical minority on this one, but unlike many movies where I disagree with critical consensus, I'm not going to hold people who love this movie in contempt. It's certainly unique and different, and if you like slapstick or martial arts (neither of which are my favorite genres), you may give it more latitude than I have. Even so, I did find it repetitive and tiring, and quite unengaging and hollow beyond its flashiness. Opened limited Apr. 8; wide release this week

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