Friday, June 03, 2005

Movies opening this week

3-Iron (Lee Sun-yeong, Jae Hee, Kwon Hyuk-ho, dir. Kim Ki-duk)
I loved about the first two thirds of this movie, and then toward the end it lost my interest a little. The two leads are silent almost the entire film, and Kim and the actors do an amazing job of conveying all sorts of complex emotions just with looks and gestures. The first half, with Jae as a drifter who sneaks into people's houses and does their laundry, takes pictures of himself and fixes household items, is mesmerizing, even more so when he meets Lee's damaged housewife and they form an unspoken bond. When Kim gets into metaphysics in the latter part of the film, it loses some of its simple beauty, but remains a poetic and haunting movie, very much worth seeing. Opened limited Apr. 29; in Las Vegas this week

Cinderella Man (Russell Crowe, Renée Zellweger, Paul Giamatti, dir. Ron Howard)
My review in Las Vegas Weekly
Sometimes I wonder if I am too hard on films like this for being predictable and sentimental, because they are, in their own ways, effective at what they do. David Edelstein gives a good defense of liking this movie in spite of its overwhelming schmaltziness, and while I respect his opinion, I still come to the conclusion that no, I am not being too hard on this movie. Films that are accorded this much prestige and Oscar attention should be more daring and demanding. Even Million Dollar Baby, which I thought was horribly overrated, took more risks and did more interesting things. Wide release

Layer Cake (Daniel Craig, Colm Meaney, George Harris, dir. Matthew Vaughn)
My review in Las Vegas Weekly
It's sort of a bummer that Vaughn dropped out of directing the next X-Men movie. Not because Layer Cake is all that good (it's not), but because a) he at least has an interesting style and a feel for acting and characters, and b) the supposed top candidates to replace him are Brett Ratner and John Moore, two ultra-generic Hollywood hacks who will turn the franchise into bland action claptrap (most likely). In the meantime, this is a mediocre crime flick that people will forget in a year or two, but it passes the time well enough. Opened limited May 13; in Las Vegas this week

Lords of Dogtown (Emile Hirsch, John Robinson, Victor Rasuk, dir. Catherine Hardwicke)
I haven't seen Stacy Peralta's documentary Dogtown and Z-Boys, which inspired this movie (it's in my NetFlix queue), but from everything I've heard it's much better. Hardwicke shoots some great skateboarding scenes, and, as in her debut film, Thirteen, I like her colorful visual style and flair for atmosphere (it's no surprise she started her career as a production designer), but the script is seriously lacking. The characters are all barely sketched out, and there's no central conflict or story. When Peralta (who wrote this film as well) tries to bring one in, it rings false, and the characters are so thin that it's hard to care about what happens to them. I do have to give props to Heath Ledger for his awesome Val Kilmer impression as the skate shop owner who sponsors the kids. He has a great future as an under-appreciated character actor. Wide release

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