Friday, August 12, 2005

Movies opening this week

Cronicas (John Leguizamo, Leonor Watling, Damian Alcazar, dir. Sebastian Cordero)
My review in Las Vegas Weekly
This is one of those movies that gets a certain amount of mileage out of just being foreign. Not that it's a bad movie - it's actually a pretty good one, with an interesting ending - but a lot of the issues it tackles have been explored to death in American films. By moving the setting to Ecuador and having American Latinos as main characters, it adds new wrinkles to a lot of old ideas and gives them a fresh perspective. Opened limited July 8; in Las Vegas this week

Four Brothers (Mark Wahlberg, Tyrese Gibson, Andre Benjamin, Garret Hedlund, dir. John Singleton)
My review in Las Vegas Weekly
I really did expect to like this movie. I wanted it to be Singleton's return to respectability after shaming himself with 2 Fast 2 Furious. It had so many interesting issues - race, class, family - to tackle. It had a pretty good cast. But it wasted all that to be a cheap revenge fantasy, and dashed my hopes the Singleton has any intention of picking his integrity back up. Wide release

Last Days (Michael Pitt, Asia Argento, Lukas Haas, dir. Gus Van Sant)
My review in Las Vegas Weekly
I saw this at CineVegas back in June and was mildly disappointed. I love the way it looks - Harris Savides might be the best cinematographer working today - but I think the incredibly slow, ponderous style that Van Sant has used on his last three films has definitely run its course (and apparently he thinks so too, since his next project is a film version of the novel The Time Traveler's Wife). I thought Elephant was ultimately effective, but this just didn't seem like the right sort of event to warrant this treatment. I think it'll be a long time before someone makes a really insightful movie about Kurt Cobain. Opened limited July 22; in Las Vegas this week

The Skeleton Key (Kate Hudson, Gena Rowlands, Peter Sarsgaard, dir. Iain Softley)
Kate Hudson didn't even win the Oscar she was nominated for for Almost Famous, but she's still following the path of Oscar winners like Cuba Gooding Jr. and Halle Berry, starring in crappy mainstream movies with little to no redeeming value. Like this one, for example. It does have a good supporting cast, but only Rowlands gets to have any fun chewing scenery. Sarsgaard puts on a terrible Southern accent, and John Hurt is wasted as a stroke victim who barely even speaks. Writer Ehren Kruger has cornered the market on twisty genre pictures, but he really only succeeds when he's got a good director to elevate his competent but uninspired material (Wes Craven on Scream 3, Gore Verbinski on The Ring, Terry Gilliam on the upcoming Brothers Grimm). Softley isn't that director, and despite a nicely dark ending, the movie doesn't work up enough suspense to make it resonate. Wide release

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