Friday, August 19, 2005

Movies opening this week

The 40-Year-Old Virgin (Steve Carell, Catherine Keener, Paul Rudd, Seth Rogen, dir. Judd Apatow)
My review in Las Vegas Weekly
This has nothing to do with the movie, but I had an interesting online discussion a few days ago about the usage of hyphens in the title. A friend of mine who works as the Assistant Editor at the Washington City Paper was appalled to see that the official title of this movie was apparently The 40 Year-Old Virgin, with a hyphen between "year" and "old," but not after "40." Being a professional journalist and copy editor (she was a colleague of mine at Prism Magazine when I was in college), she was outraged at this offense against grammar. I pointed out that the poster on the Rotten Tomatoes page and the IMDb page has all the hyphens intact, but that the opening credits in the actual film feature no hyphens whatsoever. (The official site features the partially-hyphenated version.) I am going to continue to refer to it in the correctly-hyphenated form, because I'd like to think that someone, somewhere who is involved with the movie bothered to look up how exactly to hyphenate people's ages, or happened to know it because they actually value proper grammar. For those of you not obsessed with proper hyphen usage, this is a pretty funny movie with a surprisingly mature message and one of the more convincing love stories in recent romantic comedies. It's also a good half hour too long, by which I mean the half hour by which it's too long is actually pretty good, but it still could stand to be cut. Wide release

Broken Flowers (Bill Murray, Jeffrey Wright, Sharon Stone, Jessica Lange, dir. Jim Jarmusch)
My review in Las Vegas Weekly
A few days ago, Angelica posted about the lack of good movie roles for women, and in particular older women. I wish I could say that this movie, which features some of the very best older women working in movies right now (Sharon Stone, Jessica Lange, Frances Conroy, Tilda Swinton), offers some of those roles, but as I noted in my review, it's just as male-dominated as any stupid sex comedy with hot, young, vapid women in the lead roles. Swinton, who is an absolutely brilliant actress and deserves infinitely more attention than she receives, gets something like three lines in the entire film. And all of the actresses play easy stock character types: Stone as the still-hot older woman who needs sex to validate herself; Conroy as the one-time flower child turned button-down real estate agent; Lange as the New Age-y earth mother who's now a trendy lesbian; and Swinton, playing wildly against type, as the angry biker chick. Now, I don't think this is a bad movie - although I don't think it's the masterpiece that some critics have claimed it to be - but it's clearly as much a male wish-fulfillment fantasy as The 40-Year-Old Virgin (one of the reasons I thought they drew interesting parallels for a dual review). In fact, Catherine Keener in The 40-Year-Old Virgin plays a more well-rounded character than any of the women in Broken Flowers, and does so in direct contrast to all the hot, young, vapid other women who parade through the movie. Steve Carell is a bigger feminist than Jim Jarmusch; who knew? Opened limited Aug. 5; in Las Vegas this week

Mysterious Skin (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Brady Corbet, Mary Lynn Rajskub, dir. Gregg Araki)
My review in Las Vegas Weekly
It's hard to believe that the same Gregg Araki who made The Doom Generation made this movie. It handles child sexual abuse with sensitivity but not timidity, and never becomes prurient or crass like...well, like a Gregg Araki movie. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is excellent, but I thought Brady Corbet was a little flat at times, and the movie feels a little lopsided with their two characters given equal attention. Still, a very moving and worthwhile film. Opened limited May 6; in Las Vegas this week

Red Eye (Rachel McAdams, Cillian Murphy, Brian Cox, dir. Wes Craven)
My review in Las Vegas Weekly
My friend (and frequent commenter) Katie told me once that she would know that I had finally succumbed to irredeemable elitism if I ever gave a Wes Craven movie a bad review. Well, this is the first Craven movie I've officially reviewed, and I'm glad to say that I am in the clear, since I gave it a positive review. It's not Craven's best work, but it's certainly better than, say, Scream 3, and the Hitchcockian middle half-hour is near-perfect suspense. Craven has no projects in the works right now, and I hope the positive reviews this is getting make up for his harrowing experience making Cursed and convince him that he needs to continue making horror films, because he's nearly the only competent person doing that anymore. Wide release

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