Friday, September 02, 2005

Movies opening this week

The Constant Gardener (Ralph Fiennes, Rachel Weisz, Danny Huston, dir. Fernando Meirelles)
My review in Las Vegas Weekly
I remain conflicted about this, even though I wrote an overall positive review and talked it up pretty positively on CJOB this week. On one hand, it's definitely been overpraised by most critics, and it's the kind of praise that will very likely lead to undeserved Oscar nominations. It's also undeniably heavy-handed, and does play on liberal guilt in a way that kind of undermines the very people it's allegedly trying to help. On the other hand, it points out a genuine injustice, and I don't think that the filmmakers are being disingenuous in doing so. The praise may be excessive, but the film is absolutely stunning to look at and features mostly very good performances. Most importantly, I found it a rewarding viewing experience, which is ultimately why I recommended it. But I do understand why it has made some critics very uneasy. Wide release

Junebug (Embeth Davidtz, Amy Adams, Ben McKenzie, Alessandro Nivola, dir. Phil Morrison)
My review in Las Vegas Weekly
I really expected to like this movie. It's my kind of genre (slow-paced, talky indie drama) and it's been getting great reviews, and a friend and fellow reviewer told me about a month ago how great she thought it was. But it just didn't work for me, especially Amy Adams' performance, which people seem to love. I actually liked her better in Standing Still, this crappy movie I saw at CineVegas. At least she was restrained. I probably should have expected the disappointment, since this has definitely been the year of disappointing movies for me. Opened limited Aug. 5; in Las Vegas this week

A Sound of Thunder (Edward Burns, Catherine McCormack, Ben Kingsley, dir. Peter Hyams)
Why did I see this movie? I wasn't assigned a review, and there was every indication that it would be terrible. Yet I went anyway. I guess I was expecting that, even if it was bad, there would be some redeeming value in the camp factor (which was basically non-existent) or the just plain cool concept and source material (a Ray Bradbury short story about a time-traveling expedition to the Cretaceous, in which someone steps on a butterfly and creates a ripple effect that completely alters the future). But there was none of that. On a pure filmmaking level, this is easily the worst movie I've seen all year. Unbelievably terrible special effects, which would be almost unforgivable in a movie made for the Sci Fi Channel, let alone one that reportedly cost $80 million. Completely incoherent plotting that can't even retain a semblance of internal consistency with its own pseudo-science. Definitely answers anyone who's been wondering whether Ed Burns has a career anymore, or deserves one. Even Ben Kingsley, whose blindingly white hairpiece is the movie's only great camp element, can't do anything to save it. I was just hoping that one of the movie's incomprehensible time waves would come along and wipe out the technology used to make it in the first place. Wide release

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