Friday, September 08, 2006

Movies opening this week

Factotum (Matt Dillon, Lili Taylor, Marisa Tomei, dir. Bent Hamer)
This movie, like Hamer's last film, Kitchen Stories, is just too low-key for its own good. Shot rather flatly on city streets that look like they've been deserted, with a barely-there lead performance from Dillon, this is a movie that always seems just on the verge of giving up. The humor is dry and stillborn, although it does manage a smirk or two. I'm not a Bukowski fan, so I don't know if this captures the spirit of his work accurately and I just can't appreciate it, but other than a spark here or there, I thought it was the most boring movie about a self-destructive alcoholic I've ever seen. Opened limited Aug. 25; in Las Vegas this week

Hollywoodland (Adrien Brody, Ben Affleck, Diane Lane, dir. Allen Coulter)
I was really frustrated with this movie, because it's got an interesting true story at its core, but it seems like the producers must have felt it wasn't interesting enough, so they tacked on all this faux-noir, LA Confidential-aping bullshit that isn't interesting at all. The life of George Reeves, who played Superman on TV in the 1950s and was never able to transcend typecasting, and ultimately (most likely) killed himself, is a fascinating Hollywood tale, especially given his relationship with his sugar mama, the wife of a powerful studio exec, and his contempt for playing Superman. Whenever the movie follows his life, it's a good, meaty biopic, and Affleck tweaks his own image nicely in a strong performance as Reeves. But the detective stuff with Brody (playing a character created for the film) is completely second-rate, and the efforts to make his life parallel with Reeves' come off as forced. Eventually any momentum just peters out, and the film doesn't even make any bold assertions in the end about how Reeves died. A total missed opportunity. Wide release

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