Friday, November 10, 2006

Movies opening this week

Harsh Times (Christian Bale, Freddy Rodriguez, Eva Longoria, dir. David Ayer)
I really have no idea what to make of this movie. If it's meant to be taken at face value, then it's a horrible failure - completely, laughably inauthentic in its portrait of ghetto culture, aimless and bleak and with the worst performance Christian Bale's ever given (and he's an executive producer, too). If it's meant as some sort of satire, it's still a failure, because it's not clever enough to point out exactly what it's satirizing. Mostly it's just a stupidly over-the-top mess, with Bale doing some weird mix of surfer-dude and cholo accents, and failing at both. There have never been so many unconvincing, disingenuous utterances of the words "dude," "dawg" and "homie" in the entirety of cinema. Utterly baffling. Wide release

Stranger Than Fiction (Will Ferrell, Emma Thompson, Dustin Hoffman, Maggie Gyllenhaal, dir. Marc Forster)
My review in Las Vegas Weekly
Marc Forster has had such an odd career - overcooked Oscar bait like Monster's Ball and Finding Neverland, forgotten thriller Stay, and now this, which is light and whimsical and actually quite well-directed. It never really comes together as well as it should, though, and left me feeling vaguely disappointed, but it's mostly entertaining, and Dustin Hoffman is hilarious playing the dedicated and slightly deluded literature professor. I don't know if it's a fluke for Forster (whose slate of upcoming projects continues to be tough to pigeonhole), but it'd be nice to see him continue making movies in this vein rather than trying to make people cry to win Oscars. Wide release

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