Friday, February 01, 2008

Movies opening this week

The Eye (Jessica Alba, Alessandro Nivola, Parker Posey, dir. David Moreau & Xavier Palud)
Both the 2003 Hong Kong original, directed by the Pang brothers, and Moreau and Palud's first movie, the French horror film Them, are better than this remake, even though neither of those is all that good. It's been a few years since I saw the original The Eye, but I remember it being rather mediocre and starting with a cool premise only to peter out into incoherence. This version has a much more definitive ending and a more linear plot, but that doesn't stop it from being incredibly boring and not scary at all. Alba remains a terrible actress (who thought it would be a good idea to give her voiceover narration?), and she can't pull off the actually somewhat interesting emotions of a blind woman granted the ability to see after 15 years. Since the emotional core of the film is worthless, it has to rely on the scares, and with no villain and a rather sketchy plot about putting a ghost to rest, they don't hold the movie together either. Plus, the whole concept of Alba's character being able to see ghosts with her new eyes is muddled immediately when she also hears and feels them, sometimes far more substantially. If the movie can't even keep its own internal logic for 10 minutes, it's hard for an audience to care. Wide release

Weirdsville (Scott Speedman, Wes Bentley, Taryn Manning, dir. Allan Moyle)
My review in Las Vegas Weekly
I guess it's admirable that CineVegas is expanding their Art House series beyond the obvious super-serious indie dramas, but this movie totally screams straight-to-video (check out the cast), and is pretty second-rate both as a stoner comedy and as a dark drug/crime story. The funny moments aren't as funny as the filmmakers think they are, and the serious moments are hard to take seriously. Points for trying, though, I guess. Opened limited Oct. 5; in Las Vegas this week

Youth Without Youth (Tim Roth, Alexandra Maria Lara, Bruno Ganz, dir. Francis Ford Coppola)
I have to admit that I am somewhat indifferent to Coppola, although I've seen only a few of his films. I admire the first two Godfathers more than I like them, and I couldn't stand Apocalypse Now when I saw it a number of years ago. I do, however, love The Conversation, and there are plenty of Coppola films that I haven't seen that I might really appreciate. But I wasn't exactly waiting on the edge of my seat for the filmmaker to return from his self-imposed hiatus, and aside from his legendary stature this is just a pretentious, confusing art film with bad old-age make-up and distractingly showy camerawork. It's magic realism, it's espionage, it's metaphysics, and finally it's just a mess, although Roth does his best to embody the elderly professor given the gift of youth. It's nice that Coppola has returned with ambition rather than just doing work for hire, but maybe he ought to calm down and try to tell a simple story first. I did like the stylishly retro opening credits, though. Opened limited Dec. 14; in Las Vegas this week

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