If you don’t have time to watch “Some
Like it Hot” and “Victor/Victoria,” “Connie
and Carla” aims to help you kill two cross-dressers
with one machine gun. Nia Vardalos and Toni Collette
play two singers (sorry, no bow fiddle) who run from
Chicago to (here’s where it differs from “Some
Like it Hot”) Los Angeles. They then pose as
drag queens, creating a whole lot of sexual identity
issues. David Duchovny also stars.
“Kill Bill; Vol. 2”
4 reels (out of four)
Brent Hamer’s Swedish film “Kitchen
Stories” looks at a friendship that emerges
between an old man and an observer who is supposed
to observe his kitchen habits to compare single men’s
rituals with that of a housewife.
Lions Gate Films
“The Punisher” is for those who can’t
go two weeks without a film based on a comic book
hero. The skilled Thomas Jane plays the man who gets
even after his wife and kids are killed. But it’s
not vengeance, it’s punishment. Oh, yeah.
“Good Bye, Lenin!”
Sony Pictures Classics
Wolfgang Becker’s “Good Bye, Lenin!” transforms
the fall of the Berlin Wall into a clever, crowd-pleasing
farce. After Alex’s (Daniel Brühl) mom
(Katrin Saß) sees him arrested for protesting
the communist regime in East Berlin, to which she
has been loyal her whole life, she falls into a coma
and wakes up years later, after her beloved government
falls. Fearful of what a surprise might do to her,
Alex does up the house to look like it did before
the revolution. He also makes fake newscasts and
gets into other antics as he tries to keep the great
change a secret. The GDR government begins to look
like its idealized version.
The film meanders into silly sentimentality at times,
but makes up for it with amusing comedy and impressive
imagery, including a party in a building that’s
missing one of its walls.
“The Son” (“Le Fils”)
New Yorker Films
4 reels (out of four)
“The Son” punctuates quiet moments of
human desperation with unmatched moments of emotional
release. Its power comes from observation and restraint
that could make you miss one of 2003’s most
powerful films if you aren’t paying attention.
Belgian filmmaking brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne
wrote and directed the film with a style that defies
conventional narrative expectations. At times we
expect a violent machinery accident or homosexual
misconduct between a man and his student, but the
Dardennes offer nothing so predictable as they follow
the life of a good but conflicted man.
Like they did in 1999’s “Rosetta,” the
brothers use a hand-held documentary style to follow
one character’s life, using no scenes without
the main character.
The film demands viewing more than it requires interpretation.
The Dardennes manage to make their process look simple,
like they’re telling the story. In fact, the
film’s unforced insights are some of the most
difficult to produce in cinema. Without typical plot
concoctions, “The Son” reveals a man
who takes a second chance to affect the future generation
and to forgive.