reels (out of four)—reviewed by Chris Bellamy
There comes a time in every adorable, typecast actress’s
career when she forces herself to break the mold
and take challenging, different roles to prove to
everyone she’s not a one-trick pony. Results
have been mixed.
The latest superstar girl-next-door trying to break
out of her shell is Meg Ryan, with last year’s “In
the Cut” and Hollywood’s latest atrocious
boxing movie, “Against the Ropes.” This
is a biopic about the life and times of Jackie Callan,
the first female boxing manager to break through
the sport’s unwritten gender barrier and find
Ryan is cast— or
rather, miscast— as Callan,
who is supposed to a be a brash, hard-ass New Yorker,
but instead ends up looking like Meg Ryan trying
desperately to act like a brash, hard-ass New Yorker.
Ryan sports a New York accent for the role, but it’s
not a convincing or consistent one.
“Against the Ropes” is doomed by horrid
writing, too many sports clichés, a preposterous
climax and an even worse denouement.
“The Best Two Years” isn’t about
grad school nor the most drastic period of puberty,
but about serving a mission for the LDS church. Scott
S. Anderson, who wrote and directed a direct-to-video
release in 1985 titled, “The Best Two Years
of My Life,” reprises his comedy with a slightly
shorter title. Set in Holland, the film looks at
the trials and tribulations that come with being
of a Teenage Drama Queen”
Walt Disney Pictures
In “Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen,” Lindsay
Lohan plays…a teenage drama queen who loses
her fabulous New York City life when her family moves
to…a suburb in New Jersey! Expect some moping,
followed by life lessons.
2.5 reels (out of four)
The ads for “Eurotrip” bill the comedy
as being from the people responsible for “Road
Trip” and “Old School.” If this
claim actually impresses you, the crossover from
that film is pretty much limited to a producer. Further
investigation reveals that director and co-writer
Jeff Schaffer’s previous work includes “Herman’s
Head” and “The Cat in the Hat.” The
film isn’t quite as bad as those titles, however,
and actually has a few clever ideas, although poorly
On a horrible graduation day, Scott (Scott Mechlowicz)
is dumped by his girlfriend and later, at a party,
is treated to a tune called, “Scottie Doesn’t
Know” about various sexual exploits with this
girlfriend. Then he tells off his German e-mail pal
when the pal makes a pass at him, realizes Mieke
is a girl’s name and goes to Germany with his
obnoxious friend, who wants to have wild sex.
This is all by-the-numbers, and Schaffer fails to
get strong performances from his actors or pull off
most of his clever concepts. There are moments that
fans of nudey comedies will enjoy, but the film doesn’t
reach comedic nirvana.
“The Fog of
War: Eleven Lessons From the Life of Robert S.
Sony Pictures Classics
Opening at the Tower
4 reels (out of four)
When historical figures like Robert S. McNamara
want to put on record their account of events, they
usually go to fact-obsessed journalists or biographers.
McNamara, however, somehow ended up with Errol Morris,
that legendary documentarian who’s always more
interested in the characters behind their topics
than the simple order of events. “The Fog of
War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara” reveals
not only important insights about the former U.S.
secretary of defense’s involvement in the Vietnam
War and other offensives, but studies the personality
of a larger-than-life figure associated with one
of the United States’ most controversial wars.
Any well-done interview with McNamara would be
important simply for historic and archival purposes.
Morris has created a work that arrives with (accidentally)
perfect timing and is also a fine artistic achievement.
“My Architect: A Son’s
New Yorker Films
Opening at Madstone
3 reels (out of four)
The investigation of “My Architect” combines
the desire to uncover the truth of a great, mysterious
artist and to uncover the truth about one’s
Nathaniel Kahn, the son of famed architect Louis
Kahn from his second out-of-wedlock partner besides
his wife, directed this film in order to better understand
his father, who died at a train station with his
address oddly blacked out of his passport.
Nathaniel goes to all
of his father’s buildings— of
which there aren’t very many but, as a few
people point out, many of those that exist are considered
masterpieces. At the locations, he meets with various
people who knew his father and asks them about him.
The resulting film isn’t propagandizing Lou’s
legacy, but tries to come to an authentic understanding
of the artist’s work.
Opening at the Broadway
4 reels (out of four)
One of the recurring visual motifs in “Touching
the Void” is that of the camera pulling back
from its mountain-climbing subjects to a wide shot
of the mountain or landscape they’re on. As
the shot widens, the climbers go from prominent figures
to tiny, then invisible specks lost in a monstrous
expanse of nature.
These shots hammer in the harrowing helplessness
of the experience portrayed in the film, which is
so rich in re-enactments that if it weren’t
for the interviews explaining things, the film would
be a dramatic work instead of a documentary.
Director Kevin Macdonald uses his interviews and
a range of standard and experimental visual techniques
to communicate the fear and loneliness of being
trapped in the cold Peruvian Andes. This is one
of the best mountain-climbing films of all time.
20th Century Fox
Gene Hackman plays a defeated one-term U.S. President
who returns to his hometown and runs for mayor against
Ray Romano in “Welcome to Mooseport.” Unfortunately
for Hackman, everybody loves his opponent. Marcia
Gay Harden also stars.