What Goes Up

What Goes Up
If it's true that what goes up must eventually come down, it could be said, albeit ironically, that What Goes Up either never gets off the ground or crashes with an almost zeppelin-esque lack of grace. It is a film defeated not by the forces of cinematic gravity – such as a failed, though admirable, attempt at artistry, or some polarizing subject matter – but rather by the weight of its own rather massive ineptitude, like a lead balloon destined for a life at sea-level.

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Lang zai ji. / The Warrior and The Wolf

Lang zai ji. / The Warrior and The Wolf
Angrily asserting that men are no better than ferocious beasts, doomed to fall prey eventually to their own victims, celebrated Chinese Fifth Generation director Tian Zhuangzhuang launches into a series of metaphors leading to other metaphors and flashbacks within flashbacks with the Warrior and the Wolf, set in ancient times as the Chinese Empire takes on the rebellions tribes at its borders.

Tian is asking even his most faithful followers to work hard here to unravel the unwieldy knots of his story, based on a short piece by Japanese writer Yasushi Inoue but expanded with numerous brutal battles sequences and several torrid sex scenes. The director’s reputation could secure this arthouse and certainly festival play, but critical support is less than assured.

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Trash Humpers

Trash Humpers
Tired vocabulary like “enfant terrible” and “provocation” is a constant threat when writing about Harmony Korine and his films. Trash Humpers is no exception: creepy masks, low-grade torture, frequent public urination, senseless vandalism and the title, acted out on defenseless garbage cans, all have a confrontational panache about them to be sure. But the film is also full of poetry, dance, song and moments of aching poignancy. Such is the dilemma with Korine and his remarkable career; for all the fireworks, there is an impressive coherence in the subject matter of his work. His four feature films all seek to shed light on a certain class of people: unique and bizarre individuals usually lumped under the heading of “subculture.”

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Amazing Grace

Amazing Grace
As a history lesson, Amazing Grace is okay. It stays reasonably true to the established record with minimal embellishment. However, as motion picture, the film is lacking in several key areas. The presentation is choppy, with lengthy sections devoted to the events occurring during short spans followed by jarring leaps ahead in time. Character development is perfunctory, with most individuals in the film falling into the "good, noble" camp (abolitionists) or the "evil, rapacious" camp (those in favor of continuing the slave trade). This occasionally causes Amazing Grace to play less like a movie and more like a morality play.

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W.
It would be grossly unfair to criticize W. as a hatchet job - it's too clumsy for such a description to apply. This movie frequently feels like the shotgun marriage of Nightline and Saturday Night Live. Superficial, uninformative, and inert, this two hour snoozefest isn't even inflammatory enough to stoke a righteous anti-Bush brushfire. W. does for recent history what Oliver Stone's epic Alexander did for ancient times.

W. uses pop psychology to "analyze" the 43d U.S. President and "uncover" his motives. Stone's thesis is that all George W. Bush does is with the goal of earning the love and respect of his father, two things that have been withheld from him. Or, to put it another way, he has Daddy issues. This is the only potential insight offered by W. and it is hammered home with a relentless lack of subtlety and sophistication. Putting aside the buffoonery that characterizes Josh Brolin's over-the-top mimicry of the title character, this is Bush's sole personality trait. Instead of taking this opportunity to provide viewers with a compelling portrait of one of the worst Presidents in this country's short history, Stone has taken the easy way out. W. is a newspaper op-ed cartoon come to life - a broad, unambiguous picture of a dunce. One expects controversy from Stone; one does not expect something this shallow and insubstantial.

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Zoolander

Zoolander
Under normal circumstances, Zoolander is the kind of movie I would recommend giving a pass to in theaters and waiting for the video release. But these are far from normal circumstances. In the wake of the World Trade Center disaster, audiences are looking for distractions, so anything that offers opportunities for laughter, no matter how uneven or scattered those opportunities may be, cannot be immediately dismissed. Thus it is for Zoolander. This is by no means a great (or even a very good) comedy, but there are times when it tickles the funny bone, and, for that reason if no other, it may be the right film for this time.

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Welcome to Mooseport

Welcome to Mooseport
What might have been… Those four words tell the sad story of too many films, and Welcome to Mooseport is one of them. It starts out with a terrific premise, ripe with the potential for the kind of political satire we haven't seen on the big screen since Bulworth: what if a popular ex-president ran against a likable hardware store owner to be the mayor of a small town? But a premise is nothing more than a sturdy building block, and, in this case, the filmmakers have employed the shoddiest construction crew imaginable. Welcome to Mooseport's satirical edge is dull and pitted, the screenplay is overlong and uninteresting, the comedy is soft and shapeless, and the actors perform like they're on a sit com. There's not a whole lot to like about Welcome to Mooseport, and, considering how lively real politics can be these days, you're likely to get more entertainment from watching two hours of CSPAN.

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Larry Crowne

Larry Crowne
A dozen years ago, the prospect of a romantic comedy starring Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts - two of the most bankable actors of the late-'90s and early-'00s - would have created waves of anticipation. In 2011, this second collaboration between the two (they were previously paired in Charlie Wilson's War, although not romantically) is having trouble generating ripples. Part of that is because it is being released as "counterprogramming" to Transformers 3. Another part is that this is intended for grown-ups and the summer season is not kind to such films. Finally, some would argue (those who base their decisions solely on box office calculations) that both Hanks and Roberts are past their "sell by" date. This may be true, but it doesn't stop Larry Crowne from being three things Transformers 3 is not: light, frothy, and capable of being watched without generating a headache.

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2012: Ice Age

2012: Ice Age
I just watched the epic apocalyptic thriller, 2012. No, not that schlocky, big-budget, Hollywood nonsense with John Cusack in it. Hell, no! I’m talking about 2012 Ice Age baby! I even jacked up the a.c. in my house to heighten the frigid experience. Give me a second to thaw out my frozen tootsies and I’ll tell you all about it.

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S1m0ne

S1m0ne
When the star (played by Winona Ryder) of out-of-favor director Viktor Taransky's (Al Pacino) new film refuses to finish it, Taransky is forced to find a replacement. Contractual requirements totally prevent using her image in the film, so he must re-shoot. Instead, Viktor experiments with a new computer program he inherits from late acquaintance Hank Aleno (Elias Koteas) which allows creation of a computer-generated woman which he can easily animate to play the film's central character. Viktor names his virtual actor "Simone", a name derived from the computer program's title, Simulation One. Seamlessly incorporated into the film, Simone (Rachel Roberts) gives a fantastic performance, exactly controlled by Viktor. The film is immediately a huge success. The studio, and soon the world, ask "who is Simone?"

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Black Crescent Moon

Black Crescent Moon
WHEN HOME GROWN SHERIFF CHARLIE DEXTON OF TINT WRIGHTSVILLE, TEXAS INVESTIGATES HIS FIRST MURDER AT THE LOCAL DINER HE ENDS UP FINDING MORE THAN HE BARGAINED FOR IN THE TOWN IN HIMSELF.

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Wild Cherry

Wild Cherry
A hilarious high-school comedy in the tradition of American Pie, in which three girlfriends decide to make a secret pact with each other to wait to have sex, save themselves until they feel the time is right, despite an aggressive plan from the opposing sex.

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My Name Is Khan

My Name Is Khan
Rizwan Khan (Shahrukh Khan) is a Muslim child who grew up with his brother Zakir (Jimmy Shergill) and his mother Razia Khan (Zarina Wahab) in a middle class family in the Borivali section of Mumbai. Rizwan is different from other children; However, he has certain gifts, particularly a special ability to repair mechanical things. His difference leads to special tutoring from a reclusive scholar and extra attention from his mother, all which leads to a heightened level of jealousy from his brother Zakir, who eventually leaves his family for a life in the United States.

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Grilled

Grilled
In L.A., Maurice and Dave sell steaks - high-end cuts of beef. Theyve hit a patch of no sales, and theyre facing being fired. Maurice needs money to enroll in his final semester of acupuncture school, and the recently-separated Dave needs money for his daughters birthday gift. Their final client card a beautiful woman opens the door, and shes attracted to Maurice, but a desperate call from a suicidal friend interrupts her signing the contract. Still hoping to close the sale, Maurice and Dave offer to drive her to the friends house, and there, troubles multiply. Facing guns, hitmen, and womens secrets, a sale is the farthest thing from their minds. Are they about to be grilled?

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Little Sparrows

Little Sparrows
In the midst of an Australian summer, we meet three sisters. Nina is widowed with two young children. Anna is an aspiring actress unhappily married to a filmmaker. Christine is a med student who is yet to fully come to terms with her sexuality. When their mother Susans breast cancer returns, the family is faced with choices and the reality of their last Christmas together. Simple and sincere, Little Sparrows celebrates life and the unconditional love of a mother.

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Love & Distrust

Love & Distrust
Tale of the passions and perils of love in all its forms. Split into five stories that focus on the lives of a group of beautiful yet troubled twenty-somethings, this film explores the dark heart of romance, the secrets we can never tell and the heartache it can cause. Battling temptation and the pull of seduction, the fight for love can never be easy.

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