Daily Archives: December 23, 2005

Rumor Has It . . .

A young journalist (Jennifer Aniston), going home to Pasadena with her fiance (Mark Ruffalo) to attend her sister’s wedding, discovers that her maternal grandmother (Shirley MacLaine) might have been the inspiration for Mrs. Robinson in Charles Webb’s novel The Graduate. Intrigued, she hunts down the real-life model for Benjamin Braddock, now a suave zillionaire (Kevin Costner), who once made love to her mother and her grandmother and who might also be her father. In some ways this intricate piece of whimsy is closer to the romantic fantasy of Pretty Woman than the conformist satire of Mike Nichols’s The Graduate, but it shares with both these crowd-pleasers a faintly corrupt complacency. Under the circumstances, MacLaine, Costner, and Ruffalo acquit themselves well. Rob Reiner directed a script by Ted Griffin (Matchstick Men). PG-13, 96 min. (JR)… Read more »

Munich

Steven Spielberg made us feel exhilarated about killing Arabs with Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981); a quarter century later he’s decent enough to have second thoughts, but he can’t find much to do with them in this mediocre thriller. Scripted by Eric Roth and Tony Kushner, it chronicles the grim mission of vengeance pursued by Israel’s Mossad after 11 Israeli athletes were kidnapped and killed by Palestinian terrorists at the 1972 Olympics. Spielberg moves beyond the Zionist complacency one might expect, but Michel Khleifi and Eyal Sivan’s recent documentary Route 181 addresses the Arab-Israeli conflict with greater courage and curiosity. Munich may have value as an act of expiation but not as entertainment or art. With Eric Bana, Daniel Craig, Geoffrey Rush, and Michael Lonsdale. R, 162 min. (JR)… Read more »

William Eggleston In The Real World

Michael Almereydawhose previous documentary, This So-Called Disaster (2003), carefully observed Sam Shepard directing one of his autobiographical playsponders the reticence and creative vision of master photographer William Eggleston, shown mainly in Kentucky (working on a project for filmmaker Gus Van Sant) and Memphis (the photographer’s home base). There’s a certain amount of tension between Eggleston, who mistrusts verbal descriptions of his work, and Almereyda, whose special way with words is evident in both his voice-over narration and his recorded conversations with the subject. Yet the mystery generated by this conflict seems wholly in keeping with Eggleston’s art and reminds me of Walker Evans and James Agee’s collaboration on Let Us Now Praise Famous Men. 87 min. (JR)… Read more »

Moonlight And Valentino

A young woman (Elizabeth Perkins) unexpectedly loses her husband in an accident and has to negotiate between the separate influences of her best friend (Whoopi Goldberg), her younger sister (Gwyneth Paltrow), and her former stepmother (Kathleen Turner) in learning how to be a widow. This well-meant but rather forgettable drama is adapted by Ellen Simon from her own play and directed by David Anspaugh. With Jon Bon Jovi. (JR)… Read more »

William Eggleston in the Real World

Michael Almereyda–whose previous documentary, This So-Called Disaster (2003), carefully observed Sam Shepard directing one of his autobiographical plays–ponders the reticence and creative vision of master photographer William Eggleston, shown mainly in Kentucky (working on a project for filmmaker Gus Van Sant) and Memphis (the photographer’s home base). There’s a certain amount of tension between Eggleston, who mistrusts verbal descriptions of his work, and Almereyda, whose special way with words is evident in both his voice-over narration and his recorded conversations with the subject. Yet the mystery generated by this conflict seems wholly in keeping with Eggleston’s art and reminds me of Walker Evans and James Agee’s collaboration on Let Us Now Praise Famous Men. 87 min. Facets Cinematheque.… Read more »