Daily Archives: June 22, 2007


A pretty but not very distinctive singer-composer (Heather Graham) moves to LA from Cleveland to find fame and fortune. She winds up getting involved with an unbalanced drug addict (Jeremy Sisto) and leaves him to wait tables. Most of this dreary downer, directed by Alan White from a Drew Pillsbury script, is as banal as it sounds, and needlessly complicated rather than enhanced by a fractured chronology. Things are only minimally enlivened by the customers who frequent the graveyard shift at the diner where the heroine worksthe dregs of the music industry and related fringe groups. With Tess Harper, Linda Hamilton, and Jake Busey. R, 97 min. (JR)… Read more »

You Kill Me

John Dahl’s previous neonoirs have been too cynical for me, but this crime comedy has such a goofy script (by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely) and such an eccentric cast that it kept me curious about what would happen next. An alcoholic Polish-American hit man in Buffalo (Ben Kingsley) gets sent to San Francisco by his uncle and boss (Philip Baker Hall) to dry out. Thanks to Alcoholics Anonymous and the funeral home where he gets a job, he winds up with a strange assortment of company, including a gay man (Luke Wilson), a real-estate broker (Bill Pullman), and a well-to-do lover (Tea Leoni). Even if you can’t accept all the movie’s curveballs, you might still be amused. With Dennis Farina and Alison Sealy-Smith. R, 92 min. (JR)… Read more »

I Will Avenge You, Iago!

Expanded from a half-hour comedy sketch, Zhenya Kiperman’s over-the-top knockabout farce (2005) about an opera star playing Iago (Larry Pine), his wife (Michi Barall), a psychotic audience member (Keith Nobbs), a burglar (Kate Hodge), and various others might have made me laugh if the characters were sufficiently compelling or believable to transcend their plot functions. But it’s typical of Kiperman that the moment the Empire State Building appears to establish the New York setting, we also hear a snatch of Rhapsody in Blue on the soundtrack; the occasional patches of Dixieland are no less Woody Allenish, at least in aspiration. 95 min. (JR)… Read more »

Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soapbox

If you’ve ever wondered about the backstory behind all the fine print on containers of E.H. Bronner’s peppermint soap, Sara Lamm’s 2006 documentary tells you everything you’d want to know and then some. And the story being told is certainly a singular one. Bronner, a German Jewish immigrant and onetime mental patient, abandoned his children to produce and sell his soap and spread his ideas about humanitarianism. Today his son Ralph qualifies as one of his most ardent disciples. For better and for worse, this is a movie that raises almost as many questions as it answers. 88 min. (JR)… Read more »

The Blue Bird

The first (1918) and by most accounts best of the three Hollywood versions of the Maurice Maeterlinck fantasy play, directed by the great Maurice Tourneur. Generally considered a masterpiece, it tells the story of two poor children taught by a fairy on Christmas Eve how to see the world through the eyes of God. 75 min. (JR)… Read more »

Evan Almighty

In this farcical sequel to Bruce Almighty (2003), God is still a janitor played by Morgan Freeman, but the Buffalo newscaster played by Jim Carrey is now a Buffalo newscaster-turned-congressman played by The 40-Year-Old Virgin’s Steve Carell. As soon as the hero arrives with his family in a Virginia suburb to change the world, God orders him to build an ark, and then sends loads of animals in pairs after him until he obeys. Freeman’s God is a mix of Old and New Testament, with a dash of both sexism and sitcom; Carell’s Noah is a political fool, but that only proves he’s honest and sincere. This is idiotic, but it’s so good-natured I didn’t mind. Directed by Tom Shadyac from a script by Steve Oedekerk; with Lauren Graham, John Goodman, John Michael Higgins, and Wanda Sykes. PG, 88 min. (JR)… Read more »