Daily Archives: January 2, 2001

Company Man

I certainly wanted to like this belatedly released comedy, about the bumbling inefficiency of the CIAthe organization that under the inspired auspices of George Bush sponsored and promoted Saddam Hussein, and also inspired Elaine May’s underrated satire Ishtar. But this is the unfunniest comedy I can recall seeing in ages, and considering that it was copyrighted in 1999, many others must have felt the same way; why it’s being released now is anyone’s guess. The star is cowriter and codirector Douglas McGrath, who also cowrote Bullets Over Broadway; he plays a wimpy grammar teacher who finds himself working for the CIA in Cuba in the early 60s, trying to overthrow Castro (Anthony LaPaglia). As an actor he isn’t bad, and as a scriptwriter he’s no slouch, but when it comes to the direction that’s credited to him and cowriter Peter Askin, the CIA itself might have done a better job. The main instruction to the cast appears to have been Overactperhaps the unfortunate legacy of Askin’s stage backgroundwhich has a murderous effect on the performances of John Turturro, Woody Allen, and Sigourney Weaver, among others. 81 min. (JR)… Read more »

Pollock

Ed Harris reportedly spent years preparing for the role of action painter Jackson Pollock and also wound up directing this downbeat biopic (2000). It would be churlish to say that all his efforts were in vain; he gives an interesting performance and manages to duplicate portions of Pollock’s drip technique himself, a rather impressive tour de force. But the film suffers from problems endemic to movies about artists: trying to make taciturn types interesting and rendering messy lives meaningful (or meaningfully meaningless). The script focuses on Pollock’s relationship with fellow painter Lee Krasner (Marcia Gay Harden) and curiously enough recalls the tragic showbiz biopics that Hollywood ground out in the 50s. Any insight into Pollock’s work is overshadowed by the usual message of such enterprisesthat artists are reckless, childish lunatics who suffer a lot and make others suffer as well. R, 119 min. (JR)… Read more »

Blow Dry

The English national hair championships pit a former prizewinner (Alan Rickman), who works with his son (Josh Hartnett), against his former wife (Natasha Richardson), who’s been involved with his former model (Rachel Griffiths) for the past decade. This comedy-drama was written by Simon Beaufoy, who brought us The Full Monty, and it has some of the same gamy mix of alternative sexuality and working-class heart; Paddy Breathnach furnishes the adequate direction. 100 min. (JR)… Read more »