Daily Archives: August 19, 2005

The 40-year-old Virgin

Steve Carell plays the title role in this sloppy sitcom-in-the-making, the feature directorial debut of TV veteran Judd Apatow. The hero works at an electronics superstore, and various wacky coworkers serve as running gags, helping him along as he tries to lose his cherry. Catherine Keener shines the most in this prefab atmosphere, as the kooky middle-aged love interest. Carell and Apatow collaborated on the script; it does manage a few laughs, but the characters seldom progress beyond the two-dimensional. R, 116 min. (JR)… Read more »

Pretty Persuasion

This first feature by TV veteran Marcos Siega, with an ambitious script by another newcomer, Skander Halim, tries to be an audacious, irreverent satire about youth culture like Lord Love a Duck, but most of the laughs get strangled at birth by the uncertainty of Siega’s tone. A conniving 15-year-old (Evan Rachel Wood) concocts a sexual harassment charge against her drama teacher (Ron Livingston) and gets two of her female classmates to back her up. What initially seems like a social critique skewering everyone from lesbians to anti-Semites winds up scattered and confused, with strident performances and unconvincing characters. With James Woods, Jane Krakowski, and Selma Blair. 104 min. (JR)… Read more »

The Whole Wide World

Novalyne Price Ellis’s memoir, One Who Walked Alone, about her friendship and abortive romance in the 1930s with Robert E. Howardthe Texas recluse and misfit with a morbid attachment to his mother who wrote the Conan stories and other pulp fantasies for Weird Talessounds like an interesting subject for a movie. Unfortunately, despite the undeniable skills of Vincent D’Onofrio as Howard and Renee Zellweger as Price, this sentimental washout (1996) never begins to be believable; the Hollywoodization is so complete that Howard has virtually been transformed into a thundering extrovert, and neither the script (Michael Scott Myers) nor the direction (Dan Ireland) can transcend the glop of Hans Zimmer’s music. With Ann Wedgeworth, Harve Presnell, and Benjamin Mouton. PG, 105 min. (JR)… Read more »

Asylum

David Mackenzie, who directed the remarkable Scottish drama Young Adam (2003), delivers another masterful, disturbing tale of illicit passion, erotic obsession, and sudden death set in the 1950s. Natasha Richardson plays a woman whose psychiatrist husband (Hugh Bonneville) works in a hospital for the criminally insane; she falls for one of the inmates, a young sculptor (Marton Csokas) who’s killed his wife, and after the man escapes, she follows him to London. Adapted from a novel by Patrick McGrath (Spider), this has the same aggressive but nuanced sensibility as Mackenzie’s previous feature, and the same sure grasp of both actors and camera. With Ian McKellen and Joss Ackland. 90 min. Century 12 and CineArts 6, Landmark’s Century Centre.

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Tropical Malady

Winner of the jury prize at Cannes, this third feature by writer-director Apichatpong Weerasethakul (Blissfully Yours, Mysterious Object at Noon) confirms his status as the most adventurous filmmaker in Thailand and one of the most creative and unpredictable currently working anywhere. Part one chronicles with a sometimes ironic tastefulness the budding romance between a soldier on leave and a shy country boy; part two turns folkloric and allegorical as the soldier travels through a dark forest, alternately stalking and being stalked by his lover in the form of a tiger spirit, with a talking baboon offering sage advice. Both parts are leisurely paced and beautifully shot. In Thai with subtitles. 118 min. Landmark’s Century Centre.… Read more »