Short Subjectives July 01 2010

With single moms, sexy Russians, killers, and singers, this week’s movies will have you squirming.

CYRUS 3 stars (R ) A morose divorced guy (John C. Reilly) falls in love with a single mom (Marisa Tomei), provoking the ire of her clingy grown son (Jonah Hill). Reilly and Hill have been mainstays in Will Farrell and Judd Apatow comedies, so we brace ourselves for the slapstick to really cut loose. But Cyrus was written and directed by Mark and Jay Duplass, known for their droll “mumblecore” indie movies, who don’t cultivate a comfortable distance between the audience and the character’s silly, self-destructive behavior. Cyrus feels suspended between two different brands of film comedy, but offers plenty of laughs, good acting and lots of squirmy, uncomfortable set pieces. - Holman

I AM LOVE 3 stars (R ) Oscar-winner Tilda Swinton plays the Russian-born wife of an Italian textile tycoon who becomes attracted to a young chef who happens to be the best friend of her son Edo (Flavio Parenti). Writer/director Luca Guadagnino’s family melodrama harks back to the erotic, richly stylistic European cinema of the 1960s, although I Am Love maintains an emotionally remote but symbolically obvious point of view. Swinton superbly captures the evolving emotions of a neglected wife and her sensual awakening, and the camerawork finds haute cuisine and hot sex to be equally enticing. - Holman

THE KILLER INSIDE ME 3 stars (R ) Casey Affleck plays Lou Ford, a deputy in a 1950s Texas oil town, whose wholesome image hides murderous, sadistic impulses. Director Michael Winterbottom’s adaptation of Jim Thompson’s novel emphasizes Ford’s psychology and the grotesque misogyny of his actions (including beating a beautiful woman’s face to pulp in graphic detail), with opera and western swing music providing ironic counterpoint. Winterbottom muddles his conclusions about the nature of human evil, but terrific performances from Casey Affleck, Kate Hudson and, believe it or not, Jessica Alba make the film worth seeing. - Holman

OPENING THURSDAYGREASE SINGALONG (1978) John Travolta and Olivia Newton John’s classic popular musical gets a limited re-release with a newly restored print. Karaoke-style subtitles should make it easier to sing along to lines like “We go together like ramma lamma lamma ka dinga da dinga dong.”

THE HURT LOCKER (2009) 4 stars (R ) A new addition (Jeremy Renner) to an Iraq War bomb disposal team endangers his colleagues’ lives with his reckless behavior. The best fiction film to date about the Iraq War, The Hurt Locker won multiple academy awards, including Best Picture and Kathryn Bigelow as the first-ever female winner for Best Director. Flicks on 5th. Wed., July 7 at dusk (circa 9 p.m.) Technology Square in Midtown, 5th Street, between Spring St. and Williams St. __Free. 404-894-2805.
SLC PUNK (1999) (R) A cult following surrounds this 10 year-old comedy-drama about an anarchistic punk rocker making waves in 1980s Salt Lake City. The cast includes Matthew Lillard, Annabeth Gish and Jason Segal. Tue., July 9, 9:30 p.m. The Plaza Theatre, 1049 Ponce de Leon Ave. 404-873-1939.
KNIGHT AND DAY 2 stars (PG-13) Single gal June (Cameron Diaz) has an airport meet-cute with dashing Ray (Tom Cruise), only to discover that he’s a renegade government agent who drags her along for a globe-trotting chase for a dangerous invention called “The Zephyr.” Can Ray keep ahead of evil arms dealers and ambiguous feds (including Peter Sarsgaard and Viola Davis) long enough to get June to her sister’s wedding? Formerly called Wichita before taking the forgettable name Knight and Day, the film might as well be called Generic Romantic Comedy-Thriller under James Mangold’s fast-paced but unmemorable direction. Initially resembling a remake of The In-Laws, only with the possibility that the two leads will have sex, Knight and Day eventually brings up unwelcome memories of True Lies’ sexism, although Cruise and Diaz prove that star power can carry a vehicle a long way. - Holman

JONAH HEX 1 star (PG-13) Confederate soldier turned hideously-scarred bounty hunter Jonah Hex (Josh Bolin) tracks down his maniacal former commander Quentin Turnbull (John Melodic), who plans to wreak havoc on Washington DC’s centennial with a giant war machine designed by Eli Whitney. Brief moments with Bolin talking to dead people suggest the moody supernatural revenge flick it could’ve been, but the notoriously hexed production results in a noisy massacre of an intriguing comic book tough guy. The best thing about Jonah Hex is that, with its 80 minute running time, there’s not very much of it. - Holman

THE LAST AIRBENDER 1 star (PG) In a mystical realm reminiscent of medieval Asia, a Dalai Lama-esque boy (Noah Ringer) with superpowers foments a rebellion against the warmongering Fire Nation. M. Shyamalan’s film adaptation of Nickelodeon’s “Avatar: The Last Airbender” is as terrible as the animated TV series is wonderful. Shyamalan’s tone-deaf, stilted approach to the material makes Star Wars: The Phantom Menace look like Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. The non-existent 3-D effects make the image look even worse, so don’t see it, but definitely don’t see it in 3-D. - Holman
OSS 177: LOST IN RIO 2 stars (NR) Jean Dujardin reprises his hilariously clueless character of vapid French secret agent code-named OSS 177, who encounters hippies, Nazis, masked wrestlers and a hot, go-go-garbed Mossad Colonel on a mission in Rio. Following the ingenious, post-911-informed satire of the predecessor, Cairo, Nest of Spies, Lost in Rio proves a disappointment, with gags that gain little comedic mileage, with exceptions including the Hitchcock-inspired finale. The filmmakers put more loving care into the 1960s-era style, particularly the energetic split-screen effects, than into the script. - Holman

SOLITARY MAN Michael Douglas plays Ben Kalmen a washed-up, formerly successful car dealer on the verge of a comeback after countless financial and familial mistakes. But things get complicated when the newly divorced Ben starts to have feelings for his daughter’s friend who just so happens to have a daddy in high places in the auto manufacturing world. The film also stars an all-star cast including Danny DeVito, Susan Sarandon, and Jenna Fischer.

TOY STORY 3 4 stars (G) With their owner Andy departing for college, Woody (voiced by Tom Hanks) and the other playthings consider a less lonely future at a bumptious day care center, only to discover that a bitter teddy bear (Ned Beatty) rules it like a prison warden. While the script’s a little looser than its predecessor, Toy Story 3 completes the most internally consistent and satisfying film trilogy since The Lord of the Rings, offering Pixar’s trademark snappy patter and emotional complexity (which may be occasionally upsetting for pre-schoolers). Big Baby may be the breakout character of the summer. - Holman

THE TWILIGHT SAGA: ECLIPSE 2 stars (PG-13) Vampire heart-throb Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) pops the question to mopey teen Bella Swann (Kristen Stewart), who demands he vampirize her instead. Interrupting this two-hour conversation include Bella’s stalkerish, wolf-boy friend Jacob (Taylor Lautner) and a small army of “newborn” vampires closing on the Cullen’s home town. Pretty but blank, Stewart isn’t allowed to be as sexy as the male leads, and it’s an enduring mystery why Bella Swan should be the Helen of Troy of the vampire/werewolf world. But where Twilight and New Moon are insufferably drab and boring bad movies, Eclipse, while still kind of bad, but has enough narrative momentum and flashes of comedic camp to give it some entertainment value. - Holman