Scary Movie (F). Okay, so I saw this whole Scary Movie trilogy on sale for $13 at Walmart or someplace. I figured it had to be worth that low, low price, didn’t it? Nope, at least not judging by the first entry in the series. The idea was to spoof Scream, with a side order of I Know What You Did Last Summer thrown in for good measure. Which was not a bad concept, but somebody decided it would be even better to smother the spoof elements under layer after layer of crude sexual humor, both visual and verbal. Really, I felt assaulted by this tasteless and offensive movie. Director Keenan Ivory Wayans deserves a stern talking-to by a grandmotherly figure of some sort. Anna Faris (The House Bunny) stars.
Scary Movie 2 (F). Horrendous. Possibly even more offensive than the first one. How did they get people like James Woods (Ghosts of Mississippi) and Veronica Cartwright (Alien) to appear in this repellent film? (Tim Curry’s appearance is somehow less surprising.) It is superior to the original in only two respects — it is six minutes shorter (only 82 minutes), and it features an attractive actress named Kathleen Robertson who kind of reminds me of Kate Beckinsale (The Last Days of Disco). I apparently have seen Robertson before, in an independent flick called XX/XY, but I don’t remember it well enough to recall her. Anna Faris (Just Friends) returns.
This evening The Borg Queen and I went to see Carrie Underwood in concert at Nokia Theater in Grand Prairie. Safe to say, it was not my idea. But I figured it would be a pleasant enough evening, and I was right about that. Clearly I, a 40-year-old guy, was not the target demographic, a fact Ms. Underwood cheerfully acknowledged during her set. Anyway, an opening act called Little Big Town played for about 45 minutes or so. I was totally unfamiliar with their music, which seemed like pretty ordinary, middle-of-the-road country music to me. They did do a decent cover of “Life in a Northern Town,” the old 80s hit by Dream Academy. Then Carrie eventually made her way onstage and played for 90 minutes or so. I thought she had an engaging personality, great looks, and a decent voice. The only songs of hers that I knew were “Jesus Take the Wheel” and the one about destroying her cheating boyfriend’s car, and she also did covers of Fleetwood Mac’s “Go Your Own Way” and Guns n Roses’ “Paradise City.” I had a good time, and the scads of country music fans there seemed to as well. In fact, I sat next to a woman with three little girls who said this was their second time to see her this year. So there’s a testimonial from a true fan for ya.
Feast of Love (C+). This is an independent film based on a Charles Baxter novel of the same name and directed by Robert Benton (Kramer vs. Kramer). This ensemble piece is set in Oregon and is basically a commentation on love in its various incantations–friendship, father-son, father-daughter, husband-wife, brother-sister, and married man-mistress. There is also a homosexual relationship between two women, played by Selma Blair (Cruel Intentions) and Stana Katic (Quantum of Solace). The two main characters are Harry Stevenson (Morgan Freeman, Evan Almighty), a professor on leave after his son’s death, and Bradley Smith (Greg Kinnear, Heaven Is For Real), a good-natured coffee-shop owner seeking a relationship where his love can be returned. Morgan Freeman, who is a confidant to many of the characters in the movie, narrates at times about love and its effect on people. This is a thought-provoking movie that tends to linger in your thoughts after it’s over. Although it dragged in the middle, I thought it was a charming movie honest to reality with interwoven themes of spirituality. I would have given this movie a higher grade, but I dinged it for some unnecessary and graphic nudity (i.e., don’t watch this with kids). The movie also stars Radha Mitchell (Henry Poole Is Here), Jane Alexander (Kramer vs. Kramer), Billy Burke (Ladder 49), Alexa Davalos (The Mist), and Toby Hemingway (The Covenant).
Rachel Getting Married (B). This one has been getting rave reviews, but I wasn’t entirely sold. Maybe it’s because the title is so reminiscent of Margot at the Wedding, which starred the incomparable Nicole Kidman. But this one stars Anne Hathaway (Get Smart), who is quite the up and comer. Hathaway plays a gal named Kym, a former drug addict who’s been in and out of rehab for years. As the movie opens, she’s getting out of some rehab facility to attend the wedding of her older sister Rachel (Rosemarie DeWitt, Your Sister’s Sister). This, of course, sets the stage for all sorts of awkward behavior by the self-absorbed Kym. The performances are good, and I guess Hathaway was believable as a former junkie with a tenuous grip on sobriety, but even at less than 2 hours this movie felt a little long to me. Especially the wedding and the after-wedding party, which felt like they were filmed in real time. I’ll be curious to see if Hathaway gets an Oscar nod for her tortured-soul performance. It worked for Angelina Jolie (Girl, Interrupted) way back when.
Fiorello!. I’ll be brief, because I saw this Irving Lyric Stage production on its last night, and your chance of seeing it is probably slim to none. But I mention it to plug for the ILS, which never fails to put on top-notch productions of musicals that are a bit off the beaten path. Like this one, which had a successful Broadway run starting in 1959 but is hardly a household name. It’s about the rise to power of New York City Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia in the early 20th century, and it is probably a little corny in places by today’s standards. But it’s an enjoyable show, and the ILS did a fabulous job with it. The theater where they do most of their productions is quite small, which makes for a pleasantly intimate theater experience. Check out their website and give one of their shows a try.
Appaloosa (C+). Ed Harris (The Human Stain) directs and stars in this new Western also featuring ViggoMortensen (The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King) and Renee Zellweger (Cold Mountain). Harris and Mortensen are long-time pardners Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch, out riding the range. We soon come to learn that they are lawmen for hire–when a town sprouts up too far from civilization and gets menaced by forces of evil too big for local law enforcement, it hires Virgil and Everett, who are handy with shooting irons and learned everything they know about law enforcement by watching Gene Hackman’s character in Unforgiven. So they get hired by the town of Appaloosa in the New Mexico Territory to deal with a low-down varmint named Randall Bragg (Jeremy Irons, Dungeons & Dragons) and his gang. But long about that same time, a pretty little widow-woman named Mrs. French moves to Appaloosa and turns Virgil’s head. Adventures ensue. It is a good-looking movie, and you can almost feel the grit of the blowing dust down the streets of Appaloosa, but the story is just not all that gripping. I didn’t even recognize pasty ol‘ Lance Henriksen, the android Bishop from Aliens, as another gunslinger that Virgil ‘n’ Everett have to deal with.
Be Kind Rewind (B-). This recent release was written and directed by Michel Gondry, who directed Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. So I was expecting something pretty weird and off-the-wall. This flick had some odd elements, but it’s a much more straightforward movie. And basically a sweet one as well. Elroy Fletcher (Danny Glover, Lethal Weapon 4) runs a decrepit old video store in Passaic, NJ that’s about to be condemned. He leaves town for a while, leaving the store to be run by his employee Mike (Mos Def, Monster’s Ball). While Elroy is gone, Mike’s bumbling and paranoid friend Jerry (Jack Black, School of Rock) accidentally erases every video in the store, and they try to keep the business going by reshooting their own versions of whatever movies get requested. To their surprise (well, maybe not Jerry’s), people actually like their productions. The film had some laughs, like watching the two buddies film their own version of Ghostbusters. And a couple of high-powered actresses drop in (Mia Farrow, Rosemary’s Baby; Sigourney Weaver, Ghostbusters). An enjoyable enough little movie, but nothing to particularly write home about.