Recent Reviews 

Bon Voyage
Dir. Jean-Paul Rappeneau; writ. Gilles Marchand, from a novel by Patrick Modiano; feat. Isabelle Adjani, Gerard`acute accent over e` Depardieu, Virginie Ledoyen, Yvan Attal, Gregori`acute accent over first e`Derangere,`grave accent over next-to-last e` Peter Coyote (PG-13)
In 1940, following the "phony war" in which the French military stood serenely behind what it assumed was the unbreachable Maginot Line, German forces routed all resistance en route to taking Paris. More than 60 years later, memories of capitulation and collaboration still trouble the French collective conscience. Causing more tumult in Bon Voyage than even the German invaders is Viviane Denvers (Adjani), a self-absorbed, amoral movie star who is probably meant as a metaphor for Vichy France itself. She is an alluring femme fatale, and the first of many men we meet who have succumbed to her charms is soon stuffed, lifeless, into the trunk of a car. Unlike Two Men Went to War, the current British feature that veers between mockery and mush in its account of an unauthorized sortie into Normandy during the German occupation, Bon Voyage manages to be both serious and ludicrous simultaneously. SGK

Shrek 2
Dir. Andrew Adamson, Kelly Asbury, Conrad Vernon; writ. Andrew Adamson and Joe Stillman based on the book by William Steig; with Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, Julie Andrews, Antonio Banderas, John Cleese, Rupert Everett, Jennifer Saunders (PG-13)
With Shrek 2, the creative team that concocted the perfect antidote to all that saccharine fairytale princess crap Disney hawked to a generation of impressionable little girls has left the youth audience entirely behind. This sequel to the 2001 hit continues to satirize "happily ever after" by following the newlywed ogres home to meet Fiona's parents - who are under the impression that the spell has been broken by the Prince Charming of lore in favor of her human incarnation. To support what might otherwise be a tired storyline, Shrek 2 digs deeper into Mother Goose and the Bros. Grimms' pockets and comes up with the Gingerbread Man, the Muffin Man, and, most deliciously of all, Puss in Boots, played by Banderas as a fabulous Zorro parody. The second round of obvious jabs at Beauty and the Beast are a little strained, but the kingdom of Far Far Away is a funny, if somewhat gentle, spoof of Hollywood. A cross-dressing barmaid known as the Ugly Stepsister, who predictably eyes the lip-gloss-wearing Prince at the end further hammers home the message that this is a love story for alternative families of all stripes. EMW

Dir. and writ. Reverge Anselmo; feat. Rachel Leigh Cook, Mark Turner, Joe Mantegna, Val Kilmer, Carrie Fisher ( R )
Billed as "boy in flak jacket meets girl in strait jacket," Stateside is actually the tale of how a whopping dose of militarism, loopy writing, and ridiculous portrayals of mental illness can combine to thwart what should have been a lighthearted teen romance. Dori Lawrence (Cook) is a famous actress/rock star/schizophrenic. Mark Deloach (Tucker) is a prep school bad boy, who smashes his car, and gets his butt hauled off to the Marines to avoid jail time - but not before meeting Dori in a mental hospital. Mark's boot camp experience is seriously stomach-turning. Dori has the special kind of schizophrenia that is kittenish and cute: She wears big sweaters, has a messy haircut, and is prone to making off-the-wall comments that prove how truly reckless she can be. Cook was great in her other teen fare, but she's far too plastic to pull off her meatier scenes here. While their love scenes are sometimes tender, their relationship just doesn't make sense. This flick was two hours and 15 minutes too long. LMF

Super Size Me
Dir. Morgan Spurlock (NR)
In Super Size Me, his first feature film, Director Morgan Spurlock serves as his own guinea pig to test the hypothesis that a steady diet of fast food is hazardous to a consumer's health. By the final frames, a vigorous man in his thirties has become a depressed, exhausted maw, a swollen bundle of human tissue diagnosed as gravely ill. Spurlock resolves that for an entire month he will eat three meals a day at McDonald's. He will order everything on its menu at least once and will opt for the largest portions whenever prompted by an employee. From beginning to end of his dreadful ordeal, Spurlock is monitored by three increasingly appalled physicians and pitied by his vegan girlfriend. Super Size Me is a 96-minute anti-commercial, designed to demonstrate that Big Mac means big trouble. The film also includes conversations with John Banzhaf, the law professor who took on the tobacco industry and now challenges fast-food merchants; David Satcher, former surgeon general of the United States; and Marion Nestlé, a prominent critic of the food industry. The success of fast-food chains is symptomatic of a culture of narcissism, in which nothing is more compelling than individual comfort. After Super Size Me, no one can consider cheeseburgers a comfort food. SGK

Dir. Wolfgang Petersen; writ. David Benioff; feat. Brad Pitt, Eric Bana, Orlando Bloom, Diane Kruger, Brian Cox, Sean Bean, Brendan Gleeson, Peter O'Toole
Don't go to Troy expecting Homer's Iliad. The battlefields of the 10-year Trojan War at times evoke the opening scene in Saving Private Ryan; at other times the kitschy, recent WWF match-up "Live From Baghdad," where real wrestlers entertained the battle-weary troops in Iraq. While Homer focused on Achilles' rage, the filmmakers prefer the Trojan prince Paris' abduction of Helen, wife of the Spartan Menaleus. The poetic dialogue is reduced to soap operatics. Orlando Bloom as Paris is superb window-dressing as is Diane Kruger's Helen but neither is any more convincing than a mannequin. Pitt's physique is so buff that his armor looks lame in comparison. He has also been strapped with Nike promotional one-liners for dialogue. "Immortality is yours, take it." Lost in this mêlée are fine, even Oscar-worthy, performances by Peter O'Toole and Eric Bama. The forsaken, prophetic Cassandra warned Priam to beware the Greek bearing gifts. Well, she has been left on the cutting room floor. Maybe she told the gods to beware Hollywood geeks bearing booty. GB

Young Adam
Dir. and writ. David Mckenzie, based on the novel by Alexander Trocchi; feat. Ewan McGregor, Tilda Swinton, Peter Mullan, Emily Mortimer, Jack McElhone, Therese Bradley, Ewan Stewart, Stuart McQuarrie
When we first lay eyes on the charismatic young Joe Taylor (McGregor), working in close quarters on a coal barge with a dour family of three, it's already apparent that he and the skipper's wife, Ella (Swinton), will soon be swabbing belowdecks together. Joe is an unstable element, causing damage and disruption wherever he goes. The story unfolds like an origami crane under hazy skies, along the canals that run between Glasgow and Edinburgh, Scotland. Alexander Trocchi's novel, on which the film is based, was a critique of the hypocritical mores of 1950s-era Scotland. Director, David McKenzie argues that Joe is not guilty. He is, rather, a moral casualty of a repressed, and economically oppressive, society, an emotional orphan who might have penned Leonard Cohen's "Like a Bird on a Wire." The movie is just that graphic and emotionally wrenching, too. Among the sexually explicit scenes is one which is shocking not so much for the custard and paddle, but for the emotional weight this vacant man can throw around in a woman's life. Among the many pleasures of this dark film is David Byrne's apt soundtrack, which creates a modern dirge for this play on the death of moral certitude. EW

Films reviewed by:
GB: Gregg Barrios
JD: John DeFore
LMF: Laura Fries
SGK: Steven G. Kellman
WK: Wendi Kimura
AL: Albert Lopez
JM: Jonathan Marcus
AP: Alejandro Pérez
RP: Rich Perin
JW: Joe Weiss
EW: Elaine Wolff



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