That's a Wrap (09-13-06) 

Let’s see. With The Illusionist and Hollywoodland already out of the way, the well-stocked “Clawing-at-My-Eyeballs-’Til-It-Opens” list grows ever shorter, and takes another hefty blow this week from Brian De Palma’s The Black Dahlia — hopes buoyed by a slick-looking trailer, intriguing source material, James Ellroy’s solid presence, and the involvement of Aaron Eckhart and the underappreciated Mia “Don’t Dump on Me” Kirshner. (Read the review, page 22.) So, that leaves … well, still a veritable bumload that makes me giddy like someone just said “pee-pee”: The Prestige, The Fountain, Children of Men, Babel, A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints … more than I have room to name. I’ve got a hunch, though, that the very best of the soon-to-screen crop may be opening this week. (No, not Dahlia … see below.) (Um, no. Not Gridiron Gang, either. Farther down.)

Gridiron Gang sees ex-University of Miami football standout The Rock (that’s what he’s famous for, right?) lead a group of ragtag juvy kids to self-esteem by yelling at them and making them hit each other. You ask: Sort of like when ex-Florida State University football standout Burt Reynolds led a group of ragtag inmates to self-esteem (twice) by getting them to hit prison guards? Maybe; but this one’s based on a true story.

Everyone’s Hero is a computer-toon about a kid who sets out to return a talking baseball bat (voiced by Whoopi Goldberg) to its rightful owner, Babe Ruth, before the biggest game of the 1932 World Series. He is joined along the way by a talking baseball (voiced by Rob Reiner). Notable because it’s the film Christopher Reeve was working on when he passed away; Reeve retains a director credit.

Raise your hand if you really like Zach Braff. OK, put ‘em down. Now raise your hand if you love Zach Braff. Good. OK, down again. Down. Sir? Sir — down. Calm down, sir. OK, now raise your hand if you’ve downloaded the Garden State soundtrack to your iPod, along with selected dialogue clips from the movie and from Scrubs, and you listen to this collection so much that you’ve taken to calling it your “iZach.” OK, hands back down. Sir, please. Hands … hands down, sir. Please … stop yelling. He can’t hear you. Now raise your hand if you’ve spent the last few months assiduously sculpting a Braff bust from mashed-up chicken-buillon cubes, a pilfered headshot, and a toenail clipping that sort of looks like Peter Sarsgaard. Good gravy. The Last Kiss opens this weekend, and there’s a Braff interview on page 21 — have at it, you sad, sick degenerates. (And, um, send me a picture of that sculpture.) (You know, for, um … just send it.)

And, at long last, Half Nelson opens this week. This is it, folks. I’ve been crazy for this one since I first heard about it, and our reviewer’s teasingly positive comments (page 23) only leave me that much more eager. This Gosling kid’s the real deal, and as a drug-addicted teacher, he may get to prove it. No jokes, I’m just happy this is finally out.

Drive safely.

Local premiere dates for limited-release films are tentative and can change at the last minute. Please check your local theater listings to confirm showtimes.



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