New reviews and special screens

CUTLINE (Photo by Mark Greenberg)

Sponges, sunsets, spectres and scholarships

New reviews

The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie
Dir. Sherm Cohen, Stephen Hillenburg; writ. Hillenburg, et al; feat. Tom Kenny, Bill Bagerbakke, Jeffrey Tambor, Rodger Bumpass, Alec Baldwin, Scarlett Johansson, David Hasselhoff (PG)

"Who lives in a pineapple under the sea?"

I can't speak for all adults, but since first hearing those words I've been smitten with a porous, highly absorbent yellow guy whose best friends are a starfish and a crabby squid. Now, the innocently goofy star of Nickelodeon's popular cartoon has his own movie. The giddiness makes the transition without breaking a sweat, and while the movie doesn't leave you with the feeling that it simply had to exist outside the TV tube (the way, say, the South Park movie did), it's a perfectly fun way to spend an hour and a half with your favorite preschooler.

After a hilarious live-action opening sequence (which involves a crew of pirates motley enough to make Johnny Depp's bunch look like nancy-boys), the story gets going quickly: Little S.B. has his heart set on being made manager of a new diner, but he isn't; an evil little piece of Plankton frames the owner of said diner for a crime, getting him in deep trouble with King Neptune. SpongeBob and Patrick Star have to go on a dangerous mission to retrieve Neptune's crown, or else Plankton will rule the fast-food world and even (cue Lord of the Rings music) enslave the poor citizens of Bikini Bottom.

The quest is undertaken, and for the most part feels just like a long, ambitious episode of the TV show. A couple of inspired live-action bits, though - including a surreal incident involving David Hasselhoff - pull it out of the small-screen realm. The series' anarchic spirit survives, allowing our heroes to poke fun at the kind of stale morals kids' entertainment likes to spew. Only a Knucklehead McSpazatron wouldn't get a kick out of that. John DeFore

After the Sunset
Dir. Brett Ratner; writ. Paul Zbyszewski, Craig Rosenberg; feat. Pierce Brosnan, Salma Hayek, Woody Harrelson, Don Cheadle, Obbar Babatundé (R)

After the Sunset's talented cast ought to guarantee something, but the film's story is about as fresh as they come from Hollywood these days and has the gall to make more than one comparison to Alfred Hitchcock's infinitely superior To Catch a Thief. Brosnan's reluctant criminal is trying to get out of the "business" when he takes on one last job that will make him feel complete, aided by his accomplice girlfriend (Hayak), and chased by an agent (Harrelson) that has never been able to catch him.

For some reason, After the Sunset feels like Bret Ratner's (Red Dragon, Rush Hour) first directing gig. The humor is unevolved and forced and the timing is even worse. Several gags seem to be thinly veiled homophobia and the camera overdoes it trying to capture Hayek's derrier. Her backside may be wonderful to look at but it certainly doesn't propel the story forward. The dramatic scenes are continuously walloped over the head by the comedic scenes and vice-versa with no discernable segues in between, making the film feel very disjointed at its core.

Narratively it is never made clear that Brosnan's character does indeed need to steal the jewels. In Carlito's Way, by comparison, Brian DePalma painstakingly makes it inevitable that Al Pacino will return to his life of crime. Ratner's characters haphazardly puruse tasks that seem to have little to no impact or motivation, and unlike Grant and Kelly in Thief, Brosnan and Hayek manage to light up the screen like a cancelled fireworks show. After the Sunset joins the ranks of other recent multi-cast thievery/spy borefests such as Heist, The Score, and (another Brosnan film) The Tailor of Panama. — J. Michael Owen

Special screenings

"We have been silent witnesses of evil deeds ... "

The Spirit of Peace Church, United Church of Christ, is sponsoring a screening of the documentary Bonhoeffer. The film chronicles the life of the dissident German theologian who agitated openly against Hitler and ultimately participated in assassination attempts, through interviews with family members, students, and associates who knew Bonhoeffer. Bonhoeffer's texts, written while in prison, Cost of Discipleship, Letters and Papers from Prison, and Ethics, are classics of religion and ethics. Producer and director Martin Doblmeier will answer questions following the screening.

Bonhoeffer will screen at 7pm Friday, November 19 at the Jary Auditorium at Keystone School, corner of Woodlawn and McCullough. Admission is $10. For more info or advance tickets, call 403-9084.

Spectres of the Spectrum

ArtPace will screen the 1999 film "Spectres of the Spectrum" as part of its series Just Add Pictures: Collage Essay Films and Videos, curated by San Antonio- and Los Angeles-based filmmaker Jim Mendiola. Culling from old TV shows, 1950s movies, and military training films, Baldwin creates, "a relentless narrative of conspiracy theories, political harangues, and the outright bizarre,"

Spectres of the Spectrum will screen at 6:30pm Thursday, November 18 at ArtPace, 445 North Main. Admission is free. For more information, call 212-4900.

I Asian Film

If you, too, love Asian film, you can join the Cinema Asia club by visiting The group will host film screenings and related events. For more information, call Apostolos Papapostolou at 438-4911 or e-mail [email protected].

New Vistas Scholarship Competition

The New Vistas in Video Festival, sponsored by the multimedia program at Northwest Vista College, will celebrate its sixth year this January 29 with six $600 scholarship prizes to any of the four Alamo Community College District community colleges. Winners and runners-up will be featured at a special screening during the festival. The judges include documentarian Ray Santiesban, Jim LaVilla-Havelin of the Southwest School of Art & Craft's Young Artist Program, and independent curator Jennifer Jankauskas. Entries are being accepted until December 16. For more info, contact Renata Serafin at 348-2082.


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