That's a wrap

The Departed looks fantastic on paper
Dax Shepard admires the, um, depth of Jessica Simpson’s acting talents in Employee of the Month.
The Departed looks fantastic on paper. The story sounds taut: Two men — one an undercover cop infiltrating the mafia (Leonardo DiCaprio), the other a mafia plant within the police department (Matt Damon) — must race to find and expose each other. The cast is one of those where you can go nine deep before you run out of people you’ve heard of, and each of the nine could carry his own flick. It’s got Nicholson as a mafia boss. Scorsese directs. What could possibly go wrong? Same thing that seems to have gone wrong with the last four or so supposed unassailable masterpieces: All the King’s Men, The Black Dahlia, Hollywoodland, The Illusionist, all of which have received tepid to unfavorable reviews. Somehow haven’t caught any of ’em yet (except for half of Kings, before a damaged print put an end to the screening), but if The Departed is bad, I just might start panicking and punching people. Do me proud, Marty (review, page 23). (Note: If the upcoming The Prestige is disappointing … hide your cat.)

Don’t know much about this Dane Cook character (’cept that he played “The Waffler” in Mystery Men), and knew even less before catching his recent Vicious Circle special on On Demand. I’m happy to report, though, that said special was rather entertaining — he took a while to win me over, but had me laughing loudly enough toward the end that I was mildly nervous about morning-after pissy neighbors. Oh — just realized he was reasonably funny in Waiting … , too — I just may give Employee of the Month a shot. (There’s some blonde chick in it too, apparently.)

Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning appears to be one of those flicks that the studio doesn’t bother doing advance critics’ screenings for. What does that mean? Well, here’s a hint: Snakes on a Plane, Glitter, and When a Stranger Calls didn’t bother, either. You do the math.

This week’s Bijou offering is Vers le sud (Heading South), a French bit about three female middle-age-ish tourists (one of them Charlotte Rampling) who take a jaunt in 1980s Haiti, where they encounter poverty, danger, and sexual awakenings with eager young men. (The brochure just writes itself … )

Gotta go — would just like to apologize for absent-mindedly calling the conjunction “if” a preposition a few columns back — and for drawing attention to it now.

Happy afternoon.

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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