NEW REVIEWS 

Sex and Lucia
"Erotic contraption from Spain"
Writ. & dir. Julio Medem; feat. Paz Vega, Tristân Ullaa, Janwa Nimri, Daniel Freire, Javier Cámara, Silvia Llanas, Elena Anaya (no MPAA rating)
The translation, Sex and Lucia, is more accurate than the original Spanish, Lucia y el Sexo. As crucial as Lucia is to the puzzling plot, Basque director Julio Medem begins and ends his film in desire. Sex and Lucia is so replete with fantasies, memories, fictions, and frames that a viewer remains baffled by how to fit it all together, even whether there is one definitive story line that makes sense of every scene. But though its most erotic imagery might be opening shots of undulating underwater vegetation, none can doubt the presence of sex in Sex and Lucia. Expect nude, nubile bodies, including erect penises, in lubricious contact. It is enough to make Spain's puritanical caudillo Francisco Franco turn over in his mausoleum.
Lucia (Vega) is a beautiful young waitress who, enamored of a novel, throws herself at its author, Lorenzo (Ulloa). During the five years that they live together, Lorenzo becomes increasingly absorbed and depressed by his own fictional creation. Unable to cope with his suicidal despair, Lucia flees their Madrid apartment for a magical floating island. In what is apparently a flashback or an excerpt from Lorenzo's latest fiction or both, two strangers meet on that island under a full moon for anonymous, glorious sex. Their coupling has consequences, not least a daughter named Luna (Llano).
Sex and Lucia can rationalize its hokey and sleazy patches by the fact that they are stories-within-stories within a cinematic Möbius strip that teases about just what is within and what without. But photographic images are literal in the way a page of type need not be. And what fascinates in the metafiction of Italo Calvino and John Barth becomes detumescent on Medem's screen. SK

The Adventures of Pluto Nash
"Not as dumb as I expected"
Dir. Ron Underwood; writ. Neil Cuthbert; feat. Eddie Murphy, Randy Quaid, Rosario Dawson, Joe Pantoliano (PG-13)
A friend asked me not to write about any good jokes in Pluto Nash, even if I found any, so to avoid anyone else subjecting themselves to this obviously C-grade movie.

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Rosario Dawson and Eddie Murphy in The Adventures of Pluto Nash

Less to honor his request than to make this easy for the movie-going public — Pluto Nash offers nothing to celebrate. Yet, it leaves nothing much to jeer at, either. It's a plain hero flick, the kind that could have been (and has been, and will in the future be) set anywhere in the universe. This one happens to be set on the Moon, where the eponymous hero owns a nightclub that he is being coerced to sell by a mysterious and Mafioso-ish casino baron. Pluto's not having it, and spends the film defending himself, his dough, and his entourage from the thugs.

The flick could have been a drama, is supposed to be a comedy (dumb space jokes), and the surprise is given away in the trailer. Set for release two years ago, Pluto Nash will fade quickly into the mists of cinema, but I'll give it this one point in favor: It's good-hearted — not the mean-spirited, dung-driven farce dumped out by the David Spades and Dana Carveys of the world. JM

Blue Crush
"Bad teen angst on surfboards"
Dir. John Stockwell; writ. Lizzy Weiss; feat. Kate Bosworth, Michelle Rodriguez, Sanoe Lake, Matthew Davis (PG-13)
The target market for Blue Crush may well like the movie; everyone else will find it a crushing bore. It could appeal to preadolescent girls, who might find the theme of "stay true to your dreams" as inspiring as I found it trite. Think of it like this: Barbie goes to the beach. Barbie's less-pretty friends try to convince her to go for her dream, and compete in a surf contest. She's a get-tough surfboard queen. But, along comes Ken, and Barbie starts to doubt her priorities, since boys don't like girls who kick butt.

How does it turn out? I couldn't suffer the full evening to find out, but if you simply must know, you'll have to fork over the price of admission. Don't say I didn't warn you, though. RO

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