Film Openings

Week of May 29, 2002

 Dogtown and Z-Boys. Stacy Peralta. Opens May 31 at the Tivoli. Reviewed this issue.

I Remember Me. Kim Snyder. Director Snyder has suffered from chronic fatigue syndrome, and I Remember Me details the history of the malady. It's a confusing history, filled with ambivalence and dismissiveness on the part of some in the medical profession (who consider it hypochondria); sufferers tend to have to work hard to get adequate treatment at the very time in the syndrome's life when hard work is next to impossible. Though Snyder examines her own struggles with CFS, she also examines the first recorded outbreak of the syndrome and clusters and their possible causes. She peppers these examinations with interviews with CFS sufferers, doctors and dismissive professionals. Plays at 8 p.m. May 31-June 2. NR

The Importance of Being Earnest. Oliver Parker. Opens May 31 at multiple locations. Reviewed this issue.

Rain. Christine Jeffs. If one takes it as a given that motivations will be vaguely telegraphed, plot will be hazy and characters will be manipulated in obvious, ultimately jarring ways, Kiwi director Jeffs' feature debut is not without its charms. Based on the novel by Kirsty Gunn, this story of an adolescent girl's blossoming awareness offers a slow, sensuous contemplation of womanhood's threshold. The film takes place in 1972 in and around a cottage on the New Zealand shore rented by inert Ed Phelon (Alistair Browning) and his cuckolding wife, Kate (Sarah Peirse). They've brought along their two children, adolescent Janey (Alicia Fulford-Wierzbicki) and little Jim (Aaron Murphy), but one of those rugged itinerant photographer types (Marton Csokas) becomes a bone to pick between mother and daughter. Heavy with mood and songwriter Neil Finn's fine first score, Jeffs' debut feature merely moistens us when we should be soaked. Maybe next time she'll let it all come down. Opens May 31 at the Plaza Frontenac. (GW)

Second Skin. Gerardo Vera. A callow, handsome, just-married professional finds himself attracted to his own sex when he meets another knowing, handsome, well-adjusted professional man. Sound familiar? No, it's not Making Love from 1982 but a 1999 Spanish film directed by Vera from a script by Ángeles Gonzàles Sinde, starring Javier Bardem, Jordi Mollà and Ariadna Gil. And though more sexually explicit than its American predecessor, it's not as dramatically incisive as it might be, thanks to the filmmakers' preference for plush decor over dramatic specificity. Though very well acted, it's not the film it could have been. Opens May 31 at the Tivoli. (DE)

Son of the Bride. When Rafa (Ricardo Darín), a harried Buenos Aires restaurateur, suffers a life-threatening experience, he suddenly reevaluates all of his priorities. In addition to realizing that his relationships with his senile mother (Norma Aleandro), his father (Héctor Alterio), his eleven-year-old daughter (Gimena Nbile), his much younger girlfriend (Natalia Verbeke) and his wacky, recently rediscovered childhood pal (Eduardo Blanco) are more important than the mundane details of his business, he becomes determined to arrange a second wedding for his parents -- the big formal church wedding that his mother always dreamed of but the couple couldn't afford when they first fell in love. This Argentinean comedy/drama from director and co-writer Juan José Campanella -- one of the five nominees for the Best Foreign Film Oscar -- is a moving and solidly entertaining piece of work. Still, it sometimes feels a little too TV-ready: It's well meaning, well made and thoughtful, filled with perfectly tuned performances, but not especially challenging in its approach to its central issue. One note: The punchline to the film's funniest joke occurs in a brief scene inserted about halfway into the closing credit crawl. So don't leave early -- it's worth waiting for. Opens May 31 at the Plaza Frontenac. (AK)

Sum of All Fears. Phil Alden Robinson. When Ben Affleck keeps getting work, the terrorists have won. With blank eyes and soft features, he has none of the gravitas of the previous Jack Ryans, Alec Baldwin and Harrison Ford, who saved the world with swagger. Tom Clancy acolytes will surely stare at the screen in confusion; screenwriters Paul Attanasio and Daniel Pyne have gutted the 1991 novel, eliminating major characters and key plot points and setting what's ostensibly a flashback in the present. In short, the Nazis (talk about time warp) hatch a plan to blow up the Super Bowl, blame the Russians and drag the United States into all-out nuclear war. The film reaches its climax midpoint, when the Super Bowl is laid waste. With fresh memories of real-life destruction still rolling around our heads, the result is alienating and not a little offensive (acts of terror used to sell tickets -- how noble). We're no longer in the movie but out the theater, hoping life doesn't again imitate art, as base as it is. Opens May 31 at multiple locations. (RW)

Undercover Brother. Malcolm D. Lee. The beauty of Lee's smart, sharp comedy lies in its dexterity, as it raises one fist in a friendly Black Power salute and firmly gooses the whole audience with the other. Based on the animated Internet series (at UrbanEntertainment.com) the script explores a soulful, secret solidarity known as the B.R.O.T.H.E.R.H.O.O.D. (Chi McBride, David Chappelle, Gary Anthony Williams, Neil Patrick Harris) who tap the freelance, Afro-'n'-polyester caricature Undercover Brother (Eddie Griffin) to infiltrate the tyrannical organization run by The Man. The hero dons his Oreo alter ego, Anton Jackson, while henchwoman Penelope "White She-Devil" Snow (Denise Richards, hot) plies him with honky mayonnaise and her own special condiments, squaring off against agent Sistah Girl (Aunjanue Ellis, hotter). It's a shame that zany comedies don't tend to win awards, because producer Brian Grazer (with producers Damon Lee and Michael Jenkinson) has delivered a more gratifying film than his fat Oscar-hog last year (A Beautiful Mind), and the mind under this Brother's Afro is truly a beautiful one. Opens May 31 at multiple locations. (GW)

 
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