Film Openings

Week of October 23, 2002

Punch-Drunk Love. Paul Thomas Anderson. Opens October 25 at the Plaza Frontenac. Reviewed this issue.

The Truth About Charlie. Jonathan Demme. Once more, it all boils down to the stamps -- which, if you have seen Stanley Donen's Charade, nearly ruins the last ten minutes of Demme's remake. But revelations and rewards aren't Demme's game; he loves the making of movies, not finishing them, which is what makes The Truth About Charlie such a rush: For the first time in a long time, the writer/director is having a blast. So are we when watching this story about a widow (Thandie Newton) who's being pursued by good guys, bad guys and other guys who may be both, among them Mark Wahlberg, Tim Robbins and Christine Boisson. The movie's loaded with appearances by the French New Wave, and their proximity has brushed off on Demme, who zigs and zags and drags his camera through Paris with an abandon he hasn't displayed since his days toiling on the Roger Corman assembly line or shooting Something Wild. But this is as much Newton's picture as it is Demme's; it's little wonder every character falls for her. Opens October 25 at multiple locations. (RW)

Waking Up in Reno. Jordan Brady. Not as bad as its rep -- Miramax has been hiding this sucker on the shelf for danged near two years -- but not good enough to overcome its status as damaged goods, which is almost a shame, because audiences will miss Billy Bob Thornton's best performance, and hairpiece, in years. This is a comedy Dr. Phil could wrap his moustache around in a loving embrace: Two couples (Thornton and Natasha Richardson, barely in love; Patrick Swayze and Charlize Theron, desperately trying to get pregnant) take a road trip from Arkansas to Nevada and leave their white trash scattered all across the Southwest. Once it's revealed to all that Thornton and Theron have had a brief tryst, things fall apart, though, blessedly, not for long; these people deserve each other, and a slightly better movie that doesn't patronize and preach at the same time (Richardson, turns out, is pretty on the inside, too -- whatever). Docked a point for using Penelope Cruz for a split second as a Reno hooker; come to think of it, brief cameos become her. Opens October 25 at the Ronnies 20. (RW)

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