Film Openings

Week of July 2, 2003

 The Hard Word. Scott Roberts. Guy Pearce's Dale Twentyman is a nonviolent con always getting conned, not least of all by his peroxided wife, Carol (Rachel Griffiths), and her lover Frank (Robert Taylor), who's also Dale's double-crossing lawyer and the very man who plots the elaborate robberies that land Dale behind bars. Frank provides Dale and his brothers -- meat-headed butcher Mal (Damien Richardson) and temperamental muscleman Shane (Joel Edgerton) -- with plans and props; it's just this one day Frank figures that $20 million is too much to split with the three lads, so he hires outside help to off the boys once the race is run and the cash is collected. In the end, some people wind up dead, some live happily ever after, some live just until the next con comes around the corner. The thing about heist films is that they're pretty good at tricking you into liking them; the thrills can dash away the nagging feeling that you're being taken yet again. But you are, ultimately. Now showing at the Tivoli. (Robert Wilonsky)

Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde. Charles Herman-Wurmfeld. Now showing at multiple locations. Reviewed this issue.

Respiro. Emanuele Crialese. Opens Friday, July 4, at the Tivoli. Reviewed this issue.

Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas. Patrick Gilmore, Tim Johnson. DreamWorks' latest, "starring" Brad Pitt and Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michelle Pfeiffer, pulled into port but a week before Walt Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, the theme-park-ride-inspired, Jerry Bruckheimer-produced spectacle that bears a screenplay co-written by the very men responsible for last year's Disney-made animated flop Treasure Planet, a deep-space swashbuckler adapted from the Robert Louis Stevenson novel set in deep seas. And Sinbad's precursors are not so much the beguiling stop-motion Ray Harryhausen productions, dating back to The 7th Voyage of Sinbad in 1958, but the Indiana Jones and James Bond franchises, from which this cartoon swipes its escape routes through treacherous waters and down icy mountainsides. Pirates have nothing on screenwriters and movie studios when it comes to plundering; beware buccaneers driving Porsche Cayennes. Were it not for the high-priced talent heard but not seen, Sinbad could well have been dry-docked on video shelves. With its now-familiar blend of traditional 2-D animated characters and shimmering 3-D computer-rendered backgrounds, it doesn't leave much of an impression. Now showing at multiple locations. (Robert Wilonsky)

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. Jonathan Mostow. Now showing at multiple locations. Reviewed this issue.

2003 Academy Award-Nominated Shorts. Feature-length compilation includes nine of the ten animated and live-action shorts nominated for Academy Awards in 2003. A rare chance to see both winners -- The Chubbchubbs! and This Charming Man -- plus international nominees The Cathedral, Das Rad (Rocks), Mt. Head, Mike's New Car, Fait d'Hiver (Gridlock), I'll Wait for the Next One and Inja (Dog). Opens Friday, July 4, at the Tivoli. NR

Winged Migration. Jacques Perrin. Jacques Perrin -- actor (Cinema Paradiso, Brotherhood of the Wolf) and producer (Z, Himalaya) -- adds director to his résumé with this gorgeous documentary about migratory birds. Shooting literally around the world, his five crews, sometimes using noiseless gliders, manage to get remarkably close-in footage of more than 50 varieties throughout the entirety of their annual journeys. It goes without saying that this does not provide the usual pleasures of a straightforward narrative, but the film is a miracle of editing. There are moments of humor, suspense and even horror -- I nearly jumped out of my seat at one point -- but Perrin, who delivers only very occasional voice-over, primarily wants us to experience the joy of flight and extraordinary physical grace of his subjects. The fractured structure, which moves from one species to another while following a generally chronological overall arc, can occasionally leave your mind to wandering, but for a film with no plot or characters to focus on, it is remarkably gripping. Opens Friday, July 4, at the Tivoli. (Andy Klein)

 
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