Film Openings

Week of September 21, 2005

Tim Burton's Corpse Bride. (PG) Reviewed in this issue.

Flightplan. (PG-13) Here's a nifty, heartbreaking premise: Has airplane engineer Kyle Pratt (Jodie Foster) really lost her child on a double-decker, U.S.S. Enterprise-sized luxury jetliner bound for New York, or is her daughter Julia (Marlene Lawston) just a memory manufactured by grief, as the flight crew claims when it can't find the girl on the passenger manifest? For two acts, the movie obsesses over that inquiry, and Flightplan plays like a top-notch psychological thriller -- not the boo kind, but the boo-hoo kind, in which a character's inner torment becomes palpable, tangible, overwhelming. But as the movie enters its final chapter, you will come to the sad, sickening realization that the filmmakers have played you for a chump. What seemed so smart, so well crafted and finely tuned, falls apart into a flaming heap of crap, and all goodwill is dashed. To give away what happens would only serve the movie right; the spoiler arrives spoiled, after all, and you'd be well advised to steer clear of this impending disaster. (Robert Wilonsky)

The Memory of a Killer. (R) If it weren't spoken mostly in Flemish, this film would be easy to mistake for a Hollywood thriller. The story of a hit man with a conscience (Jan Decleir) and the cop who's always a step or two behind him (Koen De Bouw) as they pursue the same villains, it's full of familiar reference points, including the John Woo cliché of pigeons flying in slow motion. No surprise, then, that Focus Features is set to remake it. The movie in general is too long (over two hours), and the closest it gets to a big action sequence is actually rather tedious and could easily have been trimmed. Still, director Erik Van Looy gets off some powerfully memorable moments. If you're one of those people who complained that Memento could just as well have been told in chronological order, The Memory of a Killer may be your cup of tea. (Luke Y. Thompson)

Proof. (PG-13) Reviewed in this issue.

Roll Bounce. (PG-13) The year is 1978, and Xavier (rapper Bow Wow) heads up a small posse of roller skaters who vaguely resemble Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, except that none of them is deformed. The local South Side roller rink closes down early on, leaving the gang without a place to hang out. Eventually they make a trip to the North Side, where, at a place called Sweetwater's, they run afoul of an arrogant posse of skaters who work backup for the biggest star in roller disco -- a buff loverboy with an early-Prince look who goes by the nom-de-skates "Sweetness" (Wesley Jonathan). A challenge is thrown down, and our climax is set up: A roller dance-off is coming, pitting the teams against each other for a cash prize and -- more important -- bragging rights. Director Malcolm D. Lee, who played the retro groove thang broadly in Undercover Brother, dives so wholeheartedly and unironically into this movie about, yes, roller disco, that any faults seem minor. (Thompson)

 
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