Film Openings

Art School Confidential. (R) Reviewed in this issue. (Robert Wilonsky) DP, J14, OF, RON, STCH, TV

Don't Come Knocking. (Not Rated) Wim Wenders began as the most austerely hip of the German New Wavers, but he quickly became besotted with American cliché culture; a crash festival of The End of Violence, The Million Dollar Hotel, Land of Plenty, and now Don't Come Knocking would cure even Tom Waits of barroom whimsy for life. He returns to playwright Sam Shepard for source material, with Shepard himself grumping up center stage as a menopausal jerk searching for meaning we're never sure is there. Shepard's hero, a leathery cowboy actor named Howard Spence, defects from a desert movie set and his blind-driving lifestyle of booze, dope, and fan-boffing, eventually finding out that a waitress he knocked-up more than two decades earlier had a son he's never met. So, it's hangout time in Butte, Montana. Wenders clearly doesn't think in terms of meaning and pace; he longs to make narrative-film choices the way a jazz guitarist chooses licks: capriciously, hunting for grooviness, even if the attempt imbues his work with the personality of a blissfully hungover Beat poet playing dress-up. (Michael Atkinson) PF

Goal! The Dream Begins. (PG) Aside from a flirtation with the hot-button immigration issue, this inspirational movie about an underdog soccer player from tough East Los Angeles is pretty standard stuff. Mexican TV heartthrob Kuno Becker stars as Santiago Munez, a rec-league standout who lands a trial with the fabled Newcastle United club of northeastern England. The appealing young man's tribulations are predictable, his triumph inevitable; while he gets respect (and the girl, played by Anna Friel), we get another Rocky-style dose of emotional uplift, cloaked in the usual game-day clichés. Not a bad movie, but as familiar as Alex Rodriguez's batting average. Two sequels are already in the works — probably aimed at the soccer-crazy international market. Brit director Danny Cannon and Brit screenwriters Dick Clement and Ian Le Frenais know their futbol, but will American moviegoers pay to play? (Bill Gallo) ARN, CGX, DP, GL, J14, KEN, MR, OF, RON, SP, STCH, STCL

Just My Luck. Lindsay Lohan plays Ashley Albright, a Manhattan socialite who's life is, in fact, all bright. But then she goes to a masquerade ball where she swaps spit and luck with Jake Hardin (Chris Pine) who's had it, well, hard in life. Will she gain a new perspective in life with this flip-flop of fate? The safe bet says she does. (not reviewed) ARN, CGX, DP, EG, GL, J14, KEN, MR, OF, RON, SP, STCH, STCL

Kinky Boots. (PG-13) Reviewed in this issue. (Luke Y. Thompson) PF

Poseidon. (PG-13) The soulless recycling of the '70s proceeds apace with this brisk, empty-skulled resurrection of the 1973 Irwin Allen cheesecake. The digitals are predictably unaffecting, but it's the hilarious dialogue and brutally obvious intros to the B-level cast that bruise more. Instead of Gene Hackman's Nietzschean priest, we get Josh Lucas as a career gambler with a mercenary sense of survival. Kurt Russell is his counterpoint, an ex-New York mayor ("Cool!" someone says in mid-fight-for-life) and, luckily, a retired fireman. Old people — the linchpin of every cruise ship passenger list — are absent here. In the end, Wolfgang Petersen's film may, like Steven Spielberg's War of the Worlds, go down well depending on your proximity to the World Trade Center five years ago. The easy wow factor of disaster films — fireballs, massive explosions, flying bodies, and architectural obliteration on a large scale — should no longer be a gimme. I do not look forward to the inevitable remake of The Towering Inferno. (Atkinson) ARN, CPP, CGX, DP, EG, J14, MR, OF, RON, SP, STCH, STCL

Shakespeare Behind Bars. (Not Rated) Reviewed in this issue. (Thompson) TV

 
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