Film Openings

Week of September 21, 2006

All the King's Men. (PG-13) Reviewed in this issue.(Michael Atkinson) CPP, CGX, DP, KEN, OF, PF, RON, SP, STCH

Confetti. (R) Despite its title, this chaotic mockumentary in the finest tradition of English vulgarity has nothing whatever to say about marriage. It's a loud belch in the face of a billion-dollar wedding industry that has sprung up to service the longings of the post-feminist young for ceremonial opulence. The movie's fertile subject is themed marriage ceremonies, and the conceit is a contest, carelessly hatched by the publishers of a glossy wedding magazine, between three engaged couples to come up with the best gimmick for their nuptial hours, with the winner scoring a million-dollar mansion. A couple of giddy wedding planners (Vincent Franklin and Jason Watkins) will help them realize their dreams of getting spliced, respectively, while playing tennis, while stark naked, and while dancing a Busby Berkeley spectacular. That all three couples are utterly useless in their chosen fields of performance goes without saying. But the couples' lack of talent or finesse pales before the aggravations of meddlesome friends and family, prominent among them a terrific Alison Steadman, former wife and collaborator of Mike Leigh, as an interfering mum with a basilisk stare guaranteed to freeze the balls off the hapless planners. (Ella Taylor) TV

Jet Li's Fearless. (PG-13) Directed by Ronny Yu and choreographed by Yuen Wo Ping, Jet Li's "final martial arts epic" ought to be a treat for Hong Kong fans, and it is . . . for about half an hour. But when a non-sanctioned fight goes too far and brings terrible retribution down upon Li's Huo Yuanjia, he flees the city and goes into voluntary exile. So does the movie. Rescued at sea and brought to a farm, Huo (based on a real early 20th-century martial arts pioneer) learns how to be calm and engages in some tedious crops-as-metaphor-for-life nonsense. Li has come to worry that viewers weren't getting the right message about martial arts, and now he seems determined to make the audience pay a hefty penalty in sappy drama just to enjoy a few cool fight scenes. But this is an action movie, and people don't come to be preached to; the Terminator flicks also favored world peace, but they didn't pause the action for nearly an hour to rub it in. (Luke Y. Thompson) ARN, CGX, DP, J14, MR, OF, RON, SP, STCH, STCL

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Feast. (R) Feast isn't the least bit artful, but it is gleefully gruesome, which may be all one can ask of a no-budget monster movie. As the film opens, a freaked-out stranger bursts into an isolated desert tavern to warn the dozen or so people inside that man-eating creatures, possibly from another planet, are heading their way. Viewers of the reality series Project Greenlight — that's the one where Matt Damon and Ben Affleck choose a first-time director to film the screenplay of a novice writer — know that Feast is the long-shelved by-product of the show's final season, and that its endearingly timid director of choice, John Gulager, along with his harried crew, couldn't decide what form their onscreen demons should take. That probably explains why they appear, at various points in the movie, to be horny gremlins or the wayward progeny of the Creature From the Black Lagoon. They're vicious, though, and while most of the action sequences are too dark and frenzied to track, Gulager and screenwriters Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Welton have come up with some wittily nasty moments, such as the yanked-out eyeball scene and a creature vs. pissed-off-mom showdown that's gooey and gross. (Chuck Wilson) OF, RON, TV

Flyboys. (PG-13) In Tony Bill's romantic, computer-generated fantasy, the plucky volunteer pilots of World War I's Lafayette Escadrille are once more cast as "knights of the sky," dashing young Americans (James Franco, Martin Henderson, and Abdul Salis among them) who soar aloft in flimsy wood-and-canvas biplanes, shoot down a glowering Hun or two over verdant France, then return to the chateau to quaff Cognac and sing bawdy ballads in tribute to their fallen comrades. In other words, here is the War to End All Wars seen from on high — as it was way back when, in Wings or Howard Hughes' Hell' s Angels — a world apart from the grim, futile slaughterhouses of Verdun and the Marne. Among these combatants, you won't find much All Quiet on the Western Front-style despair, and the paths of glory are unsullied by doubt or disillusionment. With Jennifer Decker as a thankful mademoiselle and veteran Jean Reno as the Americans' French commanding officer. (Bill Gallo) ARN, CGX, DP, J14, MR, OF, RON, SP, STCH, STCL

Jackass Number Two. Emergency rooms nationwide: Brace yourselves for Jackass Number Two, presumably even more jackassier than the first one. It's "directed" by Jeff Tremaine, and the old crew (save Chris Raab), uh, star (?) as themselves. (not reviewed) ARN, CGX, DP, EG, J14, KEN, MR, OF, RON, SP, STCH, STCL

 
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