The Family Stone. (PG-13) Here's an odd one: I loved it, and I hated it. The movie's too overstuffed by half with pointless people and plot lines that dangle out there like warning signs, begging you to stay away, lest you suffer the holiday heart attack brought on by rich and empty calories. Among its characters are a gay, deaf son with a black partner; a stoner (Luke Wilson) who sees the freak in his big bro's uptight fiancée (Sarah Jessica Parker); and the tragic mommy (Diane Keaton) who keeps her enormous family together during the Christmas season. And yet as ridiculous, as mawkish and schizophrenic as The Family Stone is, it's also a surprisingly endearing piece of work one about people who behave the way real folks would if their on-screen lives weren't always manipulated by overeager filmmakers and greedy studio bosses squeezing every last drop of sentimentality from characters who are ultimately resistant to such unbecoming behavior. In short, the movie works in spite of itself. (Robert Wilonsky) ARN, CGX, DP, EG, GL, J14, MR, OF, RON, SP, STCH, STCL
King Kong (PG-13) Reviewed in this issue. (Wilonsky) ARN, CGX, DP, EG, GL, J14, KEN, MR, MOO, OF, RON, SP, STCH, STCL
Touch the Sound. (Not Rated) Thomas Riedelsheimer, director of the exquisite Rivers and Tides (about environmental artist Andy Goldsworthy), sets his sights upon percussionist Evelyn Glennie in this documentary. A Scot in her mid-30s, Glennie has garnered international attention for her music, despite the fact that she is 80 percent deaf. With an inborn passion for rhythm, she "hears" through her body, feeling music in her flesh and bones. In fact, she is so carefully and tenaciously attuned to the music of existence as to approach a kind of enlightenment: She obviously has a lot to teach "so-called hearing people," as she calls them, about the nature of sound and of experience. The film is a slow meditation on Glennie's music and her way of being, with most of the footage consumed by her improvisations with musicians around the world. Riedelsheimer uses gorgeous, undulating shots of water and light to capture a visual expression of sound. It's a beautiful movie, but not an easy one: Touch the Sound demands patience, attention, and commitment. (Melissa Levine) TV
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