Hot Fuzz. (R) Reviewed in this issue RON, STCH, TV
In the Land of Women. (PG-13) Adam Brody made his name playing a neurotic, self-absorbed California Jew on The O.C. , so it's no surprise that he's cast here as a narcissistic, whiny Los Angeles Heeb named Carter Webb. (Doesn't exactly roll off the tongue like Seth Cohen, does it?) In this maudlin, formulaic affair, Webb goes to suburban Michigan to take care of his ailing grandmother (Olympia Dukakis) and to nurse a broken heart. Instead, he ends up befriending a quietly dysfunctional mother-daughter duo (Meg Ryan and Kristen Stewart) who teach him the real as opposed to the fake meaning of love. Brody shows glimpses of life after suspended adolescence, Dukakis is surly and hilarious, and JoBeth Williams is winning if underused as Carter's mother and confidante. Too bad Meg Ryan's new plastic face keeps us from noticing her decent-enough performance as a disaffected mom. And too bad writer-director Jon Kasdan son of Lawrence and brother of current box-office-competitor Jake lays on the saccharine pronouncements thick. Without all the soppy plot devices, The Land of Women might have been someplace worth visiting. (Jessica Grose) ARN, CPP, CGX, DP, EG, J14, KEN, MR, OF, PF, RON, SP, STCH, TS12
Slow Burn. (R) Star Trek fans have been abuzz with talk about Jolene Blalock's sex scenes in Slow Burn does Enterprise's Vulcan hottie finally lower more than just the deflector shield? Indeed, you do get to see some T'Pol flesh, but only for a second or two; hardly worth the price of admission, unless you also have an affinity for low-budget crime flicks that want to be The Usual Suspects when they grow up. Blalock, rather unconvincing as an assistant district attorney and an African American (!), is Nora Timmer, found at a crime scene claiming she shot a would-be rapist (Mekhi Phifer) in self-defense. Her D.A. boyfriend (Ray Liotta) initially believes her, but then a stranger (L.L. Cool J) walks into the police station with a different story one in which Nora courted her "rapist" for weeks and was trying to seduce him into testifying against a mysterious crime lord that no one has ever seen. Yep, it's Keyser Söze time, and writer-director Wayne Beach (screenwriter of The Art of War and Murder at 1600) figures if you liked Suspects' big climactic reversal, you'll love four of them in a row! It's much more likely, however, that you'll have stopped paying attention by then. (Luke Y. Thompson) J14, KEN, RON, STCH, STCL
Vacancy. Hot young couple David and Amy Fox (Luke Wilson and Kate Beckinsale) end up trekking to a motel after their car breaks down. They find that their room has video cameras all around and they...bow-chicka-bow-wow. Oh, wait. No. Actually, they figure out that they'll star in a decidedly unsexy snuff film if they can't escape beyond those four walls. (NR) ARN, DP, EG, GL, J14, MR, RON, SP, STCH, STCL, TS12
The Wind That Shakes the Barley. (Not Rated) British director Ken Loach's masterful tale of the early days of the Irish Republican Army supplies the second end of a conversation started by Loach's excellent 1995 Spanish Civil War drama Land and Freedom. Both represent profound considerations of the fog of wars, those that rage between nations and, all too often, within. But The Wind That Shakes the Barley also takes the form of a thriller, as an idealistic Cork medical student (Cillian Murphy) finds himself forgoing a London internship to become a freedom fighter (though some would say terrorist) on the home front. Though it spans just over a year (1920-'21) of actual history, the film implicitly casts one weary eye back to the failed Irish Republican Brotherhood uprising of 1916 and the other forward to the seven decades of bloodshed that would yet fall upon Irish soil before the arrival of something approximating peace. Finally, it weeps for the way in which friends and even brothers who once fought side by side against a collective oppressor can, in a moment, find themselves stationed on opposite sides of an ideological divide. (Foundas) TV
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