Film Openings

Week of October 6, 2004

Friday Night Lights Peter Berg. (PG-13) Opens Friday, October 8, at multiple theaters. Reviewed in this issue.

The Motorcycle Diaries Walter Salles. (R) Opens Friday, October 8, at the Hi-Pointe. Reviewed in this issue.

Nicotina Hugo Rodríguez. (R) Diego Luna plays a creep named Lolo, a computer hacker charged with stealing the passwords to Swiss bank accounts and burning them to a disc, which he and two other would-be criminals will trade to a Russian named Svoboda for a bag of diamonds. The Russian discovers that Lolo's disc of codes actually consists solely of images of Lolo's neighbor -- there was, ya see, a mix-up -- and suddenly people start getting shot and running around trying to keep from bleeding all over the place. If all this sounds drowsily predictable and numbingly derivative, it is and then some; it's as though director Hugo Rodríguez and writer Martín Salinas watched every movie ever influenced by a Tarantino movie and boiled them into something bland. As for the title, the characters, when not shooting at each other or cutting each other open, spend the entirety of the movie lighting cigarettes, quitting cigarettes or talking about how much they like to smoke cigarettes or hate to quit cigarettes. Get me my Zippo. There's something else I'd like to light up. Opens Friday, October 8, at the Tivoli. (Robert Wilonsky)

Raise Your Voice Sean McNamara. (PG) Tweener fave Hilary Duff is back in another wholesome role -- this time as Terri Fletcher, a small-town girl with dreams of becoming a singer. She hopes to attend a prestigious summer music program in L.A., but Dad (David Keith in a one-note performance) vetoes the idea. Terri's beloved brother Paul (Jason Ritter) is her biggest fan, and without telling her, he applies for her. When he is killed in a car accident, Terri loses all heart, and it's her mother (a convincing Rita Wilson) and aunt who insist she attend the program because it's what Paul would have wanted. A lack of musical training and far more sophisticated students must be overcome, as well as her own guilt and lack of artistic passion in the wake of Paul's death. With her innocent air and high-wattage smile, Duff is adorable -- and she does a credible acting job here, considering that she has to play a sweet, virginal role model for pubescent girls. But Fame (Alan Parker's hip and winning 1980 musical set at Manhattan's High School for Performing Arts), this film ain't. Opens Friday, October 8, at multiple theaters. (Jean Oppenheimer)

Rosenstrasse Margarethe von Trotta. (PG-13) Part soap opera, part history (or herstory) lesson, part vital, and a little tedious, veteran director Margarethe von Trotta's Rosenstrasse illustrates an important standoff in WWII Berlin framed by -- and sometimes diluted by -- an unwieldy present-day scenario. In New York, a young Jewish woman (Maria Schrader) delves into the devastating past of her German immigrant mother (Jutta Lampe), whose husband has just died. Via present-day interviews and flashbacks, we learn of her mother's childhood under the Nazi regime, protected by a Gentile woman (Katja Riemann) married to a Jewish musician named Fabian (Martin Feifel), who is captured and held in the titular detention center. Alas, the struggle of the Gentile wives for their Jewish husbands is given only adequate treatment, forced to play tug-of-war with far too much contemporary rumination. It is unfortunate that von Trotta does not trust her audience enough to think for themselves -- her themes are carved on a sledgehammer en route to our skulls -- but she does confront prejudice head-on, to reveal a universal humanity. Opens Friday, October 8, at the Plaza Frontenac. (Gregory Weinkauf)

Taxi Tim Story. (PG-13) The good news is that director Tim Story seems to have a good eye for directing an action sequence, which ought to serve him well on the upcoming Fantastic Four movie. The bad news is that it would take the ghost of Stanley Kubrick to get great performances out of Jimmy Fallon, Queen Latifah, and supermodel Gisele Bündchen, and Tim, you're no Stanley. Fallon's shtick is approximately a cross between Mike Myers' grinning idiot routine and Chris Kattan's "Look at me, I'm singing in falsetto" bit, without the colossal ego that analogy implies but still not half as amusing as he thinks he is. Here, as the world's least believable cop, his routines tend toward the "so lame they're funny" spectrum (alas, they really aren't that amusing), and Latifah, playing a daredevil taxi driver who crosses his path, does her usual annoying loudmouth crap. Taxi, based on a trilogy of French films, is a lot better than its irritating and ubiquitous trailer might suggest, but that still isn't saying much. Opens Friday, October 8, at multiple theaters. (Luke Y. Thompson)

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