Film Openings

Week of June 9, 2004

The Chronicles of Riddick David Twohy. (PG-13) Vin Diesel continues his Pitch Black adventures as an escaped convict who seeks his true origin and can see in the dark. There's a galactic war featuring some creepy baddies called the Necromongers, lots of special effects and, um, Dame Judi Dench. Opens Friday, June 11, at multiple locations. NR

Coffee and Cigarettes Jim Jarmusch. (R) Opens Friday, June 11, at the Hi-Pointe. Reviewed this issue.

Garfield: The Movie Peter Hewitt. (PG) Every critical impulse screams that a Garfield movie has to be the worst thing ever. Even in this era of Joel Siegel and Peter Travers, no self-respecting reviewer wants to be "that guy who liked Garfield." The cartoon strip has become a metaphor for cynical overmarketing and can't even manage to sustain a compelling plot over three panels these days. Not to mention the fact that if Garfield does well, Opus, Over the Hedge, Zits, The Boondocks and probably Peanuts are all waiting in the wings with movie deals of their own. But it's Bill Murray's voice emanating from the creepy CG cat. And damned if he isn't as entertaining as ever. If it weren't for Murray, there'd be nothing at all to the film, which forgets all conventional notions of story or characterization and also stars Breckin Meyer and Jennifer Love Hewitt, both of whom were born to play two-dimensional caricatures of boring white people. The other animals in the cast are real, and look nothing like Jim Davis' drawings. Opens Friday, June 11, at multiple locations. (Luke Y. Thompson)

Love Me If You Dare Yann Samuell. (R) Ostensibly, this is a romantic comedy, centered upon uppity Julien (Guillaume Canet) and uppity Sophie (Marion Cotillard), two peculiar young frogs whose life revolves around a weird game. Since childhood (played with mischievous glee by Thibault Verhaeghe and Josephine Lebas Joly), the friends-adversaries have challenged each other to awkward and damaging dares, handing off an ornate tin box to signify that the game is on. As they come of age, snaring kinder souls (Gilles Lellouche, Elodie Navarre) into their game, their childish dare becomes an obsession. Whether or not fledgling director Yann Samuell's vision is "enjoyable" in a conventional sense depends on your level of cynicism, first toward life, then toward the movie itself, which is odd and inventive but wears doom as trendy fashion accessory. If you enjoy watching earnestness, sincerity and true love mercilessly pummeled, you may adore it. However, as it struts its immensely self-conscious "audacity" with snowballing smugness, you may also find yourself wishing to pummel it back. Opens Friday, June 11, at the Plaza Frontenac. (Gregory Weinkauf)

Meet Me in St. Louis Vincente Minnelli. (unrated) Opens Saturday, June 12, at the Tivoli. See Dennis Brown's feature for more on the film, its history and its composer.

Saved! Brian Dannelly. (PG-13) Mary (Jena Malone) is a member of her Christian high school's popular elite, led by queen bee Hilary Faye (Mandy Moore). After a Jesus-inspired attempt to straighten out her gay boyfriend, Mary gets pregnant, thus hitting spiritual crisis. This leads her into the arms of the school's rebels: wheelchair-bound Roland (the authentically charming Macaulay Culkin) and sexy Jewish fuckup Cassandra (Eva Amurri). They help Mary hide her pregnancy while treating her to a taste of decency and friendship. Basically, it's a high school popularity movie, this time with the freaks pitted against the Jesus freaks. It's the same as every other movie in which the reigning social scene is one of bullshit superficiality and hypocritical elitism, this time enacted on the stage of Jesus worship. And, here as everywhere else in this genre, it's the outsiders who have the depth and awareness to break through the lies being peddled around them, even (and especially) by their elders. The movie is facile, but mostly sweet and entertaining. Opens Friday, June 11, at the Tivoli. (Melissa Levine)

The Stepford Wives Frank Oz. (PG-13) Nicole Kidman and Matthew Broderick star in this re-imagining of the 1975 film of the same name (both are based on Ira Levin's comic-horror novel). Kidman and Broderick move to the planned community of Stepford, Connecticut, and encounter a plethora of creepily blissful housewives who are just too good to be true. Ever wanted to see a movie with both Christopher Walken and Faith Hill? Here's your chance. Opens Friday, June 11, at multiple locations. NR

The Trilogy: On the Run Lucas Belvaux. (unrated) Boring and tedious, yet dull, this movie sucks. Writer-director Lucas Belvaux casts himself as a sadistic convict on the lam who hurts and kills the other male characters in between playing with scary guns like a masturbatory twelve-year-old. There's some vague mumbo-jumbo about an uprising of the proletariat circa 1987 (?), roping into the "action" a former comrade (Catherine Frot) who mostly smokes a lot, a junkie (Dominique Blanc) fresh from acting workshops and an angry lady (Flash Gordon's Ornella Muti) with terrific boobs. Pretentious ninnies who adore all French cinema are in for a shock, because this thing makes an energetic mess like The Crimson Rivers seem like a frickin' classic. If you must attend, bring earplugs, as the "score" sounds like a cross between Seinfeld at half-speed and a goat chewing on an upright bass. It also should be mentioned that this movie is but the first in a trilogy of tonally incongruous features by the same director, thus, to be fair...oh hell, why be fair? This movie sucks. Opens Friday, June 11, at the Tivoli. (Gregory Weinkauf)

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