Film Openings

Week of July 31, 2002

Jul 31, 2002 at 4:00 am
Dahmer. David Jacobson. The story of a somewhat troubled young man who, heavily closeted and socially awkward, took to picking up younger males, drugging them, and killing them, then fucking the corpses, chopping them up and sometimes eating them. Cutting back and forth in time between Jeffrey Dahmer's life of crime and his late adolescence, writer/director Jacobson does his best to avoid onscreen sensationalism. (He ends the film just when things are going to get really disgusting.) Star Jeremy Renner seems shorter than Dahmer but is otherwise a look-alike and gives a convincingly intense and weird performance. Bruce Davison (as Papa Dahmer) and the rest of the cast also do nice work. The often deadpan style seems inspired by Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer without ever reaching that film's level of horror. An over-the-top comic approach, á la Eating Raoul, might have made more sense. Then Jacobson could have staged a limb-eating contest between the titular character and the rotund Mr. DeLuise and called the whole thing Dom and Dahmer. Opens Aug. 2 at the Tivoli. (AK)

Full Frontal. Steven Soderbergh. Opens Aug. 2 at the Tivoli. Reviewed this issue.

Martin Lawrence Live: Runteldat. David Raynr. Third-rate Richard Pryor wannabe Lawrence is somewhere near minute fourteen of his fifteen minutes; this concert film captures his zany and energetic stand-up routine. Opens Aug. 2 at multiple locations. NR

Master of Disguise. Perry Andelin Blake. Dana Carvey plays Pistachio Disguisey, who comes from a long line of mimics. When he stumbles across a plot by Devlin Bowman (Brent Spiner) to steal precious jewels, he's able to use his gift to foil the plot. Through it all, hilarity no doubt ensues. Opens Aug. 2 at multiple locations. NR

Never Again. Eric Schaeffer. After endless failed relationships, a middle-aged exterminator and jazz musician (Jeffrey Tambor) begins to think that maybe he's gay. On his very first attempt to pick someone up at a gay bar, however, he meets a beautiful divorcée (Jill Clayburgh), whose recent love life has been equally unsatisfying. The two leap into a passionate sexual affair, swearing that they won't fall in love, but of course they do, and then the usual problems start. This is a change of pace for writer/director Eric Schaeffer. For the first time, he doesn't appear in one of his films, which helps. The result is pleasant, diverting and modest. The story is not exactly original, but Schaeffer and his cast manage to make it tolerable. Schaeffer seems to run out of steam toward the end, resorting to two sudden tragedies to give the plot its final push. It's not terribly surprising that Never Again, which played at the SXSW Film Festival more than a year ago, is only now making it into theaters. Opens Aug. 2 at the Screening Room at the Ritz-Carlton. (AK)

Sex and Lucia. Julio Medem. Hearing that her writer boyfriend (Tristán Ulloa) has been killed in an accident, a Madrid waitress (Paz Vega) named Lucia takes off for an island that figures more centrally in his past than she realized. As in his 1998 masterpiece Lovers of the Arctic Circle, Spanish writer/director Medem here weaves an incredibly complex narrative, moved by coincidence, destiny or both, that challenges the audience to figure out just how all the characters and plot threads will converge. His leaps back and forth in time are a bit harder to follow this time -- largely because one crucial flashback is so darkly shot and a few dramatic scenes are deliberately ambiguous -- but the result is almost as rewarding as in his earlier film. Medem is a major talent -- Vacas, his debut, was also terrific -- and this may serve as his long-overdue American breakthrough. Fans of convoluted narrative in the manner of Christopher Nolan and David Lynch are likely to be intrigued, although Medem has a far stronger streak of sentiment. Opens Aug. 2 at the Tivoli. (AK)

Signs. M. Night Shyamalan. Opens Aug. 2 at multiple locations. Reviewed this issue.