Film Openings

Week of July 12, 2006

The Heart of the Game

The Heart of the Game. (PG-13) Ward Serrill set out to make a short documentary about the girls basketball team at Roosevelt High School in Seattle — and especially its coach, Bill Resler, a tax professor with no experience. But a season later, the filmmaker encountered Darnellia Russell, who wound up the star of the team and the star of a movie bound up not just in the X's and O's of winning, but the politics of race, gender, and class. The Heart of the Game is a sweet, engaging journey with the Roosevelt Roughriders, whose kindly coach encourages the girls to snarl like wolves and devour like lions. Resler's still at the heart of the movie, only now he shares it with Russell, a phenom who left her friends behind to play ball at a crosstown rival populated by white girls. It has its bleak moments, but aspires to uplift; you revel in the moment when the girls discuss their reluctance to touch each other on the court, and their eventual love for the pushing and shoving of hardwood war. (Robert Wilonsky) PF

Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man. (PG-13) If you can't think of a crisis in your life that's tied to a Leonard Cohen song, then Canadian director Lian Lunson's velvety, exuberantly hagiographic film of a 2005 Sydney tribute concert to the Prince of Pain may not be the movie for you. If you can, the experience will be weepy bliss. The concert shows off Cohen's unifying influence on an astonishingly diverse range of musicians. He sings "Tower of Song" at the end, flanked by U2, but his life flashes by us, intercut with the musical numbers, in grainy footage and wry commentary by the man himself. A total babe in his salad days (if that's the right expression for a man plagued all his life by depression), at 71 Cohen looks like any one of my heavy-lidded Jewish uncles, only with better suits. He may be as obsessive a reviser of his own history as he is of his songs and poems, but his way with words is so sublime, you'd be a churl to quibble. (Ella Taylor) TV

Little Man. (PG-13) The Wayans brothers' white-faced farce White Chicks was the most pleasurably guilty attraction of the 2004 summer movie season. On paper, this new Wayans caper, about a diminutive jewel thief (Marlon Wayans) masquerading as a newborn baby, sounds like a suitably irreverent follow-up. But the surprise of Little Man is that it turns out to be the last thing you'd expect (or want) from the brothers: a bid for respectability. Well, maybe respectability is too strong a term for a movie with this many dick jokes, hits to the groin, and a parade of the dumbest white people this side of a blaxploitation picture. But there's no question that the Wayanses have dialed down the outrageousness here to nearly sub-PG-13 levels. The sight of the pint-sized thief — created by elaborate computer effects that graft Wayans' face onto the body of a child actor — is indeed a hoot, but having accomplished that feat, the movie runs dry of ideas. (Scott Foundas) ARN, DP, EG, GL, J14, KEN, MR, OF, RON, SP, STCL

A Scanner Darkly. (R) Reviewed in this issue. TV

Strangers With Candy. (R) Reviewed in this issue. TV

You, Me and Dupree. (PG-13) Reviewed in this issue. ARN, CGX, DP, EG, J14, MR, OF, RON, SP, STCH, STCL

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