Film Openings

Week of February 5, 2003

Baraka. Ron Fricke. A collection of expertly photographed scenes, heavy on environmental themes and indigenous music. Preceded by "Lint People," an animated short by Helder K. Sun. Opens Friday, February 7, for a one-week engagement at the Tivoli. NR

Deliver Us From Eva. Gary Hardwick. With his second film, Hardwick (The Brothers) tries for broad comedy and falls flat on his face. Three brothers (Mel Jackson, Dartanyan Edmonds and Duane Martin) find their relationships with their women (Essence Atkins, Meagan Good and Robinne Lee) jeopardized by the ladies' fourth sister, Eva (Gabrielle Union), a ferocious feminist who not only delights in withering tirades about male inferiority while comparing herself to Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King Jr. but also likes to spew facts and figures that she read in some book somewhere once upon a time, thus making her the worst combination of nerd and bully. Thinking that getting Eva laid will solve all their problems, the browbeaten guys pay ladies' man Ray (the lengthily billed "James Todd Smith a.k.a. LL Cool J") to date Eva, only to see him really fall for her. 10 Things I Hate About You did this better -- unsympathetic leads, a flat visual style and awkward storytelling make even the few good jokes herein unworthy of your dollars. Opens Friday, February 7, at multiple locations. (LYT)

How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. Donald Petrie. Fledgling how-to columnist Andie Anderson (Kate Hudson, chirping like a trained bird) is a saucy piece writing a saucy piece about ... well ... the movie's title. Her quarry, also a strutting, alliterative cliché, is Benjamin Barry (Matthew McConaughey, vacuous), a cocky ad honcho who -- for reasons too stupid to explain -- needs to coax a woman to fall in love with him within ten days so he can become point man for the world's biggest diamond company. Call it How to Lose an Audience in 10 Minutes. Clearly, bigwig co-producers Robert Evans (the remake of The Out-of-Towners) and Lynda Obst (Someone Like You) instructed director Donald Petrie (Miss Congeniality) to supply investors with lucrative, cockle-warming "timelessness," but only a sad future will keep this embarrassing, derivative scrap heap in the public eye. The biggest challenge to viewing it is deciding whether to think of its yuppie-scum lead characters as "despicable swine" or "vile dung-weasels." Opens Friday, February 7, at multiple locations. (GW)

The Quiet American. Phillip Noyce. Australian-born director Noyce has scored a cinematic perfecta with Rabbit-Proof Fence and this disturbing, highly provocative adaptation of British novelist Graham Greene's prophetic 1955 portrait of a young U.S. spy who, in his devotion to Cold War ideals, unwittingly wreaks havoc on all those around him in 1952 Saigon. In contrast to the heroic diplomat Audie Murphy played in the sanitized 1958 version, Brendan Fraser's Alden Pyle is the personification of Yank chicanery, steeped in self-righteous innocence. Many will admire this unsettling, morally complex vision of American power abroad. In today's post-9/11 climate, others will revile it. But no one will look away. With the great Michael Caine as a cynical British journalist and Do Thi Hai Yen as the beguiling girl both men love. She is the soul of Vietnam itself: a seductress who declines to be won, a force of nature who suffers abuse but endures, unchanged. Opens Friday, February 7, at the Plaza Frontenac. (BG)

Shanghai Knights. David Dobkin. Opens Friday, February 7, at multiple locations. Reviewed this issue.

Talk to Her. Pedro Almodóvar. Opens Friday, February 7, at Plaza Frontenac. Reviewed this issue.