Bukowski: Born in to
This - There is a morbidly fascinating fly-on-the-wall vibe that pervades John Dullaghan's profile of the late Beat writer Charles
Bukowski, a base familiarity that parallels the Ham On Rye author's own
inimitable hard-lived life and style. Epic in scope (and length), first-time director Dullaghan compiles dozens of
meticulously screened hours of archival footage, coupling the best of it with new interviews with Bukowski survivors to
present a terrifically real character study of a little-studied real character. The watchable Chuck-alike Happy Hour, starring Anthony LaPaglia as a booze-addled writer, is also just out.
Chicken Little - Disney's CGI snipe at then-packing protectorate Pixar did not take the
bite out of the box office that it had hoped, but it did serve as a successful enough test run (in about 100 theaters
nationwide) for its cool new 3-D format. Zach Braff voices the diminutive
mother(less) clucker who must save the world from an alien invasion. It's a hit-or-miss affair, on par with other
imitators like Madagascar and Hoodwinked!, but certainly falling short of even Pixar's weakest.
Jennifer Aniston and not-Bond Clive Owen star in this ironic and noir-ish thriller about two married
people whose affair ends in bloody disaster. Gallic odd-boy Vincent
Cassel takes his part of the heavy way, way over-the-top, distracting us momentarily from the fact that the two
halves of the Weinstein Brothers' sketchy first post-Miramax release are so pronouncedly uneven. Available in R-rated
and unrated versions.
Everything Is Illuminated - Actor Liev
Schreiber's first directorial effort starts off a quirky, silly joke, but ultimately becomes a soul-slamming,
existential Horton Hears A Who, with the long-silenced denizens of a
Nazi-razed Ukrainian village crying out from beyond, "We were here!"
Frodo-no-more Elijah Wood plays writer Jonathan Safran Foer as an oddball like Kiefer Sutherland's
crap-snapping photographer in Crazy
Moon, though the character becomes more than that one-bit pony as he makes his journey down his own private
Mekong into the heart of darkness. Speaking of characters, gypsy punk band Gogol Bordello front man Eugene
Hutz is a riot as Foer's America-obsessed tour guide, though mixing comedy and drama as Schreiber does here does
not always work.
In The Mix - Perhaps one day someone will be so insensitive (or satirical) as to populate a movie
entirely with stereotypes. This pimped-out vehicle for R&B heartthrob Usher combines two of them, anyway, in telling the story of a black dance
club DJ who saves the life of a Mafia don and becomes his beautiful daughter's bodyguard. It perpetually seems that all
the writers know about both of these groups is what they have seen on Def Comedy Jam and The Sopranos, and it is not a flattering (or entertaining) picture at all.
Presently on the IMDB's Bottom 100 List...at #2 (just under Anus Magillicuddy).
- Casual J-horror fans may not have heard much about this one from The Grudge creator Takashi
Shimizu, and while it tops both that film and the Shimizu-helmed American remake, its exploration of fear gets bogged down in star Shinya Tsukamoto's relentless narration. He plays a cameraman who becomes
obsessed with fear, and while it's easy to see where Shimizu is going with all this, every point in his schizo
creep-fest is doubly underlined. Still, the fact that Shimizu shot this digital flick in just eight days is pretty
Occupation: Dreamland - With their lean little 2004 film, documentarians Ian Olds and the late Garrett
Scott may not have been in Fallujah, Iraq at the right time to cover the recent insurgency, but the
days-in-the-life of the Army soldiers on the ground they do deliver are gritty and telling. Stronger than Gunner Palace, it captures the
naiveté (coupled with a sense of duty) and eventual disillusionment experienced by this bunch of kids who were
dropped into hostile territory with little backup or leeway to do the job they were assigned.
The Squid And The Whale - Anyone longing to relive the initially icky feeling of having
one's sensibilities challenged with a very pointy stick à la Todd Solondz's Happiness will find some meat and
gristle in Kicking and
Screaming director Noah Baumbach's moody and effective dramatic
comedy. Jeff Daniels and Laura
Linney play an intellectual couple in late 1980s New York whose marriage breaks up, leaving children Jesse Eisenberg and Owen Kline
to flounder emotionally as they deal with their own feelings of grief and resentment. It is good to see Daniels really
acting again, and the lovely Linney follows Kinsey and Mystic
River with another dynamic and memorable turn. Eisenberg is good as the confused poseur teen, and even
newcomer (and Hollywood legacy) Kline makes his mark, prompting uncomfortable gasps and reactions like, "What a vile little boy he is."