Singin' in the watermelon juice - Page 2

This year's SFIFF revives the movie musical -- for better and worse
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I'd like to say the home team is holding up its end in the all-singing, all-dancing department. But the two big guns at 2006 — slotted as "centerpiece" and "closing night feature," respectively — left me cold, even if you've got to hand their makers a nickel for trying something different. Actor-turned-director-cum-horrible-scenarist John Turturro's Romance and Cigarettes is a karaoke musical set to a mix tape of his formative faves (Dusty, James Brown, even Engelbert). James Gandolfini and Susan Sarandon play a working-class Queens couple who bust up, then meander amidst various wacky characters (Winslet, Walken, Buscemi, etc.) before the inevitable reconciliation and a somber finish the movie doesn't have the emotional depth to pull off. While nicely designed, the film's scatological humor and broad performances are painful in that same tone-deaf, infantile way as recent John Waters (A Dirty Shame); the production numbers are as shapeless as the screenplay.

Robert Altman's take on A Prairie Home Companion may well please fans of the radio show. His woozy fallback style, which kicks in whenever the material doesn't wake him up (last alert moment: Gosford Park), is apt enough for Garrison Keillor's cozy, faintly ironic cornball humor and penchant for a fake "authenticity" borne of nostalgia for never-was Americana. Keillor is not, to put it kindly, a natural camera presence. But then Companion doesn't do the professionals any favors either, rendering even Meryl Streep negligible and giving Virginia Madsen the worst role of her career (yes, worse than being Bobcat's love interest in Hot to Trot). Everybody onscreen appears to be having a very good time. If you want to enjoy tepid, quasi-folksome chuckles and movie actors singing bluegrass and gospel songs poorly, then you will too.

PERHAPS LOVE

(Peter Ho-Sun Chan, Hong Kong, 2005)

 


Thurs/20, 7 p.m., Castro

(Party 9:30 p.m., Regency Center)

PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION

(Robert Altman, USA, 2006)

 


May 4, 7 p.m.

(Party 9:30 p.m., Mezzanine)

PRINCESS RACCOON

(Seijun Suzuki, Japan, 2005)

 


April 26, 9:30 p.m., Kabuki

April 28, 2:30 p.m., Castro

April 30, 8 p.m., PFA

ROMANCE and CIGARETTES

(John Turturro, USA, 2005)

 


April 28, 8 p.m., Kabuki

THE WAYWARD CLOUD

(Tsai Ming-liang, Taiwan/France, 2005)

 


Sun/23, 9:30 p.m., Castro

Tues/25, 10:15 p.m., Kabuki

April 26, 3:30 p.m., Kabuki

April 28, 9:15 p.m., PFA

 

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