- This Week
12.08.09 - 8:57 pm |
Film listings are edited by Cheryl Eddy. Reviewers are Kimberly Chun, Michelle Devereaux, Max Goldberg, Dennis Harvey, Johnny Ray Huston, Louis Peitzman, Lynn Rapoport, Ben Richardson, Matt Sussman, and Laura Swanbeck. The film intern is Fernando F. Croce. For rep house showtimes, see Rep Clock. For first-run showtimes, see Movie Guide.
Invictus Elected President of South Africa in 1995 just five years after his release from nearly three decades' imprisonment Nelson Mandela (Morgan Freeman) perceives a chance to forward his message of reconciliation and forgiveness by throwing support behind the low-ranked national rugby team. Trouble is, the Springboks are currently low-ranked, with the World Cup a very faint hope just one year away. Not to mention the fact that despite having one black member, they represent the all-too-recent Apartheid past for the country's non-white majority. Based on John Carlin's nonfiction tome, this latest Oscar bait by the indefatigable Clint Eastwood sports his usual plusses and minuses: An impressive scale, solid performances (Matt Damon co-stars as the team's Afrikaaner captain), deft handling of subplots, and solid craftsmanship on the one hand. A certain dull literal-minded earnestness, lack of style and excitement on the other. Anthony Peckham's screenplay hits the requisite inspirational notes (sometimes pretty bluntly), but even in the attenuated finals match, Eastwood's direction is steady as she goes no peaks, no valleys, no faults but not much inspiration, either. It doesn't help that Kyle Eastwood and Michael Stevens contribute a score that's as rousing as a warm milk bath. This is an entertaining history lesson, but it should have been an exhilarating one. (2:14) Sundance Kabuki. (Harvey)
Me and Orson Welles See "Citizen Welles." (1:54)
*The Princess and the Frog Expectations run high for The Princess and the Frog: it's the first Disney film to feature an African American princess, the first 2D Disney cartoon since the regrettable Home on the Range (2004), and the latest entry from the writing-directing team responsible for The Little Mermaid (1989) and Aladdin (1992). Here's the real surprise The Princess and the Frog not only meets those expectations, it exceeds them. After years of disappointment, many of us have given up hope on another classic entry into the Disney 2D animation canon. And yet, The Princess and the Frog is up there with the greats, full of catchy songs, gorgeous animation, and memorable characters. Set in New Orleans, the story is a take off on the Frog Prince fairy tale. Here, the voodoo-cursed Prince Naveen kisses waitress Tiana instead transferring his froggy plight to her as well. A fun twist, and a positive message: wishing is great, but it takes hard work to make your dreams come true. For those of us raised on classic Disney, The Princess and the Frog is almost too good to believe. (1:37) Shattuck. (Peitzman)
*The Private Lives of Pippa Lee See "Life Out of Balance." (1:40) Albany, Bridge, Smith Rafael.
A Single Man Tom Ford directs Colin Firth and Julianne Moore in this 1960s-set tale of a man mourning the death of his longtime partner. (1:39) Sundance Kabuki.
Uncertainty A knocked-up girl (Lynn Collins) and a guy with a coin in his pocket (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) stand on the Brooklyn Bridge, circle the issue, flip the coin, then bolt in opposite directions. The coin was clearly purchased in some dusty, mysterious Chinatown magic shop from a loopy-seeming octogenarian codger, because at each end of the bridge, the pair reunite for two 24-hour bouts of the title's psychological state that unspool side by side in time but diverge in mood and pace and genre: on the Brooklyn side, we get a slow-paced family drama; in Manhattan, a pulse-raising action-thriller. In other words, a monument, a monumental decision, and a premise spun out of such pure and visible artifice that it seems unlikely to translate into absorbing filmmaking.