Another bit of casual whoring from David Mametwhich in this case means another thriller about thieves. More entertaining than The Spanish Prisoner, in part because the mannerist Mamet dialogue is more distinctive, it also turns out to be more conventional and predictable. Gene Hackman stars as a master thief blackmailed by his fence (Danny DeVito) into pulling off one last heist before he can retire with his wife and accomplice (Rebecca Pidgeon); with Sam Rockwell, Delroy Lindo, and Ricky Jay. 109 min. (JR)
More plot heavy than The Scent of Green Papaya or Cyclo, this third feature by Tran Anh Hung concerns four siblings living in close proximity to each other in contemporary Vietnam. One sister is married to a novelist, another is married to a photographer, and the third and youngest (Tran Nu Yen-khe, the director’s wife and a prominent player in his films) shares an apartment with her younger brother. Their story is fairly conventional and not especially well told, though as usual Tran’s images are so sensual and beautiful that I was rarely bored or frustrated. 112 min. Music Box, Friday through Thursday, September 21 through 27.
Will supershrink Michael Douglas save his kidnapped daughter by extracting a six-digit number from a violent 18-year-old schizophrenic (Brittany Murphy) so a ruthless bank robber (Sean Bean) can retrieve a priceless jewel he’s spent ten years looking for? I’m supposed to care, but this all-day sucker put me to sleepthough it’s possible I retreated out of self-defense. Forget awarding stars to this drivel; I wouldn’t mind giving it four or five lacerations, which is the minimum it gleefully dishes out to practically all its characters, good as well as evil, young as well as oldwith a few extra dollops of divine retribution saved for the end to satisfy the most puerile revenge fantasies. Gary Fleder directed, Anthony Peckham and Patrick Smith Kelly adapted a book by Andrew Klavan, and Famke Janssen (who enters the movie with a broken leg, putting her a few steps ahead of the others), Jennifer Esposito, and several other actors get their share of the lickings. 110 min. (JR)
Thierry De Mey’s dance film Rosas danst Rosas (1997, 57 min.), receiving its Chicago premiere, was shot in a Belgian building designed by Henry van de Velde. Curtain of Eyes, a striking black-and-white dance film (1997) composed for the camera by Daniele Wilmouth, is the product of a six-month collaboration with four Japanese dancers from Kyoto’s Saltimbanques butoh troupe. The dancers move in an abstract space, mainly in close-ups and medium shots, and Wilmouth’s textured imagery is every bit as detailed as the dancing. (JR)