Kissing Jessica Stein

Though the feeling persists that this movie wants to bring the spirit of Neil Simonmeaning the Jewish middle class and the New York suburbsto lesbian farce, this adaptation by costars Jennifer Westfeldt and Heather Juergensen of their own off-Broadway play is both better and worse than that description implies. Better because the cast is wonderful and the story is commendably free of the sectarian us-versus-them tone of many romantic gay movies, and worse because the jazzy vocals are too strident and Charles Herman-Wurmfeld’s direction lacks the polish of a well-mounted Simon comedy. Still, this is possibly the funniest lesbian romp since Go Fish. 94 min. (JR)

Published on 26 Feb 2002 in Featured Texts, by admin

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All Is Forgiven [MONSTER’S BALL]

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Published on 22 Feb 2002 in Featured Texts, Featured Texts, by jrosenbaum

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40 Days And 40 Nights

A young Catholic in San Francisco (Josh Hartnett), still pining for his ex-girlfriend (Vinessa Shaw), takes a vow of sexual abstinence for the 40 days of Lent, and after his flatmate and coworkers place bets on whether or not he’ll make it, he meets the woman of his dreams (Shannyn Sossamon). Scripted by Robert Perez and stylishly directed by Michael Lehmann, the film doesn’t shy away from cheap gags when it runs out of good ones, and if I were a Catholic I might be offended in spots (after getting himself chained to his bed, the hero compares himself to Jesus). But this is smooth and at times even sensuala well-oiled machine. With Paulo Costanzo and Griffin Dunne. 93 min. (JR)

Published on 19 Feb 2002 in Featured Texts, by admin

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Completing a loose trilogy of revisionist horror films that’s already seen Habit (about vampires) and No Telling (which works with the Frankenstein myth), writer-director Larry Fessenden’s loose take on the wolf man movie (2000) is stylistically lively and generally well acted. Thematically, however, it’s somewhat incoherent. When a photographer (Jake Weber) and a psychotherapist (Patricia Clarkson) from New York City drive upstate with their eight-year-old son (Erik Per Sullivan) to spend a weekend in a friend’s farmhouse, their car hits a deer being tracked by local hunters, antagonizing one of them. Over the course of the weekend the boy is introduced to the Native American myth of the Wendigo, a spirit that combines man, animal, and vegetation, but the film sends mixed signalssometimes it simply seems to want to be a horror remake of Deliverance. The bold editing keeps things visually interesting throughout. 90 min. (JR)

Published on 18 Feb 2002 in Featured Texts, by admin

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Time Out

This powerful feature by Laurent Cantet (Human Resources) probably generated more buzz in 2001all of it deservedthan any other European feature shown at Venice and Toronto. With uncanny precision and concentration, it follows the progress of a middle-class, middle-aged French businessman (Aurelien Recoing) who gets fired and hides the truth from his family, pretending to be away on business trips while spending much of his time in or near Switzerland. Written by Cantet and Robin Campillo and based very loosely on a true story, it manages to register as a resonant contemporary fable while sustaining narrative interest throughout its 132 minutes. In French with subtitles; the French title is L’emploi du temps. (JR)

Published on 17 Feb 2002 in Featured Texts, by admin

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