Uptown Girls

A spoiled and bratty New Yorker (Brittany Murphy), the daughter of a deceased rock star, finds herself out of pocket after her accountant makes off with her inheritance, and reluctantly she becomes nanny to an eight-year-old health fanatic and control freak (Dakota Fanning), bringing along her pet pig. I guess the point of this cutesy and unconvincing parable is that they teach each other how to grow up, but I couldn’t figure out why I was supposed to care. Boaz Yakin (Fresh) directed this whimsy from a script and story by four women; the supporting cast includes Marley Shelton, Donald Faison, Jesse Spencer, Austin Pendleton, and Heather Locklear. 93 min. (JR)

Published on 15 Aug 2003 in Featured Texts, by admin

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Writer-director Todd Graff pays tribute to Stagedoor Manora musical-theater summer camp he attended in Loch Sheldrake, New Yorkby using it as the location for this virtual remake of Fame. It’s surefire material, with diverse romantic, sexual, and chemical intrigues punctuated by numbers from well-known musicals, and to his credit Graff addresses many issues of gender and sexual preference that were dodged by that hokey 1980 feature. But some of his story lines, which hinge on a straight guy (Daniel Letterle) flirting with everyone in sight, seem familiar or perfunctory, and a cameo by Stephen Sondheim, who turns up briefly to bestow his blessing on the semifictional Camp Ovation, fails to give this the socko credentials it clearly hungers for. Still, if you can get into the spirit of the proceedings, you’re likely to find some fun. 110 min. (JR)

Published on 08 Aug 2003 in Featured Texts, by admin

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Jimmy Scott: If You Only Knew

Matthew Buzzell’s 2002 documentary profiles the eloquent and eccentric jazz vocalist Jimmy Scott, whose permanent falsetto, the result of an adolescent disorder, enhanced his singular style of phrasing. Although Scott was a friend and musical colleague of Charlie Parker and Lionel Hampton in the 50s and 60s, he had a penchant for trusting the wrong agents, and after a series of unreleased or maginalized albums he disappeared from the scene until the 1990s, when a meteoric comeback led to engagements around the world. After seeing this film last year at the Savannah film festival, I immediately ordered one of Scott’s albums. 78 min. (JR)

Published on 01 Aug 2003 in Featured Texts, by admin

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