The Sea Inside

This thoughtful, sometimes beautiful feature by Alejandro Amenabar (Thesis, Open Your Eyes, The Others) is loosely based on the true story of Spanish poet Ramon Sampedro, a quadriplegic who fought a 30-year legal battle for his right to die. Amenabar addresses the theme of euthanasia by providing a sharp, almost novelistic sense of what the hero (Javier Bardem) means to his family and his friends (Lola Due

Published on 19 Dec 2004 in Featured Texts, by admin

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Bad Education

If you’re a fan of professional bad boy and Spanish gender bender Pedro Almodovar, far be it from me to dissuade you from enjoying this elaborate Chinese-box narrative, which boasts an especially resourceful performance by Gael Garcia Bernal in a triple role and a script full of twists designed to accommodate all three parts. It’s about a young filmmaker (Fele Martinez), his former boarding-school squeeze (Bernal), a headmaster-priest who expelled the former in order to abuse the latter, the blackmail and a film-within-the-film that ultimately grew out of these events, and much more. But all the fancy complications, including noir trimmings and notations on the Franco period, left me unengaged. In Spanish with subtitles. NC-17, 109 min. (JR)

Published on 17 Dec 2004 in Featured Texts, by admin

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The Phantom Of The Opera

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical version of the Gaston Leroux novel and movie standby has grossed more than $3 billion worldwide since it opened in London in 1986, but I doubt that I’ve missed much. Teen romance and operetta-style singing replace the horror elements familiar to moviegoers, and director Joel Schumacher obscures any remnants of classy stage spectacle with the same disco overkill he brought to Batman Forever. Arty trappings like black-and-white framing segments and floating candelabras (like the ones in Jean Cocteau’s Beauty and the Beast) don’t help, though the spirited playersGerard Butler, Patrick Wilson, Miranda Richardson, Minnie Driver, Simon Callow, Ciaran Hinds, and Emmy Rossum (Sean Penn’s daughter in Mystic River)do what they can. PG-13, 143 min. (JR)

Published on 17 Dec 2004 in Featured Texts, by admin

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Flight Of The Phoenix

A plane carrying 14 people from Mongolia to China gets caught in a sandstorm and crash-lands in the Gobi Desert, where the chances of rescue or survival are slim. When Robert Aldrich made the 1965 original, it was set in the Sahara, ran 147 minutes, and had a star-studded cast including James Stewart, Ernest Borgnine, and Richard Attenborough. This absorbing remake by John Moore, scripted by Scott Frank and Edward Burns, is shorter and more modestly cast (Dennis Quaid, Miranda Otto, Giovanni Ribisi), but in contrast to Steven Soderbergh’s recent recyclings, it proves that you can revisit a good movie without cynicism or disrespect. I could have done without the superfluous Mongolian heavies, and the cliff-hanging climax may be a mite overdone, but the old-fashioned theme of disaster as an existential test of character still works. With Tyrese Gibson and Jacob Vargas. PG-13, 93 min. (JR)

Published on 17 Dec 2004 in Featured Texts, by admin

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