French Twist

In her 1995 debut as writer-director, French actress Josiane Balasko (Too Beautiful for You, Grosse Fatigue) tries her hand at more political incorrectness. This very middle-class bisexual comedycalled Gazon Maudit in French and substantially censored by its American distributor, apparently under the assumption that we’re even more middle-class than the Frenchconcerns a frustrated housewife and mother (Pedro Almodovar regular Victoria Abril) who decides to get even with her philandering husband (Alain Chabat) by getting involved with another woman (Balasko), a stranger who happens by when her van breaks down. I loved Abril in this movie and liked Balasko, but though there was loud laughter all around me, I was only fitfully amused. In French with subtitles. 107 min. (JR)

Published on 26 Feb 2005 in Featured Texts, by admin

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Diary Of A Mad Black Woman

Playwright-actor-producer Tyler Perrya star of the so-called chitlin’ circuit, with eight shows currently credited to himadapts one of his hits for the big screen, directed by Darren R. Grant. The title heroine (Kimberly Elise)who’s angry, not crazyis dumped by her rich attorney husband (Steve Harris) for a white bimbo after 18 years of marriage; eventually she gets even and finds both true love (Shemar Moore) and her soul’s salvation. Perry plays her battle-ax grandmother Madea (featured in several Perry shows) as well as Madea’s lecherous brother and his upstanding son, and Cicely Tyson plays her mother. The stylistic discontinuities and pile-driver excesses can be off-putting for an outsider like me, but for fans this may well be part of the appeal. PG-13, 116 min. (JR)

Published on 25 Feb 2005 in Featured Texts, by admin

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So Long Letty

A rarely screened early sound (1929) musical comedy adapted from the stage and featuring six-foot Charlotte Greenwood in the title role. (A silent version had been released nine years earlier.) An energetic, highly physical performer, Greenwood appeared later in such 50s musicals as Dangerous When Wet and Oklahoma. With Grant Withers, Patsy Ruth Miller, and Bert Roach. 64 min. (JR)

Published on 25 Feb 2005 in Featured Texts, by admin

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Because Of Winn-dixie

In a small Florida town, the lonely ten-year-old daughter (AnnaSophia Robb) of a Baptist preacher (Jeff Daniels) adopts an unruly stray dog, which leads her to make friends with a few eccentric and equally lonely adultsa pet store clerk (rock star Dave Matthews), a librarian (Eva Marie Saint), and a reclusive alcoholic (Cicely Tyson). Wayne Wang (Smoke, The Joy Luck Club) directed this 2005 adaptation of Kate DiCamillo’s children’s book with a nice feeling for local color. Limiting the potential overripeness of the material (which periodically suggests Carson McCullers) with tact and sincerity, he generally makes the most of his resourceful cast; only the dog overacts. PG, 106 min. (JR)

Published on 18 Feb 2005 in Featured Texts, by admin

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