Give Up the Gimmick [MELINDA AND MELINDA]

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Published on 25 Mar 2005 in Featured Texts, Featured Texts, by jrosenbaum

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Me And You And Everyone We Know

Fresh, likable, and stylishly low-key, this wistful and sexy romantic comedy marks the feature-directing debut of conceptual artist Miranda July. There are a lot of strong performances by relative unknowns, but what really holds things together is a certain sustained pitch of feeling about loneliness. July plays a shy video artist, supporting herself as a cabdriver for the elderly, who becomes interested in a recently separated shoe clerk (John Hawkes) with two sons. The movie’s flirtatious roundelay also includes the clerk’s coworker, an art curator, and a couple of teenage girls. R, 90 min. (JR)

Published on 18 Mar 2005 in Featured Texts, by admin

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Miss Congeniality 2: Armed And Fabulous

Sandra Bullock returns as klutzy FBI agent Gracie Hart and as producer in this sequel to Miss Congeniality, though with all her grotesque disguises, this often suggests a sequel to Mrs. Doubtfire. Screenwriter Marc Lawrence (Miss Congeniality, Two Weeks Notice) delivers plenty of gender humor, including attitude from a black agent named Sam Fuller (Regina King), wisecracks from a gay personal stylist (Diedrich Bader), and a grand climax at a Las Vegas drag show. Among the casino-size product placements are such familiar faces as Ernie Hudson, Treat Williams, William Shatner, and Eileen Brennan in a cameo. John Pasquin directed. PG-13, 115 min. (JR)

Published on 18 Mar 2005 in Featured Texts, by admin

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Rouch In Reverse

Though not entirely satisfying, Manthia Diawara’s 1995 video documentary about innovative French anthropological filmmaker Jean Rouchwhich intermittently attempts to practice a reverse anthropology on Rouch himselfis an invaluable introduction to the great late filmmaker. Diawara, a critic and film professor at New York University who hails from Mali, knew Rouch for years and struggles admirably to balance the filmmaker’s unquestionable achievements (including his role as a precursor of and guru to the French New Wave) with his paternalism toward Africansan attitude that was arguably progressive 20, 30, or 40 years ago, when most of Rouch’s masterpieces were made, but is harder to rationalize today. Diawara fails to resolve the conflict, but he articulates it as honestly as possible. 52 min. (JR)

Published on 18 Mar 2005 in Featured Texts, by admin

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Not On The Lips

Alain Resnais’ best work since Melo (1986) is, like that film, an eccentric and highly personal adaptation of a 1920s French stage hitin this case, a farcical 1925 operetta with a jubilant and inventive score by Andre Barde and Maurice Yvain. A happily married society lady (Sabine Azema) is terrified that her industrialist husband (Pierre Arditi) will discover that his new American business partner (Lambert Wilson) was her first husband; a subplot charts the coming together of two other couples (including Audrey Tautou and Jalil Lespert). The actors do their own singing, and the theatrical trappings of the originalincluding lavish sets and asides to the audienceare embraced rather than avoided. As lush as an MGM musical, this 2003 feature is both moving and very strange, with one of the funniest ever French portraits of a prudish American. In French with subtitles (often rhyming couplets). 117 min. (JR)

Published on 18 Mar 2005 in Featured Texts, by admin

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