Americanese

Adapted from Shawn Wong’s 1995 novel American Knees, this intriguing, well-acted feature by writer-director Eric Byler (Charlotte Sometimes) has the merit of not fully explaining its multilayered characters and asking viewers to take the initiative in figuring them out. A middle-aged Chinese-American professor (Chris Tashima) in southern California, still adjusting to his recent separation from a much younger woman (Allison Sie), gets involved with another teacher (Joan Chen), a traumatized Vietnamese refugee, and no one behaves according to expectations. 107 min. (JR)

Published on 31 Mar 2006 in Featured Texts, by admin

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Basic Instinct 2

The 1991 original was silly and campy, but director Paul Verhoeven and screenwriter Joe Eszterhas had a stylishly hokey way of recycling Hitchcock tropes and an appreciation for Sharon Stone as superwoman/dominatrix that made her a star. She’s still magnificent as novelist Catherine Tramell, who has moved to London and finds herself a shrink (David Morrissey) to play Emil Jannings to her Dietrich. But like many sequels this is actually a remake, and it suffers from the law of diminishing returns. Screenwriters Leora Barish and Henry Bean are hip enough to reference cultural theorists Jacques Lacan and Slavoj Zizek, though director Michael Caton-Jones, no stranger to kinkiness in Scandal, seems bemused by the more formulaic elements. With David Thewlis and Charlotte Rampling. R, 114 min. (JR)

Published on 31 Mar 2006 in Featured Texts, by admin

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Counsellor At Law

John Barrymore plays a Jewish lawyer with an unfaithful wife and a faithful mistress in Elmer Rice’s 1933 adaptation of his own play. It’s one of Barrymore’s best performances, and William Wyler’s direction of this brisk comedy-drama is exemplary. With Bebe Daniels, Doris Kenyon, and Melvyn Douglas. 82 min. (JR)

Published on 31 Mar 2006 in Featured Texts, by admin

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Adam & Steve

Goth transvestite Adam (Craig Chester) and disco dancer Steve (Malcolm Gets) share a disastrous one-night stand back in the 80s when the latter snorts too much coke laced with baby laxative; years later they meet again without recognizing one another and become a couple, but their former identities threaten to sabotage the match. Chester, making his feature debut as writer-director, does some effective mugging, and there are enjoyable performances from Parker Posey as Adam’s acerbic pal and Chris Kattan as her boyfriend. But despite the high spirits, most of the comedy is feeble and forced; Steve’s career as a therapist seems especially far-fetched. With Sally Kirkland. R, 95 min. (JR)

Published on 31 Mar 2006 in Featured Texts, by admin

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