License To Wed

As someone who’s been developing an allergy to Robin Williams over the years, I didn’t exactly welcome the idea of his playing the clergyman from hell as he conducts a souped-up version of a rigorous marriage preparation course for a Chicago couple (Mandy Moore and John Krasinski). But even if I could have put up with the unpleasantness of this as comedy, I still would have balked at the eventual portrayal of this monster as an angel in disguiseeven as he’s monitoring the couple’s every move from a surveillance van to make sure they don’t indulge in premarital sex. Director Ken Kwapis (The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants) gives this script by many hands a certain gloss it doesn’t deserve. PG-13, 100 min. (JR)

Published on 29 Jun 2007 in Featured Texts, by admin

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Evening

Susan Minot adapts her own novel with the help of Michael Cunningham (The Hours) about a dying woman (Vanessa Redgrave) coming to terms with her two daughters (Natasha Richardson and Toni Collette) and memories of her youth in the 50s (where she’s played by Claire Danes). Despite the show-offy cast, it took me a while to warm to these people and their self-consciously idyllic settingsas well as to the slick direction of former cinematographer Lajos Koltaibut I was eventually won over. With Meryl Streep, Glenn Close, Patrick Wilson, and Hugh Dancy. PG-13, 118 min. (JR)

Published on 29 Jun 2007 in Featured Texts, by admin

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Carbuncle

Indy director T. Arthur Cottam stiffly plays an obnoxiously quirky indie director of the same name who’s shooting a supposedly serious movie in a trailer park. It seems like large chunks of this dull 2006 mockumentary are supposed to be funny, but I’m not sure whyunless one automatically assumes political incorrectness (in this case the sexual exploitation of a mentally disabled character in the film within the film) automatically equals comedy. I also found the storytelling hard to follow, though maybe that’s just because I was never engaged. But Filthy Food (2006), the five-minute Cottam short playing with this featurean audacious bit of comic porn featuring pieces of fruitis a blast. 89 min. (JR)

Published on 29 Jun 2007 in Featured Texts, by admin

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Sicko

Asked who the greatest French poet was, Andre Gide said, “Victor Hugo, alas.” I feel the same way about Michael Moore. He qualifies, sometimes lamentably, as our most important political filmmaker, in part just because the media do such a poor job of delivering basic news to us. His blistering attack on the American health care system and the abuses of medical insurance companies offers eye-opening contrasts with national health services in Canada, England, and France, and, atypically, he delays appearing on-screen for some 40 minutes to keep the focus on this country’s victims. When his comic persona finally does come in, there’s something a bit irritating about him asking so many questions he already knows the answers to, sometimes paying more heed to the audience members he perceives as clueless than to the people he’s talking to (like when he asks some Cubans on the street, “Is there a doctor here in Cuba?”). But this is still essential viewing–informative, corrosive, and even sometimes hilarious. PG-13, 123 min. Reviewed this week in Section 1. a Century 12 and CineArts 6, Crown Village 18, Davis, Gardens 1-6, Landmark’s Century Centre, River East 21, ShowPlace 14 Galewood Crossings. –Jonathan Rosenbaum

Published on 29 Jun 2007 in Featured Texts, by jrosenbaum

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Broken

A pretty but not very distinctive singer-composer (Heather Graham) moves to LA from Cleveland to find fame and fortune. She winds up getting involved with an unbalanced drug addict (Jeremy Sisto) and leaves him to wait tables. Most of this dreary downer, directed by Alan White from a Drew Pillsbury script, is as banal as it sounds, and needlessly complicated rather than enhanced by a fractured chronology. Things are only minimally enlivened by the customers who frequent the graveyard shift at the diner where the heroine worksthe dregs of the music industry and related fringe groups. With Tess Harper, Linda Hamilton, and Jake Busey. R, 97 min. (JR)

Published on 22 Jun 2007 in Featured Texts, by admin

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