The Legend Of Drunken Master

A fleet, enjoyable Jackie Chan romp, this dubbed and retitled 1994 version of Drunken Master II (a belated sequel to the 1979 Drunken Master, which served to launch Chan’s career) brings back his turn-of-the-century folk hero Wong Fei-hung exercising his virtuoso drunken fist sallies against thugs after a long string of provocations. The climactic choreographic rumble is well worth waiting for. The credited director, Lar Kar-leung, who was responsible for the original, was fired by Chan halfway through the shooting, and this appears to be Chan’s show all the way. 102 min. (JR)

Published on 30 Sep 2007 in Featured Texts, by admin

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Blame It On Fidel

In early-70s France, a thoughtful nine-year-old (Nina Kervel) undergoes a series of crises when her middle-class French mother and Spanish father become radical leftists, committed to feminist, anti-Franco, and pro-Allende activities. The script was adapted from an Italian novel by Domitilla Calamai, though because director Julie Gavras is the daughter of left-wing filmmaker Costa-Gavras, it’s tempting to speculate on whether this first feature reflects some of her own experiences. Most of the story is told from the girl’s viewpoint; her confusion about the political issues is complicated by her conservative grandparents and anticommunist Cuban nanny (who provides the film’s title). The young heroine is rather humorless, but Gavras’s intelligence and skillful touch are evident throughout. With Stefano Accorsi and Julie Depardieu (Gerard’s daughter). In French with subtitles. 99 min. (JR)

Published on 29 Sep 2007 in Featured Texts, by admin

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Feast Of Love

This heart-warmer by Robert Benton has some of the tender wisdom and humor of his other features (e.g., Nobody’s Fool), though Benton’s decision to hang his dramatic payoff on the pronouncements of a fortune-teller suggests a certain stickiness along with the sweetness. Adapted by Allison Burnett from a novel by Charles Baxter, the story considers various couples in Portland, Oregon, but centers on a coffeehouse owner (Greg Kinnear) whose wife (Selma Blair) leaves him for a woman and whose best friend (Morgan Freeman), a happily married professor on indefinite leave, advises him while nursing his own heartbreak. Their torments and triumphs moved me even as I regretted some of the script’s emotional simplifications. With Radha Mitchell, Alexa Davalos, Toby Hemingway, and Fred Ward. R, 102 min. (JR)

Published on 28 Sep 2007 in Featured Texts, by admin

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One Fine Day

Michael Hoffman (Restoration, Soapdish) directs Michele Pfeiffer and George Clooney in a beautifully contrived romantic comedy with a Manhattan setting that is exploited to the utmost. A veritable anthology of the perils of single parentingdemanding jobs, cellular phones, busy schedules, transportation hasslesthis 1996 film works a lot better than most Hollywood fluff because the leads are so good (and so well defined in Terrel Seltzer and Ellen Simon’s deft script), and because Hoffman is a pro at keeping everything in motion. With Mae Whitman, Alex D. Linz, Ellen Greene, and Charles Durning. (JR)

Published on 26 Sep 2007 in Featured Texts, by admin

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Good Luck Chuck

In a game of spin the bottle, a ten-year-old goth girl puts a hex on the title hero after he refuses to bare his penis. The result: when he grows up to become Dane Cook, each woman he has sex with marries the next guy she meets. Then he falls in love with a penguin specialist (Jessica Alba) andis there any point in continuing? Writer Josh Stolberg and director Mark Helfrich think so little of this premise that they periodically debunk it themselves, leaving me to conclude that for them any excuse for Cook and sidekick Dan Fogler’s vulgar shticksuch as sex with an obese woman who fartswas good enough. Some of the audience seemed to be having fun, but for me it was like a Farrelly brothers gross-out without the laughs. R, 96 min. (JR)

Published on 14 Sep 2007 in Featured Texts, by admin

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