By Neil Pedley
If last week’s avalanche of Valentine’s Day-inspired fare forced you to spend the week alone in your apartment like yours truly — eating ramen noodles in the dark and crying — then take heart. This week is a fresh slate of brand new movies with nary a rom-com in sight.
If a million monkeys sat at a million typewriters for a million years, they might out something like the storyline for this film. When Jerry (Jack Black) unwittingly erases every tape in the video store at which his friend Mike (Mos Def) works, the two decide to recreate the movies themselves with a camcorder in hopes the customers won’t notice. Given that this is the brainchild of writer/director Michel Gondry, the man behind such mindbenders as “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” and “The Science of Sleep,” you get the feeling that this was little more than an excuse for all involved to have a bit of a giggle.
Charlie Bartlett is a mischievous schemer who’s been kicked out of one private school too many and is banished to – gasp –
public high school, where he sets up a bathroom stall counseling
service for the school’s lost and lonely, handing out sage advice in
one hand and pills from his psychiatrist in the other. Anton Yelchin,
last seen in “Alpha Dog,” stars as the titular character in this comedy
aiming to be a Ferris Bueller for the Prozac generation.
Austria’s official entry for Best Foreign Language Film for the 2007
Academy Awards, “The Counterfeiters” is a fictionalized dramatization
of Operation Bernhard, a secret Nazi plan to destabilize the allied
economy by flooding England and the U.S with thousands of forged
banknotes. Told in flashback, the film centers on Salomon Sorowitsch, a
master counterfeiter who’s arrested and imprisoned by the Nazis, who
indoctrinate him into working for their cause. In German with subtitles.
Opens in limited release.
Watching the trailer for “Cover,” it’s difficult to shake the notion
that this was a direct-to-video title that was somehow mislabeled and
sent out to a theater. C-list legend Bill Duke, who moonlights as a
go-to goon character actor, steps behind the camera to direct this tale
of marital infidelity and betrayal starring Aunjanue Ellis as a devoted wife implicated in a murder, only to
discover her husband, Dutch (Razaaq Adoti) has been leading a double
life. Louis Gossett Jr. kills some time waiting for “Iron Eagle
V” as the dogged police detective determined to uncover the
Opens in limited release.
“The Duchess of Langeais”
Set in 19th century Paris at the time of the restoration, this period
drama is brought to us courtesy of 80-year-old director Jacques
Rivette, the man Truffaut credited with birthing the French New Wave
movement. He breathes new life into the Balzac novella about
Antoinette, a married noblewoman who schemes her way into the heart
of the dashing general Montriveau, whom she ultimately drives to
madness. The humiliated general seeks his revenge, only for Antoinette
to realize that her best laid plans may have cost her true love and
more. In French with subtitles.
Opens in limited release.
Documentarians Joe Fox and James Nubile present the stories of four former
internees of the Poston Relocation Center, the largest of ten
Japanese-American internment camps during World
War II. The film’s focus is Ruth Okimoto, a future artist who was
forcibly moved to Poston with her family at the age of six, who journeys
back to the now derelict and abandoned camp, searching for answers as
to how such a thing could be allowed to come to pass.
Opens in New York.
Told from three different perspectives by three different directors who
apparently had no idea what the others were doing, “The Signal” is
essentially three mini-movies loosely strung together: a thriller, a
black comedy and a romantic mystery, all detailing the fallout of a
mysterious transmission that invades the airwaves and turns ordinary
people into crazed killers. Written and directed by David Bruckner, Dan
Bush and Jacob Gentry, this low-budget indie horror flick made its
debut at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival, and a quick scan of the
credits tells you everything you need to know — there are dozens of
people credited with roles like “Screaming Man,” “Deranged People”
and “Random Bodies.”
Opens in limited release
Perhaps the only thing more pervasive than the possible conspiracy in
this intricate and elaborate high-concept thriller is the film’s
trailer, which has seemingly played in front of every movie at the
multiplexes for months. The gist:
Dennis Quaid and Matthew Fox star as a secret service agents charged
with protecting the president (William Hurt) during a terrorism summit
on Spanish soil. When an assassination attempt occurs, the two must
sort through video evidence and piece together the events with, among
others, an American tourist (Forest Whitaker) and a TV news producer
(Sigourney Weaver). Naturally, nothing is what it appears to be. We’re hoping the same is true of the film as a whole, which reminds us
of Brian De Palma’s distinctly arse “Snake Eyes.”
Suffice to say this looks about as funny as a trip to
the dentist for a root canal. (Hey, now there’s an idea for Larry the
Cable Guy’s next movie…) The Blue Collar Comedy alum
stars as a Mississippi deputy who mistakes a federal witness for a kidnap victim and must dodge corrupt FBI agents and mob guys to usher
her safely to Chicago. This smut-spattered toilet-humor adventure comes complete with support from Eric Roberts, who, it seems, is no longer content with making music video cameos.
[Photo: “Be Kind Rewind,” Â©New Line, 2008]