+ "The Aristocrats": Everyone loves Paul Provenza‘s dirty-mouthed doc, though they’re quick to throw around some high-falutin’ labels: David Edelstein refers to it as "practically a classical symphony, with a theme, variations, variations that turn the theme inside out, and a coda," while to A. O. Scott it’s "an essay film, a work of painstaking and penetrating scholarship, and,
as such, one of the most original and rigorous pieces of criticism in
any medium I have encountered in quite some time" (he then points out it’s also "possibly the filthiest, vilest, most extravagantly obscene documentary ever made"). Stephanie Zacharek finds that it "moves with an acrobat’s timing. (I’ve seen French art house movies that aren’t nearly so beautifully made.)" Ben Kenigsberg is the only one who finds its a little lacking in heft. And everyone has their favorites among the 60-odd deliveries of the film’s central joke: Scott likes Sarah Silverman, Edelstein singles out Gilbert Gottfried and Steven Wright, and Zacharek and Kenigsberg also go with Gottfried, who may have well inspired the film with what apparently serves as its centerpiece: his telling of the joke at the September 2001 Friar’s Club roast of Hugh Hefner. It was painfully close to 9/11 for any attempts at comedy at all, much less the Twin Towers joke Gottfried went for. As the audience booed, he quickly starts regaling them with the dirtiest joke in the biz. Zacharek: "His staccato, crisply enunciated, ear-splittingly nasal delivery turns the joke into a kind of ‘Mona Lisa’ of perfection."
+ "Tony Takitani": An adaptation of a shorts story running a mere 75 minutes, Jun Ichikawa‘s melacholy feature can’t help be airy, "a delicate wisp of a film with a surprisingly sharp sting," as La Manohla puts it, based on what Dennis Lim refers to as "a mere wisp of a short story." Lim comes across as the biggest fan of the generator of the film’s source material, Haruki Murakami, angling his article toward how the film captures the author’s distinctive voice ("’Takitani’ is Murakami in miniature, a brief, precise inventory of the
novelist’s themes: cosmic loneliness, the shadow of mortality, jazz,
the coincidence of materialist abundance and spiritual barrenness."), while Jeff Reichert devotes more of his article to the writer than the film itself, which he finds too slight.
+ Zagat-style bonus â€” "Stealth": "The sort of movie that makes you pine for Michael Bay ," "Stealth" is "a sort of retarded ‘Top Gun,’" "a dumbed-down "Top Gun,’" or maybe just "a hash of ‘Top Gun’ and ‘Behind Enemy Lines.’" Most find stars Jessica Biel, Josh Lucas and Jamie Foxx to be merely "decorative," though some think Foxx "in his speech on Oscar night should have thanked God this movie wasn’t released while the voters were marking their ballots." The plot "resembles an out-of-work screenwriter’s garage sale," accompanied by "a year’s worth of whooshing noises on the soundtrack" and "snicker-inducing dialogue," but most find the film to just be "stupid," save one who declared it "an obscenity" "[f]or a movie to pretend, in the face of the deaths of tens of thousands of Iraqi men, women, and children directly or indirectly caused by our presence there, that we can wage war without anyone really getting hurt."