+ "Where the Truth Lies": Noted by at least two critics in their reviews of Atom Egoyan‘s latest (which, as you may recall. is being released unrated here in the US after being deemed too thrusty for an R): Vince Collins (Colin Firth) and Lanny Morris (Kevin Bacon) are stand-ins for Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis; Alison Lohman‘s none-so-great as the journalist looking into the former comedic duo’s past; the film has a running "Alice in Wonderland" motif; and, most importantly, Rupert Holmes, who wrote the novel on which the film is based, also wrote the 1979 single "Escape (The Pina Colada Song)," considered by some a worthy candidate for worst song ever written.
Otherwise, most everyone is unified in varying degrees of disappointment in "Where the Truth Lies," which opens today in New York and L.A. Manohla Dargis finds it a not-that-fun journey into the sordid side of celebrity that "almost works, at least in part," in shaking up the genre of the murder mystery, but that’s undone by it’s script. Ben Kenigsberg at the LA Weekly thinks it’s a conventional film buried under layers of narrative, while Matt Zoller Seitz is frustrated by the film’s being more self-aware than is bearable, even for Egoyan, declaring it a "fitfully brilliant but mostly frustrating drama populated by characters so self-analytical that they might as well be followed around by tiny, animated footnotes." J. Hoberman ascribes the problems to Egoyan’s going increasingly mainstream: "in this relatively big-budget production, the director’s main anxiety seems to be wrapping up the mystery and selling the project." And James Crawford, taking the lead over at the week’s indieWIRE triple review, gets the last word in: "Censor-baiting sex scenes aside, now that he’s indecently begging for a place at the studio table, I wish he’d stop making movies for a while."
+ "Elizabethtown": We feel like we were promised some rippingly bad reviews of Cameron Crowe‘s latest, a trÃ¨s "Garden State" making-a-trip-to- see-to-dead-parent-with-hip- soundtrack-and-inexplicable-love- interest bit starring Orlando Bloom as a failed shoe designer (!), but all we’ve found among our critics of choice are, once again, varying degrees of disappointment, tempered with some "it could have been much worse." Mostly, it’s just a mess, or, as A.O. Scott extended metaphors it, a burgoo: "a strange, messy stew of a movie, with some tasty garden gleanings, a few chunks of gristle and too many leftovers thrown in the pot for it to be entirely digestible." To sum up the general sentiments here: Bloom fades into the background, the family isn’t developed enough and is too weird, things is general are too weird (as Stephanie Zacharek puts it, "so much of ‘Elizabethtown’ just leaves you asking, Why?"), but that Kirsten Dunst is great (Laura Sinagra points out that "Like Woody Allen, Crowe repeatedly scripts the perfect girlfriend (without, thank god, injecting himself into the fantasy)," truly the stuff grad school theses could be written on).
Crowe loves his music, and the film closes with a fifteen-minutes trek set to a mix tape made for Bloom’s character by Dunst’s that seems have exhausted everyone’s tolerance for sincerity. David Edelstein: "You’d be forgiven for thinking, ‘Turn off the boombox, Lloyd: You’ve
got us already. Lloyd, turn it off. Lloyd, for God’s sake, this is
embarrassing. Lloyd!!!’" A.O. Scott: "There is something both desperate and lazy about Mr. Crowe’s assumption
that sublime sentiments can be conjured up with a click of the iPod."
Roger Ebert, who likes the new cut better than the 18-minute-longer version that was so poorly received at Toronto, slips in an interesting tidbit about the ending:
In the first cut of the film, there was a great deal more of the journey, followed by a pointless epilogue in which the Spasmodica shoe turns out to be a hit after all, because with every step you take, it whistles. (Since much of the journey and all of the epilogue have been cut from the movie, this is not a spoiler unless the ban on spoilers has been extended to include deleted scenes on the DVD.)