+ "Factory Girl": After garnering an impressive amount of gossip column inches for various perfunctory scandales, George Hickenlooper‘s Edie Sedgwick biopic finally arrives in theaters. At Slate, Dana Stevens sighs that "For a movie about the tumultuous friendships among artists, musicians, and filmmakers during one of the 20th century’s periods of creative ferment, Factory Girl is remarkably incurious about cinema, music, and art." She faults the script for weighing the film down. At Slant, Ed Gonzalez sums the film up as yet another biopic "spectacles of bad accidents, VH1 aesthetics, sketchy (almost nonexistent) period detail, and armchair psychology," allowing that "[w]hat’s novel about Factory Girl is Hickenlooper’s singular revulsion for Warhol as a human being."
At the New York Times, Stephen Holden declares "Factory Girl" a "deluxe photo spread of a film," calling out Sienna Miller‘s performance as Sedgwick as "furious, thrashing," while dismissing Hayden Christensen‘s not-Bob Dylan impersonation (in the film, he’s known only as "The Musician") as "abysmal." Stephanie Zacharek at Salon writes that the film "often feels torpid and listless," but does like Hickenlooper’s treatment of Sedgwick as a subject:
Hickenlooper doesn’t take the all-too-common tack of luring us in with pleasurably decadent images only to punish us later for having enjoyed them — this isn’t a "Look where loving style over substance will lead you!" morality tale Ã la "Blow-Up." Instead, Hickenlooper takes pleasure in Sedgwick’s allure, and he invites us to do the same. His approach suggests a kind of quiet generosity, the opposite of raking the bones of a famous dead person who met a bad end.
+ "The Situation": Fearlessly claiming to be the first U.S. feature film to deal with the occupation of Iraq (an assertion we feel a mystifying need to disprove, though we’ve yet to come up with a prior film on which we could bestow this title), "The Situation" is the latest work from director Philip Haas, of "Angels and Insects," and stars It’s attracting a wide range of reviews â€” on one end, J. Hoberman at the Village Voice calls it "an incitement to rage and despairâ€”the most vivid critique of Bush’s War yet put on screen," and on the other, Manohla Dargis at the New York Times labels it "[e]xploitation cinema of the most narcoleptic kind," finding that the director "fails to invest this devastating situation with the thoughtfulness and the urgency it deserves."
In between: At the New Yorker, Anthony Lane (who argues that "Turtles Can Fly" is actually the first feature to deal with the occupation of Iraq, though not a US one) calls "The Situation" an "awkward and half-digested movie"; at Slant, Nick Schager finds it "noble in intention but less than successful in execution"; at Entertainment Weekly, Lisa Schwarzbaum writes it off as an "overstuffed, unengaging drama."
Fonder is Andrew O’Hehir at Salon, who thinks the film is "uneven but impressively ambitious," and writes that "’The Situation’ is a highly developed moral landscape, painted…in rapidly shifting colors rather than black, white or gray. No one is demonized." David Edelstein at New York admits the film is "a spotty piece of work," but does find that when it works, it "catches the mood of the best recent journalismâ€”the visceral feeling that, as one character puts it, ‘a box has been opened and all the bad things have come out.’"
At indieWIRE, Kristi Mitsuda faults "The Situation"’s "defensive timidity": "Though notable for its early attempt to sift through the mess even as Bush calls for more troops, the film’s overly solicitous manner surely stems from this same lack of historical distance." And at the AV Club, Noel Murray observes that "At times, the movie plays like one long monologue, spread between a dozen characters. And its feeble attempt at a romantic triangle leads nowhere, except to unintentionally campy scenes of Nielsen and Lewis grinding away while the sound of gunfire echoes in the streets."