March 18, 2008

Shorties: recently reviewed in LEO

HONEYDRIPPER (Starring Danny Glover, Gary Clark Jr., Keb Mo, Ruth Brown and Kel Mitchell. Directed by John Sayles.) In Sayles’ “Honeydripper,” everything is exactly what it seems, and that is a problem. If the director’s intention was to imitate the cadences of the minister at the pulpit, he succeeds mostly in being preachy. Every issue of importance to black America is trotted out onto the main stage in this pedantic script. (Reviewed 3/12; C+) —Paul KopaszTHE BANK JOB (Starring Jason Statham, Saffron Burrows, Stephen Campbell Moore, Daniel Mays and James Faulkner. Directed by Roger Donaldson.) Star Jason Statham parlayed his talents for physical action into a low-investment, moderate return at the box office. The “based on a true story” aspect enables the movie to justify its pretzel-twist plot convolutions, while most heist films just use them as exhausting gimmicks. (Reviewed 3/12; B-) —Jamie PetersCITY OF MEN (Starring Douglas Silva, Darlan Cunha, Jonathan Haagensen and Luciano Vidigal. Directed by Paulo Morelli.) “City of Men” was produced by the team behind “City of God,” and both films are concerned with Brazil’s extremes. Much American gangsta films, this film explains the social ills of the ghetto by providing a panoramic view of its economic infrastructure and culture. (Reviewed 3/5; A-) —Alan AbbottPENELOPE (Starring Christina Ricci, Reese Witherspoon, James McAvoy and Catherine O’Hara. Directed by Mark Palansky.) A pocket-sized guide to grrl power as a bloated feature-length movie, this movie binges on life lessons but purges complexity. It fashions itself as a whimsical tale about the importance of self-realization — in order to lift a curse of a pig-snout, the main character must marry a fellow blue-blood. (Reviewed 3/5; C+) —Jamie PetersWELCOME HOME ROSCOE JENKINS (Starring Martin Lawrence, Louis CK, Nicole Ari Parker and James Earl Jones. Directed by Malcolm D. Lee.) Writer-director Malcolm D. Lee wants us to love the movie’s characters as much as he does. But the “quirky” character details and the sex jokes are as recycled as the movie’s plot. (Reviewed 2/13; C) —Jamie PetersYOUTH WITHOUT YOUTH (Starring Tim Roth, Alexandra Maria Lara, Bruno Ganz and Zoltan Butuc. Directed by Francis Ford Coppola.) In Coppola’s first film in 10 years, he chose to adapt (on his own, without studio financing) a book by the notoriously “difficult” Romanian novelist Mircea Eliade. Although the film inhabits the screen awkwardly at times because of its reality-challenged plot, every frame looks as gorgeous as a Gauguin or a Rembrandt. (Reviewed 2/13; B-) —Paul Kopasz