Dollbabes in toyland: Jim Sturgess & Kate Bosworth crap out in 21
Jim Sturgess’s collegiate character Ben in 21 (2008) is brilliant, we’re told. He memorizes numbers, instantly figures logistics, and determines odds in a flash. He’s taken on by academic mastermind Kevin Spacey for weekend card counting at Vegas blackjack tables, a mathematical process the script apparently doesn’t grasp judging by how quickly we’re whisked through the rules. About twenty minutes into it, Ben stashes thousands in cash in the drop ceiling of his dorm. What kind of odds are we talking about here? What if there were a fire? An electrician or plumber needing to get at overhead wiring or pipes? Wouldn’t anyone with half a brain put the loot in a safe deposit box? He intends to use the money to pay tuition at Harvard. Wouldn’t the IRS ask questions when it came time to cut that hefty check? Adios, credibility: Ben’s an idiot and a warning sign to aspiring screenwriters — if you’re going to make your character a genius, be sure to grant them an IQ. The evening’s trailers included What Happens in Vegas, a Cameron Diaz comedy that looks as worn and weathered as her sun-damaged skin (I’ve never been an advocate of Botox, but…); and the, uh, “long awaited” big screen revival of the Mel Brooks-Buck Henry TV show, Get Smart (albeit not a sequel to The Nude Bomb) with Steve Carell as Don Adams and Anne Hathaway as Barbara Feldon. In order to placate the chickenshit politically correct, they’ve jettisoned the robot spy Hymie and that nefarious Chinese mastermind The Claw (“Not craw, craw!”), while the deranged German Jew Siegfried is now played by Brit Terence Stamp. Yes, that Terence Stamp.
Considering all the recent hoopla over Cloverfield, I’d think horror fans would be demanding the Nobel Prize for Shrooms (2007), an economic and nifty dead teenager movie. A vanload of unlikely friends take a trip, physically and mentally, in an Irish forest littered with psilocybin mushrooms, dark forces and a talking cow. As dumb as a box of rocks, but as entertaining as watching someone you hate weather a bad trip.
If Flickhead were a cute girl in her twenties, Lie with Me (2005) could be a biopic. I ID’d with lead character Leila’s self destructive tendencies and her inability to perceive relationships beyond the physical. Lauren Lee Smith is outstanding as Leila. Screenwriter Tamara Faith Berger adapted her own novel (she’s written a few books about confused nymphomaniacs), Clément Virgo directs. Complex, literate, a hidden gem. Can anyone tell me the name of the song played during the end credits?
I never saw the earlier (and widely panned) Canadian DVD release from “Shock Records,” but the new Universal-Focus edition of David Lynch’s Lost Highway (1997) looks fine to me, although it’s void of extras. (For technical comparisons of all the DVD versions, visit DVD Beaver.) In fact, I hadn’t seen the film since the day it opened theatrically, when I nearly nodded off during its hazy, fragmented observations on the duality of nature and postmodern decadence. It was a weird time in Lynch’s career, as the success of Blue Velvet (1986) led to overkill: Industrial Symphony, Wild at Heart, the whole Twin Peaks fiasco, On the Air, Hotel Room — a lot of hollow beauty. Like last year’s Inland Empire, Lost Highway is chockablock with intriguing elements minus the quasi-linear form of Blue Velvet or Mulholland Dr. His noodling is, as they say, an acquired taste. Still, it’s hard to resist Lost Highway in its best moments: the mystery videotape (a neat gimmick swiped by Michael Haneke for Caché), Robert Loggia’s road rage meltdown, the allusions to Kiss Me Deadly and Meshes of the Afternoon, any scene with Robert Blake, and the absolutely delicious Patricia Arquette.
Labels: Capsule reviews, David Lynch, Flickhead's erotic pleasures