, Val Kilmer, Paula Patton
BY LEAH ROZEN
Partway through this loopy sci-fi detective thriller, a female character complains, "None of it makes sense. None of it!" You got that right, sister.
is one of those movies that becomes doubly bad because it takes itself oh-so-seriously even as it's veering into the ridiculous. Reteaming with director Tony Scott (Man on Fire
), Washington plays Doug Carlin, a federal agent investigating a horrific crime in New Orleans. The film loses it when Carlin starts using futuristic surveillance equipment that can scan the recent past to zero in on the life of a murder victim (Patton). Then he goes back in time to try to save her. Déjà
insists on explaining in eye-glazing detail how the high-tech gear supposedly works, though clearly its main function is to allow Carlin and his crew (and viewers) to watch the comely woman parade around her house in frilly undies. (PG-13)
, Rachel Weisz, Ellen Burstyn
One man's mumbo-jumbo is another's profundity. Here's betting that despite committed performances by its gifted stars, 8 out of 10 viewers are going to dismiss The Fountain
as pretentious, head-scratching claptrap (count me in). The other 2 will find it moving and wise. Then again, I know folks who still argue on behalf of Battlefield Earth.
This wonky romantic drama, written and directed by Darren Aronofsky (Requiem for a Dream
), follows a medical researcher (Jackman) desperately seeking a cure to save his ill wife (Weisz). But the film also travels back and forth in time. In the 16th century, Jackman is a Spanish conquistador searching for the secret to eternal life for his queen (also Weisz); in the 26th century he's a space traveler, and she's the ghost of his beloved 21st-century wife. The message: Love while you can, accept that death is inevitable, and find happiness while here on earth—or something like that. (PG-13)
Jack Black, Kyle Gass
In a slapdash stoner comedy, Black and Gass play would-be rockers on the hunt for a magical guitar pick. In its plot, acting and especially its many musical numbers, Tenacious
is as amiably loosey-goosey as its characters after a few hits on a bong. But a word of warning to parents: Even if the small fry loved Black's School of Rock
and Nacho Libre
, do not take them to this one unless you want to explain the difference between high-jinks and hijinks. (R)
Danny DeVito, Matthew Broderick, Kristin Davis, Kristin Chenoweth
Bah, humbug. Even the most enthusiastic Christmas celebrants are likely to get in touch with their inner Scrooge if subjected to this bumptious holiday comedy.
tracks the escalating Christmastime feud between two neighbors when one (DeVito) goes overboard decorating his house with lights and the other (Broderick) objects. Their ever more childish attempts to sabotage and one-up each other appall their sensible wives (Chenoweth and Davis). Little more than an extended mediocre sitcom, complete with pratfalls (including one into camel dung), Deck has as much chance of becoming a seasonal classic as soy milk eggnog. The film's one sincere moment: Chenoweth, a Broadway diva, sings a lovely, soaring version of "O Holy Night" near the end. (PG)
Heath Ledger, Abbie Cornish
Two of Australia's most promising young stars team up for a familiar cautionary tale about the perils of drug addiction. When Dan (Ledger), a would-be poet, and Candy (Cornish), a painter, first fall in love, he's already doing smack and she asks to try it. "We wanted to share absolutely everything," Dan explains in a voice-over. Soon they're sharing a major drug habit, with Candy turning tricks to keep them supplied.
Other than the gritty Aussie locations, there's little that's new here. Ledger and Cornish give intense, thoughtful performances, while Geoffrey Rush adds welcome zip as a world-weary friend. (R)
Fast Food Nation
Adapted from a nonfiction book, this drama is out to expose the (literally) dirty underside of the fast food industry. Episodic and uneven, its best bits are a horrifying tour of a slaughterhouse and a cynical monologue by Bruce Willis
The History Boys
A sprightly film version of this year's Tony winner for Best Play. The comic drama follows a group of English schoolboys as they learn the difference between being knowledgeable and being glib—and discover that their teachers are only too human. (R)
' BAD BOY GIVES LOVE A CHANCE
He's a bed-hopping stoner on Showtime's Weeds
. Now Kirk, 37, portrays the history of a romance (with Julianne Nicholson) in indie Flannel Pajamas.
IS IT HARD BEING SO INTIMATE ONSCREEN?
Angels in America
[the 2003 HBO movie] was such an intimidating experience that I have never felt that way again. Once you have had to break down in an AIDS fever two feet from Meryl Streep, nothing really seems that daunting. And luckily, I got along with Julianne's husband.
YOU DO FULL-FRONTAL NUDITY. IS THAT SCARY?
I liked doing it. I have been naked onstage and onscreen, and now word maybe has gotten around that I am willing to do it. I have always admired women that did it, so I thought it would be good to do my part. I really don't care if people titter.
Superman Ultimate Collector's Edition
($99.92) Brandon Routh ably filled the red boots in this summer's thrilling Superman Returns
, but he's still no match for Christopher Reeve's masterful take on the Man of Steel. The two heroes team up for this super, and superb, 14-disc set, featuring Returns
, remastered versions of Reeve's four films and several enchanting documentaries. Best bonus: an alternate version of Superman II
, dubbed the Richard Donner Cut, with discarded footage—including a charged confrontation between Reeve and Marlon Brando, playing Superman's father—shot by director Donner before he was replaced midproduction. The five films, and Donner's II cut, are also available separately. SET AND EXTRAS: