ROMANTIC COMEDY

Orlando Bloom, Kirsten Dunst, Susan Sarandon, Alec Baldwin

bgwhite    



How many times did your junior high school English teacher tell you to pick a theme and stick to it when writing? Cameron Crowe must not have been listening, or he temporarily forgot the advice. While he is a gifted writer-director (Jerry Maguire and Almost Famous), his latest movie is a meandering mishmash, its disparate characters and plot-lines adding up to a self-indulgent, shapeless mound of sentimental goo.

The film's protagonist, Drew Baylor (Bloom), is a shoe designer in Oregon whose futuristic sneaker has proven a colossal $1 billion bomb, causing him to consider suicide. Just as he's about to off himself, his father dies and Drew heads to Elizabethtown, Ky., to claim the body. Over the next week, helped by a gabby flight attendant (Dunst), darned if Drew doesn't learn that life, despite its crazy ups and downs, is worth living after all.

Elizabethtown tries to tell too many stories—Drew deals with failure and grief, falls in love, bonds with relatives, remembers Dad, manages Mom (Sarandon)—short-shrifting them all. Bloom, with a luminous, Errol Flynn-like beauty, remains too passive for one to care whether he finds happiness. Dunst is sexy and warm in her most adult role yet, but her character's nonstop chirpiness eventually proves grating. (PG-13)

THRILLER Keira Knightley, Mickey Rourke, Edgar Ramirez, Jacqueline Bisset

bgwhite bgwhite   



The real Domino Harvey, who died of an apparent accidental overdose of painkillers last June, turned her back on her posh London-Beverly Hills upbringing to become a bounty hunter. The daughter of movie star Laurence Harvey and model Pauline Stone (called Sophie Wynn here, for what one assumes are legal reasons), she loved knives, guns and taking down lowlife criminals.

Ditto for the Domino (Knightley, trying gamely but only semi-convincing) depicted in this deliriously overheated, slightly fictionalized bio. Loud, flashy and often funny, Domino is entertaining in a sensory-overload kind of way. It goes in one eye and out the other. Director Tony Scott (Man on Fire) is so busy establishing Domino's big ol' bad persona that the actual woman behind it goes missing. And it doesn't help that the movie leaps jaggedly about in time, making an already complicated heist plot even more difficult to follow. (R)

DRAMA Kevin Bacon, Colin Firth, Alison Lohman

bgwhite    



Flawed casting, even in a single role, can throw an entire movie irretrievably off. Someone goofed big-time when they decided to give Lohman a key role in Where the Truth Lies, a fuzzy-headed suspense drama about an ace female reporter digging into a decades-old murder that led to the breakup of a beloved nightclub and TV comedy team (Firth and Bacon). Lohman is a decent actress—she proved that in White Oleander and Matchstick Men—but she looks a decade too young and inexperienced to be the wily femme fatale she's portraying here. You snicker every time she opens her notebook, expecting to see her next whip out a chubby Crayola and draw princesses and ponies.

Truth, directed by Atom Egoyan (Ararat), is intent on showing the dark underbelly of showbiz, not exactly unexplored territory. It doesn't help that the plotting is laborious and eventually downright silly, and its ballyhooed, supposedly shocking sex scene is less than shocking. The reason to see Truth—and it's reason enough—is for Bacon, who gives unexpected depth to a character who initially seems like a sleaze but turns out to be the smartest guy in any room he chooses to enter. Bacon just keeps getting better and better. (Not rated)

Alanna Ubach

You may not know her name, but she's probably cracked you up. Ubach, 30, now starring in the raunchy Waiting, goes to any lengths (even butt padding) for laughs.

AS REESE WITHERSPOON'S PAL IN LEGALLY BLONDE I AND II I said, "I want the tackiest outfits you can find." Even my cheerleading outfit had bling-bling. I always think I'm a Muppet version of myself. Everything is grand and ornate. I got to be a feminine, giddy girl.

AS THE MAID WHO TOOK BEN STILLER'S VIRGINITY IN MEET THE FOCKERS For the audition, I had to look like I was 40. I got hair dye from Rite Aid. It was funny to walk around with big boobs and a huge butt. Ben would squeeze the padding as he was talking to me.

AS A HARD-DRINKING, BITTER WAITRESS IN WAITING

Of course they put water in the cans of beer. I have one glass of wine, the truth comes out. I'm a very cheap date. I'm 5'1"—what do you expect? It's like giving an elf a couple shots of tequila.

Batman: The Motion Picture Anthology 1989-1997 ($79.92) and Batman Begins ($30.97)
Anthology movies:

bgwhite bgwhite bgwhite  

Extras:

bgwhite bgwhite bgwhite  

Begins movie:

bgwhite bgwhite bgwhite  

Extras:

bgwhite bgwhite bgwhite  



The Dark Knight returns in two Bat-tastic DVD sets: an eight-disc Anthology of the first four Batman films (director Tim Burton's inventive Batman and Batman Returns are both worthy of a fresh look), and a two-disc release of Begins, which exhilaratingly resurrected the series this summer.

Extras: The Anthology includes a host of juicy docs and commentaries, from Jack Nicholson licking his chops over playing the Joker to director Joel Schumacher admirably apologizing for the franchise's nadir, his dreadful Batman & Robin. Begins also boasts an impressive lineup of featurettes, confusingly hidden within an elaborate comic-book-style navigation menu. (PG-13)

The Interpreter ($29.98)
Movie:

bgwhite bgwhite   

Extras:

bgwhite bgwhite   



After United Nations translator Nicole Kidman overhears a potential assassination plot, she turns to tortured Secret Service agent Sean Penn. Despite some thrilling scenes that would do Hitchcock proud, the film loses its direction after a few twists too many.

Extras: Illuminating glimpses of real-life U.N. interpreters and how the filmmakers finagled their way into filming at the U.N.; a lackluster alternate ending and deleted scenes. (PG-13)

Unleashed ($29.98)
Movie:

bgwhite bgwhite   

Extras:

bgwhite    



Gladiator's brutal battles have nothing on the crackerjack death matches in this intriguing tale of a human pit bull (Jet Li) imprisoned since childhood and molded into a ruthless enforcer. For the first time, Li's acting chops are on par with his always-astounding physical feats, but he drowns in the sappy script whenever he learns new life lessons.

Extras: The promised behind-the-scenes look at the battles pulls its punches with blink-and-you-miss-it training footage. (Not rated)

Nine Lives

bgwhite bgwhite bgwhite  



A pregnant woman (Robin Wright Penn) piling groceries into her cart in a supermarket suddenly spots a boyfriend (Jason Isaacs) from whom she had a bad breakup five years ago. Both have moved on and married others, but they chat briefly before parting and it's achingly clear she is right back in the middle of the emotional turmoil she thought was long past. This is just one of the nine affecting, beautifully acted episodes in director-writer Rodrigo Garcia's lovely film chronicling various women at emotional turning points. Amy Brenneman, Glenn Close, Dakota Fanning, Elpidia Carrillo, Lisa Gay Hamilton, Holly Hunter, Joe Mantegna, Kathy Baker, Aidan Quinn and Sissy Spacek star. (R)

Capote

bgwhite bgwhite bgwhite  



Philip Seymour Hoffman is brilliant portraying Truman Capote during the author's years spent reporting and writing In Cold Blood. (R)

A History of Violence

bgwhite bgwhite bgwhite bgwhite 



This thriller, ab out a small-town hero (Viggo Mortensen) who may have a secret past, is as good as movies get. (R)

  • Contributors:
  • Leah Rozen,
  • Nicholas White,
  • Jason Lynch.