The Man Who Wasn’t There

The Coen Brother’s latest film “The Man Who Wasn’t There” reminded me of the theory about how a butterfly flapping its wings in the rain forest can cause a hurricane halfway around the world. Taking their cue from such great film noir masterpieces as “Double Indemnity” and “The Postman Always Rings Twice,” the Coen Brothers have created their own modern day masterpiece. “The Man Who Wasn’t There” so perfectly captures the spirit of classic film noir that if it weren’t for the recognizable stars, you would swear the film was the real McCoy.

Shot in striking black and white by the brilliant Roger Deakins, “The Man Who Wasn’t There” draws you in with its hypnotic images, shady characters, and constant awareness that not all is what it seems. Please click on title for complete review. (USA)


Martin Lawrence just spins his wheels in this update of “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.” A better lead would be Chris Rock, whose attitude perfectly fits the circumstances of this mildly amusing comedy that could have been a real hoot. Lawrence plays Jamal Walker, who works at a Medieval-themed family park. Bored with his job, Jamal waits patiently for a competing park to open, where he has submitted an application. While fishing out an amulet from the castle’s moat, Walker is pulled underwater and reawakens in 14th Century England. The joke is that Walker thinks he’s actually stumbled into the competing park, and that everyone and everything is part of the act. Walker plays along, befriending a dishonored knight (Tom Wilkinson) and making whoopee with one of the King’s maidens, who is actually working undercover to overthrow the corrupt King and return the Queen to her rightful throne. Lawrence is more bemused than funny, and the rest of the cast feel like they’re playing dress-up. (Fox)


Tilda Swinton is mesmerizing as Margaret, a Lake Tahoe mother of three trying to raise her family the best way she knows how while her husbands serves in the military overseas. Stuck in the house with her obstinate father-in-law, Margaret feels that she’s losing touch with her 17-year-old son Beau (Jonathan Tucker), who has fallen the under the spell of a 30-year-old gay man named Darby (Josh Lucas). When Margaret learns of her son’s affair, she approaches Darby and threatens him if he ever sees her son again. A midnight rendezvous in Beau’s boathouse with Darby ends badly, forcing Margaret to not only acknowledge her son’s sexuality, but to protect him from what she believes is a murder. Her scheme attracts Alek Spera (Goran Visnjic), a collector for a local bookie who claims that Darby owed him $50,000, and wants the money or he will tell the police everything he thinks he knows. It’s at this moment when “The Deep End” shifts gears and becomes an entirely different animal, a sly cat-and-mouse game played a desperate woman and a charming collector who slowly begins to fall for her. What I really liked about the film is that the plot is driven by silence. If any of the characters, especially Margaret and Beau, ever sat down and actually talked to each other, their problems would disappear. Because they keep silent, one presumption leads to another until all of the characters are trapped in a web of deceit and misunderstanding. The cast is uniformly excellent, including Tucker as the perfect son, and Visnic as a man who wants to do the right thing. (Fox)


A parade of familiar faces might make “Perfume” attractive, but once you get a whiff of this rambling mess, you’ll want to take a bath. Director Michael Rymer, taking his cue from Robert Altman, conceives “Perfume” as a fashion industry “Short Cuts” but comes up really short. Rymer interconnects several stories within the industry, none of which feel like the real thing. Everything in “Perfume” feels manufactured, even though the actors appear to be improvising. Most of the stories are depressing rather than inspiring. Paul Sorvino plays an Italian designer who has been diagnosed with cancer, Rita Wilson a designer whose business is in the toilet, Jared Harris a photographer who can’t develop a better relationship with his wife, and Omar Epps as a hip hop artist looking to expand his territory. Rymer doesn’t know when to say cut, allowing the actors to ramble on long after they have worn out their welcome. Finally, a film that is annoying as those women who try to spray you with perfume as you enter a store. (Lion’s Gate)


Director Richard Linklater teams up with his favorite star Ethan Hawke to bring Stephen Bleber’s powerful and gripping play to the big screen. Linklater remains truthful to the play’s origins, keeping things simple and allowing the characters and dialogue to carry the day. A Lansing, Michigan hotel room is the setting for this character study about three high school classmates who hold a small reunion in order to catch up on old times. Vince (Hawke) is in town to see his friend John’s (Robert Sean Leonard) latest film. At least that what he says. He’s actually there to get John to confess that he date raped Vince’s former girlfriend Amy (Uma Thurman) after she broke up with him. Of course John denies it, but as the evening wears on, more than one revelation is revealed, notching up the suspense until it’s almost unbearable. Nothing is what it seems in this intelligent and well-acted drama that ends with a bang. (Lion’s Gate)


Young bucks saddle up for this occasionally entertaining western about the re-commission of the Texas Rangers. Directed with efficiency by Steve Miner, “Texas Rangers” stars Dylan McDermott as Leander McNelly, the former Rangers leader and now local preacher. Leander, who has lost his family to the numerous bands of outlaws and renegades that plague the state, is hesitant at first. When he does move forward, Leander recruits his former assistants, Sergeant John Armstrong (Robert Patrick) and Frank Bones (Randy Travis) to help him locate and train a new group of Texas Rangers. The new recruits include Lincoln Rogers Dunnison (James Van Der Beek) and George Durham (Ashton Kutcher), both of who have personal reasons for joining up. While hunting down the leader of the outlaws (Alfred Molina), the Texas Rangers encounter numerous pockets of trouble, and find love in the most unexpected places. Filmed two years ago and left sitting on the shelf since then, “Texas Rangers” isn’t a bad film, but it’s hardly a classic western either. (Dimension)

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