Short Subjectives 

Capsule reviews of films by CL critics

Page 4 of 5

ROSENSTRASSE (PG-13) This moving -- but slow-moving -- "chick flick" about the Holocaust, directed by Margarethe von Trotta, depicts a mother and daughter who keep secrets for no reason, other than the screenwriters' whim. The daughter (Maria Schrader) needlessly conceals her identity to learn about her mother's past from the woman who adopted her in 1943 while Aryan women attempted to free their Jewish husbands awaiting deportation at a Berlin detention center. Lefont Garden Hills Cinema. -- SW

SHARK TALE (PG) A too-obvious message movie about keepin' it real and accepting "different" children, this computer-animated undersea comedy has its share of laughs but is no Shrek or Finding Nemo. It lands all the fish puns Nemo threw back, some in the name of product placement. (Kelpy Kreme Doughnuts, anyone?). Amid such fine voice actors as Will Smith, Renee Zellweger and Jack Black, Martin Scorsese, of all people, turns out to be the breakout talent. -- SW

SHAUN OF THE DEAD (R) A put-upon English bloke (co-writer Simon Pegg) gets so caught up in his girlfriend and roommate problems that he scarcely notices the apocalyptic zombie crises happening around him. Writer-director Edgar Wright rises above the undead genre's schlocky traditions with a first act of comic genius. The intensity of the zombie-siege sequences runs contrary to the film's deadpan comedy, but its rapid pace, hilarious ensemble and inventive action scenes make it a splatter classic. -- CH

SAW (R) Cary Elwes and Leigh Whannel (who wrote the screenplay) play two men who awaken chained in a basement with a dead body in this psychological drama from first-time director James Wan.

SHALL WE DANCE (PG-13) Only subtlety is lost in the translation of the 1997 Japanese film about a contented married man (Richard Gere) who becomes happy when he takes ballroom dancing lessons from Jennifer Lopez. This remake, directed by Englishman Peter Chelsom, seems so thoroughly American it's surprising how little was actually changed. The lack of communication between Gere and wife Susan Sarandon doesn't ring true, while Audrey Wells' screenplay manages to be both deeper and more frivolous than the original. We'll show the Japanese they can't beat us at either end of the emotional spectrum! -- SW

SKY CAPTAIN AND THE WORLD OF TOMORROW (PG) When giant flying robots attack cities around the world, Gwyneth Paltrow's sassy reporter teams with Jude Law's heroic mercenary to find the suspected evil-doer. Filmmakers shot actors in front of blue screens and digitally filled in all of the stunningly detailed backgrounds. But Sky Captain falls into the trap of the Star Wars prequels by paying more attention to the digital effects than the slow-moving story and underdeveloped characters. -- Heather Kuldell

STAGE BEAUTY (R) With romance, intrigue, humor and gender-bending for days, Stage Beauty is the movie the overrated Shakespeare in Love should have been. Billy Crudup stars as Ned Kynaston, London's leading male diva in the 1660s until King Charles II (Rupert Everett) declares women can play women's roles onstage and men can't. Claire Danes shines as the woman who loves Ned (although he prefers men), takes over the roles he can no longer play and tries to butch him up for personal and professional reasons. As gender barriers continue to topple, Stage Beauty has a contemporary relevance without straining for parallels. -- SW

SURVIVING CHRISTMAS (PG-13) Mike Mitchell, director of Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo, gives us a comedy that's good enough to amuse you when you're already in the holiday mood -- but not good enough to put you in that mood. Depressed Chicago advertising genius Ben Affleck pays a household (James Gandolfini, Catherine O'Hara, Christina Applegate, Josh Zuckerman) $250,000 to be his family through Christmas. Incidents and complications pile up, some funnier than others. Does it all end happily? Hell, even Bad Santa ends happily. --SW

TAXI (PG-13) Jimmy Fallon's fender-bending cop flags down Queen Latifah's speed-demon cabbie to pursue four ü ber-hot bank robbers, led by supermodel Gisele Bundchen. As both a big-screen funnyman and a police officer, "Saturday Night Live's" Fallon comes across like a Gen X Jerry Lewis, so his antics to redeem himself prove neither amusing nor desirable. Queen Latifah emerges with her sexy confidence intact, but Taxi runs down so many buddy-flick clichés that it deserves a traffic ticket as a movie violation. -- CH

TEAM AMERICA: WORLD POLICE (R) "South Park" creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone jerk the chain of every possible viewer in this overblown action flick and political satire entirely populated by wooden-headed marionettes. A globe-trotting, flag-waving U.S. antiterrorist team provides an outrageous parody of American intervensionism, while outspoken left-wingers like Alec Baldwin receive equally savage treatment. Parker and Stone achieve their funniest jokes with dead-on lampoons of Hollywood shoot-em-ups, but Team America also serves as the ideal joke to defuse the bitterness of the current political climate. -- CH

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  • Re: Fresh air

    • Local band Manchester Orchestra, who provided the soundtrack, probably would have appreciated a shout-out.

    • on June 29, 2016
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