Outtakes

The week in movies

Upcoming Releases

THE INVASION (PG-13) Every era probably gets the Invasion of the Body Snatchers it deserves, and this might just be ours. Don Siegel's original take on alien pods turning humans into emotionless robots was the perfect '50s sci-fi flick as thinly veiled critique of communism; Philip Kaufman's 1978 remake pumped up the existential dread in exciting and strangely believable ways; and Abel Ferrara's 1993 version reimagined the tale with the director's lurid and vaguely nihilist panache. Now, director Oliver Hirschbiegel (whose last-days-of-Hitler romp, Downfall, was one of 2005's best films) takes a crack at the tale, with Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig starring as the hapless humans in danger of losing their souls. Also stars Jeremy Northam, Jeffrey Wright and Jackson Bond. Opens Aug. 17 at local theaters. (Not Reviewed)

RECENT RELEASES

BECOMING JANE (PG) A very Miramaxian-sounding mish-mash of period-drama fact and fiction, zeroing in on a young Jane Austen (Anne Hathaway) becoming involved in a romantic encounter that shapes the books she'll eventually write and the writer she'll eventually become. Also stars James McAvoy, Julie Walters, James Cromwell, Maggie Smith and Joe Anderson. (Not Reviewed)

THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM (PG-13) The third and supposedly final installment of the popular Bourne franchise is by far the best of the batch, a relentless barrage of sheer adrenaline that more than compensates for any shortcomings in the material. Matt Damon returns for one last go-round as the memory-challenged super-spy/assassin trying to piece together the truth of his lost identity; the villains, appropriately enough, are the only ones who ultimately matter — the CIA goons who turned him into the horribly efficient killing machine he is. The Bourne Ultimatum refines and relies upon all the elements that have made the series so successful and so appealing — the consistently agitated, you-are-there camerawork; the tense, nearly nonstop games of cat-and-mouse played by lethal adversaries; the slam-dunk action set pieces and breakneck chases through crowded, exotic locales; the globe-trotting storyline that whisks us from Moscow to Madrid to London to Tangier, before settling in for the duration in New York City. Things happen fast, lines blur between the hunter and the hunted, and some of the action is shot and edited in so frenetic a fashion that a second viewing may be required just to figure out what actually went on. Also stars Julia Stiles, David Strathairn, Joan Allen, Albert Finney and Scott Glenn. 3.5 stars

BROKEN ENGLISH (PG-13) Diehard Parker Posey fans will likely revel in Broken English, which features one of the indie darling's meatier performances, but there's little else about the film that's particularly memorable. Posey plays a sophisticated but romantically frustrated single girl named Nora Wilder, a high-strung Manhattan 30-something who seems to have stepped right out of Sex and the City. Nora spends the first half of the movie drinking too much, kvetching and sleeping with all the wrong men, then begins experiencing full-blown panic attacks when she finally meets a charming Frenchman (Mevil Poupaud) who might actually be Mr. Right. Writer-director Zoe Cassavetes (yet another of John's offspring cashing in on the family name) cobbles together a string of characters and situations familiar to anyone who's seen that aforementioned HBO series or any number of Sundance girl-in-distress films, then attempts to tie the whole thing together with a last-minute trip to glamorous Paris and an ending that's way too close to Before Sunrise for comfort. Posey makes the most of fairly thin material, but there's not quite enough here to hang a film on. Also stars Drea de Matteo, Gena Rowlands, Justin Theroux and Peter Bogdanovich. 2.5 stars

EL CANTANTE (PG-13) Jennifer Lopez doesn't quite go for the throat as Puchi Lavoe, longtime mistress and eventually wife to legendary salsa singer Hector Lavoe, but you can occasionally see those chiseled nostrils flaring at the sweet smell of blood. Hector (Lopez's off-screen husband, Marc Anthony) is the nominal star of this music biopic, but behind every dysfunctional, drug-gobbling man is a dysfunctional, drug-gobbling woman, and Puchi functions not only as her superstar husband's wife and confidante, but also as his mother, whore, nurse, supplier, nemesis and boss. Structured much like one of those VH-1 retro-pop featurettes, El Cantante begins with its subject's peak moment of creativity and/or popularity, then flashes back, as these things must, to his humble beginnings. Lavoe's inevitable slide begins almost before his rise has kicked into gear, and El Cantante depicts Hector's abrupt immersion in drugs without much fanfare or even context as one long, largely unexplained blur of bad behavior. The movie flits back and forth through the years, alternating scenes of shooting up and (thankfully) music, with too few of the really high highs and low lows that comprise a story arc and give a film its shape. A more cynical observer might conclude that director Leon Ichaso simply couldn't be bothered to fine tune the dynamics of this material, almost as if he were on some sort of contact high himself from all that smack Lavoe's constantly pumping into his veins. Also stars John Ortiz, Manny Perez, Vincent Laresca and Federico Castelluccio. 2 stars

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