I, Contrarian

How'd Billy Connolly get roped into this dog?Wow, look at this week’s movies. We’ve got three major releases from studios that clearly don’t believe in their product (hell, Universal didn’t even bother to screen “Dead Silence”), another wide opener that’s getting massive coverage … well, because it’s Canadian, apparently … and two holdovers from the last two TIFFs. The Loach is the best of the lot, I guess, since even Loach’s disappointing films play better than most directors’ successes.

Can you tell I’m not enthused? It hasn’t been an enthusing week. Fortunately, friends have let us borrow their seven-month-old puppy while they’re on vacation, so I have a furry distraction whenever I need one. Which, in a weird way, brings us to …

Fido“: You know, I just don’t see the big deal. It’s the last two minutes of “Shaun of the Dead”, stretched out to fifty times that length and set in the 1950s. Yes, the “corporate short” that opens the picture is terrific, the art direction is awesome and Billy Connolly is wonderful. But man, is this movie dull.

I Think I Love My Wife“: In which Chris Rock remakes Eric Rohmer’s “Chloe in the Afternoon” and comes up with a misogynist tract about a desirable man driven to contemplate adultery because his wife has cut him off, on account of she’s all tired and stuff after taking care of their kids. Not that this couldn’t still work as a comedy, but it so doesn’t; it’s just a catchall for Rock’s distressingly outsized rants. As we saw in “Head of State”, the man is his own worst director.

Premonition“: As a woman quantum-leaping back and forth through the days of the week in which her husband dies in a car accident (doesn’t he?), Sandra Bullock does a credible impression of someone who has absolutely no idea what’s going on around her. Trouble is, so do the filmmakers. It does have one of the worst endings I’ve seen in a couple of years, if that floats your boat.

The White Masai“: A liberated white woman decides to abandon her comfortable bourgeois life when she finds the thunderbolt for a Masai warrior, only to get slammed up against the patriarchal tribalism when she tries to define herself as an individual; hey, it’s “Not Without My Daughter: Kenya Edition”! And this was a Gala in 2005, huh? Wow.

The Wind That Shakes the Barley“: Ken Loach, in his scrappy and actor-indulgent manner, examines the formation of the Irish Republican Army. Cillian Murphy is incandescent, to the point of blotting out everyone else in the picture … but that’s okay, because Loach’s insistence on drawing direct parallels to the current situation in Iraq winds up extinguishing the fire from his story.

So: I got nothing. How about you guys? Seen anything that turned your head around recently?

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