Romancing the Stoner

Yes, Matt, that's a lovely picture of a kitty… no, it’s not my line, but it just leaps out at you, doesn’t it? Anyway, this week’s movies don’t really cry out for an original line, seeing as how absolutely every last one of them is treading territory that’s been trod before. Even the good ones.

Fool’s Gold“: Was anyone really clamoring for another Matthew McConaughey-Kate Hudson movie? And, more to the point, was anyone clamoring for this one, which feels like a bad sequel to a disappointing Joan Wilder adaptation? I mean, I know I wasn’t.

“In Bruges”: Playwright Martin McDonough makes his feature debut with this entertaining but rather uneven post-Tarantino gangster chic tale, in which a couple of hitmen hide out in Belgium after a botched job. Brendan Gleeson and Colin Farrell make a marvelous Mutt-and-Jeff duo, and some of their incidental conversations are very, very funny, but McDonough’s stage roots show through in too many scenes, the thing with the dwarf is ultimately not as clever as he thinks it is, and … actually, you could say that about the whole movie. Chris seems to have reached the same conclusion.

Normal“: B.C. art-house aspirant Carl Bessai makes another well-appointed, dramatically inept, narratively inert feature; this one, obviously based on multiple viewings of “Crash”, is about a bunch of sad people sitting around being sad in a series of carefully art-directed surroundings, and taking the occasional break to have really hot sex. Isn’t one Paul Haggis enough for this country?

Up the Yangtze“: Yang Chung’s DV documentary is not the first film to consider the impact of the Three Gorges Dam project on China’s land, history and people — it’s opening in Toronto just two weeks after Jia Zhang-ke’s “Still Life”, for example — but it’s quite capable of holding its own in the microgenre, thank you very much.

Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins“: What happens when you ask Malcolm D. Lee to make a Tyler Perry movie with Martin Lawrence? Well, Lawrence gets punched in the face a whole bunch of times, and people still go home unhappy. That said, I would happily pay to see a sequel or spinoff vehicle that followed Roscoe’s father and brother, if James Earl Jones and Michael Clarke Duncan could be convinced to return. But I’m not sitting around waiting.

Also opening today, which I haven’t seen in either its film-festival incarnation or its current edit, is “Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Show”. Sorry. Scheduling conflicts. But Chris reviews it here.

Catch you guys later; it’s time to shovel the walk.