American Splendor. Shari Springer Bergman and Robert Pulcini. Opens Friday, August 29, at the Tivoli. Reviewed this issue.
And Now Ladies & Gentlemen. Claude Lelouch. If you have any elderly relatives who carp about movies being all mindless sex and violence these days, take them to this interminable snoozer. They may be begging for Legally Blonde 2 by the time the credits roll. Jeremy Irons is jewel thief Valentin Valentin, who, thanks to a series of blackouts, finds himself washed ashore in Morocco, where he meets a female jazz singer (real-life singer Patricia Kaas) who's also prone to blackouts. Is it a tumor? Do we care? Late in the game, a robbery occurs, and everyone including Valentin wonders if he did it, but the other suspects are so underdeveloped that it scarcely matters. Some of his hallucinations/flashbacks, in which he heists jewels in ridiculous disguises, are amusing, but feel like they belong in a different film. Director Claude Lelouch seems to be getting an automatic pass from many critics simply because he's old and French, but this movie plays like your neighbors' two-hour vacation slideshow that they insist on showing every time you come over. Opens Friday, August 29, at the Plaza Frontenac. (Luke Y. Thompson)
Jeepers Creepers 2. Victor Salva. Y'know, at least Roman Polanski doesn't make movies about raping little girls (not anymore, anyway). If writer/director Victor Salva really wanted to put his pedophile past behind him, he'd stop making films about a pants-sniffing ancient demon that pursues a high-school boys' basketball team. The creature's costume, incidentally, is the worst rubber suit to come along since Joel Schumacher said, "Batman's armor isn't gay enough." The concept and the goofy title may have suckered you into the first film, but there's no excuse this time. Opens Friday, August 29, at multiple locations. NR
Nola. Alan Hruska. Nola, an aspiring songwriter, leaves her abusive Kansas home in search of her biological father in New York. Opens Friday, August 29, at multiple locations. NR
The Secret Lives of Dentists. Alan Rudolph. Opens Friday, August 29, at the Plaza Frontenac. Reviewed this issue.
Step Into Liquid. Dana Brown. Surf movies commonly rely on rawkin' soundtracks instead of, say, harp to convey the feeling of riding the Big One...but despite the formula, director Dana Brown (a major player on The Endless Summer 2) actually adds a track with harp while some barrel-worshipin' faithful commune with monster waves 100 miles off the coast of San Diego. That visually miraculous epiphany comes late in this lovingly lensed doc, which enthusiastically explores what lifelong daily surfer Dale Webster calls "the ultimate spontaneous involvement in a natural medium." Brown globe-trots to illustrate this thesis, introducing the wild women surfers of Tahiti, a Vietnam vet surfer returning to Danang with his young son, industrial Texan waveriders, Catholic and Protestant kids surfing harmoniously in Ireland (!), Aussie hotdoggers and provincial Middle Americans -- plus endless California dreamers appraised as bearing "every personality defect in the book." The movie's diplomatic breadth compromises its thematic depth -- it basically repeats that fun conquers all -- but few movies will so generously rawk a crowd this year. Opens Friday, August 29, at the Tivoli. (Gregory Weinkauf)