Die Another Day. Lee Tamahori. Opens Friday, November 22 at multiple locations. Reviewed this issue.
Far From Heaven. Todd Haynes. Writer/director Haynes has crafted a remarkably faithful visual recreation of one of those classic Hollywood melodramas from the 1950s. Taking his cue from Douglas Sirk, Haynes presents the story of a happily married upper-middle-class housewife and mother (an impeccable Julianne Moore) whose life is turned upside down when she learns that her husband (Dennis Quaid) is gay. Of course, the no-longer happy couple keeps up the pretense of the perfect life ... until the wife's innocent friendship with her black gardener (Dennis Haysbert) gets the town wags gossiping and alienates her from the snobbish white social circle that has been her life's blood. As a homage to a film genre it's a grand visual achievement, but if Haynes intended to draw a parallel between the bigotry, hypocrisy and complacency of the '50s and today, why didn't he set his story in the here-and-how? And whether contemporary audiences, especially those unfamiliar with Sirk's work, will find anything to like is an open question. Julianne Moore, however, is radiant. (JO)
Friday After Next. Marcus Raboy. The idea of a Christmas movie set in snow-free, Caucasian-free (well, almost) South Central Los Angeles holds promise, but this film doesn't deliver on it, as it's too crude for families and not funny enough for its older teen demographic. Chris Tucker left this potheaded trilogy after part one and never looked back, leaving Cube's character, Craig, once again with Mike Epps's unfunny Day Day as a sidekick. The two bumble around as strip-mall security guards then at the end get into a relatively exciting chase sequence that shows an energy the rest of the film needed. Only comedian Katt Micah Williams, in his big-screen debut, charges up the film as the proprietor of a local "Pimp 'N Ho" store. He breathes an energy into the film that no one around him has, as if he were off taking a bathroom break when the rest of the cast and crew were passing the roach. Stoned or not, you'll have forgotten everything else about this movie within a week. (LYT)