Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

April 28, 2010

Illustration for article titled April 28, 2010

Briefly, it seemed like Heath Ledger's death was yet another killing stroke aimed at Terry Gilliam, whose career has often seemed like just one wave of bad luck after the next. But a clever gimmick let him finish The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus (Sony) by working around his star's death, subbing in Jude Law, Colin Farrell, and Johnny Depp for Ledger in brief fantasy scenes. The results are a little ramshackle, but they would have been anyway, given Gilliam's usual focus on energy over precision. This crazed fantasy could use some clarity, but it looks terrific, and Christopher Plummer and Tom Waits are great fun together…

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In spite of sleepwalking through the Oscars, Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin are still comedy professionals. Without them—and without the reliably ebullient Meryl Streep—Nancy Meyers’ It’s Complicated (Sony) might have been an intolerably cutesy, unserious middle-aged love triangle. With them, however, it has its pleasures, particularly Baldwin’s devilishness as a man who sneaks out on his young trophy wife to have an affair with his more age-appropriate ex-wife…

Luc Besson wrote and produced the ghetto-exploitation thriller District B13, which cannily seized on two cultural phenomena: the powder keg of ethnic minorities in Paris’ suburban outposts, and the rise of the balletic, wall-scaling discipline parkour. The sequel, District 13: Ultimatum (Magnolia), does what many sequels do by providing more of the same, with significantly diminished returns…

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Most people have seen the Hitler YouTube parodies that just got banned from YouTube, but not Downfall, which provided the footage for those parodies. Now’s your chance to catch up (and maybe get in on the ground floor of the next YouTube trend) with Five Minutes Of Heaven (MPI), the latest from Downfall director Oliver Hirschbiegel. It’s a fleet-footed, blessedly even-handed treatment of the Troubles, inspired by the murder of a Catholic dockworker in 1975 Northern Ireland…

John Malkovich makes for an inspired choice to play the shamed-into-exile hero of J.M. Coetzee’s great novel Disgrace (Image), but the film keeps an even-chillier distance from the proceedings than the book. It’s a worthwhile effort that nevertheless fails to make a deep impression.

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