Film Reviews 

Wednesday, Jun 14 2006

COASTLINES No one can seem to think ill of regional humanist Victor Nuñez (Ruby in Paradise, Ulee’s Gold), but this low-budget Florida old-schooler is generally half the storytelling powerhouse he is claimed to be and twice the amateurish cliché monger. This, his latest film, sat undistributed for four years, despite a cast (Josh Brolin, Timothy Olyphant, Josh Lucas, Scott Wilson, William Forsythe) that should have paid its way to a shelf at Blockbuster. Virtually everything about Coastlines, from its title to the scenario that tracks a laconic good old boy (Olyphant) as he returns from prison to his Gulf Coast swamp town and its still-tempting criminal backside, telegraphs the hand of an idea-free newbie, not three decades’ experience crafting “personal” cinema. Brolin and Sarah Wynter, as the married woman swayed by the new boy in town, find a few genuine moments over a kitchen table, but Nuñez’s script is a limping, obvious bore. For some fans, the taste of on-location color matters most, but Nuñez’s idea of the characters’ ordinariness translates to flavorlessness, and he lights and shoots his scenes with a high schooler’s care, often not even bothering to match up sightlines. Merely going to Sopchoppy, Florida, with actors is not quite enough. (Fairfax) (Michael Atkinson)

DOG LOVER’S SYMPHONY A toxic combination of obvious bromides and talentless filmmaking, writer-director Ted Fukuda’s schmaltzy, tone-deaf romantic drama sets your teeth on edge from the outset and doesn’t let up for 103 minutes. Jesse Berns plays Jerry, the world’s least-believable white gang member, who, after getting arrested, becomes the pet project of do-gooding defense attorney Tom (Maxwell Caulfield). Jerry doesn’t want to be anyone’s charity case, but when he lays eyes on Tom’s pretty daughter Susan (Alaina Kalanj), who works as a dog trainer, he decides that maybe turning over a new leaf might not be such a bad idea. While Jerry trains adorable pooch Toby and simultaneously courts Susan, we’re cruelly water-tortured by the film’s anemic production value, Fukuda’s incompetent direction and the dim-bulb cast’s awkward, snicker-worthy line readings. Is this whole meager endeavor in fact some sort of put-on? A deadpan parody of a Hollywood boy-meets-girl fantasy? Nope. Symphony’s life lessons about the importance of listening to your heart — and its pathetic use of hankie-grabbing plot devices, including car accidents and the return of long-lost deadbeat dads — are unrelenting and stone-faced serious. Early on, you start to feel enormous sympathy for the film’s dog performers, who don’t have any idea what an extraordinarily awful movie they’re in. Their human counterparts have no such excuse. (Fairfax) (Tim Grierson)

GARFIELD: A TAIL OF TWO KITTIES Not since Dean Martin has an actor worked harder to sustain the illusion of couldn’t-give-a-crap insolence than Bill Murray — and for the voice of cinema’s reigning computer-generated feline glutton, it may not be an illusion. Whatever the case, Murray’s gift for imperious indifference is the only reason to sit through a second for-kids-only movie about Garfield the lasagna-loving cat, here transported to England for a lame species-transplant version of The Prince and the Pauper. The voices are uncommonly well-cast, from Tim Curry as Garfield’s upper-crust doppelgänger to Bob Hoskins as a bulldog (it took this long?) and X-Men Juggernaut Vinnie Jones as a trouser-mangling rottweiler. But they only underscore how misconceived the movie is on every other level. Why is Garfield an ugly, garish CGI blob in a world of real animals? Why can every dog talk except Garfield’s detested sidekick Odie? Why do human leads Breckin Meyer and Jennifer Love Hewitt act as if they’re the ones who’ve been neutered? At least Murray gets a well-deserved holiday from the midlife-crisis monotony of Broken Flowers — a movie that could have used an animated cat. (Citywide) (Jim Ridley)

LOVERBOY Creepy mom Emily Stoll (Kyra Sedgwick) calls her 6-year-old son Paul (Dominic Scott Kay) “Loverboy” and is so intent on having him completely to herself that she’s not opposed to moving away if the neighbors get too friendly. Having finally gotten pregnant after years of sleeping with men in parking lots and libraries as part of her relentless quest for a child, Emily’s the kind of movie mom who has a trust fund, which gives her time to dance with her child in the rain and tell him that his life dream will come true if he whispers it into the ear of a lamb. Paul’s dream, one assumes, involves getting away from Mom, and moviegoers may want to escape her too, particularly since actor-turned-director Kevin Bacon (Sedgwick’s husband) can’t seem to decide if he’s making a film about a loving eccentric or a sociopath. Sedgwick, who has the most expressively tense neckline in movies, has never shied away from playing unbalanced, unlikable women, but here, Bacon undermines her rigor with a series of off-key mood lighteners, including a soundtrack jarringly heavy on classic-rock standards. More maddening is Emily’s never-ending voice-over narration, which may have been screenwriter Hannah Shakespeare’s way of staying true to Victoria Rede’s award-winning novel, but which grows as tiresome as the director’s penchant for slow-mo montages of mother and son doing backyard cartwheels. (Sunset 5) (Chuck Wilson)

Related Content

Now Showing

  1. Wed 20
  2. Thu 21
  3. Fri 22
  4. Sat 23
  5. Sun 24
  6. Mon 25
  7. Tue 26

    Find capsule reviews, showtimes & tickets for all films in town.

    Sponsored by Fandor

Box Office Report

Scores provided by Rotten Tomatoes

Join My Voice Nation for free stuff, concert and dining info & more!


  • 20 Neo-Noir Films You Have to See
    The Voice's J. Hoberman was more mixed than most on Sin City when he reviewed it in 2005, but his description of the film as "hyper-noir" helps explain why this week's release of Sin City: A Dame to Kill For has us thinking back on the neo-noir genre. Broadly speaking, neo-noir encompasses those films made outside of film noir's classic period -- the 1940s and '50s -- that nevertheless engage with the standard trappings of the genre. As with most generic labels, there isn't some universal yardstick that measures what constitutes a neo-noir film: Where the genre might begin in the '60s with films like Le Samourai and Point Blank for one person, another might argue that the genre didn't find its roots until 1974's Chinatown. Our list falls closer to the latter stance, mainly featuring works from the '80s, '90s, and 2000s. Though a number of the films mentioned here will no doubt be familiar to readers, it's our hope that we've also highlighted several titles that have been under-represented on lists of this nature. --Danny King

    See also:
    35 Music Documentaries Worth Seeing

    15 Documentaries That Help You Understand the World Right Now
  • Emmy-Nominated Costumes on Display
    On Saturday, the Television Academy and FIDM Museum and Galleries kicked off the Eighth Annual exhibition of "The Outstanding Art of Television Costume Design" with an exclusive preview and reception party. 100 costumes are featured from over 20 shows representing the nominees of the 66th Emmy Awards. The free to the public exhibition is located downtown at FIDM and runs from today through Saturday, September 20th. All photos by Nanette Gonzales.
  • Cowabunga! 30 Years of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
    The COWABUNGA! - 30 Years of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles tribute show opened Friday night at Iam8bit. Guests donned their beloved turtle graphic tees, onesies and a couple April O'Neils were there to report on all the mean, green, fighting machine action. Artist included Jude Buffum, Tony Mora, Nan Lawson, leesasaur, Jim Rucc, Mitch Ansara, Guin Thompson, Stratman, Gabe Swarr, Joseph Harmon, Alex Solis, Allison Hoffman, Jose Emroca Flores, Jack Teagle and more. All photos by Shannon Cottrell.

Now Trending