Movie Reviews: Honeydripper, Half Moon 

And Aliens Vs. Predator: Requiem

Wednesday, Dec 26 2007

ALIENS VS. PREDATOR: REQUIEM Hey, Fox marketing people? If you have a cinematic franchise that you wish to keep vibrant, calling the latest installment Requiem is a bad idea — as is stealing the ending from Resident Evil: Apocalypse, of all things. But aside from that, those of us who love the notion of pitting slimy, H.R. Giger–inspired extraterrestrial bugs against giant ass-whupping reptile Rastafarians can give credit where credit is due — we’ve long suggested that such a movie should be filmed sans dialogue or talky people, and for about half of Aliens Vs. Predator: Requiem, we’re actually obliged. The main storyline, which follows an oddly Schwarzenegger-esque Predator to Earth, where he must dispose of Alien evidence and defeat a deadly new hybrid critter, is nicely done; as this Predator, Ian Whyte is leaner, meaner and more physically expressive than previous incarnations. He also manages, despite a helmet and no intelligible dialogue, to out-act all the puny humans — no-name actors playing no-name characters getting way more screen time than they deserve. Even the lamest prior franchise installments had one or two cool character actors on board, but all this movie can muster is Dale from the awful new Flash Gordon TV show? Chopped down to 40 minutes, this could be a wickedly cool short; as is, it’s a passable slasher that’s still nowhere near the interspecies smackdown we geeks have long imagined. (Citywide) (Luke Y. Thompson)

 HALF MOON In Iranian director Bahman Ghobadi’s contribution to the Mozart-inspired New Crowned Hope film series, Mamo (Ismail Ghaffari), a legendary Kurdish Iranian musician, gets the old band — consisting of his dozen grown sons — back together and sets out to perform a celebratory concert in the newly “free” Iraq. Their overland journey, undertaken in a ramshackle school bus, is filled with detours both forced (by officious border police) and impromptu, including a makeshift prison break in which Mamo smuggles the ethereal-voiced Hesho out of an exile colony for female singers restricted by Islamic law from performing. Equipped with a road-movie chassis and a magisterial lead performance by Ghaffari (first seen rising out of a grave and exuding a ghostly grandeur throughout), Ghobadi — best known in this country for his 2000 debut feature, A Time for Drunken Horses — directs with a light but resolutely unsentimental touch. In a boom time for movies about the scars of the battlefield, Half Moon reminds that the unending strife and religious fundamentalism of the Middle East kills not just people but culture too. (ImaginAsian Center) (Scott Foundas)

{mosimage}PICK HONEYDRIPPER Elegantly adapted by writer-director John Sayles from his short story“Keeping Time,” Honeydripper is classic Sayles cinema: an insightful sketch of assorted common folk whose criss-crossing dreams and agendas unfold against larger, more powerful (and sometimes crushing) sociopolitical and cultural forces. Though steeped in race and class consciousness, the film is never dry or preachy; it makes many of its most salient points with the gentlest touch. Tyrone Purvis (Danny Glover) is a retired blues musician in the late ’50s American South, struggling to keep his live-music jook-joint afloat in the face of a new spot directly across the road that features a jukebox playing newfangled rock & roll. His wife, Delilah (Lisa Gay Hamilton), who works as a maid for a wealthy white family, is in the midst of a crisis of faith that stokes household tensions over how Tyrone earns his living. Meanwhile, a racist sheriff (Stacy Keach) and a landlord who’s trying to sell the Honeydripper Lounge out from under Tyrone seem to strip him of options. Then a young musician with a jerry-rigged electric guitar shows up at Tyrone’s door. Tucked into the plot twists and pushed forward through dialogue that perfectly captures accents and era — some of it lifted from old blues songs — are a host of still-relevant issues: the quotidian racism that buffets the creation, reception and selling of race music; the tensions that arise when new Negro creativity threatens to wipe out past Negro history and culture; the ingenuity big business shows in coming up with new ways to replace slave labor; the economic strife at the root of so much domestic turmoil in poor black families. Sayles unfolds these concerns with grace and lots of humor — it helps that his cast is uniformly good, often excellent — and he doesn’t play things easy with regard to race. A scene between Delilah and her boozy boss Amanda (Mary Steenburgen), in which the white woman tries to bond, inadvertently spilling forth the misery of her life and her obliviousness to Delilah’s, treads familiar territory but peels back clichés to find truths across barriers. Time and again in Honeydripper, situational tension is fractured by Sayles’ universal compassion. (Royal; One Colorado) (Ernest Hardy)

THE ORPHANAGESee film feature.

THERE WILL BE BLOODSee film feature

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