Movie Reviews: Just Sex and Nothing Else, Vince Vaughn's Wild West Comedy Show and more 

Plus this week's film pick: The Band's Visit

Wednesday, Feb 6 2008

FILM PICK  THE BAND'S VISIT Heavily accented English (don’t worry, there are subtitles throughout) is the only common tongue shared by the characters of Israeli writer-director Eran Kolirin’s impressive feature debut, in which the members of an Egyptian policemen’s orchestra find themselves waylaid in an Israeli backwater town after taking the wrong bus to a concert. The musicians earn the sympathy of a brassy café owner (Ronit Elkabetz), who arranges for the men to spend the night as the lodgers of a few not entirely willing friends and neighbors — the very Israelis whose forefathers fought the Egyptians for three decades. In the hands of many filmmakers, that basic setup would have made for an earnest exercise in getting to know thy former enemy. But Kolirin is too smart to bore us with humanistic bromides, and he has a sense of humor as dry as desert wind. Yes, The Band’s Visit (which reopens in local theaters this weekend, following a one-week Oscar-qualifying run last December) is touching and uplifting and all those other audience-friendly emotions against which film critics are believed to religiously steel themselves. But it merely plucks at your heartstrings rather than yanking on them, and leaves you filled with an elating sense of possibility. Elkabetz, the sultry star of the 2001 Israeli import Late Marriage, is remarkable, as is actor Sasson Gabai as the band’s curmudgeonly widower conductor. (ArcLight Hollywood; The Landmark; Playhouse 7; Town Center 5) (Scott Foundas)

July August Productions/Sony Pictures Classics

(Click to enlarge)

click to enlarge JULY AUGUST PRODUCTIONS/SONY PICTURES CLASSICS - The Band's Visit: All dressed up and nowhere to go ...
  • July August Productions/Sony Pictures Classics
  • The Band's Visit: All dressed up and nowhere to go ...

Related Stories

The Band's Visit: All dressed up and nowhere to go ...

GO  BILLY THE KID Working as a talent scout specializing in "street scouting" (finding ordinary people in real-life locales), director Jennifer Venditti stumbled upon 15-year-old rural-Maine resident Billy. An eccentric loner (by choice and by brutally enforced teen hierarchies) who quotes Robert Frost and The Terminator, plays air-guitar and rocks AC/DC shirts (but also likes disco), Billy has an intense stare and a lumbering walk, and is at once childlike and wise beyond his years. Venditti follows Billy as he interacts with family and schoolmates, the latter of whom treat him like a freak, while the former slowly fill in a dark back story. (It was only after the film was completed that Billy was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome.) Straightforward in terms of craftsmanship, this very moving, sometimes discomfiting character study raises questions about the nature of documentary filmmaking. Mild controversy has arisen over some moments that seem staged, and others in which Billy transparently plays to the camera. (In a New York Times interview in which Venditti spoke about Billy's wooing of a young waitress, the director said, "He knew he needed a love story [for the film], a damsel in distress, and of course he found her.") Those are pertinent concerns. But what you ultimately take from the film is the awareness that this smart, self-aware, uncensored kid has been playing to a camera in his own head since well before Venditti came along. (Sunset 5) (Ernest Hardy)

THE EYE Ever had a premonition of imminent catastrophe, only to watch helplessly as the worst unfolds? You have if you saw the previews for this snoozer of a paranormal shocker and bought a ticket anyway. Adapted from a derivative Pang Brothers thriller — a U.K.-Hong Kong-Singapore co-production helpfully identified in the credits as a "Chinese-language" film, lest it be mistaken for one of the late-'90s Japanese horror films it's ripping off — the setup is essentially the same: A blind concert violinist (Jessica Alba) gets a cornea transplant and is suddenly privy to visions of the recently (or is it imminently?) deceased. From there, as directed by French horror hommes David Moreau and Xavier Palud (Them), the entire movie is an object lesson in diminishing returns: of nagging shock cuts and blaring sound cues used as indiscriminately as joy buzzers; of "look out behind you!" scares that wouldn't make a Cub Scout flinch; of a blurry visual scheme that was far more terrifying in The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, where it sought empathy rather than empty sensation. The vulnerability of eyes is normally one of horror's most reliable tropes; this packs all the ocular thrills of a three-hour wait at LensCrafters. Advice to cornea-transplant candidates: If your donor has watched this, politely say, "Next." (Citywide) (Jim Ridley)

THE HOTTIE AND THE NOTTIE Crass, shrill, disingenuous, tawdry, mean-spirited, vulgar, idiotic, boring, slapdash, half-assed, and very, very unfunny, The Hottie and the Nottie stars Paris Hilton as ... but really, need I go on? [Ed.: A little, yes.] Okay, fine: Hilton stars as monosyllabic event-planner Cristabelle Abbott, "the hottest woman in Los Angeles" and absurd object of desire for Nate Cooper (Joel David Moore), an unemployed, unsympathetic asshole. Scripted by Heidi Ferrer and shat onscreen by director Tom Putnam, this strong contender for Worst Movie I've Ever Seen follows Nate's attempt to woo the "hottie" while suffering the rancid foot fungus, oozing facial blisters and hideous tooth decay of her best friend, June Phigg (Christine Lakin). Which leads to such hilarious antics as the yoga-class mishap, in which Nate, inching his nose into Cristabelle's downward-dogging, spandex-clad ass, gets a whiff of Phiggian foot funk instead. Guffaw! Bonus point for Hilton's straight-faced delivery of the sentence, "Do you think I'm a pod person?" Unfortunately, I'll have to take it right back for the inclusion of Randy, a retarded albino stalker. (Burbank Town Center 8; Culver Plaza; One Colorado; Winnetka All Stadium 21) (Nathan Lee)

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