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Movie Reviews: Forever, My Blueberry Nights, My Brother Is an Only Child 

Also The Ruins and more

Wednesday, Apr 2 2008
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CHAPTER 27 Jared Leto might win an Oscar next year if audiences are willing to see Chapter 27 as an abstract of the rise to power of Perez Hilton. But Jarrett Schaefer’s film is explicitly about the mental unraveling of John Lennon murderer Mark David Chapman, a role for which Leto gained 60 pounds and unintentionally invoked the voice of South Park’s Towelie. “I’m going to be with you, Holden ... in the rye ... in the ryyyyyyyyyyyeeeeeeee,” drawls the actor in a seemingly pot-stoked stupor, laying on the crazy so thick you’re left wondering why Chapman was let off the plane from Hawaii. Making the Fincherian The Killing of John Lennon seem like the masterpiece Zodiac wasn’t, this misbegotten psychological portrait eagerly foregrounds Leto’s excess blubber and histrionic blather, delivered like bad improv outside the Dakota building — “home of the great and powerful,” according to Chapman, clearly oblivious that Rex Reed also lives inside. A retarded sense of meta is achieved whenever Leto’s Chapman goes on about the phony theatrics of film actors, but it’s Lindsay Lohan, as über–Lennon fan Jude, who breaks your heart, looking convincingly horrified that she has three undeserved Razzies while Leto has none. (Nuart) (Ed Gonzalez)

 
EXTRA ORDINARY BARRY Hapless comic flailing envelops nearly every minute of Extra Ordinary Barry, the sort of woefully incompetent independent film that evokes either pity or disgust, depending on your level of tolerance. Fresh from being fired from his job as an olfactory specialist, Barry Berry (Jay Convente) gets a call from the woman he donated his sperm to years ago, announcing that the resulting child now wishes to meet him. Wanting to appear gainfully employed for the kid’s arrival, Barry begins working as a massage instructor, where he’s saddled with students who form a rainbow coalition of unfunny cultural stereotypes: Horny Asian Chick, Smooth Black Dude, Sheltered Southern Gal, Weirdo New-Age Guy, Incontinent Indian Man. Written and directed by first-timer Vivi Stafford, Extra Ordinary Barry heaps a series of stresses onto Barry — he also has a longtime girlfriend (Carrie Chason) who’s waiting for a proposal — that are meant to motivate him into growing up and taking his life by the reins. Instead, the collision of episodic inanities only creates wave upon wave of audience agony as the equally cruddy subplots vie for attention. Though he’s presumably meant to be adorably clueless, Convente’s childlike facial contortions make him seem sexless and creepy — not quite the image you want in your romantic lead. As for the film’s comic repartee, it mostly involves characters yelling back and forth at each other. By the end, you may want to join in. (Sunset 5) (Tim Grierson)

 
GO  FOREVER A philosophical study in the relationship between the dead artists of Paris’s Père-Lachaise cemetery and their visitors and keepers, veteran documentarian Heddy Honigmann’s Forever contemplates both buried celebrities and the relatively obscure in its musing on eternity. Forever achieves something more resonant than a Solemn Affirmation of the Immortal Spirit of Art by virtue of Honigmann’s instinct and sensitivity as an interviewer; circulating through the cemetery, she patiently extracts often staggeringly tragic-poetic back stories from its living denizens. The interviews are done in restive, gently penetrating close-ups that, matched with their subject’s self-revelations, draw the beauty of each speaker to the surface. A Japanese pianist discusses the connection she finds to her deceased father through playing Chopin; a Korean tourist ruminates on Proust in his untranslated native tongue; an Iranian cab driver sings tribute over the grave of Persian author Sadegh Hedayat (whose works, in a recent cultural purge, were withdrawn from publication in Iran). The ambient camerawork can be obvious in groping for the beauty of moldering pathos (not for nothing are cemeteries the classic go-to for amateur photographers), but interludes of the sublime and unexpected are never far off. (Music Hall) (Nick Pinkerton)

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GRIZZLY PARK It’s a common complaint among fans that too many horror films these days don’t take the time to develop their characters before throwing them into peril, and thus we don’t care what happens to them. A fair criticism, but what if the characters being “developed” are all one-dimensional idiots, portrayed by actors who can’t even successfully fake being in pain? Such is the dilemma facing Grizzly Park, in which a team of stereotypical juvenile delinquents — the nerd, the bimbo, the slut, the sweater-wearing yuppie, the tattooed white supremacist, etc. — find themselves doing community service in a state park that’s closed to visitors. Little do they know that both a serial killer and a large grizzly bear are on the loose, though the former is dispatched by the latter surprisingly quickly. Then there’s about an hour until the next kill, time enough for us to realize how poorly the excellently named writer-director Tom Skull has sketched out his characters and cast the actors playing them; he could at least have given us some ladies willing to get naked. All that separates Grizzly Park from a typical Sci-Fi Channel reject is a couple of amusing gore effects and the use of a real bear rather than some awful CG creation. Glenn Morshower (Aaron Pierce on 24) has some fun in the semi-leading role, but like everyone else onscreen, he’s basically fending for himself in a wilderness of hackdom. (Sunset 5) (Luke Y. Thompson)

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