Movie Reviews: Encounters at the End of the World, Finding Amanda, Wanted | Film Reviews | Los Angeles | Los Angeles News and Events | LA Weekly
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Movie Reviews: Encounters at the End of the World, Finding Amanda, Wanted 

Also, The Unknown Woman, Expired and more

Wednesday, Jun 25 2008
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Page 3 of 3

 

THE UNKNOWN WOMAN Remember Giuseppe Tornatore, who made the overrated but harmlessly cute Cinema Paradiso, about the grumpy projectionist who made him the fabulous filmmaker he is today? Meet the filmmaker that he is today — sadomasochistic fantasist, exploiter of women and cheesy Hitchcock imitator. It doesn’t help that The Unknown Woman, which traffics (I use the term in its precise sense) in hot-button topics like forced prostitution and baby-making for profit, comes sanctimoniously wrapped in a twisted tale of feminist revenge. Or that the lead actress, Russian film and television star Xenia Rappoport, is terrific as a Ukrainian ex-hooker who insinuates herself into an Italian family and gradually reveals herself as the housekeeper from hell. Pretentiously framed as a woo-woo thriller complete with aerial shots of desperate deeds on spiral staircases and the requisite surreal circus scene, The Unknown Woman is liberally sprinkled with softcore bondage sequences and dappled with sunlit flashbacks to happier-hooker days. Extravagantly vulgar psychology about evil rebounding to haunt both victim and oppressor offers still more opportunities for scenes of torture, this time with a defenseless little girl in the victim seat. Tornatore has the unspeakable nerve to present this as character building, which leaves us to wonder not only what the parents of child actress Clara Dossena were thinking but also how this repellent piece of garbage managed to win no less than five Italian Oscars. (Music Hall; Playhouse 7; Town Center 5) (Ella Taylor)

 

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WANTED  Of the summer’s many revenge-of-the-nerd fulfillment fantasies — from The Incredible Hulk to The Foot Fist WayWanted stands the best chance of dislodging Fight Club from fanboys’ Facebook pages. It has the same dizzying flipbook style, the same kicky ultraviolence, the same undeniable appeal of punch-clock payback — and best of all, no irony! Fed up with your shit job, your slut girlfriend, your shriveled manhood? Do what Wesley Gibson (James McAvoy) does: Get inducted into The Fraternity, a secret society of assassins who preserve order (and apparently do a lousy job) by snuffing undesirables. Even with a well-deserved R rating, Wanted is the most juvenile of the summer’s comic book movies, and in some ways the most up-front about its stunted playground machismo. This is a boy’s, boy’s world, where the battle cry is, “Grow a pair!” and no more blood-boiling insult exists than being called a pussy. (Which is bizarre, because its most lethal ass-kicker is Fraternal member Angelina Jolie, whose dehumanized take-no-prisoners sexuality transcends gender the way a thermonuclear warhead overrides boundaries.) The director, Timur Bekmambetov (Day Watch), thrives on kinetic hyperbole: Cars flip like flapjacks, a speeding train plunges down a 1,000-foot gorge only to go faster. But the appeal of Bekmambetov’s style — that everything exists for sensation; logic and natural law be damned — is also its limitation. Even this Grand Theft Auto admirer can watch blood slung across the screen in fetishized slow-motion globules only so many times. (Citywide) (Jim Ridley)

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