Movie Reviews: Jonas Brothers: The 3-D Concert Experience, Must Read After My Death, Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li 

Also, Dog Eat Dog, Echelon Conspiracy and more

Wednesday, Feb 25 2009

BOB FUNK Movies — especially inconsequential, earnest comedies like Bob Funk — about how people “achieved” their sobriety — are as fascinating as listening to people recount the plot of their dreams. With all due respect to Leo Tolstoy, all unhappy film families in which someone ascends those “12 steps” are exactly alike. Though certainly not as noxious as Rachel Getting Married, Craig Carlisle’s directorial debut similarly insists that we find charm in its protagonist’s most odious behavior. Self-medicating to dull the pain of a dead dad, an ex-wife and a mom (Grace Zabriskie) who demotes him from VP of sales in the family-futon emporium to its custodian, the titular drunk (Michael Leydon Campbell) rages and pukes. Mother Funk insists her son enter therapy with a woman head-shrinker, leading to AA meetings and the pretty new associate at the office (Rachael Leigh Cook) telling Bob, “The truth is the only thing you never have to be ashamed of.” Failing as a satire of cubicle culture (Amy Ryan’s inexplicable cameo only makes you wish you were watching The Office) and too thin to convincingly play out its redemption story, Bob Funk, at the very least, has no scenes on how to load a dishwasher properly. (Sunset 5) (Melissa Anderson)

CHERRY BLOSSOMS At least once a year, the canny distributors at Strand Releasing shell out for a crowd-pleaser to shore up their artier numbers. To kick off 2009, they’ve opted for the latest from German writer-director Doris Dörrie, who started out just dandy with the outrageous 1984 comedy Men and has settled for charming neo-hippie fripperies pretty much ever since. Life’s rich impermanence looms large and heavy over this sweetly shopworn parable of transformation about an aging, routine-bound bourgeois (Elmar Wepper), who adores his wife (Hannelore Elsner) but has never grooved to her love of Japanese butoh, an art form combining hippie culture with German expressionist dance. Believe it or not, the couple is called Rudi and Trudi, and no source of pathos goes unmined, as Rudi, suddenly alone, travels to Japan to reconnect with one of his troubled children. Instead, with a homeless young butoh dancer (Aya Irizuki) murmuring spiritual nothings in his ear, he finds himself on an eleventh-hour journey to healing at the foot of scenic Mount Fuji. The best I can say for Cherry Blossoms is that it’s made with love; the worst, that it’s been a big hit in Germany. Yearning for Ozu, Dörrie stops off at cute, and parks. (Music Hall; Town Center 5) (Ella Taylor)

DOG EAT DOG Congratulations, Colombia! You’ve caught up with America’s rich cinematic tradition and produced one of your own trashy, cliché-riddled, post-Tarantino gangster movies. The country’s official Academy Award entry for Best Foreign Language Film — and its first-ever feature to be invited to Sundance — Dog Eat Dog follows sour-pussed thug Victor (Marlon Moreno Solarte), a seemingly smart cat who moronically knocks over the first domino when he pockets the money he’s been hired to collect for nihilistic kingpin El Orejón (Blas Jaramillo). Now holed up in a hotel room with Eusebio (Óscar Borda) — a hired goon who has been put under a deadly curse by El Orejón’s cigar-smoking voodoo priestess — Victor tries to pre-ordain the double- and triple-crosses of the crime genre, unaware that he’ll mostly be knocked around by the deus ex machina end of a mediocre screenwriter’s pool cue. With his background in television and music videos, director Carlos Moreno’s feature debut is mighty shallow. Its bloodshed carries little weight; the sporadic humor is cheap and casually racist. The only entertainment to mine from the glum proceedings (and incessant spitting!) is in its ironically upbeat Latin pop score. Yawn. (Grande 4-Plex) (Aaron Hillis)

click to enlarge 30 Century Man
  • 30 Century Man

Related Stories

  • Discostan Features Music From "Beirut to Bangkok via Bombay"

    The strong smell of sandalwood-infused Indian Chandan Dhoop incense fills Arshia Haq's Echo Park apartment as she gets ready for the night. She has recently arrived back in the city after working on a music documentary in India and Pakistan, and the jet lag hasn't subsided - nor has that...
  • Khao Soi 4

    If America’s Thai food trend is heading toward the model set by Pok Pok, Andy Ricker’s famous Portland-based project, then the trend is heading northward, away from the familiar Bangkok street food that most Americans have grown accustomed to  – the likes of massaman curry, pad Thai and tom yum soup...
  • Night + Market Song 2

    If you often find yourself dreaming of Kris Yenbamroong's plates of pork larb and curried noodles, his happily spicy nuoc mam chicken wings and catfish tamales, his - oh, you get the idea. It's not like you haven't memorized the menu. Because Yenbamroong's Night + Market serves the kind of stuff...
  • Nick Ut: The Shot of a Lifetime 2

    It was a lucky shot, some say of Nick Ut's famous Vietnam War photo The Terror of War, or Napalm Girl, as it is more commonly known. Less lucky, of course, was the little girl in the photo, Kim Phuc. She was running down the street, naked, after a napalm...
  • Proposition 41 Housing for Poor Veterans Wins Big 3

    Looks like California voters like the idea of helping out troubled vets with special new housing, as early returns show a strong 65.8 percent in favor of the Veterans Housing & Homeless Bond Act of 2014, with 34.2 percent of voters opposed. The proposition is being closely watched by angry...

ECHELON CONSPIRACY The box-office-suicide title refers to the National Security Agency’s database for collecting surveillance material. Echelon Conspiracy’s “chilling” what-if proposition is that it should become a sentient, self-operating force — aptly, the screenplay’s blind trowelling of action clichés (“You try to run and I will hunt you down!”) seems like the work of Final Draft operating on its own. Or of Pat Hobby. Or of ... Iron Eagle scribe Kevin Elders. Shane West, apparently being paid for every finicky overreaction, is an American tech guy abroad, swept into a Mysterious International Conspiracy after his random receipt of a clairvoyant cell phone that text-messages him the keys to easy money ... and easy death. Exposition is reeled out with Bangkok, Prague and Moscow variously visible in the background. Edward Burns, with his eternal air of midtown bartender, drops in as a casino detective/ex-government operative. Digressions to dyspeptic overseer Martin Sheen in a commercial park building playing NSA headquarters open the door to some lazy-cynical Buck Fush material. Given the passivity of computer use, the “hacker thriller” is film history’s great running joke, but special attention should go to Echelon Conspiracy’s authors for conceiving a climax that tries to juice tension out of someone using a search engine and staring at a download countdown. (Selected theaters) (Nick Pinkerton)

Related Content

Now Showing

  1. Tue 22
  2. Wed 23
  3. Thu 24
  4. Fri 25
  5. Sat 26
  6. Sun 27
  7. Mon 28

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

    Sponsored by Fandor

Box Office

Scores provided by Rotten Tomatoes

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


  • 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.
  • Are Westerns For The Weak? Not According to "Sensei" Martin Kove
    Decades ago, the western film was king, with nearly 100 produced every year at their peak in the 1940s, and their popularity extending years beyond. But today, other than rare successes like Django Unchained or True Grit, the genre is not in great shape. Films such as Cowboys and Aliens and The Lone Ranger failed to spark new interests in the western. It's a tough nut to crack, but veteran movie bad guy Martin Kove -- most well known for his role as Sensei John Kreese in The Karate Kid -- is passionate about the classic American film genre and is trying to revive it. We spent an afternoon at his home talking about westerns and how to make the genre interesting again. All photos by Jared Cowan.
  • Scenes from The Gallery of Film Poster Art at CSUN
    The Gallery of Film Poster Art at Cal State Northridge is the country's only permanent university exhibit dedicated to the art of the movie poster. The gallery houses rare and international film posters from the collection of Steve Olson, whose business card reads "Buyer of Investment Properties -- Collector of Rare Movie & Art Posters." John Schultheiss, Professor of Cinema and Television Arts at CSUN as well as the curator of the poster gallery, says he's heard from visitors that it's the best-kept secret in L.A. CSUN doesn't advertise the gallery so people have to stumble across it or hear of it somehow. Schultheiss hopes that people will begin to associate CSUN with something particularly important and special after visiting the gallery. All original photos by Jared Cowan.

Movie Trailers

View all movie trailers >>

Now Trending