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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
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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
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