By Sherrie Li
By Falling James
By Amanda Lewis
By Amy Nicholson
By Amy Nicholson
By Jennifer Swann
By Scott Foundas
By Sherrie Li
OBSESSED How long does it take Sasha to get fierce in this almost-tongue-in-cheek Fatal Attraction retread? Too long — and even after Beyoncé Knowles (who executive-produced, as did her daddy) delivers the promising line “I’ll show you crazy!” to Lisa (Ali Larter), the predatory temp who’s been messing with her asset-manager husband, Derek (Idris Elba), what follows isn’t half as dramatic as what probably went down after she kicked LaTavia and LaToya out of Destiny’s Child. Obsessed is not without its guilty pleasures: Elba taking his shirt off, Christine Lahti’s no-nonsense detective (and her pantsuits). But the film’s anxiety surrounding interracial sex is so high that nothing, except for flirting, actually happens between Derek and Lisa; the white she-devil makes it all up. Even more suspect than Lisa’s skin color is the fact that no one’s yet put a ring on it. “A lot of these single gals see the workplace as their hunting ground,” one of Derek’s colleagues counsels. Where are Sasha and her Fosse dance moves when you need them the most? All my single ladies, now put your hands up: You’re under arrest. (Citywide) (Melissa Anderson).
THE SOLOIST An old-fashioned tale for a newfangled world, Joe Wright’s overwrought drama turns on a series of columns begun in 2005 by Los Angeles Times reporter Steve Lopez, an old-school vox populi whose writing about his friendship with Nathaniel Ayers, a musically gifted, schizophrenic homeless black man on the city’s Skid Row, drew an outpouring of reader sympathy. Wright, who brought us the ghosts of upper-crust England past with Pride & Prejudice and Atonement, seems an odd choice to direct a movie set in the Other Los Angeles, and he vulgarizes Lopez’s intelligent populism. Using local nonpro actors, he pumps up Lopez’s laconically described Skid Row into a Ken Russell hellhole of social outcasts, a florid backdrop for Lopez’s steep learning curve about the man he wants to save from himself. Screenwriter Susannah Grant has turned the happily married Lopez (Robert Downey Jr.) into a barely socialized basketcase divorced from his wife and boss (Catherine Keener). Stalwartly resisting the overkill, Downey delivers his lines in a flat mumble that’s astutely complemented by Jamie Foxx, whose beautifully modulated performance as Nathaniel catches the way people with psychotic illnesses slip in and out of rationality. Foxx and Downey’s disciplined duet comes close to redeeming The Soloist from its visual excesses, but Wright leaves us with a parting shot of the dancing homeless that shamelessly exploits the very people he means to champion. (Citywide) (Ella Taylor)
GO TYSON Director James Toback’s documentary about former heavyweight boxing champ Mike Tyson isn’t a traditional nonfiction portrait so much as a feature-length interview in which the retired boxer remains front and center for almost the entire running time. The only talking head is his own, albeit one that speaks in multiple, sometimes self-contradictory voices. The movie covers a lot of ground: Even boxing fans who feel they know everything there is to know about Tyson may be surprised by the bracing candor with which he dissects his desire to fight, his penchant for overindulgence, his 1992 rape conviction and the infamous Evander Holyfield bout that ended with part of Holyfield’s ear on the canvas. Toback, a fellow traveler on the path of obsession and desire, wears down the calluses Tyson has built up over decades spent as a media punching bag, taking the ex-fighter explicitly on his own terms, even if those terms are constantly in flux. Much too smart to pretend to give us “the Mike Tyson we never knew” or any similarly reductive postulation, Toback doesn’t come to lionize or to demonize, to goad his subject into a tearful breakdown (though Tyson does cry) or climactic Frost/Nixon apologia. Instead, he gives us Iron Mike in all his monolithic multitudes and allows us, for a brief moment, to peer alongside him into the existential abyss. (ArcLight Hollywood; AMC Century City; Magic Johnson Crenshaw 15; Monica 4-Plex; Playhouse 7; Town Center 5) (Scott Foundas)
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