“It’s virtually unprecedented in contemporary Hollywood for a white man in a comedy to be more down-to-earth, spontaneous, relaxed, and macho than any of the otherwise all-black cast, who mostly come off as uptight and nitpicky. No, the movie doesn’t end with him learning Ebonics or hip hop dance — though, by the same token, we should note that he doesn’t try to teach any of his fellow characters how to be cool by acting white. That might stretch credibility a little too far. The closest he gets in that area is to assert that hair weaves are lame.”
No, not 8 Mile. THIS.
“Tommy Lee Jones’ feature directorial debut is probably much as you’d expect: a blast of nostalgia that nonetheless accepts the realities of modernity, which isn’t surprising coming from an actor who’s getting up there in years but has found more fame as an old man than as a young’un. The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada opens with a desert panorama and simple titles stripped right out of the Sergio Leone playbook, but it’s not the Old West we’re watching. This is the new west, where the most pressing problem isn’t gunslingers, but illegal immigrants.”
Jonesing for the rest?
Short takes after the jump
BIG MOMMA’S HOUSE 2
What is it with black comedians and old lady drag? Eddie Murphy did it twice in the Nutty Professor movies, Tyler Perry makes a career of it onstage and now in the movies as well, and here we have Martin Lawrence delivering a second helping of bad wigs and fat suits, as an FBI agent who chooses yet again to go undercover as “Big Momma,” this time serving as nanny to the dysfunctional family of a suspected cyber-criminal.
That this was the number one movie of the past weekend, and Emma Thompson’s Nanny McPhee number two, makes an odd statement about the public appetite for stars in bad make-up pretending to be nannies who somehow do a better job than actual parents. It also says that people who bitch and moan about Hollywood movies being consistently terrible have no room to talk if they continue to pay good money for such things.
Anyway, Nia Long returns as Lawrence’s love interest who, despite having experienced his “Big Momma” scam the first time, is too stupid to realize he’s doing it again. Not returning from the first movie are Paul Giamatti, Terrence Howard, Anthony Anderson, and Cedric the Entertainer — honestly, how bad does a sequel have to be when Cedric won’t even come back? Let’s put it this way: If you find the idea of Martin Lawrence screeching “Ooooooh!” at the beginning of every sentence in order to sound feminine is a laugh riot, your movie of the year has arrived. But if you’re actually on the fence about seeing this movie, and reading my review to help make up your mind, you are beyond help. Director John Whitesell (See Spot Run) is now officially canonized as a director to be avoided.
THE WHITE HORSE IS DEAD
With that title, and the knowledge that the director is named Pete Red Sky, you might expect a western, or a Native-themed story. But you’d be way wrong. It’s a glacially paced movie about a bitchy hypochondriac Russian widow (Irena Stemer) who’s trying to force her teenage daughter Naya (Resmien Atis) to become a model. Into the picture comes a manly gardener (Andrew Welsh) who is clearly supposed to be a hunk but actually looks kinda ugly. Nothing much happens for the longest time — then, towards the end, Naya gets naked for the gardener, mom gets possessive, and things come to a crisis point. Naya also has a tank full of pet leeches, which she occasionally puts on her body, much like Willem Dafoe in Speed 2. And just like in Speed 2, the leeches deliver the best performances.
THAT MAN: PETER BERLIN
Looking, in his prime, like a He-Man action figure with a huge package, Peter Berlin was one of the first major gay porn stars of the ‘70s, and a model for his own iconographic photos. He’s the sort of guy you’d think would be dead of AIDS, but here he is on camera, looking pretty great for a 60-year-old man (though the backwards baseball cap he occasionally sports looks ridiculous), reminiscing on his career. It should come as little surprise that a guy known for his looks doesn’t get too philosophically deep — that’s why there are others on hand like John Waters to talk about him. If you’re a fan of Peter Berlin, or just like seeing lots of nice pictures of a muscular, well-endowed dude, this is the movie for you. However, the best documentaries can appeal across-the-board, regardless of whether one was already susceptible to the subject’s charms or not. This is not such a film.