“UC Berkeley gymnast Dan Millman (Scott Mechlowicz) is one of the best at what he does, and he has it all: perfect abs, a big bulge in his crotch (the camera focuses on it early on), beautiful girlfriends, and the ability to balance full beer glasses on his feet. There’s just one small problem … he has bad dreams. In the one that recurs the most, he’s performing a gymnastic routine that goes wrong, causing his leg to shatter into a million little pieces. If that brings to mind the title of James Frey’s recent controversial, largely fictionalized autobiography, the connection may not be accidental. This movie, Peaceful Warrior, is based on a similar mix of fiction and autobiography from the ’80s titled Way of the Peaceful Warrior: A Book That Changes Lives. Considering all the sequels and spinoffs subsequently authored by the real Dan Millman, one imagines that at the very least, he and his wife have had their lives changed by the substantial proceeds, so the title isn’t entirely hyperbolic.”
“Probably to help guarantee international distribution, much of the film up to this point has been in English. The major problem with this is that the actors don’t seem to actually understand English, and so they try to recite their lines phonetically (“Young bus’Tard!”). You will long for subtitles anytime these guys open their mouths. Fortunately, the worst offender doesn’t show up again in the second half of the story. ”
“You know how in most romantic comedies, the best friends are nearly always more interesting than the actual leads we’re supposed to care about? The Break-Up doesn’t play that game. Vince Vaughn is the focus and the primary source of entertainment, which is all the more impressive when you consider that the supporting cast this time around features Vincent D’Onofrio, Judy Davis, John Michael Higgins, Cole Hauser, Jon Favreau, Ann-Margret, Jason Bateman, Joey Lauren Adams, and even Peter “A Christmas Story” Billingsley. ”
and one short take…
Upon being told that this new Amos Gitai movie from Israel starring Natalie Portman was pretty damn good, a colleague asked, “is it pretty damn good in a ‘Natalie’s hot’ kinda way, or otherwise?” She has cruised by on her looks on several occasions, but Gitai disavows us of that possibility right off the bat, with a ten minute static close-up shot of her crying until the eyeliner runs down her face, to the tune of a mournful, insanely catchy Hebrew song about cycles of destruction. Portman plays Rebecca, a young American in Israel who leaves her fiancé after learning the truth about his past, and is so desperate to leave the country immediately that she tags along with a Jewish cab driver (Hana Laszlo) en route to the Free Zone — an area between the borders of Iraq, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia where used cars and other things are sold — to collect on a debt for the driver’s wounded husband. Shot mostly in close-ups, it’s a fascinating road movie with an absurdist allegorical finale.