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Full text review.

The Fog (2005)
(PG-13; 100 min.) Wow, a remake of The Fog! And here's little old me still in utter fucking disbelief that the original ever got made. I mean, it was about zombie ghost pirates, for chrissakes. Even when I was a kid, that concept was simply too stupefying to really be scary. It's like if the makers of those monster cereals suddenly decided to put Count Chocula, Frankenberry and Fruit Brute all in the same box. You just can't wrap your mind around it. The producers behind this remake have tweaked and updated the story, of course, which is smart. On the downside, this doesn't have Jamie Lee Curtis, and instead of John Carpenter, was directed by the guy responsible for Stigmata. However, if we learned one lesson from this year's Assault on Precinct 13 (even allowing for the fact that Carpenter's Assault was a far better film than his Fog), it's that even good John Carpenter films are done so cheaply and half-assed that they're fairly ideal candidates for remakes. (Capsule preview by SP)

The Fog of War

Follow Me Home
Full text review.
(Unrated; 104 min.) Is it best to battle against right-wing oppression with left-wing schmaltz? Director Peter Bratt seems to think so. Four men (Benjamin Bratt, Jesse Borrego, Steve Reevis and Calvin Levels) and one woman (Alfre Woodward) of color drive to Washington, D.C., on a guerrilla mission to paint the White House rainbow-colored. On the way, the ensemble is dry-gulched by a pack of racist white stereotypes who must have been waiting for this opportunity since the last Billy Jack movie was completed, sometime in 1977. The film is awash with familiar fantasies of violence and purity through victimization. (RvB)

Follow the Fleet/Bachelor Mother
(1936/1939) Harriet Hillard, later the Harriet in Ozzie and Harriet, is courted by Randolph Scott. In reward for your patience in watching them nuzzle are some Irving Berlin numbers danced by Fred Astaire (in a sailor suit) and Ginger Rogers (a dame). Bette Grable and Lucille Ball are also along for the ride. BILLED WITH Bachelor Mother. Ginger Rogers plays a shop girl who finds a baby; the whole town presumes that the father is her ex-boss. David Niven and Charles Coburn co-star. (Plays Nov 17-18 in Palo Alto at the Stanford Theater.) (RvB)

Follow Thru
(1930) A hit golfing musical from the early days of sound. It brought future Tin Man Jack Haley from Broadway to Hollywood. The movie, in early Technicolor, debuted the songs "Button Up Your Overcoat" and "I Want to Be Bad." Nancy Carroll stars as a golf pro's daughter in love with an instructor on the links. (RvB)

Food of Love
(PG-13; 112 min.) Kevin Bishop and Paul Rhys star in a gay coming-of-age drama.

(R; 97 min.) A stand-up comic and his con-man brother pool their resources to open their own comedy club. Eddie Griffin and Master P star.

Fool's Gold
(PG-13; 113 min.) The title is unusually frank. Director Andy Tennant (Hitch) invites us to the Caribbean during the shivering months, and this has been essential to the film's financial success. In Key West, treasure hunter and lunkhead Benjamin (Matthew McConaughey) is being divorced by his wife, Tess (Kate Hudson). Benjamin tries to calm her down by telling her of a legendary trove he has discovered; Tess doesn't bite until circumstances unite the estranged couple aboard a yacht owned by a millionaire (Donald Sutherland). Sutherland demonstrates that an actor's true character is shown during stress; he braces himself admirably during a scene of exposition that's so bad you need to go back to early sound film to match it. Even the sun, the water and the paycheck can't have been worth it; Sutherland fairly winces during his scenes with his character's pea-brained, pint-size, Versace-wrapped daughter, Gemma (played by Alexis Dziena, who is a serious Golden Raspberry contender here—not since Pia Zadora ...). Also on the trail of the treasure are an ornery sea captain (Ray Winstone, similarly squandered but wearing a really fine Hawaiian shirt) and a dangerous rapper (Kevin Hart). Neither the scuba scenes nor the seascapes are worth it; the stars are sunk lower than Davy Jones' Locker. (RvB)

A Fool There Was
(1920) Theda Bara helped define the word "vamp" in A Fool There Was. Stage star Edward Jose plays a family man who is fatally tempted by Bara's siren. The drama comes across risible today, but the film still exhibits some of the exceptional Expressionist lighting of the silent era. (MSG)

Fools Rush In
(PG-13; 106 min.) When a bonita latina (Salma Hayek of Desperado) marries a New Canaan WASP (Matthew Perry) after a one-night stand, she finds her life is not as carefree as it once was. ¡No es verdad! It'll never work out—she's beautiful, smart, resourceful and loves her family, while he's a dorky Dockers guy who's ashamed of his parents (and you can't blame him)—but of course it does work out. This lightweight romantic comedy will bore grownups, but young lovers and adolescent girls will eat it up. (BC)

Footlight Parade
(1933) San Jose-born Lloyd Bacon directed Footlight Parade, a fine introduction to the ridiculously entertaining, tantalizingly bizarre world of the Warner Bros. musical. James Cagney plays Chester Kent, a besieged creator of live musical prologues staged as curtain-raisers at movie theaters. If you've ever wondered what it must have been like to be choreographer Busby Berkeley, churning out about a dozen enormous production numbers a year during the Depression, Footlight Parade gives a clue. We see the pressure put on Kent, who is cheated by his partners, blackmailed by his ex-wife and pressed up against impossible deadlines while trying to create larger and larger extravaganzas. It's the production numbers we don't see that sound the most hallucinatory; some of his touring companies are doing musical numbers on the themes of the Russian Car Cultureolution, ghosts, bullfighters and the Swiss Navy. Meanwhile, Kent is gnawed by lesser problems: a defeatist dance instructor (whiny Frank McHugh) and an idiotic censor (Hugh Herbert), foreshadowing the wrath of the Production Code to come. Meanwhile, Cagney shows off his considerable talents as a song-and-dance man, and Joan Blondell is attractive and tough as a loyal partner who loves him. As for the numbers: "By a Waterfall" is staged in a 20,000-gallon tank and capped with a 70-foot-high wedding cake of fountains and chorus girls; "Sittin' on a Backyard Fence" is irresistible kitsch (kind of how you'd hope the musical Cats would be), featuring the enthusiastic if labored tap dancing of Ruby Keeler. (In best musical-comedy style, Keeler is discovered under a pair of glasses and a schoolmarm outfit: "All you need is an Atlantic Monthly tucked under your arm," tsks an observer.) Keeler is rigged up in Chinese makeup, in the finale, "Shanghai Lil." It's one melancholy song—in his book The Old Patagonian Express, Paul Theroux describes the eerieness of running into it in the middle of Costa Rica, but Berkeley diffuses the number into a folk-art salute to FDR and the New Deal. If you've never seen any of these '30s musicals, Footlight Parade is the best initiation. They're rich with the tension underneath the escapism, and the escapism itself is rich and strange. (RvB)

(PG) The denizens of a small town where dancing has been outlawed learn to rock and roll when city kid Kevin Bacon takes up residence there. Also stars John Lithgow and Dianne Wiest.

Forbidden Planet/The Time Machine
(1956/1960) Trouble on Altair-4, where a spaceship has gone missing. The planet is landed on by a cast of science fiction stalwarts, led by Leslie Nielsen, back when he was one of the stalwartest of the stalwart. In interviews, Nielsen used to point out that this movie paved the way for Star Trek; at least, his performance certainly paved the way for William Shatner's Captain Kirk. These space jockeys meet the master of Altair-4 (Walter Pidgeon), who is researching an uncanny planetary force; his beautiful daughter (Anne Francis) is troubling the doctor's subconscious mind. A gorgeous landmark of 1950s futurism. Though the idea of The Tempest in outer space is a novel one, the Shakespeare play could have been sourced for so much more. Robbie the Robot is everything you want in a mechanical pal, but he's too sweet to be Caliban, and the Reader's Digest-level Freudianism dates this film somewhat. BILLED WITH The Time Machine. Rod Taylor stars as the man who visits 802,701 C.E. and laments to find it as decadent as Southern California—everyone's blonde and dumb, and the libraries are rotted away. Co-stars the gorgeously named Yvette Mimieux and featuring the touchingly restrained acting of Sebastian Cabot and Alan Young as the traveler's chums way back in the cozy Victorian era. (RvB)

The Forbidden Zone
(1980) Years before Danny Elfman became the celesta-wielding repeat offender on every superhero movie soundtrack this side of Fearless Fly: The Motion Picture, he was front man in an performance group called the Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo (which mutated into the reasonably tight rock band Oingo Boingo, which turned up at Great America once—without a puppet-show opening act, unfortunately). Elfman's first movie soundtrack was for his brother Richard's midnight movie—called "the strangest musical imaginable" by midnight-movie expert Michael Weldon. It's essentially a live-action Betty Boop cartoon in black and white, with animated sequences; it concerns the harrowing of a hell dimension by the Hercules family, in search of their strayed daughter (Marie-Pascal Elfman). Lording it over this sado-topless purgatory are the Queen and King of Sixth Dimension: Susan Tyrrell (the battered female wino—wina? winette?—from John Huston's Fat City) and her husband, Fantasy Island's Hervé Villechaize. Their subjects include an uncredited Brian Routh and Marin von Haselberg, a.k.a. the Kipper Kids, a pair of food-throwing performance artists; offscreen, Haselberg is married to Bette Midler. Co-written by Matthew Bright, whose film Freeway really needs a midnight revival. Danny Elfman plays Satan. Weird with a beard. (RvB)

Force of Evil
(1948) John Garfield stars in Abraham Polonsky's hard-hitting leftist drama about the intersection of high crimes and capitalism. Polonsky was later blacklisted and didn't work in Hollywood for 17 years. (AR)

Force of Evil/The Postman Always Rings Twice
(1949/1946) "A major influence on my filmmaking ... the first film I can remember seeing that applied to a world I knew and saw"—Martin Scorsese. The background of Force of Evil is the numbers racket. The sublimely cocky John Garfield plays Joe Morse, a lawyer who's helping his unsavory boss go legitimate. Joe has one last strong connection to the streets in the form of his dying numbers banker brother, Leo (Thomas Gomez), who loathes him. Caught between his chance to make a million and helping his angry brother, Joe finds some solace with a good—but not too good—girl, Doris (Beatrice Pearson). Meanwhile, a Thomas Dewey-like prosecutor is putting the squeeze on the "Combination." The film is fast and expects you to be fast, too; the viewer has to puff a little to keep up, and several of the voiceovers seem like an effort to get the distracted back on track. Nevertheless, this is a phenomenal film, one of the pinnacles of film noir. Force of Evil's aim isn't numbers running but capitalism itself. Even if capitalism is the best of a lot of bad social organizations, so many people know in their hearts the game is rigged. This movie teases that secret knowledge. You could say the blacklisters understood who they were silencing, this time. Director Abraham Polonsky's Hollywood blacklisting was clearly the worst artistic casualty of the red scare. He was loaded with talent, evinced here in the direction, in the blade-sharp humor and the sharp-toothed acting, the astonishing lights-out shootout, and the coda: a man at dawn, seen on an Orpheus-like search for someone dead whom he loved. In the dialogue, lines meet and match with superior grace. There isn't the tap-dancing, tutti-frutti fancy flavors of Hollywood vernacular as heard in Clifford Odets' scripts. Instead, prosody is applied to the problem of writing gangster dialogue, and Polonsky and co-writer Ira Wolfert were celebrated (or condemned) for writing blank verse in the form of a script. One sample throwaway moment of a criminal nagging his tardy assistant—"This is a fine time to be getting in from now on get here on time"—trips on the ear like T.S. Eliot's "What are you thinking what thinking what." Years later, Polonsky described the writing of Force of Evil to critic Andrew Sarris. "In realization, necessities of the medium evaporated the allegory, leaving great uncharted reefs of symbolism to wreck the audience; the people emerged except where I agreed to wrong casting; and the language almost obeyed my intention to play an equal role with the actor and visual image. ... Blank verse? No. But the babble of the unconscious, yes, as much as I could." BILLED WITH The Postman Always Rings Twice. The cocky but sensitive Garfield—the actor Frank Sinatra was always straining to be—meets Lana Turner in the seriously overproduced MGM version of James M. Cain's story of adultery and murder. (RvB)

Forces of Nature
(PG-13; 102 min.) Though most memorable for its stunning weather-related visuals, this slightly unusual romantic comedy offers a solid storyline, engaging characters and some good one-liners. Ben Affleck stars as Ben, a man en route to his wedding when disaster after disaster strikes, preventing him from arriving at his destination on time. Circumstances find him traveling with the free-spirited Sarah (Sandra Bullock), his complete and total opposite. Finding himself more and more attracted to her, Ben begins to wonder if he's really meant to marry fianceé Bridget (Maura Tierney) or if fate is trying to tell him something. Forces of Nature skillfully relates in an interesting way the emotional journey of a man questioning his decision to tie the knot. Though it relies heavily on the screen charm of Ben Affleck and Sandra Bullock, the secondary characters in the film (particularly the parents) are well-developed and full of personality. (SQ)

Foreign Correspondent/The More the Merrier
(1940/1943) Alfred Hitchcock's thriller about a journalist (Joel McCrea) who discovers Nazi termites at work in pre-invasion Holland. Based on a serious book of news reportage, Hitchcock went to town, turning it into a mad story of assassination and espionage; highlights include a then-state-of-the-art plane crash. BILLED WITH The More the Merrier. George Stevens' comedy about the housing crisis during World War II; proximity hitches up a government secretary (Jean Arthur) and an Air Force sergeant (Joe McCrea), but the two are particularly brought together by their housemate, Charles Coburn. (RvB)

Foreign Correspondent/Spellbound
(1940/1945) Alfred Hitchcock's intrepid thriller about a journalist (Joel McCrea) who discovers Nazi termites gnawing at the windmills of Holland. Sourcing it from a serious book of news reportage, Hitchcock went to town, turning it into a mad tale of assassination and espionage; highlights include a then-state-of-the-art plane crash. Ripping stuff. BILLED WITH Spellbound, a more easygoing, not to say talky, opus about an amnesiac doctor who has turned up to take over a mental hospital. He has a bit of a phobia about parallel lines. The film was based on a wild novel about inmates taking over a mental hospital, but "I wanted to do something sensible," said Hitchcock, casting Gregory "Mr. Sensible" Peck as the doctor. Ingrid Bergman frets fetchingly, while Claude Rains' meaty chortle bodes ill for the ensemble. Remembered for a shocking flash of color amid the rest of the black and white, as well as for a Dali-wrought dream sequence, featuring faceless men and frighteningly significant playing cards. (RvB)

Forget Paris
Billy Crystal and Debra Winger star as Mickey and Ellen, a couple who have to overcome a litany of '90s relationship snafus—everything from conflicting careers to infertility. The story of their tumultuous relationship is retold by their friends gossiping at dinner; remarkably, despite the formidable cast of comedic character actors, including Julie Kavner and Cathy Moriarty, the interaction occasionally comes off as contrived. Nevertheless, the snappy dialogue, hilarious vignettes and talented ensemble cast save this film from being a just another predictable romance with nice location shots. (HZ)

The Forgotten
(PG-13; 91 min.) Still lost from the loss of her child, an affluent married woman from Brooklyn Heights (Julianne Moore) begins to lose mementos of her son; first suspecting her husband (Anthony Edwards) and then her psychiatrist (Gary Sinise) of erasing her past. They in turn suggest she's got traumatic paramnesia—the fabrication of memories. With the unwilling help of a fellow grieving parent, an alcoholic ex-hockey star (the rugged Dominic West, at long last in a leading role), she investigates a conspiracy, which leads to the feds—and one word more about what goes on would be spilling the beans. This thriller's situation has roots in a true story; Alfred Hitchcock, who twisted the tale around in The Lady Vanishes, describes what he heard were the real-life circumstances in Truffaut's book of interviews. Joseph Ruben (director of a small classic called The Stepfather) is in charge of this genre-bending thriller. It's handsomely appointed, autumnal, with strangely quiet and previously unseen locations in a residential crook of land between the Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges. Ruben has said that what he had in mind was the city looking over the character's shoulders. It's not one of Moore's best performances, but her formidable talent keeps the part of a grieving raging mother from becoming monotonous. Several serious jolts throughout, plus the usual excellent supporting work by Alfre Woodard. (RvB)

For Love of the Game
(PG-13) According to conventional sports wisdom, baseball is like life: failures outnumber successes. For Love of the Game follows this creed, but the life is Kevin Costner's. He plays a wealthy Detroit Tigers pitcher named Billy Chappel, who is ending his long Hall of Fame career throwing what perhaps will turn out to be a perfect game in Yankee Stadium. Yet something's missing from his life (aside from ordinary human suffering): his journalist girlfriend (Kelly Preston) just left him. So he stands on the pitcher's mound exchanging signs with his longtime catcher (John C. Reilly, who turns in a fine performance in the male Eve Arden/best-friend role) and reminiscing about his lost romance. Costner owes his career to baseball movies. Bull Durham and Field of Dreams made him a star, and he stars in this game for love, not money. He forfeited a $20 million salary to ensure For Love of the Game was produced. However, the film reeks of self-absorption. Costner looks great on the field. Sam Raimi's direction evokes a professional athlete's extraordinary power of concentration: when Billy is on the mound surrounded by 50,000 screaming New Yorkers, he says a mantra to himself, "Engage the mechanism," and screens out the crowd's shouts. Throughout the film, Costner's character gets his way, except during a surprisingly empathetic crying jag alone in his suite at the Waldorf. The film seems to say that wealthy misunderstood superstars need love, too. Yet Costner's downhome confidence on the baseball diamond nearly convinced me that this phony piece of cut glass is a real gem. (DH)

For Me and My Gal
(1942/1940) A vaudeville couple, circa World War I, shoots for the top. Judy Garland, George Murphy and Gene Kelly star in this Busby Berkeley musical. (AR)

Formula 51
(R; 92 min.) Samuel L. Jackson plays a chemist action hero—whatever. But who thought the kilt was a good idea?

For Richer or Poorer
(PG-13; 116 min.) In this slapstick comedy, sitcom mavens Tim Allen and Kirstie Alley star as a wealthy and unhappy couple who must abandon their swanky New York lifestyle after their embezzling accountant (Wayne Knight, Newman from Seinfeld and perpetual wormy bad guy) frames them for tax fraud. Happening across an Amish community in the countryside, the pair moves in, posing as out-of-state relatives in order to evade the IRS. Allen and Alley are tolerable doing what they do best--the characters they've perfected for TV. But the jokes are old, the formula plot ancient, and overall, For Richer or Poorer kind of makes you envy the Amish—not only is their lifestyle ultimately painted as an idyllic, uncluttered existence (glossing over the back-breaking work seen earlier in the film), but more importantly, the Amish don't go to movies and thus would be spared from watching this one. (HZ)

The Forsaken
(R) After about fifteen minutes, you realize that this latest vampire flick pales in comparison to The Lost Boys, that deliciously cheesy-yet-cool movie that was a product of the Corey Haim/Corey Feldman era of filmmaking. This one's full of high-cheekboned young things searching for and running from a pack of sexy blood-suckers (led by Jonathon Schaech). The plot's predictable and the dialogue doesn't stray far from "bitch!" and "dude" and "that whore!" so if you're not in junior high school, you're not missing a thing. (DG)

40 Days and 40 Nights
(R; 93 min.) Director Michael Lehman showed such promise in his first film, Heathers; now he's rehashing his USC student film Beaver Gets a Boner. Josh (Pearl Harbor, Black Hawk Down) Hartnett endearingly plays a jilted San Francisco web designer who vows to give up sex for Lent, then meets Miss Right (Shannyn Sossamon) in a laundromat. The two are a cute couple; the supporting cast is appealing; the dialogue is sometimes smart. However, Hartnett's character and colleagues are eighth graders trapped in badly dressed mid-20s bodies. They're all wondering if he can keep his wick dry for 40 days. Who cares? (DH)

The 40 Year-Old Virgin
Full text review.
(R; 115 min.) Steve Carell is so damn funny. In fact, I'd like to think his new starring role as the titular virgin in this Judd Apatow movie is a flimsy but passable excuse to revisit some of his best lines from the last movie he did with Apatow, Anchorman, which I may never tire of quoting: "I don't know what we're yelling about!" "Loud noises!" "Yeah, there were horses, and a man on fire, and I killed a guy with a trident!" "I would like to extend to you an invitation to the pants party." And finally, today's number one Steve Carell quote: "Hey! Where did you get those clothes? At the toilet store?" (Capsule preview by SP)

This comedy about a vapid, stuck-in-a-rut geek who, at age 40, has never had sex, is a surprisingly funny, if disposable, movie. Steve Carell (Anchorman, Bewitched) appears in his first lead role as Andy, whose co-workers—David (Paul Rudd), Jay (Romany Malco) and Cal (Seth Rogen)—pool their collected wisdom to get him laid. Some of the boys' ideas, like the old "hiring a hooker who turns out to be a transvestite" gimmick, inspire yawns. But the movie's other ploys work in weird ways. Acting on advice to ask women lots of questions, Andy approaches an adorable bookstore worker (Elizabeth Banks) and gains her freakish admiration. Like Wedding Crashers, the film is funniest during its irreverent setup. As soon as these carefree playboys find true love, their stories become more earnest and thereby less humorous. (JMA)

49th Parallel
(1941) Even from the outline, 49th Parallel sounds more like Tim O'Brien's Waiting for Cacciato than Saving Private Ryan. The heavy-handed propagandistic moments are balanced by co-director Michael Powell's typical humanism and eye for the strange. Six German submariners, beached in the wilds of Canada, try to seek safety in the United States, which was still neutral at the time. Each member is picked off during the course of the film. Episodes include an encounter with a temporarily sympathetic Quebecois backwoodsman (Laurence Olivier) and an AWOL Canadian soldier (Raymond Massey). Anton Walbrook stars as the leader of a Hutterite community, Leslie Howard as a British literary man who learns firsthand what enemies of culture the Nazis are. Notes Leonard Rubenstein in The Great Spy Films, "The only criticism the film received revolved around the portrayal of the Germans as competent and determined enemies who could not be minimized nor laughed away, except perhaps at the film's close." (RvB)

42nd Street/Flying Down to Rio
(Both 1933) "The backstage musical par excellence," wrote Tony Thomas and Jim Terry in their book, The Busby Berkeley Musical. Here's the dialogue to prove it: (to Ruby Keeler's Peggy Sawyer, the understudy girl who takes over after the mean star breaks a leg) "Sawyer, you listen to me and you listen hard. Two hundred people, 200 jobs, 200,000 dollars, five weeks of grind and blood and sweat depend on you. It's the lives of all these people who've worked with you. You've got to go on and got to give, and give and give! They've got to like you, got to! You understand! Sawyer, you're going out a youngster, but you've got to come back a star!" The focus on the hard work of musical-making was Warner Bros.' province, and it fit in with the other socially conscious films they were creating at the studio. ("Inaugurating a New Deal in Entertainment," said the poster, emphasizing the political side of escapism like 42nd Street.) The backstage musical theme worked so well that it was reprised a dozen times in different Warner Bros. films—powered with choreographer Berkeley's wheeling, marching and military drilling of chorus girls, and sweetened with the adorable but never cloying Ruby Keeler and her swain, Dick Powell. BILLED WITH Flying Down to Rio. All is not well at Miami's Hotel Hibiscus. An executive from the home office, the Swiss priss Franklin Pangborn, has come to investigate complaints of staff/ guest fraternization. The rumors are all too true, and the worst offender is the bandleader/pilot Roger Bond (platinum-haired patrician Gene Raymond) and his "assistant loafer" and accordionist, Fred Astaire. Cutting out one step before they're fired, the band—including singer Ginger Rogers as "Honey Hale"—heads to Rio de Janiero to open the Hotel Atlantic. There, Bond runs into his best friend, who is the Brazilian fiancé of the woman Bond last dallied with (the lynx-eyed Dolores del Rio). While the plot thins, Astaire and Rogers pass the time dancing forehead to forehead, emboldened by the new dance craze "The Carioca," the lambada of its day. "All we want in this world is crazy beautiful happiness," says the stunning del Rio, who can't choose between her Brazilian millionaire and the blond millionaire. Meanwhile—this tidbit has its share of meanwhiles—the forces of civic corruption intervene: a cartel of overseas gamblers tries to shut down the Hotel Atlantic by influencing the mayor of Rio to stall out its cabaret license. Fortunately, Assistant Loafer Astaire proves his mettle in an ending of much crazy beautiful happiness: he buzzes the hotel with biplanes loaded with semaphoring, wing-walking strippers. This pre-Code delight is loaded with double entendres (Ginger, in front of a Rio bakery window: "How do you ask for little tarts in Portuguese?"). It's a vision of all the racier stuff that got killed off in movie musicals and didn't get revived—and then, much less playfully—until 20 years later, when Bob Fosse took over. (RvB)

42 UP
(PG; 130 min.) Director Michael Apted, working for England's Granada Television, has been following the lives of 14 children at seven-year intervals. The project is staggeringly conceived; the longest documentary series ever made. Yet this episode is overlong, repetitive and rather bland. Maybe 42 is just naturally a dull age? The most tension is saved for the last set of interviews, with the most soulful of all Apted's subjects: Neil, last seen in 35 Up (1992), was on the brink of homelessness and perhaps a breakdown. Without blowing the ending, we do have the excellent news that Neil has bounced back well. The likable Tony, the Eastender who had a rough-and-tumble life as a jockey, a race-track tout and a cabby, now is a part-time actor with a suburban house in Essex. Some of the interviewees—especially those who have dropped out of the project—had the money and the ambition to achieve the positions they wanted from youth. If the main theme of this long-running documentary is that the class system in England determines what kind of adult a child will become, Apted's proved it, uh, aptly. 42 Up proves more, however: that marriage can be hard, painful work; that the loss of mother and father is a bitter lesson in mortality; that consumer debt is a plague; that a man can count himself lucky and happy if he has a backyard to sit in and a beer to drink in it. All of it 42-year-old wisdom, dearly bought and absolutely useless to the young. (RvB)

Four Brothers
(R; 108 min.) John Singleton just took a huge amount of crap because the supposedly "black" film he produced, Hustle & Flow, was written by a white guy. Ooh, scary—interracial filmmaking! Apparently he didn't learn his lesson, though, because his new directorial effort, Four Brothers, actually—get this!—stars a white person! My God, these black filmmakers—pretty soon they'll be thinking they can make movies about anything they want, using any cast and crew they want. And what will we have then? Total anarchy? Racial equity? But if you can steel yourself to the shock of seeing blacks and whites working together in a film, this one stars Mark Wahlberg, Andre 3000, Tyrese Gibson and Garrett Hedlund as four brothers who set out to avenge their adopted mother's death and stumble into something much bigger. (Capsule preview by SP)

Four Chefs and a Feast/God of Cookery
(1998/1996) Li Kwok-Lap directed Four Chefs and a Feast, a Big Night-style comedy about a once-famous restaurant facing a revival, with the reunion of the restaurant's owners, 50 years after they left. Jordan Chan and Wu Chien-Lien co-star. BILLED WITH God of Cookery. Comedian Stephen Chow plays a chef betrayed by his apprentice and rescued by a street vendor (Karen Mok). (RvB)

Four Days in September
Full text review.

The Four Feathers
(PG-13; 123 min.) In 1898, a British officer must redeem his reputation for cowardice by performing acts of heroism in disguise. Heath Ledger, Wes Bentley, Kate Hudson and Djimon Hounsou star in an unnecessary remake of the 1939 Zoltan Korda adventure classic.

The 400 Blows
(1959) The title, which sounds punishing, is a French slang term meaning "the works, the shooting match, the whole nine yards." Jean-Pierre Léaud stars as a lower-income kid who decides to release himself into his own custody from a suffocating life at school and at home with his squabbling parents. One of the first and most measured of youth films, it's also a sensitive yet ruthless look at family life burdened by money troubles and infidelity. François Truffaut's film, one of the most important in French cinematic history (and ours), helped detonate the New Wave, which changed the face of filmmaking. (RvB)

Four Rooms
Full text review.
(R; 115 min.) In Hollywood's peeling Mon Signor Hotel, a swivel-hipped bellboy named Ted (Tim Roth) connects four stories by four directors. Even with its payoff, the Quentin Tarantino sequence is a letdown starring the director as a decadent Hollywood wunderkind on a binge with several rented friends. Alexandre Rockwell's segment about a couple trying to spice up their marriage with some aggressive role-playing has as its salient feature the lewdness of Rockwell's real-life wife, Jennifer Beals, and little else. Alison Anders' bit about a coven is likable, sexy and pointless, though Lili Taylor gives it a few moments of her valuable time. Only Robert Rodriguez's excruciatingly funny segment—starring Antonio Banderas—works all the way from beginning to end. (RvB)

(R; 102 min.) To think, all this time, the path to true feminism has been as simple as giving yourself a homemade tattoo or covertly guessing men's penis sizes at the grocery store. In any case, such rituals are what this women's coming-of-age movie reduces it to. Based on a novel by Joyce Carol Oates, Foxfire achieves the somewhat dark tone of the author but without the punch her writings usually pack. Hedy Burress, Jenny Shimizu, Jenny Lewis and Sarah Rosenberg play four friends who are suspended from their high school in the aftermath of a teacher's sexual harassment. In their time off from school, the group encounters Legs (Angelina Jolie), a teenage wanderer who teaches them a measure of independence. But Legs' screen incarnation seems more than anything to be representative of the usual scramble to cough up some strong female roles, an effort that can mistake plain old delinquency for empowerment. The issues that Foxfire addresses, like sexual harassment, child abuse and rape, are all too real, but the movie's villains are ridiculously stock, which makes the heroines' anger somewhat unbelievable. (HZ)

(R; 112 min.) As the sly, cunning killer, Anthony Hopkins plays it static, like a rock with fixed eyes and a silky voice. Opposite him, Ryan Gosling plays the ambitious attorney, always restless and searching, chewing food, blinking or rubbing his face. They match and clash perfectly in this surprisingly sharp, mature mystery from director Gregory Hoblit (Primal Fear). Ted (Hopkins) is accused of murdering his wife but has cooked up an airtight case involving adultery and a missing gun. On the verge of a luxurious new job, Willy (Gosling) must solve the case or lose everything. The film avoids the usual stagnant "thriller" setups, chases and showdowns, instead allowing for moods (the gorgeous, limpid lighting is by Kramer Morgenthau), false trails and a little breathing room. (JMA)

(1931) Peel back the years of parody and imitation, and Boris Karloff's creature still has the transfixing power he had more than 70 years ago. Karloff plays the creature as a beaten dog—growling when he wants to say hello, snarling when you move too fast around him. The sense of animal strength and animal innocence radiates from Karloff through Jack Pierce's wizardly makeup. The film's horror harmonizes with its essential tragedy, and that's why viewers have come back for return visits for decades. (RvB)

Frankenstein/The Phantom of the Opera
(1931/1943) Peel back the years of parody and imitation, and Boris Karloff's creature—created by an arrogant, effete scientist (Colin Clive)—still has the transfixing power that he had 70 years ago. Karloff plays the creature as a beaten dog--growling when he wants to say hello, snarling when you move too fast around him. The sense of animal strength, quickness and innocence radiates off Karloff through Jack Pierce's fantastic makeup. The film's horror harmonizes with its essential tragedy, and that's why the story persists throughout the decades. BILLED WITH The Phantom of the Opera, the remake of the famous tale, with Claude Rains as the vengeful masked composer. With Hume Cronyn ("I overacted abominably," Cronyn says in his surprisingly good autobiography, A Terrible Liar). (RvB)

Frankie Starlight
(Unrated; 105 min.) Based on the Irish novel The Dork of Cork, Frankie Starlight could use a bit more of the crude humor and rude self-pity of its original title. The lead character is a dwarf (Corban Walker) who's written a fanciful autobiography about his gorgeous French mother (Anne Parillaud) escaping from her Normandy home after D-Day to land in Cork, where she is taken under wing (and under the covers) by a married Irish Army officer (Gabriel Byrne). Journeyman director Michael Lindsay-Hogg needed a lighter touch for this kitchen-sink surrealism. Frankie's first seen taking his memoirs to a loutish publisher; his manuscript fills the screen, then the book-within-the-movie begins. The film's so full of books and literary references that the characters nearly trip over them. The hard-bound dialogue is easier to hear when delivered by handsome charmers like Byrne and Matt Dillon (as an American soldier), and the Irish locations are grand. (DH)

Freaky Friday (2003)
(PG) Mom Jamie Lee Curtis and daughter Lindsay Lohan switch bodies in Disney comedy.

Fred Claus
(PG; 116 min.) Vince Vaughn stars as Santa Claus' older brother, who lives in Chicago, alienated from his family. Desperate for money, Fred calls on St. Nick (Paul Giamatti) for help and winds up with a job at the North Pole. A cleverer movie would have focused more on the differences between the brothers and their two opposite worlds, but Fred Claus instead introduces a ridiculous villain (Kevin Spacey) bent on shutting down Christmas. Moreover, Vaughn must eventually transform from his regular, cynical character to a good-hearted, noble one, and the result just isn't that funny. David Dobkin directs with some sparkle, but without the sustained energy he brought to Shanghai Knights or Wedding Crashers. Disturbingly, John Michael Higgins and Ludacris are digitally reinterpreted as elves. (JMA)

Freddy Got Fingered
(R) If you can't stand Tom Green even before seeing this movie, you're probably in the clear, safe from enduring nearly two hours of brain-wilting, nausea-inducing idiocy. And if, like me, you find yourself laughing hysterically at most of his skits, be forewarned: Tom Green (who also directed) has no talent beyond the neat and tidy borders of his 30-minute TV show. Green plays a guy who's never grown up, still lives with Mom and Dad, and acts like a nightmarish cross between all the characters played by Adam Sandler and Pauly Shore. It's so bad it's embarrassing to watch. (DG)

Freddy vs. Jason
Full text review.

(R; 112 min.) Samuel L. Jackson, Julianne Moore and Edie Falco deliver the grand-slam performances largely missing from this year's Oscar lineup. Jackson plays Lorenzo, a cop whose territory includes the mostly black New Jersey suburb where Brenda Martin (Moore) teaches. Dazed and bloody, she wanders into a hospital claiming that she has been carjacked and that her 4-year-old son is missing. When the police descend upon the neighborhood searching for the kidnapper, Lorenzo must straddle both worlds and keep an uneasy peace. Falco co-stars as a mother who specializes in searching for lost children. Hack director Joe Roth (America's Sweethearts, Christmas With the Kranks) unexpectedly steps up for this one, focusing on the well-built characters and allowing them to carry the potentially dubious story. Richard Price adapted his 1998 novel. (JMA)

Freedom Writers
Full text review.

Warren Miller's 49th ski film, which showcases ski and snowboard action on some of the best slopes in the world.

(Unrated; 98 min.) Not the cautionary fairy tale that Little Red Riding Hood was originally intended to be and miles away from the sanitized bedtime story that it became, this modern version of the fable fuses a brutal look at modern society with fiercely dark comedy. Reese Witherspoon gives an outstanding performance as Vanessa Lutz, a 15-year-old girl who, with a crack-addicted mother and a molester stepfather, is already no babe in the woods. When her parents are arrested, Vanessa decides to go live with her grandmother, enlisting the help of passerby Bob Wolverton (Kiefer Sutherland) when her car breaks down en route. As his surname hints, the Big Bad Wolf in this tale is Sutherland's ostensibly kindly character, who is both a pillar of his wealthy community and a serial murderer whose bloodlust is for people with unlucky backgrounds like Vanessa's. This update is wily enough not to produce—at least not right away—some rendering of a woodcutter to come to her aid. In fact, Vanessa's reaction to the true identity of her roadside "rescuer" is among Freeway's many surprises. Between Sutherland's convincingly psychotic leers and Witherspoon's frightening proficiency with a gun, this is hardly a film for those with a fondness for wispy fairy tales. The sickest—and at times, the funniest—parts of Freeway (including a passable performance by Brooke Shields as Sutherland's Chanel-bedecked, high-strung wife) are often the most realistic. (HZ)

Free Willy 2
After being separated for two years, Jesse and Willy's happy reunion is cut short by an offshore oil spill, money-hungry oil executives, unruly siblings and teen romance. Although more action-packed than Free Willy, much of the film focuses on the relationships between Jesse (Jason James Richter) and his half-brother Elvis, and sweet Nadine, Jesse's new love. Forget freeing Willy, free Nadine—overly dramatic, semiromantic shots of Nadine and Jesse holding hands underwater and frolicking with a 7,000-pound orca are just too much to stomach. Free Willy 2 is no whale of an adventure and offers little excitement or fun for the kids. (JB)

Free Willy 3: The Rescue
(PG; 86 min.) Even without the musical support of Michael Jackson, the intrepid Orca whale Willy and his human protectors have made it to sequel number two. This third whale tale finds Willy and his pod threatened by illegal whaling in the Pacific Northwest. A more or less evenhanded approach to the issue of whaling—acknowledging that in past times, it was a "necessary evil" and that for our quasivillain, it has become a long-standing family business—brings further strength to the film's overall argument that whaling in modern times is archaic and cruel. There are several scenes aboard the whaling ship that terrified the small children in the audience, but older kids will most likely appreciate both the film's responsible message and its appealing nature photography. (HZ)

French Cancan
(1954) Late-period Jean Renoir film set at the famed Parisian nightclub—Moulin Rouge for the non-taste-impaired. Edith Piaf makes a rare film appearance here, along with Jean Gabin and Mexican film legend Maria "La Dona" Felix. (RvB)

French Kiss
This romantic comedy about the country everyone loves to hate might have been finis without its talented leading actors. The film's disjointed plot keeps you guessing, while somehow still boring you with predictability. But French Kiss definitely isn't all merde, thanks to a lot of clever dialogue and the fact that Meg Ryan and Kevin Kline play off each other well enough to make an enjoyable comic team. Ryan gives a good, if stock, performance as Kate, an American woman who goes to Paris to win back her fiance (Timothy Hutton), and Kline is hilarious as Luc, a suave French thief. (HZ)

French Twist
Full text review.
(R; 107 min.) A sunny, tangy farce about a nice lesbian (Josiane Balasko, who co-wrote and directed) inserting herself into the marriage of a neglected wife (Victoria Abril) and a philandering husband (Alain Chabat). It has a snap to it, thanks to Abril's befuddled sexiness—the helpless dismay of a heroine whose clothes have mysteriously vanished. Balasko is tough but humorous, and stocky and gray at the temples; watching her reminds you strikingly of George Reeves playing Superman on TV. (RvB)

(PG-13; 118 min.) Here's a film that tries to be all things to all people: a nostalgia fest, a firefighter film, a heart-puncher of the Robert Bly our-missing-fathers school—and yet another tale of a nigh-supernatural serial killer. (It's director Gregory Hoblit's third diabolical-killer film in a row, after Primal Fear and Fallen.) Strongest of all these myriad tales is the film's hook, a story of a disaffected, newly divorced NY police detective of today named John Sullivan (James Caviezel). Thanks to the magic of sunspots—which, for the film's purposes, look like the aurora borealis—John is able to have time-traveling ham radio conversations with his father (Dennis Quaid) in 1969. These conversations start up the traditional problem of the chrononaut—action in the past affects our present. But this momentous disturbance of time/space doesn't cause any momentous effects, as in Ursula K. LeGuin's great novel The Lathe of Heaven. Instead, all the time-scrambling does is to help out the career of a killer, one of those unstoppable madmen. That's simple-minded enough, but even dumber is the vision of Queens in 1969 as an untroubled, racially harmonious era in which nuclear families were unshakable and lots of baseball was watched and played. (Anybody remember a Queens citizen named Archie Bunker?) Quaid is rock-solid as this old-movie-style dad, and Homicide's Andre Braugher is as quietly authoritative as ever (as a cop who discovers the secret of the radio). Still, Frequency is too light an entertainment when dealing with such a potentially powerful subject: unkillable regret, the heaviness of choices made, and the tragic consequences of tampering with time. (RvB)

The Freshman
(1925) Harold Lloyd stars as a meek student who becomes a gridiron hero. Silent with organ accompaniment. (RvB)

The Freshman/The Kid Brother
(1925/1927) Harold Lloyd stars as a naif trying for acceptance at a college; he almost ends up as the substitute tackling dummy for the football team. BILLED WITH The Kid Brother. The brawling Sheriff Hickory has three sons: two Hickories and a sapling (Lloyd). The sheriff is guarding a large sum of money gathered for the construction of a dam, and when it goes missing, it's up to the bespectacled younger brother to track it down. While it's not as frenetic as some of Lloyd's work, the film counters the argument that Lloyd was mostly a slick, popular entertainer. (RvB)

Full text review.

Friday After Next
(R; 85 min.) Ice Cube and Mike Epps have to work as security guards at a shopping mall. Hilarity ensues.

Friday Night
Full text review.

Friday Night Lights
(PG-13; 117 min.) H.G. Bissinger's book Friday Night Lights made him the most hated man in Odessa, Texas, which is where this true story of a high school football team's high-pressure bid for the 1989 state championship is set. Boy howdy, did they run him out of town for exposing them as pathologically obsessed, sometimes brutal and even racist football fans whose supposed "love for the game" may have ruined their children's lives. Now this movie based on the book is out, and suddenly, they love him! Sounds incredible, but the answers are all up there on the screen. Clearly, the makers of this movie were determined to fabricate a feel-good film no matter what was actually in the book, and the way writer David Aaron Cohen and director Peter Berg have softened the edges of this story and lanced it with an "it's all good" vibe borders on the laughable. Hey, who cares if drunken redneck fathers threaten and abuse their children—when those kids learn to hold on to the goddamned football and make their pops proud, it's all good! Who cares if deranged, controlling mothers stifle their sons' attempt at a future beyond football. When Ma gets to see her son get his Big Shot on TV, it's all good! The sheer drama of the story is more than enough to suck you in, but this is a sports film that, despite its raw retro-'80s look, is far too slick to do any justice to the difficult questions raised in the book about the very nature of sports—in other words, it's all Varsity Blues, and no Raging Bull. (SP)

Friday the 13th
(1980) The insurance underwriters of the fictional Camp Crystal are, in the opening chapter of this ongong series, shown as open to numerous legal liabilities, many willful misrepresentations of safety and security issues which would leave them vulnerable to legal penalties. Customers at this camp are placed in hazard from stabbing, braining, eviscerating, acupressure with gardening shears, and jokes that could be construed possible evidence of sexual harassment. Jason's escape from the morgue (in part 4, called "the final chapter," mislabeled and possibly actionable) shows a police department's failure to secure the premises at the expense of public risk. The class should consider especial attention to the series' eighth chapter, Jason Takes Manhattan, in which Crystal Lake turns out to actually be large enough for an ocean-going vessel, as we see in the S.S. Lazarus, which also turns out to be a significant maritime hazard, inadequately policed and otherwise unsafe. Essay question: might the willful misrepresentation of a deep-water fjord as a swimming lake be grounds for a tort? (RvB)

A Friend of the Deceased
Full text review.

Friends With Money
(R; 88 min.) Four of our greatest sexy/quirky actresses band together for writer/director Nicole Holofcener's Woody Allen-ish examination of four modern women friends. Three (Joan Cusack, Catherine Keener and Frances McDormand) are married and wealthy, while the fourth, Olivia (Jennifer Aniston), is the movie's centerpiece—poor, single and aimless, currently working as a maid. Money really does matter here; the richer the characters, the smaller their problems get. Yet Keener is especially potent worrying about a multistory addition to her luxurious home and its effect on the neighbors. Tellingly, the wealthiest couple of all (Cusack and Greg Germann) has no problems at all. The material is alternately rich or thin, depending on the performers' aptitude for mastering Holofcener's neurotically funny dialogue. (JMA)

The Frighteners
Full text review.
(R; 106 min.) The movie compacts, more than builds upon, all of the big horror films of the last few decades—The Exorcist, Ghostbusters, Poltergeist and Beetlejuice—following all of their scents at once, like a confused bloodhound. Director Peter Jackson (Heavenly Creatures, Dead Alive) substitutes startling the audience for any real dread. The movie is driven in fits, having its clutch popped like a car, and the whole thing is hammered together by Danny Elfman belaboring a harpsichord (he's done this sort of horror soundtrack 12 too many times). Still, it doesn't come across as a rip-off. Michael J. Fox plays Frank Bannister, a freelance exorcist who has been inflicting hopelessly small-scale fraud on his town. His ineptitude covers a secret: he really can contact ghosts and, in fact, has been hauling them around in the trunk of his car like tools, to drum up business. A ghostly trio even lives in his house, providing some badly written comic relief. Through helping out a recent widow (Trini Alvarado), Bannister is dragged in to deal with a series of bizarre deaths, easily traced by the audience to the ghost of a long-dead serial killer named Bartlett (ingratiatingly played by Jake Busey). Though we have the real killer picked out, Bannister is under suspicion by a deranged FBI agent (Jeffrey Combs of Re-Animator). The Frighteners includes remarkable effects, especially a vision of swooping Death—faceless, wrapped in black rags, unsheathing its huge scythe with the metal scratch of a samurai blade leaving a scabbard. Robert Zemeckis, who, post-Forrest Gump is becoming Spielberg II, was the executive producer, but despite some sweetening up, the film has a grim, mad heart that won't be snatched away. Jackson shouldn't be mistaken for just any independent who's gone Hollywood, and Fox shouldn't be mistaken for a pretty boy hitting the skids of genre movies. (RvB)

Fright Night
(1985) Chris Sarandon stars in a horror film about a teenager who gets a horror-movie host to help him fight a vampire. Also stars Roddy McDowall.

Fritz the Cat
(1972) An animated artifact from the days when underground culture (and comics) seemed to be taking over. Ralph Bakshi took Robert Crumb's famous feline and turned his adventures into an X-rated sensation. (AR)

Frog and Wombat
Full text review.

From Dusk Till Dawn
Full text review.
(R; 105 min.) Quentin Tarantino evinces weird pathos as Richard, a bewildered rapist on the lam to Mexico with his thug of a brother, Seth (George Clooney), and an RV full of hostages. This uproarious, mayhem-filled, bad-taste horror comedy takes as its source The Desperate Hours, Vamp and Night of the Living Dead, exaggerating its various plots with such abject gratuitousness as a triple performance by Cheech Marin, silly grisly gore effects by Tom Savini and death by rotating mirrored disco ball. You'd have to be French to find a subtext here. To some, From Dusk Till Dawn is a stupid vampire-movie parody. To others, it's the best thing since Dead Alive. (RvB)

From Hell
Full text review.

From Justin to Kelly
(PG) Yes, yes, it's the American Idol movie with curly and the other one. Get over it.

From Script to Screen
Full text review.
A series of screenings and panels about current French film continues. On Feb 23: An interview with Nicolas Philbert followed by a showing of his film In the Land of the Deaf (5pm, Memorial Auditorium). On Feb 28: A screening of Leo Playing "In the Company of Men" and a discussion with director Arnaud Desplechin (6-9pm, Cubberley Auditorium). On Mar 1: The French Cultural Exception, a lecture and discussion with Jean-Michel Frodon and Arnaud Desplechin (3:30-5:30pm, Building 370, Room 270); screening of Kings and Queens (6pm, Cubberley Auditorium). (All screenings at Stanford University.)

The Fruit Is Swelling/Viva Erotica
(1997/1996) Two erotic films from Hong Kong. Viva Erotica stars Leslie Cheung as a skidding director forced to take a job making "Category 3" (porn) movies. Both films are in fact Category 3—adults only. (RvB)

Fuck Off/The Bodyguard From Beijing
(1998/1994) The first film in this Hong Kong double bill is a satire of John Woo's Face Off. Hence the title, which tops even Chinese Torture Chamber II and would look even more marvelous on a marquee. (Plus you can daydream about phoning up the theater again and again to ask what's playing that night.) Dayo Wong and Cheung Tai-Ming play partners in crime. BILLED WITH The Bodyguard From Beijing, Hong Kong's answer to a certain Houston/Costner movie. Jet Li stars with Ngai Sing. (RvB)

Fuego de Tierra
This documentary about the works of Cuban-American artist Ana Mendieta will be introduced by Nereida Garcia Ferraz, an artist in residence for the summer at MACLA. Mendieta is a leading figure in a movement of exiled Cuban artists who combined feminism and spirituality with themes from Afro-Cuban religion and poetry.

Full Contact/The Conman
(1992/1998) Full Contact is my favorite Chow Yun-Fat film and evidence that Ringo Lam beats out John Woo as a master of the high-octane crime drama. The film is an Eastern version of a Jim Thompson pulp novel. Yun-Fat plays the driver for a gang of exotic criminals, including an insane nympho named Virgin (Bonnie Fu) and a gay villain named Judge. Betrayed, shot up and left for dead, Yun-Fat plots Lee Marvin-style revenge. This fast, brutal and unsentimental film is topped with an extraordinary gunfight-cum-motorcycle joust on a gasoline-soaked wharf. BILLED WITH The Conman, an unreviewed Hong Kong film. (RvB)

Full Frontal
Full text review.

The Full Monty
Full text review.
(R; 91 min.) Peter Cattaneo's obscurely titled comedy is set in Sheffield, England, a depressed town in which former steelworkers haunt the unemployment offices. The hapless Gaz (Robert Carlyle) is an unemployed, divorced dad who decides to form his own troop of male exotic dancers from the men he knows. A witty cast makes The Full Monty often uproarious, an unlikely feel-good movie about sex work and mass unemployment. If director Cattaneo reaches for easy plot twists, easy sentiment and easy pathos along with the easy laughs, the film's likableness triumphs over everything. (RvB)

The Funeral
Full text review.
(R; 98 min.) Just as he turned the cop and vampire films into texts on morality, director Abel Ferrara has now dissected the gangster film. One can see how far Ferrara diverges from the vision of men of honor in the scene in which Ray (Christopher Walken), a crime patriarch, realizes that it is the lack of trustworthiness that keeps these Mafiosi from achieving great things—if they hadn't been so busy shooting each other, "we could have taken over Ford Motors." The film tracks the decline and fall of three brothers—Ray, mentally unstable Chez (Chris Penn) and crazed Johnny (Vincent Gallo)—using the director's familiar scheme of Catholic guilt, decadence and expiation by death. The Funeral is minor, formulaic Ferrara, more a collection of occasionally interesting scenes than a consistently compelling drama. (RvB)

Funny Face
(1956) Fred Astaire plays a fictionalized version of fashion photographer Richard Avedon. During a photo shoot in a New York bookstore, he is taken with the offbeat beauty of the store assistant (Audrey Hepburn), and sweeps her into the Paris fashion world. Songs include "How Long Has This Been Going On?" and "S'Wonderful." (RvB)

Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus
Full text review.

(1936; unrated; 94 min.) In Fritz Lang's first film in this country (after fleeing Germany), the great director looked unsparingly at the rapid psychology of a lynch mob. Spencer Tracy and Sylvia Sidney star.

The Future of Food
Full text review.

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