FIRST SHOT 


Just last week, we were lamenting that some small, left-of-center pictures continue to bypass Orlando. Well, former Nixon flunky and glorified game-show host Ben Stein must have heard our kvetching, because he deigned to make Altamonte Springs one of the showcase communities for his right-of-center “documentary” Expelled, a filmic show of support for science teachers who dare to defy the silly separation of church and state and boldly question the evolutionary party line. Of course, that nutty nabob Stein just happened to notify us of this momentous April 18 booking after the last issue of our paper was already on the stands – which we’re sure had nothing to do with his PR machine’s attendant lambasting of “liberal” critics, nor its reliance on slavering sound bites from the likes of James Dobson and Pat Robertson for counterbalance.

Anyway, the flick is still playing at several theaters in town, which means the Enlightenment didn’t arrive. Check the movie times and if you decide to go, take along the monkey you love.

OPENING IN THEATERS

Friday, April 25

Snow Angels No sooner had we pronounced Kate Beckinsale the Crap-Action Heroine of the New Millennium than she started declaring how ludicrous it was for her to have ever appeared in such movies – all by way of talking up this indie drama about relationship dysfunction and familial tragedy in a small town. Sorry, Kate: After two Underworld films and one Van Helsing, we’ll be picturing you with a crossbow until the day you die. (Warner Independent Pictures; R)

Baby Mama Some movies seem to exist just to test a viewer’s limits. Take Baby Mama: After years of being frankly unable to fathom the appeal of Amy Poehler, we had finally come around to recognizing that, yes, she is indeed rather talented – within the finite parameters of her ability. But does that mean we’re ready to see her squatting over a bathroom sink, throwing her entire system of personal plumbing into the role of an underclass vessel for the procreative yearnings of career woman Tina Fey? To employ a bit of childbirthing jargon, that’s pushing it. (Universal Pictures; PG-13)

Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay Believe it or not, there’s a precedent for mixing stoner humor and domestic-security paranoia: Remember Paul Reubens fretting, “I think they’re Iranians,” in Cheech & Chong’s Next Movie? Given that Harold and Kumar’s 2004 outing to White Castle showed them to have about half the pith of C&C in their prime, we’re not expecting this “topical” sequel to exert an especial pull over the November elections. But, hey, if it inspires the gang at Spencer Gifts to pick up a paper every now and then …. (New Line Cinema; R)

Deception Lawyer Hugh Jackman indoctrinates accountant Ewan McGregor into the doings at a shadowy sex club, only for the latter to become a “person of interest” in a woman’s disappearance. Oh, what the hell, right? That plot only killed Stanley Kubrick. (Twentieth Century Fox; R)

The Counterfeiters This Austrian/German export dramatizes the true-life dilemma of concentration-camp prisoners who were forced to generate funny money for the Third Reich. Sounds like a recipe for some decent Sturm und Drang, but a movie has a lot of heavy lifting to do if it expects to convince us the Nazis did anything unethical. (Sony Classics; R; at Enzian Theater, Maitland)

Priceless Audrey Tautou returns to her quirky-Frenchie roots in Priceless, a romantic comedy about a gold-digger who falls for a guy with absolutely zero liquid assets. That’s what we keep telling ourselves could happen, anyway. (Samuel Goldwyn Films; PG-13)

ON DVD

Available Tuesday, April 29

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

Julian Schnabel got almost as much ink for enduring the drunken heckling of awards-show guest Sean Young as he did for directing this acclaimed study in sensory deprivation, which tells the story of a French magazine editor who enjoyed a life of sumptuous luxury and vigorous woman-chasing – until he suffered a debilitating stroke. Almost as well-known by its working title, Pierre Comes Out Even With the Rest of Us. (Miramax)

BOOKS

Published Wednesday, April 30

The Art of Wall-E On the evidence of Ratatouille and Cars, the formula for predicting the entertainment value of a Pixar film runs as follows: fur good, metal bad. That doesn’t bode well for the studio’s upcoming depiction of an allegedly cute robot and his galaxy-spanning quest to win true love. The good news is that a Pixar art book is typically a fascinating foray into the visual genesis of a particular project (irrespective of what the writers and voice actors might end up doing to it). The only risk is that your appetite for seeing nonhuman creatures with artificial parts weathering relationship difficulties may have been exhausted by Heather Mills. (Chronicle Books)

film@orlandoweekly.com

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