best bet: delicious de palma FEMME FATALE (Brian De Palma)
De Palma's latest crosses the shifting reality story with a genre tale about an elegant bisexual jewel thief. It's trashy even by De Palma's standards Ð and I like De Palma. Here he ladles on the style, as is his wont when his projects have no content. Femme Fatale's chief virtue is that supermodel-turned-actor Rebecca Romijn-Stamos (X-Men) takes off her clothes a lot and has an extended lesbian scene early on. The early portion of the film, by the way, was shot toward the end of the 2001 Cannes Festival, but those are definitely not the bathrooms in the Palais des Festivals. Very fun trash. 115 minutes. Rating: NNN JOHN HARKNESS
(Paul Schrader) -- See interview, page 86. 107 min. NNN (CB) Opens Nov 8 at SilverCity North York, Silvercity Yonge, Uptown.
(Curtis Hanson) stars Eminem as a poor white kid who grinds away at a series of dead-end jobs by day while devoting his free time to his rhymes, always looking for a bit of paper to take notes. Eminem is surprisingly good, holding his own with more professional actors like Brittany Murphy (Don't Say A Word) and Mekhi Phifer (Clockers). Hanson (Wonder Boys) is attuned to the industrial wasteland of Detroit and dresses down his style to give the film a hand-held, almost documentary feel. He also keeps the scale of the film modest. The climactic confrontation is just a rap battle in a small club, and when it ends, everyone's going back to their jobs. For more, see page 84.115 min. NNN (JH) Opens Nov 8 at Beach Cinemas, Cedarbrae, Colossus, Eglinton Town Centre, Grande - Steeles, Grande - Yonge, Kennedy Commons, Paramount, Queensway, Rainbow Fairview, Rainbow Promenade, SilverCity Richmond Hill, Silvercity Yonge, Silvercity Yorkdale, Varsity, Varsity V.I.P., Winston Churchill.
(Oliver Hirschbiegel) takes off on a study done three decades ago at Stanford University. A group of guinea pigs signs up for a psychology experiment. Half will be prisoners, half guards, and all will be locked up in a simulated prison environment for two weeks under observation and strict rules. Surprise, surprise, it takes less time than anyone expects for the subjects to turn nearly lethal as they fall into their roles with alarming speed, and not much more time for the whole thing to go fatally wrong. Very well done, but inordinately predictable. Why is it so shocking when people under pressure go all Lord Of The Flies? 114 min. NNN (JH) Opens Nov 8 at Canada Square, Carlton.
FAR FROM HEAVEN
(Todd Haynes) functions in Haynes's career (Safe, Velvet Goldmine) as his version of Gus Van Sant's Psycho. It's a perverse, visually precise, uncredited remake of Douglas Sirk's All That Heaven Allows, with Julianne Moore in the Jane Wyman role of the Connecticut matron who falls for her gardener. This time she's married rather than widowed, her husband (Dennis Quaid) drinks a lot, and the gardener isn't Rock Hudson, but Dennis Haysbert, who's a little too black to be romantically involved with a Connecticut housewife in 1956. Despite the ironic Brechtian distances implied in the gelid Sirk style, I don't think Haynes intends the film ironically, and Moore's performance is stunning -- she and Haynes are walking a very curious tightrope indeed. At the same time, I can't imagine the audience for this. Gay film geeks? For more, see page 84.107 min.
NNN (JH) Opens Nov 8 at the Varsity.
(Godfrey Reggio) completes the head-trip trilogy Reggio began with Koyaanisqatsi and Powaqqatsi. This time the theme is war, and the future-fugue music is provided again by Philip Glass. Philip Glass. Philip Glass. Reggio and Glass sometimes reach sublime heights of sound and image, but the ridiculous is never far behind. The insights are broad and simple -- technology bad! but seductive! -- and too many sequences have a glossy, commercial sheen. If Dziga Vertov were alive and branding for Microsoft, it might look like this. 89 min. NN (CB) Opens Nov 8 at the Carlton.
(Rodrigue Jean) follows a troubled young couple as they roam from sleazy strip club to two-bit casino on the road from Moncton to Yellowknife, encountering and re-encountering an assortment of sex-addled outsiders along the way. To his credit, Jean doesn't dis his characters, but he doesn't do much with them either. The intriguing tension they generate at the beginning of the film slowly dribbles away as the plot rambles on and repeats itself, and shocking twists are lost in a mood that's subdued to the point of narcolepsy. Yellowknife might have made a decent short, but at two hours it captures the tedium of a long Canadian road trip all too well. 115 min. NN (Wendy Banks) Opens Nov 8 at the Carlton.