The Real Cancun

dir. Rick de Oliveira
Sure to be a "scared straight" staple of alcoholism interventions for years to come, The Real Cancun finds MTV's Real World producers Bunim-Murray applying their trashily fascinating formula to the feature-film format, with deeply stupid results. Every ounce of fun the Real World TV series has ever provided has come from the weird, explosive minutia of seven attention-craving freaks living in the same house for six months. In The Real Cancun, this approach is hobbled by both the feature-film and spring-break formats. Relegated to seven days and two hours, The Real Cancun's only suspense comes from the personal musings of its unlucky audience: Did MTV keep its name off this crap for a reason? How many cast members flew directly from Cancun to rehab? And how long until that guy with the horse face asks someone else, "You wanna make out?" No fun, even if you're super high. DAVID SCHMADER

Chihwaseon

dir. Im Kwon-Taek

Fri-Thurs May 2-8 at the Varsity.
I have implored this paper's film editor to stop sending me to movies about artists, not least because perhaps with fresh eyes someone else might look more charitably on the endless procession of clichés that we tend to understand as a complete portrait of a creative person. True, these movies tend to be done in faultless period style, but in the end they're all the same: Basquiat, Frida, Pollock, and now Chihwaseon. The artist, unable to live like ordinary people. The artist, subject to fits of temper, passion, ungovernable strange acts of destruction (Chihwaseon has a few table-overturning scenes that would have Ed Harris' Jackson Pollock drooling with envy, not to mention a lot of Lear-like howling at storms). The artist's impotence--actual or metaphorical? Even the narrative composition mimics Pollock: short, stilted vignettes meant to establish characteristics rather than play out an actual life.

All that having been said, Chihwaseon is sometimes gorgeous, mostly when the artist moves through landscapes that seem actually informed by (or about to inform) Asian painting: the mountains fading to mist, the broad mud flat populated only by a few lone figures. Inspiration is a fine thing, but the question of why movies about artists are, almost without exception, so unbearable remains unanswered. EMILY HALL

It Runs in the Family

dir. Fred Schepisi
I'll confess right off the bat that I'm a big fat crybaby who can't take scenes of old people dying in movies, especially if the old people are grandparents. So when I realized too late (about an hour in) that It Runs in the Family (featuring three generations of Douglases--Kirk, Michael, and Cameron) might include a climax centered on the death of an old person who happens to be an actual old person paternally related to two of the film's stars--three, if you count the fact that Kirk's long-suffering wife stars, too--I bolted from the theater. So I don't know who, if anyone, does in fact die. Until I fled, begrudgingly but nonetheless swiftly, I found the scenes featuring self-absorbed old coot Mitchell (Kirk) and his resentful, self-absorbed son, Alex (Michael), funny, especially when I could sense the real-life connection to the roles. Rory Culkin is the gem, however. As Alex's 11-year-old son, Eli, younger brother of perpetually stoned Asher (Cameron), Rory has perfected his family's skill for playing winningly aloof little boys. KATHLEEN WILSON

Pie in the Sky: The Brigid Berlin Story

dir. Shelly Dunn Fremont and Vincent Fremont

Fri-Sun May 2-4 at the Little Theatre.
It must be a real bummer to always be the fat one. For Brigid Berlin, the crown of "the fat one" may as well mark her epitaph. If her name doesn't sound terribly familiar, you might remember Berlin as one of Warhol's first string of Factory superstars--and like nearly all of the figures in Warhol's guild, Berlin was an "actress," an "artist," and a "spoiled little rich girl dosed up on too much speed" who fell into predictable obscurity in the absence of her celebrated figurehead. It seems that her only distinguishing quality from the rest of the fray was her girth--and her predilection for showing it off. The central focus of this documentary, her weight is addressed like some ultimate rebellion: a rebellion against her blue-blooded lineage, against society, and to a certain extent, even against herself. The film directs the still insufferably bratty Berlin, now in her 60s, in an ultimately empty stroll down memory lane to her present day as an obsessive-compulsive spinster. And despite a subject matter of such stylistic weight (no pun intended), Pie in the Sky is an ultimately bland exercise. ZAC PENNINGTON

Grey Gardens

dir. Albert & David Maysles, Ellen Hovde, and Muffie Meyer

Fri-Sun May 2-4 at the Little Theatre.
In the entire lexicon of impoverished American gentry, there are no two more tragic, painful, and riveting figures than Edith Bouvier Beale and her mother, uh, Edith Bouvier Beale. Anyone who has seen this astonishing documentary can tell you that these Kennedy satellites put the "crazy" back in "aristocracy."

Sitting around their decaying Hamptons manse, Big and Little Edie confess--by means both unwitting and witting--that they are agoraphobic doyennes who have spent so much time cloistered together, ruing their fallen fortunes, that a murder-suicide seems like the only possibility for a happy ending.

The filmmakers' access is so complete that you can smell the cat piss and feel the rising damp as Little Edie swoons under the camera's gaze, while her mother barks out constant disapproval of everything. Made in 1975, Grey Gardens was the source of considerable controversy in its time, as much for the invasiveness of its technique as the manipulations of its story. In the end, the choice of victim belongs to the viewer, but if you look closely, you can see the film progress from exploitation to empathy, even as its subjects regress from circumspection to pitiful vaudeville. SEAN NELSON