The World's Fastest Indian
dir. Roger Donaldson
Despite a title that sounds like a '60s live-action Disney flick (paging Buddy Hackett), the new biopic The World's Fastest Indian serves as a welcome respite from the usual amped-up multiplex fare. For a film about a speed freak, it has a pleasantly loose, rambling quality.
Anthony Hopkins plays Burt Munro, a sixtysomething New Zealand coot who overcame both financial and medical difficulties on his quest to break the land-speed record with his prize souped-up 1920 motorcycle (the Indian of the title). As he makes his way toward Utah's Bonne-ville Salt Flats, he comes into contact with a slew of well-meaning oddballs. These interactions occasionally err on the side of cheesy (a long sequence in L.A. where Munro pals around with a transvestite hotel clerk feels downright Gump-ish), but most generate a feeling of goodwill that's tough to resist.
This marks a comeback of sorts for Hopkins, an actor who, after his stylized triumph as Hannibal Lecter, has increasingly relied on a series of overly theatrical mannerisms. All of his predetermined tricks—a dry chuckle here, a half-deaf bellow there—are still in evidence, but they somehow manage to charm. Together, Hopkins and director Roger Donaldson can't wholly reinvent the feel-good wheel, but check out all the neat stuff on the spokes. ANDREW WRIGHT
Imagine Me & You
dir. Ol Parker
I guess you could say that Imagine Me & You is like Brokeback Mountain, except with more vaginas and less crushing of the soul. It's the story of Rachel (Piper "My Mouth Is As Wide As the Mighty Mississippi" Perabo) and Hector (Matthew Goode), a charming pair of British newlyweds whose domestic bliss is shaken up by Luce (Lena Headey), a hot florist in adorably mannish outfits. Luce and Rachel become friends, then more than friends, and eventually, after an hour or so of head-splitting girl-on-girl flirting, full-blown "lesby friends" (I'm sorry to report that's a direct quote).
Rachel's melancholic father (Anthony Head) provides some laughs, as does Hector's pal Coop (Darren Boyd), the film's obligatory clumsy womanizer ("Come on! I'm so good in bed!"). But the central love triangle is the least interesting part of the story. Will Rachel leave the dashing Hector for the fantastic Luce? Is a choice between two such perfect mates really a conflict at all?
I don't want to get all serious and say that this movie trivializes the real-life difficulties of those struggling with sexual identity, but, um, I think this movie trivializes the real-life difficulties of those struggling with sexual identity. Just a bit. These are gorgeous, successful, upper-middle-class people with supportive, liberal families. Everyone loves everyone. There's little struggle, few tears, and almost nothing at stake. All it takes is one nauseating dose of the wisdom of children and one Viagra joke to... I'm sorry. Can we talk about Piper Perabo's mouth some more? Have you seen it? That thing is huge! LINDY WEST
A Good Woman
dir. Mike Barker
This loose adaptation of Oscar Wilde's Lady Windermere's Fan is set among the dissolute American rich vacationing in the Italian Riviera in the 1930s; the plot involves a chaste young newlywed (Scarlett Johansson) whose husband is spotted consorting with a known slut (Helen Hunt). Things are not what they appear to be—for one thing, every scene is so blearily lit you have to blink twice to figure out what's going on. Johansson looks great with a crucifix around her neck, even if her prissy attempt to choke back the smoke in her voice never seems entirely convincing. The supporting cast (Tom Wilkinson, John Standing) keeps the epigrams snappy. But Hunt, with her flat delivery and conscientiously preserved physique, makes the least charismatic kept woman I've ever seen. ANNIE WAGNER