dir. Jamie Babbit
I'm not sure why the folie-à-deux revenge drama became such a feminist staple. When it happened, however—1994, Heavenly Creatures—is no great mystery. The genre has certainly delivered some lovely films. I fall especially hard for the affected look cinematographers use to impart a mood of explosive insularity, a world where girlish passion could plausibly accelerate into something darker, deadlier, more cinematic. Heavenly Creatures goes the sun-kissed and blissed-out route, but pretty much any radical and consistent aesthetic would do.
The Quiet, by contrast, looks like video. High-definition video, to be sure, but definitely blue-shifted and dull. The crypto-feminist plot gets off to an equally ragged start. Deaf orphan Dot (Camilla Belle) moves in with bitchy cheerleader Nina (Elisha Cuthbert), only to find out that her new home is incest ridden and painkiller blurred. The incest comes care of Daddy (Martin Donovan, who deploys his floppy gray forelock like a pervert flag). The painkillers come care of Mom (a glazed-looking Edie Falco).
Heavy-handed hints are scattered—some relevant, some totally gratuitous. If Dot is deaf, then how come she scurries off to play furtive strains of Beethoven every chance she gets? If Nina's friend Michelle is a hetero slut, then why is she showing Nina her boob? Instead of working up to a convincingly claustrophobic panic, director Jamie Babbit (But I'm a Cheerleader) gets sidetracked by every lurid hook in the script. Dot and Nina don't realize they're on the same team until very late in the game, and by that point, you're so exhausted by psychodrama that catharsis never comes.
There is, however, a school dance during which records by Le Tigre and Cat Power are spun. If that notion really cranks your scooter, you might find The Quiet fitfully amusing. Creepy or wicked? Not so very much. ANNIE WAGNER
Trust the Man
dir. Bart Freundlich
Is there anything worse than sitting through a comedy that just doesn't make you laugh? (Well, yes, there's always death and taxes, but I'm building to something here.) With a dud horror or action film, at least, there's the possibility of an explosion or masked psycho to break the monotony. Faced with a stagnant farce, however, the only real option is to sit there and soak in the flopsweat of the actors. That, and trying not to think about things like death and taxes.
As you may have guessed from the above paragraph, Trust the Man, the latest from one-time gloomy Sundance wunderkind Bart (The Myth of Fingerprints) Freundlich, has a few minor deficiencies in certain areas. Laughs, for one thing. Set squarely in Woody Allen's usual Lower East Side turf, Freundlich's script deals with a closely intermingled pair of fracturing couples, one (Julianne Moore and David Duchovny) severely undersexed, the other (Billy Crudup and Maggie Gyllenhaal) terminally afraid of commitment. Round and round they go, with a series of foibles intended to amuse, but building instead to an overall flatline that not even a cameo by the usually solid Bob Balaban can juice.
So, it's a crummy film, of the kind that normally would be too blah to work up much of a dudgeon over. What sticks in the craw, finally, is its sense of entitlement, the smug sensation that the filmmaker, as in his previous films, thinks that he's absolutely knocking it out of the park. Really, for all of its supposed witty urbanity, the only thing that works is the existence of two decently solid fart jokes within the first three minutes. For his next project, assuming there is one, Freundlich may want to drop the upper-class aspirations and consider lowering the bar a little. Somewhere around limbo height, say. ANDREW WRIGHT
dir. Charles Sturridge
Lassie! Lassie, go get Timmy, Lassie! What?! He's stuck in the well!? Run home, get help! Go, Lassie, go!
Psych! It's a totally different Lassie!
Umm, wait. It's not. It's the same Lassie, actually. My bad. But since I was born in the '80s, I didn't know about the Lassie movie from the '40s until I read the press release that told me all about it (which also included a helpful guide on how to pick a good vet for your pet!). Good thing I do my homework.
Anyway, so this is a remake of the 1943 movie Lassie Come Home, which you probably never saw and probably never heard of because you're probably not 70 years old. This Lassie lives in Scotland when World War II is about to bust some heads. She's a lovely little dog, but the family that owns her is so poor they can no longer afford to feed her (they can hardly feed themselves). So in lieu of watching the dog starve to death (that wouldn't make a very good movie), they sell Lassie to the Duke of Rudling. Little 9-year-old Joe's heart is broken.
Lassie ain't having that shit, though. Especially since the duke's fat assistant likes to chase her around the yard with his pants down. And even though she's taken hundreds of miles away from home, that bitch (no, literally!) is determined to make it back to Joe in time for Christmas! Aww! Now tell me that's not adorable.
I'm a total sucker, so I liked this movie. I like dog movies; dogs are great. Plus Peter Dinklage of The Station Agent is in it, and he's pretty awesome. And in this movie he has the most adorable little mutt of a dog ever. Can I hold the purppy? MEGAN SELING