I can’t remember the last time so many different kinds of new films were available for home rental.
1. Simple entertainment.
For essentials, we have “The Full Monty.” Better make that the Oscar-nominated “Full Monty,” whose mildly political undertone would put off only the more purse-lipped among us.
For a harsh look at the ongoing gender struggle, with emphasis on “harsh,” check out home-boy Neil LaBute’s “In the Company of Men.”
3. The offbeat.
For a bizarre story featuring characters whose innate strangeness maroons them on a temperament plane most appropriate to the emotionally impaired, you have “She’s So Lovely.”
4. The horrible.
And straight from the Oscar-winner-goes-slumming category, there’s always Mira Sorvino and the atmospheric-if-absurd “Mimic.”
Between the four, a little something can be found for every taste, every attitude.
And if not, there’s always next week.
The week’s major releases:
The Full Monty
When several unemployed English miners get tired of being on the dole, they hatch a crazy scheme - to do a Chippendales-type show. The difference? Unlike the chiseled-abs pretty boys, this motley mixture of masculinity promises to go all the way (if you catch my drift). The essential ridiculousness of this concept fuels the humor, which is as engaging as anything to play Spokane in a long time. Even so, Hollywood awarding it a Best Picture Oscar nomination says more about the essential blandness of the American mainstream than it does about this particular film’s several, if distinctly minor, charms. Rated R
In the Company of Men
Two men act out in rage by agreeing to play an evil game: Find a woman, romance her and then, just for the fun of it, dump her. That’s what happens in this debut film by former Spokane resident Neil LaBute. Despite the national buzz, which had the political correctness police out in force, the film is more of a study of overt sociopathy than blatant misogyny. Even so, it doesn’t delve as deeply into the issues surrounding either as one might like. The acting is uniformly effective, although Aaron Eckhart stands out as the caddish Chad. In the end, the film’s greatest strength is its obvious power to repel. Rated R
She’s So Lovely
Nick Cassavetes directs this film from a script written by his late father, John Cassavetes, about a disturbed man (Sean Penn) who emerges from a mental institution to claim his ex-wife (Robin Wright Penn) even though she’s now a mother of three small girls and married to someone else (John Travolta). Being a Cassavetes storyline - he’s the guy, after all, who wrote and directed such hard-to-watch studies as “A Woman Under the Influence” and “Husbands” - this is no easy film to like. To label the main characters flawed would be classic understatement. They are limited, self-absorbed, alcoholic and self-destructive, and it would be no stretch to say they specialize in stupid behavior. Yet… they are exactly the kind of characters whom Cassavetes found intriguing. Even the crazy, he seemed to be saying, were ruled by the self-regarding dictates of love. Whatever, the true joy of “She’s So Lovely” is Penn, the Cannes Best Actor winner who continues to pull off one entrancing screen performance after another. Rated R
After inventing a cure for a deadly plague, a young scientist (Mira Sorvino) discovers that her cure - a genetically engineered insect - has turned into a killer insect that can imitate its chief enemy: humankind. Creepily atmospheric, as befitting the talents of Guillermo del Toro (director of the Mexican vampire flick “Chronos”), “Mimic” nevertheless suffers from the curse of its title: It is derivative of a dozen or so better efforts from the same genre. Even its stars, the talented Mira Sorvino and the watchable Jeremy Northam, can’t overcome the mediocre storyline that del Toro is forced to follow. And what a waste of Charles S. Dutton. Rated R
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