Features


‘New In Town’ suffers from same old story

FRIDAY, MAY 29, 2009

‘New In Town’

There’s nothing novel about this overly familiar farce, a creaky romantic-comedy-fish-out-of-water tale about a tightly wound corporate executive (Renee Zellweger) who finds herself temporarily reassigned from sunny Miami to small-town Minnesota in the dead of winter.

Throughout much of the movie, Zellweger’s face appears botoxed into a frozen mask of misery, which melts only after meeting truck-drivin’, beer-drinkin’, plaid-wearin’ hottie Ted (Harry Connick Jr.). But first Ted and Lucy have to act as though they hate each other.

That is, until the handsome widower and dad (all together now: awww) happens to have the opportunity to rescue the career-obsessed singleton when her car gets stuck in a blizzard, making her re-evaluate her big-city priorities in the face of true love and a near-death experience.

As Lucy remarks at one point, this whole endeavor looks like the world’s coldest theme park.

DVD extras include making-of featurette, commentary by cast and crew, deleted scenes. (1:36; rated PG for crude language and suggestive material)

– Washington Post

‘A Thousand Years of Good Prayers’

With the quiet, understated “A Thousand Years of Good Prayers,” Wayne Wang has come full circle, returning to the small, intimate films that established the Hong Kong-born Chinese American writer-director, best known for his deft screen adaptation of “The Joy Luck Club.”

When recently widowed Mr. Shi (Henry O), a dignified, slightly stooped older man from Beijing, arrives in Spokane he tells his attractive daughter Yilan (Faye Yu), whom he has not seen in 12 years, that she looks exactly the same.

That she is brusquely dismissive of her father’s remark proves revealing: She is not really glad to see him and it does not occur to him that she has been changed by life in the U.S.

Rich in revealing detail and apt in its use of everyday Spokane settings, “A Thousand Years of Good Prayers” shows that Wang remains a master explorer of the landscape of the human heart. (1:23; unrated)

– Los Angeles Times

‘Powder Blue’

Ray Liotta stars in this drama in which the lives of four disparate, desperate people collide. Yes, it sounds like “Crash” – and it’s kind of crazy – but in addition to Liotta, it’s got Forest Whitaker, plus Kris Kristofferson, Lisa Kudrow and Patrick Swayze in supporting roles.

(Oh, and Jessica Biel goes topless. But give it a chance anyway.)

Liotta plays a recently released convicted killer who has terminal cancer, Whitaker plays a suicidal ex-priest, Eddie Redmayne plays an asthmatic 20-something mortician, and Biel plays an exotic dancer who strips to get money to pay the doctor bills of her comatose son.

How their paths intersect in Los Angeles and how hope can come out of such seemingly lost lives is what this strange story is all about. (1:46; rated R for sexual content, nudity, language and some drug use)

– Sacramento Bee

Also available: “The Devil’s Tomb,” “Falling Down,” “Forever Strong,” “Killshot,” “Law & Order: SVU: Season 9,” “Princess of Nebraska,” “The Ramen Girl,” “True Romance”



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