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Boiling Points

This hook is made physical in the form of metal rings screwed into the back of a serial killer (Vincent D'Onofrio) who hangs himself from them à la performance artist Ron Athey. Other prominent sources are Joseph Beuys, Joan Jonas, Lisa Yuskavage, Matthew Barney, the Chapman brothers, Damien Hirst—the sliced horse is hilarious even if you see the joke coming long in advance. Singh seems hell-bent on including every piece from the "Sensation" show. What with the Master Musicians of Jajouka on the soundtrack and Eiko Ishioka's gorgeous, kabuki-like costumes, The Cellis a bit of a multiculti experience as well.

If you aren't intent on keeping an art checklist, I don't know how you'll get through The Cell without falling asleep. Singh isn't big on suspense or shock. The ludicrous plot devolves into a triangle formed by the killer, a psychotherapist (Jennifer Lopez) who enters his unconscious via some top-secret electro-chemical device, and an FBI agent (Vince Vaughn) whose mission is to locate the killer's final victim before it's too late.

Seizing a chance for immortality: Yee and Johnson in Chalk
photo: Diana Smith
Seizing a chance for immortality: Yee and Johnson in Chalk

Details

Chalk
Directed by Rob Nilsson
Written by Don Bajema and Rob Nilsson
Pioneer Theater
Opens August 25

Catfish in Black Bean Sauce
Written and directed by Chi Muoi Lo
An Iron Hill release
Opens August 25

The Cell
Directed by Tarsem Singh
Written by Mark Protosevich
A New Line release

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In lieu of acting, Lopez, Vaughn, and D'Onofrio engage in some kind of pouting competition the rules of which only they are aware. (Lopez's most memorable moment comes when Singh catches her casually examining the interior of her fridge, the curving line of her buttocks approximating the sinuous shape of the Sahara sand dunes where we first encounter her.) The scene where the gold-dusted D'Onofrio plaintively sings "Mairzy Doats" as he disembowels a prone, struggling Vaughn takes digitized wet dreams to a new level (warning: this is not a pull quote), but, overall, The Cell is not nearly the mindfuck it wants to be.

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