Lyrical Gangbang

Buppie backlash cast as revenger's tragedy, Bones situates a writhing, viscous City of the Dead in a blasted ghetto so anonymous it must be Toronto. In 1979, neighborhood saint and numbers-runner Jimmy Bones (Snoop Dogg) gets offed and ignominiously buried by greedy interlopers, after just saying no to crack distribution. (As becomes a folk hero, his tale gets immortalized in a hopscotch chant.) Two decades later, Bones's mansion is being turned into a club by a young group of self-described "post-racial" entrepreneurs—some of whom are the mixed-race children of one of his betrayers, miscegenation an implicit further betrayal. At first manifesting as cloud or canine, Bones eventually crosses over full-bodied from the beyond to terrorize Scream-savvy youngsters and old nemeses alike.

Though not lacking in gnarly touches—bed of blood, grub-puking dog, Mummy-like corpse reconstruction—Bones splits the difference between horror and social commentary, with pallid returns. As Bones's seance-tific girlfriend (and mother of his posthumously born daughter), Pam Grier sports iconic value but can't neutralize the psychic mumbo jumbo she's forced to spout. The erstwhile Calvin Broadus's laid-back flow makes for insinuating hip-hop, but onscreen his voice can sound like an afterthought; charming in the more delicate flashback scenes, his quaver makes for middling menace. With its '70s backstory, shallow-grave unearthing, and larval grotesqueries, Bones seems less inspired by its languid crossover star than by the cover art of Funkadelic's Maggot Brain.


Details

Bones
Directed by Ernest Dickerson
Written by Adam Simon and Tim Metcalfe
New Line
Two Boots Den of Cin
Opens November 2

La Última Rumba de Papá Montero
Directed by Octavio Cortazar
ArtMattan
Two Boots Den of Cin
Opens November 2

On the Line
Directed by Eric Bross
Written by Eric Aronson and Paul Stanton
Miramax

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A strange thing happens 10 minutes into La Última Rumba de Papá Montero: The picture stops dead, and its director berates his efforts at turning the life of the notorious Havana rumbero into a compelling film. "It's better to start a hundred times than finish badly once," he tells his stunned crew. Clocking in at less than an hour, the movie loses steam with such self-doubting insertions, and the mysterious circumstances of Montero's death are ultimately less compelling than whether or not the kids in Bones will be able to install their DJ booth.


On the Line features a living legend in the form of Al Green, but his lip-synching is as patently fake as everything else in the movie. Second-tier 'N Sync heartthrob Lance Bass plays junior ad exec Kevin, who bonds with a cute chick on the El (Emmanuelle Chriqui) over the Right Reverend and the Cubs. His lifelong inability to "take the fruit, spit the wad"—spit the wad?—not only means no phone number, but an hour and a half of PG-shifted guyspeak ("We all messed Kevin over") and behavior (covering Chicago with posters, then billboards, imploring her to call) that would otherwise be regarded as first-onset psychosis. Despite the go-for-broke gestures, Bass sleepwalks like he's auditioning for Donnie Darko; fellow bandmate Joey Fatone is more animated as a flatulent rocker manqué, though his mocking takes on hair-metal chestnuts aren't half as funny as Fresh Step.

Since Chriqui's human-seeming Abby is an archaeology grad student, an explanation for her puzzling attraction to the adman can be sought in McLuhan's assertion that "archaeologists will one day discover that the ads of our time are the richest and most faithful daily reflections that any society ever made of its entire range of activities." Without the appeal of dissertational fodder, a viewer's ardor is nil. But On the Line is less a romance than a feature-length plug for 'N Sync and its personalities—and so, like all ads, not meant for "conscious consumption." Which opens the blissful avenue of sleep.

 
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