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SMOKERS ONLY
Directed by Verónica Chen (Strand, opens December 20, at the Quad) Reni fancies herself, in desperate moments, an alien, flitting from moment to moment at the speed of light—no past, no future. Stuck. Young hustler Andrés feels worthless without a price. She's absurdly beautiful; he's absurdly handsome. Ah, the travails of metropolitan life! Alas, another breathless movie about same! Resolutely disjointed, set almost entirely after hours, Verónica Chen's strong vision of urban anomie, Buenos Aires-style, often nullifies her shopworn misfits-passing-in-the-night plot. If Smokers Only at its worst suggests an unintentional Godard parody wedded to a CK undie ad, its purposeful direction and glossy staccato camerawork make such moments tolerable. Detached performances and a murky sound mix further the sense of suspended animation. Indeed, by the time Reni (Cecilia Bengolea) hops a train, escaping the city's cold light for sunshine and some real motion, the genuine sense of release—from nightmares, and hoary plot contrivances—propels the film beyond the confines of its pretty little head. —Nick Rutigliano


STAR TREK: NEMESIS
Directed by Stuart Baird (Paramount, in release) In Star Trek: Nemesis, new-to-the-franchise screenwriter John Logan clones Enterprise skipper Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart), geek-relatable android Data (Brent Spiner), and—less successfully—1982's Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan, the series' bloody, bracing benchmark. As Shinzon, a sickly boy-emperor grown from Picard's DNA by scheming Romulans, Tom Hardy channels some of the verve of rich-Corinthian-leather-clad Khan villain Ricardo Montalban, although his real model seems to be Joaquin Phoenix in Gladiator, which Logan co-wrote. Like an illegitimate child crashing the primal scene by proxy, Shinzon telepathically rapes Counselor Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis) on her wedding night, and for a warp-speed second it looks like Nemesis will seek out deep psychosexual shadows no Trek film has plumbed. Instead, the third act concerns a weapon of mass destruction, a countdown, and a starship demolition derby in the Romulan no-fly zone. Meanwhile, Spiner (who gets a story credit) acts opposite himself—as his android doppelgänger, B-4, a simple-minded doofus ex machina who's sort of the Donald Kaufman of the piece—and sings his silicon ass off on Irving Berlin's "Nothing but Blue Skies." —Alex Pappademas

 
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