Zus & ZoDirected by Paula van der Oest (Lifesize, opens February 7, at the Quad)Holland's entry for this year's foreign film Oscar is a Chekhovian property comedy told as a David Leavitt-esque paean to alt-Family Dancing: A troika of middle-aged sisters conspires to thwart their gay brother Nino's marriage to his favorite fag hag, and thus prevent him from inheriting their Portuguese beach château as per their father's will. As a study in sororal emasculation, Zus & Zo("This and That") is neither funny nor particularly punch-drunk. Nino (Jacob Derwig) spinelessly submits to his sisters' henpecking while pining after his ex, a celebrity-chef stallion named Felix Delicious. Eldest sister Michelle (Frances McDormand look-alike Sylvia Poorta) does her best to keep the family's toxicity in check, but the ensuing rounds of internecine bed hopping and catfighting soon inure everyone (audience included) to the overall insanity. Dutch writer-director van der Oest evidently regards herself as a purveyor of modern family values, but she is cinematically maladroit: Her big fat dysfunctional embrace registers too often like a clumsy headlock. David Ng
Biker BoyzDirected by Reggie Rock Bythewood (Dreamworks, in release)A haphazard homage to Hawksian westerns, Bythewood's sophomore effort is a fictional look at Fresno's African American biker cliques. Smoke (Laurence Fishburne) is challenged by a talented upstart (Derek Luke of Antwone Fisher) who, following the untimely death of his father in a freak bike-related accident, is driven to dominate the roughneck racing fray. Trash-rap cowboy Kid Rock plays the white-boy biker with street cred determined to dethrone Smoke. Unfortunately, this is all wheel-spinning. Rock said of his contribution, "Somebody wrote it, someone had a vision for it, so I wanted to live up to that." Too bad that when the filmmakers aren't busy accommodating cameo models and comedians, they seem to be dozing off at the handlebars. Luckily, we're watching from a different side of the highway. Nat Johnson
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