Film

Pantaleón y Las VisitadorasDirected by Francisco Lombardi (Venevision, opens February 14, at Village East) Seemingly intended to celebrate the dubious nobility of following orders, this film might've fared better if those involved realized how fiercely their material begs for a plunge into the deep end. Based on a bestselling 1973 novel, it boasts a daffy enough setup: A tightly wound Peruvian army officer must create a cheerful, Amazon-borne division of prostitutas ("visitors") to service troops languishing (and raping locals) deep in the jungle, and soon falls for the most slatternly of these tarts of darkness. The possibilities, señoresand señoritas, imagine!—Fitzcarraldo, con boobies! Sadly, most of Lombardi's movie is too doggedly mediocre to cut loose, overheated (and quite lovely) cinematography notwithstanding. Some campy moments, sure, but only the sublimely ridiculous set piece involving one slain hooker's full military funeral, conducted by an indifferent, speed-riting priest, truly suggests the giddy depths Pantaleón might've risen to. —Nick Rutigliano


Ordinary SinnerDirected by John Henry Davis (Jour de Fete, opens February 14, at the Quad) Hiding its poverty of imagination under a layer of simpleminded social criticism, Davis's directorial debut lurches unconvincingly from self-congratulatory polemic to bereavement melodrama to Hardy Boys mystery. Ex-seminary student Peter (Brendan P. Hines), burdened with a secret that has forced him to question his faith, finds solace in sexually aggressive college classmate Rachel (Elizabeth Banks), possibly closeted twerp sidekick Alex (Kris Park), and Father Ed (A. Martinez), a gay priest confronting local Bible-thumpers. But Ordinary Sinner is no mere issue movie; it only preaches to the choir until an elaborately planned murder wanders into the story. Davis washes out the color for flashbacks and signifies Important Moments with slo-mo—the film is as technically amateurish as it is narratively ludicrous. —Ben Kenigsberg

 
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