Pantaleón y Las Visitadoras Directed 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, señores and 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 Sinner Directed 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-mothe film is as technically amateurish as it is narratively ludicrous. Ben Kenigsberg
Get the Film & TV Newsletter
Stay up to date on the best new movies with our critics' latest reviews, interviews and trailers for the films coming to a theater near you each week.
More Film News
- Scott Adkins Plays a Badass Actually Named ‘Colt McReady’ In the Effective ‘Close Range’
- Meet the Pole Who Tried to Warn the World About the Holocaust in ‘Karski & the Lords...
- Jane Fonda Faced Down the Seventies and a Killer in Pakula’s Masterful ‘Klute’
- He’ll Get Your Head Shaking: Surveying the Start of Chung Mong-hong’s (Likely) Great...