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BOBBY JONES—STROKE OF GENIUS

Written and directed by Rowdy Herrington

Film Foundry, opens April 30

Sports biopics and dewy-eyed nostalgia go together like golf and soul-withering tedium, no more so than in this earnest hagiography. Bobby Jones, for the unenlightened, was an early-20th-century American savant who, despite being hailed as the best golfer ever, never turned pro. His perpetual amateur status is milked for reactionary glory here, with Jones depicted as the hero of the sport’s prelapsarian age (you know, before women and black men started winning). This gives Jim Caviezel ample opportunity to ooze furrow-browed, um, passion in the lead, and his scenes with Malcolm McDowell, as a sportswriter hanger-on, offer a perverse thrill: Who’d have thought Jesus and Caligula would end up in the same movie? Despite Herrington’s skill at capturing the physicality of the game, Stroke is strictly for golf nuts and masochists—assuming there’s a difference. MARK HOLCOMB


JUSTICE

Written and directed by Evan Oppenheimer

April 28 through May 11, Two Boots Pioneer

In a fit of post-9-11 Sullivan’s Travelitis, comic-book writer Drew Pettite (Erik Palladino) decides to create Justice, a “common man” superhero—with no special powers! His boss, apparently unfamiliar with Will Eisner’s The Spirit or, um, Batman, looks at Pettite like he’s Fitzcarraldo delivering a boat and tells him to add a gimmick by basing Justice on a real-life person. Pettite settles on substitute teacher Tre but doesn’t ask for a signed release, which causes trouble when a coquettish Village Voice writer (Catherine Kellner) tries to interview the unsuspecting muse. Though director Oppenheimer has a nice comedic touch, an achronological structure and distracting vignettes thwart the film’s emotional designs. Pettite’s belated catharsis rings as false as the choice of Tre (hulking Michael Jai White, best known for playing Mike Tyson and the super-powered Spawn) to portray Joe Public. Oh well. Like the Voice reporter says, “Accuracy is overrated.” SEAN HOWE


LAWS OF ATTRACTION

Directed by Peter Howitt

New Line, opens April 30

A workable screwball premise: Two high-powered divorce lawyers spar in court, knock a few back one night, and pull a Britney while in the midst of a marquee professional face-off. Julianne Moore and Pierce Brosnan have enough smolder to transcend the weird moralism required to make their drunken hitch seem like an actual problem, but whoever’s job it was to ouija Howard Hawks chose instead to ring up the director of Sliding Doors and for tweaks, the screenwriter of The First Wives Club, among other pros. The result: Our counselors’ lawyer-ese is illegally bland, and their committee-penned banter meticulously Botoxed. Brosnan revives the dapper self-deprecation of his TV-detective days to suave effect—speechifying in an open dress shirt helps—but faced with crummy lines like “He’s very un . . . something,” Moore takes refuge behind the Valium smile of her acclaimed last two roles. LAURA SINAGRA


MORLANG

Directed by Tjebbo Penning

Film Movement, opens April 30, Quad

A murder mystery so artfully restrained you almost expect Diana Rigg to deliver a witty epilogue, the English-language Dutch film Morlang derives much moodiness from its two principal settings: the gray, rain-soaked Irish coast and the gray, rain-soaked city of Rotterdam. Julius Morlang (Paul Freeman) is a painter whose career and marriage have reached dead ends. When wife Ellen (Diana Kent) starts fooling around with a younger artist, he grows mentally unstable—a state of mind that director Penning evokes through copious jump cuts and elliptical storytelling. The Rotterdam art milieu provides some Eurotrashy cool, and Han Wennink’s cinematography uncannily re-creates the glassy panache of a Lexus commercial. But the climactic revelation feels all the more tedious for being so coyly withheld—a structural stunt that would strike even Atom Egoyan as manipulative. DAVID NG


PEOPLE SAY I’M CRAZY

Directed by John Cadigan and Katie Cadigan

Opens April 30, Cinema Village

People Say I’m Crazy is an affecting, inside-out portrait of the artist as a young schizophrenic. Voted “most popular, most athletic, most artistic” in fifth grade, John Cadigan (who shares directing credits with filmmaker sister Katie) had transformed into “most quiet” by senior year, and he suffered his first psychotic break in college. At 27, John is heavier (a side effect of medication) but much improved, and shows us his friends and fears, his violent ideations and undiminished obsession—elaborate, serpentine woodcuts that he describes in terms of hours of labor. But a harmless joke or perceived glance can send him reeling into his “dark places.” The Dramamine-ready camerawork is punishing, perhaps properly so, and at times he acknowledges the film’s parasitic bent and lashes out against his sib. His story is sad but not humorless, and when he diagrams his life as a line complicated with angles and lumps, he evokes with playful profundity the graphically rendered plot squiggles in Tristram Shandy. ED PARK

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