Movie Preview

  • 2004-10-13
This week - White Chicks - Lichter/Distant Lights - Nathalie

White Chicks

Director: Keenen I. Wayans

Be afraid. Be very afraid. This is one comedy, which is sure to give you horrible nightmares. The director of the first and second "Scary Movie" has created a truly scary feature this time around. Almost immediately you feel ill at ease. And then the nausea sets in as the appalling WC jokes start to roll. This then becomes sheer panic when the two black FBI agents appear in their latex facial disguise as white bimbos looking like a cross between Madame Tussauds waxworks and the possessed Regan from "The Exorcist." Oh, the horror! The pain! This gross-out freak-show is a sad waste of film stock. It's hard to describe just how awful it is, but one thing is certain: it's way past being a so-bad-it's-good movie. Really, just avoid this one.

Julie Vinten

This is an utterly off-the-wall comedy, succulently reeking of bad taste and crass cliches. However, the Wayans brothers manage to deliver a sufficient amount of laughter to satisfy even the most intelligent viewer. In order to watch "White Chicks" you must be ready (and willing) to leave your brain at the door. Director Wayans takes a few hackneyed potshots at the rich and dim-witted while adding a nice twist. In an absurd tale of misfortune, two Afro-American FBI agents (brothers Marlon and Shawn) go undercover as pasty-white, blonde-haired debutantes. Though it's not "Some Like it Hot" or "Tootsie" this ridiculous parody has a few creepy shocks of its own. Practically every film critic on the Internet panned this gross morsel of immaturity. Nevertheless, there are a few laughs.

Laimons Juris G

Lichter/Distant Lights

Director: Hans-Christian Schmid

"Distant Lights" (Lichter) tells the uncompromising story of a group of people in the German/Polish borderland. From illegal immigrants to a broke mattress salesman, they all struggle to survive, with the vague hope of a better life. This ensemble piece is strongly convincing due to an excellent script and a confident execution of the material. The visual style is rough and hectic, beautifully reflecting the mood. The movie has a political message, but it isn't preachy and expresses itself in a subtle manner, allowing the stories to speak for themselves. German director Hans-Christian Schmid has gotten some honest performances out of his actors, making the characters genuine. "Distant Lights" is an unpretentious, thorough piece of work that takes a thought-provoking look at life.

Julie Vinten

Once in every blue moon German filmmakers manage to come up with a really outstanding feature film. The first to spring to mind are "Run Lola Run" and, most recently, "Good Bye Lenin!" Now, an absorbing "Lichter" keeps you firmly glued to the screen. A group of Ukrainians is left in a forest overnight. They paid money to be smuggled into Germany, but they have been abandoned in Poland instead. A mattress dealer faces bankruptcy. A sympathetic translator helps a desperate refugee. A taxicab driver needs money for his daughter's expensive communion dress. Director Hans-Christian Schmid weaves a multifaceted tapestry, which factually reflects the stark realities of Europe today. As you sink deeper and deeper into the engrossing story, Schmid certainly knows how to pull the right heartstrings.

Laimons Juris G


Director: Anne Fontaine

The premise of the French drama "Nathalie" is pretty preposterous, but it's one of those movies that seems to think that art doesn't need to make much sense, and the more irrational the story, the better the art. It tries almost excessively to be sophisticated and seems to believe that it's made by and for the intellectual elite. Words like pretentious and conceited come to mind. But it should be said that this is a technically well-made movie, and that it's visually quite beautiful. It's not without a sense of flow and storytelling, but while the movie wants to achieve a certain esthetic purity, the characters and their motives seem staged and unreal. Dealing with such psychologically detached characters, the movie just winds up becoming emotionally cold as well, and the audience ceases to care what happens to them.

Julie Vinten

Here is a very strange film, seemingly cobbled together from reels and reels of footage devoted to tales of cheating husbands. However, in this particular case the actors stoically compensate for the more than familiar script. Emmanuelle Beart and Fanny Ardant are especially bright spots in this mellow twist of an affair. An uncommonly subdued Gerard Depardieu also participates. "Nathalie" is a wonderful example of deja vu more than just once or twice around. Every scene in the Anne Fontaine-directed production comes from the archival recesses of silver-screen history. Who could ask for anything more? This French production really works your memory cells to the maximum. Oh well, it's all done so professionally and with such grace and calm, you may as well sit back and enjoy it.

Laimons Juris G