Movie Preview

  • 2004-10-20
This week - Secret Agents - Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story - Dot the I

Secret Agents

Director: F. Schoendoerffer

French director Frederic Schoendoerffer wanted to create a different kind of spy-movie, and in this he has succeeded. Whether it's any good is another matter. Instead of explosions and fast cars, the director focuses on the characters' thoughts, emotions and regrets. Fair enough, had it worked. Sadly, the plot is unexciting, the structure is uneven and the characters are too one-dimensional to carry the movie as intended. That Monica Bellucci and Vincent Cassel, the hottest couple in French cinema, have the leading parts is not much help since they hardly get to put their acting abilities to good use. This movie is all talk and no achievement, all build-up and no payoff. It only gets somehow interesting half way through, but then just as it could have become intriguing, it's all over.

Julie Vinten

This is a quirky little thriller that, despite everything, manages to be entertaining. A married couple (Monica Bellucci and Vincent Cassel) just happen to be secret agents for the French government. There is nothing glamorous, exciting or extraordinary going on here - forget about James Bond. Bellucci ("The Passion of the Christ") and Cassel ("Blueberry") are married in real life and have made half a dozen flicks together. Though "Agents secrets" is certainly not one of their best, it has a certain something. Director Frederic Schoendoerffer goes for simplistic realism, which he definitely achieves. Perhaps it's a bit too basic, using a minimalism found only in European cinema. The conclusion is a groaning out loud disappointment. However, this movie has style and pace, making it worth watching at least once.

Laimons Juris G

Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story

Director: R.M. Thurber

Ben Stiller and co. are at it again with this ultrasilly spoof-take on the American sports-movie genre. It's cutely bad-mannered and sweetly rude, but honestly nothing to get very exited about. It is a funny movie and at times hilariously brainless, but it's low-grade brainlessness at that. "Dodgeball" feels like a bit of a rush-job. And although Stiller has charm and comedic charisma, it doesn't mean he, or the rest of the team, can pull off a great piece of comedy without making at least a little effort. And that is the problem: everyone seems too certain of their brilliance to really try hard. We still want Stiller, but what we want is Stiller performing original gags and performing brilliant jokes, but there simply isn't enough of that in this flick.

Julie Vinten

It was Hollywood's intellectual sex-bomb Mae West who seductively said: "When I'm good I'm very good, but when I'm bad I'm better." This is so true of this frenzied moneymaking product from Hollywood. After watching a numbing 41 films at the recent Arsenals Film Festival, this reviewer realized that it's not how good or bad a film might be, the important thing is if you enjoy it or not. Whether movies come from high-budget Hollywood or are zero-budget independents, it really doesn't matter very much. Basically you must get something out of the experience or what's the point of watching, right? It's nice to see Ben Stiller in the role of bad-guy villain. This stupid-funny comedy has plenty of heartfelt sympathy for the geek in all of us.

Laimons Juris G

Dot the I

Director: Matthew Parkhill

Gael Garcia Bernal is an excellent actor, but in this movie both he and lead actress Natalia Verbeke appear very uncomfortable, and not only because they sense a hidden camera pointed at them. Being non-native speakers, they don't seem at ease acting in English, which hurts their performances, and to make matters worse, the dialogue is unrealistic and badly written. "Dot the I" explores how willing some people are to manipulate others in the name of mass-entertainment. The movie wants to shock and disgust but doesn't succeed because we never get to care for the characters, and because the final-act twist is so damned ludicrous. No doubt, the director finds his postmodern take on reality deep and inventive, but in truth, this is nothing but over-the-top ridiculousness and shallow posturing.

Julie Vinten

Although the plot may be as predictable as a traffic light, the hottest actor in the known universe plays one of the key roles. Gael Garcia Bernal is phenomenal. The 25-year-old caused quite a sensation in Almodovar's "Bad Education." He's a pure bolt of electricity in the Mexican melodrama, "The Crime of Father Amaro." And he's a captivating prerevolutionary Che Guevara in "The Motorcycle Diaries." In "Dot the I" he's an out-of-work actor from Brazil, who gets involved while living in London. That's all you should know about this flick. It's enjoyable entertainment that's well-worth watching because of Bernal's self-assured presence. Since his breakout role in "Y Tu Mama Tambien" three years ago, the Guadalajara-born actor has worked solidly and amassed a most impressive list of films under his wing.

Laimons Juris G