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Small Apartments Review


OK

Relentlessly quirky and strange, this pitch black comedy manages to combine its outrageous silliness with some surprising emotional resonance. Swedish filmmaker Akerlund (who directed Lady Gaga's Telephone) keeps the film's pace snappy as it lurches through a series of crazy situations that aren't remotely believable. But the starry cast manages to hold our interest.

Everything centres on a run-down apartment complex in Los Angeles, where Franklin (Lucas) lives in his dumpy flat, dreaming of someday moving to Switzerland to play his alpine horn in the mountains. Clearly unhinged, Franklin desperately misses his brother Bernard (Marsden), who went away but still sends him a daily audio-tape message. Then on the first day a tape fails to turn up, Franklin's whole life starts to unravel, starting with the fact that his landlord (Stormare) is lying dead on his kitchen floor. Franklin's attempt to get rid of the body draws the attention of two detectives (Crystal and Koechner), who start quizzing the neighbours (Knoxville and Caan). But this is only the start of Franklin's big adventure.

The story is structured as a series of wacky set-pieces set apart by luridly colourful flashbacks and fantasy sequences that fill in the back-stories for each of the characters. As a result, everyone on screen bursts with personality as well as motivations for everything they do, which makes watching them a lot more interesting than we expect. Crystal and Caan emerge as the most engaging people on screen, but even nuttier characters like Lundgren's "Brain Brawn" pop psychologist are fun to watch. By contrast, Lucas gives Franklin an eerily blank face: this is a man who still hasn't figured out who he is.

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Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus Review


Weak
Diane Arbus made a name for herself by trying to make the normal look peculiar and vice versa. Many of her pictures detail "freaks" in very calm, classical poses and spaces. When Steven Shainberg got the notion to cook up a fictional story about how Arbus got her inspiration for her photographic portraits, this had to be on his mind. Somehow, this notion creates an inventive misfire.

Shainberg imagines Arbus, played by Nicole Kidman, as a faithful housewife, very self-conscious of her strange stares and off-putting manner. She's also a devoted assistant to Allan (a superb Ty Burr), her photographer husband who captures the poppy pastel colors of 1950s dresses and various appliances for catalogs. Her life gets a shock of electricity when she catches the eye of a strange neighbor named Lionel (Robert Downey Jr.). Lionel was featured in a freak show when he was younger as a dog boy, scientifically diagnosed as hypertrichosis. The relationship that builds between Arbus and her hairy friend accounts for her artistic awakening and liberation of feminine constraints.

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London Review


Unbearable
There are basic things that constitute a successful script by Hollywood standards. Remember, I said successful, not good or terrible, just successful. The main character must go through certain actions and must change is the most important. Also, the supporting characters must help him get through the action and eventually, have a part in the change. By these standards, London is almost a successful Hollywood script (there is a serious lack of action). But what comes as a surprise, is that a bad script is the least of director Hunter Richards' problems.

It's a cold night in Manhattan when Syd (Chris Evans) decides to attend the going-away party of ex-girlfriend London (Jessica Biel) in the large loft of a friend (Isla Fisher, completely wasted). Before getting to the party, Syd stops to see his bartender friend, Mallory (Joy Bryant), and meets up with Bateman (Jason Statham), a man with a serious amount of cocaine but who refuses to be called a dealer. With Bateman and drugs in tow, Syd hits the party, doing more drugs and doing more alcohol that Hemingway, Carver and Sid Vicious combined. Bateman and Syd hole up in the bathroom talking about everything from S&M to the Almighty, and eventually Syd gets up the guts to talk to London.

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The Guys Review


Weak
There was much pain on September 11, 2001 when so many lives were lost. Some of it was very personal and close, but it's fair to say that it affected all of us, in America and abroad. How we remember it and mourn it is a personal matter; how we pay homage to it is something still being struggled with. The Guys is one woman's way of approaching the subject with the aim of catharsis through indirect exposure to the calamity we never imagined.

Journalist Anne Nelson wrote the play of the same name then adapted it as her first screenplay for this movie. Jim Simpson, whose only directorial credit is for a segment of Tales from the Crypt, directed it. The result is not so much a movie as it is a way to reflect on the nature of the loss we all experienced to one degree or another. In this respect, it's as universal a matter as the feelings that are still being experienced.

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An American Rhapsody Review


OK
An American Rhapsody offers us an example of teen acting gone marvelously right. As a 15-year-old who wants to rediscover her Hungarian roots, Scarlett Johansson portrays the thrill and frustration of being a teenager so perfectly that I don't ever want her to grow up. And her voice, with its cracked rage, only makes her desire to get control in her life sound more convincing.

When Johansson (Ghost World) is on screen, An American Rhapsody has a riveting passion and dramatic urgency that is found nowhere else in the movie, which is based on director/screenwriter Éva Gárdos's life. Johansson's character, Suzanne, is left behind in Hungary as an infant when her family stealthily moves to America circa 1950. Six years later, the young Suzanne is finally brought to America, where she joins her parents, Margit and Peter (Nastassja Kinski and Tony Goldwyn) and her older sister (Mae Whitman). However, in the process, Suzanne is torn away from the parents (Zsuzsa Czinkóczi and Balázs Galkó) of a family friend who nurtured and protected her from government suspicion.

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