A good year for women on film, as exemplified in new releases The Eyes of My Mother, Miss Sloane, and more
Matthew Lickona 5 p.m., Dec. 9
A good-things-happen-to-kidnappers comedy, with a trendy tie-in to the cult of celebrity. How's this for plotting? Begin with a blue-collar Belgian, a blindly (or perhaps clairvoyantly) proud papa who's convinced of the latent talent of his overweight bovine daughter, despite her consistent judges' scores of "2" and "3" for her lifeless impressions of Madonna and Vanessa Paradis in karaoke contests -- not to mention the father's further belief in his own talents as a melodist, humming into a tape recorder. Proceed to him losing his job on the conveyor belt at a bottling plant, then to him losing sleep in consequence, then to him buying sleeping pills to cope, then to his car breaking down in the middle of nowhere on the way home from the pharmacy. The passing bicyclist and amateur auto mechanic who stops to help happens to be the Britney Spears of Belgium. She asks for something to drink. Et voilà. The juxtaposition of thermos and sleeping pills in his sack suggests a plan. The big joke, at least in proportion to any others, is that he doesn't want a ransom; he wants someone to listen to (a) his tape and (b) his daughter. What follows is flimsy corroboration for the popular fantasy that everyone, with proper packaging and promotion, has what it takes to be a star. With Josse De Pauw, Werner De Smedt, Eva Van Der Gucht, Thekla Reuter; written and directed by Dominique Deruddere. 2000.