4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Movies reviewed this week: Venus, Le Petit Lieutenant, The Hitcher

It's a challenge to stay unspoiled after Children of Men and Letters from Iwo Jima on successive weeks. Many a week out of the year, Le Petit Lieutenant would doubtless be a sight for sore eyes. A taut, tough, gritty, realistic French policier (no background music to pump it up at any point), it picks up the title character at his graduation from the police academy and doggedly follows him to his first assignment as a plainclothesman in Paris, to the receipt of his first gun, to his first corpse, first autopsy, first case, an unglamorous mugging and murder likely committed by a couple of lowlife Russian immigrants. The straight-ahead, flat-footed narrative, however, conceals an odd, awkward, tricky structure. Every now and then the film veers off from our eager young rookie (Jalil Lespert) onto a private detour with the soi-disant "Madame Supercop" (the biggest name in the cast, Nathalie Baye, in an economically eloquent performance), a respected veteran, daughter of a "Monsieur Supercop," back on the streets after two years at a desk job while she battled alcoholism. Somewhere in the middle, right when the case takes on a new urgency, the focus switches entirely to her, with the Little Lieutenant removed to the sidelines, although keeping his claim on the film's title through his significance to his replacement protagonist, just the age her son would have been had he not died of meningitis in childhood. Not in any degree "super," Madame Cop shows herself to be all too human.

The balance, in the early stages, between these two characters could have been more deftly handled by the (over here) unknown director, Xavier Beauvois, who also plays a supporting part as a Right-leaning cop; but the case itself, continuing to plow straight ahead, is satisfyingly worked out with rising stakes, rising suspense, rising emotion. The only deflation in it is the thought at the back of your mind of how unimaginable this sort of thing would be in the Hollywood of today, as opposed to the Hollywood of half a century ago. It would now need to be injected with enough extra voltage to electrocute itself. The film, fortunately for me if not you, carries over on Friday, the 26th, into a second week at the Ken Cinema. Landmark, the parent company, a couple of weeks ago sent out notification that the scheduled opening date of January 19 was pushed back to January 26, and then, when I was ten minutes from last week's deadline, notified me that the opening date was moved forward again to the original date of January 19. Sure fooled me!

Venus, written by Hanif Kureishi and directed by Roger Michell, is an abortive Pygmalion tale about a septuagenarian one-time matinee idol ("You're famous?" "A little bit") who takes an interest in the hopeless would-be model and, in the meantime, ill-natured caregiver for her gay great-uncle, an old thespian crony of our Pygmalion figure. Some of the senescent sexuality has some interest in it for us, too, as we might expect from the indelicate writer of My Beautiful Laundrette, Sammy and Rosie Get Laid, My Son the Fanatic, and (also directed by Michell) The Mother. And yet, for all the outward thorniness, the film is a ball of mush at heart. Peter O'Toole, as the dried-up ham, gives a wearily bluffing performance that nevertheless seems to have won over the critics. Always prone to a heavy stress and a lurching cadence in his delivery of lines, a kind of vocal galumpher, he is now more ponderous and harder-breathing by half, going for the Henry Fonda Oscar -- i.e., the sympathy vote -- and even, around the nipped-and-tucked hollowed-out eyes especially, looking a bit like late Fonda, a shadow of his former self (a "gorgeous" glamour shot from his salad days will remind us) or more accurately a cruel caricature of his former self. It is good to report that Vanessa Redgrave as his ex-wife continues to age beautifully, without taking extreme measures, and that she has still got a spark, a mere five years younger than O'Toole at the age of seventy this next Tuesday, the 30th. Young Jodie Whittaker, in her screen debut as the Galatea figure, makes a pebble-sized splash.

The Hitcher undertakes an extensive re-write of the 1986 road-movie thriller of the same name, altering but not eliminating the truck-pull pièce de résistance, the tearing of limb from limb. What emerges from the overhaul is a no-fun Spring Break for a collegiate Cute Couple harassed by a homicidal highway menace (supernatural or just supersilly?) against whom the New Mexico cops are as helpless as though they were up against the Terminator. What it tells us is nothing more than how rapidly time marches on. We seem to have come to the point where a young filmmaker today (Dave Meyers, a music-video guy) can reach back into his youth, no further than the mid-Eighties, and hold up as a screen classic such a complete pièce de crap. (The recent remakes of Black Christmas, The Hills Have Eyes, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre reached back at least to those golden olden days of the Seventies. But it's a new year.) That very word, as it happens, issues from the car radio when a distant deejay introduces "a classic from David Soul," albeit an artifact of the Seventies, "Don't Give Up on Us, Baby." Without any question this is meant as a joke, though it's hardly a bigger joke than an awestruck remake of The Hitcher.

My overriding reaction to the Golden Globes, insofar as they are considered a "forecast" of the Oscars, was that not only was 2006 not a very good year for movies, it was not even a very good year for the particular sorts of not very good movies that the Oscars traditionally palm off as bests. The winnowed-down nominations announced on Tuesday bore this out. Of course, one route to respectability remains open, provided the Academy give its top award to a film in Japanese. The handicap of foreign-language films up until now has been that they're always made by foreigners.

February, right around the corner, means one thing for certain (besides the Oscars, that is): the San Diego Jewish Film Festival, the 17th Annual, February 8 through 18, spread around among the AMC La Jolla 12 (principally), the UltraStar Mission Valley 7, the UltraStar Poway 10, and the David and Dorothea Garfield Theatre at the Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center. For the full schedule of documentaries (always more of those), fiction films, featurettes, and shorts, go to www.lfjcc.org/sdjff or call 858-362-1348.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

Cavalcade marks the earlier U.S.-Mexican borders

700 cowboys ride the hills behind Rosarito
Next Article

Sushi plus Mexican equals vegan at The Village

Order carefully to get the most out of this dual concept plant based eatery

It's a challenge to stay unspoiled after Children of Men and Letters from Iwo Jima on successive weeks. Many a week out of the year, Le Petit Lieutenant would doubtless be a sight for sore eyes. A taut, tough, gritty, realistic French policier (no background music to pump it up at any point), it picks up the title character at his graduation from the police academy and doggedly follows him to his first assignment as a plainclothesman in Paris, to the receipt of his first gun, to his first corpse, first autopsy, first case, an unglamorous mugging and murder likely committed by a couple of lowlife Russian immigrants. The straight-ahead, flat-footed narrative, however, conceals an odd, awkward, tricky structure. Every now and then the film veers off from our eager young rookie (Jalil Lespert) onto a private detour with the soi-disant "Madame Supercop" (the biggest name in the cast, Nathalie Baye, in an economically eloquent performance), a respected veteran, daughter of a "Monsieur Supercop," back on the streets after two years at a desk job while she battled alcoholism. Somewhere in the middle, right when the case takes on a new urgency, the focus switches entirely to her, with the Little Lieutenant removed to the sidelines, although keeping his claim on the film's title through his significance to his replacement protagonist, just the age her son would have been had he not died of meningitis in childhood. Not in any degree "super," Madame Cop shows herself to be all too human.

The balance, in the early stages, between these two characters could have been more deftly handled by the (over here) unknown director, Xavier Beauvois, who also plays a supporting part as a Right-leaning cop; but the case itself, continuing to plow straight ahead, is satisfyingly worked out with rising stakes, rising suspense, rising emotion. The only deflation in it is the thought at the back of your mind of how unimaginable this sort of thing would be in the Hollywood of today, as opposed to the Hollywood of half a century ago. It would now need to be injected with enough extra voltage to electrocute itself. The film, fortunately for me if not you, carries over on Friday, the 26th, into a second week at the Ken Cinema. Landmark, the parent company, a couple of weeks ago sent out notification that the scheduled opening date of January 19 was pushed back to January 26, and then, when I was ten minutes from last week's deadline, notified me that the opening date was moved forward again to the original date of January 19. Sure fooled me!

Venus, written by Hanif Kureishi and directed by Roger Michell, is an abortive Pygmalion tale about a septuagenarian one-time matinee idol ("You're famous?" "A little bit") who takes an interest in the hopeless would-be model and, in the meantime, ill-natured caregiver for her gay great-uncle, an old thespian crony of our Pygmalion figure. Some of the senescent sexuality has some interest in it for us, too, as we might expect from the indelicate writer of My Beautiful Laundrette, Sammy and Rosie Get Laid, My Son the Fanatic, and (also directed by Michell) The Mother. And yet, for all the outward thorniness, the film is a ball of mush at heart. Peter O'Toole, as the dried-up ham, gives a wearily bluffing performance that nevertheless seems to have won over the critics. Always prone to a heavy stress and a lurching cadence in his delivery of lines, a kind of vocal galumpher, he is now more ponderous and harder-breathing by half, going for the Henry Fonda Oscar -- i.e., the sympathy vote -- and even, around the nipped-and-tucked hollowed-out eyes especially, looking a bit like late Fonda, a shadow of his former self (a "gorgeous" glamour shot from his salad days will remind us) or more accurately a cruel caricature of his former self. It is good to report that Vanessa Redgrave as his ex-wife continues to age beautifully, without taking extreme measures, and that she has still got a spark, a mere five years younger than O'Toole at the age of seventy this next Tuesday, the 30th. Young Jodie Whittaker, in her screen debut as the Galatea figure, makes a pebble-sized splash.

The Hitcher undertakes an extensive re-write of the 1986 road-movie thriller of the same name, altering but not eliminating the truck-pull pièce de résistance, the tearing of limb from limb. What emerges from the overhaul is a no-fun Spring Break for a collegiate Cute Couple harassed by a homicidal highway menace (supernatural or just supersilly?) against whom the New Mexico cops are as helpless as though they were up against the Terminator. What it tells us is nothing more than how rapidly time marches on. We seem to have come to the point where a young filmmaker today (Dave Meyers, a music-video guy) can reach back into his youth, no further than the mid-Eighties, and hold up as a screen classic such a complete pièce de crap. (The recent remakes of Black Christmas, The Hills Have Eyes, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre reached back at least to those golden olden days of the Seventies. But it's a new year.) That very word, as it happens, issues from the car radio when a distant deejay introduces "a classic from David Soul," albeit an artifact of the Seventies, "Don't Give Up on Us, Baby." Without any question this is meant as a joke, though it's hardly a bigger joke than an awestruck remake of The Hitcher.

My overriding reaction to the Golden Globes, insofar as they are considered a "forecast" of the Oscars, was that not only was 2006 not a very good year for movies, it was not even a very good year for the particular sorts of not very good movies that the Oscars traditionally palm off as bests. The winnowed-down nominations announced on Tuesday bore this out. Of course, one route to respectability remains open, provided the Academy give its top award to a film in Japanese. The handicap of foreign-language films up until now has been that they're always made by foreigners.

February, right around the corner, means one thing for certain (besides the Oscars, that is): the San Diego Jewish Film Festival, the 17th Annual, February 8 through 18, spread around among the AMC La Jolla 12 (principally), the UltraStar Mission Valley 7, the UltraStar Poway 10, and the David and Dorothea Garfield Theatre at the Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center. For the full schedule of documentaries (always more of those), fiction films, featurettes, and shorts, go to www.lfjcc.org/sdjff or call 858-362-1348.

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

San Diego Reader's Best Of issue

Best place for locals, best day drinking park, local seafood, the Athenaeum, before the Casbah re-opens, Pocket Beach, Horsethief Canyon, a bonsai best, San Diego buses
Next Article

New and old favorites win beer medals, despite pandemic

A virtual Great American Beer Festival shows consistent fondness for San Diego beer
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Set 'em Up Joe — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close