Saturday, November 10, 2007

Film festival summary: day 3

Following is the film society's synopsis (in italics) and my personal thoughts (not in italics) about the 2 films I saw on Fri:

The Ten
The Ten is a hilariously archaic, scandalous, offensive and raucous take on Moses’s tablets. So those without a demented sense of humor better stay clear—because The Ten is way less Charlton Heston and much more Monty Python’s Life of Brian. An omnibus, The Ten, co-written by and starring festival guest Ken Marino, features a bevy of stars determined to do damage to their careers. Ten skits are strung together by an initially genial host, Jeff (Paul Rudd) who does his best introducing each segment but is continually sidetracked with arguments with his wife, Gretchen (Famke Janssen), and eventually his flings with both Jessica Alba and Dianne Wiest. Each vignette tackles one of the commandments. Whether it is worshipping false gods (a young man jumps out of a plane without his parachute and survives but is permanently embedded halfway into the ground—attracting media attention and religious zealots); coveting a neighbor’s wife (in a scene set in an all-male prison); or taking the Lord’s name in vain (with Gretchen Mol as a sexually pent-up virgin having a fling in Mexico with Jesus). There is a nude musical number, Winona Ryder in love with a ventriloquist dummy and a jaw-dropping animated sequence about a rhino and crack heads. Rude, crude and putting the insanity back in Christianity, The Ten may not represent the typical offerings of the Festival, but makes for one wild ride! You’ve been warned!

I enjoyed these 10 segments, each loosely referencing a commandment. Some made me laugh out loud while others had more subtle humor. This is definitely not everyone's taste. I heard some exiting the theatre saying they didn't get it or they couldn't figure out how the segments related to the specific commandment. Its the kind of humor you have to be in the right mood for. It was fun to see so many stars in these silly and often 'off-color' segments. 3 stars.

The Walker
Containing an all star cast including Woody Harrelson, Kristin Scott Thomas, Mary Beth Hurt, Lauren Bacall, Lily Tomlin, Ned Beatty, and Willam Defoe, The Walker is a DC set political thriller that contains the dry wit and sarcasm only a DC setting can provide. Gay, southern-bred Carter Page III has an unusual job, he accompanies Washington DC’s well-heeled ladies to the opera. These ladies’ husbands have no desire to bother themselves with such high culture, which means that Carter Page III has a steady stream of work. One day, Lynn, a regular client who is married to a liberal senator, discovers her lover murdered. She turns to Carter for help. In order to protect Lynn, Carter claims that he found the corpse. His friendly gesture brings down an avalanche, for now arch-conservative state attorney Mungo Tenant is on the case and promptly pins the murder on Lynn and Carter. All of a sudden, Carter, himself the son of an influential politician, finds himself embroiled in a web of intrigue, allegations and rumor. The man who has always dubbed himself superficial and the black sheep of the family finds himself obliged to take on the good fight—more so when his friends begin to turn their backs on him. Carter and his boyfriend Emek have to make use of all their contacts in order to find out who is behind the campaign. In the end, Carter finds a way to solve his predicament, but at what price?

I liked this film, although I was constantly distracted by Woody Harrelson's horribly fake southern drawl. I kept thinking the part of Carter Page III would have been so much better played by Kevin Spacey. The story line was tight and plausible. It really made me sick to wonder how many crimes and cover-ups are perpetrated by high-ranking government officials who only need place a call to a high-ranking friend. It also made me sick to see how Carter's "friends" (the ladies he escorted to the opera and with whom he played cards and gossiped every Wednesday) turned their backs on him when he was photographed being taken into the police station for questioning. Just like their husbands whom they scorned for such behavior towards fellow politicians, these women used Carter. 4 stars.

Drag Queen name of the day: Lois Carmen Denominator

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