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Reviews for April 8th, 2011


Directed by Jason Winer

  &nsbp  When Arthur Bach(Russell Brand) embarrasses his familyís public image after yet another incident, his mother, Vivienne (Geraldine James), informs him that if he doesnít marry Susan Johnson (Jennifer Garner), a corporate executive, or else heíll be cut off from his familyís billion-dollar fortune. He doesnít even know Susan or want to marry her; he would rather continue drinking and allowing his nanny, Hobson (Helen Mirren) to spoil him. While on his way to Grand Central Station, he meets Naomi Quinn (Greta Gerwig), a down-to-earth young woman who works illegally as a tour guide, takes care of her father at her humble abode, and aspires to become a childrenís book author. Luis GuzmŠn plays Bitterman, Arthurís chauffeur , and Nick Nolte shows up as Susanís father.

  &nsbp   Will Arthur fall in love with Naomi? Will Arthur feel inspired enough to go to attend an AA meeting in order to sober up once and for all? What might happen if Susan were to find out about Naomi? Who cares? The screenplay by Peter Bayn follows such a pedestrian formula that you donít even have to watch the original Arthur with Dudley Moore to figure out what will transpire. Your enjoyment of the film depends heavily how well you can tolerate Russell Brand because heís typecast and can be found in pretty much every scene here. Those who canít stand him will find him irritating; everyone else will be merely amused. The rapport between Arther and Hobson is quite witty, though, because Helen Mirren is always a pleasure to watch, so their scenes together stand out the most. Itís worth mentioning that the beautiful Greta Gerwig also grounds the film with her genuine charisma and panache. She needs to be cast in more movies, and, hopefully, in meatier roles. At a running time of 1 hour and 50 minutes, Arthur is a contrived, silly mess with an irritating performance by Russell Brand. Greta Gerwig and Helen Mirren shine, though.
Number of times I checked my watch: 2
Released by Warner Bros. Pictures.
Opens nationwide.

The Elephant in the Living Room

Directed by Michael Webber

Number of times I checked my watch: 1
Released by Nightly Entertainment.
Opens at Regal E-Walk.

Henry's Crime

Directed by Malcolm Venville

Number of times I checked my watch: 2
Released by Moving Pictures.
Opens at the Landmark Sunshine Cinema.

To Die Like a Man

Directed by Jo„o Pedro Rodrigues

In Portuguese with subtitles.

      Fernando Santos stars as Tonia, a middle-aged drag queen who has recently undergone sex change operations, but she has yet to complete that lengthy procedure. Her silicone implants leak thereby causing her to get an infection. She merely covers up the wound with a bandage, and continues to perform at the drag show. To complicate matters, her son, Ze Maria (Chandra Malatitch), shows up out of the blue, and, as it turns out, he has a sexual identity crisis. Tonia has a tough time maintaining a peaceful relationship with her younger boyfriend, Rosario (Alexander David), a drug addict. She retreats with Rosario and her dog deep into an enchanted forest where they have an encounter thatís best described as dream-like.

      Director/co-writer Jo„o Pedro Rodrigues together with co-writer Rui Catal„o blend drama and tragedy with fantastical elements which create a very uneven tone. They show unflinchingly the horrors of what Tonia endures after the first set of operati0ns, and itís no surprise that they donít shy away from showing you precisely how sad, lonely and insecure Tonia feels. Once Tonia sets foot in the enchanted forest, thatís when the film starts to lose its dramatic momentum and become a boring, pretentious mess. Too many scenes drag and have awkward transitions from one to another. In fact, thereís one particular scene where Tonia and Rosario remain still in the woods while music plays for a few minutes. Rodrigues shot that scene using a red filter. Maybe 30 seconds would have been enough to generate a somber, meditative atmosphere, but by maintaining it for such a lengthy amount of time feels tedious and frustrating. Itís only the performances, especially by the brave Fernando Santos, that help to keep you at least mildly engrossed. At a running time of 2 hours and 13 minutes, To Die Like a Man is well-acted and unflinching, but tedious, pretentious, overlong and tonally uneven.

Number of times I checked my watch: 4
Released by Strand Releasing.
Opens at the IFC Center.

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