By Wil Forbis
November 1st, 2005
Artwork by Sean Corrigan
The Monkey Detective
Starring Liam Neeson, Hillary Swank, Bobo the wonder the Chimp, Al Pacino
Written and directed by David Mamet
In a story more drama than mystery, Liam Neeson returns to the big screen as Ted Bellweather, a recently widowed biologist who has sold his home and moved into a bachelor apartment on the upper West Side of New York City with the sole intention of spending his days listening to maudlin jazz records while drinking himself to death. Fate intervenes on his first night when he discovers a squealing primate hopping up and down on his balcony. Via methods that strain the viewers suspension of disbelief Ted manages to communicate with the chimpanzee and learn that the creature is indeed a detective (this is hinted at by the Sherlock Holmes style pipe the monkey is smoking) on a very important case. Someone has stolen a child's crayon set and the monkey is determined to get it back. With Ted acting as Watson to this simian Holmes, the pair commences their investigation.
Hillary Swank makes an appearance midway through the film as a neo-bohemian art student and spurned lover of the monkey. Al Pacino coolly slips into the well-coifed lapels of the Mayor of New York, a character who may or may not be villainous. But all three human actors pale next to the skills of Bobo the Wonder Chimp whom I deem to be a major find to the world of theater. When the monkey expresses his displeasure with Ted by throwing his feces at him, Neeson's reaction seems forced and uncomfortable. But the audience truly believes Bobo's anger. A very talented ape, he manages the rare feat of making it appear that he's not really acting at all and has truly merged with his character.
Mamet avoids the tricky plots twists and elongated word play he is known for and instead focuses on the emotional weight of the script. The mystery is not so much as to who stole the crayons but whether Ted can allow himself to overcome his grief with the help of his new monkey friend. Fans of erudite films will appreciate the movie's ending, set in Disney's California Adventure theme park, which satisfies the cravings of both the heart and the mind.
Rated R for course language and brief monkey nudity
John Singleton's Hamlet
Starring Martin Lawrence
Directed by John Singleton
It sounded like an interesting idea. Urban superstar Lawrence signed on to not only star in the classic Shakespeare tale of war and betrayal, but also perform all the roles, both male and female. (Lawrence has some experience performing in drag; longtime television viewers may remember his "Shenannay" character from his 1990's sitcom.) Yet, something gets lost in translation. The Shakespearian dialogue does not sit well coming out of Lawrence's mouth, and I'm quite convinced Lawrence is ad-libbing in the scene where he calls his mother a "bitch-ass, stank-ass ho!"
Rated R for the mere presence of Martin Lawrence
Kirsten Does Hollywood
Starring Kisten Dunst, Jude Law, Ben Affleck and every modern male star in Hollywood.
Following the lead of ChloŽ Sevigny in 2003's "The Brown Bunny " Kirsten Dunst becomes the second mainstream actress in recent memory to perform pornographic acts on the big screen. In a part some have hinted to be based on her own career, Ms. Dunst plays Jennifer Sweettop, and struggling young actress who decides to sleep her way into a major film role. Over the course of the film Jennifer finds herself on the casting couch of numerous male agents all played by well-recognized (and often well-endowed) male stars of today's Hollywood. In scenes not soon to be forgotten she services her suitors by employing every sexual technique imaginable, often filmed in explicit detail, while a tight score of funky 70's motifs play in the background. In the final twenty minutes the entire cast reappears onscreen to engage Ms. Dunst in the ancient Japanese practice of "bukakke." Is this film high art and the lowest form of depraved commerce? This reviewer found it took repeated viewings to even begin contemplating an answer.
Rated PG for sodomy
Starring Adam Sandler, Anthony Hopkins, Snoop Dogg, Keira Knightley
Directed by Mel Gibson
In 2004's "Passion of the Christ," director Gibson mandated all his performances be spoken in ancient Aramaic, the language of the time of Christ. In his newest film, set in a modern day village of African pygmies, all dialogue is spoken it Writ-Nik, an obscure, chattering language that sounds much the way one would assume ants speak. Unlike "The Passion..." subtitles are not used and the viewer is left to fend for themselves to determine exactly what, if anything, the plot is about.
Sanders, Hopkins and Knightley play, with varying degrees of believability, Pygmy warriors. At one point I was under the assumption that Sandler and Hopkins were playing the same character at different ages but found that theory lacking when both actors appeared at the same time to make love to Knightley under a flowing waterfall.
Snoop Dogg, who's theatrical turns have been questionable, hands in a solid performance as a Western entomologist trying to save the tribe from destruction at the hands of a Mugabe-like African tyrant (played by Gibson.)
Rated G for National Geographic style nudity.
Barney the Purple Dinosaur's Crazy Adventure
The kids in the family will elicit cheers upon the news that the PBS beloved stuffed suit is making his debut on the big screen. Upon discovery of a time machine, Barney and his friends travel to different time periods and meet various historical figures such as Napoleon, Sun-Yet-Sen, Paganini and Joseph Stalin (whom Barney takes to calling "Moustache-Boy.") Upon returning to the present day the gang discover that they have altered history in such a way that everything on earth is now constructed out of donuts. Faced with this dilemma Barney has to figure out a way to return things to normal while also teaching his pals about the importance of friendship.
Rated NC-17 for extreme violence, graphic sexual content, implicit homosexuality, swearing, animal torture, etc.
On the Other Hand...
Directed by Michael Moore
In an attempt to offset his political and polemical screed "Fahrenheit 9/11" documentarian Moore offers a new film designed to contemplate the thesis that, in the director's own words, "Maybe President Bush isn't such a bad guy." Moore amicably interviews many of today's leading conservative commentators such as Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, and Michael Savage and concedes there were parts of his previous film that didn't quite make sense to him either. The final scene in which Moore and former nemesis Charlton Heston engage in a long, meaningful hug while an orange tinted sunset glows behind them gives the viewer renewed optimism for the troubled times our country finds itself in.
Rated PG-13 for mild punditry
Starring Sylvester Stallone
Directed by Sylvester Stallone
Stallone returns to the big screen as Rocky Balboa, the ever down on his luck (even when he's a millionaire) world reknowned boxer. Approaching an age when most men are considering denture adhesives, Stallone's fighter returns to the ring to once again validate his sagging ego andÖ
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Wil Forbis is a
well known international playboy who lives a fast paced life attending
chic parties, performing feats of derring-do and making love to the
world's most beautiful women. Together with his partner, Scrotum-Boy,
he is making the world safe for democracy. Email - firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit Wil's web log, The Wil Forbis Blog, and receive complete enlightenment.